Is Education a Zero-Sum Game?

Guest Post by Eric Muller

In last Wednesday's Chapel Hill News, school superintendent Neil Pedersen wrote the following:

We take th[e] goal for equality a step farther by advocating for 'equity,' which means that students deserve to receive whatever resources are necessary to meet common educational goals. In some cases, equity will lead to some students receiving more resources than others in order to meet the same, high educational goals.

In last Friday's Chapel Hill News, editor Ted Vaden wrote the
following about the perception that recent and proposed changes in gifted education have led to a "dumbing down" of the curriculum:

This is an unfortunate perception, because it proceeds on an assumption that advancement for one group of students - low-performing African-Americans and Latinos - can come only at the expense of others, particularly more advanced students.

Nepotism or Politics?

The Orange County School Board just appointed a former board member, Susan Halkiotis, to fill a vacated seat until the next election. Halkiotis says she has no intention of running to keep the seat after the fall election. Sounds like an example of good government in action, right?

Problem is, Susan is married to Steve Halkiotis, who is the Director of Auxiliary Services for the school system, plus he's an Orange County Commissioner (they fund the schools). This means she could be in a position to vote on her husband's salary, among other uncomfortable situations.

Board member Randy Copeland reminded the board of the nepotism policy they recently put into place.

The policy, he said, should not allow husband and wife to hold positions so closely dependent on each other. "I believe we're placing ourselves in a position of saying, 'don't do as I do, do as I say do,'" he said. "I would be strongly opposed to seeking Susan, even though she's experienced."

All Kids Are Gifted

Guest Post by Alan McSurely
Originally published as "School board right to end ‘segregation,'" a letter to the editor of the Chapel Hill News.

Several letters and at least one News & Observer column by Rick Martinez have explicitly attacked the NAACP and, by implication, Valerie Foushee and Elizabeth Carter of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board, for our efforts to provide equal educational opportunities for each differentiated (and gifted) learner in our schools. These attacks suggest an organized effort to racialize this initiative.

Merger Averted

...for now at least. The Orange County Commissioners opted not to take action on the school merger idea while they wait for the results of some studies and create another task force.

[Commissioner Moses] Carey proposed merger more than a year ago because of the disparity between the two school districts created by Chapel Hill-Carrboro's district tax, which nets that system as much as $12.5 million more than the Orange County schools receive.

But Carey abandoned his position that the commissioners take an immediate vote on merger or on a merger referendum. He said that discussions with his fellow commissioners and the community led him to believe that neither proposal was currently feasible.

However, Carey said he is not giving up on the idea of merging the school systems and added that he will reintroduce the issue.
- News & Observer, 2/13/04

Hillsborough Hypocrisy

This week in the News of Orange, columnist Paul Newton invents a new word to describe Hillsborough politics:

NIM-BY-cron-ism (N) (2004): partiality to cronies by elected officials esp. as evidenced through the rejection of development applications without regard to the general welfare and common good of the citizenry who elected them.

I'll admit, my casual following of the debate over siting a new alternative school in Hillsborough's historic district has made the detractors sound pretty bad and made the school into a political ping pong ball. You know that can't be good.

But I don't know much about what's behind this, and Paul's got his own (good) reasons to gripe. Anyone care to enlighten me/us further?



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