Happy New Year 2008!

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Happy 2008.

Let me be the first to wish you all a very happy and healthy new year. I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to a prosperous and successful new year.

Looking ahead and moving forward, now begins the first of many “crunch-times” in 2008. February 11 will kick off the filing period. February 11 is only 40 days away. So far, no one else has publicly come out and expressed interest in running…for any of the Board seats.

It’s good as it is bad. It is good in the sense that if no one files to go up against me, it will practically be winner-takes-all. but it is bad in the sense that there is apathy in Guilford County when it comes to our schools. The apathy must stop. Too much is at stake in this year’s elections. We’ve got to have real talent to go up against Kris Cooke and Walt Childs, if those two run again. We’re not hearing of anyone wanting to challenge Amos Quick or Darlene Garrett. Garrett is strong, and I don’t vision any challenge to her possible reelection.

See, if there’s strong talent on the Board, then we can create a voting bloc, and that’s what’s needed to start getting some things done.

In the next few weeks, I’m setting up meetings and coffees, and I’ll be submitting articles and columns. I’ll also be working on some major enhancements to the main website: www.hueyforguilfordschoolboard.org.

I will also be working on scripts for short spots I will begin filming around the county over the next couple of months. The spots will initially be for the website, but can easily be used for television, if it comes down to it.

You’re asking what you can do?

1. Please register to vote, if you’re not registered. And vote. Vote for real change and real progress in our schools.

2. Make a donation…click here to do so.

3. Host a coffee in your home with your friends and neighbors. I enjoy speaking with small groups about the potential progress we can make in our schools. E-mail me or call me at 336/686-6051 to do so.

4. Write letters to the editor on my behalf supporting this campaign…the News & Record, the High Point Enterprise, the Jamestown News, Rhino Times, YES! Weekly, Adams Farm News, Carolina Peacemaker, Northwest Observer.

5. Find 3…Tell 3. Find three people and tell those three people about this campaign. It could be a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker,  someone you go to church with, your bridge partner, your bar-hopping buddy or your golfing partner…find 3, tell 3. This campaign is grass-roots, but we’re picking up support little by little each day. This is how we’ll cruise to victory later this year.

I’ve truly enjoyed meeting new friends and making new connections over the past year and I’m looking forward to doing more of this in the new year. This campaign has turned a lot of heads over the past year, primarily because we’ve challenged the status quo, and trust me, downtown is starting to listen.

The response has been overwhelming and I sincerely appreciate it.

Thank you again, happy new year, and let’s get ready for February!

God bless you all, and God bless our children.

E.C. 🙂

The screw-ups at GCS hurt taxpayers, hurt our children

The image “https://i2.wp.com/greensboro.rhinotimes.com/editorial/2007-12-27/169526.CP.lg.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(source, Rhino Times)

It is no secret that Guilford County Schools is a broken system. And for this past year, this blog has helped to expose just how broken it is, along with my strong, intense desire to fix things. I won’t be able to fix the mess on Eugene Street alone, but with new blood downtown, we can at least attempt to right the wrongs.

This is no exception.

This week’s Rhino Times, Greensboro’s premier publication of record, has a follow-up and analysis on the recent School Board meeting, and it is precisely this “what else happened at the meeting” that has me on edge today.

The screw-ups have to stop.

Rhino excerpts:

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:XykYJA9P4vqruM:http://www.gcsnc.com/images/duncan1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. [Board chairman Alan] Duncan then passed the buck, as the school board loves to do. He said that the tests were mandated by the state and federal government and the school board had to give the tests and had to do its best to prepare students to take the tests. He said many school board members would agree that the students are overtested, but there is nothing they can do about it.

Duncan then said that the state had cut Guilford County Schools’ funding by several million dollars, that Guilford County had not given the schools all the money that they had asked for and had cut $3 million from the capital budget.

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:vTjKVChNA7VdlM:http://lonestartimes.com/images/2007/07/screwball.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.  Screw-up number one: passing the buck and playing the blame game.

I discussed this a few days ago. Passing the buck and playing the classic blame game is dangerous for our children. No one wants to take any sort of responsibility and, in my opinion, this is classic irresponsible governing. We’re sick of it. A commenter here said it best a few days ago: “Alan Duncan stepped in it.” He sure did.

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Next:

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:G4H8Bvt9fjFjyM:http://www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/garrett1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Earlier in the meeting school board member Darlene Garrett had questions about construction projects and said that she had not been given the information she had requested from the school staff about Northern High School and Northern Elementary, so she was requesting it publicly. Garrett said that Northern High School didn’t have money to pay for its telephone and other monthly expenses.

The new Northern High School campus is slated to open in January, and the Northern students are currently at Northwest and Northeast high schools, but Northern according to Garrett, still needs money to pay its monthly bills. Garrett said the students were having fundraisers to pay the school’s phone bill and that wasn’t fair.

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/schools/images/sozment.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Guilford County Schools Chief Financial Officer Sharon Ozment said that in the past, new schools had not been given seed money to get started and Northern was handled the same way. Then Ozment said that Northern had been given money, which seemed contradictory, but since almost everything said at school board meetings is in code, it could mean that they weren’t given any money or that every school that wasn’t given seed money was given money.

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:vTjKVChNA7VdlM:http://lonestartimes.com/images/2007/07/screwball.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. May I present screw-up number two: Sharon Ozment. Now now, I’m not knocking Sharon, I’m knocking the situation. See, being the chief financial officer for GCS, “Oz” makes a pretty good buck ($145,866) according to the Rhino Times Salary Survey back over the summer. Oz is well-compensated.

But this is the second or third board meeting in a row where Oz was asked to provide documents and/or information and it was not provided.

In this case, Garrett asked for information on simply…where the money is going. It is criminally insane that a school has to create a fundraiser to pay its telephone bill. That information was not provided and Garrett got upset. She had every right to be upset. Taxpayer money seems to mysteriously disappear within GCS, and honestly, I probably would have gotten just as upset.

So let’s see, school department budgets are regularly cut, teachers have to buy soap for school bathrooms, copy paper is rationed, teachers have to buy ink cartridges for their classroom printers…and now, fundraisers are held to pay for a school telephone bill.

And they expect a bond to get passed?

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There’s more:

 Garrett also noted that Reedy Fork and Northern elementary schools were essentially the same school, but Reedy Fork cost $2 million more. Garrett said that Northern Elementary didn’t have covered walkways and “it’s just not right.”

A motion to accept the bid for $430,000 from Lomax Construction for heating and air-conditioning at Oak Ridge Elementary School passed by a 10-to-1 vote with board member Amos Quick voting no.

Garrett said that adding heating and airconditioning to Oak Ridge, which was recently renovated, is an “example of lack of planning.” She said that the schools could have saved $300,000 if it had been included instead of added after the fact.

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:vTjKVChNA7VdlM:http://lonestartimes.com/images/2007/07/screwball.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Screw-up number three…Reedy Fork cost $2 million more to build because it has covered walkways? And you, Mr. and Mrs. Guilford County taxpayer, just spent $300,000 to add HVAC to Oak Ridge Elementary after-the-fact, instead of having that included in the renovation plans!

Yet, another reason why all construction-related matters should be outsourced from GCS. Part of that $300,000 could have been used to pay Northern’s phone bills!

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Last excerpt:

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:8WIUzvbOvh2sfM:http://www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hebert.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. [Board member Garth] Hebert wanted to know why it took the child nutrition staff to figure out that the kitchen at Southeast High School needed a ventilation system. The explanation was that in between the time the specs were completed and the project put out to bid, the specs changed. Hebert didn’t like the explanation very much but the project has to be put out to be rebid because the old specs didn’t have an adequate ventilation system.

The school board expects the voters of Guilford County to give it another $457 million to spend on schools when it is obvious the last bond money has not been well spent. Engineers are designing kitchens without ventilation systems and the only ones to notice are the nutrition workers.

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:vTjKVChNA7VdlM:http://lonestartimes.com/images/2007/07/screwball.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Screw-up number four…cafeteria workers are now construction advisors! And pointing out to professional staff that their workplace is not ventilated.

John Hammer closed this article in a pretty good way:

It certainly doesn’t appear to be an efficient operation.

Well-said, well-spoken.  It’s not efficient at all. It’s a broken system. It’s past time to fix this broken system.

E.C. 🙂

GCS Teacher Turnover Rate High (HPE)

The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.teachermagazine.org/media/2007/04/16/06quit.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. It is no secret that we have a disproportionate number of unhappy teachers in Guilford County. As a result, some of them choose to leave GCS. Some go to other school systems, some retire, some are fired. Some leave the teaching profession altogether.

The High Point Enterprise discusses some of the reasons for teacher turnover and how GCS stacks up with some other Piedmont Triad area school systems:

HPE:

Teacher turn­over dipped slightly in Guilford County with a rate above the state average but below the percentage nationwide.
More than 700 teachers out of the 5,500 employed with Guilford County Schools left the school sys­tem during the 2006-07 school year, a state report reveals.
Nationally, the average was 16.8 percent and 12.3 percent statewide.
Guilford’s rate has increased since the 2002-03 school year when it was 9.95 percent. The rate remained steady at about 11 percent for two more years up until 2005-06 when it peaked at 13.6 percent.
During the 2006-07 period, Davidson County Schools reported that teachers left the district at a rate of 9.93 percent, down slightly from 10.48 during the 2005-06 school year. Rates for Lexington and Thomasville city school system rose slight­ly, according to the report, at 21.74 and 20.79, respectively. In Randolph County, teach­ers departing the system re­mained steady at about 11 percent and Asheboro City Schools decreased its turn­over from 16.29 to 12.98 per­cent during the 2006-07 school year.

Here’s another interesting tidbit from the article:

About 7 percent of teacher departures are the result of firings or dismissals that fall under the category “turnover initiated” by the school dis­trict. Guilford’s rate under this category was among the highest in the state at 12.74 percent compared to large districts such as Wake, 9.23 percent; Charlotte-Mecklen­burg, 7.16; and Forsyth, 2.76.

We bring them in with fancy career fairs, but we’re doing a lousy job of keeping them here…and keeping them happy. This should be a priority.

E.C. 🙂

Northern Elementary School opens next week (GCS)

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/schools/elementary/northernele/norther.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

From GCS:

Northern Elementary will open the doors of its new campus to students on January 3, 2008. Students and their families will be invited the day before to find their new classroom and see the facility.

Address: 3801 N.C. Highway 150, Greensboro, NC 27455

Phone Number: 336-656-4032

Fax Number: 336-656-4043

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E.C. 🙂

Deena Hayes: Then versus Now

The image “https://i2.wp.com/media.collegepublisher.com/media/paper281/stills/9806887r.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Guilford College’s student newspaper The Guilfordian ran a focus piece in February, 2003 highlighting the then-campus shining star Deena Hayes. This ran right after she was elected in November, 2002 to her first term on the GCS Board of Education.

Here’s the short article…and see if you can pick out the many contradictions just dripping from the paragraphs:

 Hayes Brings Energy, Focus to Guilford Co. Board of Education

by Jacob Blom

Deena Hayes needed the School Board almost as much as the School Board needed her. Hayes, a 40 year-old CCE student, was elected to the Guilford County Board of Education in Nov., 2002. She unseated the incumbent board chairman, Calvin Boykin. And with her victory, she became the first black woman to serve on the board.

At one time, Hayes was active within the NAACP and worked in numerous civil rights organizations. Working in those organizations, where policies and ideologies are questioned all the time, has helped her to separate an argument from a person.

She has the incredible ability to make friends with people who deeply disagree with her,” said assistant professor of justice and policy studies Pat Callair.

That uncanny gift will help her in her role as an Education Board member. Young for an elected official, she feels that her youth will only assist her.
“I feel extremely energetic,” Hayes said. “I think we need to recruit more younger people. I do appreciate the older members, but sometimes it means we are set in our ways.”

Hayes refuses to let her ideas set into cement. She is prepared for any change that could help students learn better.

“She’ll be less inclined to go the usual route of test, test, job,” Callair said.
Hayes looks at those children who test poorly, or at thowe with behavioral problems, and wonders: “How do you help that child to be successful in school?”

Her curiosity will lead to creative new ways of helping students in need. It’s her desire to help those people that got her elected.
“She’s a community person,” Guilford County Commissioner Melvin “Skip” Alston said. “She’s grass roots; the people like her and she’s accessible.”

One thing that Hayes plans to address is the “huge disparity between black kids and white kids” in the classroom. Also, because of past issues with the Board of Education, Hayes feels that many parents “have checked out of the whole process.”

To those people, she gives this charge:

“To anyone who has thrown in the towel,” Hayes said, “give this board and me a chance to build a good relationship.”
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E.C. 🙂

GCS: The Year in Review (HPE)

The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.matthewktabor.com/images/gcs_logo.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Both today and yesterday, the High Point Enterprise has run a pretty good series reviewing this year’s top events out of Eugene Street. Some high points, but unfortunately a lot of low points.

Obviously, the focus is on High Point area schools, but the high and low points are notable in nature.

Click here for part one of the look back.

Click here for part two.

E.C. 🙂

The victimization of our children has to stop

The image “https://i0.wp.com/msnbcmedia4.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Photos/071013/071013_poussaint_vsmall.vsmall.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I said back in October that everyone in Guilford County who is concerned about the sorry state of race relations here lately should buy this book.

This is Bill Cosby’s new book, titled “Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors” (click here to buy it now from Amazon.com)

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:5vgbVcyTozOTDM:http://www.greensboro.org/CH/people/images/GCS_Childs.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hayes.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Seems as though two of our GCS Board members need to pick up and read this book from cover to cover. Or maybe I should send it to them as a gift.

The constant victimization of our children has to stop. And these two individuals have the ability to take the lead and set a fine example for our children.

Unfortunately, they won’t.

First, more fallout from board member Doctor Walt Childs, in reference to his asinine comments following the big Grimsley fight a few weeks ago. Here’s a dynamite letter to the editor in today’s News & Record, which says it all:

Don’t blame poverty for student misbehavior

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:5vgbVcyTozOTDM:http://www.greensboro.org/CH/people/images/GCS_Childs.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Does school board member Walter Childs have a few screws missing in his head? For him to say that poverty causes students to fight – “they fight because they don’t have the same kinds of things other kids have” – is ludicrous.

Poverty does not cause fighting. Lack of self-respect, lack of self-discipline and lack of manners are causes for fighting. Don’t tell me, Mr. Childs, that every poor family in Greensboro has children that fight. That is ridiculous.

My child is a former Grimsley student. I would pick her up at school and listen to the language that came out of some of the high schoolers’ mouths. I would watch the pushing and the shoving that went on beyond the eyes of administration. I would listen to these “children” talking to each other, talking back to their teachers and bus drivers.

Poverty does not cause fighting, Mr. Childs. When our children are not brought up to respect themselves, to respect others and their property … that’s when values break down. It starts in the home.

Good values, morals and respect are in “poor” homes too. Mr. Childs, you are painting the picture wrong.

Lisa-Ann Andrews
Greensboro

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I’ve heard from several Grimsley parents and students (past and present) who are concerned about their school, and they have choice words for our school board, many of which cannot be repeated here.

GCS Board, are you listening?

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The image “https://i1.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hayes.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Of course not, because this individual is a prime example of victimization at its worst and it is sickening.

We’re still reeling from the latest idiotic comments by Board member Deena Hayes last week when she openly asked during a recess in the last school board meeting if there was any support in the black community for arts and music in schools.

As you know, it is unfortunately only the latest in a string of controversial divisive diatribes dating back to 2002 when the former local NAACP activist was elected to her first term on the GCS Board. If you Google “Deena Hayes” in the search bar, her name lights up like a Christmas tree.

And, if you’ve been paying attention to her closing comments in the last two Board meetings, she’s been championing victimization by lecturing to us about not forgetting that we have poor people who reside in Guilford County and we should recognize that our children are stressed and come to school hungry.

But what about the children who come from poverty and low-income households and who come to school to learn and who follow the rules? You never talk about them, Deena. If you ever bothered to visit my classroom when I taught at Andrews a couple of years ago, Deena, you would have seen that to be the case in my classroom.

I said this before…I’m not raising my daughter to be a victim because she’s not. The only thing she may be a victim of, in modern day 2007-about to be-2008, is the stupidity by some who hold elective office in Guilford County who harbor discriminatory feelings.

E.C. 🙂