Thursday, October 21, 2010

By voting we let political leaders know that we are a community that cares about our leadership.  Your vote is personal, our group does not wish to influence your choice in candidates!  However, it is imperative that you vote.  When elected officials have a town where a high percentage of the citizens are ACTIVE VOTERS, then they are much more interested in that community's needs.



Knightdale Recreation Center Large Multipurpose Room 101 Lawson Ridge Road, Knightdale, NC 27545

Friday, October 22 Saturday (11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.)

October 23 Sunday ( 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

October 24 Monday ( 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.)

October 25 - Friday, October 29 ( 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.)

Saturday, October 30 (10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.)

A rift fractures the Wake school board's solid majority - Wake County -

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A rift fractures the Wake school board's solid majority - Wake County -

CARY -- In what could become the first significant split in the ruling Wake County school board majority, vice chairwoman Debra Goldman says she will vote against the board's student assignment plan if she continues to be shut out of the process, which she says leaves her unable to keep her promises to voters.
Goldman's stand on the emerging plan for assigning students to schools signals a widening schism among the five-member majority that has dominated board actions since late last year. It creates another complication for a bloc that faces lukewarm support from county commissioners in its own party as well as questions about its policy decisions from a national accreditation agency and a potential civil rights investigation from two federal departments.
Goldman, a Cary Republican, took office after fall elections last year that created a board majority consisting of incumbent Ron Margiotta and three other new members. The majority moved rapidly to set aside Wake's assignment policy that gave weight to achieving socioeconomic balance in schools; the five instead favored a policy that gives priority to assigning students within their communities. The ruling coalition put the design of the proposed plan in the hands of a student assignment committee led by majority member John Tedesco.
Goldman, who continues to support community-based schools, is not a member of the student assignment committee. She said she will not vote for a plan unless every student has the option to attend a magnet school, has a choice of a year-round or traditional school, and a guaranteed assignment based on where he or she lives.
The plan before the school board's assignment committee divides the county into 16 community school zones and emphasizes choice, stability and placing students in schools close to their homes. Instead of getting a base school, families would pick from a set of schools without a guarantee of getting their request.
"How can I support a plan that doesn't meet what I said I would do?" she said. "I don't have a voice; I don't have a vote until it comes to the entire board."
What her colleagues say
Initial response from Goldman's fellow Republicans was terse.
"We've seen Mrs. Goldman go back and forth on issues for the last few months," Tedesco said. "I want to see what she actually votes on six months from now before I get excited about what she says today."
Majority member Chris Malone is on the student assignment committee, along with Tedesco and minority member Carolyn Morrison.
"There's a process in place, and the process has to be respected; I'll just leave it at that," Malone said. "I'm not going to get into some kind of disagreement in the press with one of my fellow board members."
Board chairman Ron Margiotta said it was too early in the planning process for Goldman to be concerned about specifics.
"I'm the chairman of the school board, and I don't resent the fact that I'm not involved with every single aspect of what's going on," Margiotta said. "We just can't have every school board member on that committee, or it's no longer a committee."
Meanwhile, families in Cary have been flooding Goldman with e-mail and calls about the plan, especially from places where the proposed zones divide neighborhoods.
"She's getting pressure in her area about the bases; this is not what they voted for," said Anne Sherron, a nonvoting community member appointed to the student assignment committee by a member of the board minority. "The thing that I see her starting to realize is that she is not being listened to. When you are part of this majority and you aren't being listened to, it's time to stomp your foot."
Former board chairman Kevin Hill, a member of the board's four-member minority, all Democrats, said there's merit in Goldman's request for more information.
"There are questions that need answers to help shape the program, instead of building the program and finding out we don't have answers to these questions," Hill said.
A swing vote?
After nine months on the board, Goldman could cast a decisive swing vote against the plan before next fall's school board elections, which could result in a change in the panel's ruling coalition. But she said she hopes speaking out now will make that unnecessary. A potential break in the board majority would be the latest twist in a long saga that began with widespread parent dissatisfaction in the early 2000s.
Especially in suburban neighborhoods, families complained about frequent student reassignments, uneven access to magnet schools and an assignment plan that factored in families' economic backgrounds. Those complaining got organized and elected four candidates last fall who were determined to try a new way of assigning students.
Goldman doesn't support the economic-background approach, but she said she doesn't think the plan being drawn up meets the district's standards. Originally planned for introduction in the 2012-13 school year, the new student assignment plan could be put into effect as early as next fall if the board approves a plan in time.
"I could be quiet and wait for the vote, but I could let them know now that there are some issues so maybe things could be worked on," said Goldman, who said she would like to see a new plan in effect next fall. "Nobody wants to spin their wheels on something that's not going to pass."
Along with members of the board minority, Goldman is raising concerns that the plan under development could create more high-poverty schools, a category that increased under the old policy.
"We run the risk of some racial isolation," she said. "I don't want to see it get worse."
Goldman said the developing plan is dividing communities. She points to Cary's Lochmere area, which is split between parents who want their children to attend Athens Drive High School, which is 10 minutes away in Raleigh, and Cary High School.
"Parents are very, very anxious. I'm anxious, and I'm on the board, so that should tell you something," she said.
Despite her concerns about how the concept will be executed, Goldman said she's committed to the concept of community-based schools.
"Would I go back to the old way? No way," she said. "But at least you knew where your kids were going."
Deciding the details
Tedesco has said that the plan in play is fluid. Last week, the committee voted to make several changes affecting areas in Cary, including Lochmere, and other parts of the county. School board minority member Morrison voted against the changes, saying the fundamentals of the plan have not been agreed on.
Goldman could cast a "no" vote on the developing plan, or use her potential swing vote to change it.
"I'm assuming that she's very serious if she's making public comment about this," Hill said.
Goldman said she's asked repeatedly to be on the student assignment committee, which has no policies about how many members can serve.
"I just keep getting refused," she said. Tedesco and Margiotta have kept her from the committee, Goldman said, because her support of the majority is "not a guarantee."
What Goldman wants, she said, is for the entire school board to be on the assignment committee. In any case, Goldman's hesitation could slow down progress on the plan, a delay some critics of the board majority want.
"I don't count on her swing vote," said Patty Williams of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, which is critical of the new board. "But the process needs to be slowed down, and it needs to be data-driven, which it has not been."
Goldman's independent stance could mean complications for other board decisions, such as the controversial new high school being designed for Rolesville. Goldman said she had concerns with the school's design, which she will bring up at today's school board meeting.
"It's going to be an interesting day, I think," Hill said.

Grant allows high schools to share resources


KNIGHTDALE - A $43,000 award granted last week will enable Green Hope High School and Knightdale High School to participate in distance-learning courses with each other.

The grant, from the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, will allow both schools to develop video-conferencing labs, part of several new initiatives to improve student performance and achievement at Knightdale High School. Five students will take an Advanced Placement government class at Green Hope High School through a distance learning lab.
The distance partnership marks the first of its kind among Wake County high schools.
"It means that students here at Knightdale High School will be able to take AP courses that they were unable to do without partnering with Green Hope," Wake school board chairman Ron Margiotta explained before addressing Knightdale teachers Tuesday morning. "But it's needed," he said. "Knightdale High School, in my opinion, has been overlooked for a long time. The number of AP courses has been so limited here and that's been a disgrace."
The government class is the only AP social studies class Knightdale doesn't offer that Green Hope does, and Melody Solomon, Knightdale's Social Studies department chair, will serve as Knightdale's distance learning lab coordinator. Solomon will be in charge of making sure assignments reach their destination and lines of communication remain open between the Knightdale students and Michael Miragliuolo, who will teach the AP government class at Green Hope.
"It's already started," said Knightdale Principal Carla Jernigan. "The teacher has already come out to the school this summer to meet with the students. We're working with technology services at the central office level to set up all the equipment, and they've already done the training. They've come out and worked with the students also in getting set up with their Blackboard accounts, and being familiar with Wimba."
These technological platforms will enable the Knightdale students to receive and submit assignments.
Green Hope Principal James Hedrick said the partnership isn't intended to benefit his school directly.
"What we hope is the students at Knightdale High School will get something out of it by being able to take a class they couldn't take at their school," Hedrick said.
Hedrick said Green Hope students will benefit by being able to work with students from other parts of the county.
Hedrick said the seed for the program was planted this summer when Acting Superintendent Donna Hargens asked if he would be interested in partnering with Knightdale High on the program.
Green Hope offers about six classes in AP government and about 150 students take the course at that school.
That equipment could open doors for other classes and other schools in the future.
"We lost our Latin teacher a couple of years ago, but Latin is not an easy hire," Jernigan said. "We're hoping we can continue to expand this because we still have people who are interested in Latin, but (we're) not able to find a teacher. This is a way we can offer classes we otherwise could not."
Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan applauded the project that uses a resource - in this case a teacher - already in place.
"Perhaps this is a way to leverage the resources of both schools, have more AP courses through technology and save some money," Bryan said. "Hopefully some of these strategies that are being implemented here can be replicated, whether it's at East Wake High School, Garner, Fuquay or other areas of the county. I think it would be beneficial to the teacher having the opportunity to use this new technology in addition to teaching in the classroom. I think there's a potential advantage for the whole system as we're having more of this learning online."
Both Bryan and Margiotta credited the grassroots education organization Knightdale 100 for pushing this initiative and several others the school is launching this year.
"They are a very active group and have been continually pointing out the deficiencies in the high school. Finally their voices have been heard," Margiotta said. "All of the programs that are being implemented this year I think have created a lot of excitement on the part of the teachers, and motivation, and that will be reflected right down to all of the students and out to the community."
"They're putting our feet to the fire as elected officials and demanding success," Bryan added. "What they did in terms of really welling up from the community, as it welled up it brought out some of the concerns about teacher turnover, violence, academics - various concerns about what needs to be done to make this a school of choice. The school system has responded to that. After seeing all these concerns laid out, we're trying to put in place solutions."

Under new criteria, more take algebra - Wake County -

Monday, October 4, 2010

Under new criteria, more take algebra - Wake County -

KNIGHTDALE -- Enrollment has shot up 30 percent this year in Wake County middle school advanced math classes that are using new selection guidelines designed to rely more on test data and less on teacher judgment.
Data presented Thursday shows that 10,313 middle school students are taking pre-algebra orAlgebra I, an increase of 2,351 students since the last school term.
School administrators gave much of the credit to a SAS program, pushed by the school board majority that swept into office last fall, that is expected to increase minority enrollment in those courses.
"We are going to send thousands of students to high schools smarter," said school board member John Tedesco, chairman of a board task force looking at how to help low-income students. "We're going to have a positive impact on their lives."
Under old selection guidelines that relied more on teacher judgment than test scores, data from the SAS Institute showed that more than half of the qualified black and Hispanic middle school students in Wake were not put in advanced math courses. Taking those courses in middle school would have put them on track for top-flight colleges.
Administrators said there has been a 26 percent gain this year in pre-algebra enrollment and a 35 percent gain in Algebra I enrollment using the SAS EVAAS program. They reported 82 percent of the students identified as beingready by EVAAS are taking pre-algebra in seventh-grade, and 68 percent of the eighth-graders indentified as ready for Algebra I are in that class.
Previously, only slightly more than half of the Wake eighth-graders identified by EVAAS as being ready for Algebra I were enrolled in the course.
Elaine Hanzer, principal of Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School, which had been using the EVAAS program before most other middle schools, said the new guidelines have changed the culture of the school. She said she has gone from havingonly one Algebra I class in 2004 to five this school year.
"It's taken away a lot of the stigma of this being the fast team or the slow team," Hanzer said. "Now everyone is on the same path."
Ligon Middle School Principal Gretta Dula testified that one student with behavioral problems went from having a "D" grade last year in sixth-grade math to a "B" in pre-algebra after EVAAS determined he was ready for a harder class.
"When he was with his peers he didn't want to display it. But now he's in pre-algebra, he's raising his hand in class." Dula said.
Principals raised some issues, though, even as they praised the new guidelines.
Cathy Williams, principal of East Garner Middle School, said students in regular math classes are benefiting from smaller class sizes now that so many are taking advanced math courses. But she said those regular math courses are now largely populated by low-performing students who are labeling themselves as not smart enough to take harder courses.
"We are doing good things for kids, but it's something we need to pay attention to," Williams said.