Busy Night

Big meetings tonight:

I don't have time to write all that I want to say aboust these right now, but I'll try to post an update later...



"Education on the fringe works very well"--unless you want to play sports. Then, not so much? It would seem to me that your argument is not as much with the local system, as with the state. Perhaps youshould take it up with them. I don't think I ever argued that Homeschooler's participation in sports would HARM anyone--it is just AGAINST THE RULES.

I will admit, however, that I have an immediate, negative, GUT response to the idea of homeschoolers participating in school extracurriculars. Perhaps because so many Home School PARENTS have the attitude that their children are in a much better situation not having to"deal" with the public schools. I will admit that this is, perhaps, an unworthy sentiment. I find myself wondering, however, why the SPORTS teams are good enough for their children but not the classes? Think about it for a bit.



I think part of the problem is the one Duncan raised--the way in which the debate is being framed and the way in which education as a whole makes decisions. I can't imagine another profession in which members of a central office, elected officials and parents have a voice in policy making while the actual practitioners don't. But right now, it seems to me that is what's happening and teachers, in self defense, are closing themselves off from the debate. I heard last year's (or the year before?) teacher of the year speak at a meeting at Hargraves Center saying she missed her own child's birthday because of all the meetings she was required to attend and all the grading she had to do outside of her regular working hours. These are very overworked people. Taking on their administration might just be more of a time commitment than they can afford.

From my point of view, both sides of this argument on advanced standing programs come to the table with a "solution"--eliminating programs or strategies to continue offering those programs, etc. What I have appreciated about your contribution is that you aren't advocating for a particular solution--just that we find a way to support children like your daughter in the same way your son is supported. Teachers are generally problem solvers, so I *think* that if they were engaged (seriously and by the administration) in finding a solution to the problem of large classrooms and hugely diverse abilities within the large classroom without perpetuating the century old problem of tracking, they might be more willing to actually participate in the discussion. As it is, whatever they say will be taking one side or the other, setting themselves up (as you have) to be called racist, etc. I don't really blame them for staying silent!

I like your strategy of forcing the administration to deal with you, to take an active role in the elections and generally being an activist. I realize that isn't a strategy that will get quick results, but it may be the strategy most likely to bring about systemic change. Is the superintendent here elected or appointed?



I had not seen that policy before. It certainly seems to contradict the NCHSAA policy. But I guess it is currently in place protecting your children from mine. I'm not proud to be part of a society that would enforce such a petty policy. Furthermore, I think it's wide open to legal challenge and a school board that walked the talk on diveresity and serving all students shouldn't feel like it's a stretch to do what is fair.


I'm still waiting to hear anyone express an actual ill effect of allowing a homeschooler access to a program that is not avaiable at his or her school. The new proposed school reforms actually suggest inter-school class swapping, etc.

I'm certainly open to persuasion if anyone can describe a serious negative effect. In the meantime, the generally narrow attitudes on this and the other wrangling here remind me for the umpteenth time that my life is simpler and my kids education better-served by homeschooling. It seems that it is hard to over-estimate the huge amount of resources and energy needed to maintain the type of school system that we currently utilize when all folks really wanted in the beginning was for their children to learn what is necessary to lead fulfilling lives, an ability that all children are born with anyway.

To put it another way, the sytem itself seems to have needs that are not directly related to educating individual children. The organizational structure required for mass, compulsory schooling dictates such concepts as "differentiation" when in fact an individual needs no such construct to actually learn.

Simon mentioned colonial schools - fact is the early colonists were predominantly highly literate homeschoolers. Entrepeneurship, freedom, valuing the written word, spirited debate - these were the qualities that inspired the captains of industry to begin cracking down on democracy and the egalitarian ethos of the day just about as soon as the Revolution was over. This unfettered freedom was anathema to their vision of control and their quest for stabler markets. The process has continued since then to the point where now we squabble over crumbs to fund our school systems while corporate welfare programs rob us blind.

I sincerely wish evryone good luck solving these problems with the schools. I'm not really trying to personalize any of this. I've just come to certain conclusions based on a lot of thought & reading and personal experience. I apologize if anyone feels I've been unfair; that's not my intent. I enjoy debate and appreciate all those who fairly engage in it. I think it is important for everyone to understand that - if I am accurate in interpreting that most of you believe I am on the fringe (or worse, ha!)- education on the fringe actually works very, very well.


Many of these folks stood at the polls and stated falsely "Ms Faley will take money away from white children and give it to black children".

(Gloria Faley)

Good heavens. As much as I followed last fall's election, I never heard anyone postulate that resources would be taken away from one group for the benefit of another. Those most interested in change on the board discussed ability grouping, differentiated instruction, advanced classes, etc. rather than resource allocation. Even if someone believed that money would be shifted from group to group, it would be politically stupid to say such a thing at a polling place in this community.

Which polling places? How many people were doing this?


I agree 100%. The teachers ARE caught in the middle. They are given an extraordinary task and blamed for not working miracles every day. I have come to believe that that is even more intentional in this district than at the state and federal levels as we parents are constantly told to hold the teachers responsible for not doing what the adminstration and the BOE say they should be able to do when none of us think it is possible, not overnight and not without the planning and support Dr. Tomlinson says is necessary.

Every parent I know has held back from truly confronting teachers because we know that doing so is buying into the Administration's paradigm, but we cannot keep quiet about all of the problems because so many teachers don't see or don't acknowledge that not being able to work miracles is not a personal fault. We see the fact that they cannot do more as evidence that those who planned this , or more acurately failed to plan this, have done a lousy job. Teachers often say they cannot do more, but become angry if we say they cannot do everything the adminstration says.

And yes, I tried to contact the teacher union president twice last spring, but the messages went unacknowledged. I am getting a bit tired of the been there done that of all this but it is true - no one seems willing to talk. They all hear the topic and immediately decide that they are not talking to "Those people" even thought they have no idea who those people are. That is an unfortuante and destructive prejudice held by many and fostered by Dr. Pedersen's adminstration. Apparently only one version of parent can exist in the district and that is not a version anyone is willing to talk to. I guess Dr. Pedersen's adminstration has to meet with us, but they don't have to do so with an open mind.

I am sure that I do not have the answer to everything, but I am also sure that many of the observations and suggestion are valid. We have done our homework and do not just spout rhetoric, but it does not make a difference. The hostility is palpable.

My question for the part about the teachers is how do we get the them to see the opportunity to step outside the box? It is my experience that the vast majority know that there are problems but they seem to have bought in to the idea that any criticism of what has happened is criticism of them. One teacher said that directly to me. I tried to explain at length that i regret that, but I cannot let the fact that she accepts the administration paradigm that it is all their fault, prevent me from criticizing what has happened and what is not happening. Yes it is necesary to give examples - such as the crape paper flag, that are harder for teachers not to take personally, but this is only indirectly about them. For me it is about the children. It is about what the teachers need to be able to do the best job possible and not just on a single child basis.

I have been told that I should only talk about my child to her teachers - but I do not accept that constraint as it lets the adminstration off the hook and they do that too well already.

Dr. Pedersen cannot go to dinner parties and say we are all just a bunch of racists and think we won't find out. Upset parents, and even teachers, are everywhere. I have had multiple teachers contact me requesting anonymity, but wanting me to know what they see happening. They are too few and will not go public for fear of losing their jobs. And yes we have told the school board this but they dismiss it outright without investigation as not possible.

So once again we are at an impass.

Suggestions are welcome here also.


If it's a "community program" then, by your logic, it SHOULD be open to all schools registered with the State Office of Non-public instruction. SO--kids at St. Thomas More, DA, Friends, Waldorf...I'm certain I've left some out. Wouldn't THAT make things interesting? Why have school associated programs at all?

Mark--if you opt out of the system, you opt out of the system. For good or ill.

I guess I AM heartless.


"Resolved: that education is not a zero-sum game, and that reducing the opportunities for achievement in one group does not increase the opportunities for achievement in another group."

(Duncan M.)

Duncan, from what I have read on this thread and from following this discussion elsewhere, the parents trying to protect advanced courses are fully on board for this. The canard that this is a zero-sum game and that some parents are trying to protect "special privileges" is largely an argument of those trying to dismantle these advanced programs.

This thread even began with the assertion that last Thursday's vote was about "eliminating advanced placement classes for middle school in favor of more/better programs for non-advanced kids." It won't work that way. The 4-2 vote was not a lose-win thing -- it was a lose, period.

Congrats on being a new parent. 1) I promise, you will get a full night's sleep again! 2) I will fight for your daughter (whether you want me to or not) so she can be a child, and not a game piece in some ideological battle, when she comes to school.

The state policy on home schoolers participation in school activities: "North Carolina law specifically states that a home school is a non-public school. Since the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and the State Board of Education do not permit non-public school students to participate in inter-school activities/competitions representing a local public school, home school students are unable to participate in such public school activities. Participation in other non-academic activities would be the decision of the local school principal."


However, home schooled children may be registered as part-time students in a public schools in order to be allowed to participate in non-academic activities . http://www.doa.state.nc.us/dnpe/hhh114h.htm

Mark--what was the petition--to allow a child to be registered part time or to participate in a sports program?


Sorry Mark but I didn't hear the board say no. They may have gone into close session to deny participation by your friends child for this year, but as I heard the discussion they are going to pursue options for the future. In fact, I wrote to the board about this yesterday and have already had two responses in favor of future discussion.

The issue from Mr. McCormick was not for homeschoolers--it was for non-registered students. Makes sense doesn't it that the Athletic Association would deny the possibility of schools bringing in "ringers?"

Again, I think your cause is hurt by refusing to consider part time enrollment. Schools are bureacracies and they have to have some way of 'accounting' for participation, both financially and legally. I feel those are the barriers you have encountered. In my suggestions to the board, I have encouraged them to allow part time enrollment, not necessarily requiring the 3 course minimum (non-core). This would address the superintendent's concerns (although I think most of those were bogus) for funding, security, and behavior management. It would also address the 'ringer' issue for their to be some official relationship between the homeschool and the school district.

While I am sorry for your friends son, I hope this discussion will pave the way for future home schooled chidlren and their families to have more amicable relationships with the schools. In the meantime, I recommend the Pop Warner baseball program for your friends son--probably better than the middle school anyway.

Update on the homeschooler team tryout request:

The process apparently ended where it started - with the school board (heavily directed by staff) saying no without answering any of the questions or citing any actual statutes. Frankly, it was a shoddy process and not worthy of a community that considers itself to have high standards.

They even went into closed session which allowed them to avoid sharing their reasons with the public. Ironically, closed session is to protect student confidentiality - yet the boy in question is not a student?!?

It was like dealing with the DMV. At the last minute the school system lawyer, Mr. McCormick, made the statement that lawyers he had talked with said that if a homeschooler played on a team, that team would have to forfeit it's games. That was it - no citing of particular stautes (many of which clearly state positions that would allow the homeschooler to participate) and no explanation. Just a last-minute bombshell (this trump card was not even alluded to in the report that the school staff produced on the issue) guaranteed to strike fear into the board members. Plus, Neil Pedersen muddied the simple request for a team try-out by widening the discussion to include any and all forms of homeschooler participation in public school programs thus allowing him to go on at length about way more problems than simply playing on a school team would cause. Although, no board member directly addressed any problems that this athletic participation would cause.

Truly a sorry process devoid of intellectual honesty, marked by an emphasis on fears and problems rather than creatively and realistically looking for a postive solution. I'm personally very disappointed with the way this was handled and disappointed for the community in the lack of honesty and leadership.


The final meeting for the AG monitoring committee is a week from today. I serve on this committee and have serious concerns about this plan. While there are many small things that I think are problematic, two significant problems render the plan inadequate. These are:

The plan continues the district's movement toward extensive (in elementary and middle school) differentiated instruction with heterogeneous grouping. Parents request for ability grouping have not been heeded.

The plan's has neither required external evaluative or monitoring measures nor any "must be adhered to" rules. The vast majority of the plan's recommendations are just that: recommendations. This combination means that the plan has no real teeth and thus has no guaranteed implementation.

Please, if you share my concerns, email me at dabneygrinnan@nc.rr.com and let me know. I will post your feedback on the committee's blog and will make sure the Board is aware of it. We are running out of time to have an impact on this plan. The time to make your voice heard is now.


Dabney Grinnan

Melanie and Jerri,

I'd like to suggest that you use the All Children are Gifted thread to continue this discussion. This particular thread is so full that it takes forever to load (sorry...I'm a dinosaur and still use dial up). I think this is such an important discussion--I hope you both will continue on with it.


For those who may be interested in the homeschooler's request to be allowed to try out for the McDougle Middle School baseball team:

The school board will be discussing this issue at their meeting on Thurs., March 4. The board has received a short report stating how the state rules are interpreted by the school system administrators which bsaically says no to the request. Not included in the report are any answers to the repeated questions by parents concerning the actual ill-effects of allowing the boy to try-out and possibly play.

This meeting was scheduled about a month ago in full knowledge that the try-outs would occur before the meeting. Parents asked the board to at least allow the student to practice with the team until a ruling was issued. This request was never responded to.

This all begs the (rhetorical?) question: Was the meeting to address the issue scheduled purposefully later than the try-outs? If so, does the community condone this type of tactic from the administration? And is it of any concern that the school board members endorsed this schedule and (implicitly) this tactic?

I am at least beginning to understand some of the community's frustration with a school board that evidently checks its spines at the door.


I'll contradict the "absolute certainty" part. I DON'T believe it is an "absolute certainty" that deleting the "advanced language courses" at the MS level will hurt the academic progress of the better students. And I am the mother of two of those better students.

SO --FWIW--it's been contradicted. And my contradiction has as much authority behind it as the original statement--IE--none other than personal experience. Of course, I'm not certain Mr. Murphy has HAD personal experience with the advanced courses at the MS--OR the differentiated courses at Mc DOugle--our family HAS experienced both.


Melanie---- thanks for pointing that Murphy letter out! This letter begins as follows and people will want to read this one too.

"We sometimes have a problem in Chapel Hill, “thinking with our hearts.” In the case of the school board dropping advanced language and math classes in the middle schools, it leads to disastrous results. It is an absolute certainty, contradicted by no one, that this will hurt the academic progress of the better students."


Jerri Fisto,

Did you read McSurely's letter (3/4 down the linked page) or Murphy's (top of the page)?


Terri wants us to think about this: "Who believes their child is not special or "gifted" in some way? I thank Mr. McSurley for his warm and generous thoughts. "

Terri is right---it is the parents' job to find and to celebrate what is special about a child--could be a smile, or a way with animals, or an ability to connect with Old Aunt Stella. And she is also right about what I think she implies here: most of these special attributes have no place whatsoever in the designing of a curriculum for children who have the talent of extraordinary intelligence.

What she says about McSurely's WARM AND GENEROUS thoughts, however, is quite baffling to me. Am I finding the right letter at the right link??????????


Someone posted the quesiton "What's the difference between learning and working? "

A good way to explore this topic might be to get a pile of magazines and cut out some pictures. You might get a nice big posterboard and draw a line down the middle. Now you can paste a picture on one side of the line for "working" and a picture on the other side of the line for "learning".

This is a a valuable project because you can have a 2 year old do it at the same time as a 12 year old and everyone can have a lot of fun and work together! The 12 year old will of course make his offering extraordinarily complex. If he has a special writing talent, he will take this to impressive levels, perhaps writing a nice long three page paper (without even being asked!) about why a picture of someone having an operation can be considering "working" , while a picture of someone watching MTV can be considered "learning".

Even the not-particularly motivated child of average or above-average intelligence, will very likely throw in a few physics equations involving horsepower and write up something about biochemistry of memory. Naturally most 12 year olds will want to devote an astronomical level of effort to this engaging and fascinating project. One can only DREAM about the heights the actual gifted child will go to with this opportunity.

The 2 year old will concentrate intently on making nice straight lines with very pretty colors (or not, depending on her learning style) and a LOT of glitter, and will then skip off down the street to question a few neighbors about different things they do when they are working and learning. Excited about what she hears, she will run back babbling incessantly . Of course, she won't be able to write any of this down, but she can just dictate into a tape machine and then have her older brother help her make an i-movie out of her remarks. ("Mr. Wilson cut his grass yesterday." " Mrs. Willoughby is taking a house estate course") They can then invite all the other children on the street to come and spend a few hours watching the movie and looking at, and discussing their posterboards.

Everyone will learn so much you won't even be able to stand it. And then maybe these children will come to this site and let us know the difference between learning and working.

This just goes to prove that a little bit of information can be turned around to support anyone's political beliefs. Rose colored outline Mr. Leveque? You just described differentiation which acknowledges that every child has strengths and weaknesses and that instruction should be individualized to support each individual's particular profile--instead of pulling them out of the classroom for remediation or gifted instruction.

Mr. Klavatnei, please try and find the definition CHCCS uses for determining "gifted" services. Good luck. I have said here on several occasion that gifted education should be supported for the few who are truly "gifted." The 5% of the population who are gifted (per NAGC) does not include all of the 40% of CHCCS students who score high on national performance tests. There is a big difference between gifted education and advanced standing classes, despite local attempts to make them equivalent.

"At present, only slightly over one-half of the possible gifted learners in the United States are reported to be receiving education appropriate to their needs. There is physical and psychological pain in being thwarted, discouraged and diminished as a person. To have ability, to feel power you are never allowed to use, can become traumatic. Many researchers consider the gifted as the largest group of underachievers in education. "


thank you to ms Terri for link to why we should support gifted education.

Terri seems to believe that "McSurley's letter was referring to the fact that all children are special and gifted in their own rights"

To follow this line of reasoning, you must then admit that the converse, is also true. All children must have tremendous and profound deficits in certain areas. Perhaps what we need to do is to focus not on just how wonderful and lovely everyone's talents are, but on how damaging unremediated deficits are.

Let's change the words "all children are gifted" to "all children need special ed" and start getting some real assistance to all of our children. If every child is special and gifted in their own rights, then every child needs a great deal of help in one area or another--when we say that all children are "gifted" it is too easy to forget this and to go on skipping down the merry lane.

This rose colored outlook we have is killing us..........

I believe Mr. McSurley's letter was referring to the fact that all children are special and gifted in their own rights, whether they fall into the official definition or not. Like the discussion on progressiveness, assigning categories such as gifted infers that everyone else is not gifted. Who believes their child is not special or "gifted" in some way? I thank Mr. McSurley for his warm and generous thoughts.

For what it's worth, the National Association for Gifted Children claims that about 5% of the population falls into the official definition of gifted. http://www.nagc.org/ParentInfo/index.html

While I'm not going to answer FOR Mr. McSurely, I will say that there are people who believe that ALL children have something to "bring to the table" and that IQ alone is not an adequate measure of "giftedness." Nor do I think that eliminating "advanced" classes at the middle school level will Bring aboutr a "Harrison Bergeron" effect. (If you don't know the story--this comic may enlighten you...) http://members.comics.com/members/common/affiliateArchive.do?comicId=&comic=frazz&site=sj&stripId=179579

Speaking as a mom who thinks that all kids DO bring "something to the table." REMEMBER--"math kids" will still have the opportunity to take pre-algebra, algebra, AND geometry at the MS level...and I've never had a child who was forced to read "below ability level"--even at McDougle BASTION of "diferentiated learning."



Three cheers for those other states! I don't see NC listed...and you didn't address my point tha your LEGAL argument was faulty. (IE that kids in "alternative schools" are ACTUALLY ENROLLED in their public school system.)

I may be misinformed, but it is MY understanding that the State Board of Education has a rule about this--perhaps your argument is with them?


Old Hippies with progeny make me sick.


I guess I don't see that splitting hairs over alternative schools definitions applies here. Home schools are registered with the State Office of Non-Public Instruction. Given no good reasons to exclude children from fair access to a community resource, I don't see any validity to the last line of defense being parsing the the meaning of "alternative". Some kids (in the school district) benefit at no cost to anyone else. Seems a little thing to me and a no-brainer.



I whole heartedly agree with what you are saying and your fear for your daughter.

I agree with trying to start from a rational middle ground. I do agree that racism has a role in the achievment gap although I tend to view most of the acheivement gap as arising from the legacy of societal racism and current societal racism more that school racism. Please note that I say MORE, not exclusively. Subtle prejudice sneaks it way into all of our lives. Overt prejudice into other lives. I could tell you my journey to understanding that the melting pot is wrong, but it holds meaning only for me. I have come to believe that that vision is better replaced with the image of a society of many views and histories. It requires vigilence to minimize the damage done by just not realizing that one's life experience is not universal.

So I, and most of the people I know, stand in the middle you describe. My question then is what do we do when logic and the willingness to see the many possible options are rejected? What do we do when Dr. Pedersen dismisses any possiblity that any of these points are valid? What do we do when there is no willingness to consider that we may disagree on points without it being based in racism?

I have only been at this for a year, so I cannot speak to the history of the conflict or take responsibility for it.

I really mean the question of what do we do. I have written a book here and it is a book that many of us have carried to Dr. Pedersen, his adminstration and the BOE, but it is like standing before a mac truck with a driver who is blinded by the sunset.

We have met with everyone - many times. We have written every board member. We have been to board meetings and joined more committees than i can count. We have or have had people on the Curriculum advisory committee, on the enrichment teams at most schools, on the evaluation and management committee, on the high school scheduling reform committee, on the PTA's, the PTA Council, SGC's and more I can't remember right now. We have attended many district forums, taking every opportunity to be heard. We have founded two parent advocacy groups, a bulletin board and three listservs. We have participated in the Equity and Excellence summit and begun reaching out to the African American community. I even asked Michele laws to let me buy her a coffee. We ran a forum for BOE candidates, contributed questions to another and attended yet a third. We have written dozens of letters to the editor and written a half dozen lengthy reports present to adminstration members in multiple forums. We have worked in the elections. We have, for better or worse, debated with Ms. Faley. We have read the reports, researched the literature, challenged everything from block scheduling to how minority students are identified for gifted education. We have done this is just under one year, but we still cannot find a way to gain any open discussion from Dr. Pedersen, his administration or the BOE. We have many meetings in which sympathetic nods happen or dismissive responses which clearly do not even consider what has been said.

We spend untold hours writing on forums like this for a few people. We have challenged the fact that the district is not incompliance with state law on multiple levels regarding gifted education - although we have not yet saught a judicial hearing. We did use that knowledge to request that the district actually include parents on the enrichment teams. We see what appear to be episodes of retribution against our children. We have worked to understand programs like the Beyond Diversity program that most people in the district do not even know exist. We have done almost everything we can think of, but the wall is absolute.

What do we do when the rational questions and proposals still go unacknowledged?

I appreciate the validity of your statements Duncan, but short of going to court i do not know how to get Dr. Pedersen, his adminstration and/or the board to look past the rhetoric that equates as racism any discussion of the fact that our fast learners, majority and minority, need to be challenged.

Suggestions are very welcome.

Tracy Burger


By "transcription error," do you mean the fact that what we call "public schools" aren't private institutions set aside for the children of toffs to learn the gentle art of torture and mob rule? What did Orwell say about English public school education in "Such, Such Were the Joys"? "[The child] neither understands nor questions the society in which it lives, and because of its credulity other people can work upon it, infecting it with the sense of inferiority and the dread of offending against mysterious, terrible laws." As you English say, Brilliant! ;)

As a proud product of the English Public School system, I think you chaps should go back and see if there wasn't some sort of transcription error way back in the days of the colonial system.

The voice missing in this conversation is that of teachers. Even if the district does supply training in how to deal with diversity, that doesn't mean teachers can apply that training effectively right away. There are so many other factors influencing how they teach and deal with children and parents that saying training is the solution is a huge cop out on the part of the administration. It passes the responsibility for changing the system onto teachers alone.

As I understand it, differentiation is more than just dealing with cultural biases. It's a "philosophy" for how a teacher can address the unique needs of individual students. IMHO, that requires more than just training. It also requires additional classroom support personnel (other than just parents), ongoing training--meaning covered time away from the classroom, and positive administrator support--instead of blame. Constant changes to the curriculum prevent teachers from gaining experience with these changes--such as differentiation, grouping, etc.

No one in this discussion has blamed teachers, for which I am thankful. But I do think there is an underlying current of blame coming from the administration--both local and federal. At the federal level there is a demand for highly qualified teachers--during a time of extreme teacher shortages--without any resources being made available to help teachers (who are grossly overworked) stay current in their fields. At the local levels, all the changes are being made to classrooms, without looking at what can be done to support teachers and without any local data to support/reject those changes. In the meantime, the teachers are just trying to do their best with the resources they have to work with. I hope that in the future, one of the community dialogues is about how to improve our school system rather than just looking at classroom fixes.


You asked if McDougle gets the per pupil funding from the homeschooler that lives in the district. No - the child is not enrolled. However, the miniscule amount of money that it requires per team member is more than covered by the local taxes that everyone, including homeschoolers, pays. An assistant coach from McDougle explained to the school board the other night just how little money is spent on the sports programs. So there is no financial hit to the school. Actually the 500 or so homeschoolers in Orange County help the school systems financially by allowing deferred capital costs for new schools. No need to thank us for helping keep taxes down, but show a little flexibility in sharing community resources.

Insurance: First off, the property taxes paid provide ample money to cover insurance. Secondly, if a Scrooge mentality is brought to bear and the schol system decides to spend our tax money without alloting a fraction of it for insurance coverage, then the parent could simply sign a waiver and take responsibility for the child's health care needs.

And, it may be interesting to know, several states (Maine, Colorado, Caligfornia, New Mexico, and others) have no problems with homeschoolers participating in extracurricular activites. These states have decidided to take a more expansive, more inclusive view of their charge to provide opportunities to all children (see CH-Carrboro School System web-site). For them it's an issue of not what are you trying to take from my children, but what can we do to accommodate the diverse needs of our students in a way that respects the choices that parents make as they try to do the very best for their kids.



I _have_ read all your posts, and all the other threads on this subject on OP, and I've read some of the other (many) sources on differentiation and the local and statewide EOG scores, and alternatives to tracking and the rest of it. And I will agree, you've put a lot of energy and research into mounting a respectful argument that seeks (but has not found) common ground. I'm not picking on you particularly, nor am I picking on Gloria Faley particularly. I suppose I'm picking on both sides for being parties to a process which has done very little to establish common ground. At some point, it becomes useful to say that everyone has failed because the "discussion" has never progressed. And I think there's good reason for that.

After all these years, this argument has foundered because it's not an argument at all. Those participating in the argument have not (or cannot) agree on common ground; that is, something more useful than banalities like, "Every child deserves a good education," which is practically inarguable. Therefore the propositions from which the "argument" has proceeded -- the terms of the debate -- have not been mutally accepted as legitimate questions. One side will not accept as a valid proposition (this being different than disagreeing with the proposition) that racism undergirds the performance gap, and another side will not accept as a valid proposition that incompetence undergirds the performance gap. And so we have the phenomenon commonly known as "talking past one another."

Perhaps it's time to float new propositions arising from a renewed attempt to find common ground. For instance, I think you've been right to turn your attention to the common ground of achievement -- whether it's the achievement of minorities or those in the majority, I think all parents and citizens would agree that greater achievement (meaning, I guess, a fuller education) is an unqualified good. If that's a premise that can be accepted, then you might make this proposition:

Resolved: that education is not a zero-sum game, and that reducing the opportunities for achievement in one group does not increase the opportunities for achievement in another group.

Then you might argue that, in fact, it only distracts from efforts to increase the achievement of the other group. The other side might argue that it's helpful to begin reform aimed at increasing achievement across the board by starting from a common starting point. This argument might drag out, but at least it would be a useful argument because it proceeds from a commonly held belief that increased achievement is good, and reduced achievement is bad.

But the argument both sides have been involved in has not proceeded from common ground, and therefore (as long as we consider rational argument to be the goal here) it has been next to useless. It has more often than not -- your own research and thought being the exception proving the rule for both sides -- fallen back on emotion and bias, which are antithetical to having rational argument. (They are not, however, antithetical to winning a political fight, as we've seen.)

And so I don't distinguish between the two "sides," because I don't accept the terms of their argument. Thus, the "pox on both your houses," crack. I'm interested in tearing down the whole apparatus of this argument and starting new. I'm also interested in a closer examination of the way Neil Pedersen has helped to set both the tone and the terms of this debate over the years.

Finally, if you were on the outside looking in on this so-called "debate," would you want to put yourself and your child into the middle of it? It's very disturbing to me, and it would be regardless of what I thought about the actual merits of one side or the other. I thought _I_ was mean.

Melanie -

First thank you for posting and second please know that I am smiling when I write. I can be stilted at times so I need to be clear that I am not mad at anyone posting ( I am angry at some administrators and BOE members).

You say lets see what happens - I am saying we already can see. They did this to sixth grade. We should be looking at what happened before expanding it. I cannot agree that it makes sense to wait to evaluate the second phase when the first phase sits before us - and it is not pretty.

Be honest. Be responsible. Look comprehensively at what worked or did not work. I have listed a long list of problems - they deserve to be looked at and considered before we expand and put more children into the position of weapons.


Answering Ms. Faley's oblique reference to Glen Singleton's Beyond Diversity program, the opportunity to examine one's own beliefs is valuable, but there are many serious problems with the particular program in question ,not the least being that Mr Singleton also claims that he has the answer to closing the GAP without any actual data. The structure of the program has very serious flaws - and now i am speaking from thirteen years of professional training and twenty years of experience. And yes I have taken those concerns to the adminstration but they remain unwilling to address those problems.

They are not small issues. They involve the use of grossly inadequately trained personel in what amounts to large group therapy sessions, the use of the extremely destructive manipulation called the double bind and abuses of recordings where identifiable parents and students are used as examples of racists to train teachers.

Most of the readers will not know anything about the program (which is also one of the problems) and so I will not go into detail unless people want. It would open up another huge debate that the administration is also unwilling to look at rationally. Those who do know about the program will recognize that I am consciously choosing to step on a landmine as this program cannot be questioned without the most profound backlash.

I believe we have the right to ask questions of any program or consultant. We have asked questions of Dr. Tomlinson who responds politely and comprehensively. Mr. Singleton has not acknowledged the questions, not provided answers.

Ultimately, I would refer to Mr Singleton himself who said that we should demand the research proving that something works or we should not be buying it. Considering that he advocates changes that contradict the Blue ribbon Task Force, I believe we should require evidence. If Mr. Singleton really has the answer then let him show the research or stand condemned by his own words.

Fire away.



This citing of the NC High School Athletic Association rules is from an ealier post that you must have missed:

"Alternative or extended day school students who meet all other eligibility requirements may participate in athletics for the school to which they would normally be assigned, provided the alternative/extended day school has no athletic program.”

It allows kids who live in the school district to play on the district school's team. (Home schools are registered with the state and homeschoolers meet state testing requirements). I don't see any problem with that. It doesn't open up a can of worms about recruiting ringers. It gives s few kids the opportunity to participate in a program

that can only be provided by the resources that the public schools have at their disposal due to the taxes that we all pay. It's just not a big deal. The Board should allow it and move on. It's not a pissing contest between two ideologies. Let's just appreciate diversity, people's choices, and be generous about sharing resources when there are no deleterious effects.



I can understand your frustration. this is not what i expected when we moved here. I was supposed to spend my parent years advocating for my developmentally disabled son.

Still I honestly think that the information in my posts IS pointing out all the options that could answer the majority of the questions.

I know it is a great deal of detail, but that is what it takes if you want to move past the rhetoric. I have spent the last year trying to engage the district to move past rhetoric and have had little to no success. The tapestry of education can be woven, but the few of us willing to spend the hours trying to point out how complex it is and how little thought or planning has actually gone into this need your support = either that or that first year of kindergarten is going to find your daughter sitting in the reality of this mess.

It is literally too late to fix this for my daughter. She is in sixth grade. She WILL HAVE ADVANCED LANGUAGE ARTS next year. That is if we do not take her out to avoid more retribution. Let me repeat - these decisions will not affect my daughter. Unlike the stereotype described by Ms Laws in her op-ed piece. I am not interested only in my child. The year delay took her out of the discussion, but I am still here because I truly believe it is possible to challenge all of the children.

Like Gloria who I profoundly disagree with on issues of implementation, not the issue of the need to close the gap, I am doing all this work for the children who will be affected by it - majority and minority.

I am doing this for your baby. New parents don't have much energy left, but there are not many willing to actually look at the details and ask real questions. When you have more energy I hope you will help rather than just condemn all.


Tracey--all I am saying is raw data can be viewed in a number of ways...and giving an alternative interpretation (based on MY time as a parent at Phillips/East.) I admitted it was anecdotal.

Mark--point taken, and no I didn't dismisscit--I just don't htink it applies. The "ALternative schools" that rule refers to are places like Phoenix ZAcademy. The kids in the alternative schools are still REGISTERED IN THEIR CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT. Therefor that district gets their per-pupil funding. They are still registered in the city public schools. I do not believe this is true of homeschoolers. Please, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong--would McDOugle get the per-pupil funding that this child represents? It DOES cost money to field a team. Also--would there be liability/insurance issues?

Duncan--I'm not certain where I've offended you--I'm certainly not judging ANYONE--just trying to inject a calming note into the fray. The changes voted in on Tuesday night (or whatever night it was!) are not due to take effect for awhile--let's see what happens. I have NEVER looked down on a child who was "left behind"--and I truly believe my kids can learn from all types of people--that's why I chose NOT to put them in either ofthe "self-contained" gifted programs. There are all kinds of "giftedness."


"All kids are gifted, . . . .And our teachers can draw out their individual gifts by being sensitive to their differentiated learning styles. That’s what the majority of our school board, the Supreme Court and the NAACP want."

-- Alan McSurely, Chapel Hill"

"Here is a link to the above-mentioned letter (among others):

http://www.chapelhillnews.com/opinion/story/1020626p-7040604c.html"----Thank you to Resourceful Ruby!

I don't understand why Mr. Mcsurely guy think that all kids are gifted. Does he say all children have IQ over 130? Can someone please explain where someone would get such idea?

"that the only way educators can really challenge “smart” white kids is to segregate them from the “dumb” students of color"

OUCH!!!!!!!!! I suspect Mr.McSurly's lack of belief in these students is exactly the kind of misinformed thinking which drives the current folly of the board of education in its quest to rid this town of advanced learning opportunities.

We MUST get over the notion that students from certain groups are not capable of handling advanced work. I do not know why the school board and Mr. McSurly share this absurd belief, but I am embarrassed to live in a place that makes policy based on the false presumption that some groups are less intelligent than others.

Is there not data which shows intelligence is evenly spread among groups of people? I can't quote studies right this moment, but I have read about this many times over the years.

Chapel hill really had better begin to understand that all groups offer the full range of intelligence (from very low IQ to very high IQ). Clearly the only way to serve the high IQ students FROM EACH GROUP is to continue to offer advanced learning opportunities.

Hmmm, what if the 'food' analogy was replaced with....oh say another societally-deemed important public utility function....such as water and sewer? Now there's a truly monopolistic service for those within town limits and compulsory if one hopes to have a halfway tolerable lifestyle. Should we give everyone the option of handling their own water and sewer? Why isn't it a private service?

Let's keep the record straight. Public education is not a monopoly. There are many choices for parents and students to choose from--even among the publicly funded options. In CHCCS you could complain that the school board has not chosen to make choices available within the public schools but that would make your argument with the school board rather than the concept of public education.

Is the libertarian complaint about public education the fact that it is publicly funded, that it is compulsory, or something else that I am clearly missing?

"actually, I was asking if children have to be put into a situation where they are ordered to LEARN in groups, in order to learn how to WORK in groups." What's the difference between learning and working?

Seems like you have some major objection to collaborative learning (ordered to LEARN?), what is your objection?

I strongly urge everyone following the education issue to read Alan McSurely's letter to the editor in today's (2/29/04) Chapel Hill News. If you don't get a free CHN, you can find this on line.

Here is a link to the above-mentioned letter (among others):


I hope to start a new thread with this. Stay tuned...

That's a hilarious piece from the N&O. I suspect the writer may not understand that compulsory state schooling offers more opportuniy for socialization that eating does, but still it puts a healthy perspective on the huge, limited, and constantly-needing-maintenance school system that we live with.

And this record-setting Busy Night thread just goes on and on, getting bigger & bigger, revealing something about the relative importance of certain issues and/or the relative difficulty in dealing with the issue...

"1. "do we have to have kids LEARN in groups in order for them to learn how to WORK in groups?" You are asking if children can transfer what they learn individually to a group application. The research says probably not. People need to learn in the context in which the skills will be used. Of course, the context can be broad and some generalization will always occur." says terri

No I am not asking if children can transfer what they learn individually to a group application. . . actually, I was asking if children have to be put into a situation where they are ordered to LEARN in groups, in order to learn how to WORK in groups. If the goal of public education these days is to teach people to be able to work in cluster groups in corporations, then so be it. . . but I am not sure that they have to use instructional time to learn how to work in groups. Why not use lunch table washing time to do this? Or playground cleaning up time . .?

If qrocery stores were run like centralized education: http://newsobserver.com/editorials/story/3375043p-3003741c.html

Quoting Mark "I think it is naive to think that the powers-that-be have not exerted powerful influences on the school system in order to produce docile workers and model consumers." So if you are a product of compulsory education how did you escape those powerful influences? How did the powers-that-be obtain power instead of becoming docile, model consumers?

I understand you feel strongly about this, and I agree with some of what you say. But your implication that graduates of compulsory education are products of mind control is a little simplistic. Doesn't your complaint against compulsory status include home schools and private schools that children attend because of a federal mandate? If education doesn't have "utility" status in this country, e.g., compulsory, then the class distinctions and mindlessness you are complaining about could rachet even further out of control. I wish we had as many options with other public utilities as we have with education.


I see nothing in those statements that says anything about eliminating public education. When I was young and was told over and over and over again that the United States is the land of freedom, i innocently believed it.I happen to believe that we should hold strong to those ideals. Voluntary public schools would be consistent with "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

As I also posted on another thread, our society condones paying people shit wages, restricts access to health care, feeds the masses more info about Michael Jackson than real news, promotes consumerism as a quasi-religion and then when confronted with the totally expected fractured families and lost children, says we, the State, must take care of them for we care so deeply and since their parents are incapable of making proper decisions, we will make it illegal for the parents not to send them to school. I think that's insulting to people in a supposed "free society".

I think it is naive to think that the powers-that-be have not exerted powerful influences on the school system in order to produce docile workers and model consumers.


Mark--on the thread Separate but Equal? you said:

"Personally, I can't think about the public school system without immediately wondering why - in a self-described "democracy" - everyone so willingly accepts the fact that our government requires forced state schooling. I think it is an amzing comment on the psychology of the masses and our national mythology that this particular observation seems so incrediblly far-out to just about everyone."

Posted by: Mark Marcoplos at 9:55 AM 12/12/03

Your next post said: "The fact that the state requires schooling is anathema to democracy. Are we grown-ups or not?" Followed by: "Actually, to be more precise, forced schooling is anathema to freedom. Also, it's a little known fact that literacy rates were higher in the early days of the U.S. before the institution of compulsory schooling."

I read those statements as indicating your desire to eliminate public education. Without the compulsory requirement, I can't imagine public education would be funded sufficiently to provide for all the children who do not have parents who can provide a quality home schooling experience or whose families do not have the resources to provide for a private education.



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