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.

Choose a blog

Yevonne Brannon telling GSIW members they "can't back down now" on student assignment plan

Bookmark and Share

The Great Schools in Wake Coalition is mobilizing to get the new Wake County student assignment plan to include the diversity-related assignments.

In an email message dated Sept. 12, GSIW chairwoman Yevonne Brannon tells people that her discussions with school board members was "not encouraging." Brannon writes about a "board member who wants what we want but is too weak to push for it and too afraid to step up to the plate, because he is worried about community push back."

Brannon writes that "another board member who doesn’t seem to 'agree' about how to fix diversity-how to have balanced schools.....he seems to believe kids can choose out. After some discussion he agreed to 'think it over.'"

Brannon doesn't name either board member, but the best guess is she's talking about board chairman Kevin Hill and vice chairman Keith Sutton.

Brannon writes that they're going to have to get organized with "lots of speakers at all events with different faces asking for deliberate assignments for kids from lower performing areas to high performing schools."

This message, inferred from the subject line of "do not forward," was not meant to be public. It was not forwarded to me by Brannon.

Here's the email message, minus the email addresses of the recipients:

From: yevonne brannon 
Date: Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 5:40 PM
Subject: DO NOT forward please --- WE NEED TO MEET - I suggest Sept. 19.
To: Adrienne Lumpkin, Amy Lee, Amy Womble, Betsy Lovejoy, Beverley Clark, diana bader, Heather Koons, Karey Harwood, Lynn Edmonds, Patty Williams, Pete Eberhart, Rita Rakestraw, Sharon Eckard, Ticie Rhodes, Patricia Pilarinos, Vickie Adamson, Anne Overton, Ann Campbell, Susan Parry, Jason Langberg, John Gilbert 
Cc: Barbara Vandenbergh, Leslie Koscielniak, Sally Wooten, Mary M, Maria Mauriello, Marguerite LeBlanc, autumn racine, Tom McDonald, Matt Ellinwood,  doris_j4@, Jason Langberg, Christopher Hill, Earl Johnson, Calla Wright, achooker@, jackie.hughesoliver@, Will Allen III, Chris Aycock, Traci Jewell, brenda millar, Charles Upchurch, Porita Rochelle, Colethia Evans, Pam Bowden, laura broadbelt, scottbass@, Susan and Dale Oller, Hardin Engelhardt, Tom Erwin, Bill Rowe, Rob Schofield, susan conroy, Aranzazu Lascurain, marilyn dixon, Amy Madison, Debra McHenry, karen simon, Charlotte Turpin, Faye Cobb Payton, Leonard or Sadie King, Ellen Hipp 
Meetings last week and this week with many of our friends, not encouraging……..
We have one board member who wants what we want but is too weak to push for it and too afraid to step up to the plate, because he is worried about community push back.
We have another board member who doesn’t seem to "agree" about how to fix diversity-how to have balanced schools.....he seems to believe kids can choose out. After some discussion he agreed to “think it over”.
First pass of the“the new plan” will be revealed Sept 18, Final vote looks like it will be Oct 30th. Sept. 19thand 20th will not have public hearings.
Final dates should be released by Mulder by end of the week for public hearings.
We have 6 weeks to work some magic. This is going to require lots of speakers at all events with different faces asking for deliberate assignments for kids from lower performing areas to high performing schools; and is going to require intervention for those who understand what we are fighting for and can try to get others on the board to understand it; and Intervention from those who can encourage everyone in the fave five to do what is right and to be strong!
I suggest Sept. 19th early for breakfast or a long lunch or a 5:30 to 7pm or 7 o 9 pm. We need a strategy. This fight is as important as ANY FIGHT we have had...We are in the short rows...the end game and can't back down now.
1350491148 Yevonne Brannon telling GSIW members they "can't back down now" on student assignment plan The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

  The hubris Ms. Brannon


The hubris Ms. Brannon displays in demanding that she alone has the singular correct vision for what is right for the Wake County Schools is astounding --- not to mention pretty damned presumptuous for someone who has never even run for school board, or been in the position of having to face the consequences when  it turns out a decision she's made was wrong.
"We have one board member who wants what we want but is too weak to push for it and too afraid to step up to the plate, because he is worried about community push back."
"Community push back."  It's just three little words.  There's nothing to be concerned about with that, right?  If she had ever been in a school system leadership position, she would realize that it's not the trivial reaction she's implying.  "Community push back" is not people shyly saying "Excuse me, sirs and ma'ams, but I'm really not very fond of the most recent decision you made about my family's day to day life."  Community push back means that there is a very significant portion of the community that is very unhappy with the decisions that have been made and the way that the public school system they are funding is  being operated.  "Community push back" is the frothing anger and fury that lead to vicious "Throw the bastards out" school board elections, producing boards that are unable to compromise, and instead leave us in a ship that is heaving to and fro from battling course corrections.
Way to trivialize something that's breaking our county apart and is the greatest threat to our school system, Ms. Brannon. 

Excellent point...

The community generally does not push back against minor annoyances -- they're just not with the time.  If the board does something that they start to feel push back, then you can be guaranteed that there are a lot of really upset people.

Yvonne would do well to remember the precarious position in which WCPSS stands.  There will be a bond referendum in about 8 months -- I don't think the district wants push-back against that.  Meanwhile, the cap on charter schools has been lifted -- if the district goes off on another diversity rant, there will be a lot more avenues for parents to exit than there ever were before.

Hill seems to understand the district's position; hopefully he'll steer away from Brannon's lunacy.

Here Here!

Well done!!




GSIW got all upset about the newcomers coming and making a bunch of changes while not paying attention to the voices of experience on the board.  Now those same voices are disagreeing with Brannon's newcomers and she has her tie-dyed Hanes in a wad.

Interesting observation Bob.

Interesting observation Bob.

Hui, how about a Phil Matthews update?

Will you be at the court-martial tomorrow?

If so, how long do you think it will take for the public to be informed of the decision to put politics and hate before the concern of the children in the wcpss?

C'mon... Do we really

C'mon... Do we really believe that Board members Susan Evans, Christine Kushner & Jim Martin aren't secretly involved with the partisan and very hateful group, Great Schools in Wake? You'd be foolish to believe otherwise. 



(Susan Evans scored the critical victory. A coalition leader, she upset Republican Board Chair Ron Margiotta in District 8 (Southwest Wake), widely viewed as in the bag for the GOP. The four other winners also aligned with GSIW goals. 

http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/great-schools-in-wake-coalition/Content?oid=2743754 )


Why don't you post...

the content right here? Or are you just driving traffic to your site?

Well, yeah...

I think you're right. Those three are borderline neurotics. Sutton is the only Democratic board member who is likely to continue backing the Superintendent because our community has benefited the most from new policies.

I hope the proper lawmaking body will create a legal means for removing and replacing school board members.

You have more confidence in

You have more confidence in Sutton than he likely deserves. His actions too often belie his words. Keith Sutton has demonstrated he is not a man of strong convictions; he has repeatedly shown that he is much more comfortable being a follower.

don't put your money on

don't put your money on Sutton.

I'd like to think he'd stay strong, but really think he's a flip-flopper.

 Sutton, of all of them

 Sutton, of all of them should be publically acknowledging all that Tata has helped him to do in his district, not least of which was meeting with many people at those churches when Tata first came on board and calming the waters churned up mostly by people outside of Wake.
Tata has met with many across the political lines from the start.  And engendered support from many facets throughout Wake since coming on board.  For some reasons known only to them, Evans and Martin have had an ax to grind with him  (way back to ole Suse's performances at the podium), and Hill too probably since his buddy Del left.  But for shame, Keith Sutton.
and using the bus problems?  Really?  Hayden is a big boy who gets paid BIG bucks and he dropped this ball BIG time since the summer!  Tata can't micro-manage in a school system this size, how ridiculous would that be?  So again one might wonder, was that something planned so as to make Tata the scapegoat, since all along Evans/Martin have made NO effort at all to hide their disdain for Tata?
This would be a ridiculous and detrimental move for this school system.  but one wonders if they already have someone else in mind.


Wow! Are there any lingering

Wow! Are there any lingering doubts now about Yevonne Brannon's and GSIW's influence?

The crazy thing -- well, ONE of the many crazy things -- is Brannon is a professor at an institution, NC State, that is supposed to be an education partner with WCPSS, yet she is actively working AGAINST the school system to overide their approved and established policies. Her relentless pressure on the weak and enormously dysfunctional Wake BoE majority members has resulted in them putting undo pressue on Tata to ignore approved board policies and recently approved directives to infuse the new assignment plan with Brannon's own special brand of far-left-wing social-engineering ideology. Then, when he doesn't go far enough, the majority threatens his job. In other words, the board majority is too cowardly to state to the public what they really want to do by changing Policy 6200, so they expect Tata to  join their conspiracy and slip bits of Brannon's directives into the student assignment policy so the public doesn't notice... like turning up the heat slowly on the pot with the frog until he is cooked.

Brannon references Sutton in her lastest directive essentially calling him weak and uncertain. She may be giving him too much credit. There is an agrument to made that Sutton does not possesses even an ounce of conviction and that he is not there to think at all; too many times it appears he is there only to take orders... if not from Brannon, then from his buddy, Rev. Barber. The hang-dog act is for public consumption so he can tell the public what a tough decision it all was and that he could see both sides. It is an act played out one too many times to retain any credibility.


I thought some people's previous comments about Ms. Brannon trying to run the BOE from behind the scenes seemed perhaps a bit tinfoil hat - I stand corrected.

I agree, she has too much influence for someone not elected.

I also thought her list was interesting. Is Ann Campbell one of the large contributors during the last election? If I am remembering the correct person (and I may well be mistaken), how much did she and her husband give to democratic candidates?

when is the base going to wake up?

everyone on that list are magnet school parents - all of them. Yevonne backdoored her grandkids into a magnet school. All of the board making these insane decisions are magnet parents. Today we will lose the only superintendent who ever understood the base could not be fixed by forced busing.

Is that accurate....that all

Is that accurate....that all of the recipients of that email with school age kids send their kids to the magnets? That's shameful...they don't even have the guts to send their kids to the regular schools? Wow.

I recognize most of those

I recognize most of those names as magnet parents. Most of the speakers at the meetings are magnet parents. While I understand the desire to keep the magnet programs that your children get to partake in (I am a magnet parent myself), magnet parents do not have to endure the same things that non-magnets endure. They don't have to worry about getting reassigned, having to change calendars or tracks, or their kids having to repeat the same lame electives in middle school. We get to live in our own little bubble when it comes to those things.

When GSIW represents parents across the entire county and in a variety of schools, then I will give credence to their claim to be for "every child". When they advocate for all schools to have adequate programs and for all students to have equal access to academic opportunities then I will believe that they care about all of Wake County.

As the saying goes

"Do as I say, not as I do"

What do you mean by

What do you mean by "backdoored into a magnet," are you saying Yevonne's grandkids are using her address to get in, or her status at NCSU, or what exactly got them in?

Great question!

Do tell!

Watching the public comments

Watching the public comments on Tuesday, it seemed like a very concerted effort to get Tata canned. There was just no subtlety to it. Seeing this email just confirms it for me.

There were a lot of comments

There were a lot of comments from GSIW fanatics... not sure that is necessarily the same as public comments.

Agree with you on that one

Agree with you on that one Woodstock. A coordinated effort by a small group of extremists does not reflect what the public really thinks.

check out the names on the list

Why would she call Kevin weak to several of his friends? There is little doubt where this email came from.

you and me both

the freak show is really entertaining this weekend, huh?


I've said it before and I'll say it again - this is hands down the craziest place that I've ever lived! 

It's also hands down the place I've lived with the most affluent people. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a correlation between affluence and this sort of insanity :-) 

If anyone has lived in a place as affluent as Wake, but still sane, please advise.

I lived in Northern Virginia

I lived in Northern Virginia for 15 years - quite an affluent area - and never heard of anything like this. Everyone was assigned to the school closest to them and that was that. In fact, my brother and sister-in-law moved from one area of Fairfax County to another a few years ago to get my nephew into a different school (not better - just offered different things). We've been gone for 8 years so I can't speak to how the schools are now, but Fairfax County seems to always be one of the top regions and I've never heard of any chaos surrounding student assignment like it does here.

So no, I wouldn't blame affluence for this particular flavor of insanity.

Ditto on Northern Virginia.

Ditto on Northern Virginia. It has more affluence than this area and Fairfax County has a larger school system, but it is managed professionally. Comparatively, Wake is, unfortunately, bush league when it comes to the schools. Fairfax would never try to send kids all over the county to achieve "diversity", however it might be measured.


Someone should create a flowchart of how all these people (and their spouses) are connected.

AdvancEd might like that

AdvancEd might like that chart :)o

Do you really think AdvancED

Do you really think AdvancED is going to consider the lastest complaint with the same enthusiasm they did the NAACP's fictional claims?

Thanks for the information - that helps

So, if it's not the affluence, I wonder what it is about Wake County that makes it this insane.


Yevonne Brannon.

But that is what I mean

Every place has its extremists. The difference is in other places they go largely ignored. They don't have a following and elected officials certainly don't divide the community and commit political suicide by following the extremists' route. Instead, moderate and reasonable voices prevail with compromise and middle ground being found.


Have you seen the US Congress operate this year?    The NC State Houses?   Wisconsin?  The presidential campaigns?   The campaigns for governor?   Even this blog (see FSandYou's post below about "allowing the ignorant and uninformed to have a say"?   The extremists claim they are the reasonable ones and to compromise would be unreasonable, including Yvonne Brannon who appears to have gone stark-raving bonkers.  Amazingly, people believe them time and time again.  There will seemingly have to be complete collapse before middle ground will be found, if then.   WCPSS is just a microcosm of national politics today.

I get what you are saying about national politics but

The other places I've lived haven't sunken to that level. Both in recent years have even undergone assignment changes, not entirely smoothly but at least with rational actions by elected representatives. In both cases what they ended up doing was finding a more creative way to do it that still made rational sense, so got support from much of the community.

Here it seems it must be exactly the GSIW/move a bunch of nodes here vs there to pretend to balance all schools way or else. (Pretend because logistically it can't be done). There is absolutely zero willingness to compromise on anything from them. Many of those that would support neighborhood schools were also fine with doing some compromise with the choice plan with ability for stability and proximity, yet keeping magnets and adding regional choice schools to include avenues for diversity. Diversity might not be perfectly balanced or everywhere but the level would be more than under strict neighborhood style.

I don't see how the examples

I don't see how the examples you give in any way compare to the insanity on display regarding the Wake County school board. It is on a whole different level. In Wake County a merely fraction of 1% of the people are seizing control while the public sits and watches it happen.

When you allow the uninformed to vote

this is what you get.

Asked so eloquently yesterday, here's the question to ask those who have been around here a long time,

How have we made so little progress in all this time?


Allowing the ignorant and uninformed to have a say!

Are you saying....

you would take away the right to vote from some people? And you get to decide who is "informed" and who is "uninformed"?

It would be better if the

It would be better if the uninformed took a day off on election day... or is that election month now?

You need to refocus. The

You need to refocus. The vast majority of Wake is -- to use your term -- sane. It is perhaps because we are so sane that we just can't believe others would be so insane and we occasionally elect them to positions of authority. Voters clearly did that with BoE members Susan Evans and NC State Professor, Jim Martin. You don't get crazier than those two and still be allowed to go out unattended in public.


So, Tata's accusation about Evans, Kushner & GSIW was absolutely correct.

"We have one board member

"We have one board member who wants what we want but is too weak to push for it and too afraid to step up to the plate, because he is worried about community push back" = Kevin. He has been through this and knows the outcome and that parents won't show up for these reassignments - they NEVER do. Then his schools will be even more underenrolled. He is not weak, he is realistic. He knows it is not about the magnets, it is about the whole district.

"We have another board member who doesn’t seem to "agree" about how to fix diversity-how to have balanced schools.....he seems to believe kids can choose out. After some discussion he agreed to “think it over”." = Keith

Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/yevonne-brannon-telling-gsiw-members-they-cant-back-down-now-on-student-assignment-plan#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/yevonne-brannon-telling-gsiw-members-they-cant-back-down-now-on-student-assignment-plan#storylink=cpy

I don't know what Kevin is

I don't know what Kevin is going to do but you're right that he knows this community does not have the stomach to do what it will take to fully implement a diversity policy.

I love how Brannon put it--that one member doesn't seem to "agree". Keith is in a very interesting position right now. These people are bullies who don't care how dirty they play.

Cars View All
Find a Car
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Homes View All
Find a Home

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of newsobserver.com. Click here to register or to log in.

About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.