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BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for April 27, 2010

DPS superintendent pick: is a Wednesday announcement on tap?

Call this 100% speculation -- even more so that the question we raised this morning on whether Thursday's board meeting would see the hiring of a new superintendent.

DPS announced this evening a special board meeting to take place on Wednesday at 6pm in the Fuller St. DPS office building. Now, the District holds special meetings about as often as you or I take out the curbside recycling bins. But could this be the superintendent announcement?

Certainly it has the potential to be good news, or bad news, for someone. DPS' announcement notes that the meeting will be held pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11.(a)(6), a specific section of our state statutes that, a web search suggests, has one of two meanings:

To "consider the qualifications, competence, performance, or condition of appointment of a public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee," 


to "hear or investigate a complaint, charge, or grievance by or against a public officer or employee[.]"

Well, I'm certainly pulling for the former.

The announcement goes on to mention that DPS's board "may take action in open session following closed session," suggesting that if this is indeed a super night for the Super search, that an announcement could follow the vote.

Another piece of supporting evidence: NCGS 143-318.11.(a)(6) is the section of code that's been cited in every single one of the public notices of special meetings, going back to what was presumably the discussion over bringing Hank Hurd into the interim superintendent role.

If it is the superintendent announcement, it'd make a lot of sense from a PR perspective to get the good news (new superintendent, huzzah!) out ahead of the tough news on budget woes.

More as we hear it.


El Justiciero

One could only hope the School Board is meeting to actually fire each other in a circular firing squad fashion. Oh wait! They're already doing that by "staying the course" on every possible mistake they have made in the last year. Unfortunately, the ones that pay the price of a School Board that walks in step merrily into the abyss more testing! Yes! Less accountability! less transparency! less teacher intellectual freedom! are the children who need bold and organic solutions to the mess this Board presides. If the new Super is a Broad Foundation Clone - get ready for an accelerated ride into mediocrity. If you like the ways things are going, then vote for the incumbents. If not - vote for a candidate like Natalie Beyerland who has the intellectual and impassioned capacity to handle complex issues from a holistic perspective.

Michael Oehler

Here's my problem with the DPS plan for the failing schools:

Certainly there are schools in Durham that appear to be failing, where well below 50% of their students are below grade level. However, ALL Durham schools are failing African American students and Latino students who district wide are profecient at a rate below 50%. The schools that are "succeeding" are schools that have a low percentage of Free and Reduced Price Lunch students ie low SES students. Fact. The school board knows this. The district administrators know this. The judge of the Leandro case knows this. What I don't understand is why they believe this system of "shutting down schools" will solve the problem.

Is it an indirect way to bus these students around the city without calling it busing? Is it an indirect way to get more charter schools? Is it an indirect way to implement some of the School Board Members pet educational ideas... school uniforms, single sex schools, military like discipline (these are some of the ideas School Board member Davis has spoken in favor of in the past.) In my one brief conversation with School Board Members Davis and Kainz, I sensed that they understood this problem but were unwilling to stir the pot. On my more pesimistic days, I see this as the culmination of the conservative movement to end public education... on my more optimistic days, I see it for what it is... the lasting effects of racism/classism in Durham's educational/political system.

Some parents I know who follow the SB seem to think that this board is being misled by the Broad Foundation. Somehow, I don't believe most of the Board to be so foolish. Some SB followers think that these part-time SB members are just unable to break the beaurocrat mess of the Durham School system. Really? The DPS administration is as entrenched as teacher's unions or Wall Street?

Well... The Broad Foundation deals with large urban school systems. Large urban school systems that have poweful teacher's unions. There is NO SUCH thing in Durham. If DPS wanted to (and they should), they could completely recreate the way teachers are evaluated by DPS principals. This sounds like what they would want to do in the "failing" schools. My question... why not do this in ALL DPS schools? The DPS system is NOT at ALL similar to the large UNIONIZED school systems like Los Angeles, NY, or Chicago. Yes, Durham has many of the problems seen in large urban school systems, but come on, we only have a handful of high schools and a couple dozen elementary schools. If we can't find a way to put good people in the leadership roles of these schools, do we think it is going to happen by shutting down these schools? This is why it is so ironic that Raleigh wants to adopt a system of neighborhood schools, magnets, and charters... just the system we have in Durham that has created these so called "failing" schools. Somethings up, I'm just not sure what it is.

My idea... they remember how crazy things were with past Boards. Above all, they want to maintain a relationship with each other and the community where good things can be accomplished. In fighting, name calling, and open hostilities over the years allowed DPS administration and schools to slip under the radar. Now, we actually have a SB that has been able to make good hires, good decisions, and bring about some changes in the school system. For too long, an ineffectual SB let DPS drift on its own and this was very harmful. We're now slowly undoing the 10 years of system drift.

Michael Oehler

El Justiciero... you crack me up! see you at school later ;)


I think Michael makes some excellent points. Great people, talented teachers, community members willing to help. This is what Durham has. Let's help the schools RISE UP not talk about SLAPPING THEM DOWN.

I find it interesting that the board is now talking about having meetings at the schools with parents, teachers. Why were they so unwilling to do this in the past? I also wondering why DPS has let the SBDM system fall away. At the meeting yesterday board members were heard complaining that SBDM should be less involved in the hiring process. This shows me how disconnected the current board is. SBDM has never been less empowered in the history of the initiative. What we need is more SBDM involvement not less.


That there is a powerful movement at play working efficiently to DESTROY the institution of public education in the US is hardly even a conspiracy theory any more. It is happing right before our eyes. You don't have to dig any deeper than CNN to see what has already happened in Chicago, NY, DC etc. The closures and "turnarounds" have been going on long enough in these cities that we now have data to show that it DOES NOT WORK!

Raleigh is just one step behind Durham in that they have no "failing" schools to shut down and turn over to corporate charter franchises. They first have to segregate and create the "bad" schools before they can bury them.

It is a double whammy that the DPS SB is trying to implement this harsh- 3 year punitive plan while the schools are seriously under funded. We will know that we are in serious trouble if the new super is a Broad fellow or highly experienced business person without a past career in education. This in addition to the SB "turnaround" plan could equal swift changes. Are we ready? Just read the news from these other major cities to see what is in store.


Do you think Mr Davis is right about school uniforms? Most school report a drop in violence and better test score after implementing a uniform policy.


I cannot imagine one negative thing about requiring school uniforms. Not only Durham, but probably nearly every public school should require it.

Benefits: Kids aren't trying to outdo one another in "flashy" or name-brand clothing; saves parents (and/or kids) from paying senseless money on branded clothing; keeps distractions based on clothing choices (revealing, t-shirts w/ messages, etc.) to a minimum; teaches kids proper way to dress for life in the real world (i.e., no pants hanging 3/4ths down a kid's rear, ties, etc.) ... I could go on and on.

Negatives: Kids don't get to "express themselves" via unique clothing choices. Well -- big deal! You can express yourself by writing a good essay, excelling in your science and math classes, playing the flute and tuba, becoming talented in tennis, soccer, baseball, hockey, basketball, dance, etc.

I.E. -- There are no true negatives worth a grain of salt of anyone's time.

So -- what is the delay? Let's go to school uniforms!

Erik Landfried

Just another "solution" that treats the symptom rather than the root cause.


Erik -- There are many "root causes" for public school problems in Durham and elsewhere. There are many "roots" -- not just one tap-root.

A school uniform policy would be one way to take out AN element of distraction (not all elements ... and it would not be a panacea). Nonetheless, it is a simple change that can easily be affected at no cost. And it will help alleviate some problems that teachers deal with on a daily basis, allowing them to concentrate more on teaching.

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