Monday, January 30, 2012

Throwing stones

Do you remember AdvancED? They’re the group that Rev. Barber and his performance crew went crying to after the then-School Board began the process of changing student assignment in Wake County. AdvancED, for those who don’t know, is an accreditation company that…well…accredits our high schools. Sounds important, doesn’t it? Like someone we should keep happy. But are they really?

Consider the original complaint filed by Rev. Barber and the NAACP. It is nothing more than a rambling rant of how much they despised the Republican majority – Mr. Margiotta, in particular – and the Board’s desire to bring about common sense changes to student assignment.  (If you have a minute, you really should read the whole complaint to get an understanding of what started this ball rolling. The tone and inferences are, at times, quite comical)
Yet, as a result of this ridiculous complaint, AdvancED came marching in, demanding to scrutinize a variety of issues – many of which were completely irrelevant to accrediting a high school. If you recall, there was some debate as to whether AdvancED overstepped its authority in their review request. In the end, AdvancED came to town and placed WCPSS on “accreditation warned” status.

Fast forward to today. AdvancED’s new report lifts the warning and places WCPSS ‘s accreditation on "advisement".  Due to the hard work of the previous Board and Supt. Tata, the points raised by AdvancED, however disconnected they were to the performance of our high schools, have been addressed and corrected.

But, what has really changed – besides the political majority on the School Board? Are our high schools and their students better in some way? Even the Wake Education Partnership came to the conclusion that accreditation is just a public perception issue. We think it’s important only because we’ve been told it is.

The original complaint from 2010 accused the “Caucus” – which Rev. Barber condescendingly refers to the 5 Republicans that were serving – of violations in governance and leadership. One of those complaints – holding secret meetings. Ironically, we just recently learned that Chairman Kevin Hill arranged a private meeting for some of the Board members without the knowledge of others. The meeting itself was held less than 24 hours after the new Board members were sworn in. (Board policy requires a 48-hour notice for meetings.) And, remember, Kevin Hill wasn’t even Board Chair until that evening. Why was he even involved in the scheduling of any sort of meeting? It seems to me that some behind-the-scenes negotiations and discussions must have been going in secret with the other Board members.

Another point in the original complaint – “…Ms. Goldman, Mr. Tedesco, Ms. Prickett and Mr. Malone.…in lock-step, immediately unseated the experienced Chair mid-term and replaced him with Mr. Margiotta.” Well, isn’t that exactly what today’s Board did with Mr. Tedesco? Tedesco was readily removed as vice-Chair mid-term during the Dec 2011 Board meeting. As soon as Hill was elected as Chair, he, Sutton and their 3 new cronies replaced Mr. Tedesco with Mr. Sutton. 

Will AdvancED be hearing from Rev. Barber about these incidents? Don’t count on it. His friends are in charge now.

I’ve always wondered why people like Rev. Barber and his friends at GSIW who claim to want “high quality schools” for our children would want to risk accreditation that they deem so important. Could it be that they don’t actually care about our children and our schools – but only their own political agenda? As we witnessed with the election results last Fall, the fear and uncertainty created by these groups served its purpose. What a shame that these groups felt it was appropriate to use our children’s futures to achieve their goals. And what a shame that this Board feels they can behave in the same manner in which they complained about. Maybe AdvancED needs to look at their governance and leadership as well.

But, again, don't count on it.