Boycotting What?

Happy Thanksgiving all!

This may go down as one of the least effective protest tactics ever. The Chapel Hill Herald reports that a group of parents in the county school system (ie: northern Orange County) are calling for a boycott of businesses in Chapel Hill (ie: southern Orange County) to protest the disparity in school funding.

Now I sympathize with their cause, but

  1. local businesses have nothing to do with the special district tax on homeowners that raises more money for the southern schools,
  2. they pay the same amount to the county - who funds both systems - as any other business in the county, and
  3. is anyone going to notice that these 20 people and maybe a few of their friends aren't schlepping down 86 to come shopping here? How often do they shop in Chapel Hill and Carrboro anyway?

Am I missing something? Is there a reason why anyone should care about this? Why are they leaving Carrboro out? (Someone must love Weaver Street Market.) Couldn't they think of a better name than "Rural Orange Boycotts Chapel Hill?"

Total votes: 148

Comments

Southern Season was so community minded as to participate in EmPOWERment Inc's Career Explorers program giving Northside teenagers the opportunity to experience career track summer employment. They also participate in lots of other community activities and have a significant charitable support program for non-profit organizations.

-Mark Chilton

Thanks Mark! It's good to know Michael Barefoot is contributing tothe general welfare of the area! Not that I'm surprised...but that IS a "city schools" program, and the county schools are still feeling slighted.

Matt--I wish you could SITE times CH businesses said "no"--but I know they say "no" to the city schools as well--I've been said "no" to myself! That's when I learned that it helps to have a personal connection to the business owner. Small business owners get asked for monetery/goods contributions frequently--and they can't say "yes" to everyone--so it makes sense that they would say "yes" to their COMMUNITY school(s). I don't think that will change once the systems merge--unless there is serious busing--and then the CH merchants may have a personal connection with those schools.

And when I am yelling you will know--I TYPE IN ALL CAPS! (as opposed to OCCASIONAL caps--which are just for emphasis.) ^_^

Melanie

Melanie:

Funny enough, I agree with you. Like I said in my original post, I don't think boycotts are the way to go, especially when you only have a dozen people committed to the idea. When it comes to things like this, I am inherently conservative. I would much rather sit down over coffee and have a nice calm discussion. (Or come on OP.org and have a nice virtual debate where I can't hear it if people are yelling ;-)

And we are talking about Mom and Pop businesses for the most part. A Southern Season, University Mall, and believe it or not, Sports Endeavours are all locally owned. These are the great community sponsors, but there are plenty of chain stores and eateries that do their part too.

And Melanie, I'd think you'd be surprised how often county schools ask city businesses for support, but this isn't one of those things were we can cite studies. All my evidence is anecdotal, and I'm sorry for that. When I was in the system though, I know we asked things of Chapel Hill businesses, and I know they weren't always as receptive as were those in Hillsborough. Ok, that's a terrible argument, but I assure that we aren't foolish---we know we can't expect CH companies to offer their support without asking.

-Matt

Point taken. To my knowledge, A Southern Season doesn't sponsor ANYBODY...and it makes sense for the Lacrosse people to sponsor everyone--that is their customer base. I thought we were talking about Mom and Pop stores--because that's mostly what we have CH. Even A Southern Season is locally owned--and his kid goes (went?) to the Friends School. I'm certain Great Harvest Bread would welcome school groups from the Orange County system. (Has anyone asked? You have to ASK!)

I'm not trying to rain on your parade, Matt, I just think the whole boycott thing was misguided. And, contrary to your assertion, the organizers did target Chapel Hill businesses to put pressure on them " If Chapel Hill businesses start getting hit in the pocket, she [Monroe-Porco ] said, "then perhaps they will nudge county commissioners to do something about the funding inequity." (From the Chapel Hill Herald article linked above.)

Admittedly, the same article complained that CH businesses didn't support the county schools in the same way they supported the city schools. First off, I'd like to know how often the county schools approached the city merchants and ASKED for help? because, believe me, that's the way the city schools get donations. THEY ASK. Secondly,do you really think that the way to encourage local businesses to consider contributing to the county schools is to boycott them? My grandmother used to have a saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar...

hope your finals went/go well!

Melanie

Matt -

get to studying!

One thing that is interesting is that the descrepancy in test scores within the town district (which has the same per pupil funding) on the NC report card was larger than some between town and county.

clearly funding, curriculum, and teachers are not the sole determinants of education as we see here.

Funding can very easily be fixed - if the supplemental tax is not framed to be a prerequisite to merger it will pass. If it is framed as a merger precursor it will have problems.

I still think not bussing kids across the rural buffer and keeping our current SAPFO ordinance in place and not putting pressure to develop the county has benefits that merger is in contradiction to.

I hope the supplemental is framed to bring in more money for the county schools not as a merger precursor.

I'm late jumping in--but I think it's interesting that this conversation slipped from "let's discuss the boycott" to (yet another) merger discussion. I refuse to get all het up about the merger. The County Commisioners are going to do what they want to do. In the past, they've wanted to be re-elected, so they table the whole discussion. I've lived in CH of Carrbor since 1982--this is NOT the first time merger has come up. Interestingly enough, in the past it has been the COUNTY residents who were the most vociferously anti-merger. (That whole taxes thing.)

My kid isn't going to be affected no matter WHAT happens--because he graduates in two years...so I've been able to be a little more dispasionate about the whole thing. There is an important question to consider: What do people think they will GAIN by merging the systems? I know what people thinkk they will lose (and that really remains to be seen)--but what will they GAIN?

On the CH merchants not supporting the OCS...how much support do the CHS get from merchants north of I85? My guess? Not much. MOST merchants I know support schools THEIR KIDS ATTEND/ATTENDED. Not the system, the actual SCHOOL. Do you think this will change if the systems merge?

Melanie

Melanie:

In regards to how much support CH Schools get North of I-85, I don't know the answer to that question. But I can think of a least one specific example where a Northern Orange business does what it can for schools throughout the county, and that is Sports Endevarous and its specific companies: Eurosport and Great Atlantic Lacrosse. It's based in Hillsborough, and its agents support sports programs at all the high schools (as well as some of the middle schools, if I'm not mistaken).

We don't have the same commercial districts that you have in Chapel Hill, and thus we don't have the same businesses. We don't have a Southern Season or a University Mall. The new Super Walmart may end up being a terrifc community sponsor, but I'm not holding my breath. And when my family's business supports our schools it isn't with donations of cash--it's with our time. For years, at least one group from the High School and at least one elementary school have driven up the road to visit our farm. And that has very little to do with where I or my siblings went to school. We would offer the same tour to anyone from Chapel Hill who bothered to ask.

Sure, it's only natural for a Mom who runs a business or a Dad who is a store manager to look for ways to help her or his kid's specific school, but it is not always the case. There are businesses that make gifts to the system as a whole. And surely, if someone donates thirty computers to one school in the district, then the district could possibly look at another school with greater need the next time it sits down to buy some technology.

Back to tests,

Cheers,

Matt

Jay, Mark, et. al.,

Sorry again for the delayed response. Exam time at Carolina, what can I say?

Jay,

I certainly appreciate your concern, and I'm not going to advocate sending kids to school far away from where they live. Nor do I think we should avoid working through all the issues we can concieve before we merge (because surely, there will be things that arise which we never dreamed of). I think those of us who are serious about wanting a merger are also serious about looking at this reasonably.

But I do think this has to happen in the sake of fairness. To some extent Mark is right. It is very difficult to increase funding to the county schools. But we certainly don't have the tax base that the city has. From everything I've seen, there are more people and there are higher property values in the southern part of Orange. If we merged, our taxes would go up (but not as high as it would if we stayed seperate) and your taxes would go down.

I have much more to say, but it's almost early morning...I'll update again soon.

Mark,

I agree that, if the county commissioners wanted to equalize funding tomorrow, they could abolish the special district tax and be forced to make the hard decision to raise taxes. But I wonder, given the already heated back-and-forth between county residents and city residents -- talk of boycotts, dark predictions about the outcome for city students, etc -- whether that wouldn't actually increase the bad blood, just over a different issue.

That is, the commissioners _could_ abolish the special district tax and raise property taxes sufficiently so that city students (and their parents) would see no drop-off in per-pupil funding. Since they're already used to paying higher taxes to support schools, I reckon there'd be little protest from Chapel Hill-Carrboro city school parents, especially since their total tax bills wouldn't have to change much, if at all.

But the tax bills in the county, as we've all noted ad nauseum, would have to increase substantially. This would likely engender quite a bit of resentment, and perhaps even a movement to throw out the commissioners who voted for the tax increase.

But since city parents would be motivated to _keep_ funding where it is, and are used to paying the higher tax, and the registered voters in the Ch-Carrboro school district greatly outnumber those in the county school district (54,166 vs. 24,012, by current registration numbers), it would be unlikely -- if the race devolved into a referendum on the new tax structure -- that county voters could succeed in throwing out the offending commissioners, who are still elected at-large. In subsequent elections, I can see northern county residents being eternally out-voted by city residents in an even more clear way than they already are, if a candidate's position on property taxes became the litmus test -- as it would, to a greater extent than it is now, because city residents would see an even more direct correlation of property taxes to school funding.

You can bet every single voter's forum around Chapel Hill would include some variation on the question: "Will you pledge to keep school funding steady, if not increasing, by raising taxes when necessary?"

The end result of all that, as I see it, would be even greater rivalry between north and south and more antagonism and resentment than we already have.

In an odd way, it's possible to see the district tax as something that keeps the relations between north and south slightly _better_ than they would be otherwise, because it allows the commissioners to tax people according to their willingness to pay. But as you point out, there's a certain amount of wimpiness in that.

The other alternative might be to change the way the commissioners are elected. But would that make the debate any less fierce and personal? I doubt it. And it might entrench southern Orange political power even more completely.

Mark-

there has been some thorough analysis of the numbers and taxes and such on the Infrom listserve which I believe is at www.4schools.us to check out for detail.

In terms of costs of schools - you are right - the town pays a bit more to "subsidize" the schools in the county. If in fact the 2 areas were completely independent town tax would be a bit lower or if the county paid to run the more expensive town schools.

The surprising part to me was that this subsidy - which I thought was part of the injustice - e.g. a house in town generates a lot more taxes than a house in the county - turns out to be offset greatly by the fact that there are much fewer people per acre in the county and there also (for reasons I don't understand) a lot of retired folks without kids. Thus in part the unpopularity of raising taxes for education. In the end ratios of tax collected per student ends up being very very similar so there isn't as much re-distribution from the town to the county as people thought there was.

In a way you are right. I don't think any attention has been given to the fact that if the cost of living is higher in town than the county - one could argue per pupil spending in town should be higher than in the county. So in a way if all the costs are thrown into a pot and divided per pupil the county could end up paying more to run the more expensive town schools.

The big problem would be that if you paid all the teachers and janitors and support staff the same salary it is possible the better employees would choose to work were the cost of living is lower. As far as I know none of the process so far has looked at whether higher costs of living mean for instance teachers in town should be paid more than teachers in the county. Salaries have not been discussed or operational expenses to my knowledge. IF salaries were adjusted to reflect cost of living differences in the 2 places, you very well could be right - the county would subsidize the towns more.

As far as the county tax level - I think this county wide supplemental tax - I am not sure if it HAS to go on the ballot - I thought the commissioners had some power to levy minimum taxes for educational improvement. But this tax would allow the counties to get more while keeping the schools smaller and more responsive. I think the district tax is needed to some extent if you think that the town schools SHOULD operationally cost more to run than the county schools - which I do.

The tax determination process by the commissioners is a bit mysterious to me. There is some "target" of 48% funding for schools, but this is always exceeded. So I don't understand why they don't just exceed it more. Also, I don't believe either district - FYI always gets the full amount it asks for. (the town doesn't either) I guess raising taxes is not something elected officials do very much!

Matt -

In addition to the above, given the permanence of merger I think it perfectly reasonable that the details be worked out first before taking the plunge.

The attitude of we don't need to have all the answers before merging - that Carey presented - alienated a bunch of people.

I really don't think that Moses was suggesting that we don't need answers. Indeed it seems like the diehard merger opponents have been the ones who don't care to hear any answers. I, for one, am interested in hearing more about it. I don't think we need to merge right away, but I do think that we should have one school system at some point.

I think I am picking up on a new (to me) argument from Matt Compton and Jay (even though they disagree). I'll articulate it here because I think it makes Dana Thomson look less ridiculous. It seems to go like this:

When the County needs more money for Chapel Hill schools, it raises the district tax. When it needs more money for the County schools, it does nothing. The County is unwilling to raise taxes on the entire County and support schools with the County-wide tax increases. So long as there is a Chapel Hill school district and a Chapel Hill school district tax, the County will always be wimpy about adopting the taxes that are really needed to support the County schools.

Did I get that right?

If I did, it seems like we could abolish the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district tax and that that would eliminate the funding disparity by making it impossible for the County to wimp out and tax only Chapel Hill/Carrboro and environs. Furthermore, if the above argument were at all fair in its characterization of the County's actions (and I am not saying that it is; I wouldn't know) then those of us in the City school district may well be paying more for school services than we should really have to. Right?

-Mark Chilton

Misconceived boycotts are not all that uncommon. People forget to ask two questions: can we bring enough force to bear to really make a difference; and, if successful, how will that further our goal.

As you say, there's probably not enough people involved in this case. What can they win? Do they really expect merchants to anger an even larger customer base by telling the commissioners they support merger? Not likely.

And, how does it make sense to spend in other counties rather than put their sales tax $$$ into Orange County where it will help their children?

It would be interesting if someone from that parent group would weigh in on these questions.

It seems like county folks should elect school board members who will support taxes in their district as the most direct route to increase funding. Instead school board members in the county get elected on a platform of no new - what are they expecting?

If most of the people elected to the county school board don't support more money for education why don't they protest in front of the school board members' houses instead.

Oh - I know why - because the elected school boards actually represent the majority views in both town and county.

Oh well - I guess sometimes elected officials do represent their constituents accurately.

"Couldn't they think of a better name than "Rural Orange Boycotts Chapel Hill?" "

I suppose they could have used another name, but then it wouldn't spell out R.O.B. CH. Get it?

The 20 or so folks who are advocating the boycott are also proposing that folks shop in Northern Orange instead. Someone needs to tell them that all sales tax dollars (regardless of where spent) in the County go to the same place before equal distribution.

Coincidentally (?) these are the same 20 folks who formed a couple of other pro-merger groups ... Boardwatch and FICCS.

I have still yet to understand how a self-impossed special district tax in Chapel Hill / Carrboro is unfair to Orange County Schools. The main ringleader and school board member who is a member of ROBCH/FICCS/Boardwatch voted against Orange County getting its own Special District Tax back in 2002. How is that fair?

pdn

From the Herald-sun...

"This mostly grew out of the discussions about merger and school funding," said Dana Thompson, a boycott advocate, merger supporter and member of the Orange County school board.

Maybe the problem in the county is the caliber of school board officials themselves??? open question?

Dana Thompson refused to second a motion to implement a district tax in the county to equalize funding last month. So does she really care about funding per say??? I think not.

Hypocritical??? Having your cake and eating it too??

Stupid?? Or just trying to have a political issue to get re-elected on???

You be the judge

I seem to have lost the original letter to the Chapel Hill News proposing the boycott (CHN, Nov 16th). But I'm pretty sure that it contained a strange paragraph that talked about taxes, asserting that county taxpayers outside of the CH/C school district were burdened by rural buffers, watersheds, etc. I don't think she came right out and said it, but the implication I carried away was that the boycottors don't want to pay additional taxes. If I understand this correctly (and I probably don't), they are boycotting until CH/C taxes itself MORE (remember the reference to the woman who earned $250K/year?) to pay for county school improvements.

This sounds so crazy that I don't quite believe that's what they want, but the woman who wrote the letter had also written one earlier, and neither one ever said clearly what she wants. But this demand, if my impression is correct, might explain why they aren't asking the Orange County school board to raise county taxes. Does anyone know?

Both the CHN and CH Herald have stories - thanks, Ruby! - and at least one refers to a manifesto of some sort, but of course neither paper has published it. Has anyone seen it?

George,

In 2002, the Orange County School Board mulled over the possibility of asking the OC BoCC for a Special District Tax. Tax increases, in general, are not a popular in Northern Orange County. It was also a School Board Election year. It has been speculated that Dana Thompson, who was chair of the School Board at the time, opted to pull back her endorsement of the implementation of a Orange County Special District Tax (that she had previously fought so hard for) so that a District Tax would not be an election year issue ... because the candidates she supported that year would have been in favor of the tax, and hence, vulnerable.

This year, in 2003, the new Chair of the school board, Keith Cook, suggested that the Special District Tax be revisited in lieu of the talks of School Merger. As mentioned previously, the motion died for lack of a second.

If funding inequity is indeed the most important issue, the OC School Board has had at least two opportunities to address it.

pdn

Many people in Chapel Hill think they are Christians because they claim to believe in Jesus. But, believing in Jesus often means nothing, or anything, particularly here in Chapel Hill where pluralism and relativism are rampant.

Intolerance is the only thing not tolerated by the postmodernist who says, "My truth is different than your truth, so don't judge me with your outdated morals." Such commentary by the non-thinking and spiritually dead is all too common. But it doesn't change the true meaning of what it means to be a follower of Christ. So, what does it mean to be a Christian?

To be a Christian, you must first know who Christ is. Biblically, He is God in flesh, second person of the Trinity (John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9). He is the great "I AM" (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58). He is the savior who was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), who died, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4), physically (John 2:19-21). He alone is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Only by the name of Jesus may a person be saved (Acts 4:12) and all who do not trust in Him alone for the forgiveness of their sins will be judged (Matt. 25:41) accordingly. Jesus is both God and man (Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5; Phil. 2:5-8). He is our eternal intercessor (Heb. 7:25) who mediates our salvation to the Father (1 Tim. 2:5). To Him be the glory.

Jesus is not merely some man who was wise (Secularism). He was not the product of sexual relations between a god and goddess from another world (Mormonism). He is not a man in tune with the divine consciousness (Christian Science). He is not the first created thing in the universe (Jehovah's Witnesses). He is not the harmonious, really-neat-teacher (New Age). He is the creator of all things (Col. 1:16-17; Isaiah 44:24). He is our Lord & Savior.

Once you know who Jesus is, you must trust Him to forgive you of your sins. Ask Him to forgive you. He will. Then, once you are saved, you are a Christian. But, you are not a trophy to be placed on a shelf and left alone. You are more like a pair of sneakers to be used. That is what it means to be a Christian. It means you have found the true Savior, not a false one of the cults. It means you have been saved by God's grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8) and are now seeking to please Him in your life by following His commands (1 John 2:4). Such obedience does not save you nor contribute to your salvation. This obedience is motivated by love and thankfulness and is a response of being saved.

So, being a Christian means knowing the true Christ and following Him in truth.

However, in Chapel Hill, apostasy has reared its ugly head, the liberal church. There are those who do not hold Christ in the highest of regard, as God in flesh, and because they fail to do that, they fail to understand the gospel, they fail to become saved, and they fail to understand what it means to be a Christian. Take the following quote as an example (Note I am not suggesting all Methodist churches are like this):

"Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco has this Call to Worship in their printed bulletin on Sunday and recited by the leader: "We are all of us Christians—Jews, liberals, Bolsheviks, anarchists, socialists, Communists, Keynesians, Democrats, Civil Righters, Beatniks, ministers, moderate Republicans, pacifists, teach-inners, doctors, scientists, professors, Latin Americans, New Africans, Common Marketers, even Mao Tse-Tung. Doubtless. From Lyndon Johnson to Mao Tse-Tung, we are all Christians." This church once preached the Gospel and from which, several decades ago, a most powerful evangelistic note was sounded. Today, many of its services are performed in the mode of the modern dance. Suggestive gyrations are indulged in and the church has become a haven for dope addicts, hippies, homosexuals, and sex-pots".

There is nothing wrong with ministering to the lost, but it is all for nothing if a false Christ and false hope of what it means to be a Christian is presented. So, I ask you, are you a Christian? Do you follow the true and living God the Son? Do you trust in Him alone for the forgiveness of your sins? Examine yourselves as the scripture says and lean in Christ alone for the salvation that is freely offered (Rom. 6:23).

In light of the recent discussion on attribution:

http://www.carm.org/devotions/Christian.htm

http://www.whatischristianity.org.uk/Bible%20lesson/WHAT_IS_A_CHRISTIAN.htm

A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.

-Samuel Clemens "Mark Twain", American author and humorist

Nice of you to cite the works you plagiarize, Damion.

Actually, I cited those web sites. My name is Dimion, I'm only

distantly related to Damion.

Oops. Nice of you to cite the works Damion plagiarizes, Dimion.

Damion interrupts the conversation: "So, I ask you [Chapel Hillians], are you a Christian?"

I for one no longer consider myself to be one, Damion. OK? You win! You're right! Now please let someone answer my question.

Here are a couple of good links to keep you occupied. These folks need saving even more than I do:

http://www.landoverbaptist.org/

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

But what does Jesus think about merger?

I'm with Jay, and it makes me think that the CH-Carrboro folks against the merger have handled it all wrong.

As a purely strategic move, they should have never positioned themselves as "against" the merger, because negative positions like that tend to inspire conflict and opposition and resentment, which is what's characterized much of the "debate" since Moses Carey broached the subject.

What they should have done was to say:

"Great! We're all for merger if it's the will of the people of Orange County. When you all figure out how to democratically decide what the will of the people of Orange County is, get back to us. Now, a vote by the county commissioners isn't the kind of democratic canvass we're talking about, and we're sure most of the people of Orange County would agree. Just devise a way to put it to a vote; we understand that it's difficult to do under the law, but it's not impossible. That would be fair, wouldn't it? Heck, we'll even take ourselves out of the voting! Oh, and don't forget to mention to the people of Orange County that merger is likely to mean a countywide property tax increase, even if it's not called a "special district tax." "

That is, if they'd been smart, the CH-Carrboro people would have positioned themselves as opponents of the _process_, not the outcome, knowing that if the process were more democratic, the outcome would be predictable and in their favor.

As an added bonus, they'd have a recorded countywide vote on the subject to refer to every time someone decided to bring the idea up again. The idea would be effectively buried forever at that point.

I think they would have had more success as "advocates for democracy" than as "opponents of merger."

DVM -

yes the marketing or spinning could have been done better but the facts are:

1. there is no public support for merger (meaning probably only 20% of the populace at most supports a forced merger).

2. The county itself is vastly against the property tax hike no matter what it is called. (this was obvious when no one on the county school board last month would even second a motion to put a minimal tax UP FOR A VOTE before the people). (one can only conclude that they don't actually need the money the school board members are crying out for or they school board is derelict in its duty.)

3. At least one of the county school board members has severe intellectual impariment.

4. because the base property tax to student ratio is very very similar in both town and county (as publicly noted by Barry Jacobs) there is no "social justice" in a merger only a tax hike of almost the same amount whether or not there is a merger or just equal funding. Do people in this scenario want 1 big district or 2 smaller ones.

5. if a merger happens SAPFO become worthless and void.

6. until the county school board can cooperate with ITSELF how is the town school board supposed to figure out what the county school board wants?

That was my point. I'm not quibbling with you.

How differents groups see your two cows...

Yellow Dog DEMOCRAT

You have two cows.

Your neighbor has none.

You feel guilty for being successful.

Barbara Streisand sings for you.

---

REPUBLICAN

You have two cows.

Your neighbor has none.

So?

---

SOCIALIST

You have two cows.

The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

---

COMMUNIST

You have two cows.

The government seizes both and provides you with milk.

You wait in line for hours to get it.

It is expensive and sour.

---

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE

You have two cows.

You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE

You have two cows.

The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

---

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE

You have two cows.

The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours the milk down the drain.

---

AMERICAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.

You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows.

You are surprised when one cow drops dead.

You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have down sized and are reducing expenses.

Your stock goes up.

---

FRENCH CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You go on strike because you want three cows.

You go to lunch and drink wine.

Life is good.

---

JAPANESE CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You redesign them so they are one tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.

They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.

Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

---

GERMAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.

Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

---

ITALIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows but you don't know where they are.

While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.

You break for lunch.

Life is good.

---

RUSSIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You have some vodka.

You count them and learn you have five cows.

You have some more vodka.

You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.

The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

---

TALIBAN CORPORATION

You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two.

You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.

Then you kill them and claim a US bomb blew them up while they were in the hospital.

---

IRAQI CORPORATION

You have two cows.

They go into hiding.

They send radio tapes of their mooing.

---

POLISH CORPORATION

You have two bulls.

Employees are regularly maimed and killed trying to milk them.

---

FLORIDA CORPORATION

You have a black cow and a brown cow.

Everyone votes for the best looking one.

Some of the people who like the brown one best, vote for the black one.

Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither.

Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.

Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which is the best looking cow.

---

CALIFORNIA CORPORATION

You have a cow and a bull.

The bull is depressed.

It has spent its life living a lie.

It goes away for two weeks.

It comes back after a taxpayer-paid sex-change operation.

You now have two cows.

One makes milk; the other doesn't.

You try to sell the transgender cow.

Its lawyer sues your for discrimination.

You lose in court.

You sell the milk-generating cow to pay the damages.

You now have one rich, transgender, non-milk-producing cow.

You change your business to beef.

PETA pickets your farm.

Jesse Jackson makes a speech in your driveway.

Cruz Bustamante calls for higher farm taxes to help "working cows".

Hillary Clinton calls for the nationalization of 1/7 of your farm "for the children".

Gray Davis signs a law giving your farm to Mexico.

The L.A. Times quotes five anonymous cows claiming you groped their teats.

You declare bankruptcy and shut down all operations.

The cow starves to death.

The NY Times' analysis shows your business failure is Bush's fault.

I have started this post about a dozen times now and backed off. To begin with, I was too angry, and then, I had no time to put any thought into a good post. Now, I think I'm ready.

What Dana Thompson and those parents are boycotting is not necessarily the tax revenue that the Chapel Hill businesses collect for Chapel Hill schools. What we as residents of Orange County are upset about are the voluntary contributions that those businesses give to the city-schools. It may be as simple as donating food for a teacher-appreciation lunch, it might be sponsoring a sports team, or it could be an actual charitable donation to the school itself. But all those things add up, and from everything I've heard, they aren't coming north of I-85. Now, I don't think a boycott is the way to go with just a couple dozen people committed to the idea. For a boycott to be effective, you need a whole mess of the folks, and I just don't think that is going to happen.

But here's the thing, the boycott does address the issue of supporting public education, and that's the problem we as residents of Northern Orange County have. Its not the funding that the County Commissioners give us--it's the support we don't get from individuals and community institutions. The fact of the matter is that many of the wealthier parents from Northern Orange County send their kids to Durham Academy, or any of the other private schools in the area. So they don't join the sports boosters or the PTO. And we don't have a Southern Season or a Top of the Hill, two community-minded businesses with which Chapel Hill has been blessed.

Now, I haven't seen the numbers myself, so I'm prepared to conceed this point to anyone who can show me the the actual proposal. But from all I hear, a special district tax is going to way more heavily on folks who own a lot of land. In Northern Orange, we have a gream many business people whose business is farming---so that tax is going to effect them. But let me tell you a secret about farmers up in Cedar Grove or Efland or Hurdle Mills--on the whole we aren't doing so well. And its like the folks in Chapel Hill keep saying, "It's not entirely about funding." Because any way you look at it, Orange County Schools stack up pretty well in terms of dollars and cents.

So what is this about? It's about making an entire community invested in the same thing. It's about building an entire school system together, one where the wealthiest of our neighbors don't feel the need to send their kids someplace else. And it is about fairness. Fighting the merger should never be about making sure that some kids don't have to ride the bus for an hour to get to school, because let me tell you, there are plenty of us who do. I was one of them---and that was if we ran on time. With a merger, the entire county is invested in the same school district, and I can't help but think that is a good thing.

That's why I support the support this.

And I haven't heard a convincing argument against it. So please, give me a good reason for not letting it happen. I've heard some crazy stuff coming out of this town. We're talking about peoples' kids here, and I know that there is nothing that people feel about more strongly. Not religion, not politics, not sex. But you've got to find a better argument than "Let the county pay for their schools by themselves." 'Cause let me tell you what that sounds like to our ears: "If we let those county kids in, the whole operation is just going to go to hell." Or, "If my kids can't go to Chapel Hill schools anymore, then they're never going to get into college."

There is a reason that our neighboring counties have decided to go this route. And there's a reason that some folks in Raleigh have started saying that the state should only support one school district per county.

Please tell me, what are your reasons for making sure this thing doesn't happen?

I can't imagine any reasonable CHCCS district people would be against merger if: 1) there were no additional costs (financial or otherwise) to district residents and 2) the CHCCS district is "held harmless" (i.e. we can maintain or enhance the system's quality).

Because a merger cannot be undone, I believe the people in the CHCCS district have the right to be assured that those conditions will be met before we proceed.

Bear in mind that you are asking CHCCS district residents to put something at risk that they have chosen to invest in and continue to pay for. My spouse and I looked at a broad range of communities before choosing to live in CH and the school system is what sold us. When we moved here, we had no children and were not expecting yet. We cheerfully paid the district tax for six years before we even had a child in school. But, education was our top priority and we have been happy to pay this premium. Our story reflects the decision-making process and experiences of a large number of families.

We are not from the McMansion and Luxury SUV set so life in Chapel Hill has been expensive for us. We own very high mileage cars and live in a modest home. Would it make sense to you if we were seething with anger because our socio-economic peers who live in the county or in other counties enjoy a better lifestyle due to lower taxes and less expensive housing? Maybe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and maybe it's not. The good news is there is no "fence" that keeps you out of the district or CH-Carrboro residents in and there are plenty of listings in the real estate section for people who want to go either way.

Dear CHCCS Parent:

My family has owned the same farm outside of Hillsborough for about 200 years. You have to understand why we can't just pick up and move. Nor can many who choose to live in the county. If the merger happens, I know there will have to be a tax set in place to equalize funding between the schools. I know that means taxes will go up in Northern Orange. Nothing I've seen says it will cost CH and Carrboro parent a thing. And in what way would you think the county would prevent you from continuing to support your schools? They aren't going to extract a portion of the fundraising your PTO manages to gain. They won't demand that you share the money from the band booster car wash. And if someone makes a donation to a Chapel Hill school, I can't imagine anyone would suggest that be distributed equally among the district.

The risk you all pick up is that which will naturally occur from a transition of this size. It won't be pleasant for anyone, but that's the way things work. And that's a limited danger. Eventually, the pieces will settle into place, and life will be well. But we have to make it happen first.

Do you really want the town people to tell you how to run your schools and how to fund them???

Is that really what you want??? The curriculums will change too. That is what a merged system must do if 70% of the voters are in the southern part. And I would guess Dana Thomson would never be elected to a school board in town. Sadly, she could be appointed to one by the commissioners after they dissolve the democratically elected current one.

Can't you figure out how to elect school board members who support taxes for education as a district tax as chapel hill does. Or even give the commissioners political cover to raise property tax a few cents? Chapel HIll's tax WAS VOTER APPROVED FOR UP TO 35CENTS/100$. Your school board won't even put a 4cent tax BEFORE THE VOTERS - why not blame them??/ I see nothing wrong with democracy- vote out anti-tax members instead of voting them in as happened recently. Have you heard of "grassroots" efforts? The commissioners are politically scared of raising the base property tax directly because of your neighbors in the county. There is no need for merger to increase funding - only support for taxation in the county!

MERGER IS COWARDICE INSTEAD OF DIRECTLY INCREASING BASE PROPERTY TAX.

Please why not blame your school board that you guys elect instead of shifting the blame to another jurisdiction that happily votes in taxes for the environment (green space) and schools.

Also, don't blame people who carefully choose a house to be close to a school and then are not surprisingly upset if their kids would be bussed a lot further in a merged system.

Part of the problem is farmland pays 6cents/100$ in taxes compared to $1.02 that town district taxes pay. If farmland even paid the county base rate of 80 cents/100$ the county would be filthy rich. If merger happens farmland and rural land will be converted to rich subdivisions with horse farms much as rural durham county has. Won't that be great - create 2-3 acre mansion subdivisions instead of farmland and rural land - yes merger will be great. Septic systems are much improved and as long as there are wells it would happen.

Jay,

First off, there is really no need to be condescending. Yes, I am fully aware of what a grass root effort entails. For that reason, I think support for a merger is a lot stronger in the county than people think. Don’t insult me or my intelligence, and I will do my best to offer you the same courtesy.

Second, did you read anything in my post? I said time after time that the movement toward a merger is not completely about funding disparity. Yes, the merger will ensure that funding is equal between the county and the city schools. But what it will really do, the thing that matters almost as much, is make sure that the private support network that exists for Chapel Hill exists for all of us who live in Orange. Maybe I'm hopelessly naive, but I think if we are all in the same district, then all our kids' educational experiences will be enhanced.

Third, like I said, I haven't seen an official plan for making this thing happen. How is it that, "If merger happens farmland and rural land will be converted to rich subdivisions with horse farms much as rural Durham County has”? I'm not questioning your reasoning; I'm just asking why you understanding is such.

Fourth, I would like to address the one part of your rant that does worry me. Part of the reason that I was unsure about the merger for a very long time is this: I know that means we will never elect a school board member from Northern Orange again. But I'm not sure if you watch school board elections for Orange County. We haven't had much luck electing people from among my neighbors anyhow. And you're probably right about Ms Thompson. But here's the thing, if we can't get a merger to happen, I'm not sure she will wish to continue to serve on the school board anyhow. She's convinced, as are many of us, that to ensure that every kid in Orange County gets a great education, merger is the only option. So I’m willing to live with a fight to get our candidate in office every election year if it means that my siblings get the same opportunities as your kids.

Fifth, why is it that you feel the need to rant in response to my post? As I noted, I deliberately delayed my response to this thread so that I could write without being angry. Anger and fear are the two things that have made this debate so vicious and self-defeating. If we want to find a constructive solution to everyone in this county, then we need to not let our emotions govern our actions.

Sixth, I'm not saying that parents who might now see their kids ride the bus for 45 minutes instead of 15 don't have anything to be annoyed about. But I am saying that this should not be a reason for denying the rest of the county's children equal opportunity. If you think it should, then I'm sorry, we are fundamentally opposed in our line of thinking. Chapel Hill prides itself on its liberal heritage. During the Civil Rights Movement, Chapel Hill was at the forefront of cities in the South demanding equality. But I don't think you can advocate for equality in all instances except where it might mean an inconvenience for your kid.

Finally, why is it that you still refused to answer my question? You only addressed why the county should pay to equalize funding without city support. Why are you against the merger? You may think that your reasoning is self-evident, but it's not. I still have yet to hear a single reason from anyone why the merger would be bad for Chapel Hill. And I mean fundamentally bad---not just inconvenient for awhile.

Sorry for the tone.

This issue has been dissected so many times in so many ways and on many older threads on this site that I think all the issues have come out over time. It is about as fun for me as the APS issues in the paper at this point.

I will make some assumptions below and you can tell me where I am wrong.

1. most people in both the town and county (meaning much more than 50%) in each place oppose merger. There is a democratic aspect to merger that feels wrong to me. (given the high level of funding -see below).

2. there is a perception that the county (meaning more than 50%) do not want any tax increases and therefore the commissioners are afraid to just raise property taxes to fix funding which leads to ...

3. merger is looked at by many (like the editor of the chapel hill news) as maybe not the best solution... but the only way to increase funding.

I would rather look for better solutions.

4. the rural buffer is by our governmental agencies designated as an area that will not have urban services and de facto suppresses development of this area. It lies between hillsborough and CH. Therefore there is an intended/planned geographic separation created here.

5. Utilizing Capacity is a euphemism for sending kids on longer bus rides across the rural buffer.

6. The county schools are well funded on a state-wide basis top 4 (out of 107 districts) in local funds I believe.

7. there were a whole bunch of articles in the herald showing that there may very well be no annual savings in a merged system. This was shown to be most often the case.

8. We should build schools as much as possible in the highest density regions to have some mass transit access to the site. This is more likely in town than the county. I have no problem paying more to build schools now in dense areas - similar in concept to infill.

9. If the schools are merged - SAPFO is invalidated. also, I strongly believe developers would aggressively market land for the new Chapel Hill -County school system and there would be more demand for housing in the county. People who work at Duke and live in chapel hill now (like many of my neighbors) would be closer to work in rural Orange and no doubt - there would be a stronger market for this land as housing. Thus the conversion of empty land to housing subdivisions - septic systems and water extraction are becoming better) and would allow this to happen without urban services.

10. not everything is good in the town schools. In some households there are academic sweatshops. In certain houses the kids never play outside - there is too much cheating in schools and too many SAT prep review courses taken by town kids. Why people in the county would want this part of our school system.

The whole 15 minute versus 45 minute issue is a big one that is the major issue with town redistricting. This also is the only "cultural" difference I have noticed. A 15 mile bus trip is nothing in the county but 8 miles more or less gets you from one end of town to the other. When both parents work -- which is common in town -- that difference in distance from the home means your kids will not be able to participate in youth sports or art or music classes after school. These are things that parents take turns picking up the kids from school to take to the site. If my kids schools are 45minute to 1 hour away these things will not happen in a 2 parent working household. (because we have to leave work a little early and make it up elsewhere.) So distance is not just an inconvenience it changes life experiences for the kids. This went into where we bought our house. We are 1.5 miles from an elementary, middle, and high school complex.

All this said I would not oppose merger

IF kids were guaranteed not to be bussed across the rural buffer and kids were GURANTEED to be sent to either the first or second closest school I would also not oppose merger. I think the fact that Carey floated some vague thought about not bussing kids for 3 years shows it is important.

This is the part of the merger plan that really should have been done better! IF bussing had been addressed better and future school sites built in dense areas was proposed and the idea of "utilizing capacity" was scrapped there would be much more support I think.

Commissioner carey's answer that we don't need to know the answers didn't cut it for me. I want to know what principles will go into bussing and such.

If the bussing plan was worked out in detail - with some concrete concept of not bussing kids across the rural buffer I would consider supporting it. I think town kids have much more to gain from the county culture than the other way around!

did this answer the question?

later,

jay

 

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