Wake County – BoE meeting August 16

In the last Board meeting in the Wake Forest Road location, the Board of Education heard more details on the Student Assignment plan. The staff presented a plan that recommends keeping magnets as they currently are and building a feeder pattern based on proximity to elementary schools.

Under the current version of the new Choice Student Assignment Plan, magnet schools will be in three groups: Group 1 (Brentwood, Bugg, Combs, Conn, Fuller, Hunter, Millbrook, Poe, Powell and Washington) will have 55-60 percent magnet choice seats and 40-45 percent proximity seats (those children who live in close proximity to magnet schools). Group 2 (Brooks, Douglas, Framington Woods, Joyner, Partnership, Underwood and Wiley) will have 40 to 45 percent magnet seats and 55-60 percent proximity seats. Group 3 (Smith, Wendell, and Zebulon) will have about 10-20 percent magnet choice seats and 80-90 percent proximity seats. The goal is to have more uniform magnet proportions among the schools in any one group. Students who live near magnets, but do not choose or do not get into magnet schools, will have a choice of a high achieving school in a nearby zone. The county will be divided into four quadrants, and magnet schools are assigned to a quadrant, so that achievement choices are in closer proximity to students so as to lessen travel time to achievement schools.

The staff said more than 21,000 residents participated in the "test drive" of the choice plan in June. Proximity and calendar choices were dominant preferences, said James Overman, team leader for the revamped student assignment plan. Nodes in Western Wake were more likely to have participated, he said, and about 150 nodes did not have any participants. Overman said outreach efforts would be concentrated on those latter nodes that did not participate.

A next step will be to take the "test drive" data and apply transportation analysis to the outcomes, to determine transportation costs under this proposed plan.

More details were also released on proposed feeder patterns. Staff said 89 percent of parents supported having a feeder pattern for schools (meaning student from a elementary school student would go onto a specific middle and then high school). The year-round schools face challenges due to a shortage of four-track year round middle schools that can receive elementary school feeders. In addition, John Tedesco raised specific concerns, including one about Farmington Woods in Cary feeding into Garner schools. Staff noted that Farmington Woods has an IB program and that students should have a choice to continue in the closest IB schools, which are East Garner Middle and Garner High schools. Debra Goldman wondered whether other Cary schools should also have the IB program. The feeder patterns quickly became complicated, given the locations of schools not neatly fitting into a clear feeder patterns in many cases.

The next steps, in addition to transportation analysis, are to continue modeling, revise the plan based on modeling, and develop outreach to parents, Overman said. The Board will receive another briefing during the September Board meeting. Board members Keith Sutton and Kevin Hill asked for further public discussions of the plan, given new details released today, and Supt. Tony Tata agreed to pursue those types of public discussions.

WRAL has a blog summary online. WRAL also did a story on upcoming construction decisions that the Board must make. There is left over funding from the last Bond referendum to construct at least two schools. Today, the Board said they want to make final decisions on which of the planned schools to build based on how the Student Assignment Plan is decided.

More details on student assignment and the building plan are expected at the next Board meeting, which will be held Tuesday, September 6, at the School Administration’s new location, the leased Crossroads building: 5625 Dillard Drive, Cary. Every department, except the Superintendent’s office, has moved to the Cary offices as of today.

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Wake County Public Schools

Pinetops NC – Edgecombe County Public Schools Convocation 2011 Speaker Former Senator Howard N. Lee Was Right On!!

I attended my first Edgecombe County Public Schools Convocation and I truly enjoyed the message coming from former Senator Senator Howard N. Lee. He was right on point. He named all the players the student, the parent, the school system, the church, the community, the college and all folks who should be concerned about the children.

I have ever heard of anyone being held back in the 1st grade when they were the top of their class. Lee said his mother held him back because she said he didn’t do his best. Top of the class but didn’t do his best. Wow!!

I have always said we need to look at what worked in the all black schools back in the day such as those like Lee attended so we can incorporate the good things to help young black boys and girls to achieve.

See the video for yourself so you can get the real effect of Lee’s message. Also see pictures.

Click on picture to view video (1 hr. 28 mins. total)

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Click on picture to view pictures (92 total)

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Educators gear up for school year’s start

Edgecombe County Public Schools

Obama goes head-to-head with tea party activist – Source: Alternet

DECORAH, Iowa — US President Barack Obama went head-to-head with a prominent conservative Tea Party activist, in a microcosm of a political clash that will play out in the 2012 election.

Ryan Rhodes, a leader of the group in Iowa, took on Obama during an open-air town hall meeting, which marked a moment of new intensity in the president’s campaign for a second term. (Read more)

RATE THE PRESIDENT by William Reed Columnist

“Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are doing a so-called poverty bus tour under the guise of highlighting that issue … check their records [and] you will see that they have done a lot of poverty-pimping through book sales, TV appearances, speaking fees and promoting the ‘woe is me mindset’… this has been their hustle for a long time,’’ that’s Steve Harvey’s rant in the most recent round of Black American disc jockeys and broadcasters’ battle to brook no criticism of Barack Hussein Obama.

Conscientious Black Americans would do well to compare Harvey’s rhetoric to Obama’s results as president before arbitrarily choosing sides in this public spat. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are being pilloried and made out to be “pariahs” by Black jocks because they’ve made negative comments about Obama’s presidential performance. But, Black American DJs seem to be dodging the fact that America’s economy is in free-fall; the country’s deficits, debt and government spending are at a record high, and our credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in history. In spite of these obvious presidential shortcomings, Urban Contemporary broadcasters continue “praising Caesar” and pummeling his critics. As other American groups lament America’s economic plight, Black Americans, whose lifestyles and conditions are the worst of all, still defend Obama’s lackluster job performance.

Nobody on Black radio seems willing to admit the sad shape America is in, or that Blacks are the worst off in the country. The issue that’s getting attention is the DJ’s view that the “Poverty Tour” is another “attempt to criticize President Obama.” It all goes back to April 2008 when Smiley resigned from the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” program because of the audience’s overwhelmingly negative response to his criticisms of Candidate Obama.

When Obama was elected, many believed that the numerous maladies in the Black community would cease to exist. But, Blacks’ problems continue with the acquiescence of the media and those who view Obama as a symbol of achievement. Under Obama the Oval Office’s traditional deference toward “Wall Street oligarchs” continues. Obama’s signature legislation is the passage of a gargantuan stimulus plan “to fix” the economy. Though they will backbite among each other, few African-American pundits acknowledge that Black unemployment and joblessness has remained constant before and after the $790 billion stimulus package. Who among us demanded the government target Black youth and adult jobs programs when almost a trillion dollars was being doled out?

“He’s doing all he can under the circumstances” is a lame retort. Intellectually honest people must look at Obama’s demonstrable disregard for Black issues and come to the unavoidable conclusion that our issues and interests rank low on Obama’s list of concerns. During his entire time in office, Obama has failed to articulate any policy that would deal with the betterment of Blacks and urban America, yet Obama sycophants write off all criticism, such as Cornel West’s depiction of Obama as a “puppet of Wall Street” as “crazy rants.”

It’s a tragedy the way Obama loyalists have accepted the diminution of Black issues, and that the only way he could become president was by distancing himself from race. He became president, with 95 percent of the African-American vote and support from the vast majority of people of color, young voters and White liberals claiming that America was entering a "post-racial" era as well as a post-partisan one. Though this theme carried enormous appeal and Black voters fell for it, it was never completely true.

Do the Blacks who influence public and political policy want to improve our plight and will they bring attention to ongoing injustice and repression occurring against us? Instead of using air time to throw Cornel and Tavis under the bus when can we expect Black broadcasters and media to objectively relate challenges Blacks face in the U.S. within the contexts of education, housing, employment, poverty, crime and legal systems and ways to combat them?

It’s time Black Americans give President Obama a realistic rating regarding his attention to, or lack of, issues important to us.

(William Reed is available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org)

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William Reed Columnist

DEDICATING “THE DREAM” by William Reed Columnist

A week of events is planned in Washington, D.C. around the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. The official dedication of the King National Memorial on the National Mall will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday, August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the day King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Preceding, and following, the dedication will be star-studded concerts, luncheons, dinners and receptions attended by an array of African-American leadership.

A quarter-million people will gather on and adjacent to the four-acre plot on the northeast corner of the Tidal Basin to dedicate a monument to Martin Luther King’s legacy and its location on American History’s Main Street. The event will feature the first African-American President of the United States as he honors the first African-American with a memorial on the National Mall – and the first non-president so honored. Thousands of contributors and community leaders will join President Barrack Obama at the site. Central to the thinking of Martin Luther King was the concept of the "Beloved Community." The MLK National Memorial’s centerpiece is the “Stone of Hope”, a 30-foot statue of Dr. King, with a 450-foot inscription wall with excerpts of his sermons and public addresses.

The process of designing, funding and constructing the memorial was coordinated by the nonprofit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation. Harry E. Johnson, Sr., and his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity deserve credit for arriving at this historical reality. Johnson has served as president and CEO of the foundation since 2002. A former Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity president, Johnson reports that the MLK Memorial cost $120 million to build. The U.S. Congress gave $10 million in matching funds.

In his public invitation, Jonson said: “We look forward to sharing with you a joyous and historic day for our nation”. To many, King symbolizes the Civil Rights era’s great American Revolution. The MLK Memorial to open on August 22. After MLK’s assassination in 1968, his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha proposed a permanent memorial in Washington, D.C. Alpha Phi Alpha’s efforts gained momentum in 1986, after King’s birthday was designated a national holiday. In 1996, Congress authorized Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to permit Alpha Phi Alpha to establish a memorial in the District of Columbia, and gave the fraternity until November 2003 to raise $100 million and break ground. In 1998, Congress authorized the fraternity to establish the foundation to manage the fundraising and design and approve building of the memorial.

It was an uphill climb for Johnson’s foundation to build the MLK Memorial. A MLK King Family company, Intellectual Properties Management Inc. proved to be a significant obstacle. The family wanted the foundation to pay licensing fees to use MLK’s name and likeness. The King family pledged that any money would go to the King Center’s charitable efforts. The King Center in Atlanta is the location of King’s grave and a National Historic Site. Established in 1968 by the late Coretta Scott King, the King Center is the official, living memorial dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Estimates suggest that the King family charged the MLK Memorial Foundation $800,000 in fees. Now, it’s all “OK” between the foundation and the MLK Family. Children of MLK, Bernice and Martin Luther King III toured the National Mall site in October 2010 and are expected to attend the dedication.

Black Americans have reason to be proud and to be MLK Memorial benefactors. As we raise a toast, it would be “significant” if Blacks contribute to this cause. Most of the MLK Memorial’s construction costs were underwritten by American corporations and organizations such as the National Basketball Association (NBA). General Motors Corporation gave more than $10 million and will serve as dedication chair. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation is dedication co-chair, as is Stevie Wonder, who wrote MLK’s “Happy Birthday” song. A minority, female-owned and operated firm, McKissack & McKissack, is a part of the MLK Memorial Design-Build Team. To make a donation, visit www.MLKmemorial.org

(William Reed is available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org)

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IS SOCIAL SECURITY A “PONZI SCHEME”? by William Reed Columnist

Social Security is one of Americans’ most important safety-nets.

The current Social Security program is a mainstay for women. Women are 52 percent of all adult beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and the survivors of deceased workers. Twenty-five million adult women receive Social Security checks every month.

Social Security may be the chief support for adult American women, but there are warnings that Social Security is in danger. Texas Governor Rick Perry says Social Security is “bankrupt” and compares the program to a Ponzi scheme that is a “safety net” young 20-somethings are “not ever going to see.”

There is also reason for auntie to have some angst about the stability of Social Security. Social Security is actually a social insurance program that is officially called the federal “Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance” (OASDI). It is primarily funded through dedicated payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA). For the moment, Social Security is solvent, and will be until 2037. Social Security currently has “$2.6 trillion in reserves. During 2009, total benefits of $686 billion were paid out versus income (taxes and interest) of $807 billion that produced a $121 billion annual surplus. In 2011, 156 million people paid into the program as 53 million received benefits – a ratio of 2.94 workers per beneficiary.

Social Security’s main problem is that long-term revenues are smaller than promised benefits. Starting in 2015 program expenses are expected to exceed cash revenues. The aging of Baby-boomers has resulted in a lower ratio of paying workers to retirees, as have continuing low birth rates and increasing life expectancies. The government has borrowed and spent the accumulated surplus funds – the Social Security Trust Fund. The trust fund consists of the savings of worker contributions and associated interest, to be used towards future earned benefit payments. Funds are held in US Treasury bonds and securities. The funds borrowed from worker contributions are part of the total national debt of $14.3 trillion as of March 2011. The U.S. Government has perpetuated a Ponzi scheme by looting the Social Security Trust Fund. By 2015, the government is expected to have borrowed nearly $3.25 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund.

To fix Social Security and other entitlement programs Congress and the Obama administration are going to have to go beyond the mundane and employ new and sounder practices and policies. Changes are certainly needed to keep Social Security working to reach the goals it was established to meet. Either benefits will need to be decreased or the government will need to kick in funding. Between 2015 and 2037, Social Security has the legal authority to draw amounts from other government tax sources besides the payroll tax. However, this will liquidate the trust fund, which by 2037 will be “officially exhausted”.

The U.S. Social Security program is the largest government program in the world and the single greatest expenditure in the federal treasury. It currently keeps roughly 40 percent of Americans age 65 or older out of poverty. Like auntie, nearly two in every five African Americans expect Social Security to be a major source of income during their retirement. African Americans who were low-wage workers receive back more benefits in relation to past earnings than do high-wage earners. In 2009, among African Americans receiving Social Security, 29 percent of elderly married couples and 56 percent of unmarried elderly persons relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. In 2010, Social Security’s total income was $781.1 billion and expenditures were $712.5 billion.

America’s government is broke and Social Security is evolving into more of a “feather bed” than safety net. For Social Security to be relied upon and more relevant we will have to require much more in legislation and practices from government officials. Stop staying stuck on stupid, remember: When government increases its debt limit, it’s still a debt Americans have to pay.

(William Reed is available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org)

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