Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Where was Gorman?

A whole lot of things went haywire last Tuesday, when a public forum on school closings drew an overflow crowd to the Government Center. The meeting ended with arrests and anger, which continues to simmer as the forums and meetings move toward a Nov. 9 vote.

One of the things I've been hearing is that Superintendent Peter Gorman and the board disrespected the people who showed up to speak by failing to listen to the "open mike" comments. I understand why people think that, but I don't think it's correct.

Here's the deal: The session took place in the formal meeting chamber, where board members normally sit around a dais, looking out at the audience (and into bright lights). There are two podiums for speakers; during regular meetings they address the board with their back to the audience. This time, speakers were given a hand-held mike so they could face the crowd. A couple of board members took their normal seats at the dais, which meant they were looking at speakers' backs.

Others stood at the edges of the chamber, where they could see better. Gorman said today he was standing in the doorway at the right side of the room. If you knew the faces, you could spot the leaders. But if you didn't, all you saw was a lot of empty seats at the dais.

Legitimate concerns remain about the proposals and the process, where speakers' time was cut short and some were turned away (they're supposed to be invited back for a special comment session next Tuesday). But it's worth noting that from what I could tell, the folks making decisions didn't bail out on public comments.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sweet Pete don't need no stinkin' advice from Joe & Judy Public. He has a grip on things. Scare the massess with Horrible news, and win the over with just bad news. Smokin' Mirrors Pete has this thing figured out, lest this boundary topic would have been addressed with the new HS debacle that also overlooked Myers Park & East Meck.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Ann. There is so much misinformation floating around out there that every little bit of accurate information you can provide is helpful. I hope that someone from the communities represented at the meetings will read this and correct the misperceptions. The system is way too big in my opinion--it's almost impossible for the public to get an accurate picture of what's going on. School systems shouldn't be this way--no one feels they have any real control or say over what is happening.

Anonymous said...

All of this confusion could have been eliminated if the forum meeting had been scheduled at a different time. I was there and the atomosphere was not inviting of comments. I guess you also think that a one minute limit to articulate an individual concern was appropiate.

Anonymous said...

I was not there, but I am sure They did not want to hear from them...I've seen a similar situation during the '98 general election. I think it is called disenfranchisement.

Ann Doss Helms said...

6:15, read a little closer. I specifically noted that there are legit concerns about the shortened time.

Believe me, I'm not trying to hold that forum up as a shining example of great communication. The timing and location were bad. It's possible to conclude that the board and/or staff arranged it specifically to shut down the public. But I'm more inclined to think it was a desperation move. The board is trying to cram a lot of meetings into a relatively short time, so they tried to double up with their regular meeting. With a crowd that big, it backfired.

Anonymous said...

WRONG USE OF CMS POLICE?

FROM THE NC GENERAL STATUTES
Art. 33C.
Meetings of Public Bodies.

§ 143-318.10. All official meetings of public bodies open to the public.

(d) "Official meeting" means a meeting, assembly, or gathering together at any time or place or the simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other
electronic means of a majority of the members of a public body for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations, or voting upon or otherwise transacting the public business within the jurisdiction, real or apparent, of the public body. However, a social meeting or other informal assembly or gathering together of the members of a public body does not constitute an official meeting unless called or held to evade the spirit and purposes of this Article.

I was at the forum portion of that Tues. night’s 2 meetings. I knew the forum wasn’t intended to be a formal board meeting. That was to begin at 8pm. It was stated that way by Mr. Davis at the forum start.

At previous forums folks were asked to stay over, meet the board and talk. CMS security was at those meetings but not needed.

Tues. night was odd. Mr. Davis started out in charge but the CMS Chief of Police took over. He has that authority. I know Bud Cesena. His heart is in the right place.

But something isn’t right. This town has spent a lot of effort since 1954 trying not to arrest people over schools. It shouldn’t have happened this time.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville

Anonymous said...

Part II

WRONG US OF CMS POLICE?

Ann’s description of the floor is correct. I was seated with a J.T. Williams community supporter and was pointing out board members so that he could develop contacts. Trent and Tim standing behind Tom Tate’s seat. Dr. Waddell and Mr. McElrath in their seats. At one time Joe White was in his. Mr. Davis out front. Dr. Gorman was where he said he was but also moving around greeting. I was in the front row having been one of the last to be admitted.

The first thing I noticed was three policemen in the aisle helping with seating. This is unusual. CMS provides security. Sometimes deputy sheriffs. But never police.

At last year’s meeting where teacher RIFS were discussed the crowd was overflow. It was rowdy and vocal. I told many people it was like being amongst the citizens in Les Mis.

When the Guiding Principles were up for vote, Mr. Davis withheld his rebuke of the former president of the Black Political Caucus who gave shouted responses to board member comments. This went on for some time.

I’ve probably attended more board meetings over the last four years than any private citizen and have only seen one instance where action from the chair might have been necessary. That was a verbal confrontation between the Board Chair Joe White and a board member. Mr. White settled it with a short recess.

I sat all day through the Nick Mackey hearing by the Democrat Committee in the same chambers. It was non-stop comments from the crowd; often lead by a then current school board member. No one was removed. Now, there was no doubt about the potential for escalation.

No, the school board members didn’t bail. They participated before, during and after at or above the same level as the summer forums and the recent ones. But if you didn’t know that you got your feelings hurt.

This isn’t the kind of town that slaps the handcuffs on unless it’s an in-your-face mob fueled by alcohol and some dim streetlights. That wasn’t the case on that Tuesday.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville

Anonymous said...

PART III

WRONG USE OF POLICE?

I know there is no humor in anything that happened at the unfortunate meeting but it does remind me of how a former board member tried to deal with the crowd.

The board meetings of 2004 and 2005 were action packed and full of antics. Cheers, boo’s and applause were as common as bad board behavior.

Board Member Kit Cramer tried to get the audiences to use the silent universal gesture for applause. It is both arms raised above the shoulders while rotating the hands. Yes it was as stupid as it sounds. I can only imagine if she’d have been there last Tuesday and asked for the universal and also silent gesture of displeasure: one arm raise, hand in a fist with one finger extended. But it would have been better to have had that in a picture in the paper than what appeared.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville

Anonymous said...

"Don't raise sand", a famous southern tradition. Bossman knows best. Lord Gorman can't do any wrong as stated by the writer of this article. "Get along, go along". Thank you Mr.Bossman.

Anonymous said...

I was in Vegas finishing up the paperwork for the new job and took a dip in the Flamingo pool plus played a few casino games. Your soon to be ex-Sup. "Yall" lil dinky hicks can have this crap. Im outta here for the bright lights.

Pete

Anonymous said...

Bolyn.
You're hysterical.

Some years ago our community fully cooperated with the Borg of Education in the name of civility by using the universal deaf hand wave recommended by Kit Cramer only to have our concerns fall upon deaf ears. We weren't allowed to hold signs that had paint sticks attached them since paint sticks can be used as a serious assault and battery weapon. The Inspector Clouseau team did allow us to wear buttons with sharp stick pins on them that might not pass TSA inspection at Charlotte-Douglas airport and potential exploding pens and shoes were A-OK too.

Stupid is as stupid does. Resistance is futile.

Anonymous said...

I disagreee w/the description from Ann about the meeting I was there and if Peter Gorman was not disrepecting the speakers when they repeatly called on him and pointed out that he was not there listening he could have raised his hand or at least acknowledged the people. I did see him before the meeting started..hate to have a kanye west moment but Peter Gorman does not care about black people

therestofthestory said...

11:26, I'd have to diagree with you some here. "Pete" is trying to get national recognition and a feather in his hat for being able to educate "urban" kids. However, the academic disparity between magnet urban kids and neighborhood urban kids is too high. He has gotten this ACTS organization to push for him to do away with many of the magnets the urban kids go to to get them back into the neighborhood schools and bring those academics up. However, the effort is futile due to the lack of respect and discipline these kids have and the lack of interested parents in this population. "Pete" is sacrificing academic performance in CMS in a effort to close the achievement gap and effort to close the wide gap amnong many schools.

Proof is by the wide disparity (%)of whites and "bright blacks" in Mecklenburg County versus in CMS schools.

Anonymous said...

Ok so are going to scrap the neighborhood schools change them into larger failing schools. And then create k-8 and k-12 schools, this is like creating school "projects" lets just put all the dumb black kids into 1/2schools until they graduate and move on. My kids go to Irwin we still have not gotten an explanation as to why Irwin is on the chopping block besides , they want our building for office space and the uptown location. Our kids don't even trump office space! we are talking about CMS most vulnerable children this is not the way to go. and trust me I am not letting parents off the hook! black folk have to step up! I hope this a wake up call because we have to show more support for our kids parents on the other side , wouldn't allow this to happen and we can't either

wiley said...

...all the while the other 31% of Mecklenburg County's White students go to private schools everyday and thank their lucky stars their parents have the resources to put them there.

Gorman did state they do an excellent job of combining all grades into one school.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte Country Day, Charlotte Latin, Providence Day and Charlotte Christian Schools all do an excellent job housing grades TK - 12 on the same campus. Charlotte Preparatory and Trinity Episcopal also do an excellent job educating students in grades TK - 8 on the same campus.

So why all the ruckus? Except when a middle school girl is caught doing "The Lewinsky" with a high school boy in a bathroom during school hours on a CMS campus that houses grades 6 - 12 (which did happen).

In all fairness, kids at private schools are into and doing the same stuff public school kids are doing except there is a significantly higher rate of denial when parents are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars a year in tuition payments. Parents at private schools also have the reserves to lawyer-up should Winston Jr. the 3rd get into a little trouble with the law. Read: a NY Times article on a recent incident at Scarsdale High School in NY.

- Former public then private school parent.

Anonymous said...

I would think that most people know Students are basically the same as far as antics are concerned whether it be private or public school. However,CMS is in no position to house students k-12 at any of their schools. First of all, they have a practice of placing the most highly offensive students (20 year olds on probation with less than 10 credits) in high poverty schools-which is where he wants to do the combinations. Secondly, He plans to fire more staff from CMS after the closings leaving less staff to monitor. Two weeks ago,he sent a letter to the schools informing teachers that the new changes will bring about a reduction in staff. This is why I cannot understand why Davis keeps saying it is to save teacher's jobs. Finally, he has never done this before, and does not have a plan in place leaving staff, parents and students open to high instances of bulling, assaults, and higher levels of anxieties. These Parents better fight like h-ll, and let this be a lesson ..stay involved in your childs education on all levels and above all else.

Anonymous said...

Where was Gorman? Perhaps waiting for Godot.

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Mack said...

I've seen a similar situation during the '98 general election. I think it is called disenfranchisement.

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