Upside down antics at last night’s meeting

I don’t get these people sometimes.

//www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/hayes_b.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. //www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/childs_b.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The top story from last night’s GCS Board meeting was not the two-hour discussion about Triangle Lake Montessori nor the discussion about the Super-search…it was the fact that Board members Deena Hayes and Walt Childs no longer favor busing your children. That’s the top story.

Deena and Walt saw the lightening flash.

Trouble is…why all of a sudden are they speaking out now against busing? It’s contrary to their previous votes when they supported busing children out of their neighborhoods…particularly High Point children.

Now how ironic is it that again, we’re talking about busing High Point children and Ms. Hayes says (according to today’s N&R):

“I think it’s time we stop using magnets to provide diversity and use magnets to provide choice…we’ve got to stop with all the busing.”

I don’t get it. Someone help me out here. Why was busing okay for some children in the past, but it is not a good thing now? (For the record, I support good neighborhood schools)

In the end, after several puzzling votes, the Board decided not to mix class methods at Triangle Lake.

N&R:

Triangle Lake Montessori Elementary First, the school board voted to create a school within a school at Triangle Lake Montessori. Then, the board voted to assign 114 students opting out of the magnet to Colfax Elementary for another year.

After three substitute motions and an overturned vote, torn members of the Guilford County Board of Education sided Thursday with Triangle Lake parents who said they did not want to mix students taught by two different methods.

As a condition, the school board will require that students attending Colfax, which is about 17 miles away, be placed on a direct bus route to cut down on riding time, and receive additional bus monitors and a social worker.

“I hate to see a program that has worked this hard and become this successful be ruined,” said board member Dot Kearns, who supported keeping opt-out students at Colfax.

The board also voted to return several feeder schools to Triangle Lake that previously had been assigned to Washington Elementary to help fill its new Montessori program. That means 19 children in those attendance zones will be invited back to Triangle Lake.

The often confusing discussion took nearly two hours, requiring the board to postpone some agenda items.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Margaret Arbuckle, director of the Guilford Education Alliance, whispered from the audience at one point.

Margaret, why are you surprised? This is your elected school board.

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Your Board last night, during the 11pm hour, also voted to hire Ray & Associates to conduct the search for our next superintendent. The vote was 7-4.

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//www.gcsnc.com/schools/high/page/Page2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Moment before last night’s antics, it was reported that Page H.S. received IB status. This from GCS and the N&R Chalkboard.

But there’s always a story within a story.

Chalkboard:

May 2007 performance at the three high schools.

//www.gcsnc.com/schools/high/grimsley/Grimsley.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Grimsley had 34 IB diploma-eligible seniors at that time and by the end of the year, 27 had earned one. Also, 424 IB exams were taken and 327 earned a score of 4 or higher, which is needed to qualify the student for college credit.

//www.gcsnc.com/schools/high/highpointcentral/HighPointCentral.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. At High Point Central, 9 of 34 eligible students earned IB diplomas; 143 of 221 exams earned scores of 4 or higher.

//www.gcsnc.com/schools/high/smith/Smith2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. At Smith (the most recent school to get IB other than Page), 0 of 12 eligible students earned an IB diploma; 19 of 79 exams earned scores of 4 or higher.

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Did we read that right…”0″ at Smith? There’s your story…0 of 12 students earning an IB diploma. Is it me or is there a disconnect somewhere?

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E.C. )

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10 Responses

  1. I’m torn on magnet schools. I understand the reason for wanting them in minority neighborhoods to “draw” non-minority students there. My own two kids did just that and were on the bus at 6:50 a.m. to go to a magnet elementary school (for years). However, I always wondered why we couldn’t have such magnets in my own (majority) neighborhood and let the kids who wanted to be there have a realistic morning schedule.

    OTOH, I understand the arguments for magnets in minority neighborhoods (too many to reiterate here) but I was always put out by that darned mini-attendance districts where students who lived nearby HAD to attend the magnet, even if they didn’t want or weren’t individually suited for that particular magnet. Most of the school day was often spent dealing with kids who didn’t care if they were there and had little family support (or contribution) to the school. [note: contributions are mostly time and involvement, not financial]

    It’s a thorny problem and I support the parents distress about diluting a Montessori program. It just doesn’t work like that – having kids with totally different socialization, learning styles, daily skills and family involvement destructuring the gains achieved by Montessori instructional styles. Those parents are giving time, effort, caring and organizational skills to the entire school environment and their contributions should never be minimized because, after all, that’s exactly what we want parents to do and that’s what magnets are supposed to encourage.

    Thorny problem, yes. I don’t have a solution but I do have lots of empathy.

  2. Mr. Huey,

    Do you really want to know why the sudden change of heart for Walter and Deena?

    It has to do with the High Point NAACP.

    You see, there’s a history lesson here.

    Joe Alston’s neighborhood was redistricted via the 1999 redistricting plan to Andrews. From that day forward, those neighborhoods preached that diversity was good for all of High Point. The truth is that Joe, Bernita Sims, and company were trying to help struggling Andrews in any way they could.

    The board’s 1999 redistricting plan was a disaster for Andrews in an attempt to fix Dot and Susie’s alma mater of HP Central.

    Anyway, the reason that Deena and Walter voted for busing before they voted against busing is because Joe Alston told them how to vote.

    Here’s the ugly truth: Joe Alston and company didn’t want “those kids” at their school – Andrews. They wanted them bused wherever and Southwest looked good to them. Joe is still angry about being redistricted from SW to Andrews.

    So, Deena and Walter voted to bus “those kids” away from Andrews and to SW. Very, very political and you can thank Joe Alston and Bernita Sims for that.

    Fast forward to last night. Neither Joe Alston nor Bernita Sims have a dog in the Triangle Lake issue, so now Walter speaks from “his heart” and decides that busing is not good.

    Deena has never favored busing in Greensboro and has been an advocate for segregated Dudley High School so it was easy for her to banish busing.

    If Joe Alston had a child at Triangle Lake, this would have been a different story.

  3. Sue,

    Since the original purpose of a Magnet school was political, not to innovate in instructional approach solely, but rather to create a school that would be so attractive, it would “attract” white students to attend it rather than having to force students to bus to other schools to promote academic desegregation of students. The goal was to reduce racial segregation voluntarily. If you placed such a school in a majority neighborhood, it would defeat the whole purpose of a magnet school.

    In essence, when forced busing to achieve integration was no longer allowed, magnet schools were innovated by the federal government to achieve voluntary integration. Unfortunately, the lure of superior educational opportunity has never fully been realized by magnet schools. Possibly because those magnet schools do not really represent superior educational opportunities.

    Perhaps, if the public schools would invest more time and resources in building quality into all schools, rather than chasing a social agenda, all students would benefit. And, if the public schools could kick the federal money habit, they could tell the feds that they are no longer going to do the hated NCLB testing game. Heck, education might actually be enhanced. And, if you didn’t have a multitude of magnet schools, you wouldn’t have the minim-attendance problem, such as at Triangle Lake. It’s when we start bringing complexity that is not needed, we have have increasing problems to solve.

  4. Stormy, thanks for the history lesson, but I have a PhD in an education-related field, have been a teacher and principal, and sent 2 kids through GCS back when it was Greensboro City Schools. I know why magnets are there: for racial balancing in a palatable way for families.

    The fact is (what I didn’t include in the original post due to space and time) that some families are historically not involved and not as “good” decision makers as other families and we’ve learned over the decades that better educated families make better decisions for their children’s education and school choice. While “we” try to educate ALL families, the facts bear out that not all families are as involved with their kids’ educations, for a variety of reasons.

    That’s the main reason for putting desirable magnets into minority neighborhoods. We can argue the social implications of that all we want, but it works toward an often federally-mandated goal: integrated schools. Toss in the “no busing” thing and magnets become more important.

    “if the public schools would invest more time and resources in building quality into all schools”

    Simply, that’s just not borne out by history and experience. Neighborhood schools are often segregated schools and as much as it pains me that my kids had to travel long hours, segregated schools are not better and certainly are not legal. There is HUGE quality in many, if not most, of GCS schools but you wouldn’t know it from reading some blogs.

    The bottom line is that if NEIGHBORHOODS were integrated, then so would schools. If we can’t solve the issue on a social level with all our cities and neighborhoods, then how the heck does anyone justify dumping that task on “the schools??”

    I’m tired of demanding that “the schools” do what we, as a society, city and country, have been unable to do. Demanding a happy and complete integration of schools is a false goal doomed to constant failure on every level.

    Let the talkers integrate all neighborhoods first. Then “the schools” would be fixed. Finit.

    Happy holidays; I mean it sincerely. We all care; we think differently.

  5. I just find it all rather amusing that two programs can’t seem to exist side-by-side at Triangle Lake when my son’s school–Lincoln–has elementary and middle VSN programs, middle global studies and performing arts magnets and many districted children. When the VSN parents pointed out that it would be hard to maintain the integrity of the two VSN programs with the other three groups(although there is some symbiosis between the middle VSN program and the other magnets), we were told we were racists and that our children had a “master/slave” relationship with the districted children. But the story is different at Triangle Lake, apparently, for Deena especially. His mother and I are pulling our son out of Lincoln because what we hear of the middle school VSN program does not warrant the long bus ride he has endured with high school language and behavior from the other riders to which no small child should have been subjected. Letting strong AL programs across the county suffer and go down is okay, but one Montessori program has to be maintained. What a joke . . . except none of the AL parents are laughing.

  6. Jack, I can sympathize. What I have learned through having children in Guilford county is that the high achievers will be “okay”. Our high achievers can endure long bus rides, they can endure the “lessons” that occur on these long bus rides, they can somehow overcome by their very, high-achieving nature. Where GC spends its time and money is on the low achievers. They will always be the priority in this system. I wonder what will happen will all the high achievers are gone. These families are finally getting smart and going private.

  7. Sue – you say “it pains me that my kids had to travel long hours, segregated schools are not better and certainly are not legal. ”

    Are you saying that your children were bused for long hours involuntarily?

    And, by the way, please cite me the law that says that segregated schools are not legal. That is simply not true.

    Have you ever heard of Dudley High School – you know the one that’s 99% black and less than 1% white?

  8. The funny thing is that the kids that Walter and Deena want “back” at their neighborhood elementary school are the very same kids they would not let go to their neighborhood middle school Welborn.
    They voted for them to be redistricted away from Welborn with the Kearns/Mendenhall map E and then they voted against them having the choice to go there last year ( Garth’s real choice plan). These people are out of their minds!

  9. ““if the public schools would invest more time and resources in building quality into all schools – Simply, that’s just not borne out by history and experience.”

    Sue, I couldn’t agree more, but who’s job is it to do that? My point was that the school board and administration should invest their resources in making all schools quality, instead of trying to design programs that will move kids around, chasing integration as a solution to learning. It’s quality teachers, quality curriculum, involved and supportive parents, and a safe and sound environment that will allow that to happen.

    “Let the talkers integrate all neighborhoods first.” And, how, exactly are the talkers going to integrate neighborhoods? We certainly do not need government to tell us where to live (although many would like to do just that).

  10. This strand has generated a lot of GOOD comments, thank you. Keep em’ coming! I’m learning from all of you just by reading and listening, and the history has been worthwhile.

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