Thursday, December 31, 2020

Get Smart

Cisco tried. They really did. They worked hard. They looked high and low. For a Smart City. Couldn't find one. Surely they looked at the city that brags soooo much about how smart they are. After untold millions of dollars Cisco pulled the plug. Walking, at a good clip, away from any notion that these unicorns, smart cities, even exist. But if they did look at Dunwoody, and any of the newish cities in the area, they would have seen a bureaucracy dedicated to businesses and the support of developers where the people, through their representatives are structurally restricted from advancing their concerns. How smart is that? Apparently not smart enough for Cisco. But what do they know?

Monday, December 28, 2020

Quarter Acre And A Tool

We seem to have a recent spate of the Seven Dwarfs singing "Urban, urban uber alles" which at first seems quite odd. It came up in the great deer hunting hand-wringing sessions where someone laid out the line about "with 1/4 acre lots" as if ALL lots in Dunwoody are that small. Far from it. A quick ride through Dunwoody, say Happy Hollow south to the dead end, turn right, head on over to Peeler and scoot west to Chamblee Dunwoody and you will pass a significant number of lots much, much larger than a quarter acre. And you might be surprised to learn that quite a few Dunwoodians are on septic which is rarely done on 1/4 acre. Or maybe you'll remember the early days when the city wanted to locate pocket parks under power lines only to learn that land, with the easement alone more than 1/4 acre, actually belongs to homeowners adjacent to these lines. Of course city hall's hired guns and the dwarfs doing their bidding are not going to share those tidbits. 

Because the city wants to eliminate suburbia with suburban-scale lots replacing these with clutter homes on 1/4 acre lots, with high rise residences in Dunwoody Village, and with apartments everywhere. Why? Well developers certainly "support" this, but so do government grants. You probably feel a bit like Mr. Winkle, awakening to find out that the suburban home you bought is actually urban, and in decline. We now have a Friends-and-Family bureaucracy at city hall to deal with "urban renewal." Non-stop grant-grubbing. 

But they may be too late. Although significant investments have been sunk into propaganda suggesting this overly high density wasn't really about profiteering by greedy developers but was demanded by the coming wave of Gen-Z and Millennials the truth leaks out that as these younger generations come of age they actually prefer suburbia over urbanity. And this comes from credible sources like Forbes, and Business Insider and not some industry owned propaganda bureaucracy at city hall. And guess what these youngsters are really looking for? They want deluxe, upscale homes in the suburbs. EXACTLY what Dunwoody has always offered. EXACTLY what the city was allegedly founded to protect. And EXACTLY what folks at city hall who've sold out to developers intend to destroy. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The New New

DeKalb public schools may now be leading the way toward a new, better future and it is the voices of teachers that are showing the way. 

DeKalb's teachers are not going back into the classroom and this is a forcing function. 

The force is being applied to parents and it causes parents to examine, to reflect and ultimately to act. The first examination is comparative: is the virtual classroom *really* inferior to the modus operandi of a year ago? Given this evaluation will be done by those receiving the service it will not be a polyannish, relativistic comparison, it will be harsh, realistic and objective: "even if my child is learning [virtually] nothing now, is that really any less than before?" 

As parents have more visibility and gain greater insight into the "who, what and how well" of what DeKalb has been doing they must inevitably conclude that before times were no better and in some ways worse than these after times. Thrust into the role of defacto teacher the incremental uplift to THE teacher, particularly for elementary grades will be a net win regarding effort and inconvenience and significant gain in learning. There will be parents who refuse to send their children back to the classroom, not because of COVID risks but educational harm. Because they have crossed "da Nile" and now they know. 

But then what?

Educationally, parents must grapple with the end-game, with the "when" and "how." Transitioning in the middle or later grades, in order to gain credentials, will result in an achievement mismatch with the parent-taught student far exceeding the industrial-educated child. The industry will insist that returning students place by age, rather than achievement. Think social demotion.

This will drive a movement to continue successful parent-child education through secondary levels and this will fuel a political movement. Parent-voters will demand a state level AP, SAT/ACT driven credentialing program accessible to families, bypassing the monopoly held by traditional schools. This movement will not ignore the money. No longer will eSPLOSTs be approved knowing that most of the money is wasted but with the hope that some, no matter how little, might benefit some students. Millage rates in excess of the constitutional limit will come under increased, intense scrutiny by voters and by the State. As the many pay for the increasingly few, even legal millage rates will be driven downward. 

This will all happen first in DeKalb but it will not long be limited to one school system. Public education is a failure. It has failed children. It has failed parents. It has failed society. Now a pandemic storm has swept away a profound fog of delusion and with parents, voters, seeing clearly change is inevitable and irreversible. 

If you are one of those whose vision is clear, thank a teacher.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Abandon All Hope...

...those who read this.

There ARE striking similarities to what has and is about to happen in DeKalb public schools, but before you get too worked up consider that folks in Brookline are generally wealthier and smarter than folks around these parts. Suck it up. The truth hurts. And yet that doesn't change the facts.

Even still the basic dynamics are hauntingly familiar. It is a long, but good read that will scare your mule.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Grade Inflation

How poetic: Dunwoody gets a "D."

Seriously, this is the kind of city with the kind of service to residents that would make reviewers on Amazon start with "I'd give it a zero if I could" because it is just that bad. There is only one reason this city could possibly rate a D: 'cuz Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Is There No End...

...to the incompetence? 

Just look:

What's wrong with that picture? OK, fine, you're right. Latest update is weeks ago on a topic that is moving faster than a city bureaucrat handing out tax breaks to developers. To find out what is really wrong you have to see this boondoggle of a website in action. New! Improved! Really?

Look at the first thing under Resources: Dunwoody COVID-19 followed by FAQs. Yep, two separate links. Sorta but not really. Click on one, either one. It doesn't matter because they take you to the same circle of interweb hell:


Pretty cool, huh? The entirety of city hall summed up in a very short URL. What is this city about? Blank and blocked, that's what. At least if you are a mere resident. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Merely Adequate

Welcome to Georgia, home of merely adequate. We have enshrined in Article VIII, Section I:
The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.
Don't spend too much time looking because you won't find the part where "adequate" is defined but you will find much about delegating this "primary obligation" to local yokels and you'll even find a millage cap handily exceeded by the DeKalb School System. We pay more than the legal limit begging the question: do we get more than the legal minimum?

  • DeKalb [literally] brags about a 2020 graduation rate of 75.97. Is almost one in four NOT graduating adequate?
  • Illiteracy in our schools is so chronic and so epidemic that evaluation and reporting has been squelched over the last decade as if even looking would be like a nausea inducing glance at fresh vomit. Older, un-canceled reports indicate that 29% of eight graders in the US are functionally illiterate and high school senior reading proficiency in decline with over 25% reading below the "basic" level. With Georgia lagging the nation and DeKalb below average in the state can anyone, outside DCSD, call this adequate?
  • Justification for taxing those who do not send any children to DeKalb public is a social contract, the notion that ALL of society, even the childless, benefit from an educated community. Are we getting an adequately educated population by any objective measure?
Are there any three reasonably objective (IE: not a DCSD employee) observers who would dare suggest that what DeKalb residents are getting from their public schools is even close to an "adequate education?" Maybe it is time to recognize, and act upon, the plain fact that DeKalb County Schools are in breach of the social contract and have failed in meeting the responsibilities required of them by the State's Constitution.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Giggle This

If you're paying attention to news from the Social Justice Universal Overlords you've probably heard that Timnit Gebru has parted ways with Google. Dr. Gebru has worked in AI and Machine Learning and has been an advocate for diversity in high tech. It should come as no surprise that most of her life has been spent in academia having earned her PhD in 2017. 

Google ain't academia. Google is big business. Yes, high tech. Yes with an impressive R+D department, which is where Dr. Gebru was assigned. But is IS business. So when Dr. Gebru co-authored a paper (does anyone write alone anymore?) it received internal review by her colleagues in the Research group and the feedback was not positive. Now this happens all the time with submissions to refereed journals in the academic arena. The author who prefers to publish rather than perish will make changes and re-submit. That is how academic publishing works.

In business things are bit different. When you work for a company your work product, like research, papers, software and patents are assigned to the company. Especially in high tech. So while the good doctor may have expected Google to hold her in the high esteem she would likely enjoy in academia this is business and it is Google's research and Google's paper to publish. Or not.

Dr. Gebru's reaction was what anyone in DeKalb would expect: overestimating her self-assigned importance she threatened to quit.  And Google did what any company should and most would do: they accepted her offer. She tried to characterize this as "being fired" but it was she who laid a threat on the table demanding they respond and expecting Google to back down and let her have whatever way she wanted. The SJW community reacted but impact was limited. Why you ask? There is no certain answer but it just may be that most folks are suffering from "whiner fatigue" exacerbated by pandemic loneliness. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

There Is No Going Back

Let's talk about schools. It should be obvious by now that in DeKalb there will be no return to F2F, in the classroom schooling. Some say this is nonsense pointing to other districts that are and have been in a return-to-the-classroom mode for some time. Others, equally hysterical, talk blood on hands, one is too many, and other hyperbolics spawned in their echo chamber to put an end to any consideration of classroom housed education. 

If we take a big step back perhaps we arrive at a defining question: so what?

It isn't as if the previous operation was any good, at least not if your concern is what your child learns and how well they compare to a broader cohort, say other children across America. And it isn't as if the U.S. as a whole is out in front on a global basis ranking 12th among the top twenty high income countries when it comes to literacy. Worse yet 50% of adults cannot read a book written at or above the 8th grade level and 44% do not read a book in any given year. More humorous than statistically sound, one must wonder what those 6% read-was it The Cat In The Hat or Bozo Bit The Balloon? According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 32 million of American adults are illiterate and 21 percent read below a 5th grade level. Even more damning, particularly of public education is the fact that 19 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. And yet they have that sheepskin. 

So even in the before times public education was an epic fail delivering 1 out of five graduates that are functionally illiterate and this does not account for the approximately 5% that give up altogether. These are nationwide stats and let's go out on a limb and guess that DeKalb public schools are NOT an outlier on the high performing end. Just a guess, but it looks like a good one:


Yep. We suck.

It is not likely to have gotten much worse with "virtual-whatever-the-hell-is-going-on" simply because it always kinda sucked. Look at it this way: if nationwide 25% either left public schools diploma-ed but functionally illiterate or just left and DeKalb is worse than the national average then are we looking at a machine that pumps out one out of three that are, at best, functionally illiterate? Is this a system we want to return to? Can anyone even justify such an idiotic suggestion? 

And if you read "The Secret Shame" you'll conclude DeKalb isn't going to improve whether in a virtual or real world. The simple fact is that urbanesque systems, like DeKalb, are run by the left/liberal/progressives and as it turns out they haven't a clue when it comes to educating our children. Adjusted for all other factors and measuring educational outcomes the conservatives are serving up a can of educational whoopass to the liberals. Unfortunately at almost every level of education things are run by a liberal establishment and in DeKalb they are empowered with a $1B budget.

So. Is there any [value in] going back? Will it get any better? Can it get any worse? Isn't it all just an inevitable waste of money? Does any of it really matter? Does anyone even care? If they do, what will they, what can they, do about any of this?

Monday, November 30, 2020

Million Dollar Man

A few hundred thousand dollars here a half a mil there and pretty soon you're talking real money. The kind of money that can break a budget. It is a direct consequence of leadership failure that has persisted since this city was founded, it has run unabated and it has only gotten worse. Despite that the city has dodged more than a few bullets. They have been the poster child for DWB civil rights violations calling in neighboring jurisdiction's indicate-on-cue drug dogs in support of illegal detentions. Today BLM would cancel this city for far less. Undercover operations that were clear civil rights violations. Two police shootings have resulted in fatalities and thankfully both were white or Ferguson would be a footnote to Dunwoody. The rot has now turned inward with the kind sex hijinks that would leave Larry Flint shaking his head.

The city manager who is ultimately responsible for this goat rodeo has shown no interest in taking action. The seven dwarfs are, by the very structure of the city, all but powerless with only one lever to pull: firing the city manager and finding a replacement that will serve the residents rather than everyone but. And yet, they too have refused to address this train wreck in a meaningful way. 

Clearly strings are being pulled and not by anyone who gives a damn about the people who live here. There is no end in sight and apparently no cost too great.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Pig Lipstick

Part of the school super's job is spin control but it is a fine line between messaging and spinning out of control. The state audit reports are in and the distance between rhetoric and reality suggests things are spinning out of control. The super is pleased the audits were completed in a timely manner despite the fact the school system didn't meet the auditors requirements in a timely fashion or with anything resembling accuracy. And she hopes this audit will result in a positive credit rating from Moody's. 

Has she even read the report?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Goosestep In Spandex

There was some expectation that the election would begin the end of social media insanity. No such luck.

The pin that was pulled in the stupidity grenade was the SVA on Dunwoody Club complete with flips and flames but thankfully no fatality. You could hardly count to ten before stupidity shrapnel was shredding social media. 

While acknowledging the complexity of multiple jurisdictions some rather sane folks noted a need for enforcement, particularly with regards to speeding. Someone else pointed out, correctly, that Billy would be dismissive claiming that the average speed in the area is right at the speed limit. He's done it before and it was just as offensive then as now. But does he not run a Toll Troll operation on 285? Do they let folks zip by simply because, on average, they're holding it to the limit or do they pull over those exceeding the limit? Hmmm....

A couple of the dwarfs tuned in and piped up attempting to divert the conversation to a private forum but not before dropping some juicy comments. One, the self-proclaimed Bicycle Nutzi, boldly declared that "enforcement is a temporary band-aid" after having said that "speeding is a direct result of the street design." Yep. He farted in the tub AND bit the bubble.  

So here's a clue: speeding is a direct result of a driver's operation of his vehicle. Period. Which is exactly why enforcement actually works. He may be suggesting that our police department is only going to provide enforcement on a very limited, temporary basis, begging the question of why we even bother with a PD at all. Furthermore, let us hold this dwarf's feet to the fire next time an ordinance comes up for a vote. If enforcement is, in his mind, not to be bothered with, then why have an ordinance at all? 

But to understand the silliness dribbling from this dwarf you must understand we're talking a one-trick pony, or perhaps a mental unicyclist peddling a world of bikes. When you're goosestepping to "bicycles, bicycles uber alles" you see everything as an opportunity to advance your narrow singular agenda: it's all about bikes. Sadly he has the same vote as the other dwarfs but perhaps this is one situation where having the city run by anyone but the seven dwarfs, while not optimal, may curtail some of the stupid. 

It is discouraging to see elected officials working diligently to prove this is not a Smart City and is in fact quite the opposite.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

An Inconvenient Minority

SJW assaults on western, largely white "establishment" is nothing new but has been on steady increase over the last few decades to the point that inevitable missteps are unavoidably public. The rules of engagement are defined exclusively by the SJW community as well as the allegiances of the combatants and bystanders. What could possibly go wrong?

And then we have "the inconvenient minority": Asians, where Asian covers orientals and those from the Indian sub-continent and they have become a problem of late. For the SJW mercenaries that is. 

We've all heard about the Yale and Harvard dust-ups regarding their preference systems which discriminate against Asian Americans. In the courts Yale lost and Harvard won but we all know whose is the best law school. These will probably go to SCOTUS for final adjudication. 

In the meantime we have a Washington school district making a rather odd decision quite detached from reality when they issued a report declaring that Asians are actually White. Their irrational justification of the removal of Asians from the "persons of color" category seems to be based on achievement. It is if they are saying: "those who achieve, no matter their melanin level, will be stripped of PoC credentials and lumped together with Whites." 

The Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan could not have said it better. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dunwoody And Deer

What is it with Dunwoody and deer? If you've been able to stomach the recursively negative political ads long enough you may have seen that Dunwoody has deer and someone has been taking them out. 

But the internet, fueled by rumors, has a particular twist on this story and if there is any relationship between these rumors and the truth then it may well be the city that is behind the deer cull. 

And it does start out very believable. 

It appears that a deer was struck by a truck delivering to a local business and as one would expect if one has ever seen these trucks speeding through the ironically named "no truck zone," there was significant damage to the truck. Word on the web has it that the affected business dropped a dime on a buddy at city hall (they ALL have a buddy at city hall) to get the city to address the deer problem. Some have suggested the business demanded the city reimburse for the cost of repairs but there is no word yet if the city sent a check or is just issuing P-cards to every business.

This is alleged to have spawned quite a few meetings involving various city employees dedicated to the happiness of businesses and developers. It was quite a crowd and it isn't clear if social distancing could be maintained. They were all there. The director of economic development. The manager of business retention. City manager. Sub-manager. Assistant to the sub-manager. Business development zoning coordinator. They even caught Billy between some of his many on-the-payroll extracurriculars. Someone sighted some of the seven dwarfs. 

The notion of a cull was pre-decided by the impacted business though the process itself was delegated to the business support employees at city hall. One suggested this become a police responsibility until someone else reminded everyone of the Christmas deer slaying and how poorly it was handled. Shots fired and the carcass left to rot in the street. You might have expected Billy to represent for his cops but when he found out that, even in season, ten-point bucks don't sport a woody he went back to dorking with the camera on his new iPhone and left the meeting mumbling something about "I thought this made things look bigger." 

This left them looking like a scene from Jaws, the one where the city decides to hire Captain Quint and the city's business support team decided to hire a professional. That there was no money funneled to a well-connected consultant to provide support for this decision is where credulity becomes a bit stretched. Apparently someone, a relatively recent transplant from up north, had been leaf peeking in the mountains and seen hand-crafted cardboard signs touting "deer processing." This individual stopped to offer a recommendation for a professional sign printer, one well-connected with the city, and took the opportunity to investigate just what "deer processing" means. This resulted in a list of names, including some in Dunwoody proper, who might assist in the culling operation. Deals were done, strictly on the Q-T as is the city's standard procedure and the deer cull began. 

And city hall once again plays the fool on local media.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hey Joules!

Work. What is work? Well there are some precise definitions but a good "working" definition is: force through a distance. There are some clear implications most important being that no work is done unless force is applied and that force moves that upon which it is applied. Forward ideally. 

This definition is more that just an abstraction, "concept" to educators, it is applicable in the real world, to educators themselves. 

Parents want their kids in school. They know that two forty five minute sessions, four days a week, falls far short of an "adequate education" as mandated in the State Constitution. Teachers, fearful of a return to the classroom, disagree claiming they are doing more work now than they did when in the schoolhouse

This is where the unbreakable laws of physics and the clear definition of work comes in handy. 

Teachers may well be putting in more hours. There may be actual brain strain as they learn that learning is hard and there is a lot for them to learn. But it is equally undeniable that less education is being delivered to our children measured by time, or sooner or later by results on nationally normed tests. 

So what is going on?

Well, teachers are NOT doing more work but they ARE expending more effort. One way to look at this by way of efficiency: more effort overwhelmed by less progress yielding less actual work. In the extreme it is like pushing against a wall--lots of effort and energy but the wall doesn't budge and no work takes place. A more disturbing perspective relates to what work, no matter how minimal, is being done. Is it the right work? Is the educational ball being moved in the right direction? Is it enough work or are our students, particularly given DeKalb's performance on its best day, falling further and further behind their peers throughout the state and the country? 

Maybe it is time to acknowledge this isn't working and no amount of effort is likely to change that. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Clean House. Really!

The bureaucrats at city hall are asking for citizens to step up and clean up the community. This does not mean you, and you know who you are, can gather up the trashy signs littering out community. 

It might be nice if the seven dwarfs stepped up with some leadership and cleaned up their own house. The obvious first step is removal, with cause, of police command that is costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars. Similarly the out of control management hell bent on doing anything but serve the residents of this community should be shown the door. And at a time when we all face a financial downturn maybe it is time for the dwarfs to consider offloading activities that rightly belong with a chamber of commerce onto, well, a chamber of commerce. 

Indeed, it would be nice. Just don't hold your breath. 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

They're Coming To Take You Away...

Artificial Intelligence is powering many aspects of our daily lives. Many, perhaps most, are good things. Cars that drive, or at least assist the driver, or merely watch the driver alerting her of distractions. A world of information is literally available for the asking. IVR hell is no longer escaped by a series of touch-tones. Instead you talk your way out. AI is solving math problems. Very. Difficult. Math. 

What could possibly be next? Education comes to mind, but it isn't exactly new. And for every research article on the uses of AI in education there is an article suggesting that technology will never replace the classroom teacher. Most early uses of AI were indeed guide by the side of a sage on the stage providing automated grading and evaluation as well as tailored lesson planning. Perhaps the irreplaceability is based on the computer being impersonal and detached. But that may not tell the proper story and in any event it is changing. 

We now have a small company with a very interesting product. A robo-tutor. 


In the brave new world of pandemic non-school schools where your child's education is delivered to den why not have a robo-tutor? Why stare at some flat screen classmate mosaic mashup when you can have a real tutor delivering real lessons crafted by certified teachers? At some point the guides-by-the-sides will be AI powered personal education robots and sages-on-stages will be significantly better and not very thick on the ground. 

Of course, this will never work in DeKalb County public schools.


For obvious reasons.

Monday, November 2, 2020

You Got To Be Good Lookin'

'Cuz It's So Hard To See

Or maybe not. 

We've heard a lot lately about mis/dis/information on the interweb especially since that was elevated to the realm of "hacking." No. Really. Nowadays spreading incorrect information on the interweb is actual factual hacking. Who knew? 

But there is still a great wealth of high-value information available and searches are your friend. Not only do we have Giggle at our disposal almost every portal and website offers search within the contents therein. Seriously easy to suss things out. So let's suggest an exploration and get to sussing.

What is the accreditation status of the best public school system in the known universe, DeKalb County School District? Pulling this thread raises a lot of questions.

First of many is who would be accrediting this train wreck as anything but a dumpster fire? Well, back in the days of Gubernatorial interventions that was SACS, which later morphed into AdvancEd and has since joined forces with others in the education industry to become cognia. So do cognia accredit DCSD? Cruising over to cognia.org and selecting the accreditation search link we find some interesting things. First the search is hosted at advanc-ed.org, but one can indeed do a search:


And right there on page two of the results you'll find DCSD staring up at you:


So...DCSD is indeed accredited. In fact in 2017 DCSD celebrated having accreditation extended through 2022 which basically means DCSD will do nothing to support further accreditation until 2023. 

The next question concerns pandemic inspired/required "distance learning" though it is worth noting that DCSD will never use that term preferring instead to call it "virtual learning." The likely reason for this is the fact that accrediting agencies have a precise meaning for "distance learning" because they provide accreditation for Distance Learning programs. Shall we search?


And what do we find? 


Notice anything missing? That's right! DCSD is NOT ACCREDITED FOR DISTANCE LEARNING. Lots of other schools are but not a single one in DeKalb including the Flex Academy which may well be largely about "Credit Recovery" to boost graduation rates.

Does that change anything? Not really. DCSD will continue with "virtual learning" which is certainly virtual and probably no more or less learning that anything else they've ever done. 

But now we know that it may not be so hard to see.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Should He Resign?

Hell no!

He should be fired. With cause. Same fate should await his boss. But it should not wait a single day longer.

Monday, October 26, 2020

No Fooling? Really?

A local restaurateur with a widely and highly acclaimed menu has been reported giving free lunch to early voters as they wait in line.While he started his restaurant with his own hard work and culinary chops there are many reasons why he is succeeding in Dunwoody Village. And he isn't alone. He is in the company of other homegrown and family restaurants in what is actually a rather small area. Yes, some have come and gone, but for several decades Dunwoody Village has served as an incubator for restarentrepreneurs. That is what a suburban community can do that no faux urban center ever will. The suburbanites surrounding daVille are a tight community, they know the village and those businesses that respect their community receive their support.

Not that we haven't had any outsiders thinking they could come in with tony, trendy restaurants and charge NYC prices. Remember all the places that were in the Pizza Hut before Novo settled in--in to the community? These failures thought they knew the demographic. They were wrong.

But city hall and the seven dwarfs have the answer: they will change the demographic by tearing down this existing, effective business incubator and replacing it with a cookie cutter development supporting expensive, high priced franchises (Bam! Kick it up a notch!) with footfalls provided by, wait for it, high density, high crime urbanal residences-three to five stories of apartments towering over nearby subdivisions. Several thousand apartments are coming to daVille, because as Mayor Development says the business doesn't work without it: "we don't get the amenities we want without housing."

 And just who are "we"? Well it sure as hell isn't the community that built this village, that supports these businesses and rejects those that have no place here. No, in Mayor Development's lexicon "we" are city bureaucrats, developers, commercial real estate managers and profiteering businesses. Oh, and the seven dwarfs themselves. 

No Fooling.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Are They Allowed To Do That?

Is the DeKalb School system allowed to operate a "Digital Learning Program?" In other words "Is DCSD accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED-SACS) to do Digital/Remote/Distance 'Learning'?" 

Are they? If we have learned anything since the Spring Of Our Discontent it is that Digital Learning requires a different pedagogy, a different infrastructure, different learning resources and more importantly different teacher skills and capabilities. We've also learned that DCSD, while hardly capable of running a brick and mortar program even with an enormously bloated budget, is fantastically incapable of a digital transformation. They lack leadership, core knowledge and key capabilities throughout. 

What are concerned parents to do? If they are familiar with Bryan Caplan's premise that education is mostly signalling then they should be terrified at the prospect of their child being "credentialed" by an unaccredited program. As many of their children's educators are pointing out this digital transformation is not a simple flip of the switch. Thankfully, for at least some parents, it is a simple flip of the switch: from DeKalb Public schools to programs, Digital or F2F, that are accredited. 

Parents with students in DeKalb Public are unarguably facing the prospect of their children never returning to classroom in a brick and mortar setting. If your children's education is going to be delivered to the den, shouldn't it at least be from a capable, accredited organization like one of the many Virtual Academies that know what they're doing? And can prove it.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Bright Flight

There has always been some of it: folks moving from place to place in the metro region seeking a better education for their children. These "better schools" tended to correlate strongly with distance with taxes and home prices exhibit an equally strong but negative correlation leaving commute time the only limiting factor. 

The pandemic changed all that.

Large numbers are working remotely and like it. Companies' comfort level is on the rise as results show increased productivity alongside reduced costs. Traditional schools are on life support, teachers are remote but inept at distance education, student contact time is low and incessant demands for more money have only grown louder. In DeKalb, parents perhaps were convinced by years of educator messaging that teachers, classrooms and schools are critical to the excellent education they've been told their children deserve and thought they were receiving. Now these same parents who want their children back in those most excellent schools are pushing back against reluctant teachers by regurgitating the Kool-Aid and it isn't a pretty sight as the bartenders have no appetite for the drinks they were serving. 

Many parents are staring at a tax bill where upwards of seventy percent goes to schools that are essentially down for the count. "Hell no-We won't go" is a broken record they cannot tolerate hearing. Teachers aren't coming back. Parents, at least some, will be "migrating" towards education for their child. 

Who are these parents? Who are their children? Will these be those most at-risk, those most negatively impacted by teachers' partial strike or will the be those children whose parents have the means and the priorities to ensure the best for their children? When the best and brightest are driven from traditional public schools why would they ever return?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pandemic Delusion Syndrome

The pandemic seems to be closely related to some serious disturbances in the farce, with some new and some amplified continuations of previous farcical behaviours. Let's look at a few.

Shocking to some is the rapid development and rollout of the picnic table app, to which TOD would simply say: make sure you pack your own picnic basket. What has some folks aghast is the fact that they've been at it for a decade now and still cannot get an app in place for identifying, tracking and resolving code violations. 

This leads immediately to the city's "enforce on complaint" which is employed whenever someone at the city feels like it. Complain about trucks violating the no-truck zone? Tough luck. Your neighbor keeping his motorized trailer in his driveway? Well there are about 1500 reasons for the city to jump on that. Some have suggested this is a follow the money issue as they have been told that there is not enough money in ticketing trucks. Frankly if Dunwoody were to apply appropriate fines there would be hell to pay with the folks at city hall who work on behalf of local businesses. 

And there are quite a few on our payroll working for business interests. We have a director of economic development and that's not to help out home-based businesses with their SLUP applications. Then there is the manager of business retention. Really. Now what do you suppose they do? After all doesn't "manager" mean there are employees being "managed?" Funny how there is no "manager of neighborhood preservation" or "director of resident satisfaction." Come to think of it, it really is NOT funny. 

Then there is the whole DPD kerfuffle, a raging dumpster fire that has become Dunwoody's version of the eternal flame. We've had police shootings with two "civilians" killed. There have been DWB and civil rights violations some yielding expensive court cases. If that's not enough we face a string of pending cases alleging  sexual harassment and the Top Cop will not answer questions about what he knew, when he knew it and if that wasn't until a lawyer dropped a dime, how he could be so clueless about what was going on under his nose. It is worth noting that he was not the candidate preferred by the Police Task Force and he has now lost support in the community with some calling for his resignation. Here's the punchline: the Top Cop's side hustle is coaching other cops on how to be a police chief every bit as good as he.

That DWB history is coming back to haunt with the BLM movement and SSR confessions all around. But not Dunwoody. Our Top Cop trots out personnel stats showing we have enough Black officers but might be short on Asians--the inconvenient minority. This dismissive approach to SSR hasn't worked well in practice. 

And we move on to the racial/racist underpinnings of the city itself with King John protesting that there was "nothing racial goin' on" yet immediately there were plans made to drive out Hispanics in PIB apartments and the power structure of the city and all its satellite organizations remain lily-white. But no "spoon-feeding" in this town. 

Let's close for now with the non-stop hating laid on the village. What's with that? Why do so many folks, hired guns as well as the seven dwarfs, so hate the village? They are hell bent on eliminating the village overlay with particular animus towards sign ordinances. In their recent "public survey on signs" it was all about the village. What about the similar business-retail at Mt. Vernon and Jett Ferry? Why no questions about signs that might be appropriate there? Or how about the business-retail center at Chamblee Dunwoody near 285? Why is the village singled out for 3000 rental residents (and yes, they will be rental, sooner or later)? Why not preserve a vital, vibrant SUBURBAN shopping and business center that has grown, organically, to serve the needs of the surrounding suburban neighborhoods? The Mayorette claims the village is the commercial center of Dunwoody, a mental turd that stinks up her "shilling for business" claims that high density residential is necessary for the amenities she wants-like perhaps a pandemic petri dish? Maybe she should head south from her office and see the real commercial center or maybe she should just lead the way for our top cop by submitting her resignation so the residents and voters have a chance to get someone who represents their interests.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Why Not? Here's Why...

Someone posed the ponderafication of "why didn't they consider 'instant runoffs'?", with "they" being the folks trying to re-write the city charter. What's an "instant runoff" you ask? Well it is a scheme specifically designed to address the money and time costs of runoff elections while hewing true to the democratic notion that citizens have a right to vote.  The system is quite simple. When you cast your ballot you select your first choice, then your second, then third and so on to n-1, where n is the number of options. When there is no candidate with a majority then the votes for the lowest vote-getter go to the candidate selected by the voter on their ballot. This iterates until a candidate achieves a majority. The winner may not be everyone's top choice but at least it isn't someone that a majority voted against. 

So why didn't the folks trashing the charter go for this? Others have. The largest anti-rationalization is that it is complicated and not everyone will list a secondary or tertiary preference. So? Not voting is a voter's choice, just as valid as any other. Furthermore, taken to the extreme should all the electorate chose not to chose secondary candidates this scheme devolves to the "plurality wins" scheme the charter hackers recommend. 

So that cannot be the real issue, can it? The real issue is as simple as it is obvious: partisan politics.

Democrats and Republicans are equally addicted to power and riches that control over government and politics affords them. They enjoy a duopoly they will not easily relinquish and will defend at all costs. Even if it means destruction of "little d" democracy as we're watching with the Charter Commission. 

Instant runoffs are a threat to their power (and money) because it greatly increases the chances for third party candidates to gain office. Suppose an election offers these candidates: a Republican Right Wingnut; a Democratic Left Wingnut; and a third party candidate holding down the middle. With the current vote+runoff scheme few that might otherwise support the centrist will instead feel they must vote for the lesser of the two major party evils lest the greater of the two, in their opinion, win the election. In the current scheme a vote for a third party candidate is either a protest vote or a wasted vote. The plurality scheme further marginalizes third party candidates while increasing power of the incumbent party as any votes siphoned off by a third party candidate are likely to go to the party not currently holding the office. The current scheme limits third party viability, undermining democracy and the plurality scheme only makes it worse. 

And the Democrats and Republicans who appointed the Charter Commission really, really like it that way. 

This is despite the fact that instant runoff is not a guaranteed threat to the duopoly. Suppose the three aforementioned candidates are running for mayor with the Republican getting 40%, the Democrat 35% and the third party 25%. [Yes, the race is technically non-partisan but we all know who is waving what color flag.] With no clear majority the third party candidate is dropped and the votes re-counted with the third party supporters votes going to their second choice. As a result the winner will have a majority and in this example could in fact be the Democrat. Because THAT is the will  of the people. Apparently NOT the will of the Commission. 

Though not guaranteed, instant runoff is a very real threat to the duopoly. Suppose the same election is held with aforementioned bitter polarization of the main parties and that this acrimony is such that many True Blues and Red Bloods would really prefer another choice than their own party offers, but certainly not the other team's. With instant runoff, voting third party is no-harm no-foul as they can select their party's candidate as the second choice. It would also mean that staunch partisans can vote third party as their second choice denying the opposing party the win should their party not make the runoff. So if the numbers are Republican 40%, Democrat 25% and third party 35% it is possible, perhaps likely, that the third party candidate will take the win in the instant runoff. Is there any Republican or Democrat that wants to see THAT happen? 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

For Whom The School Bell Tolls

The back-to-school bell is about to ring and it isn't clear if that bell is not cracked. In DeKalb many of the hell-no-we-won't-go teachers appear serious about not showing up, though some will seek paycheck protection under the FMLA. The focus has been on the most vocal group, the teachers, but will parents heed the call and send in the kids?

The hybrid approach offers limited schoolhouse time and the rule of "one is remote--all are remote" mitigates almost all of what value there may be to in-the-classroom presence. The limited schedule will not provide the freedom that parents who cannot work from home need to get their jobs done. For parents able to stay at home the crippling limitations of hybrid may cause further disengagement. What will they do? What are their options? And since this is DeKalb, what are their demographics?

In many cases options are already being explored. Edu-Pods are forming. Homeschool is getting a serious look by parents that otherwise would never have considered that option. Virtual academics, beyond the DCSD OJT option, are gaining traction. And there are always private schools with increased demand driving the creation of new schools.

Options are limited by the demographics of the parents. High income, already-remote workers can leverage most if not all of these options. As the collar shifts from white to blue, viable options fall off. This phenomena will vary by geography to the extent that income and flexibility vary. And it will probably track voting characteristics as well.

And the result? Many who can will leave the public school system leaving behind those philosophically wedded to public education and those who simply cannot access other options. The demographic skew will push towards an impoverished school system with little hope of overcoming longstanding, systemic financial, operational and educational failings.

If you thought things at DeKalb County Schools could not get any worse this pandemic may be enlightening.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Assassinating Democracy

Dunwoody's movers and shakers, by way of the Charter Commission, have tracked down democracy, slipped a knife in the back and started twisting. On the one hand they disparage voter turnout while simultaneously extending a term limit for the mayor guaranteed to discourage voter engagement. 

But that is not the mortal wound.

They want to do away with runoffs in contested races. Really! They actually approved that. Why? Because it cost too much money. That's right. They don't think that our vote is worth the cost. It gets better. In a move that would make Goebbels blush they claim that runoffs are anti-democratic because of reduced voter turnout. What it actually does is provide for installing a "winner" who had more voters against them than for them. And this would be in contests where interest is so high that more than two candidates vie for the slot. And they call this "democratic."

That's odious enough to back a buzzard off a gut wagon. 

For those who weren't here or have forgotten, this city was founded by a referendum vote held mid-summer in a presidential election year. This was a brazen voter suppression tactic. Oh, and by the way, it cost more money than having the referendum on the November ballot. 

And the hypocrisy runs deep. Many on this commission were 'playas in the day' with one being a member of the first city council. It is tempting to lob a 'shame on you' their way but shame requires character and being a character doesn't mean you have any.

Instead let's take pragmatism to the extreme. What the folks on this commission know better than most is exactly who this city was intended to serve from the get-go. So do the folks at city hall. So why not just cut to the chase and cut out the citizens and their vote altogether? Why does it have to be such a bloody murder? Why euphemize democracy when we can euthanize? 

Let's have the people this city really serves select the mayor and council. The city manager can pick two for council to represent the overlapping, redundant headcount in the city bureaucracy. The director of economic development picks another two to represent business interests profiteering from our community. And the Developers' Authority can pick the mayor and two more on council since they are the biggest of the big dogs getting fat on city hall largess. 

And think of the money we'd save.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Value Of Virtue Signalling

Academia is a weird, wonderful and entertaining place. Faculty members and administrators turn to the left harder than a NASCAR driver. They are windsocks wagging feverishly in even the slightest winds of political correctness. That they admit to being the smartest folk on the planet only adds to the humor value of their herd mentality and constant demonstrations of "failure to think things through." 

And now none other than the President of Princeton has proclaimed that Princeton is now and always has been systemically and structurally racist. Yes indeed. He went there. A contrary perspective was offered up by a Mathematics professor. Unsurprising as Math seems the last remaining bastion of logic in academia.

But then it got interesting.

While the Princeton President was basking in the glory of self flagellation he seems to have forgotten that he actually said this stuff out loud. And someone heard him. Someone from outside the apparently appropriately named Ivory Tower. The head of the Department of Education heard him loud and clear. And now? The DOE wants their money back. Seems he didn't realize that his wonderfully PC admission of SSR was also an admission that Princeton had also violated Title VI, a direct contradiction of former statements that Princeton was in compliance. And that compliance is a requirement for Federal funds. Funds Princeton has already received. Funds they may well be required to return.

To the tune of $75M.

While we may not know the value of virtue signalling but we are about to find out about the cost.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Virtual Reality

The rhetoric around a return to in-class instruction is heating up in Dekalb. Hyperbolic comments (no risk is worth taking; blood on hands) are being made and hard-line stances (quit before I go back) have been taken. Some of this is emotional, perhaps the result of fear-mongering from some camps and some is political-after all, what isn't these days? In one sense this is a detachment from reality but in another this is all very real. And it suggests a very interesting thought exercise.

Let's take the "hell no, we won't go" teachers' position, take them at their word and see where that takes us. It may just be a better place.

If we accept that virtual learning is the exclusive modality until such a time as there is no risk of anyone, particularly teachers and their loved ones, falling ill due to SARS-CoV2 then what does that really mean? Even with a vaccine that meets the FDA sixty percent efficacy and given the presence of clandestine anti-vaxxers the condition for return-to-school will not be met for the foreseeable future, if ever. And now reports are emerging of a virus mutation that is even more contagious than the previous variant. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that all "learning" will be "virtual" from here on.

There is an issue on which teachers have been somewhat contradictory. In spring there was much concern about the effectiveness of virtual learning, about the difficulty (primarily for the teachers) and confusion around the technology involved. More recently in their push back against returning to the classroom protesting teachers are waving placards touting their skills: "I can teach online just fine." Clearly that needs to be evaluated and fortunately there is a "control" for comparison.

And this is where parents come into play. They've been exposed to classroom teachers pivoting to virtual but Georgia is blessed with several online/virtual academies. These operations were built from the ground up for exactly the modality that classroom teachers are (indirectly and inadvertently) demanding. It should be a straightforward comparison between a classroom teacher who seems to think a bitmoji classroom is critical vs someone who is a "virtual native." 

This brings us to the fun part of the thought experiment: what does the future hold?

For parents and their children it offers flexibility and mobility in the day-to-day and longer-term. Once education is virtual, why stay in DeKalb? The real estate market hasn't crashed, mortgage rates are low and a move to a lower-cost locale would free up cash to cover the cost of proctoring/supervision. If the wage earners are remote workers all one really needs is reliable, high speed internet. There is the issue of special needs students who cannot be remote but by removing a majority of students in-person facilities can be made safe for these students and their teachers and more resources will be available for their needs.

For classroom teachers the situation is a bit bleak. They may prefer "virtual learning" to what they dramatize as "certain death" but what hasn't sunk in is this means they are now remote workers. Begs some questions. Are they remote enough? Could we obtain more bang for fewer bucks with English teachers in Iowa and Math teachers in Massachusetts? Do they even need to be in this country? Many foreigners do quite well in English and are far more conversant in Math than the average U.S. K-12 teacher.

Which leads another consequence of virtual learning. Thinking that all you need to do is video conference or live-stream your normal classroom performance is wrong thinking. This is a major paradigm shift and, as classroom teachers are pointing out, this requires a completely different process. It also offers enormous opportunity. We all know most teachers hover around average and there are, as in any endeavor, some absolutely outstanding performers. With properly designed and managed virtual learning this sage can be on many stages, multiple times with lesser "guides by the sides" ensuring students stay on task, get answers to questions and have moderated discussions with fellow students. 

But even this is just polishing an old apple that is well beyond its use-by date. We have burned through twenty years of the twenty first century and the era of the little red schoolhouse ended decades ago. We are surrounded by technology that listens to us, responds to our queries and commands. We have cars that watch us drive and alert us when we're falling down on the job. Services understand us well enough to individualize services giving what we want, when we want it. They understand enough of us well enough to continually improve their services. Robots have entered the home as elder-care companions and child playmates. Handheld computers recognize us by face and fingerprint. Augmented reality is being used to entertain, inform and guide. 

We are immersed in sophisticated technology. Except in school. We have the capability, right here, right now, to create a system that provides individualized educational experiences that adapt in real time for each student in each subject. Constant adaption means constant evaluation and the end of high-stakes testing. AI analysis across populations drives ongoing improvement of various pedagogical techniques, modalities, and content creation and delivery. Technology makes every moment a teaching moment and eliminates boundaries between subjects and the arbitrary [mis]alignment of grade levels. Each individual learns each thing at their own rate in the manner best suited to that learner. 

If parents choose to pursue these goals, to push for this technological revolution, then thank a teacher-one of those who decided to step aside, making way for a twenty first century system.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Baby It's Cold Outside

At next week's Mayor's Meetup, where she will NOT explain her support for gutting the Village Overlay, Citizens will be treated to Dunwoody's Top Cop and Chairman of the Dick Pic Society.

 

And the turtles are frightened

But be there or be square. Bring photo ID for proof of residency and your camera-you never know what's going to jump out at you.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Anecdotes And Analogies And Adverbs

The back and forth bickering between teachers, who're getting jiggy with the whole work from home model and parents, who want a return to school because parents may not enjoy the luxury of "pay without presence" has become [en]trenched warfare. 

Parents want their kids F2F in the classroom and are using many of the tried and true arguments of the great importance of socialization among their cohort and the benefits of communal settings for "collaborative" learning. Parents know that their kids learn best when they're in a classroom with a teacher that "cares about them." There is no more hard data supporting these conclusions now than there ever was so it is only the anecdotal mythology that is being repurposed. DeKalb's parents are pointing to other districts with in-person classes with envy and increasing anger. Perhaps they should have made that comparison before they chose to live in DeKalb.

Teachers, spring's heroes and fall's traitors, were initially blindsided and faced a two-front battle. One was the ongoing "we don't get paid enough for this," with this being online, remote work. When confronted with the possibility that they would be required to get their asses back in the classes, teachers attempted a quick pivot to "hell no! we won't go!" Unfortunately, their new position is undermined by their age old, self-supporting arguments. 

What is missing are hard data, raw data. There is a surplus of opinion, narrative and misleading comparisons. You cannot even discuss the evaluation criteria of LMS-es without it devolving into citations of industry-self-promotional awards rather than quantifiable metrics of various systems under consideration. Those unhappy with the selection are equally at fault with nothing more than personal preference gilded with adverbs, anecdotes and vague references to everyone else. 

Teachers want folks to believe that being in a classroom with the same snot-nosed kids they embraced every year prior puts them in greater risk that Father Damien. They simply cannot put together a coherent argument because in the past their rationalizations were accepted without question. No longer. When they make the comparison that they are at far greater risk, because they are around so many others, than, say a Kroger employee, most folks, especially Kroger shoppers, roll their eyes. They try to trot out studies, which must be cherry-picked as there are as many that undermine as support their position. They undermine international comparisons, where F2F schools are in operation, by suggesting these countries have better leadership. Again, by some untold metrics. 

What it really comes down to is there has been a serious disturbance in the farce. Parents may still think their little precious is the greatest gift to mankind, but teachers are no longer willing to go overboard to support this notion or to leverage it to their own ends--give us more money. The pandemic has cured the Lake Wobegon Effect with parents now firmly convinced that their children are NOT going to the best school on the planet, that they are NOT getting the best education if in fact they are getting an education at all. Because they're not going at all. 

Teachers are angry at the notion they are "free daycare," which only makes sense if you never see your property tax bill. Silence from the parents confirms the daycare assertion but teachers' surprise is laughable. Schools have been touted, and repurposed, to address every societal ill except teaching and learning. In the spring the education industry predicted a tsunami of undetected child abuse because it is the teachers who are the [only] responsible adult in many children's lives and they've taken on the role of social worker. So why NOT daycare as well? Learning fell off the To Do list when teachers shifted from "Sage on the Stage" to "Guide by the Side" and prioritized "fun" over knowledge and skills acquisition.

Teachers feel threatened and put upon. They're pissed and they are doing what they always do, at least in DeKalb: threaten to quit. 

Parents are equally if not more angry. Sure, in the past they deluded themselves into various beliefs that public schools were all good. Social skills. Best education anywhere. Athletics. There was some weird common, almost mass delusion, shared by parents and educators, all singing from the same hymnal, all preaching from a common text, speaking in tongues and spouting reflexive responsorial psalms. Hidden behind all this was a "social contract" that schools would always be there, that schools would care for (and about) their children and that they would be able to "have it all"--career and kids. 

Now teachers are rethinking their careers and parents are rethinking progressive philosophies that underpin public schools. Maybe both are heading in the best direction for all of society.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Cheese And Crackers For That Whine?

As it turns out it isn't just DeKalb County School teachers.  Teachers across the country are bowing up under pressure to go back to school. They are also pushing back on the onerous burden of learning. Learning how to use technology. How to prepare videos that actually work. Learning that you cannot pretend that Zoom is effectively projecting your in-class "learning is fun and entertaining schtick" on the students' screens and into their parents' sight. Even for rehearsed comedy sketches an audience is required for the taped performance. For improv the audience isn't the important thing, it is the only thing. So teachers feel confused and angry. Oh, yeah, and underpaid. They're mind-boggled at the notion that in-class students will be using the same paradigm as remote students though there is a simple explanation from folks who have been at this a while. Teachers see this as an indication of a strong "Day Care Are Us" component to their role. They are also beginning to learn, at least subconsciously, that video recorded teaching, when done properly, poses an existential threat. Excellent video lessons taught by top notch experts, perhaps the college professors that taught them, would be better, more effective, than the bottom four quintiles of current teachers. Many teachers would be replaced with parapro-s or in the extreme case by some of those pesky parents. 

But teachers are forcing change. Across the country they are retiring or quitting in significant numbers. Significant enough that some school systems are lowering qualification requirements for substitutes (for now) to align with what the community expects and demands from their school systems. And yes, that is day care. 

So. What to do? What about DCSD? Well a here's a few suggestions. Support, even encourage early retirement for teachers. This would be at reduced payout and help restore some financial stability to the retirement program. Allow teachers to quit without penalty. Consider it a CoVid Terror Escape Clause to the contract. Institute a rigorously enforced policy of no more than one non-classroom employee for every five classroom employees where classroom employees are those that actually have responsibilities that require their presence in classroom and their time outside the classroom is in direct support of classroom responsibilities. In the old days, before "educators", these were known as "teachers." Eliminate tenure for new teachers.

These measures would benefit the school system by reigning in operational costs and improving financial stability. Twenty percent G&A overhead should be more than adequate, and if not, perhaps greater turnover should be considered. Over time tenured teachers with no incentive to learn and innovate would be replaced by new, teachable replacements. Many current teachers would benefit by offering their services to the greater business community where their high degree of education, extensive experience and enormous talents would surely be rewarded by pay comparable to other, equally qualified professionals. 

Is that a win-win? Or, a whine-whine?

Monday, September 14, 2020

STEM-ing The Tide

The cat has completely escaped the bag: H1B visas are NOT about talent scarcity. And never has been. It is labor arbitrage. It is government overreach, taking money from workers and delivering it to high tech, high finance executives. What it isn't is a necessary tool addressing a shortage of qualified high tech workers. 

How do we know? 

Because each and every year we have more STEM graduates in the USA than we have jobs for them. By well over a hundred to one. So it really, really is NOT about a lack of home-grown talent. 

For a lot of high tech jobs the internet made it very easy to ship jobs overseas. But there were and are significant problems with off-shoring. Enter a compliant government with H1B visas. Jobs quickly came back home. Just not for the homies. 

But things are changing. Companies learned, quickly, from the Indian labor market that high quality advanced degrees are not what the jobs require. As it turns out India, outside of the most excellent IIT, has no problem self-certifying and pumping out diplomas at a rate not seen (or allowed) in the western world. Not so say that India hasn't produced many fine developers, but the simple fact is that very, very few are better than those produced in the USA. They're just cheaper. Or so it once appeared. Now it turns out that those sporting a US STEM degree, while superficially more expensive, are actually a very good value. Think "Brooks Law."

Now enter the pandemic. Travel restrictions suddenly make a LOT of sense. Even to the politicos who were sucking up to India with daily increases to H1B caps. 

Remote work suddenly became non-threatening. Previously front line managers in the US had legitimate fear that remote meant off-shore. Because it always had. Others in the management chain were insecure, assuming direct and indirect reports needed constant watching, and if they didn't maybe they didn't need a manager. Sort of what happened with off-shoring. Turns out constant surveillance was unnecessary. Most organizations found that workers were actually more productive, not less, almost as if supervision were unnecessary friction. 

Now we have entered a new, resurgent era. Where local talent is appreciated. Where productivity trumps tradition. Where American jobs are accessible to Americans who would otherwise be un- or under-employed. Where, as anyone who's spent much time developing with a global team already knows, quality will improve alongside reductions in missed deadlines.

Graduates with STEM degrees will no longer have to make the pilgrimage to the pacific coast to wave goodbye to their jobs. At least until the next round of lobbyists win the day.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

But You Don't Have To

The Seven Dwarfs, as part of their Village Pillage & Plunder campaign, have decided that what the Village needs to vitalize* it is more trashy signs. The trashier the better. The more the merrier. 

These changes have been in the works since early July in the Planning Commission, another part of the city's machinery that works exclusively for businesses' benefit. A staff member in the city's Community Development Department** had the balls to explain how this makes the Overlay more like the rest of the city. WTF???? What the hell does this overpaid bureaucrat think the Overlay is for in the first place? If budget times are tough this looks like an excellent opportunity to save some expenses. On that paycheck.

One of the Seven Dwarfs pushed back against minimizing the number of signs allowed even though it would still be more than the community desires and even had the unmitigated gall to say this reduced number might not benefit the businesses? Did the businesses elect this Dwarf? Or are they just making sure he benefits from business as usual? 

Yes, we need to vote these bozos out of office at the first opportunity. But we also must remember that because you can doesn't mean you must. More immediate action is to boycott any business that thinks insulting this community with their trashy signs is a good idea. 


*In a recent Blue Bag Rag article the city, who are really behind these articles, announced their consultants plans to "vitalize" Dunwoody Village. The use of "vitalize" rather than "revitalize" is neither accidental, nor accurate, nor cheap. The implication is that the Village is not now and never has been "vital" and only they, by implementing the plans supplied by their developer colleagues, can make the Village vital. Until their developer buddies break ground and make profit, the Village is just another shit-hole. To them anyway.

**How the hell many groups do we have at this city that serve no one but developers and businesses? Does this city do anything for residents? Is there anyway the charter can be fixed to stop this happy horseshit? 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Tall Dog Family

 

Martha And Her Deers

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Like Shingles...

You had a disease, thought you got over it but the virus was dormant, just waiting to come back. Stronger and more painful. 

Last go-round of Viral Developer Syndrome that popped up on Roberts ended with application withdrawal in 2019. That was for ten units. And it was just a brief remission. Now they (greedy developers) are back, with a demand for fifteen clutter homes and claiming a detention pond is a green space feature rather than the mosquito habitat we all know them to be. Normally this would just be another WTF moment with rumors of insider deals. But this is different.

This time the Developer's Authority is in on it. Openly. A partner on the project, Robert Miller, is a board member for the Developer's Authority. If any apologist holdout needed any evidence that city hall is of, by and for developer's, this is it.

And what of the Seven Dwarfs? Smart money says they'll rubber-stamp anything put before them and given the fix is in the only remaining question is "when does construction start?"

Monday, August 31, 2020

Enforce On...What?

In a recent social media interchange between a resident (AKA "nobody") and a sitting council person (AKA "somebody") nobody asked somebody how enforcement works in daVille. Naively, nobody made the assumption that enforcement is actually a thing in daVille. Somebody deftly scooted the conversation off social media to a private message lest the truth be outed to a broad audience. 

A decade ago when this goat rodeo kicked off and the city was too new for full opacity someone at city hall leaked out that enforcement was "on complaint." Unless...

Suppose you're THAT nobody. You know, the one who lives at the corner of No Truck Drive and Saint Somewhere Circle who can just sit there, any day, any time of day, and watch trucks violate the no-truck zone all in support of developers (dump trucks) and businesses (delivery trucks). 

And what will the city do? If history is any indication they'd send out a brief show of farce and then tell nobody that there are not enough violations to pay for the enforcement. Now this could be due to the fact there would be hell to pay if somebody does anything that the developers and business running this city do not like. Traffic enforcement fines would definitely fit that description.

And what will the Seven Dwarfs do? Again, history suggests not a damn thing. Nobody could ask one of them to come out for a first hand look and nobody will receive a passive-aggressive no. Why? Because somebody knows who really runs this city.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Brief Moment Of Clarity

A local teacher was recently quoted in the newspaper saying:

"Nobody has asked about curriculum this year. The purpose of a school used to be to educate children. I am not sure we can continue to say that is the purpose of schools today."
Yes, education is what schools were once all about, but unless this teacher is an octogenarian she has never actually experienced it in her work. She is a product of and (now reluctant) participant in a system that long ago pushed traditional education, teaching and learning, aside in favor of all manner of "wrap around services" with no rational alignment with learning. 

What this pandemic offers is a period of time for analysis and reflection. To question. How well is your child learning? What are they learning? More importantly, what are they NOT learning? Is it possible that learning, real learning, might actually be real work? Is it possible that the mantra of "make learning fun" is really more about fun at the expense of learning? Maybe bitmoji classrooms are far less important than educators would have us believe. 

Education seems to be all about distractors. In texts. In classroom theatrics. In school decor. Perhaps with parents now forced to monitor and supervise this educational buffet of pablum we will see parents who really care rising up and making positive changes.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Comic Sans

Guv Gunshow's latest order permits local yokels to issue their very own mask orders with some restrictions. Mayor Delay and her buddies wasted no time issuing an order all the while doing their dead level best to bypass any restriction from a higher authority. 

The Guv's restriction goes a bit like this:

The Local Option Face Covering Requirement may be enforced on individuals on private property where the owner or occupant of the property consents to enforcement.
Sounds like owner/occupants must "opt-in" doesn't it? 

But if you read Mayor Delay's edict it sounds much more like an "opt-out" scenario:

Every entity subject to this Ordinance which does not consent to enforcement of this Ordinance upon its property shall post a clearly legible sign in one inch Arial font at all public entrances of such entity stating the following: "This location does not consent to enforcement of any local face covering requirement upon this property."

A presumption of opt-in is not an actual opt-in. Unless you're Mayor Delay.

Does any of this matter? Really? 

Probably not. First we're talking about a city that has openly stated it employs an "enforce on complaint" policy, though a sitting member of council dodged the issue on social media. Then there is the fact that this city is notorious for completely ignoring, even violating its own ordinances and mostly just looks the other way when any ordinance is violated by businesses or the public. 

So is this just "virtue signalling" from the least virtuous among us?

No. It is far worse than that.

This transcends the usual hypocrisy spewing from city hall taking deception to a level that sets a new low. Quite an accomplishment for this city. 

Consider this possible scenario: Publix "opts-in" and the city sends their Mask Storm Troopers to lay down the law, but they arrive late because they're stuck behind a Publix semi that is tooling through the No Truck zone. Which ordinance do you think this city will enforce?

If this mayor and this city were trying to destroy any remaining positive regard in this community, what would they do differently?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Pandemic Shifts

Folks have changed. Some are direct consequence of impositions forced by the pandemic. Others, more indirect, are a result of time afforded by the pandemic to reflect on lives and how they are being lived. There will be changes and some, many being improvements, may well be permanent. This pandemic will not fully subside anytime soon and only the most naive believes this is one and done. 

One change taking hold is the renewed affection for suburban and rural living. Hopefully this will put a stake thru the heart of plans being made by high profit high density developers and their lackeys at city hall. God willing some of those lackeys will become redundant. In any event it is gratifying to find that the folks who moved to Dunwoody and created their sense of place, a suburban place, had it right all along. 

Folks have planted pandemic gardens, because you can do that in the 'burbs. Many have revisited a lost art called "cooking." Some have realized their home cooking is actually better than a lot of what they previously got where someone else did the dishes. Many have found life not just survivable without a daily eat-out but significantly better calling into question the viability eat-outs going forward. 

Working from home has not only worked it has proven more productive than rush hour to and fro with break room decompressions and afternoon dread. If work-from-home maintains its current level there will be fewer employees in cubby holes and consequently fewer occupational tax payments. Maybe we'll see folks at the Developers' Authority who traded away school taxes to gain occupational taxes wearing face omelets. 

Then there are the public schools. Buses are no longer schlepping kids to classes but since it is part of revenue stream they are now meals-on-wheels. Teachers have gone from heroes to traitors by insisting they be outside the classroom. A year ago teachers would have a hissy fit if someone suggested cameras in the classroom and now the classroom is the camera. And they want it that way. Or so they think. Unfortunately this form of flipped classroom does exactly what teachers so don't want: exposing classroom activities to review, particularly by parents. Now it is virtually impossible for a parent to NOT see what is going on. If Stan Da Man's post of virtual learning weekly calendar is correct, and it probably is, then DeKalb is offering three hours of instruction four days a week with the remainder mostly fluff. As a point of reference, the State of Georgia requires that home-schools provide four and a half hours of instruction for 180 days per year. And what are the teachers' big concern? That their Professional Development Institute didn't cover how to create their own bitmoji classrooms. Any parent that giggles that (it really is a thing) will likely seek an alternative to this virtual learning which is proving to be useless. If enough parents agree, this pandemic may finally result in a public school revolution where schools shed burdensome extras and return to core learning.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Snail Mail Voting

The only folks who think mail voting is a good idea are those made in the mold of Stacey Abrams who need fodder for their pontifications and lawsuits. Keep in mind that when voter registration was available using technology ensuring completion of the forms it was Abrams' groups that insisted on paper. Why? Because when these were incomplete and/or incorrect they immediately became evidence of malfeasance and voter suppression. At least in their minds. 

And so it will go with USPS mailed ballots. These are sure to get lost, misdirected or delivered too late. And the very same twits that advocate this mechanism will pounce, screaming discrimination and abuse. And how can we be certain? Easy. Even without the sudden flood of millions of ballots the USPS seems to be incompetent at their only job: delivery. Below is a screen capture of their tracking of a car part shipped from Jacksonville FL to Dunwoody GA. Somehow once arriving in the A-T-L it was routed by the twits' choice to San Francisco. Yep, that's right, the folks who invented the ZIP code apparently cannot figure out how to use them. 

San Fran: Shortest Distance Between ATL and Dunwoody

Now, given the current political climate and (non)support for the USPS coming out of DC it is entirely believable that some ballots might be more likely to get "misplaced" than others. But Abrams isn't likely to ever bring that up. No matter who wins, if the USPS is involved in ballot security the loser will claim a corruption that invalidates the vote.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

Fish Mongers

Imagine you're the fish. First you were lured to the bait. You took the bait and when hooked may have fought the good fight but were brought to net. Now you're on the table, gasping, struggling for life. Standing over you is the fish monger who you can only glimpse out of that one, upward looking eye as the other is blinded by the table. The monger stands there with the glinting knife, a fiendish smile on his face. You barely feel the blade slip in, slide down. Pain overwhelms you as your guts are ripped from your body. The peace of death comes as your muscles and nerves slowly expire. 

Now imagine not a fish, but the village overlay. And the gutting monger? That would be the mayor and council who are poised this very day to fully gut the sign ordinances of the Dunwoody Village Overlay in order to feed your flesh to their business family. That is what they really mean when they say they're here to serve you.

Some of you will simply disengage saying this doesn't affect you because you don't live near the village. But think about this: these people are voracious and there are more fish on the monger's table. They're smiling, their knives are glinting and your guts may be the next to spill.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Is This A Good Sign?

In Dunwoody you will never know. Because the city doesn't want you to know. And it doesn't have to be that way. So let's look at how professionals do it.

You start with a permitting process. That's right, you want to put up a sign then you go to the city (or online if you're in the 21st century) and you apply for a permit. Then you get a sticker to affix to the sign so that anyone who wants can check that the sign is approved as legal. This is done in neighboring cities, the ones without rampant sign pollution. Fun fact: this was actually done in Dunwoody, but that was when the county (remember Vernon?) was in charge but once the city took over the city was taken over by businesses and well...here we are. 

Because of the city supported Uglify Dunwoody campaign, rolling out sign permitting is a start but is far from sufficient. It must be possible for citizens to quickly and easily enforce sign permitting. There needs to be an app for that. Stickers should be like license plate stickers with clearly distinguishable markings indicating type and and expiration date. They should also include a QR code used by the app to pull up detailed information on the applicant, the sign, the sign type and current status (e.g., expired). If the permit is expired an immediate notification will be made by the app to the system and a fine will automatically be issued.

Type, location and presentation would be supported by the app with the inclusion of one or more photos as well as the GPS location of the offending situation. This would require action on the part of city staff, which to date has been willfully absent, but the application will further allow anyone to access the complaint reports and monitor progress, both by the offender and the city. 

Equally important is that GPS location can be used to support varying rules, based on overlay districts or specific communities. Not only can the system provide immediate updates to concerned parties but it can provide, in the moment, the status (approved or illegal) to the resident who is concerned about Beautifying Dunwoody. 

At the end of the day, only the residents of Dunwoody will determine what is and is not a "Good Sign" and it is incumbent upon a city originally intended to serve those residents to step up and empower those residents.