WakeEd

The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Bob Luddy directing the new school board majority?

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Is conservative businessman Bob Luddy pulling the string behind the new Wake County school board majority?

That's a possibility raised in a Wednesday column by Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch. Fitzsimon, who's no fan of the new board, notes that Luddy gave a lot of money to the new members.

"Though Tuesday’s meeting was not nearly as carefully orchestrated as the one two weeks ago, it’s still hard to believe the new board is operating on its own," Fitzsimon writes. "It’s far more likely they’re getting help, if not direction from folks like businessman and Locke Foundation board member Bob Luddy, who was the largest individual campaign contributor to the new board members."

Fitzsimon goes on to say that school board chairman Ron Margiotta is on the board of one of Luddy's Thales Academy schools. He also mentions Margiotta's ties with Called2Action, a conservative Christian group.

"And it’s not hard to see the influence of Art Pope and the groups he funds on the new board’s operations," Fitzsimon writes.

In the column, he says that Chris Farr of the conservative Americans for Prosperity is the wife of attorney Thomas Farr, whom the board wants to hire. She's his ex-wife.

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A little ditty for Mr. Fitzsimon

It's all in your head, you need to unwind
You're losing your grip, the paranoia never ends
It's all in your head, what you see in your mind
There's no reason to trip, the paranoia never ends

You should have checked under the bed first
Crawling on all fours, locking all the doors
You must have flown over the cuckoos nest and lost your course
I thought I told ya, don't let that sh#t control ya
'Cause paranoia will destroy ya just a lesson for ya

- Paranoia, Swollen Members -

WCPS? No Way

I started reading this blog hoping to get a feel for what was happening in WCPS since the election, as I'm considering enrolling my youngest child in public school.

The writer is obviously so biased, I am clearly going to have to get my information elsewhere.  

WCPS? NO WAY,--Yes WAY!!

WCPSS-Yes WAY!, This blog is filled with statements of  emotion, enthusiasm, and passion. It is administered in a fair open and professional manner with the administrator often not pleasing one side or the other thus showing us that he is an effective and efficient manager of all who share their thoughts. The public schools of wake county are much like a diamond with many facets of brilliance reflecting the excitement of our students, the professional excellence of our  classroom teachers, special program teachers, media specialists, classroom assistants, school support staff, cooks, custodians, building administrators and their staff. This is not a flawless jewel, it has not yet completed the ongoing polishing, tumbling, and cutting that in the end will make it shine and glisten even more. I have been invested in public education all my life both as a student and an adult.  I have lived overseas, in different locals within the United States and I have yet to find anywhere that is more committed to improvement that the professional educators of the Wake County Public Schools.  By all means, you make the choice where you wish to send you’re youngest to school.  I wish you the best on your quest.  Please know, that there are no perfectly flawless educational systems out there, but the one in Wake County is moving toward the goals of excellence and learning for all its students.

Strange

Does anyone notice the similiarity between the typeface of this post and User's posts? Because User's post are so identifiable by the typeface and - at least on my computer display - this appears exactly the same, I find it strange. 

I copy the person's text to

Does anyone notice the similarity between the typeface of this post and User's posts? Because User's post are so identifiable by the typeface and - at least on my computer display - this appears exactly the same, I find it strange.

==========================

I copy the person's text to Word, paste it as reference , add comments, and paste back into the N&O comment box and it just inherits the font and font size ... for some (not direct at SDR) having more than one font in the world is more diversity than they can handle  Smile

expectations

Ok, maybe it was a naive question. I don't think it deserved a cynical answer, however. 

Sorry SDR .... poor joke ...

Sorry SDR .... poor joke ... sorry if it came across badly ....

It's an annoyance for some

All modern operating systems support "rich text" copy buffers (aka copy and paste) Rich text is a mechanism for storing character attributes; font type, size, style, weight and so forth. Different browsers handle this rich text differently and various text fields include javascript-enhanced capabilities that further muddy the relationship.

That should be a good thing but more times than not its an annoyance; at least for me. I've also noticed a (very) casual relationship between people who "don't care" about such formating annoyances and other generalized lack of concern for more important things, like English spelling, grammar and conceptual coherency.

Dad, we should publish a book

with your running commentary over the last year.

Outstanding entertainment...and downright educational as well!

HoHoHo to you and yours.

Nice!

Thanks! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and all those good sentiments to you, too!

Santa's taking the D9 helicopter this year, btw.

Possibly...

I think that happens when somebody cuts & pastes into the comment box.   








I typed this part in MS Word and pasted it in.

 

 

 

Typeface

I believe user12345 says he is using a Google blog reader interface.  Perhaps it is a result of that.  It isn't like no one else uses Google.  Laughing

For all its students

"Please know, that there are no perfectly flawless educational systems out there, but the one in Wake County is moving toward the goals of excellence and learning for all its students."

If it is for ALL students, why does WCPSS have the largest achievement gap in NC, especially in light of the fact that WCPSS has a lower percentage of ED students than other districts in the state? Why are our ED student scores trending downward and are now below state average on EOGs? Why are only 54% of ED students graduating? Given those results why do people keep talking about how great everything is and pushing for the continuance of the current policies?

I agree that for the most part those in the categories of professionals you listed that I've encountered here are a positive. I noticed some categories seem to be missing.

Mr. Hui unbiased

As an out of state observer and freelance journalist, I see absolutely no bias in Mr. Hui's blog entries. He is merely reporting what others have written about WCPS's melodrama.

The assumptions and allegations made by "Progressives" such as Mr. Fitzimons are outrageous!!! That the supposedly open-minded, loving, caring lefties presume that because people object to the outrageous expenditures and constant shifting of neighborhood boundaries means that they support segregation and are racists - is beyond the pale!!!

People buy homes or live in neighborhoods by choice. The children in your district have the choice of many different schools. But to FORCE students to attend an out of neighborhood school in order to achieve this supposed "utopian" equitable level of F & RL in each and every school is not only unreasonable, it is cruel and possibly unconstitutional. Get over yourselves, Progressives! Conservatives and Liberals alike want the best education possible for children of all colors and incomes. That doesn't mean that the children of wealthier white families should be punished to benefit and give preference to poorer black families.  The days of separate water fountains are long over.  It seems the Liberals are the ones who want to keep making race an issue while ignoring fiscal responsibility. Instead of encouraging willful integration and cooperation, WCPS's policies for "economic equality" (let's just say it, redistribution of wealth) breed resentment and anger.

Or so it seems to me.

Hmmm

I became a WCPSS teacher in 1998 and met Keung at that time.  I have had the chance to talk with him a few times and exchange emails as well.  I have found him to be very fair in my own dealings.  I have heard principals say that he is not fair to the system and heard opponents of the system say the same thing about him.  Does that mean he sits on the fence?  Nah, that's not true either.

I generally stay out of the

I generally stay out of the discussions about myself because that's really not the point of the blog. All I will say is that I get both sides who claim I'm biased against them. Ask AgentPierce or carson79 who they think I'm supporting and you'd get an interesting disagreement. Drawing a baseball analogy, it's like the people who assume that Tim McCarver has to be against their team.

Hui - You can please none.

Hui - You can please none. Just stick to your principles and continue with your reporting. The pointed attacks you endure should be tied to a performance bonus.

but we'd take the occasional

but we'd take the occasional "sacrifice fly" j/k Wink

OT: December 1 Board Resolutions

One-line here: http://www.wcpss.net/announcements/archives/2009/12/december_1_boar.html

The funny thing is in comparing the size of Ron's and Del's signatures. It's as if Del just wants to craw into a hole.

Chris Farr and Tom Farr

Mr. Fitzsimon claims, "Chris Farr, the grassroots coordinator for Americans for the Prosperous, presided over the mini rally. The name Farr might sound familiar. She is the wife of attorney Thomas Farr, who the new majority has voted to hire to audit the board’s legal services and to provide advice and counsel. Chris Farr is not only a paid staffer for AFP, she is on the State Republican Executive Committee and listed as a North Carolina “tea party organizer.” [snip] The new majority has now handpicked an attorney (or had one hand-picked for them) who is not only active in Republican politics, but one whose wife who works for a right-wing advocacy group and was leading a rally to support ending the diversity policy."

Just to repeat the point, Chris Farr and Thomas Farr are divorced.

Why should Fitzsimon

let facts get in the way.

...

Just to repeat the point:

'Handpicked an attorney"

I was disgusted when the Board members made a logical resolution to develop an RFP and give other legal firms the ability to bid on what will not be chump change, and the new majority shot it down. 

As Mr. Hill said, where is the transparency??

As a taxpayer

I'm a big fan of competitive bidding when a project is given out to private companies.  It theoretically ensures the best price for services and avoids conflicts of interest. 

This move on the part of the board should be duly noted for the next round of Board elections.

Stalling tactic

Have staff develop an RFP, board approves in January or February.  Send it out, 60 days later, get responses back.  Then, board has to decide among responses and pick the winner.  That'll be June and the audit won't have even started!

I'm not a big fan of the process they used.  Had it been me, I would have had Ron name a special committee to select an auditor, had that committee (of, say, 3 people) interview 3-4 attorneys between 12/15 and 1/4 and hire the one they like.  With that process, the audit could have started by mid-January.

But, I have no issue with Farr being the auditor.  He's certainly well-respected -- he got the highest ABA ranking when he was up to be a judge.  And, in general, the board should be able to choose its own counsel.   You have to be able to trust the attorney.

But Tedesco stopped short of

But Tedesco stopped short of saying the audit was the only reason for Farr being hired.  Someone posed the possiblilty of a conflict of interest if the auditing firm somehow finds fault and then finds itself being hired by the BOE. 

 Tedescso did not rule out Farr's hiring in the future, despite doing the audit- and I think he said they were looking at Farr if any lawsuits were to be filed.  

Hill brought up the transparency issue and mentioned that John Locke had given the previous board a high mark (B+ as I recall) for its transparency.  Looks like the noew board is moving backwards.

Well

I would have been at least somewhat happy with an interview process. Good luck getting an interview with a lawyer between those dates ;-).  I still think RFP is a standard process that should be followed.  If they were spending a couple thousand dollars then it would be different but this won't be cheap.

I also like the idea of Farr opting out of any future work based on these findings.  That is without a doubt a conflict of interest. 

P.S.  The Board didn't choose Farr.  Ron chose Farr. 

Hmm...

How expensive do you think it's going to be?  My guess is that it will be around $10K-$15K.  I'd be very surprised if he actually looked in depth at the substantive legal work that any of the district's attorneys did.  Instead, he's likely to look at the bills, see who's done what and find (a) things that the district just shouldn't be paying anybody to do and (b) more cost-effective ways to get the same services.

I suspect that, especially with the district's multiple real estate fiascos, that there's savings to be had in the legal budget.  I also suspect that he'll suggest that the district should have its own in-house attorney.  No reason to have Ann Majestic at every school board meeting, for example.  The county commissioners have gone this route.

I don't think he can say "and you should hire me to do X."  He can certainly say "this is something my firm has expertise in, as do these four other firms: 1, 2 & 3.  You should decide.  

wanna bet?

Bob - you'r kidding right?  I would love to put a side bet on this one.  I guess 50K minimum. 

Bad idea

In my opinion, this is a bad idea:

I also suspect that he'll suggest that the district should have its own
in-house attorney.  No reason to have Ann Majestic at every school
board meeting, for example.  The county commissioners have gone this
route. 

When it comes to legal advice, I think that it is better to have the ability to change services than the added complication of using an employee.  A good lawyer should be on your side, but not part of your side.

Hmm...

Well, for litigation, I agree with you.  But, for being a corporate secretary or handling other day-to-day legal matters, there's a lot of savings that comes from having inside counsel.  WCPSS is large enough to justify it.

THE WORST!

I never thought I would say this .... Keung Hui has become (IMO) THE WORST OF THE WORST among the N&O op/ed "reporters". Maybe its that arrogant picture that accompanies his articles. Maybe its his overtly partisan tripe.

Move over Rob. Linda Williams' golden child is now Keung Hui. Too bad Keung was not around during Duke Lacrosse. He woulda been perfect for that team of crackerjack journalists.

Come on John. Move this yahoo to Steve Ford's op/ed gang. Stop masquerading him as a news writer.

Reporting

Keung is just reporting what Fitzsimon said. I agree that this is one of those little bizarre tidbits that I wouldn't have known if I hadn't read it here, so I appreciate the info. Knowing that the opposition is in hysterical spin mode is good information :)

ITS A BLOG

Its supposed to cover all the bizarre happenings around the school board.  And, this is one of the bizarrest.

Oh Good Grief!

What will they come up with next. If its a good idea it must be wrong and a conspiracy. I am continually amazed by these people.

Hmm..

First I agree.  However, how many times has staff and the former board been accused of 'conspiracy'.  I've seen very few on here with an objective stance on these various topics.

The lost the philosophical discussion

So now Chris and his buddies are resorting to the politics of personal destruction.

Is this the same Luddy

Is this the same Luddy behind Franklin Academy? If yes, then I do hope the board members have the benefit of Luddy's advice. I should add that Thales Academy is one school I intend to check out if I end up pulling my kid out of WCPSS.

Franklin Academy

Now let me see if I get this straight. Mr. Luddy had a brain child called Franklin Academy. Then Mr. Ludy hired people that created a school that gets results and pretty much puts surrounding schools to shame (with all their money and NBCT Teachers). Mr. Luddy, could you pull those strings a bit harder pelase?

Oh geez....

In case Fitzsimon wasn't aware, Elvis and Michael Jackson are both alive, being held in a secret bunker operated by the "Star Chamber," a shadowy organization of world leaders (all of whom are Masons) who are secretly working to control the supply of oil.

Now I know why they're called the "Loony Left." Conspiracy theories abound.

The fact that powerful

The fact that powerful people pull the strings of power is not feasible?   I think you might be a little too naive and idealistic to think the comman man runs things.

What?

Well, that's an interesting world view: we have "powerful people" and "the common man."

Of course there's political power.  Look at what's happening in the US Senate right now, where the use of power is obvious.  But, asserting that this Luddy guy is secretly running the show, based on what's basically scant circumstantial evidence, is bordering on the paranoid. 

 

I do not know if Luddy is

I do not know if Luddy is the person but I would not be surprised that there is a person, group, party orchestrating all this...  hopefully, with Ron being a lame duck with plans to retire after this term he won’t be as beholden as others might be …

Pulling strings may not be the best description

The fact that powerful people pull the strings of power is not feasible?

I would fully expect any board member to have folks who advise them.  And who better to go to than people who are very successful at managing a message that you agree with?

 

Are there going to be times when this appears to be a conflict or a sense of "buying"?  Maybe.  Sure.  But this is certainly not new or worrying.

 

When the previous board was holding the majority, they would often seek the advice of outside groups that many didn't appreciate.  And again, that is to be expected.

I have no problem with this current board sitting down with people that they happen to agree with.

It's a good way to get a nice echo chamber effect going....

problem is when you step out of the chamber and get clobbered. Again, I wish they had put out competitive bidding for that project.

 

Probably what is best is to

Probably what is best is to have some transparency so that everyone can see the wizard behind the curtain ... just like the campaign finance rules help the public follow the money ... we know the new members were selected and financed by Ron which was in the paper yesterday (Cary News: Gadfly) and the first meeting was not some random acts but coordinated by Ron ... the only thing now is to discover who has Ron's ear.

we know the new members were

we know the new members were selected and financed by Ron which was in the paper yesterday

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Really?   Here's what was actually written:

"Margiotta took an active role in this year's school board elections
when four of the nine seats were on the ballot. He worked behind the
scenes to help recruit and vet candidates. He helped them raise money
and gave them advice. "

The first meeting was poor form

the first meeting was not some random acts but coordinated by Ron

Clearly that first meeting was coordinated.  If it happened the other way around, this blog would have blown up.  It may be "fair", "legal" and all that stuff, but it was questionable.

 who has Ron's ear.

The opposite form of the person that had the old board's ear.  I would bet the usual suspects are easy to identify.

Elections? What elections?

Of course, the elections had nothing to do with the elections.

D9 helicopter; charge forth!

I love it!

So Bob is now "Naive and idealistic," coming from you, no less. That is simply awesome.

Thanks for lightening up my day!

Conspiracy theory #324

So Chris has successfully floated out of the arena of seriousness, to the land of paranoid fantasy.

You know, it's so much easier to see conspiracy and "secret agents" when things go awry from one's perspective. Too bad Chris doesn't talk to people outside his parochial conceptual circle to see many other points of view. The board change had the willing votes of many left-leaning democrats who strongly support our country's advancements made for egalitarianism.

Talking with your neighbors and those with who you don't agree; it's more difficult and more satisfying, and you don't look paranoid.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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