While the subject of illegal immigration has been all over the national news and discussed in the press, it appears to be one that DeKalb County school officials have little to say about. The impact of non-English speaking children on our schools is not one that the school system clearly measures and often does not plan very well for, either. Just look at the reports about the long lines of parents outside the central office, trying to register their children for school and feeling they had no choice but to camp outside in order to secure a spot in this school year. Where are these families coming from? Who is bringing them here? What schools will their children attend and how will the children of those who own property here now, who pay high property taxes mostly to fund the school system, be affected?
Lakeside and Tucker share one political district when it comes to the school board and right now that seat belongs to Jim McMahan who was re-elected for a four year term. He also missed more meetings last year than any other board member and his children are in line to attend Lakeside High School, so we must understand that he will never see any decisions regarding Tucker / Lakeside in an unbiased manner. But, there is another thing about his position on the school board that is troublesome. He is also on Lee May's city task force. And, Tucker's own city group leader, Michelle Penkava, who has also run the Tucker Parent Council for several years, was McMahan's financial manager for his 2012 campaign. McMahan lives in Sagamore Hills and Penkava is in the Livsey district, so we have at least one clear Tucker / Lakeside allegiance right there.
How did these two meet? How far back does the "working relationship" go?
What promises are being made between them since they are both heavily involved in school politics and both are now heavily involved in city politics as well? How can they be on the same team for the schools and be on opposite sides when it comes to the city debate? Aren't the two subjects really tied together considering that Lakeside IS a school?
And what happens when you try to ask questions about how, exactly, the Tucker Parent Council, is looking out for the Tucker community and its children? If you ask when does the Council hold its meetings or who are the officers and when do they vote for new officers? How do they vote on issues right now? Why was it okay for Penkava to put the weight of the Parent Council behind the Save Livsey effort but ignore the pleas from Brockett and Smoke Rise to stop the Lakeside cell towers from coming? Why was it overlooked that she spoke up for the Druid Hills Charter Cluster at a board meeting, when it has nothing to do with Tucker or Tucker's schools, yet she ignored a big issue about missing textbooks and overcrowding at Tucker High School?
How can Tucker's biggest advocate also be a campaign advocate for a Lakeside area resident who was running against the current Lakeside board member and TWO Tucker candidates? Why is it okay to choose sides in that case, but we're told all our Tucker Civic groups cannot advocate for or against anything because of their non-profit status?
And, why did Penkava back McMahan at all when it was well known that the current board member at the time had worked "behind the scenes" to help her save Livsey? Did she and Womack have a "falling out?" Or, is it more likely that he introduced her to McMahan, who was hand selected to be Womack's replacement and carry the Lakeside torch for another decade or longer?
Politics become a lot more clear and a lot easier to understand when you simply follow the money. There is a lot of money being paid into our school system and a lot of very high home values resting on the notion that some schools are far superior to others. When you have people who are invested in real estate during desperate times, or who work in industries that depend on a recovering real estate market, you should remember the connection between home values and school performance and perceived superiority in this county. And then we should all work very hard to keep those people as far away from the decision making process in our school system as possible. Not because they are bad people or have bad intentions, but simply because all children deserve a decent, quality education. And they shouldn't have their future tied to someone's poor investment strategy or someone else's attempt to get a good paying job with some perks and a P-card.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, this is Tucker High School. So, again, we ask... Do Tucker's Schools Serve Tucker Children? Tell us what you think in the comments, or at www.facebook.com/SaveTuckerFromLakesideCity.
|9th Grade||545 Students|
|10th Grade||429 Students|
|11th Grade||303 Students|
|12th Grade||352 Students|
|Total Minority Enrollment (% of total)||89%|
|American Indian/Alaskan Native Enrollment (% of total)||0.2%|
|Asian Enrollment (% of total)||10%|
|Black Enrollment (% of total)||68%|
|Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander (% of total)||0.1%|
|Hispanic Enrollment (% of total)||8%|
|White Enrollment (% of total)||11%|
|Two or More Races Enrollment (% of total)||2%|
|Male (% of total)||52%|
|Female (% of total)||48%|
Economically Disadvantaged Students
|Free Lunch Program (% of total)||57%|
|Reduced-Price Lunch Program (% of total)||6%|
|Total Economically Disadvantaged (% of total)||63%|