I went to the school board
meeting last night. Lucky me.
There were two major topics of discussion: a pilot school watch program and, you guessed it, transportation.
Chief administrative officer John Wright and GPD captain Dwight Crotts presented the pilot program to the board. The program is described as a "proactive approach to school safety and crime prevention, which includes attention to observation and reporting such as identifying actual gang related graffiti or involved indviduals WHILE (caps theirs) eliminating misconceptions and perceptions regarding this type of activity." Huh?
There are three major means of doing this: educating school respource officers (SROs) and staff; establish guidelines for reporting and investigating information; and community interaction, which would entail providing consistent information to affected parent and community groups. Wright wants to start the program at five middle schools in the system: Aycock, Guilford, Hairston, Jackson and Kiser.
The only cost, Wright said, would be the time school faculty and employees would have to devote to the training.
"We're trying to be proactive, considering some of the concerns that have been raised," Wright said.
The plan was greeted with skepticism by the board, but not for the reasons one would expect.
Board member Deena Hayes spoke out the loudest.
"This isn't about being proactive," Hayes said. "This is about gathering data on African-American children and children of color."
Other board members were concerend that the program didn't do enough to reach out to the community.
"If we don't get community interaction, we can't be as effective as we want to be," said school board chairman Alan Duncan. "This won't work without buy-in."
After tossing it around some more, the board voted 11-0 to table the issues pending more effective communication with the "school community." Hayes made it known that she wanted members of public housing to be a part of that communication.
"These are people that are never invited to the table, and that has to stop," she said.
I don't know what to think of the whole situation. To begin with, the proposal is phrased in such a way that no one knows for sure exactly how it would be implemented. And exactly how the police department and school staff would work with the school community was never directly addressed. They were just instructed by the board to go out and do it. My gut reaction is to say it's a dumb idea, but I guess if it's not going to cost the schools any more money, go for it. I guess at this point, it can only help.
The other issue, of course, was transportation. While only two parents made comments during the public speaking portion, their stories weren't pretty.
"The bus routes have improved," one parent said. "My daughter no longer has 12-hour days. She has 11-hour days."
Both parents who spoke about the transportation problem lived in High Point and had children attending Weaver Academy in downtown Greensboro. I worked in High Point for two years, and I can tell you it takes half an hour to get from one place to the other traveling over the interstate in a Honda Accord. So one can only imagine how long the trip takes in a school bus. Well, wait a minute, the kids can: it takes about two hours.
But transportation director Jim Moen reminded the board that it just takes a while to get kids from High Point to downtown Greensboro.
"The Weaver rides will be tough to adjust," Moen said. "I know people don't want to hear that."
Board member Dot Kearns was overly concerned about the situation, saying she's heard from parents with kids attending Weaver more than anyone else. She had a remedy for the situation.
"We need another place like Weaver in the southern part of the county," Kearns said.
Throughout the discussion, a recurring theme was trying to tie the High Point choice plan to the bus hubub. Both Kearns and fellow board member Kris Cooke, both sitting on political hot seats, asked Wright and Moen how the choice plan was affecting bus rides in Greensboro.
"I don't think it has any impact," Moen said.
Ironically, Wright made the case that all students involved in the school choice plan were the ones getting to school on time.
"We have a limited number of students that are over 65 minutes," Wright said.
Moen then explained the complicated process of getting more buses on the routes, which should get all the students to school on time. It takes a while to get new buses on line, he explained. The other option, he added, was to "cash in" school bus "credits" gained when the system turned in buses as a result of the consolidation several years ago.
But that process takes time, too, Moen said, especially when you're dealing the state.
"When you turn the credit in, the question then becomes, 'can you get the bus fast enough?'" Moen said.
Then board member Darlene Garrett expressed concern about the number of elementary school students riding the buses with middle and high school students.
Why not pull the elementary kids from the hubs, Garrett asked.
Because it would cost between $2.8 and $3.5 million to do that, Wright replied.
Though the board was more direct with its questions this time around, nothing was resolved. Parents can only hope the new buses will shorten ride lengths. The effort to make the High Point school choice plan the "smoking gun" in the bus hubub might be a waste of time, in my view.
As I've written in this space before, the best thing parents can do is make board members feel the political heat. They're doing a good job so far.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Just in case you missed it (and you probably did), Ron Silver's speech
at the Republican National Convention. I first remember him when he played Brenda's boyfriend on "Rhoda."
N&R editor John Robinson answers
an earlier post where I write, "There's no doubt the News Record's blogs will need the corporate stamp of approval before they're posted."
I thought it was interesting that I didn't warrant a link. Robinson just referenced my post, describing me only as "one writer." I don't know if Robinson knows who I am (not that I'm anybody) and doesn't want to give too much credence to a guy working for a competing publication. Maybe he just didn't have time to link me.
Robinson writes that, following my statement, "No elaboration or evidence (is) given." I think it's obvious: I'm my own publisher, editor and writer, as are the majority of bloggers. I can do what I want. I'm blogging the school board meeting tonight. If, in addition to providing the details of the meeting, I want to interject my opinion, I'm free to do so. I just don't believe the N&R reporters will have that freedom. Based on what I've read so far, that seems to be the case. It's not a bad trade-off: They get paid to blog, I don't.
I knew it would come sooner or later- a rainy paper route day. Fortunately, the Performance rain jacket I bought 10 years ago for $95 is still doing the job.
Early morning sightings: My neighbor's black cat strolling down the sidewalk with some type of rodent in its mouth; a guy walking his dog down Elm Street, smoking a cigar (I indulge myself, but never that early in the day); a guy driving down Elm Street with a totally flat tire who gave no indication he was about to pull over; a realtively subdued downtown considering the fact that the man who would be president is visiting. I talked to Ogi yesterday and he was trying to wrangle media credentials for someone so GGO can cover Kerry.
After my paper route, I have to finish some freelance work before covering both the school board and the city council meetings. Don't ask me how I'll be in two places at once....
Monday, September 06, 2004
my post about Elizabeth Edwards' N.Y. Times mag interview. It's good to know the Greensboro blog guru is reading your stuff. I also hope he didn't think I was trying to get his goat. I saw where he linked her interview, but I didn't read it until I got my hard copy Sunday morning. I was legitimately disappointed in what I read.
Here's my point: As a concerned citizen, Ms. Edwards certainly has the right to say anything about her government. Still, she is a public figure whose opinions hold weight. By not qualifying her statement about Condoleeza Rice, she politicized it. And while her husband is personally working to unseat the Bush administration (and Ms. Rice along with it), Ms. Edwards is not running against Ms. Rice. So to float out unqualified statements about another public figure was, in my opinion, bad taste, especially about a subject where, right now, there is no one truth.
That's why, in my opinion, it was in bad taste for Ms. Edwards to make such a statement. It was also in bad taste for the interviewer not to press her. After reading those statements, I said to myself, "She's just a senator's wife, what the hell does she know?"
But I also know she's an attorney and a very intelligent woman. Perhaps she's an amateur expert on the subject. Perhaps she's relying on her husband's knowledge and opinions. Perhaps a little of both. I'd like to know so I can give Ms. Edwards the proper respect, if she's deserving.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
It's interesting that Sodexho
is at the center of the controversy
surrounding school superintendent Terry Grier's outside consulting work.
At a school board meeting a while back, a major issue was whether or not renew Sodexho's contract. The outsourcing of custodial services was a money-saving move, which, Grier said, returns more money to teachers.
But several school principals complained about Sodexho's standards of cleanliness. Also, during the public speaking portion of the meeting, several custodians complained about Sodexho's employment practices. Board member Darlene Garrett was particularly concerned, saying "health department officials" told her that the schools were not up to standards, though she refused to identify those officials. Even assistant superintendent John Wright admitted "there were some bumps in the road" where Sodexho was concerned. But Wright and Grier assured the board those bumps had been smoothed over, and that the schools were "cleaner today than they were four years ago."
After much discussion, the board decided to renew the contract with Sodexho on condition that a monthly report be issued. If Sodexho's work is not up to standards, it will complete the work and be billed by the school system.
An update on Sodexho is not on the agenda
for this week's school board meeting. But it should come some time this month.
Elizabeth Edwards on Condoleeza Rice, in N.Y. Times magazine
"She has said some totally incredible things — particularly when you go back to her comments on 9/11 — things that are out-and-out erroneous."
Edwards did not elaborate on exactly what Rice said was erroneous, nor did she say how she knows Rice made erroneous statements. If Deborah Solomon asked her, which I doubt she did, it didn't make it to print.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
The pennant races are getting really interesting. All of a sudden, the Marlins are hot, going into a crucial three-game series with the Cubs. It looks like they might not get to play this weekend, due to Frances. It would be really cool if they had to make it up at the end of the season. Also, what if the Yanks implode
and fall completely out of the playoff picture?
I'm disappointed FOX is foregoing baseball coverage today, obviously deferring to the opening of the college football season. But Oklahoma and Bowling Green? Wake at Clemson? If we had the old Game of the Week, Joe Garigiola and Tony Kubek would be right there in Yankee Stadium, aanlyzing the Yankees' implosion between pitches.
Friday, September 03, 2004
I just heard on ABC Radio that former President Clinton will undergo quadruple bypass surgery later today after failing a stress test this morning.
I thought Mayor Holliday's comments
about the local media (i.e. News & Record) were right on time. The N&R is not just a business, it's a corporation, and it absolutely does need to be held accountable for its actions. The paper's bias against billboards bothers me. I still can't figure how a 7-0 vote by the planning board for a billboard ordinance, which the billboard industry vociferously opposed, represents a victory for the billboard industry. Then, all of a sudden, our county commissioners became the wise men and women who will protect citizens from these horrible billboards.
Then there was the recent story about how Greensboro is divided along a east-west geographic line. The story portrayed Greensboro as the same dumb segregated city it was 50 years ago. Anyone who's lived here for any length of time knows it's much more complicated than that, if simply not true.
That story probably pissed Mayor Holliday off. It didn't make me feel real good, either. Yet I'm curious to know what else the News & Record has done to draw Mayor Holliday's scorn, because I agree with Cone
that the N&R is not overly hard on local government. The paper was pro-downtown stadium. It was perfectly right to dig into Project Homestead. It's also done a good job of ignoring the Truth and Reconciliation Project, which has further served to portray Greensboro as a dumb Southern city. I'm sure the paper will do some sort of retrospective on the 25th anniversary of the Klan-Nazi killings, but that's fair enough. I think what gets under Mayor Holliday's skin is the fact that the paper on the whole is positive, yet picks and chooses strange battles, like billboards and video poker.
Greensboro disease? I've never been afflicted. I'll admit I've had extended periods of unemployement or underemployment. I'm more committed to the area than I am to a job, and that's my problem. The good news is the cost of living isn't that high, so if you're careful with your money, you ride out those periods. I've never had a problem entertaining myself. Then again, I can waste half an hour standing on the sidewalk talking to my neighbor.
in today's NY Times: "There was plenty of hatred in Manhattan, but it was inside, not outside, Madison Square Garden."
He's kidding, right?
Well, there was some anger inside Madison Square Garden yesterday. If you've got the 'puter power, audio stream
the middle hour of the Michael Medved Show, where Medved and Al Franken
go at it. You tell me who's angrier.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Pierre A. Goria II's letter to the editor wasn't posted on the N&R's
Web site this morning, so you'll have to settle for my summary.
Goria writes: "I was shocked to see Guilford County Commissioner Bob Landreth receive the Commissioner of the Year Award. At a recent meeting, I observed Landreth flippantly listening to caring Guilford County residents voice their concerns on how money should be spent in the public school system......He even turned his body sideways, again giving the impression he was not interested in citizens' opinions."
I've written many times in this space about the lack of respect on the part of the county commissioners (with the exception of the four female commissioners) shown speakers from the floor. This needs to be a campaign issue: Candidates need to be asked, "Will you sit still at meetings and listen to public speakers?"
As you could probably tell by my earlier post, I’m fascinated with the fact that Schwarzenegger evoked Nixon during his speech Tuesday night.
I’m surprised that someone along the line didn’t advise him to drop the Nixon reference, considering the fact this was the night Republicans were bringing out the moderates. Does Nixon not represent the worst of our country, no matter his true achievements? When the academics finish writing history, Bush could very well emerge as the Great Republican Satan. But for now, Tricky Dick still holds the title. Don’t ever try to make the point in mixed company that Nixon did anything good for this country.
Which is tough, because I’m a Nixon apologist. Even though I was just a kid when he was president, I liked the guy.. I remember waiting in line with my parents at the fire station to vote in 1972. I went into the voting booth with my dad and watched him pull down the McGovern lever. I didn’t say anything, but I was pulling for Nixon.
I felt sorry for him when he resigned 30 years ago last month. I can’t shake the pity, though I try by exposing myself to the reality of the events through books and documentaries. My defense: As the ultimate insider, Nixon didn’t do anything he hadn’t seen before.
My theory: perhaps Schwarzenegger is so thankful for the inspiration Nixon provided that he, like me, might be willing to overlook his crimes. Then again, to a guy who grew up in a socialist country “where Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him off to the Soviet Union for slave labor,” perhaps Nixon’s crimes weren’t that heinous.
Somebody help me out here…..
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
"I remember watching the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which is what I had just left. But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes and strengthening the military. Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.
"I said to my friend, 'Which party is he?' My friend said, 'He's a Republican.' I said, 'Then I am a Republican! And I've been a Republican ever since!"
— Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Republican Convention
, if you didn't get enough last night. It was good to hear what's right with our country.