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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Wake County school board may move early release days back to Wednesdays

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Should the Wake County school system go back to holding early release days or Wednesdays or continue to hold them on Fridays?

It's an argument that's been batted around the last few years with many families preferring to hold the six annual early release days on Fridays while many teachers would rather they be held on Wednesdays. For the last few years, the Republican board majority had opted for using Fridays.

But with a new Democratic board majority, it could be on Wednesdays for the 2013-14 school year. Some of those board members voiced support during Thursday's student achievement committee meeting for using Wednesdays.

On early release days, students are dismissed 2 1/2 hours early. Teachers use that time in the afternoon to conduct professional development.

Every student gets six early-release days a year. There are technically eight early release days at the year-round schools but they're spread out so that each track has six of them.

For transportation and consistency purposes, all schools on the same calendar share common early release days.

In the 2009-10 school year, the early release days were put on Wednesdays to go along with Wake Wednesdays/Wacky Wednesdays to provide regular professional development time for teachers. Students were dismissed 2 1/2 hours early on the six early release Wednesdays and an hour early on the other Wednesdays.

Amid the parental backlash, one of the first actions of the GOP board majority in 2009 was to discontinue the weekly early dismissals. Schools now on their own schedule the time for the professional development.

Later, the board voted to have the six early release days in the 2010-11 school year be on Fridays even though staff had recommended Wednesdays. The  two who voted against using Fridays are current board chairman Kevin Hill and current vice chairman Keith Sutton.

Moving forward, Fridays have continued to be used for early release.

Now let's jump to Thursday's student achievement committee meeting, where staff was proposing early release days for the 2013-14 school year. Click here for a handout of the proposed dates for Fridays and Wednesdays.

Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore told the board members that there is "widespread interest" from principals to move back to having early release on Wednesdays.

Board member Susan Evans said it's good the issue is being brought up. Evans said she's heard from teachers and staff at several schools that they're not happy everybody but them gets to have a long weekend when the early release days are on Fridays.

Board member Christine Kushner, the committee chairwoman, did point out there are more families than teachers in the school system.

Moore said that teachers have families too and that Fridays aren't the "most conducive" days to hold professional development.

Tamani Anderson Powell, director of marketing and communication for magnet programs, said teachers were "more attentive" on Wednesdays. Anderson Powell has led the committee that develops calendars for year-round schools.

Board member Jim Martin asked what attendance was like on Fridays. Anderson Powell said she's not hearing that attendance is an issue. Kushner suggested comparing absenteeism on Fridays to what it was like when early release was on Wednesdays.

Temporary Superintendent Stephen Gainey said that "by Friday afternoon, staff is drained." Gainey said they need to consider what the negatives might be for moving it back to Wednesdays with Kushner noting they're only talking about six days and not every week.

Martin said that if the purpose of early release is staff development then Wednesdays are better.

Gainey said he's heard from some coaches about problems with their teams having early release on Fridays.

Martin suggested bringing both Fridays and Wednesdays to the full board to consider.

Anderson Powell said that when they schedule early release on Fridays they try to be family friendly, such as the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President's Day and during the State Fair. She also said they're beginning to work on the 2014-15 calendars and the early release days for then as well.

Martin responded that if you're talking about family friendly, holding early release days on Wednesdays offer students "a breather."

When Martin said his children "loved" having early dismissal on Wacky Wednesdays, Kushner corrected him to say they were Wake Wednesdays. Martin said that he knows they're officially called Wake Wednesdays.

Martin said being dismissed early on Wednesdays gave his children extra time in the middle of the week to work on larger projects. He said it was very positive for learning.

Martin said that while there were some "issues" with early release on Wednesdays, it was learning and student friendly. Martin said he's not willing to say that only releasing on Fridays is family friendly.

Kushner added that many faith communities have events on Wednesday nights.

Evans said that maybe it will be a different discussion this time since they're only talking about using six Wednesdays.

If you're wondering why the discussion for using Wednesdays over Fridays seems so one sided, none of the Republican board members were present. Kushner "deputized" Evans and Martin to have a quorum.

In terms of the dates chosen, Moore said they coordinated with the transportation department this time. She said they wanted to make sure that either all schools are releasing on the same day or those that are not releasing aren't in session.

“We’ve consistently had opportunities to mess things up, and now we’re fixing it." Moore said of the transportation problems in prior years with the early release days.

Moore said that's the reason the first early release day for year-round schools would be either Aug. 23 or Aug. 21. She said they would have liked to do the first one sooner but they had to go with the later date to coordinate with transportation.

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What exactly did the "many" principals say?

I'd like to know specifically what the principals said that related the Wednesday vs Friday debate to student achievement (vs. ease of scheduling for staff). Sounds like someone (perhaps the N&O) should do a public records request and get the data from the principals regarding their vote for which day, and then interview them regarding the reasons for that preference. If they have a reason that actually relates to student achievement, and not personal preference to have to work extra late for six Fridays a year, I think that is something people should know.

I'd also like to hear about it from the principals since I don't trust the GSIW "way to sell it" PR machine to tell the truth. I know the senior administrators feel like they have to say what the board wants to hear since the board will clearly fire anyone who tells them news that doesn't fit their pre-conceived notions regarding what helps student achivement. The administrators are playing defense, and I don't blame them a bit!

Principals don't get a say either

It's the GSIW I mean Wake County BOE way.

As for the N&O doing some real investigative work, come on, we wouldn't have heard about the Goldman soap opera if someone hadn't handed it to them.

The only opinions that matter on this, and every subject, is Martin, Evans, Mr. Noodle Hill and occasionally that other person, what's her name again?

I want to know what they're going to do about high school capacity.

When are the fibbers going to address

the

REAL

ISSUES?

I'd like to hear directly

I'd like to hear directly from the principals too.

WWTD

Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore told the board members that there is "widespread interest" from principals to move back to having early release on Wednesdays.

What Would Tony Do?   What would he say?

 Would he support his teachers, staff, and principals or would he tell them to suck it up and give parents what they want?

 

 

 

 

 
Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/wake-county-school-board-may-move-early-release-days-back-to-wednesdays#new#storylink=cpy

Let's see, what would every

Let's see, what would every business in America do? Would they provide the service customers are demanding or sacrifice customer satisfaction in order to pander to the malcontents in their workforce? I think you know the answer.

Competition in education is only going to increase and the sooner school boards and school administrators understand that the better off public education is going to be. Ignoring this fact will be the demise of public education as we know it... not that that will be such a terribile thing considering the state of public education today.

most effective time

I hope this decision will be based on the what supports the best outcome from a student learning perspective.  I don't want decisions being made based on child care issues for families.  Child care is not WCPSS's responsibility; student learning is.  The child care market will adapt to whatever day(s) are chosen, and we families must adapt as well.  WCPSS cannot be all things to all people; focus on educating students, which very much includes quality professional development for staff.

So, are you saying the real

So, are you saying the real life challenges families face should not be a consideration in school system policies? You say "Child care is not WCPSS's responsibility" yet don't they provide transportation for most students plus breakfast, lunch and some level of afterschool care for some students? It seems like a lot of childcare is going on that has nothing to do with education.

The bottom line is why can't teachers do on Friday what you claim is so vitally important to do on Wednesdays? Your argument makes no sense whatsoever.

Maybe GSIW should consider a name change to better reflect who they are... instead of Great Buildings Schools in Wake, it should be Get Rid of Idiotic Parents Entirely (GRIPE). It would be more in-line with their desire for a more paternalist government to dictate far left-wing education policy.

Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/comment/reply/51725/276463#storylink=cpy school system provide breakfast, lunch, and some level of afterschool care for some students? Isn't that making "decisions... based on child care issues for families?"
Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/comment/reply/51725/276463#storylink=cpy

...

"Child care is not WCPSS's responsibility"

And yet just a few years ago, at a GSIW forum, a magnet principal said the following:

"The parents actually told me: Stop, stop Ms. Stone. That's actually our daycare and if you start reducing the ride time we're going to have a problem. We love the fact that our child gets home right when we get home. And the child socialize and enjoy each other on the bus ride. It's not a detriment. So, hands off there."

And, at the time, stepbystep was stumping to keep those long bus rides for SE Raleigh kids so they can be "protected" from their own idle time and used for childcare purposes. Now, GSIW has changed their message and stepbystep has fallen in line.

 

Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/jim-goodmon-blasts-wake-county-school-board-at-gsiw-forum#storylink=cpy

...

Another message brought to you by GSIW.

wrong handle

I'm not a GSIW member, though I have appreciated their efforts to educate folks about WCPSS and broader education issues.  I've not been happy with their style at times, especially recently.

It's just six days under discussion here; the best filter is one that makes most sense from an instructional calendar/learning perspective.  I suspect a combination of Wednesdays and Fridays probably makes most sense for the reason above. 

The mid-week work days this year have been great!  My children have appreciated the breather on a Wednesday and a Tuesday.  I haven't specifically asked teacher friends, but I've not heard complaints, and I've not heard complaints from families, though of course both represent a very small sample.

Does anyone belong to GSIW?

Does anyone belong to GSIW? It seems everyone wants to distance themselves from that organization.  Heck, even board majority members Evans and Kushner who march with them, attend clandestine meetings with them, and even win awards from them claim not be members. Very odd.

Fridays is the ONLY Day I'd Support

Dear Wake County Public School Board Members and Teachers:

I support you.  I really do. 

In fact, I've spent a good bit of time fighting for you here in the cesspool that is the comment sections of Keung's blog entries. 

But you're CRAZY if you think early release days on Wednesdays are a good idea.  They ALREADY make things difficult on working parents.  When they're on Friday, at least we can take advantage of the time to have a long weekend away with our kids. 

Sure, teachers are probably tired by Friday afternoon.  Sure, they probably want a long weekend too. 

But if time for professional development is important -- and I believe it is -- why would you criticize ANY effort to give you more time? 

We'll compromise and give you 6 afternoons a year even though it's an inconvieniece to us.  Now YOU need to compromise and make it Fridays so that we get some value out of the interruption to our schedule. 

#sheesh

Oh my dear Penelope

"Compromise"?  Really??

All of you who allowed these idiots to get elected are getting what you deserve. Deal with it and if it makes you feel better, you ain't seen spit yet.

"We'll compromise and give you 6 afternoons a year"  proves how out of touch you are,

IT'S

NOT

UP

TO

YOU.

Bwaaaahahahahahahahahahahaha, hilarious.

Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/comment/reply/51725/276423#storylink=cpy

...

I have heard from a handful of engaged people who supported the Board majority during their elections that are now saying that the members have basically shut their ears to them. The Board majority isn't listening (unless you're GSIW, I guess). They're just dragging things back from 2008 under new names.

Make sure to tell those fair weather majority supporters

to kiss our butts. Tough doo doo. Told ya' so. Too late. Did you really expect anything different?

They were warned, they didn't care to listen and now than can kiss my royal rear if they don't like what they are getting.

Well, what did they expect..

when they worked to elect a bunch of Dems?  That they would support the

GOP agenda?  

...

No - but, of course people believed their campaign promises. Only tweaking of the plan, Tata will be around for a long time, no going back to policies of the past. The Dems simply took their fundraising money and shut the door on any conversation -- unless you're a nutjob from GSIW.

I wish the regular old moderate Democrats would speak out!

Where are all the people who said they wanted a Board with less controversy, and a Board that put kids over partisan politics? I know they think the new Board is the way to do that... I just don't think the new Board sees that as their mandate. Please, if you elected these people, please reach out and let them know that alienating people by causing family hardship is not in the best interest of the kids!

Old Moderate

Old Moderate Democrats.....that's funny.  Most of those people are either dead or are Republicans.

Never heard of "Reagan

Never heard of "Reagan Democrats?" There's millions of us out there, and very much alive.

Time to convert to

Time to convert to Republican....your party has long since "left" you.

Eehh...

I'm a Republican and sometimes I think my party's left ME.  

We're supposed to be the economically literate ones, but our leaders keep saying idiotic things.  For some reason, Romney thought it was a bad thing for Chinese companies to sell stuff at low prices in the US, and it was also bad for the Chinese government to help them do it.  [Earth to Mitt: every dollar sent to China comes back to the US, either by purchasing US goods or, like Lenovo is demonstrating, by investing in the US.]  After Sandy, Chris Christie actually made things WORSE for his state's citizens by enforcing anti-gouging laws.  [Earth to Chris: if sellers are forced to take below-market rates for goods, you will invariably end up with severe shortages of those goods.] 

Meanwhile, we had a Senate candidate running around talking about how the female body responds to rape. And don't get me started over the party's decision in the race versus Kevin Hill.

I here ya Bob....that's why

I here ya Bob....that's why for more than a decade I've been forced to call myself a conservative who has no choice but to vote Republican.

Let's face it....Mitt was governor of Massachusettes! He was a good man at heart, unlike Obama, but he was far left of center and had real trouble articulating the conservative positions.

We also need to take a little Clorox to the conservative gene pool so those A-holes who have know idea what their talking about don't grab the headlines. Most of America cannot accurately describe conservative positions...including most Republicans claiming to be conservative.

Oh...

I think Obama's a good man at heart.  I just think his policy ideas are likely to do a lot of harm.  Here's a small example:  To help pay for Obamacare, flex-spending accounts are capped at $2500 next year.  So, if you were counting on that to pay for your kids' braces, better pick whose teeth are worse, because $2500 won't cover more than one kid.   And, that's just braces -- it also applies to any other sort of medical procedure.  In other words, Obamacare is going to increase the cost of healthcare for middle-class Americans starting in January.

Now, I don't think that's what he really wanted.  But, it's what he did.

Sorry for the off-topic digression.

Regarding the limit on FSAs,

Regarding the limit on FSAs, I don't think it will affect that many people. For example, with respect to braces, in the past five years we faced orthodontic charges of about $12,000 total for our two kids. Dental insurance covered $5000 ($2500 per kid), and the remaining $7000 was paid off at about $200/month, which I think is pretty standard for orthodontists. So FSAs should not have a significant effect in this area.

The one area that the FSA limits could cause problems is for those parents that face significant pre-determined expenses for special needs kids, e.g. kids with autism.

The general problem with FSAs are that they are "use it or lose it" each year. In the past, when I contributed to FSAs, I was always afraid of contributing too much. Unless you know in advance what medical expenses you will be incurring, choosing an amount is always tricky.

I always thought that health insurance should be like many other types of insurance and only be used for a catastrophic event. A few years ago, we decided to go with a HDHP and max out our contributions to an HSA. I don't know why more people do not consider this option, because even with significant health care needs, HDHP/HSA can be cost effective. In our case, we're saving $5000 per year on premiums by going with an HDHP. We take that savings and put it into an HSA. In many HDHPs, preventitve care is not subject to the deductible. Sure we end up paying the full negotiated rates for non-preventive care until that high deductible is reached. But you can still pay for those expenses with your pre-tax HSA contributions. Plus whatever is left in your HSA account at the end of the year simply rolls over to the next. Seems to work well for us.

Yes...we're all going to

Yes...we're all going to feel the unintended consequences of Obamacare....particularly those of us on the innovation side of the healthcare industry when we're paying more of healthcare and losing our jobs at the same time.

I'm sorry but I really don't think Obama is a good man at heart.  I would have given him the benefit of the doubt until Benghazi.  I don't think a good man would have handled that situation the way he has....election or not.  I also think the way he allowed his people to conduct the campaign was not the sign of a "good man at heart" either.  He's a seriously flawed man with a seriously flawed concept of America.  I have no doubt the next few years will prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

 

 

Saturday

If it is so important, it should be held on Saturday. School shouldn't be disrupted for this.

Ready to Pay the Teachers?

And I'm SURE that you're ready to pay the teachers and principals for their time on Saturday mornings, right?  You're not REALLY suggesting that they work for free, are you? 

Who are the customers of the

Who are the customers of the schools system? Shouldn't they be the ones by which policies are decided?

the customers are...

The customers of the school system are the STUDENTS, you idiot...not the parents.

No, students are not the

No, students are not the customers. Customers are the one's footing the bill... i.e.., tax payers and more specifically the parents who make sure their children are prepared for school, behave appropriately and do their homework. Customers have decision-making power... like parents who can decide if the schools are meeting their needs or make a change if they are not. Students are the ones griping about getting up to go to school and hoping for a snow day so they can stay home.

I am thinking the idiot you speak of is closer than you think... take a look in a shiny surface and see if you can see it's reflection.

The students don't accomplish a thing

without the parent(s) support and neither will this floundering, out of control school system. You idiot.

?

Are you suggesting that the school system is a better judge of what's best for students than their parents?

I don't think so.

I feel like I am the only one who

sees the damage being done by going backwards in our current situation. Maybe I am alone in this.

I remember how things fell apart in 2009 when parents did not calm down after the reassignments and early release without warning. I could probably find the email that I sent to Kevin saying I have never seen parents so angry for so long. That is what drove the wave to stop the diversity policy and remove a board that was tone deaf and only heard themselves speak.

Here we are in 2012 and those two people who won by a whopping 4% are taking us back to 2009. The problem is that the landscape is totally different. There is no cap on charters and the republicans are in control of the state and the money. As Terry Stoop said, the most important job in education is the director of non-public education. At the very least the money will flow from the state to the charters without going through the LEAs. At the most we will have vouchers. parents won't get angry and waste time and energy, they will leave. The democrats will blame the republicans for the demise of the public schools in Wake, but in reality it was the democrats who were irresponsible and sacrificed 150 schools for a handful of ITB magnets.

Someone tell me I am paranoid and totally wrong.

Nope, you're not alone.

Nope, you're not alone. You're absolutely right.

clearly it is just us

old timers who are parnoid. We have been around too long....

...

You are not the only one -- and you are not paranoid or wrong. Hill et. al will chip away at all the progress that has been made - dismantling it piece by piece.

The democrats will blame the republicans for the demise of the public schools in Wake, but in reality it was the democrats who were irresponsible and sacrificed 150 schools for a handful of ITB magnets.

Exactly.

Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/comment/reply/51725/276386#storylink=cpy

All this over 6 days?

split the difference -- put 3 of them on Wednesdays and 3 of them on Fridays and move on to something substantive.   This is not rocket science.

that is one of the ideas on the table. . .

but it wasn't reported in this blogpost as far as I can see.  It is a real disservice to the board and ultimately our students that this reporter fails to tell the entire story and keeps stirring the pot.  The education of children is at stake;  we shouldn't have to waste our energy calling each other idiots and painting completely negative views of our board members, some of whom were elected not as an attempt at a stepping stone to higher office but as an act of servant leadership.  Not reporting ALL of the information makes it very easy for some of us to overlook some very diligent work by our board members.

servant leadership

is a leadership style that promotes leading by serving the needs of others. So obviously Martin Luther King is a perfect example. There is no way you can even begin to suggest that Kevin, Susan, Jim or Christine are servant leaders in any way, shape or form. They do not serve the needs of anyone in this community, not the low income families, not the suburban families, they serve no one but GSIW and the ITB political stronghold. They have done nothing more than solidify the "us vs them" mentality in this district. They have single handedly devastated public education in Wake - mark my word - this will be a district of charters in 6 years. Our tax base can not handle a district of low income schools, financially we are a Robin Hood funding system. Without the middle class in the system it is going to be a giant mess of low income schools - all thanks to their decisions.

I think that the 'servant leadership' style is the ultimate form of leadership. Currently there are maybe a handful of examples in the entire country. I will give you 2 names - Corey Booker (NJ) and Michael Johnston (CO). I would settle for our elected Wake Co. officials just taking responsibility for our public schools. Not enloe, not carnage, not underwood. OUR public schools. ALL of them.

It was briefly mentioned

It was briefly mentioned about splitting days but died soon after it was said it was less confusing to have all early release days on the same weekday.

No, what the committee told

No, what the committee told staff to present to the full board was all Fridays and all Wednesdays. BTW, the usual GSIW contingent was present and after the meeting ended, suggested to board members to market it as helping student learning to get public support for using Wednesdays instead of Fridays.

...

LOL. Thanks for the info, Keung. That must be why dewey is on message and posting the same thing 'round the blogs. Can't wait to hear Evans, Kushner and Martin market this message.

LOL yeah compromise it

LOL yeah compromise it always the solution. That has led to so many wonderful decisions. The problem with compromise as the answer to everything is that you must assume both sides have equally legitimate arguments and the best solution lies exactly in the middle... that is very rarely the case.

In this case

In this case, where the solution is so easy, it is actually far more stupid to continue to insist on it being all on Wednesday or all on Friday.    But, by all means, go ahead on and waste yet more time with that "my way or the highway" position despite it not getting you or anyone else anywhere.

A LOT! of parents complained

A LOT! of parents complained about Wacky Wednesdays; none -- zip, nada, zero -- are complaining about early releases on Fridays. The parents are the customers and staff are the service providers. So, yes, the solution is an easy one... keep early release on Friday.

since when??

Since when are the parents the customers??? They are NOT the ones recieving the education, students are. Therefore, the students are the customers. It is no wonder you don't get this stuff.

"Since when?" Ever since

"Since when?" Ever since they - the parents -- have been  footing the bill, voting for policy makers to represent them, and making the decisions about where their kids go to school. Customers are the people with the power to take their business elsewhere which PARENTS! have been doing in increasing numbers here in Wake County. And, you ain't seen nothin' yet if the current board dictators have their way.

Sheesh

Does no one here see how petty and patently ridiculous it is to argue over this?  It's like fighting over whether a penny is heads or tails while someone is firing a machine gun at you.  

You're both right.   Students are the customer.   They are the ones who are receiving the education.   But students are kids and they have guardians, most often their parents, who are the ones who judge if the education their children are receiving is adequate or not.    Tax payers, who fund the system, judge whether the system is doing a good job with their tax dollars.    So parents have two roles -- first judging if the education system is working for their child(ren) and second, judging if they believe the system is doing a good job with their tax dollars.    The flaw comes when parents make their judgement without regard to how the system is serving their child and other children but rather how the system could best serve the parent(s).

And to whatever nincompoop board or staff member thought parents couldn't read a calendar and would find it confusing to have some on a Wednesday and some on a Friday, I've got a news flash --- you're calendar is not that complex and, unlike them, we've got the brains to read a simple calendar and plan our schedules accordingly, especially when we're given, quite literally, months of advance notice.

So once again, your claim is

So once again, your claim is parents create the "flaw." You just really don't get it.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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