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Paul Stam calling Wake school board elections a "national litmus test"

Is the rest of the nation watching this fall's Wake County school board elections?

As noted in today's article, that's an assertion made by state Rep. Paul Stam, the House Majority Leader, in explaining why he's endorsing school board chairman Ron Margiotta in his re-election bid in District 8.

"I support Ron Margiotta because this election represents a national litmus test in education reform," Stam said in an invitation to a July 14 fundraiser for Margiotta. "From the New York Times to the Washington Post, the Wake County School board elections will be analyzed on a national scale."

John Tedesco promising "you ain't seen nothing yet"

Wake County school board member John Tedesco's colleagues weren't joking when they repeatedly said he was charged up on caffeine when he gave a fiery speech at last Thursday's Northern Wake Republican Club meeting.

During the speech, Tedesco praised the board majority's actions since December 2009 in "revamping public education." He also ripped into liberals, including what he called their "unholy trinity" of the NAACP, the Great Schools in Wake Coalition and Raleigh FIST.

"They will try and scare people," Tedesco said of the opposition. "People use fear. These are cowards who understand that anger can be power as long as there is a victim on TV. So they will strike fear."

Education Week citing Wake as example of Tea Party influence on school board races

Education Week has become the latest mainstream publication to portray the Wake County school diversity fight as being an example of Tea Party influence sweeping candidates into office.

Wake is prominently featured in an article this week in Education Week titled "Tea Partiers Playing a Role in Some School Board Races." The article talks about how Tea Party groups are becoming more active in local races.

The article then says "the best-known example in education circles is Wake County." Without specifically mentioning Tea Party, the article talks about how the new school board majority was elected in 2009 with support from "some conservative community organizations that viewed the (diversity) policy as social engineering."

Whether you agree or not with the allegations about Tea Party influence in Wake, the charge has snowballed since the January article in the Washington Post. It's become almost conventional wisdom.

Wake questioning whether feds can conduct a fair investigation

Wake County school officials are publicly questioning their ability to get a fair review from civil rights investigators based on U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's public criticism in the district's elimination of the diversity policy.

As noted in today's article, Wake's response letter to investigators from the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights notes the January letter to the editor that Duncan wrote to the Washington Post. In that letter Duncan wrote that "it is troubling to see North Carolina's Wake County School Board taking steps to reverse a long-standing policy to promote racial diversity in its schools."

"Setting aside the fact that the policy in question was intended to promote SES diversity, not racial diversity, the Board is concerned that Secretary Duncan has expressed an opinion about the the merits of the case pending against it, raising serious and legitimate concerns about the integrity of the current investigation," according to Wake's response.

Wake County school board member John Tedesco to speak at another Tea Party rally

In a move likely to fuel conspiracy theorists even more, Wake County school board member John Tedesco is slated to speak at another Tea Party Tax Day Rally.

Tedesco is among the list of speakers scheduled to talk at Tax Day Tea Party 2011 on April 15 in downtown Greensboro, according to YES! Weekly, a weekly in the Triad area. The event is being organized by Conservatives for Guilford County and they will be joined by groups such as AnyStreet NC, NC Right to Life, the Civitas Institute, the John Locke Foundation and the National Rifle Association.

Conservatives for Guilford is listed as a member group of the state chapter of Tea Party Patriots.

Woody, Buzz and helicopter parents

If you're the parent of a college student, Toy Story 3 spoke to you.

The animated Pixar film, the third in the hugely successful series about children's toys come to life, gets to the emotion of the empty next - the moment when your child goes off to college.

It's a sweet movie that has had far broader appeal than just to kids, as Jenna Johnson with the Washington Post points out here.

And as Johnson also notes, the first Toy Story came out in 1995, targeting young children who now, 16 years later, are reaching college age. They're graduating with Andy, the little boy who grows up over the course of the three movies.

To summarize: As Andy gets ready for college, mom makes him pick which toys to take with him, which to junk and which to stash in the attic.

Of course, Andy's mom gets weepy thinking about life without him in the house. As Johnson points out, an industry has sprung up around this particular angst - self-help books and college orientation sessions aimed at the parent struggling to give junior some space.

It's a great movie with a genuine, tear-jerker of an ending. On Sunday night, it took home two Oscars.

Nice going, Buzz. Nice going, Woody.

Richard Kahlenberg praises Chamber/WEP student assignment model

Add Richard Kahlenberg to the list of those who are praising the student assignment model for Wake County that was proposed by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership.

In a guest blog column in today's Washington Post, Kahlenberg writes that the new controlled-choice plan "presents a credible third way between the constant reassignment of students under the old system and the tea party’s proposed re-segregation of Raleigh’s schools." He also calls it a "a politically palatable model for preserving diversity in our schools."

Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the liberal Century Foundation, was one of the most outspoken national supporters of Wake's old socioeconomic diversity policy. After the 2009 school board elections, Kahlenberg called for using controlled choice as a way to still maintain diversity in Wake's schools.

Calla Wright responds to Kathleen Brennan's Washington Post letter

More words are being traded in The Washington Post over last month's article on Wake County's school diversity fight.

In a letter to the editor in Saturday's Post, Calla Wright of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children challenges a recent letter submitted by Kathleen Brennan of Wake CARES.

Wright accuses Brennan of "scapegoating" by blaming the diversity policy and not growth for reassigning 60,000 students over the past 10 years.

Los Angeles Times on the "turmoil" since ending Wake's diversity policy

The Los Angeles Times is revisiting the Wake County school diversity fight with a Sunday article that talks about the "turmoil" that has been brought about by ending the diversity policy.

In today's article, which is relatively short on data but heavy on quotes from speakers at the Cary High reassignment public hearing, it's stated that "Wake County has become a test of diversity policies nationwide."

The LA Times had also written about the controversy last March after the school board's vote on the community schools directive.

Kathleen Brennan on Washington Post article and Arne Duncan

The Washington Post has published Kathleen Brennan's sharply worded response to both this month's front-page article and to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's letter to the editor criticizing the Wake County school board.

In a letter to the editor today in The Post, Brennan, a co-founder of Wake CARES, complains that the Jan. 12 article "reflected preconceived notions about the situation in Wake County." She argues the reality is the diversity policy "created nontraditional calendar assignments, widespread parental discontent and great instability, with over 60,000 students reassigned over 10 years."

While the diversity policy influenced some of the assignments, supporters of the policy will counter that it's growth that played the larger factor in reassignment.

UPDATE

Link added for Brennan's letter.

Kathleen Brennan is amplifying on her letter to the editor with this Tuesday night post on the Wake CARES website.

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