Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wannabe Professionals

You know how sometimes you're cruzin' the web looking for a good pizza recipe and something catches your eye and you wind up very hungry but somewhere completely different? If you're hungry and want something new, fresh and doable then cruise on over to The Truly Educated Never Graduate where you will find quite a few food categories sporting dishes that never fail to please.


If you happen to click on the word above "Food" you will find yourself reading a few very good pieces on the "Education". Whatever that is. 

One of the more interesting pieces, both for the original blog and the comments* is The Disgrace of the GACE. Rather than belabour the points made by the original poster (it's worth a read in and of itself) it is another exposition of appearances vs reality when it comes to public school educracy.

We read and hear all too often about and from educators who want to be treated like "professionals" though educrats are extremely selective about just what they think "professional" means. Most often it means they want more money and administrators have been particularly successful in arguing that they, isolated from accountability by boards and accrediting agencies, should be paid like business managers based solely on budget size. Just because education is modeled after mafiosos who  skim off the top does not mean that is the way business works. And when you point out the absence of anything like tenure outside education or stack ranking or employee funded, sometimes matched 401Ks (not defined benefit pensions) then, well, they just don't want to talk about that.

To help their propaganda cause they have put in place the appearance of a professional structure mimicking real professions. Teachers created the title of "para-professional" for their underlings to give the impression that the teachers themselves must therefore be "professionals". Therein lies a clue to just how dedicated educracy is to being a real profession. They have certifications and professional standards boards to convince the public they are self monitoring and self regulating but these are only a superficial charade.

And as the other poster points out, they have the GACE which the poster compares to the MCAT or LSAT based mostly on testee age, academic preparation and reasonableness of the test and probability of passage. However, it could be compared to the Medical Boards or the Bar Exam which must be passed in order to practice as a doctor or lawyer. On the surface that is the comparison that educracy wants you to make.

But only on the surface. While you are led to believe this test represents a minimum, baseline hurdle to clear before leading a classroom, in reality passage is not a requirement. Apparently there is not even a probationary period or time limit on passage--the Susan Lucci line is priceless. Despite this sad circumstance educators are clamoring to be lauded as "professionals".

Perhaps if we adopt their practical definition that an education professional is someone paid beyond their credentials and their capabilities we have a gracious plenty.

* No, this does not justify a return to allowing comments on this blog and if you read the comments on the referenced post you will see one of many reasons: a pre-emptive ad hominem attack on the author. So much for intelligent discourse by an educator about education.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Local Control

Council is poised to rubber-stamp the next change to the original modest proposal for Brookrun trails to it's much pricier non-vetted implementation as a thoroughfare for our new APC. By and large this was believed to be driven mostly by City bureaucrats gone wild but the AJC's political roundup in the Memorial Day issue indicates that a key force behind moving us down this road is the DNR.

So in only a few short years we've gone from chants of "local control" to a City run by folks who don't live here and don't seem to like the folks who do and now we see one of the few publicly vetted decisions over-ridden by folks operating at the State level. There are those amongst us who say this is all for the best and we should sit quietly in the corner eating our cookies and drinking our milk but one has to wonder how many folks who voted to create this City are happy with this version of "local control".

Monday, May 27, 2013

War On War

I said, war, huh
Good God, y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again
War, whoa, Lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me
Obama has declared a shift in operations and with regards to the so-called war on terror stated "...this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands."

OK. That sounds admirable and let's all hope his administration can truly wind down or at least slow the growth of the military industrial complex that now has its fingers in almost every political pie. 

What about the other so-called wars? The ones that are perhaps less military in nature but no less draining of our resources, our strength and our core integrity.

The war on hunger is arguably over, at least in the US, where if anything the issue isn't too little food, but what it is we call, accept and eat as food. Hell, most folks throw out forty percent of what comes in the door. Consequently even the most ardent of the NGO/Not-For-Profit shills have shifted their rhetoric to align with the new reality speaking of "food insecurity" and "risk of hunger" as the facts undermine any statement regarding a measurable scope of "hunger in America".

Then there is the war on poverty. No matter how you look at it poverty ain't what it used to be. This "war" isn't over and never will be as there will always be the poor amongst us and "re-distribution" will solve nothing. Consider this. Suppose we took all the wealth in the world and split it equally amongst all inhabitants. Now ask yourself how long it will take before those that were wealthy are once again wealthy and those that were poor are poor once more? Five years? Ten at the outside.

Then there is the eight hundred pound gorilla of made-up wars: the war on drugs. Forget predator drones and the probably unconstitutional activities of the TSA (or the IRS), the "war" that has its money grubbing fingers on every aspect of our lives is this war on drugs. Cops who should be in our neighborhoods (and probably only will be if there is a "false" alarm) are instead out trolling for property seizures. Turns out you're one spliff away from handing over your car keys with next to no viable, affordable due process. Yes, that doobie is illegal. Now the widely reported abuse of steroids by cops (google "cops and steroids") is equally illegal, but hey, they're the good guys. They got the badge and a gun--all you got is a dime bag and now a criminal record.

Fact is the war on drugs is a money maker for governments at all levels and the business ecosystem built up around it is monstrous. In every meaning of the word. This overzealous, greedy abuse of power and our rights must stop. It is not a war that can be won and even if it could these moneyed powers have no intention of "winning". It is time, as Obama so often tells us, for "common sense laws".

We need to end these wars-in-name-only and in respect for all those who fought and died in legitimate, actual wars facing enemy combatants we need to quit declaring things a "war" just for shock effect.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whither Technology

One cannot read any blog regarding DeKalb County Schools without somewhere seeing a statement about "how great DeKalb Schools were back in [insert favourite decade here]". Well almost any blog because The Other Dunwoody is in possession of evidence, anecdotal though it may be, that indicates DeKalb County Schools have been a disaster for over thirty five years. Perhaps longer. Nonetheless, let's accept the "tragic, inexorably slow decline" theory.

There are many reasons offered for the decades long decay of DeKalb County Schools: white flight; minority backfill fueling degentrification; poverty; diversity; and general social decline manifested as single parent "families". Could be. Could be any. Could be all. But let us suppose that superpositioning works and independently analyze certain factors and then ask ourselves about another potential element: "what role has technology played"?

Is "classroom technology" a positive or a negative contributor to educational outcomes? Is money better spent on additional classroom teachers or Wi-Fi and smart boards? Would you rather your child sit in a class amongst fourteen other children with a teacher and an overhead or in a class with twenty four other kids bedazzled by the magic of that smart board? Does a Kindle really add anything to a study of "To Kill A Mockingbird"? Really? Does anyone know with the certainty of hard data based on reproducible research what the definitive answer is to any of these questions? Is a visceral vision enough to justify the money we've spent and misspent on technological chimeras? Or is it just another educratic mind fart?

Many, like Clifford Stoll, contend that our affection for the newest dazzling technology has caused nothing but harm. Harm to our children. Harm to their learning. Harm to their future. And at this point he appears to be right.

So why is the Master of our DeKalb County Schools, Mr. Elgart, so damn keen on forcing DeKalb taxpayers to piss away their tax dollars, not his, theirs, on "shiny object" technology with no indication of any positive contribution to any child's learning? First, because he doesn't seem to give a damn whether your child learns anything or simply grows up to be a mental doorstop. And his only readily apparent concern about your taxes appears to be the dollars he, his organization and his cronies get. It would be very revealing to investigate his ties to players in "education tech".

Monday, May 20, 2013

Make Independence Day Meaningful

It has been pointed out there is a snowball's chance in hell of getting an updated City Charter that creates anything even faintly resembling a democratic form of government for Dunwoody. The subtext, which we all know, is that we have what we have because the few and the powerful who pushed this City into existence wrote the original charter and installed the original bureaucracy. They still have the power, they like it that way and you can't change it.

But there is something we can do. We can put a stop to the hypocrisy, to the charade that is an insulting slap in the face of the citizens of Dunwoody and of every democratic form of government on this planet. We can update the charter to eliminate the election of the Mayor and Council. Not the actual positions, just the election. They have rendered the ballot box worthless so let's all act like grown ups and accept it.  We can stop this madness. We can do this because those in power will let us.

This may not be easy to figure out. While we may be smart we don't score very well on the Edison-Tesla Innovation Scale but then again pride has never prevented our purloining what we like from other cities so we should take a cue from Dorset, Minnesota.  But only a cue. While they did select their Mayor at random they used a most inferior technique--drawing a name from a hat. There is a far superior option--a raffle. Raffles maintain the underlying random nature of a draw but add that something special that makes it all things Dunwoody. It makes money for our bureaucrats to piss away.

For those who believe anything remotely resembling political office must somehow be subject to manipulation an open raffle allows any one person to buy as many tickets as they wish. Given enough money someone could all but buy a position. It may not be democratic but it sure as hell lines up with local politics round these parts.

While we're at it let's modify the term to a single year. It isn't as if there is much of a learning curve for positions that rubber-stamp whatever the City Manager puts before them and single year terms will serve to maximize the raffle revenue. It's not a federal grant, but in this Smart City it's what our masters call "win-win"--they win and...they win!

And we should hold the drawing at the end of the Fourth of July parade with immediate transfer of office between the seated Mayor and Council and the newly selected. This transfer of title symbolically represents the permanent transfer of real power from the voters to just another bureaucrat and signifies that government of the people, by the people and for the people has perished from this place.

After all, isn't that what our forefathers fought and died for?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Arts Festival Success

By almost any measure this year's Arts Festival was better than years past, particularly in the improved ratio of Arts Booths to Banks and Basement Waterproofing Booths. For the time being we will classify "Bullet Bugs" as art.

In fact it was so well attended that it choked on its own success--at times it was virtually impossible to move from booth to booth as you were forced to body surf with the ambling crowd. Along with the auto traffic issues around closure of the main thoroughfare in the village (red) it is increasingly a mystery why the Arts Festival is NOT held on Dunwoody Village Parkway (green).

The Parkway affords adequate linear space and being two lanes with a median more than addresses the lateral space issues caused by the location on Chamblee Dunwoody and the Parkway be used without closing access to any of the Parkway businesses. The Parkway also provides convenient overflow space in adjacent parking lots as well as the carny food booths. By leaving Chamblee Dunwoody open the significant impact on high street businesses is eliminated yet they still see a significant increase in footfalls due to pedestrian traffic to and from the festival.

Surely someone at Smart City Hall has a really good explanation for not using what they tout as the crown jewel of the village to showcase the Arts Festival.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kiss My Grits

Grits are the quintessential Southern staple and as Southern culture is increasingly eroded by waves of Northern migration it has become as much maligned as misunderstood.

Let's fix that.

Grits are more than just a bowl of polenta that didn't make the cut. Much more, as this dish demonstrates.

Black Eyed Mule

Mise en place (for two servings)

High quality grits, about 2-3 ounces per serving
Parmesan Reggiano, coarsely grated
Fresh bacon, one strip per serving
Fresh eggs, one per serving
Fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper (in the making)
Most grist mills recommend a five to one water to grits ratio but the proper way to cook grits is al dente so go a bit light on the water. The grits should be brought to a boil then dropped to a simmer and stirred as needed to prevent burning and maintain consistency. As plating time arrives should it be determined the grits are too thick there is no harm in adding a small amount of water to achieve the proper consistency.

Put the bacon in a cast iron frying pan on a slow to medium flame as the grits begin heating.  Fresh bacon has a higher moisture content than cured bacons and should be cooked at a low to moderate temp to avoid burning while achieving a crisp finish. If you don't have a cast iron frying pan, get one. This is the South, we even sell these things in hardware stores.

Once the bacon is crisp remove and place on paper towels to drain. Crumble when drained. Pour off any excess grease then scrape the sticky bits of bacon (fond) loose but do not discard as this only adds to the magic of good eggs.

Keeping the heat low to moderate crack two eggs into the frying pan. You want properly cooked "sunny side up" eggs--well cooked white and a runny yolk--but err to the side of undercooked. Resist the temptation to turn up the heat as this results in a crispy bottom crust--what we call "burned". If you're in a hurry cook covered, it won't really cook any faster but you can't see it so you won't know it and you'll be left to stir the grits which will keep you occupied.

Once the eggs are cooked the grits are done and should not be runny but should not be so thick that they do not readily close behind a spoon pulled thru the pot. If too thick thin with a cautiously small amount of water and give it a minute to heat.

Split the grits between two bowls, reserving a small portion for the demon dawg lest an unholy stench lead authorities to your half-eaten rotting corpse. What they will mistake as "man's best friend" loyally defending his fallen master will in fact be a demonic hell-hound protecting his next meal. Play it safe and set something aside.

Add equal shares cheese, reserving the obligatory canine portion.

Again, with the bacon. Again with the dawg.

Place an egg atop each bowl of grits, and grind pepper on the yolk but only the yolk--the black eye.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Ingredients and Variations

Now that you've done it once it is time to speak of ingredients, options and various combinations.

We all know that top notch ingredients can make a good cook look like a great chef and that it is nigh on impossible to broach this topic without also discussing provenance. The all natural, organic, artisanal, farm to table, locavore movement is in full bloom but sadly has been co-opted by marketing groups who have begun to dilute the movement's value in pursuit of money. This cannot be stopped but we have no intention of helping them along. 

So let's take the ingredients one at a time, starting with the parsley. Grow your own--it's just that simple. You must have a thumb coated in toxic waste to find yourself unable to grow parsley either indoors, outdoors or on the patio. In this climate it will overwinter so there really is no excuse for not using fresh off the stalk parsley in this dish.

Unless you substitute cilantro for the parsley. Again to be used if and only if it is truly fresh--as in you grew it and harvested it within minutes of using it. You should also be aware that cilantro is controversial. Folks seem to love it or hate it with few in between, but if you and yours love it, it is a fine variation so long as you avoid the natural urge to over do it. Moderation please.

There is greater flexibility in cheeses, though stringy cheeses should be avoided if for no other reason that they make eating a fine mess and other equally flavorful options are available. Popular choices range from hard, grating cheeses like parmesan reggiano offering a bit of seasoning and depending on quality a bit of a nutty flavour to a milder feta that adds a creamy texture with a mild taste that is often preferred as a backdrop to cilantro. Goat cheese has been tried but it adds a creamy texture and not much flavour.

Ah, the bacon. Indeed, pork fat rules. Dunwoody is actually blessed with a few excellent sources of bacon, notably The Fresh Market and Whole Foods both providing thick cut, minimally processed product. Minimally, but not fresh, raw bacon, and it is best to avoid the maple cured product in favor of smoke cured. Apple wood cured bacon in proper combination with parsley/cilantro and cheese selection has potential to hit the sweet spot for a broad audience. Even still fresh raw bacon is preferred but sadly for us here in the Wold the nearest, best retail source is the MSTC Meat Sale at UGA in Athens, Ga. As mentioned earlier fresh bacon like any other fresh meat contains more moisture than its more processed brethren. With adequate time, perhaps only a day, two at most the moisture issue can be addressed by "dry curing" in your refrigerator: pat the bacon strips dry, leave uncovered on a plate in the fridge, turning once or twice. If you prefer a saltier bacon you can also dry brine by salting both sides and leaving uncovered in the fridge for about two hours and of course you can combine the techniques.

Eggs, a touchy subject here in the Wold, must be fresh and honestly should be yard raised, perhaps not backyard, certainly not YOUR backyard, but factory eggs kinda taste like they were manufactured. Because they were. But necessity is a mother and you are likely going to have to make the best of a bad situation. Eggland's Best is often a notch above generic house branded product in flavour and freshness excepting The Fresh Market brand which are often the top option available locally. As the eggs are second only to the grits for the enjoyment of this dish it is really worth your trouble to find the best source of the highest quality eggs you possibly can. Egg aficionados, like John Besh, claim they can identify the individual chicken who laid any given egg from their farm. Few dare dispute that claim. Nonetheless the flavour and creaminess of the yolk adds much to this dish. There are some options at local farmers markets, but again the best and closest known at this time is the Athens Eastside Fresh Market with a vendor offering farm fresh options including quail (amuse bouche anyone?) and goose eggs (preferred by bakers) in addition to chicken eggs. No matter, get the best you can.

And finally, what this is all about--grits. If you're looking at a package that is lookin' back at you thru the eyes of an old white man wearin' a funny hat who looks more like Ben Franklin than Jeff Foxworthy, well then, them ain't grits. If you see the work "quick" or "instant" that is a directive. Put it down, quick if not instant-ly. If the package includes the word "hominy" run. Just git the hell out of there. If it really is hominy that's fine but it ain't grits and don't let nobody tell you it is. If it says "hominy grits" gawd only knows what it really is, ain't grits.

But we ARE in the South and as any South Calinky will tell you grits were born then literally and figuratively raised in South Carolina. To this day two of the best suppliers of grits are located just to our east. Both supply yellow and white varieties of extremely high quality and flavour but with some differentiation.

First a bit about the color controversy. Some consider yellow the field corn best suited for animal feed and prefer only white. In Africa yellow corn is held in great disdain as it is yellow corn that is thrown from the back of NGO trucks to "feed the poor Africans". We have found high quality suppliers with more than acceptable white and yellow varieties virtually indistinguishable in flavour and that said we prefer yellow corn for this dish from a presentation perspective. Regardless, taste will not suffer.

The first Calinky option is Carolina Rice Plantation. Their product is sometimes found locally but it is best purchased online as this will reduce the time from mill to meal. True to their name they also supply fine rice products but that is a topic for another time. They supply their grits in handy, reusable two pound canvas bags. Quantity purchase is recommended and grits can be frozen in the original packaging but should be thawed in the fridge to avoid condensation and potential mold. This is a fresh product preserved solely by drying and must remain dry to have any hope of shelf life but may also be cooked directly from the freezer. These grits cook well to al dente with a pronounced corn flavour and minimal sweetness. These have been the go-to grits for the past few years.

Next up is Anson Mills which produces field ripened, cold milled grits from organically grown antebellum heirloom stock and also provide a line of artisanal rice. That should make any new age foodie's Birkenstocks fit just a little bit better. They produce flavourful grits, packaged ready and recommended for freezing arriving in a single bag-in-a-box that is a bit inconvenient for sharing and we should all share, OK?  These also cook well though it takes just a bit longer to bring to a boil as these are kept frozen 'til cooked. They have what many consider a better flavour than Carolina Rice and when cooked al dente produce a slightly creamy broth offering a mouth feel preferred by some. Anson Mills grits are a bit less convenient than Carolina Rice but carry a quality and taste that makes them a fine choice for special occasions.

A discussion of grits suppliers cannot be complete without mentioning a local source, Mills Farm with their signature product Red Mule Grits. While this is a fine product and plays into the name of this dish, it is yet to actually appear in the starring role. It has been sampled at Athens area restaurants, notably NONA, but these were cooked as one would expect in a restaurant--too long resulting in a mushy mouthfeel and muddied flavours. Clearly these grits have potential and we look forward to incorporating them into our cuisine.

It would appear that if you want a varied supply of the best ingredients for this dish you might consider a Friday daytrip to the Classic City. It would be a day well spent.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Give and Take

You will notice to the right a couple of gadgets (that's what blogger calls them) labeled "TOD: Getting It" and "TOD: Taking It".

The first is for RSS feeds and if you know what that is, good. If you don't, even better. At least for you.

The latter is the Creative Commons license under which content on this site is released for use by others. If you don't know what a Creative Commons license is you might want to ask your favorite search engine to show you the way. Or you could just use that link.

This license is to support equitable sharing and is to some degree in reaction to another blogger who copied a post onto his blog--a heretofore unprecedented action*.  The copied post has since been removed but not in response to TOD as the re-poster had in fact done exactly the right thing without any indication as to what that might be over here in TODland:
  • Proper attribution was given
  • Content was presented without derivation
There are some other key elements of this license, mostly restrictions.

For one,  this is not software and it is not for you to fix what you may perceive as bugs--Britishisms creep out and what few letters are wasted with colour and behaviour are more than made up for with thru. Nor should you modify content in any way that makes it appear to be your original work. Call it "no plagiarism" or simply "no derivation" as in the language of the license. It is certainly within "fair use" to rip a post apart and stomp on it, just not here.

For another, if anyone is going to make any money off the rather twisted opinions presented on TOD, it will be TOD. Swag is in the offing.

And finally, the republication or other use of content presented here should in no way be used as an endorsement of others' opinions, blogs or websites. It is unfathomable why anyone would even want to do that, but there it is. 

There is a related consequence of re-posting: in so doing YOU may be perceived as endorsing or agreeing with an opinion on this blog and you may find, as is so often the case, this is socially unacceptable especially in polite company. There has been some suggestion that the remorseful un-re-poster found himself regrettably aligned, at least in some folk's minds, with certain positions regarding city governance with which he does not in fact agree. He seems pretty smart and everyone makes mistakes so that is likely the case.

Just bear in mind when re-posting that there is an implicit "read and understood" that may be misinterpreted as "and I approve this message" and be very clear in your re-posting what your true position is because it very likely is NOT the one expressed here.

*In the past posts have been referenced with the most recent being the April Fool's post regarding Bucky's Bikes that showed up as legitimate news over on the Patch. There are reports alcohol was involved.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Winston Churchill's Destruction of Dunwoody

One of Winston Churchill's quotable quotes on democracy
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter"
seems to have struck a cord with the powers-that-were who pushed thru the creation of Dunwoody. While promoting this city as a platform for local control they were crafting a city charter that effectively relegates our elected Council and Mayor to ceremonial status all but eliminating the voter's say over those who run their city.

They blessed us with what is really "representative democracy" in name only by creating what is in fact a Bureaucratic Monarchy. They effectively stripped our Mayor and Council of any real authority and concentrated what should be distributed power with built in checks and balances answerable to the voter into a single bureaucratic position effectively answerable to no one: the City Manager.

Our current charter has given us a Council and Mayor with the authority to preside over ribbon cuttings while it is King Warren of the Wold who decides when and where and even if these ribbon cuttings occur. He negotiates backroom real estate deals with the full power and purse of the City and deigns to engage Council only when their approval, guided by his hand, is needed--at which point it has been reduced to a mere formality. His casual dismissal of his public non-engagement when making drastic changes to Brookrun Parkway is probably the closest we will get to honesty and transparency during his reign with every other action cloaked in impenetrable opacity with the CAD dis-integration being but one example.

The basis for this Orwellian perversion is not just the aforementioned Churchill quote but the twisted notion that when power corrupts it only affects politicians while appointed officials are somehow immune. There have been many a pub chat regarding the general integrity of anyone who would even consider entering politics but history has proven time and again that humans, any and all, are ill suited to manage power and ultimately it is power that controls them. The key factors of power's corrupting effect are concentration and time and we have had quite enough of both.

We have spent far too much time and effort attempting to disprove the harsh reality of power's corrupting effect and we should now consider another bit of wisdom from Churchill:
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
Here in Dunwoody it is time that we give democracy a try. The power of the ballot box, our power, is effected only through the power of our elected officials and it is now time, with all good care and prudence, to put that power in their hands and return bureaucrats to the role where they best serve--being bureaucrats.

We must create a new charter that will be our Magna Carta.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

First You Must Get Their Attention

This story about an experience with DeKalb County Schools was told by a graying couple who still live in Dunwoody. Their reasonably bright child was under the academic thumb of a highly thought of Dunwoody public elementary school from Kindergarten thru most of fourth grade. During that time their child's nationally normed percentile ranking on the key standardized test of the day showed a monotonic negative trend. No ups and downs...just downs.

Both had some exposure to education with the mother a former teacher and principal in an unnamed northern state who also taught in DeKalb for two years and the father an off and on adjunct at local colleges so it was with a better than average understanding that they approached school personnel to discuss this disturbing trend. That was the only topic they wished to discuss and while one might think this would be very straightforward were one to think that one would be wrong.

First they got the run around. Teacher sent them to the curriculum specialist who forwarded them to the principal who only wanted to know what the teacher said and suggested this was for the teacher to address. Fair enough. On a second meeting with the teacher she actually reviewed the test scores and remarked "oh, your child should have been placed in the gifted program years ago". These parents knowing a thing or two about education were not interested in the make-work program DeKalb foists on parents under the guise of "Talented and Gifted" and they had no interest in a garage-built paper mache vinegar and food color volcano masquerading as an experiment. They wanted to understand how their child's academic performance was in year over year decline and what could be done to reverse that trend. TAG was not a legitimate answer and that it was even proposed was disturbing as it indicates that these educators clearly understood that the standard educational fare they offered was inadequate for children to keep up.

By end of third grade these parents had begun investigating alternatives. Then during fourth grade magic happened. Their child's teacher gave out books as gifts just before the holiday break (apparently the world was just as PC fifteen years ago as now). Their child received "Witch Baby" which was dutifully read aloud in the back seat as the family did their annual over the river and thru the woods pilgrimage to Dizzy Whirled.

The introduction comprises a single paragraph but offers quite the intellectual smorgasbord for a fourth grade mind:
Once, in a city called Shangri-L.A. or Hell-A or just Los Angeles, lived Weetzie Bat, the daughter of Brandy-Lynn and Charlie Bat. A genie granted Weetzie three wishes, so she wished for a Duck for her best friend Dirk McDonald, "My Secret Agent Lover Man for me," and a little house for them all to live in happily ever after. The wishes came true, mostly. Dirk met Duck Drake and Weetzie met My Secret Agent Lover Man and they all lived together. When Weetzie wanted a baby and My Secret Agent Lover Man didn't, Dirk and Duck helped her, and Cherokee was born. My Secret was angry and went away. He stayed with Vixanne Wigg for a while, but he loved Weetzie so much that he returned. One day Vixanne left a basket on the porch of the house where Weetzie and My Secret Agent Lover Man and the baby, Cherokee, and Dirk and Duck all lived. In the basket was Witch Baby and this is her story.
Yet another meeting with the principal was scheduled and the principal actually attended. The parents presented the principal with a photocopy of the book's introduction. Now they had the principal's attention, but not until all the blood had left her face as she had watched her entire career flash before her eyes.

And her first words? "Can I get the book back?"

After a brief discussion of the parents' staunch anti-censorship position and a sincere but otherwise fruitless discussion of their child's academic prospects at the hands of DeKalb's finest educators the parents left with a decision. Upon receiving the results of the fourth grade standardized test (which confirmed the continual decline) they pulled their child, started home schooling and never looked back. 

Lest you think this was a train wreck in the making their child turned out fine attending a local university on full scholarship and continuing on with graduate work in a STEM discipline at a nearby research institute. DeKalb County Schools have not fared as well.