Thursday, January 27, 2011

Metal detectors, loaded guns and a change of heart

A few observations, now that I'm coming up for air after Tuesday night's marathon budget-cut meeting (yes, you can watch it on video now):

It's a sign of the tense times that everyone attending that meeting not only had their bags searched, as usual, but went through a metal-detector wanding. CMS Police Chief Bud Cesena said the new security measure wasn't prompted by the Tucson massacre or even the guy who opened fire at a Florida school board meeting in December. He said he's just concerned about the anger boiling around school closings, possible layoffs and cuts to popular programs. The scans will continue through the budget process, he said.

Given all that context, some people were startled to hear board member Rhonda Lennon talk flippantly about having her gun loaded to shoot down proposals. Lennon said today that she's learning to shoot and had been working with her firearms instructor earlier that day, which probably influenced her choice of metaphor. No, she's not planning to pack heat for board meetings, she says; she just has fond memories of shooting with her dad. And Lennon, a Republican, says she's not trying to emulate a certain high-profile GOP woman: "I didn't even think about Sarah Palin."

And finally, CMS mom Vanessa Infanzon sent a blog link that provides a nice counterpoint to some of the tension. Infanzon was among many parents upset about school closings this fall. Her son, Ben, is doing well at Oakhurst Elementary and she didn't want it to close.

"I was really fighting the unknown. I made the assumption that the unknown would be bad," she writes.

Ben, who has disabilities, was assigned to Highland Renaissance Elementary for 2011-12. Infanzon recently called the school and got her first pleasant surprise: The principal is Valerie Todd, who led Plaza Road Pre-K when Ben was there. After a heartwarming phone message from Todd, who remembered Ben, Infanzon visited the school. Now, she's realizing change might work out for the best.

"When we fight something, we usually get it in our heads that whatever the change will be, it will be a negative experience," she writes. "I am reminded of Who Moved My Cheese? In this leadership book, the mice go into work every day to get their cheese and then one day they come in and the cheese's location has been suddenly moved. The mice freak out, like mice do. In the end, the mouse that survived this change was the one with creativity, ingenuity and the ability to be flexible. I want to be that mouse."


Anonymous said...

my family and I were humiliated that someone like Rhonda Lennon represents our district. The gun references were poor form. Even my son who attends Hopewell High commented on the obnoxious behavior. Thankfully the other board members seem to have a little tact and class when making important decisions involving children.

therestofthestory said...

9:40 PM Apparently you were not around for this school board in the late 90's. This is tame.

Anonymous said...

First Larry, then Rhonda, then Davidson IB. How's that traffic moving past the trailer farm at Torrence Creek Elementary going? The transplant electorate certainly knows competence up in Hootersville. Even as the resident gadfly, Larry knew what a schmiel Pete was and predicted the current meltdown.

wiley coyote said...

Anon 10:26...

Your response sounds like that of envy....

We're doing quite well up this way if you must know.

While I wouldn't give you a plug nickel for Rhonda Lennon, Larry Gauvreau was certainly more than a "gadfly".

I was glad he was a thorn in the side of the status quo. It's too bad we don't have 5 more like him on the board today, as we wouldn't be discussing half of the issues related to the economic debacle we find ourselves in.

I'm not sure where Rhonda Lennon stands on anything anymore. Recent comments by her are perplexing. The gun comment being one of them.

One of the first things you don't do is tell people you have a gun.

I guess her instructor didn't get to that part yet.

Anonymous said...

Pass the alfalfa spouts and a group hug. This is better than a trip to the circus, any day. Stall--input--listening to the public--stall---vote in two weeks, final vote in May.

Anonymous said...

Last thing we need is Rhonda Lennon mixing guns with her drugs.
(from comment she posted during a board meeting)

Anonymous said...

A quarter century in Lemley township (Huntersville) was enough. Envy? Exit 18,23,25,33,and 36? Larry may have been right as a thorn but his expressed desire to kill your (and my) beloved language immersion program was enough. Enjoy the Friday gridlock on 77.

Regards from across the creek.

wiley coyote said...

Anon 6:24..

Not everyone lives on either side of exits on 77 "up this way".

I'm glad you got out. It was a choice you made.

Regardless of Larry's desire to kill the program, at least with him you knew where he stood. Lennon is a fence sitter, wanting her cake and eat it too.

Lennon wants to keep magnets, transportation and sports yet publicly states she's "loaded and ready to shoot down proposals".

Is she ready to shoot down peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch?

Anonymous said...

I'll definitely agree with your assessment of Larry as he was consistent and reality based. Ms. Lennon seems to be on the Michelle Bachmann/Virginia Foxx wannabe track. It's time for some poetry from Bolyn concerning the new Glockfrau.

Anonymous said...

Word has it the Dr. is sending his kids to private school?? Sounds like DC finally called

Anonymous said...

Dr. Gorman only has one "kid" and she attends a CMS Middle School. Now several folks who would like to increase the number of poor kids in the suburbs and want us all to "support the entire community" do indeed send their children to private schools. This would include our mayor and a local rabbi who is big on the diversity circuit (she had a column on the Viewpoint page last week). That is, of course, their perfect right, but it does seem a bit hypocritical for them to be telling the rest of us that we are selfish and don't do enough for poor kids.

Anonymous said...

"Selfish" people with kids in private school are still paying taxes for your kid to attend public school.

Wondering how CMS would handle a sudden influx of thousands of private school kids should they suddenly decide to show up at the public school front door?

Anonymous said...

I don't find parents who have kids in private school to be selfish at all--they are doing what they think is best for their kids and their family. I just object to the hypocritical ones (a small minority) who tell the rest of us that our public schools need to be more diverse, that we're not doing enough for our poor students, that suburban parents are selfish, yet they have their kids in private schools. There are some who make a living off of the diversity issue while sending their kids to private school.

wiley coyote said...

Wondering how CMS would handle a sudden influx of thousands of private school kids should they suddenly decide to show up at the public school front door?
January 31, 2011 8:52 AMM

Good point but let's go where the real question is and that is WHY do they go to private school in the first place?

For 40 years, public educators have failed miserably at educating kids due to lack of discipline.

Until CMS implements a zero tolerance discipline policy and requires parents to actually parent and have their kids ready for and to come to school, half of the White student population in Mecklenburg County will continue to go to private schools.

The days of social engineering by educrats and bureaucrats through the public school system is over.

Anonymous said...

9:42 qnd 9:59

Hard to argue with either of you.

I wish we could reach a point where public, private, charter and home-schooling proponents could work together because we're all in this together. I know this sounds sickeningly clique but it's true. I get tired of the "us" (public) vs. "them" (private and charter) mentality particularly here in Charlotte.

I've always wanted to know how many families with children in private school also utilize CMS at some point in their children's K-12 educational career? I've had my children in both CMS and private school. My oldest child spent 6 years in CMS and 7 years in private school.

My highly unscientific observation leads me to believe that a fairly large percentage of families with children in private school also (or will also) enroll their children in CMS for some period of time. I know many families who enroll their children at some of Charlotte's most expensive private schools K-8 before transferring them into CMS for high school in an effort to place them at the top of their graduating class - a successful strategy in many cases when colleges consider class rank and G.P.A.'s important factors in their admissions decisions. By the time kids are in high school they are clearly "tracked" so things like discipline really aren't an issue if a student is taking all or mostly AP and Honors classes that require administrative approval and minimum academic criteria to get into. Generally speaking, most kids taking AP Calculus with a goal of attending a good college aren't causing major problems - at West Charlotte H.S or Ardrey Kell H.S. It's the average kids stuck in the middle I feel sorry for because on the other end, kids who are at-risk of dropping out of school receive all sorts of intervention, "do-good" philanthropic donations and other "wrap around" services.

Others leave CMS for a variety of reasons. Based on my experience - discipline issues, student assignment instability and gigantic sized schools head the top of the list. In our case, sending our oldest child to a high school with 2,000 or more students at it with 30 - 40 kids in a class would not have been in their best interest. Our oldest will be attending a lovely small liberal-arts college next year which we hope will be a good "fit". I desperately wanted to attend a huge University after spending my entire K-12 career attending small public schools. This is why I don't like a one-size-fits-all approach to education. Families should have some different types of educational choices available to them when deciding where to send their children to school. I support vocational schools for the same reason. The world needs plumbers, electricians, carpenters, cooks, auto mechanics and - God knows - someone who can cut and color my hair.

Anonymous said...


sickenly "cliche" (with an accent mark).

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I believe E.E. Waddell has been saved by four members of the basketball team and Mrs. Leake, Butler, on the other hand has been saved by any number of administrators taking the fall for the retiring CMS AD and rampant ignorance of transfer policies. MP was saved by a former principal who allowed students to disappear. WC has been saved by $55 million, middle school sports have been saved by............ oh, no one cares about saving anything in middle schools, the Chernobyl of CMS.