, according to Dr. Sanity.
This morning, at the ungodly hour of 7:30a I went to the meeting between assorted county commissioners and school board members. It was kind of chilly this morning, and I could have easily stayed in bed. At least they had coffee and sausage biscuits.
Was anything accomplished? Yes and no.
The meeting was requested by county commissioner Mike Barber
, who is concerned about violence in the schools and believes commissioners and the school board should work together to help solve the problem.
I would say the biggest thing was hearing superintendent Terry Grier express the schools' needs in plain English instead of the educational "bureaucratise" he often uses at school board meetings.
"I'm going to get straight to the point, because it's early," Grier said. "We're not going to get from where we are to where we want to be without financial support and funding."
"We do not have the budget. I want to be clear about that," school board chairman Alan Duncan added. "Our board is committed to excellence in schools. We are not funded to achieve that excellence."
That said, Grier, pointed to statistics which state that, overall, suspensions have decreased. In 2003-2004, there were 346 fewer students suspended short-term than there were in 2002-2003. Since 1999-2000, there were 1,206 fewer students suspended.
The number of long-term suspensions tell a slightly different story. From 1999-2000 to 2002-2003, suspensions increased, peeking at 550 on '02-'03. But they went down to 493 in '03-'04.
"The numbers are what they are," Grier said. "Sometimes it's what we think we know that gets us in trouble."
Barber kept pressing the issue of the school resource officers. In his mind, an SRO at every high school could help remedy the school violence problem.
"There's not a single logical argument not to have another adult in the schools," Barber said. "Let's codify a mission statement for our SRO program."
But Grier and Duncan presented a two-front argument to that request.
More SROs, they argued, were a reactive, not a proactive, approach.
"These are societal issues," Duncan said. "School issues are merely a reflection of society. I assure you there is a substantial part of the community that believes (extra SROs) create a police state in the schools. There are a lot of very different attitudes and a lot of bridges to build."
"SROs are a reaction to issues that occur much earlier in life," Grier said.
Grier also complained that additional funding could have helped the school system reduce class size, which helps kids learn better and become less violent. The extra funding could have also included $1 million for the "conflict resolution training" which, Grier admitted later, only about 25 percent of which would have gone toward working directly with the students.
Board member Dot Kearns made an excellent point when she said that unfunded state and federal mandates emphasizing testing had diverted guidance counselors and teachers, for that matter, away from their traditional roles as mentors for troubled kids.
"The demands on our teachers, through no actions of this board, means someone has to be there at all times to deal with testing," Kearns said. "Guidance counselors are now dealing with testing instead of traditional counseling roles. The counseling function is so much less than it used to be."
My sister was, at one time, a guidance counselor at a rural high school and that was one of her major complaints.
County commissioner Jeff Thigpen summed the meeting up best when he said, "We need to develop a plan. The reactive nature of this means we need some guidance from the school system."
So while nothing concrete was accomplished, it was gratifying, as one who covers both the school board and the county commissioners, to see them sitting across the table from each other instead of remaining isolated in their respective bizarro worlds (I use that as a term of affection). Perhaps something can be accomplished. Barber deserves credit not only for calling the meeting, but for drawing Grier out of his shell.
Like we should really care what Gorbachev
and Elizabeth Edwards
think. Or Teresa Heinz Kerry, for that matter. Then again, I guess I'm an idiot for not voting for her husband.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
My favorite Rodney Dangerfield
line: "Boy, I was ugly as a kid. I had pimples, too. One day I fell asleep in the library and when I woke up, a blind kid was reading my face."
This morning I debated whether or not to drive all the way to Summerfield Elementary to hear Bill Davidson
address the PTA. I was not at my computer last evening, so I didn't catch the announcement that the meeting was actually was full-fledged candidates' forum.
The lone exception was District 7 incumbent Kris Cooke
, who was out of town. When I arrived, a spokesperson was reading a statement from Cooke.
Davidson spoke next.
"Our school board needs some change," he said. "Are the school board and the superintendent doing their jobs? We don't know. Who's running the show, the school board or the superintendent? We don't know."
Davidson criticized the school system for its lack of attention to school violence. He cited the board's inaction on a school watch pilot program as evidence of that inattention.
"We should embrace that, not push it away," he said.
Darlene Garrett, running unopposed, said, "We have raised student achievement and lowered the dropout rate."
Dot Kearns pitched her ability to serve the entire system.
"It has been my duty to develop policies that will serve all the schools," she said.
She also reassured the audience that the $300 million bond passed in 2003 would be put to use in a proper mix of new construction and repairs.
"We will embrace the opportunity to upgrade schools we did not replace," she said.
was next, and he promoted the fact that his roots were in Guilford County and he had extensive public service experience as a city councilman and county commissioner.
"I would be the first person elected at large from a northwest quadrant," Kirkpatrick said. "We have some wonderful things going on in the school system. But it's important not to turn our backs on some of the bad things going on."
Kirkpatrick added he was the candidate of true choice in the school system.
"The word choice has been so perverted with that mess over in High Point," he said. "I do not believe in the social experiment of creating a lottery to say where people are going to school."
"Not every parent or child can get into the school where they want to go," Kearns said. "We have to replicate the popular choices so that they're closer to home."
Davidson addressed the concern among many parents that the schools would institute a system-wide "choice plan" like the one that has divided High Point.
"I'm very concerned about the plan coming over here," Davidson said.
Davidson also got a shot in at Cooke regarding the choice plan.
"Kris' vote affected High Point and she did not take it seriously enough," he said.
Cooke's spokesperson took up for her.
"I know that to be so far from the truth," she said. "I know she thought deeply about it, prayed about it."
School violence was the next issue. Davidson struck a chord with me when he said, "School boards want to discuss suspension rates among certain classes of kids," he said. "What I propose to do is empower the teachers."
He's right: The school board and staff are all worked up over the high number of black kids being thrown out of schools, not high number kids (period) being thrown out of school. As a result, that leads some board members to conclude that the school system is institutionally racist, something I'm not too sure about that.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I bet $20 Johnny "Sunshine" Hammer writes favorably about the new "Grasshoppers" nickname.
Paper route day.
For the second week in a row, a teacher at the First Presbyterian preschool has given me s**t about pulling in to make my drop at Fisher's. It just so happens my drop occurs right when people are dropping their precious children off in the morning. Often, there's no parking space, so I create one. I pull in with my flashers on, jump out of the car with a bundle, run up to Fisher's front door and back and take off quickly as I can.
Except today, I had to take a call on my cell phone regarding a matter of intense personal interest. I kept scanning the parking lot, and I didn't see where I was impeding anyone. Yet this lady is standing on the stairs, staring me down.
While I'm still on the phone, I see none other than my good friend, county commissioner Mike Barber, walk out the door. I guess that's where his kids go to school. He's parked right next to me and, when I see I'm still not impeding anyone, I roll down the window to exchange a few pleasantries.
But I no sooner got "What's up Mike" out of my mouth when the teacher yelled from her perch, "You're going to have to move, you're impeding traffic. Sorry, Mike."
I didn't see how I was impeding traffic, but I rolled my window back up and drove off. Next Tuesday, I promise to be more careful.
Monday, October 04, 2004
Cybercast News Service
: Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, had ties to terrorists.
OK, I didn't dig this up myself. I heard about it on Rush.
: "As the Democratic Whoopee Brigade hailed Senator Kerry's edge in debating technique, nobody noticed his foreign policy sea change. On both military tactics and grand strategy, the newest neoconservative announced doctrines more hawkish than President Bush."
Not to mention the fact that Kerry was quoting scripture
in Ohio last night.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
So much blogging, too little time.......
I have much on my mind today but only a slight amount of time to post my thoughts. It's already a big sports weekend, so I would like weight in on Ed Hardin's slightly melodramatic account
of the State-Wake game("Wake seemed poised on the edge of breakthrough, the kind Deacons have dreamed about for more than a century"); the Cubs and their fans jinxing themselves; and bogus wild-card teams (Red Sox) partying with champagne when they haven't won anything.
But instead, I'll weigh in on the N&R article
this morning about Mike Barber's attempt to reach out to the Board of Education in an effort to curb school violence.
As I've written before, I find it amazing how far apart county commissioners and the school board are. From my point of view, it's clear that one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing. If the school system truly is the county's most pressing issue, than both entities ought to be visibly working together on a frequent basis to make sure the system not only gets proper funding but efficiently utilizes it.
What jumped out at me was the fact that the $1 million "worth of programs geared toward violence prevention, conflict resolution and reducing suspension rates" was brought up. I was suspect of that funding request from the beginning. I thought for sure they'd find the money from somewhere, and pleasantly surprised when it didn't make into the school's budget.
Superintendent Terry Grier wrote the funding would "provide for a teacher training component that will focus on institutional racism, class room management, and teacher expectation. Training opportunities will also be provided in the areas of student anger management, peer mediation and conflict resolution."
Sounds pretty politically correct to me, with a high price tag to match. Anger management and conflict resolution are so 90s. If the county commissioners and the school board do work together to curb school violence, let's hope they would be a little more specific than that.
I think Barber's intentions are noble (he doesn't write my paychecks any more). I've gotten to know him a little bit, and, while I think he's certainly politically ambitious, I also think he's concerned about getting away from the personalities and getting things done. Unfortunately, I don't think anything will happen until after the election, since both the board and the county commission could have new looks. We'll see what happens if they do.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
So I'm sitting there watching the State-Wake game when I look out the window and I see my neighbor putting a Kerry-Edwards sticker on his car. For all the Kerry-Edwards signs and stickers I see around town, I'd never actually caught anyone in the act. I douldn't do anything about those, but I could do something about this one.
I was able to catch him by surprise.
"I can't let you do that, Mike," I said, putting my hand firmly on his shoulder.
Then he caught me by surprise. Without saying a word, he reached around and caught me on the legs, knocking me down. We started brawling right there in the street. I was worried a car would come rolling through and hit both of us.
Finally, I got a grip on his shirt and with a surge as strong as the State defense, I was able to roll him over and pin him.
I held him down for just a few seconds before he yelled, "OK, OK, I'll vote for Bush!"
I got up and walked away without saying a word. Then I ome back and watch State beat Wake in overtime.
Now will we see Corey Randolph the rest of the game?
I'll go ahead and say it: if Stone doesn't come into the game, then State's up 14-7. I don't think we'll be seeing him back in the game.
I didn't see a hold on the TD that was called back.
Yeah, I realize Wake switched up their quarterbacks, too.
I was standing there making my sandwich and thinking that I disapproved of Chuck Amato's two-quarterback strategy when Wake intercepts Marcus Stone for a TD.
I just don't think rotating quarterbacks works.
Friday, October 01, 2004