Friday, September 2, 2011

GOP jostling and the Chamber "endorsement"

There may not be a school board primary,  but the GOP held a de facto selection process Thursday night to winnow four Republican candidates into a three-person slate.

Political newcomer Scott Babbidge eventually bowed out,  clearing the way for the party to endorse Tom DavisTim Morgan and Ken Nelson for the three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board.  Parties aren't listed on the ballot,  and last time around, voters chose a Republican,  a Democrat and an independent.  But the GOP likes to have a slate to promote to voters.

This year's slate  is hardly united.

Morgan,  who now represents District 6,  says he's in it to ensure that the board's current reform plan continues,  even as CMS seeks a new superintendent.  The other Republicans are taking more of a "shake things up" tack.

In his withdrawal statement,  Babbidge took a shot at Morgan for "jeopardizing his current seat" ( actually, if Morgan loses the at-large race he keeps the seat)  and refusing to make way for three additional Republicans, "further solidifying that his motives are more about himself and his own political aspirations than serving our community."  He personally endorsed Davis,  Nelson and independent Keith Hurley.

Davis says the word went out in June, even before candidates began filing, that the Charlotte Chamber had announced endorsements for the board,  including Tim Morgan,  brother of Chamber President Bob Morgan. "It's not fair for the people that have got all the money in downtown Charlotte to say,  'These are the people we want on the board.' "

Davis's account is only partly correct,  says Natalie English,  the chamber's public policy executive.  As Davis reports,  chamber member Pat Riley did tell others on the chamber's June trip to Seattle that he thought Morgan and Elyse Dashew would represent the chamber's interests well.  Riley added that it would be good to have a "candidate of diversity" representing the county,  English said.

But that's not an official chamber endorsement,  she added.  The chamber hasn't had a PAC or made endorsements in years.  Individual members have thrown their weight behind candidates,  but they aren't unanimous, English said:  "If there were such a thing as a chamber slate, it would be more like five people."


Wiley Coyote said...

I planned to support Scott from day one.

I felt his ideas are what CMS needs.

What we don't need is Tim Morgan.

Thank you Tim, You just ensured that you will NOT get my vote. You may retain your seat in 6 but hopefully the citizens of Mecklenburg County will deny you an at-large seat.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Scott. There are too many candidates in this race as it is.

Anonymous said...

Now there are not enough "sensible" candidates.

Anonymous said...

Tim Morgan supports giving taxing authority to school boards. We have enough people with the authority to tax us already. I will NOT be voting for Tim Morgan. And I'm a strong partisan Conservative Republican

BolynMcClung said...


I recently heard the school board chair characterize the Pay for Performance move as one pitting paying-for-compliance to a set of tenure based work rules against paying teachers for student performance. Pay for Performance is my preferred choice. What is not clear is how to get there.

That idea of how tenured public teachers do their jobs and gain competency over time has gone unchallenged right into the 21st century. The basis for their pay still remains tied to years of service and compliance to a set of rules. Teacher paychecks are not influenced by student achievement.

With the advent of the CEO-like superintendent districts has come the thought that increased student achievement can be attained by measuring and rewarding teacher effectiveness. This includes some pretty earth-shaking concepts.

Atop this list is that a brand-new teacher can be as good as a teacher with years of classroom time; maybe better. That has proven hard to convince parents. It also might be hard to convince voters and the General Assembly is throwing a constitutional wrench into the ballot box.

It is possible that a constitutional amendment strengthening the Defense of Marriage Act will be on the November 8th ballot. Many are predicting a huge turnout.

Those voters are likely to hold the traditional value that marriage is between a “man and a woman.” Thirty other states have held such votes and all have been winners for the traditional concept.

The question for the At-Large school board candidates is will those voters driven to the polls to settle the constitutional issue view Pay-for-Tenure or Pay-for-Performance as what is best for American. If ever there were a subject for a pre-election poll, this would be one.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

So how does this work? Personal interest groups identify individuals as "their" men(women)and anoint them as the candidate of "their" interests. What is the Chamber's interest? I thought their interest was job development, not political gamesmanship. I thought their interest was getting government out of business' hair, not meddling into pay plans of school teachers. Heck, how many of the "business" folks are running pristine operations today. Tim Morgan is currently unemployed as a result of a downfall in the construction industry.

BOA and the banks are so knowledgeable? Look at where they are right now as a result of their business savvy. Some many experts. They should stay out of education and stick to what they claim to know!

Listen to the Swann groups interviews folks. They tell a lot. I like what Davis and Hurley are saying. Manage the Super and support the troops. Admit when your program is not working and let principals evaluate teachers. Stop all the crazy testing.

Tim Morgan just wants to do more of the same. I think he does because he really does not have a clue. His ego has him touting himself as the only one with experience. He is just so smart, bless his heart!

Dashew lost my vote because of this Chamber early selection. I am not sure I can trust her which I am sad to report because I think she is trying hard to educate herself.

Teachers, educate yourselves on these candidates. Listen to what your peers are saying. Get active in who these folks are because they are going to dictate who the next super is and where things like PfP are going.

ps, PfP has a new name..I am sure they will roll that our with a new marketing process funded by the Gates Foundation and spearheaded by the Chamber!

Wiley Coyote said...

...Pay for Performance is my preferred choice. What is not clear is how to get there.

Use the Pelosi Method.

Support all of the candidates who support PFP and after they get elected, we'll find out "what's in it"....


BolynMcClung said...

No, that’s not what I was saying about how to get to a workable Pay-for-Performance.

The version that was rolled out last winter was unusable; both from the standpoint of operating it and from acceptance. Clearly the fault in the initial concept was not enough respect for the what is good in the Career Status program.

I believe there will be changes that take us away from pay for tenure. That was the point of the State’s mandate that set this in motion. The looming budget problems of the next ten years will drive this. The solution could be as simple as the Balanced Scorecard. It will not be 100% test based.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


You do realize the grand scheme from leftist, progressive liberals like Arne Duncan is to start every teacher off at $60,000 per year and allow them to make up to $150,000 per year?

Should the starting salary for a teacher be $60,000?

How would the nation's school system be different if teachers were paid like engineers?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan proposed last month that a significant boost in teacher salaries could transform public schools for the better by luring the country's brightest college graduates into the profession.

Teachers should be paid a starting salary of $60,000, Duncan said, with the opportunity to make up to $150,000 a year. That's higher than the salaries of most high school principals, who are generally paid much more than teachers.

The dismal state of public education has nothing to do with teachers or what they get paid.

Duncan's premise is that paying teachers $150,000 per year will lure "better candidates who otherwise wouldn't teach because of salary".

Until we hold parents accountable and stop the "no child left behind dumbing every other kid down because we have to save one" mentality and put a discipline policy in place that has teeth in it, no amount of $150,000 per year teachers will make any difference.

BolynMcClung said...

It's always nice to be reminded that beyond the borders of this county are groups that want to exert their influence on us.

However, if we concentrate on bringing as much control back to the local level we will be OK - maybe even better.

If the county stays with Pay-for-Tenure we'll never have better local control. It will be the same sorry one-size-fits-all system NCDPI has tried to make work for all 115 school districts.

This argument over what is the source of student achievement is well worth the battle.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Bolyn, The Gates poll showed strong support for PFP versus pay-for-seniority among people in this county.

Wiley and others have been vocal in their support of pay-for-seniority on Observer message boards, but that doesn't mean that their sentiments are mainstream.

BolynMcClung said...


I understand the appearance of support for pay-for-performance. But there are two strong forces working against it:

1.)) teachers who have worked hard for the current blend of tenure and work place rules.

2.)) parents who may see the value of pay-for-performance but are reluctant to let their children be the guinea pigs. It’s that old approach avoidance thing.

Even a new 6-3 board would have a difficult time pleasing just one of these groups.

We now have 15 At-Large candidates. I have supported three with donations. My choices have little to do with philosophy or whether they support a particular idea. In fact one of them is on the opposite side of the school district tax issue.
I selected these because I don’t believe they will lead us down the paths of some previous ill-tempered boards.

Eric Davis has proved how difficult it is to sway board members after they are elected. Twice he has gone to the public to present his case in search of transparency and community support with hopes that it would bring the board together. No such luck.

So that leaves us with good old elections to change the course of education in Mecklenburg. I’d settle for the 5-4 board as now constructed but 6-3 will push us way ahead of the rest of the state’s students.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 12:56...

My comments on pay for seniority is based on the fact that the vast majority of teachers are competent, qualified teachers and their years of service should reflect that in their salary.

I have also stated I have no problem with merit pay because just as in any business, there are people who perform better than others and they are compensated for it.

I am against the the current attempt to implement PFP because the sole reason politicians and educrats want it is because they believe it will magically improve student performance. The money it will cost and time taken away from instruction isn't worth it.

Find a way to implement a merit pay system that does not upset the entire system and cost millions to implement.

Anonymous said...

Not to take away from the tenure/performance issue here, but someone might want to ask Ken Nelson about some of his rants in the past on the readers forums in this newspaper. Specifically like the ones before last year's elections where he suggested people start an armed rebellion if Jim demint and rand Paul did not get elected, or why he so much supported the white power conference that slmost came to Charlotte earlier this year. Even better, why the racist Stromfront website shows up when you google search his e-mail name 'knelsud92'. Is this really somebody we want runnnig for public office in our community?

Anonymous said...

Wiley, CMS has an operating budget of over $1 billion. Most of this money is spent on teachers and other personnel. Shouldn't some percentage of this be devoted towards human resources policies including PFP to ensure that the personnel spending is being allocated efficiently? Do you have any idea what percentage of the $billion plus budget is spent on PFP?

If you have a merit pay proposal that's cheaper than CMS's existing system, you should make the proposal and detail how it will work. You should show how much it will save compared to the existing merit pay system that's just starting to get implemeneted.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 5:06..

The current fad of PFP is being pushed to "increase student achievement".

Much of what I have read shows PFP does nothing to improve student performance so why go through with doing it? Why put students, teachers and parents through all of that with little to no increased results, much less the millions it will cost to implement and maintain the program?

There is no data to support Bright Beginnings and what little has been reported shows students in the program do no better than those who did not attend. Gorman even stated that fact and wanted to gut it when we were facing a $100 million dollar budget shortfall.

Amazing how we still have it lurking around after finding money. $22 million a year down the drain for a program that serves 3,200 students with little to show for it.

Pay for performance will wind up doing the same thing.

Teachers and their performance is NOT what ails public education.

Teachers today are implementors of POLICY, period. Politicians and educrats are the facilitators.

BolynMcClung said...

I could suggest the current fad is tenure and not be wrong.

Just because it has lasted 100+ years doesn't eliminated it from the ranks of experimental or even flawed.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Is there consistent empirical research to support the idea that pay-for-seniority and tenure improve student achievement? I don't think there is. But that doesn't stop us from spending hundreds of billions each year on this type of pay system in U.S. schools.

Paying people according to how well they do their job is common sense. This is why most citizens support a merit pay structure even without consistent studies on its efficacy.

Here's something to consider: Are there clear studies showing that merit pay and a lack of tenure works well for NFL teams? No, but just try insituting a seniority-based pay system with the Panthers and see how far you get. Pay the oldest players the most regardless of performance. Keep linebackers well into their 60s as long as they show up each day for practice. Give younger players tenure after three years. If the Panthers were to eventually take home a Super Bowl using this system, you could claim victory.

Then try taking pay-for-seniority and tenure practices to other sectors of the economy.

Wiley Coyote said...

Tenure isn't what is broken.

The whole product of public education is....

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 8:13..

You're comparing apples and oranges.

As a business, teachers in the education hierachy have little input in what they teach nor do they have any say in the parts they are required to use for the end product (students).

They are like line workers in a factory assembling cars.

Are the line workers responsible for the lemons produced because of lousy designs or inferior parts made by someone else?

Again, teachers are implementors, not facilitators.

The focus of what is wrong with public education is way off course.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, Your argument seems to be that students arrive at different levels, and therefore the schools shouldn't be held accountable for increases in student achievement.

You're also arguing that teachers don't develop the curriculum and therefore shouldn't be responsible for whether students learn or not.

Obviously teachers are not the entire equation in improving the weak student achievement that exists in this country. But your arguments still sound like a cop-out and an excuse for continuing with the status quo.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 10:03...


The SYSTEM is responsible for ensuring students progress. Teachers are a part of the system but have very little say in what comes down and what they get to work with.

Holier than thou educrats continue to spew the rhetoric that children who live in or come from high concentrations of low income households and neighborhoods can't learn because of location and are at a "disadvantage" before they set one foot in a school. Many still believe because a child is Black they are at a disadvantage.

Yesterday it was skin color. Today it's income.

We continue to spend more and more money every year on "disadvantaged" students yet we have NO clue as to who these kids are.

We've spent nearly $227 MILLION on Bright Beginnings since inception yet we still have dismal graduation rates and the "achievement gap" remains wide.

Do teachers make these policies? Did a teacher come up with the bright idea of Bright Beginnings and have the power to keep funding this farce of a program? Is it the fault of teachers that many kids come to school ill prepared and get no help at home? Is it the teacher's fault children come to school with bad manners or no respect for authority?

The business of public education is to educate our children. The end product is mediocre. If this was something I bought in a store and found to be not as advertised or broken, I would have already taken it back for a refund.

The status quo is politicians and educrats, along with special interest groups like the NAACP who have their own agendas.

I have confidence in teachers to do their job. Until we release the stranglehold on them to do their jobs and get rid of the mentality we have to dumd kids down to save one, nothing will change.

Wiley Coyote said...

..dumb down

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03 said, "Your argument seems to be that students arrive at different levels, and therefore the schools shouldn't be held accountable for increases in student achievement."

This couldn't be farther from the truth, but it is unrealistic to expect more than a year's growth in a year's time. Sometimes it happens, but when it doesn't and a child started out behind, they continue to be behind, even if they made a year's growth.

Some students start out behind and do not make a year's growth, so they fall further behind year after year. That's part of the problem with the "No Child Left Behind" legislation and many of the critics of teachers--they assume everyone can learn at the same rate and do not take those children into consideration.

Teachers are told what to teach (NC Standard Course of Study) when to teach it (pacing guides), how to teach it (Open Court/Imagine It, Math Investigations, Science Kits), and how to assess what has been taught (DIBELS, EGOs, EOCs,etc.).

I grow soooo weary of people, who have not spent enough time with students and teachers to understand what is really happening in our classrooms, spouting how things should be.

It you are a candidate for school board and you want my vote, you need to be able to tell me where and when you observed in our classrooms. (More than once or twice, please.) Unless you actually have some first-hand knowledge of how your decisions will impact our teachers and students, you really don't need to be on the board.

Wiley is right.

Scott Babbidge said...

I feel it important to clarify three things:
First, I have not officially endorsed anyone other than Tom Davis and Ken Nelson. What I actually DID say at Thursday's meeting is that I would be endorsing 3 Conservatives. We've elected and allowed Moderates and Liberals to the CMS Board for too long, and the results frankly have not been good. But as a point of fact, I have not endorsed a third candidate officially at this point. I have had numerous conversations with Keith Hurley but as of 11:10 PM on Monday Sept 5th, I've not formally endorsed him. We should be reporting these things factually.
Second, I stand by what I said about Tim Morgan. If his concern was altering the landscape of the Board in order to give Conservative folks a chance to have a positive impact on CMS, he would not be running at large. He'd be working to help other at large candidates win. Fact is, Tim wants a "leadership position" on the Board. Whether that is chair or vice chair I do not know.
Third, I got into this race with a promise that I would not be the 4th Republican because I did not want to water down the vote. I was not aware Tom Davis had filed as a Republican until a number of days after the filing deadline. There have been dozens and dozens of conversations about what to do - but in the end, I made a promise that I would not be the 4th Republican, and I kept my word. I believe that a person's words are worthless unless their actions reinforce what they say. I think principles should mean something in this country.

I'm not going away - my ideas and my vision were listened to and they were VERY well received all across the County. I intend to keep working to see my vision and my ideas implemented by the CMS Board. This election is the most important one around here in 25+ years. We MUST elect the right people - if we do not, CMS will get taxing authority, we'll see a return to busing, and billionaire's foundations will continue telling us how we should be educating our kids. I don't think that is the path CMS should be following.

Wiley Coyote said...


As you are aware, I was supporting you from the beginning.

The decision to leave the race is certainly yours to make.

School board races are supposed to be non-partisan. We all know they aren't but, you as an individual, father, a conservative, a Republican, should run because of YOUR convictions because YOU feel YOU can make a difference and have new ideas for public education.

My reason for supporting you was because of those convictions and ideas, not because of party affiliation or some deal to get others elected.

I wish you well.

Jeff said...

A couple of things to add to this thread, though it's a few days late so I imagine fewer will see it.

I spent 11-some years instructing various marching bands in the area. One could quibble that teaching 100-some high schoolers over 2.5 hours 3 nights a week doesn't count as classroom time - and I certainly would *not* compare my experience to that of a full-time teacher (let alone a band director) - but I think it counts for something.

Next, I'm sorry to see Scott drop out of the race. We had a lot of similar ideas and I think his goals were really about what would be best for the entire school system.

Bottom line is CMS is allowing the current nouveau wave of school reform dictate their agenda. For the past 6 weeks, I've read through dozens of articles, a couple of books and a variety research studies about aspects of current thinking in education reform and nothing that I've come across shows much support for 1) adding testing in every grade, 2) relying heavily on standardized testing to measure achievement, 3) basing teacher pay (even in small part) on test results, 4) carrot and stick incentives to improve school/district performance (mistakenly labeled achievement) and so on.

CMS already allows the administration in low-performing schools to change up the curriculum and teaching methods - I would like to expand that to all schools.

But there needs to be a better method of assessing student achievement (real achievement, not presuming that test score success somehow equals achievement, it does not), teacher effectiveness and school effectiveness.

I think we can create such an assessment system by relying on trained educators, not testing systems.

Peer reviews for teachers, trusting teachers to assess their students and having principals and their staffs pull all that together is one way to get started.

It means nothing if 90% of students graduate high school but don't have the proper skills to function successfully in the job marketplace.


Wiley Coyote said...


Enjoyed reading your comments.

Whatever happened to teaching a subject, teacher designs a test based on subject matter covered, students take the test(s) and receive a grade? Factoring in projects, homework etc. and at the end of the year, the student either passes or they don't?

The only issue I have is the "relying on trained educators".

What exactly is a trained educator? Haven't we been blessed with trained educators for the past 40 years during the time public education has slowly slipped into the abyss?

Where were the "trained educators" when my brother graduated 16th in his class yet only had about an 11th grade education?

How do public schools in this country have students in high school who still read on an elementary school level if there are "trained educators" in charge?

Your last paragraph pretty much sums it up.

Scott Babbidge said...

I appreciate your thoughtful comments - and I promise getting out was very difficult. CMS students, teachers, parents and taxpayers need and deserve to have people like me serving them - and I know I was the best person for the job. But as I've said it never was about political gain or some self serving or self promoting agenda for me. We've got a VERY real opportunity as a community to send a serious message to the tensing board members by electing 3 Conservatives to the board and giving common sense folks and folks who believe in service before self a chance.
And, I'm no longer a candidate but I'm still very very involved in this election....and I have other projects currently in development to keep moving the needle that I started moving during my brief campaign. I know my ideas and vision are exactly what CMS needs - not because I say so, but because Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike have been calling and emailing me and telling me so......
But again, it's not about me! It's about the ideas and vision to make real and meaningful and positive changes to our public schools because it is extremely important....
In the end it came down to what was more important to me - self promotion or my actions backing up my words. I chose the latter - and I'm not going away - now I just have to bring my ideas and vision to the table in a different way.
Scott Babbidge

Jeff Wise said...

Regarding Wiley's question about Trained Educators.

I think what I'm reaching for is a system that's put together by teachers that details various traits, outcomes, results, etc. that students should exhibit in certain subjects in certain grades.

Same kind of thing for assessing teachers too.

Teachers would get a half-dozen or so assessments throughout the year by peers and school administrators. If some assessments vary wildly among peers, then that's a red flag and we do a little more investigating.

But the bigger purpose is for teachers and their peers to collaborate more with each other. I've read some articles that show this is a big factor in successful schools of all stripes.

Also, the assessment details for teachers and students will not be static. We'll want to convene groups every few years - at least - to assess the assessments (for lack of a better descriptor).

Bottom line is getting the teachers more involved in assessing students and teachers which gives them a bigger stake in the game of education.

Management studies show that workers who are more involved as stakeholders tend to not only perform better, but they collaborate better too.