The liberal/progressive Great Schools in Wake Coalition is being praised for helping oust the Republican majority on the Wake County school board.
In this week's issue of the liberal Independent Weekly, GSIW received one of the publication's 2012 Citizen Awards. The article cites Great Schools' various efforts over the past two years such as its white papers, community forums and having members speak at school board meetings.
"When the 2011 elections in Wake County resulted in a stunning defeat for the Republicans, with all five school board seats on the ballot won by pro-diversity candidates, GSIW was the major factor in the outcome," according to the article by Bob Geary.
GSIW's role as a model for other progressive groups is also cited by Rob Schofield, research director of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch, which is affiliated with Great Schools.
"When people around North Carolina ask me what they can do about the right's takeover of state government," Schofield says, "I tell them to learn about Great Schools in Wake and then do the exact same things. If it weren't for two years of tireless work by the volunteers at Great Schools in Wake, the right-wing takeover of the Wake County schools would still be in full swing."
In the article, GSIW praises the new board majority while also pledging to be as demanding a watchdog with them as it was with the old board. (Calling them non-political and non-partisan, Geary declines to call them a Democratic board majority.)
"We pulled ourselves back from the cliff of re-segregated schools," said Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of Great Schools, in the article. "The community said 'no, that's not who we are.' So we have a chance, and I think we have the right people in place at the right time to move us forward."
The article also goes over the history of the group that went from being a core group that's "a little heavy on magnet-school moms" to "a powerhouse network of individuals and groups with ties throughout Wake County."