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Accusing the school board majority of insulting teachers by saying they set low expectations

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Is it "a slap in the face" to Wake County teachers to say that some of them set low expectations for students?

That's a contention Cash Michaels makes in the second part of his series in The Carolinian looking at Walnut Creek Elementary School. In this week's article, Michaels contends that teacher morale has gotten worse since the GOP school board majority took steps such as ending the diversity policy and questioning the expectation levels set by teachers.

“I sincerely appreciate the hard work of all of our teachers and principals,” said Democratic school board member Kevin Hill in the article. “I take serious offense every time I hear a member of the board talk about a culture of low expectations (in the system) for our children. I think it’s a slap in the face to our teachers and our principals.”

“My experience has been that every teacher has high expectations for our kids,” Hill continued. “Nobody rises to low expectations. But do we have the tools, do we have the time, do we have the ability to make that happen? No. Am I satisfied with where we are in terms of achievement for all of our students? I’m not. But I also take offense to when the data is cherrypicked, and there’s no credit given to where our teachers and students have excelled.”

The article says Hill points to data showing "significant incremental improvement over the past three years with economically disadvantaged students." (Test scores have increased statewide in the past few years since retests were counted.)

The article continues the theme of how talk of low teacher expectations is insulting by bringing up GOP school board member John Tedesco's charges that low expectations kept kids out of advanced math middle school classes.  

"With the current Wake School Board ending structured sessions that allowed learning teams of teachers to get together on “Wacky Wednesdays” to strategize on how to help struggling students they shared, plus the politically-motivated accusations by board member John Tedesco that some teachers were holding black students back from Algebra I classes (Tedesco never bothered to mention that in some cases, black students, because of other obligations or their parents, did not want to take on harder classes until necessary), it is no surprise that teacher morale today is at an all-time low," the article says.

(Both Tedesco and Superintendent Tony Tata have cited the SAS EVAAS report to back their contention that thousands of students, many of them minorities, have been kept out of advanced math classes that they should have been attending.)

In contrast, the article says teacher morale was much higher under the tenure of Superintendent Bill McNeal when he was pushing the 95 percent goal and the diversity policy was promoting healthy schools.

"Former teachers of Wake Public Schools say the system became the envy of the nation over the past decade because they went the extra mile to make sure that students, especially struggling students, became excited about learning and achievement," according to the article. "Thanks to the right, experienced leadership, it was a total community effort that paid off in national recognition, and life-changing accomplishments.

Under the current school board, many of the former Wake educators wonder if the school system will ever reach those academic heights again."

The article cites special workshops during McNeal's tenure on how to work with economically disadvantaged children. The workshops taught the teachers that not all children learn the same way because of their diverse backgrounds, and it was the instructors’ responsibility to key in on those differences, and reach as many children possible.

(I'm not sure if that's referring to the Ruby Payne training that was actively promoted by the district then.)

"For high poverty students there was individualized instruction to overcome whatever social issues they brought to the classroom from home," the article says. "Thanks to diversity, if the majority of a class of 24 were able to keep up with the lesson plan, that gave the teacher some time to focus on the handful who were having problems."

Flash forward to now with the end of the diversity policy and the fear it will lead to very high poverty schools.

"Counter that with a teacher who has to teach a large class in a high poverty setting, Turpin and other educators tell The Carolinian," the article says. "The majority of students there will be low achievers with various challenges, making it virtually impossible for the instructor to stay on lesson plan without extra help and resources. Those teachers, many of whom have one to two years of experience under their belts at the most, will get burned out, and soon leave that school, if not the profession."

Click here to read the first article in the series.

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You're right that the cost to everybody else goes up.  But, that's really how you want it -- everybody pays a little more so that the patient who the doctor maims doesn't have to bear the entire cost of the harm.   Let's put it this way: pretend that a doctor messes up once every 1,000 times and causes $1,000,000 of damage to a person.  Going in, you don't know whether you're going to be that one-in-a-thousand, so you pay $1,000 extra just in case you're that poor unfortunate sap.  If you are, you get the $1,000,000 to compensate you for your lost earnings.  If you're not, you paid the $1,000, quite literally, as insurance.

Medical malpractice just isn't that big of a driver of the total cost of health care in the US -- it's about 5% to 10%  (See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=az9qxQZNmf0o ). 

[Note: parts of SB 33 are fine by me.  But, the part entirely dropping negligence for ER doctors is an abomination.]


It might not be the biggest driver, but when you add liability insurance to drugs and medical equipment it drives the costs up significantly. Add to that all the unnecessary tests and over prescribing that doctors do to cover their buts (just in case), it is very significant. The $250K award cap may be to small in some cases of significant malpractice, I agree; but there should be a cap. And the other problem is the frivilous lawsuits.
BL- It is important to make the medical professionals get paid well or we will get fewer and fewer doctors.

But to be fair, I agree the ER doc free ride is a bit too over the top. But it is a starting point for debate.


I agree that there are issues in the tort system -- I just don't like the current bill, *especially* dropping negligence from ER settings.  That's the sort of thing that makes me wonder how the leaders of my political party could get their heads wedged so far up their rear ends.

 The bill does have some good parts, like bifurcating the decisions about liability and damages.  I also think it would be good to have judges, not juries, decide damages awards in order to avoid some of the jackpot nature of these suits.  (But that probably requires amending the NC Constitution.)

LOL @ thearclinker... Be

LOL @ thearclinker... Be honest, that's the crystal meth talking, right? You are seriously delusional.


Have any left, or did Lurker take it all?

Woodstock has the inside track on this one

Woodstock has the inside track on this one, crystal meth is not exactly the drug of choice for anyone who wants to be using hundred dollar words for very long.

And it is even more murky

Democrat Party

Progressive does not equal Liberal

All Liberals are not Progressive

Democrats of the past were more conservative than today.

Republican Party

Neo-Con does not equal Constitutional Conservative

Very few neo-Cons are Constitutional Conservatives

Alot of Libertarians are Constitutional Conservatives but disagree with Republicans

Actually Constitutional Conservatives believe states have more rights than Progressives do.

Non-Party Independents

There are some people that are moderate or non-party orientated. With views of either party. They include people that think the Dems are too Conservative and others that think the Repubs are too Progressive.

Bottom Line: People do not fit neatly in only two groups, yet most talk as if there are only two.

P.S. - I know I am guilty of this myself. I also know that even though I consider myself a constitutional conservative, I am aware that there are many liberal ideas that are good ideas. At least they are open to debate with me. Especially at the state and local level. National politics and state/local politics are two different animals.

Oh I forgot one more thing - Call me sexist but, men think differently than women.

is the argument then that dale burns FAILED

the question then is dale burns failed to do the delicate balancing that bill mcneil did?  then did the new majority represent the families that were able to come together as a cohesive group and in doing so shine a bright light on all of dale burns failures?  finally did dale burns resigned rather than be held accountable for the failures that were coming to light under his administration?

whatever, dale is gone, tata is here and it is time to move forward.


Did Del resign to avoid being held accountable?

You betcha!


I've just read Michaels' article (which I'm sure many of the earlier posters did not).

Kevin Hill's remarks, as the article clearly states, were made last October, long before Supt. Tata got here. And Hill never references Tedesco by name, though it's clear he addresses some of the rhetoric Tedesco was flinging at the time.

Secondly, the article recounts, in depth, to what extent teachers a decade ago, thanks to Supt. Bill McNeal, were fully invested in bringing struggling students along, even to the extent of home visits, weekend and afternoon programs, etc. Everyone from the custodian to the principal were seen as part of a total program of reinforced learning, and the system saw results accordingly.

Teachers in the system have had no leadership since Dr. Burns was forced out, and have had to endure the bungling criticisms of a school board member from NJ who none of us are sure finished school himself.

So the question is, to what lengths is Supt. Tata willing to go to make sure that ED students get all of the assistance they need? The very fact that he is consulting with McNeal, which is a good thing, tells me that he knows there has to be a lot of heavylifting, in spite of the knuckleheads he works for on the school board.

We wish him well.

What happened to all of

What happened to all of those McNeal initiatives when Burns took the helm?  Michaels goes on and on in great detail about the wonderful things teachers were doing under McNeal, but then skips over Burns on his way to blaming the new board for the state of things now.  What happened after McNeal left? 

I know the answer will be 'Republicans refused to fund the schools' but that doesn't explain away all the intiatives. 

I wasn't involved when McNeal was super, but were things really as Turpin described or is she remembering things a little differently now?  I'm not accusing her of lying, just that we all have a tendency to remember the 'good old days' better than they really were.  I've never heard of any of things that she's talking about.  You'd think that those initiatives would come up every once in a while--it sounds amazing.

Those initiatives looked

Those initiatives looked good but lacked substance.

I read this 3-part series by

I read this 3-part series by Michaels a year or so ago. I believe it was originally published in print only, but WakeUp published it online. It covers the success of Goal 2003, and why Goal 2008 never got off the ground.  Here's the link. The links to part 2 & 3 are at the bottom of the article.


Not directed at you,

Not directed at you, ksinclair, but this article didn't really explain much of anything.  I've heard these excuses before--we just got complacent, blah blah blah.

I'm with you, but this is

I'm with you, but this is the only thing I've seen that makes sense. I don't think there was some sinister plot by Del or others, I think there were good intentions that got derailed...by growth and its problems, primarily. We need to quit demonizing people...

When doctors have good

When doctors have good intentions become complacent or distracted, they get hit with malpractice suits.  The consequences of failing kids educationally can sometimes be worse than a blown medical procedure.  Sorry, but I'll never buy into the whole "Del was a great guy who did what he could" idea.  He rode McNeal's coattails into office, enjoyed a well-paid milk run, and got to collect those diversity/soccer awards.  Sadly, he never got his golden pine cone award from the Governor, but it's not too late!

Sinister plot ?

Well if you call targeting certain specific low performing nodes for busing out of Title I schools to help those schools look better on paper OK. Or if you call denying those children the Title I money that was meant to help them OK. And if you are OK with those children doing worse in the schools they were bused to (at least it appears that way in anecdotal data). I guess you can't say anything was sinister.

Maybe Del just wanted to make his schools healthy and keep out of the microscope of the penalties of the NCLB Act.

ramifications of course placement

I think we need to deal with our reality a little better. The Urban league cites the education deficit as the number one reason for the income gap between minorities and whites. The Feb. 2011 data for unemployment are: Whites 8%, Blacks 15.3% and Hispanics 11.6%. There is no slap in the face to teachers to say that we need to do better, particularly with putting minority children on the college track. The fact that some schools are able (and willing) to do it while others are not is VERY meaningful. It is racial and socioeconomic bias, and it is wrong. It has nothing to do with the diversity policy and assignment.

I have tried to stay away

I have tried to stay away and simply read all things considered, but this one, I had to weigh in.

I was at East Millbrook (check dates to find the principal) in 2002 and I tried to teach my students to use a little MLA formatting to write a research paper.  Nothing too difficult.  Having had written a Masters Thesis I figured I could "wing it."  After shwoing all students exactly how to do this on a data projector and laptop I had students turn in xeroxed copies of encyclopedies and pages of their "report" printed out with the Zyrtex add still on the bottom of the page.  The principal there said I didn't do enough.

Later I received EMAILS from a principal at Holly Ridge Middle School in 2002 that told me that my class was "too hard." 

More recently, after a very successful year for my students (65% pass rate on the EOG), my principal told me the next year that I asked too much of my students.  "Don't give homework, especially on weekends.  That's family time."  I refused.  Now when I have blogged here before I get rants that it's me that is the problem in all of this and that since I keep running into these people it is somehow my fault.  THIS is education in NC.  Well, I politely refused to "dumb down" my classes at the risk of getting fired.  In the end I kept my job and 77% of my students that year passed the science EOG.  Not to mention that from that previous year when 11 student scored 4 that year it went to 31.  DON'T BLAME TEACHERS!!!!! Solve the problem!!!

I guess if we didn't keep

I guess if we didn't keep hearing story after story of teachers denying qualified students entry into higher level math courses Kevin Hill wouldn't have to "take offense." Would he rather everyone keep their heads in the sand like he and his status quo colleagues did year after year  and ignore that discriminatory practice? Fortunately the new BOE members took office, drew attention to this travesty and now a few thousand kids who would have been denied acccess to higer level math courses are now in those classes and achieving at a higher level.

Kevin Hill might want expalin why he never addressed this issue during his tenue on the board. That he didn't offends me.

teacher morale is lower than

teacher morale is lower than I've seen in 10 years.


crummy leadership at the county level might be part of it, but it's not in any way the bulk of it.

(^) (^)

That's about as good of a picture as I can make of me rolling my eyes as I can make on a single line of text.

It's pretty well understood that the so-called success in McNeal's time was largely an artifact of absurdy easy state tests.  When they were re-jiggered about 5 years ago, test scores dropped dramatically.  Michael's complaint is, approximately, the same idea behind giving out awards to every soccer team in the league, because you don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.  Naturally, teacher morale will go down when you stop lying to them that their students are doing very well.

The Effectiveness Index specifically lowered the expected performance of student based on their family income.  If that is not programming in "Low Expectations," I don't know what is.

If we're going to have high teacher morale, it should be because they are actually successfully executing on a plan to educate students, not because somebody's been blowing smoke to make them appear successful.

Artifact of absurdly easy state tests

Regardless of the level of the tests - they were the same across the state.  The success of McNeal's time was not the raw score of wcpss but how it compared across the state.  When the test changed the bar changed for every district in the state.  I do find it interesting that when JT talks about the steady declines of test scores over the last 10 years he is comparing the high test scores of the "easy" tests with the "more" difficult tests of today and pointing to the decline as evidence of failure.  

The resetting the bar on state tests is really no different than the NCLB directive that standardized the cohort graduation rate. Districts going from 99% to 80% when calculated under the 4 year cohort methodology - oops !  

Teacher morale - I do not believe it has to do with test scores or your Y sports analogy.  Although it may have more to do with - no increases for how many years ?  Promised performance bonuses that were reneged because of funding.   From 2005 to 2010 the district has added 26,000 students of these 26,000 - 14,000 were F&R or 54%.  In 2005 the number of students per class room teacher/assistant was 12.  In 2010 - students per class room teacher/assistant was 12.  So with a higher mix of  ED students we added zero resources ! 

Effectiveness Index - Two car salesmen. One sells Honda and the other sells Bugatti. Do you expect the Bugatti salesman to sell the same number of cars as the Honda salesman.  Do we hold up Raleigh Charter as the model and any teacher that does not deliver to the Raleigh Charter level is deemed a failure ?

If we want higher teacher morale - then the district needs to provide evidence it supports the teachers - honoring bonus agreements, funding resource requirements, and parents setting expectations of the students and not expecting the school system to raise the kid.  


I agree that it's not fair to compare old test scores with new ones. As to test scores being better than elsewhere in the state, I just view that as "sure, we got a D-, but they all got F's, so we're doing great."

I suspect that the biggest morale problem is the budget cuts and the potential for lost jobs. I've been in places where that happened, and the anticipation drove morale into the toilet. Are there any NC districts with positive morale?

Yes, the more difficult

Yes, the more difficult tests were when the math EOG went from a 49% to be proficient to  51%.  Oooohhh.....the horror, the horror.  The fact that most parents I talk to in NC think that EOGs are given in all states not realizing that EOGs were developed by NC circa mid 90s as a NC based test because we did so poorly on Nationally Standardized Tests shows how good a snow job is being given by NCDPI. 

Yep, I was rolling my eyes

Yep, I was rolling my eyes too.  When teachers say that they didn't place low income kids in the advanced math classes because they come from a bad home situation or because there isn't anybody at home who can help them with their homework, then that is a culture of low expectations.  I have no doubt in my mind that these teachers believe that they are helping these kids by not pushing them.  I don't think they have any malicious intent.  But it is absolutely low expectations and it came from the top. 

Hill claims that Tedesco is saying these things for political gain, but he is doing the exact same thing.  Good grief, there were 2 parents at the last ED task force meeting (the one at Ligon) who said there were low or 'no' expectations for their AA sons.  This is a real issue and for Hill to deny it exists and blaming Tedesco is just playing up to his political supporters. 

I haven't read this latest installment yet but I do find it interesting that Michaels is talking up NcNeal but not saying much about Burns. 

Why onus on the teachers ?

Why is the onus being put on the teachers for setting expectations - where does the student and the parent fit in ?

I look at education the same way as sports. Your position and playing time is determined as much by effort and hardwork as it is by skill. A kid who shows an interest, works hard and takes initiative makes the team. The kid who slacks off, doesn't try will get cut.  In public school, one cannot get cut.  I have to ask, are these kids coming to class ready to learn ?  Are they engaging ?  Do they do their homework ?  And where are the parents ?  Using the Ligon example, I will guess that this parent is a base parent, a neighborhood parent. Has this parent met with the teacher ? Is this parent pushing her own kid ?  -  Or is it just another example of parents expecting teachers to raise their kid ?  High expectations start at home, if one is expecting it to develop in the classroom one is not doing ones job as a parent. 



"High expectations start at home, if one is expecting it to develop in the classroom one is not doing ones job as a parent"

The parents that spoke do have high expectations, but based on their interactions with the school, they feel that the expectations at the school are low or no for their children. If those parents didn't have high expectations then it seems that expectations at school would not seem out of place relative to their own expectations and they wouldn't be raising this concern.

Why would you guess that parent is a base parent? Are the questions you pose and statements based upon that guess? If so, why? What questions would you pose different or not if the parent was a magnet parent?

"Why is the onus being put on the teachers for setting expectations"

Are you saying that teachers should not and don't have or set any expectations for any of their students?

The crux of the issue isn't "teachers" as a singular group and no one has said that ALL teachers set lower expectations - it is about systemic differences in expectations. I've heard parents mention that at School B they experienced a culture of low expectations, but then at School A it was different and they go on to praise School A and its staff. The same could occur between teacher B and teacher A. This about professional development to move the Bs toward As.

Also, no one has said that parents shouldn't or don't play any role. However, a parent can develop all the high expectations in the world, but if the school culture is such that those high expectations don't exist systemically within the particular school the child attends or clearly at the district level, then what?

It can't be either or - it has to be BOTH. Right now, we have a hodge podge - some parents are high, but then run up against low within the system and the children do not reach their potential; some parents are low, and there is frustration over that by those in the system; some situations are parents low and system low and the children really fail; some are high and high and the students succeed. We need to work to get to high and high for all children. We as a society can't afford to play the game of "Don't Blame Me" any more. We have to be willing to be honest with ourselves about where and what things are working and where and what things are not working.

In middle schools in Wake,

In middle schools in Wake, and in other counties, principals take on untrue and untried methods and then force their teachers to follow.  Teachers who try and make their classes valid and rigorous will often fall victim to the emails crying out (from the principals) that their classes are too hard, to back off and stop giving so much work.

One strategy making it's rounds and taking "taxpayer money" is called Middle Start.  With it's guarantee that it will raise grades the wonderful technique is to give each student no grade lower than a 65.  Well, even my students know the BS of this when they see it.  Three schools were offered as "evidence" some years ago.  Circa 2003 these three schools were visited by teams from Middle Start.  One school, in Mississippi, (Nortwest Jr High School MERIDIAN MS) scored some modest gains (from around 62% to about 73%) in a 2 to 3 year period.  So......I decided to look up the schools report card online, but for 2007.  This same school was down to a composite score of 36.4%  in :Language Arts and 32.5% in math.  The compoite score was around 60% for both subjects before Middle Start came along.  When I called the school in 2009 the AP to whom I spoke had never even heard of Middle Start.

In true research much of the published data and documents MUST be peer reviewed.  In education no such rules apply.  Any princpal can see some warm and fuzzy mess and say, "Oh, I FEEL that this will help my students".....much like the PBIS mess making its rounds, too.  Until people realize what is really going on in schools this whole merry go round will continue.

The parent who spoke at the

The parent who spoke at the last meeting and said her son was treated like a criminal at Ligon so they went back to their base, and love WFRMS --was a magnet parent. She was a magnet parent at Ligon. Obviously she cares and advocates. Why else would she be going to the ED Task force meetings? What should she have done differently to make Ligon climate support her son?  

I think there are a lot of parents like her. What should she have done differently?

Treated like a criminal

Interesting. Did the parent speak to the principal ?  

The trouble with these types of forums is that it is one sided to make one point or another.  Has anyone showed up to say that the school system is doing a good job for them ?  There are always two sides to every story and we don't have the other side.

I would like to see the school system establish an ombuds office, an independent body reporting directly to the board. The office would serve as an intermediary between the parents and the school with the purpose of investigating issues such as 'students treated like criminals'. 



"Has anyone showed up to say that the school system is doing a good job for them ?"

Yes, the same parent said that WFRMS was doing a good job for them. There are a number of schools and educators that have received positive acknowledgements in that forum.


Using the Ligon example, I

Using the Ligon example, I will guess that this parent is a base parent, a neighborhood parent. Has this parent met with the teacher ? Is this parent pushing her own kid ?  -  Or is it just another example of parents expecting teachers to raise their kid ?  High expectations start at home, if one is expecting it to develop in the classroom one is not doing ones job as a parent.


Of the two parents who spoke, one was the PTA President at Ligon.  The other was a WCPSS employee but I don't know which school his son attends. 

You're really making a lot of assumptions about the students and their parents. 

Making alot of assumptions

We are making alot of assumptions about teachers as well. My point is that in all of these discussions about setting high expectations there is no mention of parental responsibility.  As if teachers are the sole issue.  

The board is pinning the hope of future achievement on neighborhood schools, parental and community involvement. I am estimating 85% of the schools are already neighborhood schools. If the parents were actively engaged in their child's education - how does this low expectation come about ?  

The truth of the matter is the majority of the parents are not engaged and leave it to the schools to raise their kid. Kids get dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon.  Until the parents start to raise the bar there is onlt so much teachers can do. 

Where are the math placement

Where are the math placement criteria for the parents to look at? Do you want the parents to all decide what it takes to succeed in math? Look how long the school system took to decide what the criteria should be. Do you think that parents with no math backgrounds should know whether their child is ready for algebra and advocate for them to take it?

If they don't, does this mean they don't care if their child gets educated?

Common Sense

If your child is achieving 3 and 4 on the tests and the teacher recommends a remedial or less challenging class a red flag needs to go up.  The parent does not need to be a math whiz to understand this.  

The neighborhood school proponents cite increased parental involvement as a driving force to improving achievement.  If there is merit to this philosophy then parents are just as responsible for placement as the teachers.  

All I am saying here is there is a joint responsibility - both parents and teachers. The parents should be driving the teachers and should be the check and balance.  If parents are not willing to step up and be an active part and take responsibility- then the whole argument behind neighborhood schools falls apart. 

So are you saying that if a

So are you saying that if a child receives a 3 or 4 on their EOG, then the parents should demand they are tracked high in math? What about Language Arts? That too? Those are not the criteria. There are no criteria for tracking Language Arts. Math tracking criteria has two of 3 things, or EVAAS predicted.

You seem to be saying the math placement criteria are wrong. Anyone with level 3 or 4 should be tracked high (?).  And since that is not the criteria, the parents should go in and demand their kids be tracked high even though they may not meet the criteria? The teachers don't like the criteria, according to many things written here. They think they are going to have too big a spread.

I know you are going to say this isn't what you meant. You meant if they are like really really smart, and high scoring. Well what is that? Level 3 kids are successful in the top track.

Why should it be parent advocacy to get your kids properly placed? And the schools won't listen to most parents. They listen to those they are afraid of, and that is about it. 

The EVAAS reports and the criteria need to go home with every child so the parents can advocate. The schools have to provide the information so that they can advocate. (The schools don't want parents to advocate, and that is why this doesn't go home.)

Prove me wrong here.

Schools won't listen to most parents

And the schools won't listen to most parents. They listen to those they are afraid of, and that is about it. 

This is not my experience.  All of the teachers my kids have had have been engaging and very responsive.  We have had disagreements over  placement at times.  In cases where we have advocated for a higher level the teacher was very helpful in preparing us for the expectations.  So why do we pay close attention - mainly to keep our kids, specifically our son, from falling through the cracks. He is a well behaved better than average student and in a class of 30-35 other students is under the radar of most teachers.  The brightest kids get noticed because well they are bright. At the other end are the trouble makers where teacher spend a disproportionate part of their time. The kids that get short changed are those in the middle. 

If this neighborhood school model is to work - then parents need to be engaged and take responsibility or are we saying when it gets down to it - the neighborhood school model is purely about convenience. 

Tell me that you are a

Tell me that you are a single black mom, and that your children are AA males, and then what you say here will be meaningful to me.

I am white. I have experienced more than once, friends or co-workers who I have seen as perfectly fine people, decent acting to me always. And then after knowing them for years, find myself in a situation where we are interacting with a minority and I see for the first time to my shock, that they are racist. I have seen this many times with class rather than race. Although I was not raised upper class, people mistakenly think I was, and will say things about lower-class people to me.  

I've worked with and been in school with men who are the worst sexual harrassers, and the women work together to protect themselves and avoid these men (much more in the past than now). Then, I'd mention to a male friend or family member about one of these men and they'd be shocked because they were always treated with the utmost respect and civility.

My point is, the fact that you are treated a certain way may not indicate that others are treated that way.

Maybe you are a single black mom, and the kids you advocate for are AA males. Heck, you wouldn't have to be a single black mom. I know married black women with graduate degrees who are fighting up stream to advocate for their sons. A woman I know is president of a company--large one. She is black and married. When she went in to advocate in one of the magnet schools because her straight A level 4 well behaved daughter was tracked low, she told them who she was. They appologized and said they assumed they were low income.  She was horrified by that answer, and wondered who is advocating for the low income kids.

I am beginning to think I

I am beginning to think I was forced out of the system for advocating for the low income kids.  Long story involving being harrassed, threatened then forced out of my job. I still can't believe what happened and no one will talk with me about it.  I know that this would never have happened anywhere else I lived or worked.

When I was packing up my belongings an AA employee asked me if I leave, "Who is going to work with our children?" 

I still find it hard to believe the primitive thinking that exists in Wake County.

Parental input

I'm glad your experience with the teachers has been positive.  However, that is not the case for many parents.  Personally, I believe that issues like appropriate placement need to be dealt with at the teacher/school level.  Otherwise, the parents who are the most persistent advocates or who have the most influence in the system can obtain benefits for their children that other parents cannot.  I don't think we want to encourage this kind of approach.  I consider it much better to have objective standards that rely on achievement rather than parental advocacy.

But, more importantly, most parents don't have the information to advocate for their children.  Math placement is just an example.  I have talked to a number of parents who have no idea that there are criteria to determine who is placed in advanced math classes.  They do not know, for example, that they can determine right now if their fifth grader has met the EOG cutoff (because it can be based on their child's fourth grade score).  These are not disinterested parents, but the information is not available on the WCPSS web site.  So, unless they read this blog or know someone who has obtained a copy of the criteria, they have no way of knowing.  And, for many advanced classes like Honors classes, there are no objective criteria at all. 

Exactly.  Unfortunately,

Exactly.  Unfortunately, there are several reasons parents of ED children are not involved..  They have no one to advocate for them. Their parents are uncomfortable coming to schools in North Raleigh, feeling they are judged.  Parents have not had a very good school experience and feel powerless when it comes to talking to staff on behalf of their children. When your child is bused 10 or more miles away and you have no transportation, the parent has no sense of being part of the school community in addition to having no way of getting to the school ;having younger children at home compounds this problem. They avoid contact because whenever they hear from the the school, it is to complain about their children.  Then there are those children who pretty much raise themselves.  I'm just impressed that they get themselves to school.

Personal opinion

It's just my personal opinion, but I think it's more a question of the school's attitude than where the child goes to school.  Some schools seem respectful of parental input from all parents while others seem to ignore everyone.  From what I have heard, though, the majority tend to accommodate parents who have influence while paying less attention to those parents they perceive to be less powerful.  (I'm not sure ED parents are always less involved, but I suspect they often get less attention paid to their concerns.)  No matter where we end up on the assignment policy, I think there needs to be a change in placement methods to create a fairer system.  (The curriculum management audit pointed out the disparity in placements so there is some outside support for this effort.)   That way student placement won't be so dependent on parental influence or other subjective factors.  And there needs to be a change in attitude because, as you say, parents who only hear from the school when there is a problem or who are not treated with respect tend not to want to become involved in their chid's school. 

You are correct!  The

You are correct!  The parents play a HUGE role in their child's success.  However all the new initiatives brought in are always what I , the teacher must do.  There's nothing that factors in the parents, and their role in their child's education.  Stop blaming the teachers for each and every individual problem with the education.  We have become the scapegoat for the problems in education today.  The issue is society doesn't know what to do about the problems along with the education and government leaders.  So the "cowardly" way out is let's blame the innocent most convenient person, the teacher.  Moral is at an all time low, even at my school, which once had GREAT moral.  There's a limit you can place on a HUMAN, before it effects their moral at work.  I hope everyone that loves to put down and talk badly about teachers are happy, you are finally seeing the "fruits of your labor", I just hope we can save schools and children today.  Until we attack the root of the problem..which is the combination of "real parents" that take responsibility of raising their children and our government, which needs to focus on the real issues....nothing will change!  I just wish they would stop blaming my coworkers and myself for the problems that the children have today.


You're missing the part that these kids are already performing. The system was holding them back even though they were achieving and learning. They aren't "slackers". Big difference.

The system ?

While it is tragic that there are some teachers with the view Tata experienced - there are many many more that challenge the students.  But where are the parents ?  Do the parents not know their child's capabilities ?  What reading level they should be at ? How they are progressing in math ?  Do they know their child's teachers ?  Parents have a powerful voice in course assignment and can overrule a teacher recommendation.  If parents are not going to take an active role in setting expectations for their child and the teachers the child is assigned to then what is the point of the neighborhood model other than a shorter bus ride ?


You are assuming that those children who are achieving but not being placed properly due to their race and/or SES do not have supportive parents. That's a horrible and insulting assumption.

These children are already achieving. Their EOG scores show it. There must be some support/concern/drive at home and elsewhere in their lives that is allowing them to perform at a high level. Why would placing them in Algebra I change that? Teachers have been taught by WCPSS to reconsider placing poor and/or minority children into the proper class due to their 'risks'. I don't blame the teachers and I don't think Tata or Tedesco are either. It's the system that created this mindset.

I'm not arguing that there aren't parents who don't care. They come from all areas of county and are all income levels. That's not the issue here though.

what an idealistic and

what an idealistic and totally UNREALISTIC view you have.  Have you spent time in a school?  REAL time?  do you really think it's as simplistic as you make it?  of course it should be parents setting high expectations, but the fact of the matter is there are plenty who aren't. 

and yes it would appear that the onus is on teachers because it is.  fair or not, it is.  That is the bane of public schools everywhere and probably why there are so many problems in so many public school systems today.

A complete overhaul is needed, not just of school systems but of parental responsibilities as well.  but are YOU going to tackle that one?  didn't think so.

so for now, it appears that the onus wil remain on the schools.

McNeal Versus Burns

I can say the teachers and staff that I know had a high opinion of McNeal, but I can't find too many teachers or staff that had kind things to say about Burns!   

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.