Another “potential” ad

 She still doesn’t get it.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Dorothy “Dot” Kearns, in her own words…in a Voices of San article on January 25, 2008:

Kearns [who describes Guilford County Schools right after the merger as  “the ethos of slavery”] lauded the move [of High Point’s reassignment/redistricting/busing plan], saying it equalized opportunities for Guilford County kids, and drew together the far-flung, segregated district.

The costs — moving kids — were far outweighed by the gains, she said.

“It was certainly understandable that people who lived closer to an outlying school were more comfortable there,” Kearns said. “But it was more a matter of … resistance to the change in the school population.”

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Dot Kearns. It’s been almost a year since High Point’s reassignment scheme came to an abrupt halt, and she still doesn’t get it.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Kearns will not admit that the scheme failed.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Kearns will not admit that pouring extra resources into ALL of High Point’s neighborhood schools would have been better and would have made more sense in the long run than cross-town busing.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.  Kearns will not admit that many neighborhoods are built around schools, which tend to be anchors for residential development. As a real estate agent, she should know that.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Kearns will not admit that as a result of the failed busing scheme, many High Point schools are now treated like “stepchildren” to the rest of Guilford County’s schools.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Kearns will not admit that it would have been better for her, as a previous member of the former High Point City Schools Board (and former chair of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners), to lobby for new schools to be built in High Point before the merger in the early 1990s.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Dot Kearns. Still wrong on redistricting. Wrong for our school board. Wrong for Guilford County’s children.


The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I’m E.C. Huey, your 2008 candidate for the Guilford County Board of Education’s at-large seat, and I approved this message because our schools are a mess, and it’s time to fix the mess downtown.

Thank you for your support.

E.C. 🙂


All Politics is Local

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Former U.S. House speaker Tip O’Neill once said that “all politics is local.”

For this grass-roots campaign, that certainly is the case.

We just placed a free ad on, click here to go see it. Within the first few minutes of the ad being placed, we just got 13 page views. So far, we’re the only campaign that has placed an ad from all of Guilford County.

Spread the word, tell three of your friends. The momentum is growing!

E.C. 🙂

Grier’s Gone: GCS Board playing cat-and-mouse

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. It’s not often that you’ll see me visibly angry, but yesterday was one of those times. And it was right after I picked up the latest copy of the Rhino Times and read this article on “the inside story” behind Dr. Grier’s imminent departure from GCS.

As I said earlier, the comments pouring into this Web site this week discussing Dr. Grier have been stellar and plentiful. And as of late, I share your concerns about what the GCS Board should do about releasing Grier from his GCS contract.

As it was discussed yesterday, Grier is apparently now serving a dual role as both the superintendent of schools for Guilford County and the city of San Diego. He’s still on contract with GCS. But San Diego is apparently paying him a “per diem” daily salary for any work he does for San Diego prior to his contract starting out there, which will be July 1.

Therein lies the problem. Who is he working for? Guilford County or San Diego? Who will Grier be working for tomorrow?

And then I read this well-written article yesterday by Paul Clark, the Rhino’s new education reporter…and I’m even more livid:


The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Grier Leaving Children Behind
by Paul Clark
Staff Writer

Now that will-he-or-won’t-he speculation about Guilford County School Superintendent Terry Grier is over, the Board of Education must decide when it can spare him, and negotiate an end to his employment contract, which the board last year extended to run through June 30, 2010.

The Guilford County School Board announced on Saturday that Grier will take the superintendent job in San Diego on July 1, and the San Diego Unified School District board has agreed to pay Grier a daily salary for any days he can work before that date.

The Guilford County board has not yet met to consider Grier’s exit. The board’s winter retreat this weekend will be its first meeting since Grier’s announcement.

An exit from a superintendent’s contract is usually negotiated gracefully – board member Nancy Routh calls it “something of a formality” – yet he is not an at-will employee. Board member Anita Sharpe said Grier remains under contract, but that the normal procedure is to release him. Sharpe, a veteran of the board, has been through the procedure twice with previous superintendents.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Grier’s contract is silent on how it would be terminated in the case of his resignation. It contains provisions for termination for cause and termination by the board, neither of which would apply to a resignation, according to school board attorney Jill Wilson, of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard.

The North Carolina education statute has provisions for buying out a superintendent’s contract in the case of termination by the board, but is also silent on resignation. In some cases, boards deal with resignations by simply not enforcing the contract, Wilson said.

The San Diego board could stick with its offer of a daily salary for any work Grier does before July 1, Wilson said. It could also negotiate an interim contract if he leaves Guilford County well before July 1, she said.

“What if he showed up Feb. 1?” Wilson said. “They might go for an interim contract.”


Stop the tape. There’s mistake number one…how his contract was written when he came on board. NOTICE TO GCS BOARD (and potential new Board members…and paid-by-the-hour attorney Jill Wilson): when you negotiate the new superintendent’s contract, make sure there are provisions in the new contract so something like this doesn’t happen again.



Grier has not yet given school board members an indication of when he will leave, and the board has not yet contacted Wilson for advice about the contract.

“In no event has he said, ‘I’m not going to be here in the next month,’ so in no way is there an imminent need,” Wilson said.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Garth Hebert said the board, in its Dec. 10 closed session to consider Grier’s possible exit for San Diego, took a “straw poll” and agreed to offer him a contract extension and an increase in compensation in effort to get him to stay. “This was conveyed to Terry by the board, and Terry still chose to leave,” Hebert said.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. No other board members would confirm Hebert’s statement. Sharpe said it did not happen. “I have no recall of this board offering him one penny more to stay here,” she said.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Walter Childs said he remembered no such discussion, and Routh said she does not, as a matter of policy, discuss personnel actions taken in closed session.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Amos Quick said he does not remember any such discussion clearly, and that, in any case, no formal offer was conveyed to Grier. “If it was a straw poll, that’s all it was,” he said.

Hebert acknowledged that he arrived at the meeting late, and said the action was described to him as having happened before his arrival.

********************************** By now folks, my blood pressure is reaching 300. Our school board has the gall to play cat-and-mouse with your children and it is disgusting. I was hot when I read this!

I said back on December 12 that if Grier is offered the job, and if the GCS Board is smart (which now we know they’re not), they should not make any attempt to keep him. Let him go. Offer him no more money; offer him no more contract extensions…that’s it. Just let him go.

Obviously, that went in one ear and out the other, if this report in the Rhino is correct. I’m so angry right now, I can spit fire.

Of course, no one will go on record in admitting that such a straw-poll took place. But this report wasn’t made-up, this is too detailed.

There are at least four GCS Board members who read this blog regularly. I hope you’re sensing my anger, and the anger of these citizens.



Grier’s acceptance of the San Diego job, despite “significant” pay raises and contract extensions, should be considered a violation of his contract, Hebert argued.

“Evidently that’s not enough,” Hebert said. “I believe he has an obligation to stick it out, but he’s chosen not to.” Nonetheless, the board should not encourage Grier to linger, he said.

The timing of Grier’s exit may depend largely on whether the board views Grier as an asset out of which they need to get the most value before July 1, or as a lame duck, whose attention is already on the challenges of San Diego.

“If we have to deal with the change, we deal with it now,” Hebert said. “Don’t fool around. His mind and his heart will no longer be there.”

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Darlene Garrett said she feels the same way. “I think his mind and his heart are elsewhere,” she said. Other board members said they have not yet made up their minds on the issue.


Stop the tape…I’ve been saying all week that I’m also livid that this was NOT an agenda item for tomorrow’s Board retreat.

But now, in a “revised” agenda, I see where a closed session is now scheduled for close to 7pm tomorrow evening. Maybe it will be discussed in that closed session…I hope it will be. And I hope it is discussed in open session at the Jan. 31 Board meeting (even though it is not on the current agenda).

Darlene and Garth are correct…this MUST be dealt with, in an open session, with politics put aside. Why haven’t the other Board members made up their minds?

Every single Board member should be on notice…they should in open session express their on-the-record feelings and sentiments on what to do about Grier’s remaining time here and what their alleged “straw-poll” vote was (I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall that night).

Separately, I feel the six GCS board members who are up for reelection should immediately and publicly declare their intentions as to whether they will seek reelection or not. The public has the right to know what kind of Board we will be dealing with in terms of this search going forward. Let’s not wait until two weeks from Monday (Feb. 11–when the ballot filing period starts) for announcements to come. It’s only fair.


Last excerpt:

Aside from Hebert, who describes himself as “Terry’s greatest critic,” Grier generally drew plaudits from the board for his eight-year tenure. Childs cited Grier’s work on the early- and middle college programs and his “amazing” work with the community.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “Although a lot of people didn’t like him, I think he was innovative and did a lot for the system,” Childs said.

Grier was recently named North Carolina’s superintendent of the year for 2007.

Grier, in a press release, cited lowering the district’s dropout rate, increasing its graduation rate and increasing scholarships offered to graduating seniors as proud achievements.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Except for the press release, Grier isn’t talking about his upcoming move. At a press conference Tuesday to discuss the district’s winter school-cancellation policy, Sonya Conway, the schools’ executive director for district relations, warned reporters not to bother asking Grier questions about his departure.

Sources familiar with the San Diego schools said that district will want Grier as quickly as possible. Its acting superintendent since Jan. 1, William Kowba, is also chief financial officer and acting chief administrative officer, and will continue to wear all three hats until Grier’s arrival. The previous superintendent, Carl Cohn, resigned at year’s end after a two-year tenure.

Grier, during his visit to San Diego, appeared to be already actively working and planning with San Diego school officials, sources there said.


Childs’ cheerleading for Grier thankfully, is coming to an end…which hopefully will also lead to the end of Childs’ term.

And what’s up with Sonya Conway’s threat: Sonya Conway, the schools’ executive director for district relations, warned reporters not to bother asking Grier questions about his departure.

Or else…what? Is this some sort of thinly-veiled threat?

These are the people in charge of running your schools. These are the people in charge of setting policy for your child’s (and my child’s) schools.

In my opinion, I don’t want any of these clowns having anything to do with my daughter’s education. It’s frightening. This award-winning article is truly frightening. And it should be a pure wake-up call for all of us to get involved.

Stellar work, as usual, from Paul Clark and the Rhino; you won’t get this kind of stuff in our local drive-by media.

As our friend “Stormy” said here last night, let’s give Garth and Darlene a pass to see if they can wrestle control. But like Stormy, I currently have no faith in the others to do the right thing. Even Amos. Prove me wrong, if so.

E.C. 🙂

Safe at School? (NCEA)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The North Carolina Education Alliance (the education arm of the John Locke Foundation) has this column on school safety, inked by the Alliance’s Kristen Blair. On the heels of my six-step plan for attacking school violence in GCS, this column is timely.

Safe at School?

By Kristen Blair

January 24, 2008

Recent news reports are likely to arouse parental concern about school safety. On Tuesday, four students were shot just after their dismissal from Ballou High in Washington, D.C. Closer to home, a fifth-grader in Charlotte, North Carolina brought a loaded .32-caliber revolver to Sterling Elementary last week, ostensibly to impress classmates. According to the Charlotte Observer, this is the 11th time this year that a gun has been found on a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school (CMS) campus.

Fortunately, D.C.’s shooting was not fatal, and the CMS incident was quickly resolved. But school-based violence does, at times, exact crushing casualties. Horrific school shootings, including those at Columbine High in 1999 and Virginia Tech last April, have seared our national consciousness, awakening a palpable awareness of the vulnerability of students, teachers, and other school personnel.

Across the nation, officials have responded quickly to secure school campuses and reassure parents. And in spite of high-profile shootings, most students don’t put their lives in jeopardy when they walk through school doors. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released findings from a new study, revealing a decline in “single-victim school-associated violent deaths.” Rates for multiple-victim homicides remain stable.

But while homicides on school grounds are rare, lesser crimes are not. According to the national Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2007, roughly one out of every 12 high school students was threatened or injured with a weapon in 2005. Nationally, 86 percent of public schools reported “at least one violent crime, theft, or other crime” during the 2005-06 school year.

Based on state data, North Carolina schools fare considerably better. According to the 2006-07 Annual Report on School Crime and Violence (PDF), released last month, 40 percent of state schools reported no acts of crime or violence last year. While the total number of criminal or violent acts statewide did increase slightly (0.5 percent), higher student enrollments caused the overall rate to go down 1.6 percent.

Are national and state statistics always accurate? Not necessarily: underreporting of violent events remains a real problem, particularly when it comes to designating schools as “persistently dangerous.” Since passage of the federal No Child Left Behind law, states have been required to report consistently unsafe schools. But many states have balked at applying the label. According to a recent Washington Post article, of 94,000 schools nationwide, only 46 were deemed persistently dangerous last year. The Post highlights one Los Angeles high school with 289 cases of battery, two sex offenses, one robbery, and two assaults with a deadly weapon, all in one year. Amazingly, the school did not meet the state’s persistently dangerous definition. In fact, not a single California school did. Neither did any North Carolina schools.

How can we crack down on school violence? Straightforward, candid reporting is a must. After all, when it comes to school violence, what we don’t know can hurt us. Tough sanctions for student offenders are also in order. CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman is taking steps to crack down on wayward pupils, by pushing for more student expulsions.

School officials also need to encourage a culture of civility and enforce a zero-tolerance attitude toward bullying, discrimination, and harassment. But let’s be clear: bullying policies should not be used as a Trojan horse for the incursion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” issues into classrooms. Bullying policies that explicitly grant legal protections based on sexual orientation virtually guarantee that instructive discussions on these issues will become commonplace in schools, even with very young children.

In the end, there’s a lot schools can and must do to prevent violence. Ultimately, though, the proverbial buck stops with parents when it comes to monitoring warning signs in troubled children. Vigilance, coupled with a warm, close parent-child connection, is the best insurance policy against future acts of aggression. Are we up to the task?


E.C. 🙂

A Bold New School Chief, Unafraid of Clashes (Voice of San Diego)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. In a very well-written Voice of San article posted today, the San Diego community is “really” introduced to outgoing GCS chief Terry Grier.

Yours truly is quoted in the article, by the way. Reporter Emily Alpert interviewed me by phone for this piece earlier this week.
Voice of San Diego is the online equivalent of our Rhino Times, where they tend to report the whole story instead of the “drive-by filtered-media” version of events. Their reports are comprehensive and they give the whole story.

Here’s the piece, in its entirety:


A Bold New School Chief, Unafraid of Clashes

By EMILY ALPERT Voice Staff Writer

Friday, Jan. 25, 2008 | An unlikely firebrand with a Southern drawl is slated to take over San Diego schools this year, marking a shift from the subdued tenure of past superintendent Carl Cohn.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. In a roller-coaster career, Terry Grier, 57, has been hailed as North Carolina’s best superintendent, ousted by a Sacramento school board after only 18 months, mocked on North Carolina bumper stickers, and now, tapped to lead California’s second-largest school district. He’s known nationally as a mover who wants change — and wants it now.

“He’s not going to let the status quo reign, for sure,” said Jay Goldman, editor of the American Association of School Administrators monthly magazine, who profiled Grier last year. And “it’s not unusual for a superintendent who takes on difficult issues to face very public opposition.”

Grier is the third superintendent to oversee San Diego Unified in a turbulent decade. In that time, schools have ricocheted between the aggressive, abrasive style of former border czar Alan Bersin and the quiet peacemaking of Cohn. The latter arrived in San Diego after a successful decade-long tenure in Long Beach schools, but left only two years into his term after clashes with the school board, saying he lacked enough passion to persist.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In Grier, the school system seems to have found an unusual alloy of Bersin’s drive and Cohn’s calm. No stranger to conflict, Grier has seen bumper stickers proclaiming “Honk If You’ve Been Grier-Ended” and lawn signs reading “Get Grier Outta Here.” Yet even his bitterest foes in Guilford County, where he’s served as superintendent for eight years, describe Grier as demure and cordial, despite the harsh controversy over his plans — including merit pay for teachers and bussing students to integrate schools.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. In San Diego, he faces new challenges in a school district nearly twice as large as Guilford County’s. In North Carolina, teachers lack the right to strike; in San Diego, unionized teachers have vowed to “go to the wall” if Grier replicates controversial pay system he installed in Guilford County. The needs of English-learning students loom larger here, where a far greater proportion of students are Hispanic. Guilford County’s enrollment is growing; San Diego’s has shrunk, with enrollment expected to level or drop slightly next year. And California’s schools are threatened by a statewide budget crisis, expected to drain $70 million from San Diego Unified schools this year.

Success will pay — literally. Grier agreed to a performance pay plan, which gives him a bonus for each goal he meets. Failing those goals is a cause for dismissal. Grier could not be reached for an interview this week, after returning to North Carolina from San Diego. But his backers in Guilford County say he’s up to the task.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “Dr. Grier can go through an intense struggle,” said Dorothy Kearns, who has spent 16 years on the Guilford County school board. “People can knock him down, but the next morning he’s up, ready to meet the next challenge. With joy.”

Aggressive Moves Won Acclaim and Enemies
Grier is bold, and he moves fast. Under Grier’s direction, Guilford County started a dizzying array of initiatives, few without their critics. He’s piloted middle colleges, where at-risk high school students study on college campuses, expanded pre-kindergarten, and pushed more students to take Advanced Placement classes.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “He’s not afraid to try bold new programs. He’s a fan of programs,” said high school teacher Erik Huey, a Grier critic who is running for the Guilford County school board. “The word program itself is probably his middle name.”

One such program is Mission Possible, which pays teachers more to work in tough schools where staff turnover is often high. Teachers also earn more if they boost test scores, a plan commonly known as merit pay. Supporters say the plan, now in its infancy, will stabilize low-income, underperforming schools by retaining and rewarding teachers.

Grier has cautioned that he won’t automatically replicate his Guilford County programs in San Diego, stating that each community’s needs are unique. But the mere suggestion of merit pay has provoked sharp words from the teacher’s union, whose president calls it “offensive and divisive.”

In Guilford, a major redistricting plan sparked some parents’ ire, as students were bussed to schools far from home. When Grier arrived in Guilford County in 2000, the school district, cobbled together from three smaller school systems in 1993, was deeply divided along race and class lines, Kearns said. She called it “the ethos of slavery.” When the school board created a plan to reshuffle students, diversifying the schools, parents complained about the change, and took Grier to task.

“You buy a house close to school so you can walk to it, and all of a sudden, that right is taken from you,” said Martin Phillips, whose three children attend Guilford County Schools. “You don’t live in a free country anymore.”

Kearns lauded the move, saying it equalized opportunities for Guilford County kids, and drew together the far-flung, segregated district. The costs — moving kids — were far outweighed by the gains, she said.


“It was certainly understandable that people who lived closer to an outlying school were more comfortable there,” Kearns said. “But it was more a matter of … resistance to the change in the school population.”

He has said his proudest feat is halving the dropout rate, which declined from 6 percent to 3 percent during his tenure. But Grier’s critics have vocally questioned that success, claiming that the data don’t match the graduation rates.

In general, data has been a bone of contention. Gauging the overall progress of Guilford County schools can be difficult: North Carolina schools are rated in two ways, both of which rely on standards that have changed year to year. By one standard, Guilford County schools appear to be progressing; by another, they seem to have declined. That paradox has fed speculation among Grier’s critics, despite the data’s fuzziness.

Grier is also known for vastly expanding tough Advanced Placement classes, which can translate into college credit. Under his leadership, Guilford County schools have nearly tripled the number of students taking AP courses, and encouraged more disadvantaged kids to sign up. The sheer volume of AP classes catapulted 13 Guilford County schools onto a Newsweek list of Top Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Schools last year.

“There was some resistance from teachers saying [students were] not prepared for this advanced math — and there was some truth to that,” Kearns said. “But it’s still unbelievable how many of our poor and minority students take those classes.”

Less than half of students actually pass the AP exam, which is required for all students who take the classes; among black students, passage rates are lower, with less than one quarter passing. Still, the net result is more students earning Advanced Placement credits, with more than twice as many Guilford students passing the test in 2007 than in 2000.

The firestorm that attended Grier in Guilford County isn’t unique in a decades-long career that has crisscrossed the nation. He began his career as a classroom teacher in North Carolina, specializing in biology and health, and ascended to his first superintendency in McDowell County. In 1988, a year-long superintendent stint in Amarillo, Texas reportedly ended with his resignation; in 1995, he was fired by the Sacramento City Unified School District after only 17 months. Grier later chalked up the firing to his refusal to hire a board member’s longtime friend. Former Sacramento school board members declined to comment.

Grier has also worked in Tennessee, South Carolina and Ohio. As he takes over in San Diego — a city that “thrives on conflict,” Cohn has said — more battles are likely on the horizon.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “If we’ve had a person [like Cohn] who brings about change gradually, over time, and San Diego has difficulty with that, how are they going to deal with someone who brings about change a lot quicker?” school board member Shelia Jackson asked hypothetically. But Grier’s rocky past may also better equip him to weather the sparring, she said. “We’ll see.”

For Grier, Success Pays — Literally
Grier’s contract, which allows him extra pay for meeting goals, breaks new ground for San Diego Unified. Cohn had no such provision in his contract, and a similar scheme for Bersin relied on broad goals. In contrast, Grier’s bonuses will hinge on three specific, measurable yearly goals that have yet to be set. For each goal he meets, Grier will earn $3,500. If he fails, the board can fire him.

Nationwide, such incentives are increasingly common, with most superintendents offered far higher bonuses than Grier, said Ron Wilson, executive director of the North American Association of Educational Negotiators. Typically, a superintendent can expect to earn between $5,000 and $7,500 per goal, with the potential to boost their base salary between 10 and 20 percent. Grier can earn a maximum of $10,500 extra each year — less than 4 percent of his $269,000 salary.

A quirk in the contract allows Grier to earn $10,500 even if the goals aren’t met, provided that “the delay is not due to the superintendent’s lack of concurrence with the goals.” Wilson called the provision “a worst-case scenario,” to prevent the superintendent from losing if board members “got into loggerheads” over already-set goals. If he simply disagrees with the goals, however, the superintendent loses.

School board member Mitz Lee touted Grier’s bonuses as an accountability tool. Wilson, a backer of superintendent performance pay, said the measures help set clear, reasonable expectations for school superintendents.

“When superintendents go into the job, they’re expected to walk on water,” Wilson said. “This is a little bit more realistic, as to what can be done.”

Superintendent bonuses have sometimes stirred up opposition among principals and teachers, who feel superintendents get all the credit for system-wide reforms. Jackson raised that concern, asking, “What about the principals … who have to reach these goals? Are we giving them extra compensation too?”

Grier’s salary is slightly higher than the $250,000 salary paid to Cohn. Bersin’s salary was renegotiated over his seven-year tenure, from $165,000 in 1998 to $240,000 in 2005. Two years ago, the average salary afforded to oversee a district of San Diego Unified’s size was $228,000, according to a study by the Council for Great City Schools. Grier’s pay is comparable to other school chiefs in the San Diego region: In nearby Grossmont, a new superintendent recently negotiated a $240,000 contract to lead a significantly smaller district.

At any price, Grier is saddled with a tough job, in a school district that’s been tough on its superintendents. But Grier is well-acquainted with controversy. For him, it’s been a side effect of getting unpopular things done.

“I know that board members don’t always agree,” Grier said Saturday, in his first public appearance in San Diego. “… But you can’t be around this group of people without really sensing their passion and commitment.”

E.C. 🙂

Mission Possible is impossible in Charlotte (CLT Observer)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. A “mission possible”-like incentive program that’s similar to GCS in attempting to lure experienced veteran teachers into high-impact schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system is not working, according to school chief Dr. Peter Gorman.

A Charlotte Observer story from two days ago chronicles the dicey situation.

Apparently, since the voluntary program is not working, according to Gorman, he said this week he may use his authority to force-transfer experienced teachers into these schools to fill vacancies.

Want to take bets to see how this will go over in Char-Meck? We do get the occasional reader or two from the Charlotte area.

CLT Observer:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “It is very clear to me that trying to pull people in with incentives will not completely close the gap,” he [Gorman] said. “We will have to push some people to move to certain sites against their will.”

His comments came after a report presented at Tuesday night’s school board meeting showed high-poverty schools losing ground in the competition for experienced teachers with expertise. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools offers various incentives to teach in those schools, including 15-percent pay bumps and signing bonuses of up to $15,000 for four high schools.

CMS couldn’t get takers for all the bonuses, Gorman said.

Experience doesn’t guarantee good teaching, Gorman said. In fact, the district has recruited rookies for high-poverty schools through programs such as Teach For America.

Those newcomers do very well, Gorman said, but need veterans to support them.

A detailed CMS analysis, presented in part at Tuesday’s meeting, shows some of the district’s highest-performing schools have relatively low levels of faculty experience, while some low-scorers have large numbers of experienced teachers. The biggest link to high achievement, Gorman noted today, is low poverty levels.

Gorman and the board will discuss teacher assignments at a planning retreat in Greensboro Friday and Saturday. They’re also gearing up to craft a 2008-09 budget, which is expected to include a pilot program of teacher pay based partly on student achievement.


The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. By the way, allow me to share this with you…Teach for America is a very noble group. I once had some interest in it a couple of years ago and once attempted to pursue something through them. After failing to hear back from them, I went my own way.

But all of a sudden, I received an unsolicited e-mail message from them before the Holidays that went something like this:

Hi erik,

I’m reaching out to you because you have been identified as a candidate for Teach For America. As a participant in the program, and as a fellow African-American, please allow me to offer my perspective on why my experience teaching in one of the most underperforming schools in Texas has been such a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

After graduating from Howard University, working for Bain Consulting, and then pursuing my MBA at Stanford, I decided to join Teach For America because I realized how fortunate I was and wanted to ensure that all students – regardless of their race, income or zip code – could have access to the same opportunities that I had. The fact is, only 52% of African-American students graduate from high school. Clearly this isn’t for lack of potential but for lack of opportunity. I knew that as an African-American woman I was in a position to be a positive role model and to help motivate students to excel academically. To defy the odds, I suppose. Last year, my students made significant academic advances. I know that my presence in their classroom is truly making a difference.

I urge you to consider joining this extraordinary movement. By committing two years to teach in a low-income urban or rural community and applying the skills you’ve developed in your professional career, you too can help ensure that all children, no matter what their background, have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. Teach For America is focused on recruiting leaders from a variety of professions and places a particular focus on attracting individuals who share similar racial backgrounds to the students underserved by public schools, many of whom are African-American. When teachers themselves are from historically under-represented racial communities, Teach For America has found they can have a profound additional impact because they can be particularly persuasive with students regarding the potential for success in education and in life.

If you would like to learn more about my experience teaching math in Houston, Texas as well as other African-American corps members’ experiences teaching in low-income communities around the country, please join us for a Webinar. We’ll also share with you details on how you can apply to Teach For America and join the movement to end educational inequity.

Please register for one of the Webinars below, just click on the time that best fits your schedule:

Wednesday, January 9: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

Wednesday, January 9: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST

Friday, January 11: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST

Friday, January 11: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST

Finally, if you are interested in talking with someone who taught with Teach For America (one of our alumni), please respond to this e-mail, attach a resume, and I would be happy to set you up with one. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about Teach For America by visiting their website and taking the time to read their commitment to diversity.

Thanks for your time.

My best,

Shani Jackson

Here was my polite response back to Ms. Jackson:

Hello Ms. Jackson. You sent me a kind letter back before the Holidays to my other address and I wanted to respond from this address.

While I was interested in TFA once upon a time, I did take some courses on my own and both applied for and received a lateral entry teaching license in H.S. English about three years ago.

As such, I taught here in Guilford County (N.C.) for about two years; I taught in an adjoining county full-time last year. I taught in a high-impacted high school and the politics I dealt with while I was in Guilford Co. was absolutely disgusting. I had good kids, and we had a good staff, but it was the lack of attention on behalf of our elected school board that helped to destroy that school.

As such, I no longer felt as though I could make changes at the bottom…I needed to make them at the top. So I’m running for our school board this year.

The so-called teacher shortage in NC is a joke and it is all politics. I’m working to hopefully attempt to make a change to that system this year.

Thank you,

Erik “E.C.” Huey
Candidate, Guilford County Board of Education (at-large) 2008

Gee…like last time, I never did receive a response back. 😦


E.C. 🙂