Monday, September 19, 2011

Meck ACTS "watching," not yet endorsing

Mecklenburg ACTS, a n advocacy group that often speaks up for the needs of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's high-poverty schools and students,  has emailed the people who signed a testing petition urging them to  "take an especially close look"  at school board candidates Mary McCrayJeff Wise and Ericka Ellis-Stewart.

ACTS,  which is affiliated with the national Parents Across America,  partnered with the local Swann Fellowship to interview candidates for the three at-large seats on the CMS board  (click on the Swann link to see the interviews).

The email went to people who signed an online petition opposing CMS'  use of standardized testing to shape teacher performance pay.

"It was clear from the interviews that this spring's testing fight had placed the issue front and center in the school board race.   ...  Only one candidate  –  Tim Morgan  –  voiced strong support for expanded testing. Others were opposed to it.  Some candidates expressed concerns about testing,  yet felt strongly that results of tests should be used to evaluate teachers.  Some hedged to the point that we’re not sure where they stand,"  says the email,  forwarded by ACTS member Carol Sawyer.

"Mecklenburg ACTS leadership is not endorsing any candidates at this time,"  the email says,  but offers these thoughs on the three to watch:

"We were particularly impressed with the depth of understanding Mary McCray showed regarding a range of issues   –   an understanding that reflects her many years as a teacher and as leader of a major teachers'  association.

We liked Jeff Wise's eloquent discussion of the goals of schooling and the way that standardized testing undermines these goals.  Mr. Wise,  however,  is relatively new to this process,  and did not have strong positions on a number of other key issues.  We will be watching to see how he develops as a candidate.

Ericka Ellis-Stewart had clearly spent time thinking about the practical problems of standardized testing,  although she was vaguer than we would have liked about how much testing she would support.  We were impressed with her thoughtful discussion of other issues."

The Nov. 8 election is less than two months away,  and I know I need to get organized on coverage.  Candidates,  groups and interested individuals,  please keep me posted on endorsements and opportunities to meet the candidates. One that I know of: MeckEd and WFAE will host an interactive debate on Oct. 19;  click the MeckEd link for details and a chance to participate.


Anonymous said...

How interesting that Meck ACTS is using the names from their petition opposing testing to now promote school board candidates. Many suspected all along that their full throttle anti-testing campaign was about a lot more than just testing.

Goal #1--Get rid of Peter Gorman (check)

Goal # 2--Capture the school board

It would behoove all those receiving emails from this group to thoroughly investigate what these three candidates, and most importantly Meck ACTS, stand for in all areas, not just testing.

Wiley Coyote said...

I will support candidates who are willing to go against the status quo, particularly when it comes to funding.

I'm for spending money where it makes sense, but if a candidate is not willing to demand the school lunch program be fully audited and those gaming the system kicked off, they will not get my vote.

Meck ACTS and some of the people supporting them still believe in busing. Their association with Swann is a clear reason NOT to vote for any candidates they endorse.

Candidates would do well not to seek their endorsement.

The time for throwing good money after bad on programs like Bright Beginnings, which they support is over.

misswhit said...

I think it would be appropriate for Ann to post exactly who Meck ACTS is right now--i.e., who is pulling the strings (and making judgments on candidates). Carol Sawyer, Pamela Grundy, Louise Woods-anyone else? And could you please tell us a bit more about what they stand for besides they "speak up for the needs of high-poverty schools and students." What specifically do they advocate for within CMS--how do they stand on assignment, per pupil spending, etc? If they are going to be endorsing candidates and the Observer is going to continue to provide them a platform through through Ann's blog and the editorial page, then I do believe the public needs to know exactly where they stand on issues other than testing.

Wiley Coyote said...

Meck ACTS..

Here is an excerpt of a letter from Pam Grundy and Carol Sawyer in 2007:

Posted on Fri, Mar. 02, 2007


Equity, not adequacy, needed
Present information transparently, state how to reach CMS goals

...In recent years, attention to data in the report has ebbed. No report was issued last year. The flaws in this year's withdrawn report raised further questions about CMS's ongoing commitment to equity.

These questions started with the
shift in language from "equitable" to "adequate." Other questions grew out of the report's content.

We found three specific problems.
Some figures were simply inaccurate. Summary data for faculty qualification did not match the raw data presented because the summaries were generated from data from the wrong year.

Some of the data did not reflect reality. For example, the figures on co-curricular programs counted not actual programs, but the number of programs principals
said they intended to offer .

These figures contradicted our own experience.

This is a group obssessed with data to suit their agenda, but much of the data they quote is useless.


Because all of the poverty numbers in CMS and most public schools is again, useless.

It all goes back to bogus scholl lunch numbers that CANNOT be verified which feeds all aspects of funding for "poverty schools".

These people stick their collective heads in the dirt and refuse to acknowledge THAT FACT, even though they whine about faulty or incomplete data from CMS.

Here is an apropos story posted this weekend in Little Rock"


More than a half-century after federal troops escorted nine black students into an all-white school, efforts to desegregate Little Rock's classrooms are at another turning point.

The state wants to end its long-running payments for desegregation programs, but three school districts that receive the money say they need it to continue key programs. And a federal judge has accused the schools of delaying desegregation so they can keep receiving an annual infusion of $70 million.

Billions could be saved in this country and tens of millions in CMS if we had correct, factual data in the school lunch program which in turn drives Title I and other funds to schools.

Many of the schools would not be receiving all those dollars because the stated poverty levels would fall below guidelines.

Yes Meck ACTS, I'm for ALL factual data, not just some that fits one angenda like yours.

Ann Doss Helms said...

MissWhit, I gave links to MeckACTS and Parents Across America, which should give details on a number of issues. I am giving this group the same platform I recently gave GOP endorsements and Chamber of Commerce discussions about preferred candidates, and will no doubt log in many other endorsements and announcements.

The email lists these individuals as having been involved in the candidate interviews: Lisa Caudle, Kevin Gill, Pamela Grundy, Carol Sawyer and Louise Woods.

There are frequent hints about who is pulling their strings. Love their views or hate them, the MeckACTS people I know have a long history of working with local schools and voicing their opinions vigorously (Woods served on the school board). Ditto Swann. It's reasonable to take issue with what they stand for, but they aren't hiding it and I see no sign they're "astroturf" groups or puppets.

Anonymous said...

Several weeks ago this comment appeared on Meck ACTS facebook page, made by candidate Jeff Wise's wife (Jeff is one of the candidates Meck ACTS is "watching"):

"I am not sure if everyone is aware of this... Tim Morgan, an At-Large candidate, still has 2 YEARS remaining in his District 6 seat. So what happens if he is elected At-Large? HE chooses his District seat replacement. This person has already been chosen and is one of the other Republican candidates. This of course was totally inaccurate (and reflects a woeful lack of understanding of how board replacements work--citizens who would like to be considered are interviewed by the board and then the replacement board member is selected by majority vote of the board.).
What Mr. Wise had to say about this was: - "that was my wife who made the so-called false claim about a potential replacement to the District 6 seat...She was simply recounting what she was told by 2 people."
Interestingly, his wife's comment seems to have disappeared recently from the Facebook page.

therestofthestory said...

Status quo is unacceptable. The move to this type of standardized testing is unacceptable. The influence of Louise Woods etal. is unacceptable. Te return to Swann type operation of this school system is unacceptable.

What is needed? Integrity and "real" transparentcy in every part of this monstrous operation. Return to schoolhouse responsibility and accountability. The number one priority is being able to stand in front of taxpayers and assure them they are getting real positive value for their hard earned education tax dollars when they have little voice any more of how much is taken from them.

Wiley Coyote said...

This is for current BOE members and prospective members:

Free School Lunch Fraud Arrests

Published : Monday, 19 Sep 2011, 1:47 PM EDT


MYFOXNY.COM - The president of the Elizabeth, N.J. school board and two others are accused of stealing from the school district's free lunch program.

Marie L. Munn, 46, was arrested at her home Monday morning.

Prosecutors say Mumm, Peter W. Abinanto, 42, and Angela Lucio, 35, falsified information on applications to allow family members to get free lunches.

The program provides free and low-cost lunches for students who cannot otherwise afford them.

Mumm is accused of getting nearly $4,000 in free lunches for her two children over the past several years. The other two were accused of stealing lesser amounts of lunches.

Abitanto is the husband of the Head of Custodians for the Elizabeth School District. Lucio is a city employee and is the ex-wife of a principal in the school district.

Keep burying your heads in the sand CMS BOE members...the problem will eventually go away, right?

Where do YOU stand on FRL fraud, candidates?

Wiley Coyote said...

Here's another one from this weekend....Must be something in the water in NY & NJ..:

Preschool owner charged in $2.5M scam released on bail, then re-arrested for attacking media


Last Updated: 8:00 PM, September 16, 2011

Stealing lunch money is an age-old scam, but rarely does the sum add up to millions.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors today charged a husband and wife with participating in a scheme to swipe millions of tax dollars from a government program intended to finance nutritious lunches for young children across New York City.

Ziming was released after making bail, and then launched an assault on the media waiting outside. He karate chopped and kicked wildly, bloodying one photographer.

Police then arrested him for a second time.

The feds say that Joanna Fan and Ziming Shen, who are administrators of a nonprofit organization that runs "Red Apple" nursery, preschool, and kindergarten educational programs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, misappropriated millions of tax dollars between between January 2004 - June 2010 that were provided by the US Department of Agriculture.

Read more:

Where do YOU stand BOE candidates on eliminating fraud withing CMS lunch program?

Larry said...

As a Conservative and while waiting for the interview I counted several Obama stickers on the cars in the parking lot, so I felt I could have gauged the tone of of the group.

I was hoping they loved me, but now I see my saying my Job is Education, and not defending the old ways and doing it way they want just did not sell to this crowd.

Maybe they will give me a do over. This time I will .... oh we all know I am not going to change, it is too important for the kids this time.

Just move on nothing new to see here folks your kids will learn in new ways and you will have options with me, but none of this silly omnibus social mess that has kept us from our core mission for too long.

Our kids have seen us fight over the deck chairs and know we are not even trying to help them.

I want to get all of this mess out of the schools. All you groups get your claws and the like out trying to leverage your millions to get a hold of the billion for your social agendas or sports or what ever.

Everything is on the table this time if it works for our Kids future.

So I invite you watch my interview.

Then watch the others. We have some great ideas in Charlotte.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley, that's a bit of a stretch, even given how strongly you feel about the lunch program. I hope all the candidates are opposed to stealing money, from that program or any other!

How much CMS time and energy should go into fighting, revising or replacing a flawed federal lunch program that brings millions of dollars to the district is a much more complicated question.

Larry said...

Actually since the free and reduced lunch program is the gold standard on how money is distributed to the schools, and since it is not verified it is not incumbent on us to get all students at CMS on FRL?

That way all schools will get the extra help and be noticed and since we are an Urban system anyway we want to make sure our entire system reflects just that?

I hope people understand that unless we make the system work as it is we must be willing to make the system work for all of us.

Or better yet I would be more than happy to make sure that we established a system of verification if anyone is upset with my ideas?

Especially those elected officials who upset who were resistant to any type of verification to it before.

PS: All those who are in Private and Home Schools should also contact CMS and inform them they will be attending next year. That way we can see the real savings we have had from all of you all these years due to the the poor education prospects at CMS.

Yes we know you will not be attending but the funding demands they will have to request will show just how serious they need to be about changes in our schools.


therestofthestory said...

Ann, Ann, Ann. Don't be so naive. Your beloved CO even did an article on school cafeteria operations last year and it screamed how much they depended on the FRL fraud. And you know good dog gone well, sorry to offend the dogs, but Coach Joe just says "oh feed them anyway". You know he is in deep just for being an accomplice. Oh wait, being an accomplish for a federal crime is still a federal crime! How about that!

So I have 2 obvious questions. Wait was the FRL level upped this year? And two, why would you accpet a FRL application from anyone DSS has not certified?

therestofthestory said...

Pam, I lost track of the article where you were challenging me about standardized tests. And I asked you what you would do instead and I missed your answer. Your answer is...?

Wiley Coyote said...


That's no stretch. I can post several more articles just like those that have happened in the past 6 months in Chicago and Colorado..

My posting those articles was not to suggest ANY wrongdoing by BOE members or anyone else within CMS, but to show the fraud that exists and that people in management and elected officials are also committing the fraud.

While you were away, I posted a link to the USDA'a own website showing their audit showed they overpaid benefits in 2009/2010 to the tune of $1.5 BILLION dollars.

Furthermore, you have written on this issue back in 2010, about the fraud that exists and discepancy with applications.

My point is that CMS whines incessantly about money yet we waste MILLIONS on the lunch program and all of the other funding that is attached to it such as Title I funds.

CMS' own sample audits show 60% potentially don't qualify, which mirrors other school districts across the country.

What I expect from our BOE members is to demand from the state and our elected congressional representatives that they demand from the USDA the right to FULLY audit the program.

Larry Gauvreau and Kaye McGarry had the guts to try this once and it went nowhere due to other BOE members being scared to death to touch the issue. I want to know who at least has the guts to make a comment one way or the other and why they believe the way they do from the current set of candidates.

Larry Kissell is on the House Agriculture Committee, while not specifically on the nutrition subcommittee, he could be a voice for our state in getting a handle on the waste.

Here's the bottom line. The latest Census data and the number of kids on the program within CMS are way off. We all know that.

If there are TRULY 30 to 40,000 students who qualify and another 30,000 who don't, the ones who don't are causing CMS to spread the focus towards those students as well who don't qualify, diluting the focus on the ones who do and that's the tragedy in all this.

As soon as my work slows down, I plan on meeting with a couple of congressional representatives to see if I can make enough noise to draw attention to the problem in this state and at CMS.

Anonymous said...

Why do people continue to rant and rave about the FRL stuff......Federal monies from the Dept.of Agriculture. The BOE should not spend 1 second or cent reviewing anything related to it. If its the Feds prgram, let them monitor it.

Anonymous said...

HILLArious. WHILE TEACHERS teach overpaid moroons sit infront of 30 inch flat screens they can not even figure out how to turn on while the 6 figure suits sit in DC taking credit for all the work of teachers............ Sixteen CMS officials and educators will be in Washington, D.C., for the midday announcement, while dozens of principals and administrators will watch the webcast from Charlotte (register to watch at

WHAT A JOKE. some of these clowns make 90,000 and do NOTHING but "Manage" while they rely on teachers to lead.

Read more:

Mudd E. Diction said...

Why all the fuss on free and reduced lunch? CMS Child Nutrition puts millions of dollars in the bank each year while providing more nutritious meals to kids than most school systems. Seems like the same people who say “run CMS like a business” don't really like it when CMS operates like a business. I hear CMS makes so much money feeding kids they do not even attempt to collect on freeloading middle and upper class families who can afford to pay, but don’t. THIS IS WHAT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED. Publish the names of the freeloading rich who do not pay for school meals, they just stiff the rest of us. The names are public information and the community has a right to know!

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 9:00...

The USDA SHOULD be responsible for ensuring every person qualifies.

The problem is, they don't and leave it up to LEAs to do it and only allow them to audit a 3% sample.

So you're OK with the Federal government wasting $1.5 BILLION dollars? You're OK with potentially 40,000 people in CMS gaming ths sytem helping to waste that $1.5 BILLION?

Wiley Coyote said...


CMS is NOT running the school lunch program as a business. How you can even suggest they do is comical.

If they were, they would be kicking people off of the program, but unfortunately they can't.

The bottom line is, they have no clue as to who those people are taking advantage of the system.

Anonymous said...

Ann, Are the MeckACTS leaders your personal friends? If so, is that why you seem reluctant to write much about where they stand on particular issues?

BolynMcClung said...


I’ve been to a lot of school board meetings where Pamela Grundy and Carol Sawyer have spoken for MecklenburgACTS. They are always clear. They don’t mince words. There is never, never a doubt. They don’t suggest – they implore. They are specific and laser pointed.

So now they innocently forward to the newspaper a list of candidates who, if they were so inclined, they would support but they aren’t supporting because they don’t support. Hogwash.

I have no axe to grind about whom they have on or off their non-list. I happen to have supported one of their three non-recommendations with a cash contribution. One other of the remaining two is a fine candidate also. I don’t know the third well but have spoken once with that person briefly.

MeckACT has always demonstrated how easy it is to attack policy. They do it monthly at board meetings. But now they had a chance to make a real statement about the people who would make that policy and they faltered badly.

Having gone this far and found they have one foot over the line they might as well go the full yard. Who do you want on the school board?

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...

C'mon Bolyn...

You're just now figuring that out?

therestofthestory said...

Bolyn, the problem is, if anyone else stepped up and presented fact after fact way the BOE policy is rewarding the wrong people, pointed out the immense waste, pointed out the damage done ot public education, the CO would lay the way for all the character assassination you could ever imagine. You would not believe all they did and allowed to happened with no offer of rebuttal to Larry Gavureau and party during the last trial. While some were brave to step out like this, many even had families trying to stop them from speaking out.

So you see, Pam, Louise and company are essentially "protected" when they are speaking out for their certain agenda. I challenged Louise years ago during pupil reassignment hearings why they were moving our assignment every year for 3 years. She came right out and said they needed my neighborhood to keep the other schools looking good for their perfromance indicators. They did not care that there were kids they could not educate. They were happy enough to "hid" them in the statistics by moving my neighborhood to "make the numbers".

BolynMcClung said...



If you think that teachers have a tough job paying attention to all the rules, you should learn a little bit about the power of the USDA when it comes to any mismanagement of their holy grail: The Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

Several years ago George Dunlap was struggling for a way to fund a little raise and health insurance for bus drivers and cafeteria workers. I had heard in the two previous end-of-the year business reports to open meetings of the school board that the school lunch enterprise fund ran a big surplus. My bright idea was to use some of that money for his idea. Not possible.

Mr. Mudd, messing with FRL is a serious federal offense. While few systems have been made to suffer the maximum penalty of losing all funding and still having to provide the meals, many have been severely punished.

That enterprise fund can be used to feed students from families that pass the income test for poverty, operate the program and some facility improvements. That’s it.

This experience for me was a starting point for learning how a school system would like to operate and it has to operate. I suggest if you have an interest in school policy and its affect on achievement, that learning the facts of USDA’s School Lunch Program is the place to start.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...

Here's a perfect example of the hypocrisy Bolyn speaks of...

Pam Grundy at her best....or worst.

Depending on your point of view.

Pam says this in the article above:

...This continues a pattern in which parents fighting for assignment to what they consider their "neighborhood" schools have clashed with CMS (as the school system is known), as well as with other parents who have different views of what a particular school's "neighborhood" should be.

In many of these battles, what is "sensible" or "logical" depends largely on one's point of view.

Those who lose are frequently left angry and embittered.

Pam speaks as if she is removed from it all, as if all these other people have problems with busing etc.

In another article, Pam states this:

I don't know if this kind of segregation affects the way that Shamrock's students see white people. But I do know that it affects me.

Our neighborhood is now full of young white couples, and of light-skinned children perched in strollers, riding bikes, dashing wildly down the streets.

As I ride my own bike, or labor in my garden, I see them through the lens of segregation.

All I know – or really care to know – about them is that they will never pass the threshold of our school.

I guess Pam must have been speaking about herself being angry and embittered?

Anonymous said...

This is getting really interesting. Seems that more than one person has noticed a pretty cozy relationship going on between Meck ACTS and the Observer. Could it be that the CO longs for a return to busing as well?

Wiley Coyote said...

To tag onto Bolyn's excellent assessment of the USDA, this joke of a federal program has the audacity to post a link to report fraud, yet the USDA itself is the biggest offender of the fraud by allowing it to continue....

To further bring home the point these fools have no clue as to what they are doing, their goal is to decrease overpayments from 16.3% to 15.8% this year.

The only problem with that is, while the projected percentage decreases, the actual dollars overspent goes from $1.5 BILLION to $1.6 BILLION...LOL...

Gotta love it.

BolynMcClung said...


Free and Reduced Lunch and the Food Stamp Program may appear to be a well-intended nutrition programs, but there is a darker side.

FRL and Food Stamps are the ultimate federal agriculture and food-manufacturing subsidy.

When Uncle Sam pays a school lunch he is supporting farmers and the people who process his output.

When the government issues the free EBT plastic card so that millions can shop the grocery store, it’s telling manufacturers that it’s encouraging them to run their plants wastefully wide open.

Yes, these two programs feed the poor but more importantly they prop-up the lowest margin businesses of America: farms and grocery industry.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


As a consumer products company, we get no subsidies from the USDA.

We own no farms and procure raw materials from all over the country and import as well.

Farmers get subsidies, we don't.

You're correct in that the government looks at these programs as "helping agriculture" as highlighted below.

Here is an exceprt from a GAO report on overlapping USDA programs:.....

Moreover, not enough is known about the effectiveness of many of these programs. Research suggests that participation in 7 of the 18 programs— including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and SNAP—is associated with positive health and nutrition outcomes consistent with programs’ goals, such as raising the level of nutrition among low-income households, safeguarding the health and well-being of the nation’s children, and strengthening the agricultural economy. Yet little is known about the effectiveness of the remaining 11 programs because they have not been well studied. As part of its broader recommendation GAO suggested that USDA consider which of the lesser-studied programs need further research, and USDA agreed to consider the value of examining potential inefficiencies and overlap among smaller programs.

BolynMcClung said...


Of course you don't get a direct contribution. What you get is a floor on the price you can charge, shorter shelf time and predictability on margins.

I'm sure manufacturers would scream to high heaven if EBT and FRL were cut back.

But be thankful. This is the one subsidy that Congress and O aren't going to cut.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


There are so many other factors that go into our cost of goods than raw product; glass, cardboard, transportation, labor, etc.

The only real effect on price we have related to raw product is weather - in the US or in countries overseas.

If government cut back EBT or the school lunch program, it would not affect us, especially the school lunch program.

It may affect others.

Pamela Grundy said...

My, what a fuss. Where to start?

We sent out the Mecklenburg ACTS letter because a number of our petition signers had asked us for recommendations. So after interviewing the candidates, our executive committee made some. We didn't endorse because it's early in the campaign, and we're still waiting to see how candidates develop. In our letter we urged petition signers to do their own legwork and make their own decisions, while suggesting three candidates that we thought deserved especially close attention.

I am personally supporting Mary McCray, but have not settled on anyone else yet.

As Ann notes, we at Mecklenburg ACTS don't try to hide our positions. The letter we sent out to petition signers included the following statement:

"Mecklenburg ACTS has worked on a number of issues in its six-year history, including class size, weighted student staffing, and the process by which the CMS board makes decisions. We have been particularly concerned with equity, which we define as ensuring that all children have genuine access to the same broad range of educational opportunities. As we see it, providing this access often requires placing extra resources at schools that face the challenges of high-poverty student populations. Because of the challenges created by concentrated poverty, we also support creating mixed-income schools wherever possible."

One of the reasons that Mecklenburg ACTS remains newsworthy is that our members (unlike some of our louder critics) aren't stuck in a single-issue rut. We deal with issues and situations as they come up.

Turns out I was wrong about Plaza-Midwood parents never coming to Shamrock. Folks at the school went through a period when we thought it was never going to happen and then all of a sudden it did. It's pretty cool.

Larry said...

Hello, a quick word from a what I can only assume is a single issue rut here is I am not a favorite of your group.

Please focus on Education only like a laser beam, and try not being mired with social overhaul. A Superior Education is the ultimate overhaul.

Especially try not using our schools and making them an indoctrination laboratory as we have seen groups do for so many decades, and letting the kids pay for it with their futures.

Maybe you can work out your angst over what ever else in your life in another way, with out feeling others who are tying to help the kids are doing things so wrong. We all have great ideas.

Anonymous said...

There is a significant number of people who do not qualify for free and reduced lunch in CMS that eat free anyway. The USDA program has nothing to do with the "freeloading rich" Mudd points out. These people run a tab and then never pay. This is a local problem that USDA has no authority over. Why is this fact overlooked?

Larry said...

The Tuesday Morning Meeting that I attended filmed me and Lloyd and finally have the videos up.

Be sure to go to the site and note how they have my videos on and on and on, but do not have videos of Lloyd going on and on and on. I must be their favorite.

But be sure to at least watch how they reacted when I said that all you had to do is ask for the FRL

Oh and in case you did not know it the same guy who writes the newsletter and the like, as well as films and edits for them is the same person who does the Swann Filming and group stuff.

But they like to keep it in the family. That is why the MeckEd is at every meeting of these Group. Just keeping friendly in Charlotte and knowing what their friends are doing.

This was the meeting where Fannie Flono was there. It was a hoot.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 6:37...

It is not a local only issue.

Fraud is fraud and the USDA is responsible for it no matter what.

If you know of violations, you can report it here:

What many of you are missing is that the school lunch program touches virtually every aspect of public education funding.

With 56% of 135,000 CMS students getting the benefit, which translates into 77% of the 97,000 lunches served daily, that should tell you why the fraud cannot continue unabated.

Again, when thousands are gaming the system, it dilutes the ability of educators to focus on the kids who truly need the help, nutritionally and educationally.

Anonymous said...

Pamela says that Meck ACTS supports creating mixed income schools wherever possible. That sounds very nice and high minded and obviously sells well with the Observer. But note she does not explain how this would be accomplished. If you listen to the Swann videos you will hear the interviewers, especially Carol Sawyer and Louise Woods, pushing, pushing, pushing candidates for a commitment to using assignment to produce "equity". Quite a few of the candidates eventually cave.

Pamela accuses some of being "one issue" critics. The problem is that Meck ACTS and Swann are using other issues as "backdoor" means of getting candidates on the board who intend to take on assignment but are careful to leave that information off of their webpages. Perhaps she is disdainful of those who are concerned about this because she would prefer the public not know what lies ahead for CMS assignment if Meck ACTS' candidates should win.

Wiley Coyote said...

We have been particularly concerned with equity, which we define as ensuring that all children have genuine access to the same broad range of educational opportunities. As we see it, providing this access often requires placing extra resources at schools that face the challenges of high-poverty student populations. Because of the challenges created by concentrated poverty, we also support creating mixed-income schools wherever possible."

Still chasing that ghost eh Pam?

High poverty schools already get more funding than other schools plus some of that funding is money that is OVERSPENT due to the fact many of those students don't qualify for extra benefits.

Mixed-income schools? LOL...again, instead of busing to achieve racial integration which you can no longer do, you want to bring it back to achieve "income integration".

Obama's class warefare will go down due to his income redistribution scheme.

We can only hope your idea of income redistribution through busing will die the same death..

Tell us Pam, how much money do you need for your equity? Do you think eliminating $1.5 billion in school lunch fraud would help identify those you are trying to help while kicking off the thousands who don't need it?

You do realize that if you start mixing kids soley on household income that you may jeopardize Title I and other funds due to diluting the poverty below 35% in some schools?

Anonymous said...

From a December 10, 2009 article by Pam in Raleigh New Observer

"Busing was -- and is -- a headache. But it was -- and is -- fundamentally fair."

Hear what Pamela and Louise had to tell WRAL in Raleigh about CMS assignment, and note that Joyce Waddel agrees wit them:

Also take a look at this blog's July 16, 2010 entry, in which Pam does indeed say she supports busing and admonishes those who disagree by bringing up "Jim Crow". Ann also tells us in this blog that we should not be concerned about a return to busing.

Who is sounding like a "one issue" critic here?

Anonymous said...

Meck ACTS represents a minority point of view. I will give them credit where it is due: they were able to use the testing issue to swell the ranks of their membership. Their membership numbers are, therefore, a sham and (giving them the benefit of the doubt) perhaps there are 10 active members. Another credit, I will give to them is that they have been masterful about getting news coverage in the Observer, as is demonstrated by this very posting by Ann, and in its editorial pages. For the Observer, they are the 'go to' for anti-CMS comments ~ easy pickins! It seems that, in addition to a return to busing, their agenda is to disrepectfully criticize CMS but rarely do they offer viable solutions. Look up the word "naysayer" in the dictionary and it says, "See Meck ACTS"

Anonymous said...

9:30 AM--Boy, did you ever hit the nail on the head!

Anonymous said...

Has Meck ACTS been masterful at getting news coverage or has it had more to do with Observer reporters and editors being happy to use sources that agree with their agenda and Meck ACTS being happy to oblige?

Anonymous said...

MeckACTS believes that because low income children do poorly on standardized tests if you then eliminate these test low income children will no longer do poorly on them. Problem solved.

They also believe that Low Income children can not learn together in a room they need to be around the Elite children then they will learn how to learn and begin to mimic the Elite Children. (if you swap Low Income/Black and Elite/White you would have what is considered High Class Racism)

Neither of these are solutions they are just hiding problems and ignoring difficult conversations.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Soon after I started this beat, a group of north suburbanites started a move to split CMS into smaller districts. I quoted the organizers a lot -- they were energetic, articulate, and above all, they'd tapped an issue that drew a lot of discussion from the public and policymakers.

I think you can see the parallel with MeckACTS. I didn't have personal relationships or agenda alliances with those activists, nor do I with MeckACTS.

If anyone is aware of a similarly active group representing a different perspective that isn't getting coverage, let me know.

Larry said...

Hey Ann I was one of those people who was behind the Decosoldation effort in 2005 and I still have the original petitions those people signed which I took to Raleigh and the education people ignored.

That is when we got the websites ie., for all of Charlotte and Mecklenburg for the new districts.

The Foundation for the Carolinas did the Dog and Pony act which stopped the progress back then and we got those expensive districts.

In fact the Observer did a real hit piece on me when I went to Raleigh with Jim Puckett and Larry Gauvreau, who I am not sure if you remember were dragged from the mic as they were elected officials. It seems they did not want to hear from elected officials.

But they were happy to hear from the Chamber who said things were great in Charlotte.

Since that time I have contacted you on several occasions as well as others at the Observer about ideas and the like, but not once have the ideas been used or have I been used as a source or quote. But a search of the groups, and say Pam Grundy shows they are used quite often.

So I hope this offer of hearing new ideas is valid.

Maybe my living here all my life might have some validity and seeing things from a perspective of just education and education only in schools, might be just what we need in schools at this time. Later we can get the frills and the like back in when we can afford them.

Wiley Coyote said...

Why does it have to be a group?

Why not individuals who feel the same about certain issues?

Why can't my stance on rooting out waste and fraud be just as valid as a group wanting to waste more money?

Ann Doss Helms said...

Larry and Wiley, surely you are not saying your individual views are underrepresented on this blog?

Comments are a great forum for individual opinions. But no matter how often you post them, that's not the same as organizing forums that draw crowds and shape public discussion.

Larry, you're running for office and will get your coverage as a candidate. But if you think running or even winning will put you in charge of my reporting agenda ... well, ask Louise Woods how many stories she pitched as a board member and how often I declined. Same for Larry Gauvreau, Arthur Griffin, Eric Davis ... the "Ann isn't writing what I think she should" line is a long one. said...

Ann, how many forums did Meck ACTS sponsor that drew a lot of people? I am aware of very few and the issue of the 'testing hook' appears to be the only one. Also, Meck ACTS represents a minority opinion and the active members, who you know and often quote, are very few. I would like to see you solicit some other opinions instead of making the easier phone call to Meck ACT folks (all three!) for their 'over the top' and usually angry comments. It would be quite refreshing to hear how the other 90% in Mecklenburg are feeling!

Anonymous said...

Ann, how many forums did Meck ACTS sponsor that drew a lot of people? I am aware of very few and the issue of the 'testing hook' appears to be the only one. Also, Meck ACTS represents a minority opinion and the active members, who you know and often quote, are very few. I would like to see you solicit some other opinions instead of making the easier phone call to Meck ACT folks (all three!) for their 'over the top' and usually angry comments. It would be quite refreshing to hear how the other 90% in Mecklenburg are feeling!

Wiley Coyote said...


Your response spoke of nothing but groups you've dealt with and quoted. I merely commented that individual comments are just as valid, anonymous or not.

I realize you must interact with known individuals versus anonymous ones simply for verification purposes.

I have never thought I was being "underserved" on this blog.

Anonymous said...

It is true that this blog gives anyone a chance to participate in a discussion. I don't think that is the issue. The choice of topics and how that choice is treated by Ann is of concern. To some of us it appears that there has been more time given to the views of Meck ACTS members (the few) and their affiliate, Parents Across America, which we learned on this blog, Pamela helped to create. Ann even admitted in one blog that the testing issue had "become her passion" (this may be appropriate for a blogger but is it appropriate for a reporter?). She expressed her admiration for the "courage" of teachers speaking out at a Meck ACT meeting--again, appropriate for a blogger but for the reporter covering the meeting?--I don't think so. And she jumped on the Broad and Gates issues with prodding from Pamela--even states in a blog that Pam "shared a link" to a Washington Post story about this. How many other links do you think she's gotten and used from the Meck ACTS crew? And how many times have we seen Pam, Carol, and Louise quoted in her articles as opposed to other sources?
Agreed, there don't appear to be many other organized groups around, but that's because most people don't have time to organize; don't expect that narrow interest groups are going to co-opt the community education discussion; and certainly don't expect the press to be so one-sided in their reporting (oops--I forgot, ideally the press should not be one-sided, but this is The Observer so most are probably not surprised).

Ann Doss Helms said...

No apologies for being openly in favor of things that lead to a more informed public, whether that's release of public data or teachers willing to speak up on controversial issues.

As for declaring a passion for testing issues, that's not something I recall writing or can find on a quick blog search. Got a link or reference? I certainly considered it an important issue and devoted a lot of reporting time to testing and P4P last school year. Again, no apologies for that. Calling it a passion just doesn't seem like language I'd use to describe that.

Pamela Grundy said...

Actually, the problem here seems to be a group of people miffed that Ann doesn't constantly flog their pet issue.

To make them happy, Ann, all you need to do is make sure that every article you write on education includes:

a. a condemnation of how FRL numbers are obtained

b. a statement of how much better off the county would be if we had more charters and vouchers

c. a statement of how much better things are than they would have been if we'd kept busing

Then perhaps all these folks could stop wasting their time saying the same thing over and over and get on with their lives.

Wiley Coyote said...


YOU are the one who advocates the continuation busing.

YOU are the one who continues to look the other way regarding the verifiable waste of funds and fraud in the school lunch program, which in turn wastes millions more in related programs.

As long as people like you support those failed and failing programs, I will stand toe to toe in front of you and call you out on them.

Wiley Coyote said...

By the way Pam....

and YOUR views are not a broken record and wasting our time?


Good one...

Anonymous said...

My apologies Ann--you did not say PfP was your passion; rather you described PfP as "an issue that I'm currently obsessed with" (March 11, 2011 blog

Ironically you made this comment while defending your continual use of Pam as a resource.

Full comment: "Pam is getting a lot of ink, physical and virtual, by virtue of being in the thick of an issue that I'm currently obsessed with(performance pay). It has its downside; ask her how much she loves the photo we ran with Sunday's package."

Larry said...

I am sorry to mention the question of fairness.

Looking back we can see that the only real fairness is held by who is in charge.

Sorry Pam, Sorry Ann.

I will just keep on getting my voice out here on the blog.

Larry said...

Oh just got back from the meeting at JCSU where the group of people got information on starting Charter Schools in the Challenged Neighborhoods and the like.

About 200 or 300 people showed up and it went great.

Sorry we did not get anybody from the Observer at the event since it was about education.

Wiley Coyote said...


Do you see a major fracture on the horizon?

It wasn't that long ago when CMS first held meetings on school closures and at those meetings, many parents in those high poverty schools stressed they wanted stability and neighborhood schools.

Yet we hear from groups like Meck ACTS how concentrations of low income students can't learn and we need to spread them around the district.

You attend a meeting trying to get minorities to open charter schools where presumable the majority of students would be minority and from low income families.

So who is in charge here? Meck ACTS or the parents of these students they supposedly want to help?

Anonymous said...

Oh, Wiley, you know that those nice Meck ACTS ladies know what's best for those low income kids.

Larry said...

WC I do know we are going to have a hard road getting these choices in Charlotte/Mecklenburg for the Challenged Communities. But Malcom Graham is on our side and the list of other notable is growing.

In fact Malcom was the guest speaker at the event tonight.

That is why I was surprised we did not have more media other than I think WSOC, maybe others.

But you are right, we had people say they we don't need more Charter Schools, we need Quality Charter Schools, and the group tonight is providing the funding for those who are interested. Plus we are looking for more to help people.

I am going to post that info on my site in the morning. Or in the mean time just go to the same group as it shows holding the event tonight.


Susan B. Harden said...

MeckActs has lots of supporters. The folks of MeckActs are organized, visible, and reasonable. And the writers at the Charlotte Observer, as well as readers of the forum, should doubt, seriously, the claims made by anyone under the wall of anonymity. Stand up, sign your name, or be discounted. Maybe then we can have an honest debate.

Susan B. Harden

Larry said...

Susan, I addressed that very thing before a couple of times, and the very person who has full control of it is Ann.

Perhaps since you are a member of a group that is reasonable, organized and visible as yours she will listen to you.

I know we seem to have had a large share of dissent for groups on this board. and that is sad considering they have such august agendas, as does this news paper.

Wiley Coyote said...


While you're certainly within your right to discount a post by me, Wiley Coyote, the facts contained within a post are not so easily discounted.

Furthermore, you're name on what you just posted means nothing because yours could be just as fake of a name as mine.


Abe Froman

Wiley Coyote said...


One other point.

When you walk into the voting booth this November (if you vote), your vote will count just as anonymously as mine.....


Larry said...


I see we also have another Ferris day off fan.

I did not realize you were a King and from Chicago.

Wiley Coyote said...

"You're Abe Froman?"
"That's right. I'm Abe Froman."
"The Sausage King of Chicago?"
"Yeah. That's me."

...but according to Susan, I don't exist.

Larry said...

I know how you feel, I am even a stockholder and still feel that way.

McClatcy is at 1.37 right now.

Taylorvfhj said...

Susan, One other point. When you walk into the voting booth this November (if you vote), your vote will count just as anonymously as mine..... Abe