Special Meeting this Wednesday

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The Guilford County Board of Education will hold a Special Called meeting on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 11:30 a.m. to discuss hiring a new superintendent. The meeting will be held in the Board Room of the Administrative Offices, 712 N. Eugene St., Greensboro, N.C.


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More on that math/science collaboration (N&R)

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Today’s N&R has more on this proposed math/science collaboration effort between UNCG and GCS. And some striking quotes can be found here.


Educator Ed Uprichard has a vision that Guilford County 20 years from now will be known for luring and keeping some of the most innovative and high-paying technical and engineering companies in the country.

That vision also includes Guilford County Schools students outperforming their international peers on math and science exams and pouring out of local universities with related degrees.

Uprichard, former provost and dean of the school of education at UNCG, hopes a research institute he is planning will help the county accomplish this.

UNCG this past January received an initial $75,000 grant from the local Joseph M. Bryan, Cemala and Weaver foundations to plan the Institute for the Advancement of Learning in Mathematics and Science.

Last month, Uprichard started discussing a partnership with Guilford County Schools, local colleges and universities and business leaders, he said.

“We see it as a potential economic development tool for the community,” said Ed Kitchen, vice president of the Bryan Foundation. “Hopefully, we could become a center for excellence and that in turn would draw businesses to this community.”

Uprichard, now a math professor at UNCG, said he wants to form a steering committee and working groups soon to flesh out the ideas and have a proposal to the foundations by early 2009.

“We know that math and science learning in K-12 public education is not where it needs to be, according to international studies,” Uprichard said. “We have a problem in this country that needs to be addressed.”

Possible projects could include piloting different teaching techniques in middle schools or drafting policies that would either change how students are tested or increase the amount of money spent on educating gifted students, he said.

Uprichard said he believes the institute is important during an era of globalization and advances in areas such as nanotechnology.

“I would bet that those communities well-grounded in math and science and technology will more than likely be on the cutting edge 30 years from now,” he said. “But it’s not a sure thing.”

Kitchen said business leaders have told him they must often hire employees from outside the region or country to meet their work force requirements.

hire? as in…we have jobs here? (just kidding) But seriously…you guys are the same ones that preach about the “brain-drain” we keep having; young professionals with families like me are looking for work in Raleigh and Charlotte because there are no jobs. There’s a contradiction somewhere.


Martin Weissburg, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Financial Services in Greensboro, also acknowledged a gap between Guilford County’s work force and the technical skills needed by employers.

“It’s very expensive to hire outside the area and relocate his or her family,” said Weissburg, who also serves on an education-related task force with Action Greensboro.

So we have a workforce in this county that’s ill-prepared.


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This one hits a little too close to home

Brandon Rishad Thompson

(via N&R)

This is Brandon Thompson. Brandon is 18 years old and is from High Point.

Today’s N&R ran his photo as part of this story:

HIGH POINT — An 18-year-old man faces three felony charges in connection with the Monday night assault of a woman.

Brandon Rishad Thompson of 2673 Hidden Pond Cove, High Point, has been charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, first degree burglary and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury. He is being held in the Guilford County jail in High Point on a $150,000 bond.

High Point police said they responded at 8:30 p.m. to 2648 Hidden Pond Cove. There police said they found Marcia Margarita Ramos, 50, sitting on the kitchen floor. Police said it was obvious she had been assaulted, though they did not detail her injuries. Ramos remains in intensive care at High Point Regional Hospital.


Brandon was a student of mine when I taught 9th and 10th grade English at Andrews H.S. two years ago. I remember him being a good student for me. He would pay attention, he would come to class as much as possible, despite him being reprimanded in other classes and being in and out of suspension. I remember working very hard with him on his writing around the time of the 10th grade Writing Test. I remember him saying he had a challenged homelife, which was why I tried to work even harder to help him with his schoolwork. I even remember giving him lunch-money. Somedays, it would be the last dollar I had until payday, but I would never want to let a child go hungry.

It breaks my heart to see this report and to see this photo. It breaks my heart because we failed this child.

I’m actually angry. Because somewhere, somehow, something went wrong. And I’m not playing the blame game, nor am I trying to pass the buck somehow. And I honestly hope Ms. Ramos will be okay and my heart goes out to her and her family and I wish her a blessed and speedy recovery.

But there are a lot of “Brandons” out there winding up in a failed system. We MUST put a stop to this somehow. The rampant crime and robberies in our area is out of control, and much of the crime is being done by our teen population.

It has to stop. This one has hit a little too close to home.

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NCAE Grapples Over Personal Leave Pay (N&R)

http://www.bobszy.net/real-estate-images/ncae.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Today’s N&R covers the ongoing struggle over teachers having to pay to use personal leave. The NCAE is behind a move to ask legislators to reverse this decades-old requirement to pay a $50 fee to reimburse substitutes to use their own personal days.

I never thought this requirement was fair, and I think the NCAE is right in supporting this change.


North Carolina teachers have used personal days to attend funerals and court hearings, assist friends during medical procedures and participate in training — a privilege that costs them $50 a day.

Teachers are now asking legislators to end the decades-old requirement that they pay a fee for taking those days off.

The N.C. Association of Educators has circulated a petition requesting that the state waive the fee for up to two days per academic year.

“We’re not asking for the full five (days) because we thought getting something would be better than what we currently have,” said Eddie Davis , NCAE president.

The state provides personal leave days to allow for absences when neither sick time nor annual leave can be used. Teachers can accumulate up to five personal days per academic year.

Tammy Shaney , a Northeast Guilford Middle School teacher who has signed the petition, said she sees the fee as a disincentive for recruiting educators to the state.

NCAE found that 32 of 35 surveyed states do not require a fee for their teachers. North Carolina levies the fee even if a substitute is not hired but recently started allowing teachers to convert unused personal days to sick leave as an incentive to keep them in schools.

“I don’t know of any teacher who does not support this entire idea,” Shaney said about the petition request. “We’ve got to find ways to make North Carolina stand out from the states around us to reduce our teacher shortage.”

Some legislators also hope to revive House and Senate bills that were filed last year but didn’t survive budget negotiations. They estimate removing the fee would cost the state about $12 million per year if every teacher used two personal days.

Guilford County Schools estimates that it could cost the district roughly $200,000 in additional local money to hire substitutes.

Sen. Tony Rand said the bill he sponsored stalled because legislators were preoccupied with mental health and high school reform costs.

“It just got mixed up in the clutter at the end of the session and it just didn’t get done,” said Rand, who represents Bladen and Cumberland counties.

Michael Moser , a teacher at Kernodle Middle School, called the fee requirement contradictory. Moser, who last used two to three personal days in December 2006 to rebuild hurricane-damaged homes in Mississippi, said about 50 employees at his school have signed the petition.

“They say we earn personal leave, and then we have to pay to take the personal leave,” Moser said.

The Guilford County Board of Education discussed the fee briefly at its meeting last week but did not vote to support the concept of removing the fee. Member Dot Kearns cited local budget constraints as a concern.

“Everyone would like to provide more support for teachers,” Kearns said. “I think no one was willing to say we will take on the additional $200,000 at this point.”


Is it me, or did it seem like Dot wimped out here? Take a stand. Will you or won’t you?
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Too many dropouts says Easley

 Outgoing Gov. Mike Easley told a group of business leaders yesterday that there are too many dropouts in the state.


Not that he was in a position to do anything about it for his two terms, right?

Coverage from today’s High Point Enterprise:

 http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2004/ALLPOLITICS/11/02/governor.northcarolina/story.mike.easley.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. GUILFORD COUNTY – Dropout statistics show North Carolina high schools are not working and students know it, Gov. Mike Easley told a gathering of business leaders Wednesday.
This month, a new Alliance for Education report showed that 42,000 students didn’t graduate high school last year. “Many of these students know that high school will not get the job done for them,” Easley said during a North Carolina Chamber of Com­merce luncheon. “They know they need more.”
Easley agreed with business leaders par­ticipating in an earlier panel discussion that high school does not give students a link to high-tech jobs. Easley has sponsored Learn & Earn programs allowing high school graduates to earn a Community Col­lege associate’s degree if they stay in school a year longer.
“Then they can go to college on state and federal grants and get a degree debt free,” Easley said. “As these programs grow we may have the best prepared work force ever.” The state also has moved ahead to improve the business climate, Easley said, by shifting from traditional to diversified manufacturing.
“We are not nearly as stagnant as we were in 2000-02 when we had a $2.5 billion short­fall,” Easley said. “We could see a slight sur­plus.”
The business leaders also urged busi­nesses to support enrichment programs for students, teachers and school adminis­trators.
“We do have to have the superintendents committed to these programs,” Easley said. The state can win in economic develop­ment if it invests in knowledge, talent and skills, Easley said. “The winners will do that.”
The investments include boosted pre­school and literacy programs and increased teacher pay.


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Groups seek new vision for schools (N&R)

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More on Sunday’s town hall meeting at Gillespie Park, courtesy of today’s N&R:

Guilford County occasionally gets the chance with a turnover in leadership to craft a vision for the education of its youngest residents.

Teachers, school board members, parents and business leaders have been buzzing with ideas behind the scenes since Terry Grier, former Guilford County Schools superintendent, announced in January his plans to take a job overseeing public schools in San Diego.

Now, two groups are inviting the various stakeholders to contemplate the district’s future.

The Community Dialogue on Education and the Guilford County Council of PTAs will hold a town meeting at Gillespie Park Elementary School on Sunday.

The idea for the meeting was sparked by the search for Grier’s replacement, said organizer Ed Whitfield. Grier ended his eight-year tenure with Guilford County on March 14 and began with the San Diego Unified School District on Monday.

The meeting is “an extension of the concern we’ve had all along that there needs to be more community discussion about what the community wants in education,” Whitfield said.

The groups will hold a panel discussion with participants breaking out to brainstorm answers to the following questions: What kind of education are students getting now? What do residents want? And, what must change to accomplish that?

Organizers also plan to steer the conversation around educating students for democracy, employment, community and meaningful life.

The groups will then report to the Guilford County Board of Education, Whitfield said.

Members of the Community Dialogue on Education are particularly concerned about the district’s emphasis on standardized testing. They acknowledge that frustration among educators and parents over the federal No Child Left Behind law may need to lead to talk over whether Guilford County Schools should sacrifice federal funding to get around the law’s standardized testing requirements.

For example, legislators in Virginia approved a bill this month that would allow the State Board of Education to decide whether the state should pull out of the federal school accountability system that is up for reauthorization this year.

“If we were going to give up federal money the community would need to step up and support (the schools) financially,” said Charlotte LeHecka, an education consultant who is a member of the grass-roots advocacy group.

Organizers hope the town meeting draws enough participation and ideas to influence the superintendent selection.

The board also plans to seek input on desired qualities in a new leader, holding five meetings in the coming weeks.

What: Town meeting to start formulating a vision for public education in Guilford County

When: 3-5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Gillespie Park Elementary, 1900 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Greensboro

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Pay for Grades (CNN)

http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/jpeg/cnn1231.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. CNN’s Lou Dobbs interviewed Supt. John Deasy, head of the Prince Georges County Public Schools on his show last night. Also in the hot seat was Donald Briscoe, with the Prince Georges County Education Association. They both discussed a new “mission possible”-like program P.G. County was implementing, with the blessing of the school system’s union. Titled County FIRST, they both waxed poetic on its advantages in helping highly-impacted schools in P.G. County, located just outside of Washington, DC.

Click here to watch.

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