Thursday, February 3, 2011

Parents mobilize nationwide

Pam Grundy, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parent activist (and frequent poster to this blog), will be part of next week's launch of Parents Across America, a coalition of parents who support equity, diversity and parent involvement in public education.

She says the idea for a national parents' network emerged as local activists realized that issues they were dealing with often originate on a national level. Big-money donors such as The Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation push their visions of reform. The U.S. Department of Education is using Race to the Top money to shape how states and local districts deal with failing schools.

Grundy says she and parents from Wake and Durham counties are working with activists from Chicago, New York and other districts across the country to sort out the issues and make their voices heard. Diane Ravitch, an author, education professor and former assistant secretary of education, will give the keynote speech at Monday's launch in New York City. Click the link above to learn more about the parents group.


wiley coyote said...

Parents Across America, a coalition of parents who support equity, diversity and parent involvement in public education.

$55 million dollars given to 7 schools is not equitable. 60% of students getting free and reduced lunches and other freebies but don't qualify for it is not equitable and the definition of diversity depends on who you ask.

From the PAA website: In contrast, we advocate for proven, progressive measures such as reducing class size and increasing parent involvement, and oppose corporate-style efforts to privatize our schools.

$55 mil would reduce class size.

I take that $55 mil investment as being a corporate takeover of 7 schools and with that being "privatized", because other deserving schools get nothing.

Just one question.

Since CMS is currently facing layoffs from a $100 million dollar shortfall, which will increase class sizes, how does this "activist group" intend to pay for all these goodies they want?

wiley coyote said...

From the PAA website:

Parents beware!

When research or data is cited to back up proposed policies, ask the right questions!

Much of what is done in education today purports to be “data driven.” This means that school districts, foundations and government officials often cite data analysis or research studies to support the policies they enact. Unfortunately, research is often used inappropriately or incorrectly. It’s important that parents independently assess the evidence being cited in support of policies that will affect their schools.

Funny, I've been saying that very same thing. Cool.

Pamela Grundy said...

Russian diplomat: "We are not that far apart."

Chauncey Gardner: "No. Our chairs are almost touching."

wiley coyote said...

My shields are up...

Seriously, good luck with your endeavour.

In the end, I believe we both want the same thing. We just have disagreements on how to get there.

Anonymous said...

Some of us just disagree on what the government's responsibility is in all of this.

Anonymous said...

Looking at PAA's website it appears that one of the goals of this organization is to give parents more say in education policy. Exactly when did education policy get taken out of the hands of parents (and local school boards) and handed over to first the federal government and then corporate America? I believe that was in the 70's when civil rights issues forced the feds to step in. Problem is, once in they never left. It's a bit of a conundrum that many who have long supported big government and its control over how students are assigned and taught, now are chafing under programs and policies imposed by that same government.

Anonymous said...

Pam and Wiley,
Ironic that Pete sent out another tainted and skewed questionnaire of PFP today lumping a teacher's school with the district as a whole. If the choices were presented as school or district, the obvious results of negativity to the district would glare revealingly. Finally someone with the intelligence to debunk Pete's selective and minion misinterpreted data flatulence.

Anonymous said...

Didn't bill gates buy mecklinburg county (Charlotte) just like he did hillsborough here in FL? Something tells me parents are no more pleased than teachers with his tactics

wiley coyote said...

Anon 8:01...

Your point is spot on.

The problem then as now is that government and educrats go beyond where school property ends and into the homes.

It is unfortunate that many kids are not prepared to come to school, a harsh reality but it is not CMS' responsibility. Their responsibility starts when a child steps foot on school grounds.

It is up to CMS to ensure that every child has quality teachers, decent facilities, up to date educational materials, remedial help where needed and a safe learning environment.

One would think that in 40 years, at least one of the several generations going to public schools would be "saved" by the trillions of dollars that has been spent and that the cycle would be broken if not all but eliminated.

Instead, we have generational illiteracy and government entitlements being perpetuatated year after year.

It drives liberals nuts because busing is dead and people live where they live. They can't force people to move into certain school districts so they have to resort to creative ways such as redrawing lines, closing schools, placing magnets in low performing schools.

I did notice that many of the "who we are" people with PAA are regular contributors to the Huffington Post.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Pam's new organization wants parents to have more control over their children's education. Yet she has forcefully argued for busing, despite parents' desire for their children to attend school in their own neighborhoods. I also suspect that she would be opposed to CMS being divided into smaller, much more locally managed districts. I'm not sure you can have it both ways.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley, I'm playing catchup and trying to figure out your issue with the $55 million plan. Are you categorically opposed to donations to individual schools? Is it the size of this particular effort, or something else about Project LIFT (as opposed to the many smaller forms of business/faith/civic group support for individual schools)?

wiley coyote said...


I have no problem with a $55 million dollar donation, but if the intent is to help bolster graduation rates then it should be divided equally among schools where the money is needed.

I've posted numbers from CMS' website comparing West Charlotte to Waddell and the other bottom performing schools. Between WC and Waddell, there is only a one point differential in graduation rates.

I'll ask the question again, are the students at Waddell and other schools just as deserving of these funds to help them have a better chance of graduating?

Why is it that big donors can come in and drop buckets of money at select schools while parents in the burbs are told any monies they raise through PTA or other means cannot go towards paying teacher salaries?

It's a double standard.

"If it's good enough for KIPP Academy and other high-performing charter school models, then why is it not good enough for the 135,000 students in CMS?" asked Anna Spangler Nelson, co-chair of the study group leading the effort.

The problem is Anna, the money won't reach 135,000 students, only a select few.

DolleyMadison said...

Pam, I knew we were kindred spirits..even if we are on opposite sides of the aisle. If only we could concentrate on "Being There"!

Anonymous said...


Since Pamela's announcement she is headed to Asia this fall and therefore unable to run for school board (in a highly unusual bipartisan/unilateral effort to oust at our favorite board member - "the pandering dunderhead"), I'm open to seeing your hat thrown into the ring.

However, this requires revealing your true identity.

So, how wild is your Coyote?

DolleyMadison said...

WHICH pandering dunderhead would that be? Description would fit entire school board and much of the administration IMO.

wiley coyote said...

Anon 11:12..

Thanks for the vote of confidence but I wouldn't last two seconds on the school board.

Think of me as Larry Gauvreau on steroids.

Like my father before me, I have no patience dealing with educrats politically, been there done that in a past life and continue today as a parent of a child about to graduate from CMS.

Anonymous said...

Notice all the unflattering comments about the school board and school administration. Directly related to the unmanageable size of the district, I think. (Yes, I know small districts can have "pandering dunderheads" too, but at least the voters have a closer connection to their board members and administration in a smaller district)

Anonymous said...

As much as I would throughly enjoy outing the aforementioned pandering dunderhead, that at least one Republican and one Democrat agree upon, I suggest the public simply recap some of the shenanigans that have taken place starting around the year, oh say, 2005.

Dang. I still miss the Rhino Times. Allan Hodges (?), the education reporter for the Rhino Times, was hysterical. If the Observer really wanted to increase it's paying membership, they'd put Ann, Eric and Allan on the same beat.

I get where you're coming from though. Writing a simple "Letter to the Editor" (which really should be renamed "A Few Sentences to the Editor") is all I can stomach. Attaching your name with an opinion has become the ultimate act of defiance and courage in today's society. After a while (or Wiley?), you do become somewhat desensitized to the personal attacks. One anonymous individual recently called me a "twit" after a letter (i.e., a few sentences) I wrote were published. In fact, 5 people agreed I am a certifiable "twit". And there you have it - a testament to my twitty-ness after earning a full ride M.A. scholarship plus stipend at a major university located in our nation's capital.

You've already acknowledged you and Pamela share some common goals - as so many of us do - on the continuum of political spectrums. So, perhaps some thought and reflection is in order in your case. You don't have to be Larry on steroids while standing your ground.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Pandering Dunderheads:

Oops, I think the year 2006 is around the time the public might want to start recapping certain Board of Education decisions and events.

therestofthestory said...

You can start in 1998 with the war of the suburbs.

therestofthestory said...

I am not so sure how diversity is going to be a rallying cry around here anymore. With the continued underfunding of non Achievement Zone schools and the deliberate anomosity toward suburban schools trying to get under 60 students per classroom by private donations while allowing the double standard of West Charlotte and others, the declining NonED and white population will only accelerate. Any attempt to force some busing will probably mean the end of the "public" in this school system and it simply only be known as the Mecklenburg government schools.

Maybe the legislature will listen to us citizens and give us some real options for our kids when the public school system is so out of whack of the county demographics.

wiley coyote said...


I believe everyone has the same basic goals regarding education.

We want local, state and federal governments to be fiscally responsible and fund sound, proven programs.

We want government to loosen the grip on what school districts can do with those funds and yes they do need to be monitored as to how the monies are spent.

We want school districts to curb the educrat mentality where some Doctor of Education claims they have built a better mousetrap, spend millions implementing a program(s) only to never catch any rats.

2+2=4, always has and always will. There are 26 letters in the alphabet, George Washington was our first President and for action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Those things never change.

It isn't rocket science but educrats and bureaucrats make education insanely complicated. They've had their collective heads stuck so deep in the forest they can't see the forest for the trees.

Let teachers teach. If a teacher isn't up to the standards set forth by the system, then terminate them.

We believe discipline starts in the home and the lack of it once on school grounds will not be tolerated.

We believe those kids who have special needs for whatever the reason(s) should have more focus and resources aimed at helping them achieve success, but that does not mean wasting tens of millions of dollars on unsubstantiated programs (Bright Beginnings) or programs that don't work. Cut the cord and redirect those funds.

We also believe every child that needs supplemental help for lunches should be helped. No child who is truly in need should ever be hungry at school. The problem is, the FRL program is antiquated, rife with fraud and needs to be revamped so that those in need get the benefit and those who do not qualify are deleted from the list.

Millions of dollars could be saved and redirected to more programs or teachers to eliminate class size.

We want stability. Draw attendance lines based on sound logic GEOGRAPHICALLY AND NOT DEMOGRAPHICALLY! People live where they live so stop with the social engineering.

We believe that no child should have to pay for sports or any other extracurricular activity or AP/IB tests. These are part of the school experience and should be included within the budget by our tax dollars.

If waste and fraud is eliminated and admin is cut and made more streamlined, useless bureaucracy and programs eliminated, I believe all those programs listed above could be paid for and money saved.

Who knows, we might even get back some of those politician's kids that live within CMS but go to private schools.

White flight has been in place for 40 years so what educrats have been doing all those years "ain't" working.

It's time to eliminate the excuses and move forward.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the unflattering comments are necessarily directed at all school board members and administrative officials across the board. This simply isn't true even though people have differences of opinion.

In fact, I've never seen the kind of unified support or outpouring of sympathy many people feel towards those in charge of making the difficult decisions CMS is going to be forced to make. Although I didn't grow up in Charlotte, I've lived here over 18 years giving me some perspective on issues related to education in the Queen City. To say the history of education here is complex, emotionally charged and complicated, is a gross understatement.

However, I believe we are on the cusp of something that could potentially change the way we approach education in America that benefits not only our city but those beyond us. Difficult challenges can facilitate opportunities for creative long-term solutions. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

This is not to say I still wouldn't mind seeing one pandering dunderhead wander into the sunset.

Anonymous said...

The question is--is your pandering dunderhead the same board member as my pandering dunderhead?

I've been here just as long as you have, and I would very much agree that many in Mecklenburg County recognize and sympathize with the complex issues our board currently has to deal with. Unfortunately we have those (and I don't mean board members) who, as always, are playing politics with this situation or are falling back on easy slogans. And there are others who don't have the time or won't take the time to delve into the complexity of it all--it's easier to disparage the board or the administration.

Again, I would say that much of this is related to the size of the district. I don't think we will ever come to a kumbaya moment in this community when all agree and are happy with our school situation--too many competing needs, geographic areas, and philosophies on a grand scale. As for us being on the cusp of something that could change education in America, would you mind revealing what that is. An awful lot of "cusps" have come and gone.

wiley coyote said...

The size of the district is not the issue but rather the people who manage it.

Wal Mart manages the largest retail operation in the world from Bentonville, Arkansas.

An educrat's mantra is not to take cost out of the system but to add to it. Until we get people running the schools with the capacity to manage them as a business, schools will never get any better.

Anonymous said...

What large system (on the scale of CMS) would consider to be really well run? It seems that CMS is one of the few that always seem to be in the running for "best of" (and I happen to agree that CMS is actually being run pretty well considering all it has to juggle).

I will continue to believe, though, that the management of a school system is much better done under a smaller system. For one thing, having a smaller system would eliminate the constant recycling of angst over assignment, etc (do we hear about this much drama in Union County or Fort Mill?) We're not trying to sell widgets, we're trying to educate people's children, and the closer management is to the community that is providing those children, the better understanding the management will have of what those children need and what the community wants from its school system. Same goes for community's understanding of what the school system is trying to do.

therestofthestory said...

Wiley I am with you. The at large elections are up next as you know. However 2 are pretty entrenched with the powers that be in this city. Defeating them is going to take a huge moblilization effort. Maybe with all this other money getting directed to a few schools, they will have less resources to mount defensive campaigns. I am not financially well off enough to mount a campaign but I can be in lock step with you. Maybe we could offer a bright light to those who have been disenfranchised from CMS. I struggle though with trying to work with the legislature to give parents a way out when the demographics of a school system are so out of whack wit the county's.

What you think?

Anonymous said...

Be careful of who you try to defeat in the at large election if you are concerned about demographics and assignment. It would only take a two seat change on the board to have pro-busing majority.

wiley coyote said...


The problem you get into by taking a district within the County and breaking it up into smaller districts is funding and resources.

People will not stand for it and it will become like government reapportionment. Certain groups will want their little corner of the world with their Napoleon running it.

I'd like to know how you intend to segregate up to say 6 smaller district's tax bases from one coffer in Mecklenburg County, not to mention all of the State and Federal funds and mandates.

Talk about bureaucracy, Websters will redefine the term: see CMS.

wiley coyote said...


Let's face the cold hard facts.

CMS is 42% Black, 16% Hispanic and 33% White.

How many of the White parents in the other 30% who don't send their kids to CMS give one iota about who gets elected?

When Jennifer Roberts, Harold Cogdill and the rest of their ilk get re-elected to the BOCC? There is no way anyone that is a centrist or leans right will get on the school board unless they are in a protected district.

Oh snap! What was I thinking! School board elections are supposed to be "non-partisan"....


Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, Wiley, that is done in a good many parts of the country (most boards though have taxing authority--communities usually vote for school levies). But you're right, it would be a nightmare starting from scratch with that here. I really wasn't arguing that we should break up CMS (more like wishing the monster CMS had never been created). Rather I was pointing out that many of our problems stem from the fact that we are such a large system. And considering all we have to contend with, maybe we really aren't doing so badly compared to other big system. Do you have the name of a well run one that you could mention?

wiley coyote said...

Anon 2:48..

Busing is dead.

It died in early September, 1999.

wiley coyote said...

Anon 2:56,

I honestly can't answer that question as to "who does it well".

I grew up in Columbia with Richland School District 1 and Richland 2, with district 2 being formed well over 45 years ago.

District 2 is in the Northeast part of the county and where the vast majority of white flight occurred back in the late 60's and 70's.

Same with Lexington County outside of Columbia. They have 5 districts. Their districts were added as the county grew.

Those two counties I listed above by all accounts have done a fairly good job overall but districts like Richland 1 is just like CMS, inner city and not run efficiently.

The problem with CMS is that busing was still in existance until almost 2000 and since then, they have been scrambling to retrofit an old seperate but equal system that was dismantled into a busing system and now into a neighborhood school system.

Very poorly I might add.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Wiley, but the hopes for a return to some sort of busing (under the guise of socio-economic balancing) lives on, be it actual busing for "balance" or re-jiggering of boundaries to make schools more balanced. Check out what's been going on in Wake County. Look at Bev Pardue's support for the Rev. Barber (awarded him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his efforts at keeping diversity in Wake's assignment plan). And according to the News Observer "One of the last acts of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly was to create a legislative study commission charged with seeing whether diversity helps public schools and whether the state should help it along by changing the way schools are funded."

Don't be naive--if we get a majority on the school board who want some sort of busing we'll probably have it, along with the attendant uproar.

wiley coyote said...


I stated in one of my long diatribes above those facts, that gerrymandering using magnets, closing schools and redrawing lines to achieve "diversity" aka integration was alive and well.

Anonymous said...

2:22 PM

My definition of"cusps"would include the 13 charter schools the STATE of NC has agreed to expand and support as of today.

Anonymous said...


Is Trent Merchant for or against busing?

Please, do enlighten.

Ann Doss Helms said...

I am cracking up -- I veered off to write a weekender and the comments became much more entertaining AND substantive than the original blog (I know, not the first time ...). Will someone please e-mail me the identity of the main PD in question, if there is one?

wiley coyote said...

Main PD?

Here's a whole covey of them!

KAYE MCGARRY (at-large)
COACH JOE WHITE (at-large)
RHONDA LENNON (District 1)
JOYCE WADDELL (District 3)
TOM TATE (District 4)
ERIC DAVIS (District 5)
TIM MORGAN (District 6)

therestofthestory said...

Forgot Tim Merchant (at large)

To anon 3:01

Only "court ordered" busing is dead.

therestofthestory said...

In the last BOCC, the dem's lost 1 and keep the majority by just 1.

Anonymous said...

It depends on which day of the week it is.

I suspect though that he would not support a large scale return to busing--might allow some neighborhood school boundaries to be gradually whittled away however (one could hope he learned something from the East Meck/Myers Park mess).

Amazingly Joe White seems to recognize the futility of attempting to return to busing; Kay McGarry definitely would oppose it but she goes off on tangents that are sometime hard to fathom--does not work well with others in most cases.

So who are you going to get rid of, taking the chance that in a democrat leaning county the democrat and not the republican will win any available slot unless we get another John Lassiter type to run.

(Interestingly, several democrats I know who have been on the board have had a change of heart about busing once they get into the job--or perhaps by the time the job is done. Not Tom Tate, though.)

therestofthestory said...

Yes I had forgotten Tom Tate was a district instead of at large. Currently, Districts 1 and 6 voters had their votes downgraded by 2/3 compared to Districts 2 and 4. I think we have a good shot of getting more representation for the suburbs and small towns with the Republican led legislature.

Anonymous said...


OK, So, does the "Pandering Dunderhead" title go to Tim Morgan (District 6) or Trent Merchant (at-large)?

Anonymous said...

Wiley, I must say your manifesto of thought and reasoning of what is needed in education should be compulsory reading for elected Dunderheads. The sad reality is no sane individual would want to deal with the issues that are avoided on a minute by minute basis by the ladder climbers downtown. The level of analysis and rational thinking in this blog is exponentially higher than anything coming from the BOE. While the blog audience reaches for solutions, the PDs go into avoidance, turf defense, or obfuscation. I nominate PD as the educational acronym of the year.

"All animals are equal, some are more equal than others."

CMS current motto, courtesy G. Orwell

wiley coyote said...

Pandering Dunderhead has legs. It can't be stopped...

"You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is Pandering Dunderheads!!! We've got to stop them - SOMEHOW!!!"

JasmineHDqc said...

Some of us just disagree on what the government's responsibility is in all of this.