SEANC Leaders Undermine Diversity, Schools

Last week the NAACP celebrated its 100 year anniversary. Saturday the NAACP of NC and partners led thousands in the 3rd annual “Historic Thousands on Jones Street”, the HKonJ rally in Raleigh to support a 14 point People’s Agenda for better schools and health care, equal justice, affordable housing, worker fairness, voting rights, environmental justice, and more. Point #1 advocates that “All Children Need High Quality, Well Funded, Diverse Schools”. Point #11 calls for “Collective Bargaining for Public Employees and Support Smithfield Workers Right to Unionize.”

The NAACP of NC and 12 local branches have signed on to support the NC Hope Coalition in calling for the repeal of the ban in GS 95-98 on collective bargaining by public employees. The Coalition has a core of 11 labor groups including the SEANC, SEIU and NCAE and was an important element of the HKonJ rally. Some marchers wore yellow gags with the words “Repeal 95-98”. Just Monday the NAACP again showed its support for NC unions by awarding Richard Burr, Howard Coble and Americans for Prosperity a “Hypocrisy Award” for the misleading "Defense of the American Worker" campaign which opposes the "card check" bill. Just yesterday the NAACP of NC again expressed support for the “Employee Free Choice Act” even as conservative patron Art Pope stood with Richard Burr to oppose it.

So it comes as some surprise that the Executive Director of SEANC, Dana Cope, and the Legislative Director of SEANC, Ardis Watkins, have together taken steps to undermine the school diversity policy in effect in Wake County and to give succor to opponents of public education and in some cases, collective bargaining.

In a politically tone-deaf move they have established a PAC to “elect and defeat candidates for the office of School Board” based on opposition to Wake’s diversity policy and have aligned with other, mostly conservative, groups and individuals, many with ties to Art Pope, to erode the public school system in Wake County.


"How dare they use my children for a social experiment that has gone wrong and needs replacing," – Dana Cope

The new PAC is known as the “Children’s PAC” and is registered in Wake County with Heather Watkins as Treasurer at the address of Ardis Watkins where both are registered to vote. Heather Watkins has been associated with outreach and legislative affairs for SEIU. They have joined a coalition of county wide groups and politicians, ostensibly opposed to income and achievement based assignment policies, called the “Wake Schools Community Alliance” (WSCA) whose strings are pulled by the likes of School Board member and voucher advocate Ron Margiotta who wants to split the county into 10 districts and private school advocate Kent Misegades who chairs the trustees of Robert Luddy’s private Thales Academy. Ironically Cope claims about his “political” action committee that the “The PAC will support who will take care of our schools and rely on facts instead of political agendas” (sic)

Cope’s Wake County home is literally around the corner from that of SEANC colleague Ardis Watkins. Both homes are valued at over $600,000 and both are located in the middle of a school node in an affluent West Raleigh neighborhood which is the middle of three school nodes that are being reassigned from Lacy Elementary to Stough Elementary. As the crow flies Stough is marginally further away than Lacy. Diversity reassignment in Wake County is intended to maintain a maximum of 40% free and reduced price lunch recipients and a maximum of 25% student achievement below grade level.

Cope has lived in Wake County less than a year. While a deed was transferred for the house inside Raleigh’s beltline in March of 2008, his wife listed a political contribution with their Johnston county address in April and both registered to vote in Wake County in the Fall of 2008. If they voted in the Primary it was in Johnston County. The two vehicles in their driveway have not been in Wake County long enough to appear on the tax rolls. Their Johnson County house is still listed in their names and is currently on the market for $289,900.

Lacy Elementary has a reputation as a good school, not least because it has a private foundation that funds at least one additional teaching position. It is undergoing a major renovation and addition and will be a very desirable educational environment yet Stough Elementary is not a bad school “per se” but struggles with higher percentages of free and reduced price lunch recipients and ESL students. Stough parents are somewhat puzzled by the disparaging remarks being made by reassigned Lacy parents such as Cope who has two children enrolled. 10 years ago roles were reversed when Lacy had higher percentages of free and reduced price lunch recipients than Stough and Wake switched diversity assignment policies. Apparently Wake’s diversity program has worked well for Lacy.

According to locals, a major driver for residents of these particular reassigned nodes is not just education or diversity but the higher property values presumed to be associated with having Lacy Elementary as a base school. Conservatives in the area are gleeful that well known “liberals” have joined the fray on their behalf. Conservatives behind the WCSA are ecstatic for the same reason and count Democratic Mayor of Cary, Harold Weinbrecht, as one of their trophies. They can wheel a Trojan horse to the gates of free and diverse public schools under cover of bipartisanship before attacking their ultimate targets.

Agenda items include the removal of caps on charter schools and steps which would lead to concentrations of poor and underachieving students. For participants like Republican Ron Margiotta and private school trustee Kent Misegades the goal is to obliterate public education and replace it with a free market system funded by taxpayers with universal vouchers. Part of the political strategy is to create a Board of Education majority by switching from district to at-large seats and having elections in even number years. Cope, not short on arrogance himself, has embraced the strategy and tactics of his new school buddies, urging them to “send arrogant politicians packing”.

“This is about transferring high-performing children to lower-performing schools to mask the performance of those schools. It's ludicrous.” Dana Cope

Cope has directly criticized achievement-based assignment policies. Like many members of the “Wake Schools Community Alliance” Cope parses his arguments in a seemingly rational and reasonable frame but the constellation of interests in this unholy alliance serve mainly to end diversity and to weaken the Wake County Public School system to point where it can be easily killed off by conservatives like Ron Margiotta, Kent Misegades, Robert Luddy, Nelson Dollar and Paul Stam.

"I for one do not believe that a school's ethnic diversity plays an important role in an individual child's learning." Kent Misegades

There is a collective memory loss that fails to remember that school segregation was real and recent in Raleigh and Wake County and that continuous vigilance is required to maintain the structures that support diversity. My own wife entered first grade the year Wake County Schools were integrated. It’s not that long ago. As the Charlotte Mecklenburg experience has demonstrated, absent a diversity policy, poor students become clustered in high-poverty, mostly minority schools. Charlotte compensates with more money, money that Wake County doesn’t have, yet Charlotte has not had more success.

Some State legislators say privately that they take a dim view of Cope’s actions in this matter and that they reflect poorly on SEANC and SEIU. They note that the end game of many WSCA supporters will negatively impact SEANC/SEIU members in Wake County, especially low and moderate-wage workers, who don’t have the 5-year contract that Cope enjoys. The end game also conflicts with the legislative agenda of NCAE (NC Association of Educators), which is opposed to vouchers, lifting the cap on charters and indeed, the abolition of public education. The end game surely conflicts with the goals of the NAACP and the NC Hope coalition. Cope and Watkins should be aware that while their motives may be pure their fellow travelers are not all sitting in the same end of the bus, or even on the same bus, or even headed for the same destination. They are trafficking in the goodwill of the SEANC, in the fear of retribution from SEANC and, in the fear of collateral damage from the right for what amounts to a point of personal privilege.

Comments closed by James

Comments

Awesome analysis

This is Greg Flynn at his best.

What Cope and Watkins are exhibiting is pure white privilege. Essentially, they want their kids to get a better education than other kids get. What they don't realize is that the best schools in the nation aren't homogeneous neighborhood schools - they're diverse schools that have figured out how to help kids from all types of families succeed. Homogeneous schools in affluent neighborhoods are able to mask poor instruction by producing high test scores from a well-educated population.

SEANC is supposed to advocate for all state workers. I wonder what black and brown state employees think about the fact that Cope and Watkins don't want their kids in the same schools that the employees send their kids to.

I belive your post hits below

I belive your post hits below the belt by pointing out where some is and is not registered to vote, when taxes are paid/registered, and other things. That's not relevent the issue.

We all know and understand that redistricting comes up way to often in Wake County. I would be opposed to my children being moved just to fill a quota that the state has not mandated. I don't believe in segregation, that was an awful time in our history; but at the same time, when these districts are first drawn or redrawn, these considerations should be in mind.

I had the unfortunate experience of riding a bus for at least 60-90 minutes every day to attend an elementary school, despite the fact that there were no less than three schools closer to me (including the one I transferred from). I think that students should have the opportunity to attend neighborhood schools, but in no way should that affect the diversity.

Residence

Documented place of residence is central to this debate.

This is probably the most

This is probably the most pathetic "reporting" I have seen on this subject. Any simpleton with a computer can look up an individual's tax records. I wonder if this Kelly guy even took the time to speak with some parents who have children in the school system and find out what they think.

Evidently Democrats are not shy about throwing their own under the bus. And they believe that Mr. Cope's right to advocate for his children should take a back seat to party dogma.

Time to face the facts, WCPSS is still throwing 1970's solution against a 21st century problem, and it doesn't work.

If all of Wake County's

If all of Wake County's schools were "good" schools we wouldn't be having this exchange. Often times, home buyers look for a new home in the area that has a good school. I know that is one of those "in a perfect world" statements, but my point is the Wake County Public School redistricting hasn't worked in the past and it's not working now. Now, I am just a regular guy. I don't consider myself "incompetent" as Mr. Flynn so discourteously replied to me earlier, but I know I care about my children going to school in my neighborhood. I grew up in the Wake County School System before bussing kids away from home became so popular and I am grateful that I have roots in the community and childhood friends of diverse cultures.

The fact of the matter is -

All students perform better when they're in a diverse environment. Higher performing students don't get pulled down by lower performing students. In fact, it's exactly the opposite.

I know it's difficult for parents and students to readjust, and I'll agree that every time you turn around, Wake Co. is reassigning schools. But I have to say that the basis of this is sound educational theory.

As for the officials of SEANC standing against this policy, it's unfortunate indeed. I suspect they just don't get it.

Growth

Growth is the biggest reason for reassignment in Wake. Diversity gets more press.

Cope and Watkins stood

Cope and Watkins stood against this policy as parents and not SEANC officials. It is difficult to readjust, but I think the "sound educational theory" is not proven to be effective. What's unfortunate indeed is that the poor decisions of this school board are bore on the backs of our children. I don't know if Cope and Watkins "get it", but I admire that they stand up for not just their own children, but all of the children in Wake County schools. Thanks for considering my opinion!

It is proven.

Here is the best article describing heterogeneous groupings in schools. (PDF) It summarizes the benefits of heterogeneous grouping, and quotes several professional educators who discuss their experiences and those of their students.

It boils down to this:

Strategies that promote equity, promote achievement
student by student. Strategies that perpetuate inequity
promote disillusionment, distrust, and disengagement.
Heterogeneous grouping and differentiated instruction
create an atmosphere of equality and caring in the classroom,
and both offer students a better opportunity for
success. With each student’s success comes greater success
for the teacher, the classroom, and the school.

Other articles I've read stress that with heterogeneous grouping, there is more pressure on teachers and administrators to move away from "one size fits all" curriculum. I'm not familiar with Wake County or its schools, so I can't speak to particulars, but if I had to make a guess as to why redistricting hasn't worked in the past, it would be that there was not enough monetary or professional supports for the educational staff.

During times of growth, it's appropriate

for school systems to consider the diversity of schools at the same time. If students are going to be reassigned because of growth, it makes sound educational sense to move to preserve/increase the diversity of the schools.

That said, I don't live in Wake County, but I'd make the same argument in here Moore County (where we are facing growth in exponential terms over the next few years.)

Great job on the article, Greg. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Three percent

The Wake County plan reassigns roughly 25,000 kids over the next three years, more than half of them because of growth and the 10 new schools opening to handle it.

That means 4,000 or kids reassigned each of the three years, which comes to a whopping three percent the system's enrollment.

It is instructive to look at the N&O story that Greg linked to that compared Wake County schools with Charlotte's system that does not use economic diversity as a requirement for assignment.

If you want to read more, here is a column about it last week on ncpolicywatch.

Good to see you on BlueNC, Chris!

Now if only they'd let one of us rabble rousers join you on NC Spin ...

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

social experiment gone wrong

It seems to me that the common wisdom is that promoting economic diversity in schools is a "social experiment gone wrong."

I don't know what data that opinion is based upon, but it does seem to be a prevailing opinion.

At the risk of stating the obvious, those that believe in economic diversity in schools don't seem to be winning over too many parents.

This report by the Wake Education Partnership might be useful to folks interested in the issue:
http://www.wakeedpartnership.org/In%20Context%2002.06.09.html

I find it particularly disturbing that people seem to be buying the NCLB scam. No Child Left Behind was a deliberate attempt by anti-government Republican leaders to provide ammunition for a future movement against public education. Democratic leaders went along with NCLB because they took Republicans at their word that they would actually be willing to spend money on education. Unfortunately, Republicans lied, and children got stuck with an underfunded plan designed to prove that public education is a failure.

You hit it right on the head, Jerimee

children got stuck with an underfunded plan designed to prove that public education is a failure.

NCLB does look good on paper. Accountability, teachers who actually have education and degrees in the subject their teaching, smaller class sizes - all of those things could be fantastic for public education. But all of them cost money that the Bush Administration and the Republican led Congress were unwilling to spend. It was set up to fail.

I don't know what data that opinion is based upon, but it does seem to be a prevailing opinion.

I don't think it's based on data; I think it's based on fear. That's a powerful motivator. The best antidote to unfounded fears has always been education.

I do think that we need to

I do think that we need to educate people to rid our society of unfounded fears. I believe its ridiculous to believe that diversity is not a good thing. However, diversity can be many different things, just not socio-economic and we can't (unfortunately) create school environments with those other considerations in mind.

First class to go all 12 years with court ordered busing

My graduating class ('82) at Independence High School, outside of Charlotte was the first class to go all 12 years with court ordered busing. For three of those years I was bussed from my eastern Mecklenburg home to a school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the county. The ride was one of the longest in the county at 1.5 hours each way.

I learned so much on these rides and attribute a good part of my social awareness to the time I spent on them. I saw a part of Charlotte that I never knew existed. I saw the abject poverty that some of my classmates lived in and this opened my eyes.

My awakening did not end once I got off the bus in the morning. The school I went to: Lincoln Heights Elementary was a formally all black school and was in horrible shape. We were not allowed to drink out of the water fountains because the water that came out of them was brown.

I also met and was taught by three African American Men that I would have never had if I had not been bused. These three made such an impression on me that I still use the lessons I learned from them. They were also the first AA Men that I ever saw that were in charge. Before that I had only seen janitors, yard men and garbage men.

These bus rides have not affected me; I think I have turned out pretty good. My education did not suffer; I have several undergraduate and graduate degrees and am working on another Masters Degree from Duke right now.

My daughter is currently a third grade student in the Charlotte Mecklenburg system and I would not trade the education she is receiving for any that she would receive at a lily white public or private school. Her school is completely integrated with 17 different languages being spoken in the homes of her school mates. Her best friends are different races than she is and that alone is worth the extra 10 whole minutes it takes to get to her school in the morning.

This is also the neighborhood

This is also the neighborhood that Ed Turlington, Tom Belch, Caroline Farmer, Eddie Speas, and numerous high ranking democratic party judges, elected officials and activists live. Rumored that most are or will be a part of the childrens pac and have said that they will not send their children to Stough. So there will be no gain to anyone or the system with this particular change. Also this group is about to file a lawsuit modeled after Charlotte (same attorney) where they take on economic diversity and allege this is really cloaked racial diversity which is unconstitutional.

I am concerned that with Cope's success in campaigns and PAC fundraising that this will be the end of 30 years of WCPSS history. Anyone who has witnessed Cope has seen that he is a pitt bull that won't let go. Scary thought to see the far right and far left team up. Look at what just happened in Orange County with the proposed merger of Chapel Hill and the county concept. They rocked that election with the same type of coalition (conservative and progressive). This will be a low turnout election and Cope has many followers and access to the democratic voter file. I don't feel good about this one.

It may be a good idea for the WCPSS to rethink this node reassignment. They have done similar political deals before with Del Burns neighborhood and Broughton. Throw out the baby with the bath water doesn't make for a healthy environment.

Has anyone studied the carbon footprint and expense of current Wake county policy compared with other large systems?

2 - 4 - 6 - 8

Who do we intimidate? Not me anyway.

There is something deliciously bizarre about a pseudonym "change agent" advocating unprincipled pandering to maintain a status quo on behalf of "high ranking" Democrats based on rumors and unspecified threats.

As to carbon footprint, Charlotte has the largest school transportation system in the state, carrying more students, traveling more miles yet a poor student in a poor base school with a choice to go to a better school is not eligible for transportation in Charlotte Mecklenburg.

Thank you for your "concern".

Hi Greg

Let me introduce myself to you, Greg. My name is Ardis Watkins. You and I have never met to my knowledge and you certainly have never talked with me about this school board issue.

What profoundly disturbs me is that despite not contacting me to see where I actually stand about WCPSS reassignment and despite the fact that I have not made any public statements about why I disagree with the WCPSS reassignment plan, you went so far as to pontificate on my motives.

Worse yet, you are wrong.

You claim that I am have taken steps to undermine the diversity policy. This is a ridiculous assertion that is patently false.

I have never done anything or said anything to indicate that I wish to harm the diversity of Wake County schools. And the Childrens PAC has never made WCPSS diversity policy the issue, either.

Had you wanted to write a factual piece you could have asked and I would have gladly explained to you exactly why I disagree with the reassignment plan.

In short, this plan is all about test scores with no regard to children. Chuck Delaney is moving kids so that Wake County schools will have mediocre scores across the board, rather than the grossly substandard scores we have been seeing at many Wake County schools.

If Delaney and the Board were actually interested in diversity (or education for that matter), they would never leave the 36% LI gap between neighboring schools like packed and overcrowded Fox Road Elementary and Wildwood Forest Elementary completely untouched while going into a complete dither over a 9% variance for Lacy and Stough. I could cite endless examples that are just as ludicrous in this plan.

You see, the kids did not matter in this equation. Ask Beteena Person, whose children were going to be sent 15 miles from her home beacuse they were LI and were "needed" to help numbers at another elementary school. Parents like Ms. Person are the reason the Childrens PAC was founded. I suppose Delaney and the Board thought she and other parents would be happy their kids could go to a "good" school.

The point is that all of our schools should be good. For all of the kids. Period.

What you wrote is factually incorrect, designed to incite, and terribly irresponsible.

Ardis

welcome to BlueNC.

I'm curious about something. You say that:

In short, this plan is all about test scores with no regard to children. Chuck Delaney is moving kids so that Wake County schools will have mediocre scores across the board, rather than the grossly substandard scores we have been seeing at many Wake County schools.

Are those grossly substandard scores at schools with lower or higher numbers of low income (LI) students?

If I'm following you correctly, from your comment it looks like you're saying that moving the (LI) students will bring the test score averages down at the schools they are moving to. Are you saying that as a group low income students do not perform well on tests?

Do you think that parents of these students would have no problem with their child traveling a little further if their child's test scores improved and their child had a better overall school experience?

Do you think that some - if not most of these children would benefit from moving out of a high poverty school where (from your comment I assume these are the schools with the grossly substandard scores) few perform well to a school where there is a larger number of high performing students per classroom?

If the differential between Fox and Wildwood was addressed would you still have a problem with the differential between Lacy and Stough being addressed?

How would you address the grossly substandard test scores in certain schools? What is your plan?

Finally, how exactly is the Children's PAC going to help low income families? What will you do with the money raised? Which candidates will you support? How will you select these candidates?

Thank you in advance for answering my questions.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Greg Flynn

This particular blog has been very entertaining!

Mr. Cope’s house listed for $289,000 is located in JOHNSTON County, not the afore mentioned JOHNSON County, which a privileged urban blogger wouldn’t have known. I have a question for you, Mr. Flynn. Why are you blogging on such a matter when you are not even listed in the N.C. State Board of Elections data base as a Wake County voter? Both Mr. Cope and Ms. Watkins are registered voters in Wake County. Neither of them drives a Mercedes or any other high end vehicle. I do not see the relevance of Mr. Cope and Ms. Watkins chosen mode of transportation to their childrens’ education. What is glaringly apparent is that Cope and Watkins care about education. The people who live in the Lacy district were forced to form a foundation to better the school and it is just fortunate that they were people in the financial position to do so. Bottom line is that if the diversity policy was working in ALL Wake County schools then no one would have a problem with the school that their child/children would attend if they reside in a particular area. The Wake County diversity plan for schools is a failure and something needs to change. Change happens when like-minded citizens come together and take action. In this case,Cope and Watkins, as well as many other parents,have supported the Children’s PAC. It is time for change and that will not happen until elected school board members are booted out and new members are voted in to office. Democracy allows citizens to have a say in everything from the U.S. Congress to the state General Assembly and local entities such as the school board. Kudos to Cope and Watkins for forming a PAC that will be focused on future candidates for school board who promise to depend on the facts to make decisions for the schools and not a personal political agenda of any of the board members. Mr. Flynn stated in his blog, “Apparently Wake’s diversity program has worked well for Lacy.” Wake County’s diversity program should work well for all of Wake County’s public schools. Mr. Cope moved to this particular neighborhood so his children could have a quality education. I would ask Mr. Flynn if he would not consider the schools in the area where he might be considering to live and raise children. I have to believe Flynn’s answer would be yes. Maybe Mr. Flynn doesn’t have children. I know that the value of his home is listed at $460,000 and he is not in the State Board of Elections data base as a voter in Wake County. Search for yourself at http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/VoterLookup.aspx?Feature=voterinfo.

“As the Charlotte Mecklenburg experience has demonstrated, absent a diversity policy, poor students become clustered in high-poverty, mostly minority schools.” stated Mr. Flynn in his blog. If the Wake County diversity program was successful, Mr. Flynn would have had no fodder to fuel his blog. Everyone should read to the end the article that Mr. Flynn so kindly included in his blog.

Mr. Flynn also stated in his blog “Some State legislators say privately that they take a dim view of Cope’s actions in this matter and that they reflect poorly on SEANC and SEIU.” Anyone who is involved with the N.C. Legislature knows that lawmakers take a “dim view” on any person or group who might have the ability to garner votes. They “privately” make disparaging remarks because they are aware of the strength of a person or organization. I actually laughed out loud when I read the above statement! Mr. Flynn attempts to tie Cope and Watkins actions as private citizens to their jobs. What about your job, Mr. Flynn with the Department of Public Instruction ??? Do you not admit that authoring a blog on political activity surrounding the school board is a huge conflict of interest?

I also feel moved to comment on the comment from Betsy Muse. It seems to me that it’s not Ms. Watkins view but the school board’s view that low income students are less performing, as is evidenced by their reassignment plan. I would encourage you to get involved in the Children’s PAC! I know from experience that you could get all of your questions answered and your questions would be welcomed.

Thank you

Thank you for proving my point. If you had a human name I could thank you properly. Instead I leave you with two correct spellings of Johnston County in the same paragraph where you found the typo. Like a good Arab weaver I like to leave imperfections as evidence of my humanity. If you had a human name I could share details of not one but three properties I own in Wake County. If you had a human name I could show you how to use it as a first name, a middle name or a nickname like Skip, Rich or Dick. I could show you how to use wildcards and Boolean search terms. Last time I checked the First Amendment was still hanging in there. Again, thank you for proving my point.

Hey...wait a minute! I just

Hey...wait a minute! I just realized that there are others who don't have human names and you replied respectfully to their posts. Rangerking, TrueMeckDem, Change Agent...nevermind you didn't like Change Agent...I'm not alone! I have a friend at work who is a "techie" and he schooled me on Wildcards and Boolean search terms, but I got nothin' on the Arab weaver to whom you compare yourself! I will Google later and consider it my "new thing I learned today". Thanks!

I shouldn't have to get involved in a PAC

to get my questions answered. Ms. Watkins should have the courage to answer them here.

All I see from those who don't like this post are attacks on Greg. I don't see any of these people actually answering my thoughtful questions with factual answers.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Answers

Hi Betsy:

Sorry for the delay in responding to you. It wasn't for lack of "courage" as you surmise in your post, but for lack of time. I've got two kids at home and a very demanding job, so I don't have time to tackle these questions the way I'd like to but will give quick answers here.

Should you wish to get into a deeper discussion about these issues, I welcome that and encourage you to email me at watkinsmediation@yahoo.com.

Your first two questions were related. They were whether the grossly substandard scores were at schools with higher LI students and whether I think LI students do not perform well on tests.

Stough parents think so and this is why they argued to the school board that their school's test scores have gone down. Therefore, they argued, they needed some "healthy" nodes to replace the ones they lost when Brier Creek opened.

Like you, I had the same question when these parents made the argument and WCPSS agreed with it. It is ludicrous, in my opinion, to think that LI students are inferior to any other. If they were getting a decent education they would perform as well as anyone.

You also asked if I think parents of LI children would have no problem with their child traveling further if their test scores improved and the child had a better "overall school experience".

What? I am with Beteena Person, who didn't feel it was in her children's best interest to ride 15 miles so they could be in the presence of wealthier kids (as if the kids from wealthier families would somehow "improve" hers.) This is crazy. There is so much more to school, and certainly to education, than test scores.

You ask about the Fox Road example and if it were addressed would I still have a problem with Lacy/Stough.

First of all, that isn't going to happen. Fox Road WAS in the reassignment plan to a very limited degree and was removed at the eleventh hour because Vice Chair Kevin Hill requested it - get this - so the Fox Road kids could stay at the school that is their neighborhood school. Just another example of the arrogant hypocrisy of the school board. It has become abundantly clear that the current board is either incapable of or simply refuses to apply their stated standards uniformly.

You ask what my plan is to address substandard test scores. Start with cleaning out the current board and administration.

Finally, how would the Children's PAC help low-income families? The way it will help all families. By giving them a voice. If you are insinuating that this PAC isn't for families of all incomes, you are seriously uninformed and are judging things you don't know or understand.

Your other questions were about PAC money and candidates. The PAC will decide those answers together.

Phasethree suggested you come to a Children's PAC meeting. I can't say I agree with this. My understanding is that you are in Union County so I'm not sure that Wake County school board issues are any concern of yours.

Again, if you have more questions please contact me.

-Ardis Watkins

Spare us the distortions

Ms Persons kids were among 64 kids to be reassigned in the staff proposal from Smith because one of your new friends, Ronnie Williams, Mayor of Garner, didn't want so many poor kids from SE Raleigh in his town. The Aldermen were holding building permits for renovations to Smith and another school hostage until they saw a reduction. The Board did not accept the staff recommendation, yet you would smash the Board into tiny pieces while siding with Mayors like Williams who don't want more poor kids inside their municipal boundaries.

This is silly

Greg - this is getting ridiculous. I don't know Ronnie Williams. I'm sure he's a very nice man, but no one I know. So attacking him as one of my "new friends" is yet another silly post from you because you realize you have badly mischaracterized me and my intentions.

And the bottom line is that the Board had no honorable reason to do this to Ms. Person's kids, to mine, or to any of the others affected. And it is my right to disagree with their actions, particularly when they are not consistent in any way as the plan is applied.

The fact that you want this to be a partisan issue frankly sickens me. These are our children we're talking about. And they all deserve a decent education. I could give a hoot about any of these politicians but I will fight for all of these kids to the end.

You desperately want me to be a bad person or to take actions for nefarious purposes. I'm not sure why. I've spent the entirety of an almost 20 year career working for North Carolina's working families because I understand these issues in a way it is clear you do not.

What really makes me angry was the way you attempted to use the NAACP in an attempt to attack me. You have no idea how much that has angered not me but those in the African American community who know me. You really lost credibility with that one and I can only assume you made that mistake because you didn't know anything about me or my life.

So attack away, my friend. As far as I can tell, the worst sin I have committed is to disagree with you.

Improving the educational experience of low income students

isn't an honorable reason for reassigning students?

I would think it is one of the most honorable reasons to reassign students.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I encourage you to read the

I encourage you to read the whole article cited by Mr. Flynn. Improving the education of low income students is indeed an honorable pursuit. But diversity busing does NOTHING to improve the performance of those schools, it just balances out percentages and test scores.

Anyone having the perception that the many parents who are becoming part of WSCA are in it for their own children and nothing more (not saying that is you) is dead wrong. My kids are on the glide path out of WCPSS, but I will continue to fight to improve the educational experience for all WCPSS students. There are F&R student achievement models out there which have driven incredible results. There are high-F&R schools in this country whose results are blowing away WCPSS. Unfortunately, our school board is happy to bus kids around and feel good at the end of the day that they made a difference, when they didn't.

Why didn't they make a difference JoeCiulla?

I don't want to read anyones anything on this subject. The situation is obviously important as all get out to you and your family, so other than the fact that you don't want your children bussed to other districts, or have other children bussed into your districts, why is this important to you?

Your words would make this whole discussion more realistic than just re-posting something others have stated.

Why is it important to you and your family that this NOT happen?

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Ardis, Sorry...that sounded like a cheap shot

and I didn't mean it the way it came across. I get a bit irked when someone tells me I have to go somewhere else/do something else to get my questions answered. I was directing that more at the other poster, but it does sound like I took a cheap shot at you and I apologize.

I asked these questions as a means to help you explain your position so we would all have a better understanding. I didn't ask them to trip you up or be a pest. I don't live in Wake County, so don't plan on getting involved beyond asking pertinent questions. While I do appreciate the email address, I think it benefits everyone to keep the discussions out in the open so we can all learn. I'm going to put things you state in quotes and then follow up. It should make it easier to follow.

It is ludicrous, in my opinion, to think that LI students are inferior to any other. If they were getting a decent education they would perform as well as anyone.

Why aren't they getting a decent education? What is preventing that? Do you have proof that moving low income students to a better performing school negatively affects their overall performance? Do you have proof that it negatively affects the performance of non-low income students at the better performing school once the move has been made?

I don't see that you are making a factual argument against the movement of low income and non-low income students to provide a stronger mix of students at certain schools. Where is your factual argument that students will be damaged in this move?

What? I am with Beteena Person, who didn't feel it was in her children's best interest to ride 15 miles so they could be in the presence of wealthier kids (as if the kids from wealthier families would somehow "improve" hers.) This is crazy. There is so much more to school, and certainly to education, than test scores.

Beteena Person might not want her child to ride an extra 15 miles to get a better education, but she doesn't speak for every parent of every at-risk student. You continuously present her as your "proof" that low income families don't want this. She is one person.

You don't exactly answer what was a very reasonable question. In my question I asked if parents of low income students "would have no problem with their child traveling a little further if their child's test scores improved and their child had a better overall school experience?" Please note I said "better overall school experience" and did not simply stress test results.

As far as the Fox/Edwards situation, it is obvious that a comprehensive reassignment plan needs to be as fair as possible to all schools/neighborhoods/areas. There will always be someone who isn't happy with the results, but the needs of the many should outweigh the wants of the few.

Finally, how would the Children's PAC help low-income families? The way it will help all families. By giving them a voice. If you are insinuating that this PAC isn't for families of all incomes, you are seriously uninformed and are judging things you don't know or understand.

Ardis, I didn't insinuate anything. I asked you a direct question. You failed to answer it at all, instead choosing to hyperventilate over a completely Ardis-created insult.

I asked you how the Children's PAC will help low income families. I want to know your plan. "Giving them a voice" sounds all warm and fuzzy, but it is basically a meaningless romanticized slogan. I'm offering you a chance to lay out the details instead of making unsubstantiated claims about the PAC's purpose.

Once again, how will the Children's PAC help low income families? Again - I would like a factual direct answer.

Oh...and by the way...I have not made claims of special knowledge. I simply asked direct questions. Questions you have failed to answer. I don't think that I'm the one here talking about things she doesn't understand, Ardis.

Please rest assured, I won't be driving from my home in Union County to attend a meeting of the Children's PAC. However, I will do my best to find an agent or representative who can attend in my place.

My understanding is that you are in Union County so I'm not sure that Wake County school board issues are any concern of yours.

You are sadly mistaken if you think my address precludes me from being concerned about the welfare of low income children in Wake County. I'm concerned about the welfare of all children in North Carolina.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Oh my!

You own THREE PROPERTIES in Wake County? I still am perplexed as to why one cannot find your name on the state Board of Elections website. http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/VoterLookup.aspx?Feature=voterinfo. You also did not address your job at The Department of Public Instruction and the conflict of interest I feel you present by authoring this blog. Well, quite honestly, you didn't address any of my points except the fact that I only referenced one of your three properties in Wake County and chose not to use a human name and if that indeed was the point you were trying to make, then you made it well! Thanks so much!

Sorry

I am not responsible for your incompetence. I showed you how to look. If you want to register for 1st grade instructions please provide a certified copy of a birth certificate, a utility bill showing your current address and photo ID. Most of the children in Wake County Schools are under 18. Would you deny them a voice? Would you also deny a voice to the 55,000 members of SEANC?

Just a heads up... If you do

Just a heads up... If you do enroll in first grade, you will probably be redistricted by the time you reach second grade.

I don't see the conflict of interest. If kelly wants to blog his own opinion to a few readers, fine. His job should not preclude him from expressing his own opinion outside of work. Same goes for Mr. Cope.

That's silly

No one is precluding anyone from anything, or even trying to.

Anyone can say anything they want, anywhere they want. But they shouldn't be surprised when they're called to account for their words.

I agree with you, but the

I agree with you, but the Democratic party apparently does not

"Some State legislators say privately that they take a dim view of Cope’s actions"

And the author talks about an "unholy alliance."

BTW, the author is also mistaken when he implies that the WSCA coalition's objectives include establishment of a school voucher program, which is not the case.

Vouchers

The only true solution is to abolish all government schools and allow free markets to provide for all education needs. Universal vouchers would allow this. Kent Misegades in a recent email to a parent who had offered assistance to WSCA.

Responsibility does not

Responsibility does not appear to be one of your strengths in your writing anyway. Still can't find you in the SBOE database, but I did find your wife to be registered at one of your three properties and I would assume that you reside with your wife, and your daughter, therefore that address would be your domicile as defined by the SBOE. "A residence, for voting purposes, is the same as domicile and is the place the voter calls "home" and intends to return whenever he or she is absent." Still didn't find Gregg Flynn registered. I do appreciate you instructing me on how to enter first grade, because kindergarten was a blast!

You're behaving like a jerk

If you want to write about issues, please do it. But I won't sit still while you continue attacking my friend Greg Flynn.

I've known Greg a long time, both in person and through his writing. I have no idea who you are other than what you post here at BlueNC. But whoever you are, please stop with the smart-assiness. It's not at all productive.

Much better said than what I had written, James!

I find that since I use my real name - and have shared my location and details of my life on this site - I'm far less likely to make smart-ass remarks that add nothing to the conversation. It's made me much more prone to hit "preview" before I hit "post".

Thanks. I'm trying hard.

n/t

Very good point, Linda

and I will be respectful from this point forward. I guess Gregg hit a nerve with me as well as Joe hitting a nerve with him earlier. It is a heated issue and it is about our children and I am sure we all can appreciate that for what it is. I should make more use of the "preview" button! Enjoy your evening!

Please accept my apology, James...

I was under the impression that we were free to share our thoughts and opinions on Gregg's blog. If you will read up a few comments, you will see that one of Gregg's strengths is "smart-assiness". I was responding to him in like fashion. My opinion differs from Gregg's and apparently that makes me behave like a jerk. I don't know you either and I am sure that we would never socialize in the same circles, however I do have the right to respond in the manner which I see fit. To be quite honest, I don't really know any of the parties associated with Gregg's...article, propaganda, opinion piece or whatever you guys who are professional bloggers call it. I just know about them from reading the paper and some different web sites and I know that they feel as passionate about their children attending the school in their neighborhood, just like I do. I am not much of a blogger (I am sure you will confirm in your next post)but I do try to pay attention about what is going on around me. I simply don't think it is right to make statements about people you know nothing about. Gregg apparently does not know Dana Cope or Ardis Watkins according to Ms. Watkins posts. I agree that this battle of the posts is not productive. I am glad that Gregg has a good friend to stand up for him and I wish I could say the same. Again, I apologize for behaving like a jerk, in your opinion, and I look forward to seeing where the blog ends. It has been both educational and interesting from my side and I still plan to Google Arab weavers! Have a nice evening!

Just an insight, phasethree

We blogger move in circles that socialize differently than anything you would ever move in. We progressive bloggers call it the reality circle.

Do you, phasethree, need to know someone to read or hear what they say and then put together an educated statement as to what that person or persons is/are trying to portray? Think carefully.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

You know what?

You have made me stop and really think about my response. I guess we all form some sort of opinion based on things we see and hear. Born and raised in North Carolina with a true Southern Bell of a mother, we were taught not to gossip and certainly not to be judgemental as that is not my place. Now that I am older and have children of my own, I guess I do find myself forming opinions based on what I read and hear. Perfect example...I read Gregg's blog article and immediately felt defensive for people who have the knowledge to step up for all of us regular folks (Watkins and Cope). Gregg was gracious enough to respond with a humiliating response that I wasn't expecting and I immediately dropped to his level in response. That being said, you are absolutely correct! I did form an opinion of Gregg based on what he said in his response. So no, I do not need to know a person to make an educated statement as to what that person is/are trying to portray. You also are correct that we would never move in the same circles. I'm just regular and I like being regular...a college educated regular who has to go to work every day to provide for a family of five and there is no time on my job to spend on blogging. Thanks for the insight and enjoy your evening.

Good job phasethree

What Gregg said has nothing to do with discussion, however you have a good start on understanding that other people have different ideas and ideals than you. For a good reason. They simply do not agree with your final outcome. With that, the world goes around and people continue to debate whatever it is they are debating today.

Here is where you become yourself. Please understand that I'm only mentioning this for your own good.

You also are correct that we would never move in the same circles. I'm just regular and I like being regular...a college educated regular who has to go to work every day to provide for a family of five and there is no time on my job to spend on blogging. Thanks for the insight and enjoy your evening.

I am correct in that we would never move in the same circles. I wouldn't have mentioned it in the first place if it were not so.

Regular is so, regular. College educated regular? Not so much, phasethree. That is telling me that you are "special" regular. Why? If not, you wouldn't have mentioned it. By the way? You have plenty of time to blog. On or off your job.

Check the post above mine.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Thanks.

I realize it seems like I might be applying a double standard. And perhaps I am. As in any community, there are people I know and people I don't. After three years of blogging with Greg, I've come to trust his integrity and his judgment.

When new folks show up, it's a bit trickier. Some come to to sabotage our community. Others show up with personal axes to grind. Some seem to have just fallen off the turnip truck. And everything in between. It takes awhile to build virtual relationships, just like it does relationships in real life. You're welcome to stick around and see what happens. You are a good writer.

As a founder of BlueNC, I feel I have a responsibility to strike a balance between lively discussion and personal stuff. For years I operated like an attack dog ... it still slips out from time to time ... but I've learned that it's not productive.

There's nothing worse than a born again nice guy.

:)

Thank you

This blogging stuff is not something I don't do very often and I wouldn't now except that my family is affected. It's a really heated issue and it just seems that Cope and Watkins really knew what they were doing and have given parents like me some hope. Thank you for welcoming me and I seek to learn. I can relate to being an attack dog, much to my mother's chagrin, but it just kicks in on occassion. Llooking forward to some less abrasive exchanges! Have a good evening!

Well aware of that email, and

Well aware of that email, and how it has been twisted by many (as you just did) in a blatant attempt to mislead. Really, if you have any genuine desire to learn what WSCA is all about, go to their web site, or (God forbid) pick up a telephone and speak to someone who is actually in the organization. Kent Misegades is not. If he chooses at some point to support WSCA, his help will be welcomed -- without any changes in the agenda.

WSCA is about improving our public schools, not abolishing them. And vouchers are not part of the discussion.

You still have not addressed the point. Why the skewering of Mr. Cope by you and your Dem party friends? Do his positions in the party and business require him to forfeit the right to have any civic involvement which does not jive with Democratic dogma? Should he have sought permission from party leaders, you, or someone else before forming his PAC?

Miseguided

And when I go to that website I find the "Open Letter" for which Mr Misegades was a primary author. A letter/report that supporters were urged to distribute widely. Your agenda specifically includes special-ed tax credits for private school tuition which are considered to be a back-door for vouchers.

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