Lackluster school board race

Does anyone know what became of the many "diverse" candidates who were vying for the empty school board seat back in December? It's not that I'm unsupportive of Pam, Lisa, or Jeff, but I can't think of anything that differentiates these three on any issues.

Is the public just worn out by school controversy? Does no one want to think about our ailing schools for awhile? It's a shame. "No Child Left Behind" is leaving our children behind. We are spending too much time and money measuring, and not enough time teaching. We're losing sight of the social, cultural, and spiritual needs of our children.

We've abandoned differentiation, and the Chapel Hill Herald applauds this move by congratulating our "persevering" parents for removing 85 fourth and fifth graders from the regular classroom this coming fall. I must say that I don't understand how the Herald-Sun opinion writers can lament that fewer than one in five of East's approximately 200 black students are proficient in reading, and then applaud our ‘persevering' parents for isolating more students than ever from our African-American students through LEAP (Learning Environment for Accelerated Programming). Does no one see the connection?

GWB would be proud of us: Our school board has abandoned the differentiation model in favor of the right wing's "strict father" model. I don't even hear a gasp.



Well, my last post seems to have disappeared intot he ether...

Eric and Alan--

Y'all are giving that school board in Durham a run for the money. Is the name-calling REALLY neccessary? Read the above exchange aloud. Listen to yourselves.

Back to the topic at hand...

A brilliant child with a gifted teacher (and by that I mean a teacher gifted at teaching--not TRAINED in the teaching of the "gifted") will be interested and excel. A brilliant child with a mediocre teacher will be bored on occasion, but will still learn. And excel. A brilliant child with a poor teacher will be bored and will learn out of self-defense. May not excel. BUT--substitute an "average" child or a child who is BELOW average--do you think the results will be the same?

In my kids (combined) 25 years in the CHCCS they have had gifted teachers. They have had average teachers. And we've had a couple of AWFUL teachers. I'd like to see us concentrate all this energy on hiring and retaining GREAT teachers. It would be NICE if we could get rid of the awful teachers...but there's that whole tenure issue.

I wish my first post had POSTED--I think I said it better the first time around.


Actually, it would be great if Duham used this type of forum to express strong views -- better read than (flowing) red, black, and blue. Eric and I disagree, so be it, but we're both expressing views that should be heard.

There's no getting around the fact that this is an emotional issue -- as in any issue dealing with our children. So discussion of it shouldn't deny the existence of those emotions. My point here is that the emotions of those children excluded by elitist policies are profoundly affected. The parents of all our prodigies can get over it. Those children left behind might never get over it.

Also, for the record, I checked. Eric never called me a name, nor did I call him one. Rightly or wrongly, I characterized his position as hypocritical; I didn't call him a hypocrite -- and there is an important distinction between characterizing actions and thoughts vs. people. Melanie, ask any of those great teachers you're talking about, and I don't mean that sarcastically.


I stand corrected. I thought the phrases "wannabe's" and "squeaky wheel luxury SUV drivers trying to get their child-privilege grease" got tossed around...

oh wait. They did.

Strong opinions can be expressed civilly. In ways that DON'T immediately set people's backs up. And if YOU would read carefully you would notice that I didn't accuse you of calling ERIC names. My concern was prompted by the phrase: "squeaky wheel luxury SUV drivers trying to get their child-privilege grease. " There are a LOT of lurkers who read these boards--do you think name-calling will win you converts? Or needlessly offends people?

I'm just trying to point out that it would be nice if we could frame this discussion in a way that didn't AUTOMATICALLY cast the people we disagree with in a negative light. I think Mary has done a good job "speaking so those listening can hear." Ramping up rhetoric rarely wins converts--just solidifies the base. IMHO "squeaky wheel luxury SUV drivers trying to get their child-privilege grease " is a ramping up of rhetoric. AND constitutes name calling. For all you know--some of those folks drive Priuses.

melanie/can't BELIEVE how didactic I've gotten


Actually, I have no problem using metaphorically descriptive language to refer to a type when it suitably describes it, regardless of whether it offends. That's a lot different than calling a poster here a name.

I've seen those folks in action, and they know who they are. We moved here when my youngest was in early elementary and she's now graduated, so I've seen it at work at all levels, and I've been involved in schools both here and in Orange County.

The fact is, I still care about what's happening in our schools even though I no longer have a direct stake in them. In fact, I further believe that any special district tax we use should be proportionately allocated to Orange County as welll -- rather than telling Orange County that if it wants better schools, it should raise its own special tax on people who can't afford the taxes as they are.

In fact, I further believe that any special district tax we use should be proportionately allocated to Orange County as welll — rather than telling Orange County that if it wants better schools, it should raise its own special tax on people who can't afford the taxes as they are.

The CHCCS district tax is not collected in the OCS district. Are you suggesting that the CHCCS residents be taxed for both districts and the OCS residents should not have to pay this tax? Perhaps you are really advocating for a rise in the ad valorem and a reduction in CHCCS district tax.

Right now the taxes which are collected are equitably distributed per pupil in the area where they are collected. There is no legal mechanism to collect taxes from one school district and divert those funds to another district. Property taxes are based on home valuation and so are already, to some degree, adjusted toward an ability to pay. The average homeowner in CHCCS pays over 50% more in ad valorem than the average homeowner in OCS based on more expensive home valuations.

Let's be clear that there are those in OCS who do not want any higher taxes in OCS. And there are those who want similar funding in the schools. And there are those who just don't want CHCCS to allow more taxation for the schools, because OCS has chosen not to pay additional taxes. Do both districts have to tax to fund the schools the same? There are many who believe that each district should be able to control its own taxation.

The main issues are taxation and local control.

Please substantiate your statement regarding ability to pay in each district. I have seen this statement repeated, but I have not seen it substantiated with income data from the census, for example.

There is more discussion on this at

Orange County has one of the highest poverty rates in North Carolina.

Alamance: 11.1%
Chatham: 9.7%
Durham: 13.4%
Orange: 14.1%
Wake: 7.8%

They also have a highly rated educational system; maybe not as high as CHCCS, but IF you want to associated expenditure with performance, their system could be inferred to be better. So if they already have a good system, and they have a more vulnerable population, why would the county commissioners even consider adding a new tax? If they do, expected outcomes would be: further reducing the availability of affordable housing, further stressing of female-headed households, further stressing black and Hispanic families, increasing the povery rate.

If you are interested in looking at data by county, go to: and create a custom search on Orange, Chatham, Alamance, Durham and Wake counties. Unfortunately it isn't possible to separate out CHCCS from Orange County.

Unfortunately it isn't possible to separate out CHCCS from Orange County.

This is what we need, though, to determine if the statements have merit.

When I worked on the LEAP Task Force, the feedback that I got from some teachers was that if anyone was "devastated" by a program like LEAP, it was parents rather than children. They told me that the non-LEAP children, even those who tested and were not offered placement, moved on with their lives unscathed. On the other hand, they reported that some of the parents got pretty torqued up about their children not gaining admission.

From my own experience as a Scroggs parent, I learned that my son's move to Glenwood for fourth grade was pretty much invisible to other children and even some faculty and staff. Even after he had been at Glenwood for over a year, his old classmates at Scroggs would see me in the halls and ask which (Scroggs) teacher he had. They did not even know he was at another school. From their perspective, he was just in another fifth grade class.

Another point that must be considered in this "emotional devastation" argument is that if there is negative impact, it would probably be greatest among the siblings of LEAP students. In many (maybe most) LEAP families with more than one child, not all of the children will go to LEAP. The non-LEAP siblings know about the program, that it is at another school, how children gain admission, etc. If anyone is going to be "scarred for life" by the existence of LEAP, it would be these siblings. If parents were sacrificing the long term emotional health of their non-LEAP child(ren), they would lose interest in the program pretty quickly.

If we want to tackle some real problems that will certainly lead to true long term devastation, this thread needs to shift to Melanie's earlier point and Mary's initial point about student underachievment in our highly touted district. The LEAP discussion has been an interesting diversion but has devolved into an unproductive, ideologically-oriented debate.

Thank you, Frank, for making my point better than I was able to.

I worry about such DIVERSIONS.

There is SERIOUS work to be done.


We fiddle while Rome burns!


From today's Chapel Hill News (page A3) reported by Patrick Winn:

“All 770 city schools third graders took the test early this year. Of the 160 who scored high enough for LEAP, about 100 were white. About 30 were Asian and–mirroring national trends, staff said–six were black and four were Latino.”

SO--over 20% of the third-graders qualified for LEAP. I consider that a “a significant percentage of kids in the district.” (Not certain if I'm quoting Alan or Eric there---they quoted one another so regularly!)

The rest of the numbers are---interesting. I wonder how the classes will be made-up? How many of the African American and Latino parents will choose to put their kids in the program? If EVERYONE chooses to put their child int he program (unlikely) that would mean a MINIMUM of 6 classrooms. (5 classrooms would mean 30 kids/class...)

One black kid/class? Some classrooms with NO Latino kids?

Things to think about!


The district started using the Naglieri aptitude test for all third graders this year. This non-verbal test was chosen to get a better handle on our students' aptitude and to be as inclusive as possible.

In addition to other uses, the aptitude test is used as an initial screen for LEAP. The 160 kids mentioned in the article passed the first hurdle by scoring at the 97th percentile or more (based on national norms). This group was then offered the opportunity to take achievement tests for LEAP. The two components together - aptitude and achievement scores - are used to determine qualification.

So, Frank, does that mean that there may be NO black or Latin children in LEAP this year?


LEAP sounds like a good program Frank. The Naglieri supposedly works around the negative cultural bias and the effects of mothers educational level of other commonly used aptitude tests (and course grades). Also, you said earlier that there is no funding associated with LEAP (although I don't understand how that can be). In previous discussions about gifted education, it seemed like every parent in CHCCS thought their child was gifted based on class grades which created a highly competitive atmosphere. I'm glad the district has found a way to ensure that those who are extraordinarily gifted can get the same kind of extra attention that those who have special needs get. Now we just have to figure out how to more equitably serve the different cultural groups within that large 'normal' group.

As I said earlier in the thread, I have heard that there will be at least two African American kids in LEAP this year. I don't know anything whether there will be Latino kids in the program or not.

Terri, I would hesitate to use the term gifted. This group is set apart largely by its level of academic readiness. They are no more "gifted" than any other children. Couldn't agree more about dealing with the large group since I hail from that region of the curve myself (though few who know me regard me as "normal").

Eric, you are correct to the best of my knowledge about the African-American children. I know that the program has had Latino children in the recent past but do not know about next year.

So, anyone want to talk about the achievement gap?

I'd like to talk about the achievement gap.

But what shall we say? I believe it has many causes...and I don't believe that teacher apathy/low expectations are chief among those causes. But then, I don't really KNOW. Do we have ANY hard data about the causes of the gap? Terry?


That should read "Terri?" of course...


Here's something to chew on . . . are we even defining the achievement gap the right way?

If you go to the NC Report Card data, we can find racial gaps (A), SES gaps (B), and gaps based on disability status (C). My recall is that gaps B and C are greater than or equal to gap A. However, when data are reported in the media, we seem to look at A and stop there.

Are we framing the problem in the best way for making future progress? Why (not)? Discuss among yourselves.


I agree. In fact, I've long thought (and said) we should be breaking out the test scores by SOCIO-ECONOMIC groups rather than through "race."

It might be tricky to gather data, people are frequently loathe to disclose their family incomes (as they should be), but one MIGHT be able to make some head-way by using the free and reduced lunch program.

Are those numbers readily available?


I don't know what "economically disadvantaged" is based on. I suspect that it is the reduced lunch program but am not certain. The incidence seems to run in the high teens in the district.


Can you point me to the raw NC Report Card data? I would like to run some regressions (ie. the effect of race on SES, etc.).

I would guess that race gaps is strongly correlated to SES gaps. I can't tell without the original data.

It would be important to know what people think--and I hope I am not opening a Pandora's Box of sorts--as to why SES gaps have received less attention than racial gaps. Other communities have been ripped apart by this debate, but I doubt this town will ever have the misfortune of facing such a conflagration.

My own view is that racial gaps represent an odious inequity in society, with vast and tenacious historical roots. It is at once a glaringingly obvious human and moral injustice and a blight on our sense of social decency. We cannot ever claim to be a progressive society so long as the statistically significant gaps of race and ethnicity continue.

On the other hand, the myth of America is that anyone, including (and maybe particularly) the poor, can rise to ever higher levels of social and economic success. The truth is darker and less hopeful. We hold up those who succeed. We love rags-to-riches stories; we are brought by them; they are, in many ways, our milk and butter. Yet for every success story countless more remain in the shadows of an affluent nation, unable to beat back the inexorable entrenchment of their financial woes.

And while we pay for our social services, we do so in avuncular ways, paternalistic, arbitrary and capricious, with little thought to the true nature of abject poverty, but rather to our own limited understanding of what it means to be scared poor, hopeless poor, no light at the end-of-the-tunnel poor.

We say we are all equal, but I don't see that in practice. We treat people differently. When I worked with the homeless in Asheville, the men and women were surprised at how much I wanted to know about the minutiae of their lives. I did not want to merely ladle food and drink. I wanted to know how they ended up on the streets. What sequence of rare events, I wondered from my middle class perch, would lead someone to this condition? The answers came simple and complex, way beyond the scope of this already too long comment to elaborate. But the answers all had a common theme: hopelessness, and a feeling that people simply did not care.

Someone once wrote, I read not too long ago, that a sense of belonging is one of the most neglected of the human needs. I joked and bantered with the homeless, just as everybody else did. All of us on the food line felt we were doing a grand and noble deed. But it wasn't until I sat and broke bread with them that I realized just how wrong all my assumptions about poverty and homelessness had been. We all need a sense of belonging, and for the poverty-stricken, unlike that for other people of specific and distinct races and cultures, they do not share a sense of belonging. For they have been ousted, not only by an uncaring and selfish society, but by the members of their own race and cultural roots.

Frank, you're right. According to, "Economically Disadvantaged (E.D. or N.E.D.): Students who qualify for free and reduced price school meals are included in the group, "Economically Disadvantaged." All students who do not qualify for free or reduced price meals are defined as "Non-economically Disadvantaged." Free and reduced lunch data are not available for high school students. No End-of-Course performance data are reported for E.D. or N.E.D. students."

Surely the legal system bears responsibility for the framing of so much discussion around racial gaps, and so little around SES gaps. Under settled 14th Amendment law, government may not draw lines on the basis of race without the most compelling of justifications, but it may draw lines on the basis of wealth without really needing any serious justification at all. This has meant, I think, that most of the "action" (as it were) has historically been in the race area, as that is the area where courts have been able to push and shape the legislative process.


Thank you for pointing that out. The 14th Amendment, and the judiciary's continued interpretation of it, has indeed played a major role in the framing of this discussion. I've often heard it voiced that we need a similar constitutional amendment for poverty. But that won't ever happen. What I have alluded to in my mini-essay rant above, were the human impulses that would protect race but not the SE disadvantaged.

Doesn't it seem odd that Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, as ill-fought and ill-conceived as it might have been, seems to have become a mere footnote in American history? The easy heuristic legal answer is that executive policies come and go, but constitutional amendments have a permanence. But why would we be happy with that facile answer?

Digging deeper we find the roots of our apathy are fear, ignorance, and the perhaps evolutionary need to distance ourselves from human misery and failure.

Beautiful essay, David.

Here is a very interesting experiment in hypothetical history:

Suppose that Bobby Kennedy had not been assassinated, and had been elected President in 1968 (and reelected in 1972).

Suppose, in other words, at least another decade's life to the spirit of Earl Warren on the Supreme Court.

I have little doubt that that Court would have pushed the law at least a piece down the road David suggests: treating laws that protect vast wealth disparity, or that massively burden the poor, as needing at least some rational justification before being judicially upheld.

We would, I think, be living in a significantly different world today.

It is good to see people discussing schools and achievement during the summer. Much has been written on factors that affect achievement. There was a recent report that reviewed some of these factors: Parsing the Achievement Gap. As Terri notes, not all of the factors affecting achievement are school-based. CHCCS has a number of programs that extend out into the community (e.g., CIS, CASS, BRMP, after-school programs) and the facutly and staff frequently go over and above their in-school duties. It appears to me that there is a reluctance among educators to use non-school explanations for fear these may become excuses. That said, this would perhaps be a good time to review how other aspects of the community can help us meet our school goals.

As for SES, the free and reduced lunches are significantly fewer at the high school level than at middle and elementary levels. The common explanation is that high school children are more reluctant to claim the need for F+R lunch, though it may also be related to increasing parental wealth with older children. The lower F+R lunch rate may be why the ED and NED status is not listed for the HS's (just speculating though). During the last redistricting, we used an SES indicator based on real estate values, though I am not sure if this is available for each child or was an average of a neighborhood/region. The state DPI has complete data on students across the state; I believe IRB approval is needed to obtain and analyze this data if anyone was planning to do that.

I am always interested in school-related issues and frequently post thoughts and comments over on the ARE site. Everyone is welcome.

Thanks for sharing the Advocates for Responsible Education site Mike. I just read your postexplaining how students were assessed for qualification into LEAP. One possible explanation for why there are so few African American and Hispanic students who qualify for the program can be found in David Berliner's paper that I posted yesterday. According to his review of the literature, there is clear evidence that for poor children environment plays a primary role over a children's aptitude/IQ while for middle class children, genetics takes precedence over environmental factors.


The research you point to highlights part of the reason that the "achievement gap" will still be the hot school board issue in 2035 and probably beyond. We cannot both accept the unjust economy in which we participate and have schools that successfully solve the problems caused by that economy.

Same with affordable housing - it's the issue every year and will be for years to come, with no significant changes other than some new twists on small project subsidies.

Berliner's argument, which I agree with, is that spending more and more money THROUGH THE SCHOOLS is not productive as a means of eliminating the achievement gap. School reform if that's what you want to call No Child Left Behind is sucking money out of both systems with very little return. If we invested less money in the schools and more to improving the environments where poor children spend the majority of their time, we might be able to change the hot school board issue in 2035.


I do not see where you posted a paper by David Berliner. About two years ago there was a paper by Turkheimer et al. in the journal Psychological Science that supported the conclusion that you state with regard to variability of the relative effects of heritability and environment on IQ across SES. I noted this paper and the front page Washington Post article discussing it over here.

The representation of African American and Hispanic students at the 20th %ile and 97 %ile on the NNAT appear to be similar to the expected numbers. If poverty was decreasing IQ among these groups, then I would expect a lower representation on the aptitude test. Given a standard of 99th %ile for the definition of highly gifted, the number of African American and Hispanic students actually present in the LEAP program is about what is expected (e.g., 777 students x 16% AA x 0.01 = 1.24). White and Asian students are overrepresented. It is possible that this upward skewing for these groups of students results from the absence of adverse socioeconomic factors that adversely affect intelligence. Also possible is a self selection of who chooses to live in CHCCS from within these demographic populations. Perhaps these are not independent; that is, white and Asian families who move here are more likely to not be poor (e.g., be able to afford the housing market) and selected for higher intelligence (e.g., due to demands of local employers). I also remain concerned about the fairness of the less objective criteria that are used for the "considered" group.

Please let me know where I can find the paper you mentioned.

The CHCCS School Board Candidates' Survey sponsored by the CHCCS PTA Council is out. (Mark Peters, do you have a link?)
I read the survey and now I know why those Hamilton signs rub me the wrong way! I'm going to try to stay open...
I want to hear more about our African American candidate who apparently is 'the' LEAP (Learning Environment for Advanced Placement) and PAGE (Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education) candidate of choice this year.
It's going to take a lot of talking to convince me that we need to hear more from LEAP and PAGE through Hamilton.

The PTA Council should be putting the survey on soon.


I thought this blog and editors of the Independent Weekly would fine two recent school developments interesting.

1) The CHCS school board reconfirmed their contract with the Pacific Educational Group and Glenn Singleton. Like to know more about this organization -

The collaboration between CHCS and Pacific was started in 2000. The mission of the collaboration was to address systemic issues of educational inequity through providing guidance meeting the needs of underserved student of color populations. This collaboration results in a number of budding initatives such as the equity teams at the district level and the school level.

The school board passed this resolution 5 to 2. The two dissenting votes were Dr. Mike Kelley and Jean Hamilton. Dr. Kelly and Jean Hamilton have collaborated on a number of issues. I am sure that will continue that collaboration in the future.

Dr. Kelley (before he became a member of the school board) fought to ignore balancing local schools by social economic class and race. Dr. Kelly allegly stated when he attended his first “Beyond Diversity” workshop that he had “never witness anyone being discriminated against because of their race”. I hope that his experience has expanded since that statement.

The Independent Weekly (whose recent issue was Durham Herald – watch dog or lap dog) endorsed both Dr. Kelly and Ms. Hamilton. It appears that Ms. Hamilton and Dr. Kelly do not believe that we should have systemic educational equity in the city school system nor should we consider what causes educational inequity. It is interesting how progressive newspaper can endorse these two candidates. But, what is a good dog to do anyway.

2) Many of you may or may not know that AVID has been in the district for quite few a years. It was spearheaded in the CHCCS district by Terrance Greenlund (an AG teacher) quite awhile ago. The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)) program is connected to an international program (please see This program was created to find an answer to the problem of enrolling underserved students in postsecondary education and reaching underserved students in the middle. The core focus of AVID levels the playing field for minority, rural, low-income and other students without a college-going tradition in their families. After years of success is this district, the school district recently made a decision to change the name of AVID coordinator. It is now called “advanced learning opportunities coordinator”. The reason given for that change was “to give the position other responsibilities included making arrangements for students to attend the MSAN student conference..…. Identify students for the Urban League's National Achiever Society”. Doesn't that sound promising.

Of course, if one looks at the definition of the AVID program, then one would think that an AVID coordinator should be doing this anyway. A previous AVID coordinator took on this responsibility and was quite successful at it. The implication would be that the AVID coordinator would have too much work and overlap with MSA (Minority Student Achievement). In that case, one might consider creating a MSA coordinator, if eliminating the achievement gap is a priority.

The second interesting but distributing issue about this position change is that it had a reporting change. Other coordinators (such as the AG coordinator) reports directly to the Executive Director of Instructional Services. However, the AVID coordinator now reports to the Director of Exceptional Education (which a full level lower on the organization chart).

The school system states they “are members of AVID (it is a very expensive membership) and attend the training sessions and meetings”. One would wonder are the other organizations (that do not deal with raising minority student achievement) cheap. And why would cost matter on a program (which in the past) has been repeatedly overwhelming successful. Or maybe jail for disheartened students is cheaper than college.

According to the school system, they checked out this change with AVID state director and the state director thought it was fine. Now as we all breathe a sigh of relief, let us remember that the state director does not live in this community or know the members of this community. It is the job of the district to know, to support, and to understand all of the students in this district (including those who are not affluent, not academically gifted… just those who are average, hard working, and the first of their family to try to make it to college).

Now, you all can chat about this... But, I won't be listening. I am busy working to make sure that students can make it. I am just doing it one kid at a time; even if I have to run a marathon to fund an AVID student scholarship (yes, Frank, I ran that marathon and I raised 1,000 bucks for AVID students). See ya on the track.

Yes, Terry...

There is controversy. I have believed it all of my life and I think I might foolishly continue. It has made my life quite interesting.

Controversy lies in the dark awaiting those who might speak their mind. To those folks who might challenge a belief (be that belief be progressive or be conservative); do remain on guard of this word.

Be afraid, dear fellow, for if you speak too much of change or challenge too much, you might too be named "controversial".

Ah... it been fun... Now, off to bed to dream of what the world would like without the "shoulds and can nots".

It seems fair to extrapolate that Kelley and Hamilton don't like the Pacific Educational Group--- and they are not alone. Among more active district parents, I've frequently noticed eyes rolling towards the heavens when the Singleton name is mentioned. I would like for parents to start articulating their problems with the work of the Pacific Group--- I don't understand what the eye-rolling means. Communication about race continues to be so uncomfortable; people simply can't do it…

This reminds me of a recent service at Judea Reform. For MLK observance, Covenant Presbyterian Church joined Judea to hear Timothy Tyson speak on race relations. Tyson is a gifted speaker and gave an emotionally rousing and uncomfortable talk. After the service, the two congregations joined in the social hall for the oneg. Now, I find onegs hellish to begin with, but this one was particularly bad… There I was in a room full of people and I really wanted to talk about important things… Instead I heard myself bantering about the merits of the cream puffs… I left feeling sick… Cream puffs don't work…

Gloria, I have a lot of respect for the work you do.

You are very kind, Mary. Thank you.

Just a point, I heard to a "active district parent" - Dabney say in a workshop once - "Black people need to stop making white people feel unconfortable... they need appreciate what we have done". HMMMMM.... That's say a lot, doesn't it.

We can't be afraid of words. We can't be afraid of being wrong at times. We can't be afraid to explore what we think even when we are not completely clear.

By the way, I have certainly bantered about cream puffs a time or two. I insert my foot with my entire leg in my mouth on more than one occasion. Frank McBride has those times memorized.

But, you know I guess that is what "courageous conversation" is all about.

No fair, Gloria. I though you said you wouldn't be listening as we chat! Yet it seems you are.

Mary, you've forgotten Rule #1: Never, ever, ever expect to get anything out of an oneg beyond discomfort and bad pastry.

Gloria, congratulations on completing the NYC marathon. Kudos also for raising some bucks. I'm on a long break from running so I would dare not set foot on the same track as you. I fear that your nickname "The Rocket Lady" might have a dual meaning!! Perhaps in the spring.

I share your interest in the vote on the Pacific Educational Group and think this issue was far more important than the naming of the third HS. The district has paid the PEG consultants a six-figure amount since 2000. While that amount spread over five years is small change compared the annual district budget, the PEG programs have taken up an enormous amount of teacher training time. The bottom line is that this consulting relationship with PEG is an important component of the district's chief goal of closing the gap in student achievement.

Given the role played by PEG and our reliance on their advice, I think that Dr. Kelley and Dr. Hamilton brought up some relevant issues that deserve more exploration.

The first is the PEG program's effectiveness. Is it doing what it is supposed to do after five years? To the best of my knowledge, there has been no real evidence provided that it has worked here (or in other communities for that matter). I have also been told that other "progressive" communities have given up on this program and have declined to renew contracts with PEG. Why?

A second concern, alluded to by Mary Rabinowitz, is that this program has caused a great deal of anger among parents and teachers. I personally know of cases where individuals in this communtiy were labelled as racists by program participants. I have also heard complaints from several teachers including one who described the program as "enforced self-flagellation." For all I know, these are just isolated incidents and Mary's eye-rolling friends have heard about the same cases that I have. Additionally, these cases could be due to overzealous and undertrained district personnel and such abuses are not an integral component of the PEG program.

Based on what we know (and don't know) about PEG, I think Mike Kelley and Jean Hamilton were correct to be wary of giving Glenn Singleton a free pass. If I had been in their shoes, I would have tried to table the vote until: 1) the district could provide evidence of program effectiveness in this district, and 2) the alleged program abuses had been investigated.

I disagree with the implication that Kelley and Hamilton's vote against the PEG contract reveals a lack of interest in or support of the district's equity goals. By both academic training and personality, they tend to ask a lot of tough questions. Given what's at stake, we should not want it any other way.

One of the issues Jean Hamilton raised repeatedly during the campaign was the lack of evaluation data for ANY program in the district, not just PEG. The simplest analysis, review of individual school report cards, shows that minority student achievement within the district has gotten worse over the past couple of years. It's a lot of money to throw away.

Like Gloria, I am not afraid to speak out even when doing so makes others uncomfortable. I continue to wonder why there are such rules in this community about what one can't and can say vis-a-vis anything that touches on race.

I presume I am being taken to task for saying:

“Black people need to stop making white people feel unconfortable… they need appreciate what we have done”.

Could one say the sentence in reverse?

"White people need to stop making black people feel uncomfortable... they need to appreciate what we have done."

My remark was, I believe, said in a Singleton-based "Courageous Conversations" workshop where the goal was to talk honestly about our feelings and concerns about race. My beliefs on how to end an inequal and racist society are different than Gloria's and PSA's. They are shared by many liberals, black and white. I stand by what I said.

I meant to write PEA rather than PSA. My bad!

Heavens! I can't type! PEG! PEG! PEG!



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