Sunday, June 22, 2014

D before E

Have you ever wondered if diversity really trumps education in Wake County? I mean, honestly... you can read my posts from the past two years and listen to my opinion but I'm sure you've thought: 

"Yeah, yeah. You're just political and hate this School Board" or 

"My kids are fine. Diversity is a good thing (as long as we don't get reassigned)." or 

(in a whisper...) "That woman is crazy."

Well, I feel your pain. This School Board has not made it easy. In the past 3 years, they have made many damaging decisions (like going through 4 superintendents in 2 years) and many non-decisions (uh, after 3 years and whole lotta talking, still no assignment plan?).

But, are they really so focused on creating diversity in our schools that the educational needs of our students run a far second?

Here's some clarity. 

Last week, the N&O had an article about the WCPSS School Board ending a successful and effective program that was running at 5 low-income schools in Wake County.  While Mr. Literal, aka School Board Jim Martin, tried to berate the N&O and claim that the Board never canceled this program, the reality is the funding has ended and this program, one that has helped thousands of low-income children, is over. Don't let Mr. Martin's patronizing twist on the truth make you believe otherwise. 

In the end, the program was ended because this Board doesn't like helping all sorts of poor kids together in one school. In the Board's opinion, it's wrong for poor families to choose to attend school together and then have the school system provide extra resources to help their children. The success of that program isn't what's important to them. The diversity of that school is important. Diversity over education.

But, do you care? After all, not my children.

So, let's talk about something that you might care about. Something that really speaks to the Board's one and only concern: diversity.

At their last work session (the meeting before the official Board meeting), there was a discussion about the placement of the new schools that will be built from the 2013 bond money. You know, the bond you voted for last year because "it's for the children".

WCPSS staff has been working to identify areas to build schools around the county in order to best serve the growing population of Wake County. To make it easy, I'll recap that discussion for those of you who live in SW Wake. 

Here's what your unsympathetic and magnet-focused School Board member Susan Evans had to say:

"We've been having various other conversations about student assignment and the magnet program and I think this is probably a good time for us to put it out there on the table. We have to be forward thinking about all of that stuff and I don't know what the decent answers are but, I've said this before and I'll say it again."

Here it comes, people...

"While I understand that the density of new neighborhoods is strong along that Western corridor and will be strong along the most Southern corridor, so that looks like that's our immediate need, I have a concern from a long-term perspective that, in 20 years when those neighborhoods have aged up and we've got a bazillion schools around the perimeter of the county, is that going to serve us well? We need to think globally about the positioning of schools with long-term in mind and build more towards the center of [the county]."

Globally? Uh, ok. So, even though we have been recognized as the fastest growing area of the county...  And, even though you have been told by Susan Evans that you matter and she will work for your family and your children...  And, even though you honestly believed that your support of the 2013 school bond would result in new schools in your crowded neighborhood...  Even though there is an "immediate need" (her words, not mine) for schools in our district, we're not going to get them.

As quoted in the N&O, "It’s easier to assign children to schools in the central areas of the county to balance population and diversity than to send them to schools farther away."

Let me say that in plain English. 

Schools will be built closer to Raleigh so diversity will be easier to achieve. And your kids are the next pawns in that system.

So, the joke's on you. Do you care now?


Read more here:

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Suburban Imbeciles

I just watched the WCPSS Strategic Plan meeting...aka #wakevision.

(If you want to waste 2 hours of your time, you can watch it here.)

This meeting was held at Memorial Hall on May 30th to kickoff the development "of a five-year strategic plan that will guide the school system moving forward." (BTW, this meeting cost you at least $2,422.85.) (And...the last five year strategic plan was done just two years ago. But, whatever.)

The speaker hired by WCPSS, some guy who calls himself a futurist, was actually okay.  Engaging, sounded pretty knowledgeable, had some interesting ideas.
A little nutty but tolerable, I guess. In a nutshell, his message was that we need to be teaching for our kids' future, and not from our own past. And how important this is - now more than ever - because the world is changing at a faster rate than it ever has. 

Good message. But, considering this crowd and that School Board members and Supt. Merrill were in the room, it probably floated over their heads and right out the door.

But, the absolute best part of this meeting (and well worth watching at 1:51:55) was when one parent, Becky, stood up to ask a question. Little ol' Becky was pretty confident in her if she already knew the answer. Here's what she said:

"I am the parent of two students at Martin Middle School. One of the stronger points of the Wake County Public School System has been the long-time commitment to having diverse schools. What do you say to parents, and I think this is part of the visioning process, guys - who are so adamant that the worst thing that can happen to their kid is that they could be reassigned to a different school the next year?"

Good grief. 

Could Becky possibly be any more condescending while gnashing her teeth?

Uh, yes, she could. And she was:

"I'm sorry - but if my child is going to have 5 to 10 different careers, God forbid that they should have to go to 4 or 5 elementary schools. I mean, it seems like preparation for living to me."

OMG. 4 or 5 elementary schools?! 

Becky is either the worst kind of parent or she represents the epitome of a smug, patronizing, and arrogant magnet parent who thinks us "suburban" parents are idiots. 

Maybe that choice is one and the same. :)

And Becky didn't stop there:

"We don't close our schools because the population shifts; we shift the kids around. And it has worked really well - except that parents get so irate because their children, in spite of the fact that they are all digitally connected, that they are losing that connection."

Fortunately, the futurist stopped Becky from babbling and making herself look even more foolish. His response, however, was brilliant. 

He said:

"I will say that if all the schools in the district are equal quality, there shouldn't be a problem. So, that's the first thing. If the school system can stand up and say "You're gonna get the same education", that's a true statement."

And we all know WCPSS isn't about educational equality. If it was, Becky and her buddies would be very upset over losing their magnet goodies and sharing them with the rest of us imbeciles in the suburbs.

And then the futurist said something incredible:

"The other thing is... the word 'diversity'... Diversity is a loaded, social, emotional word of about 50 years standing that, if you want diversity, you have to let go of the legacy thinking of what the word diversity means and create what is diversity in this school district in 2014. Whatever that is... face that diversity, rather than some formulaic thing. But, the first thing is to make all schools good. Then, it doesn't matter."

So, was it worth the $2300 for the venue and god-knows-how-much for Mr. Futurist to tell the irate parents of Wake County what we already know?  

For those last two minutes, yes. Yes, it was.

Do you think Becky, her magnet friends, and the WCPSS School Board actually listened to those comments? 

Not in a million years. 

Understanding this simple concept would require parents like Becky to change. Parents like Becky have it too good in the magnet system. Parents like Becky have absolutely no understanding of the effect of reassignment on a child - not to mention 4 or 5 of them. Parents like Becky may understand that the reassignment of our children allows her magnet children to remain safe, secure, and untouched at their school. Parents like Becky are ignorant and offensive. Sadly, there are plenty of them in Wake County.

Even worse, they are also on our School Board.