A damning report yields an urgent response

The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.matthewktabor.com/images/gcs_logo.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I can’t say there were a lot of surprises in last night’s unveiling of the GCS School Climate Task Force report. But it brought some urgent issues to the forefront. (full coverage from today’s News and Record here)

1. The report continues to shine light that we have principals and teachers that are afraid to talk. Last week’s CBS-2 report was only the beginning.

Board member Garth Hebert read a litany of e-mails last night from teachers who are threatened by principals for talking openly and candidly. Board members Hebert, Jeff Belton and Darlene Garrett have said previously that this culture of fear must stop and that teachers must feel as though they can talk to a Board member. I was heartened to see Chairman Alan Duncan also say publicly that this has to end…but with respect to Duncan, he’s been on the Board for a while, so he’s had a chance to right the wrongs and create a whistleblowing policy that has teeth…he hasn’t.

I will.

2. The money aspect. Outgoing Board member Anita Sharpe questioned the amount of money that would be spent on such initiatives such as creating a teen mediation center, adding social workers and creating a new cadre of non-sworn security staff at middle and high schools.

Personally, I have some of the same questions, but let’s put it in context…this board is willing to ask us for half-a-billion dollars of our money into another construction debacle black-hole.

3. The ongoing factor of race. Board member Sharpe said she was “offended” at the contents of the report.

I was offended at the report’s reaction, especially from Deena Hayes. And yes, she was fired up again, as usual, playing the victimization card, woe-is-me, it’s everyone-elses fault. I didn’t have high hopes for this report, and this was one reason why. This doesn’t have anything to do with racism or perceived racism; this has everything to do with the utter lack of resources in our schools and the lack of Board oversight.

4. Board member Amos Quick gets in a dig. Quick said last night that in his nearly four years on the Board, nothing has changed. Not to worry, Mr. Quick, others have been on the Board a lot longer, and they too have not gotten the job done. And if we don’t get serious about the problems in our schools, we’re going to keep talking about this issue until something bad happens. The time for GCS to stop playing defense is now!

5. ISS needs fixing. SCALES needs fixing.

Why was the Board surprised last night that many of our in-school suspension programs are in need of an overhaul? I’ve been preaching this since I started campaigning two years ago. This highlights the real fact that some of our Board members are not getting the true tours of our schools and they’re seeing only what they are told to see.

N&R excerpt:

Recommendations included reducing the number of students in elementary, middle and high schools; adding social workers; restructuring in-school suspension programs; and establishing a centralized mediation center to handle student disputes.

Other recommendations included adding security staff to schools; using standard modes of dress districtwide and reducing class sizes in traditional schools to 17 students.

************************

E.C. )

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6 Responses

  1. What’s the cost of reducing class sizes to 17 throughout? How many new schools and class rooms have to be built, especially when GCS insists upon building $80 million schools for 1,200 students? How many more teachers will be required?

    I contend that students don’t have to have expensive schools or small class sizes to learn. If GCS had a clue how to educate, the students could learn in mobile cottages. Other school districts build high schools planned for 2,000-3,000 students, and they build them for less than $80 million. And, they get them built and occupied in a reasonable period of time. What did Northern take from approval to occupancy? Four years? Five years?

  2. My home country teaches children outside under a tree. I bet they could out-perform Guilford county’s children.

  3. If this report isn’t an indictment of the shameful reign of Terry Grier, I don’t know what is. Can we make it a package deal and have Terry take along Amos Quick and Deena “This Bunyon On My Foot Was Caused By Racism” Hayes?

  4. with respect to Duncan, he’s been on the Board for a while, so he’s had a chance to right the wrongs and create a whistleblowing policy that has teeth…he hasn’t.

    ***********

    That’s absolutely right, Erik. Teachers have been afraid to speak out for years now. Alan Duncan surely has been aware of it — if I, as a private citizen, have heard teachers say they are afraid to speak openly, then surely the School Board Chairman knows of the culture of fear, too.

    But he has done absolutely nothing about it. If anything, he’s encouraged it by his inaction.

    Erik, it’s time for a new School Board Chairman. Mr. Duncan has had his turn — it’s time for someone else to get a chance to lead the board.

    If elected (when you are elected!), I hope you will push for a new BOE Chairman.

  5. E.C. –

    When you are elected will you give teachers the respect they deserve for being brave enough to speak out in opposition?

    Many teachers have an average of 80 students in their classroom a day. These same teachers often feel they are responsible for the academic and personal success of each student. Will you give teachers the tools needed to stay on task, to apply technology, and to discipline disruptions?

    Will you support parents overwhelmed by their child’s behavior? Will you do it by eliminating his or her disruption in the classroom, encouraging respect, or both?

    If ISS doesn’t work in its current iteration how about assigning mandatory community service? Isn’t there a better way then sending the unruly to the streets?

    Doesn’t the Habitat for Humanity or the Parks and Recreation Department need volunteers? Is it financially feasible to hire off-duty law enforcement to supervise the community service?

    Will you hold advocates of racism – Hispanic, African-American or Caucasian – accountable for their perpetual hate-mongering and ignorance by barring them from institutions of learning?

    Will this include expulsion or dismissal of any active gang member of MS-13, Bloods, Crips, and/or Neo-Nazis? If so, on the day s/he leaves the school will you refer them to a GED or vocational rehabilitation program?

    Will having drugs, alcohol, firearms and/or tobacco on campus remain grounds for expulsion? If not, why not?

    Will you give the power of discipline and responsibility back to the parents? Will you hold parents responsible or perhaps maintain a zero-tolerance policy on any rule broken?

    Will GCS be held accountable for turning the entire Guilford County population into a thoughtful, hopeful, accepting and just society within the next 20 years?

    Do you think that the GCS community feels, as a whole, that education is a privilege?

    Do you think, just maybe, we could set policies that protect the sanctity of education and the safety of its participants?

    Do you think my need for a safe public school system is an unfair expectation?

    – P.A.

    ”Only the educated are free.” – Epictetus

    “The ignorant are enslaved by their own apathy.” – P.A.

  6. WOW, excellent questions. PA, are you a teacher?

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