Politicking In Buncombe County Schools

Those following this blog know I’ve written about multiple instances of politicking in North Carolina involving our schools. The latest instance comes from Buncombe county. USA Today is running a story about the misuse of school email for political purposes there.


A Buncombe County school employee who reportedly forwarded an email to fellow employees asking them to vote for school board candidate Cindy McMahon “exceeded the reasonable use of email” by a school employee, according to a school system spokesman.

School board member Lisa Baldwin, who is running against McMahon, sent the email to the Citizen-Times on Friday.

The email appears to have originated from former school system employee Carmen Murray, using a Gmail account. Murray sent the email to two employees at Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School. In the email, she encouraged employees to vote for McMahon. “We simply must remove Lisa Baldwin from our school board immediately,” the email read.

USA Today doesn’t publish said email, but I will.

This email, since sent to a public school account, is subject to Freedom of Information Act laws.
Ms. Murray’s email implies this is not her first contact with Buncombe teachers bearing this same message. Ms. Murray’s position as a school principal clearly makes this course of action inappropriate at best and abuse of her position for electioneering purposes at worst.

From: Carmen Murray <carmenfishermurray@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM
Subject: School Board Endorsements
To: Beverly.Combs@bcsemail.org, Betsy Oakes <betsy.oakes@bcsemail.org>

Hi friends! As principal, I would have never endorsed a specific candidate to vote for (and certainly not in writing!), but as your friend, you can better believe I’m going to be vocal about how important the upcoming school board election is. I’m sure you remember me telling you that as a group of educators, we can single handedly elect who we want in office, or in this case, who we don’t want on our Board. So with that said, PLEASE GO VOTE for CINDY MCMAHON.

We simply must remove Lisa Baldwin from our school board immediately! It doesn’t matter about what district you are in. Candidate are elected system wide on a non partisan basis.

My other endorsements are Pat Bryant and Max Queen. 

Now, please also tell all the rest of your friends and relatives that we need their help as well. Don’t assume that someone else will do it for you! Use your voice!!
Okay, off my soap box.

Hope you are doing well and having a great year! I miss you guys very much and think about you often. I’m having a great time and enjoying spending precious time with my family. Take care! Love ya, 

Bev or Betsy,
Please forward this to the SHV staff. Since my bcs account is no longer active, I don’t have my staff group, and due to the political content of this message, it shouldn’t come from the administration there, but it’s fine to forward it on my behalf if you don’t mind. Thx!  :-)


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WNCN Fails To Mention “Who More With Four” Side With

The headline itself is slanted as Hell:

Republican Wake Co. commissioners fighting to keep power

This article over at WNCN fails to mention who the Democrat “More With Four” county commission candidates side with. It’s not the public, it’s Moral Monday and their huge laundry list spending and more dependency on big government.

The WNCN article calls Jessica Holmes an “education attorney”.
She’s an NCAE attorney.
That’s a fairly large piece of information to leave out given the way the NCAE has politicked in our schools over the last year and backed Moral Monday’s every play.   Excerpt:

Jessica Holmes is the Democrat running against incumbent Gianni in District 3, which covers a part of southwest Wake County

Holmes is an education law attorney while Gianni is a chief financial officer.

Gianni was appointed to the board in April, replacing Tony Gurley who left to take a job with the state.

Holmes said commissioners and the state should spend more on education, making it more of a priority.

“For me, education is not a soundbite,” Holmes said. “Now you have kids, some kids, having textbooks that are older than they are and some of them can’t even take those textbooks home at night.”

Gianni is concerned about the economics of the democrats’ plan.

“The only way to do what they want to do is to do one of two things, either reduce the funds provided to the sheriff’s office or toward human services or to raise taxes,” Gianni said.

Holmes’s claims about textbooks are hilarious given the textbook commission has been under Democrat control for decades. Also, the move to digital materials has and will continue to have an impact. What she just uttered is a true soundbite with no substance.

Ms. Holmes has hidden her ardent Moral Monday support and the media has either ignored it or is too lazy to do their job.

Vetting is apparently only for Republican candidates? It would seem so.

Gianni is right to be concerned. The Moral Monday agenda would cost taxpayer upwards of $7 to $10 billion. Their idea of managing money is to take ‘your fair share’ as they see fit, increasing the size and scope of government, increased debt to the fed and expanding every program they get their hands on.

I left a comment on the article:

Not one mention that three of the four Democrat candidates all support Moral Monday.
Not one mention that Jessica Holmes is an NCAE attorney who has voted in Wake County 1 time and has spoken at Moral Monday events. She supports Common Core as well.

Do your Job, WNCN.





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The CCSSO, UNC, NC And India

Back in June of this year, I asked Where in the world is June Atkinson?

Turned out that Dr. Atkinson was in India courtesy of the Center for International Understanding (CIU).  As it turns out, another top education official in another state is also interested in India.  Coincidence? Maybe.  A lot of Common Core tied entities and links are tracing back to India these days.  

Related Updates:


So, back to why am I bringing CIU back up.

Turns out there are ties between CUI and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  [Quick Reminder: Dr. Atkinson is president-elect of the CCSSO]

Let’s follow this strand of the web from the center, CCSSO, out to the edge that’s right here in North Carolina. I’d like to thank Common Core Diva for sending me much of the details I am about to unload.

Global Ed Web

CCSSO uses Innovation Lab Network for its Common Core experiments.

Innovation Lab Network is linked to KnowledgeWorks, New Tech Network, EDWorks, and Strive Together.  Strive Together’s site has a creeptastic rotating front page header that includes messages like “Every child. Cradle to Career” and “Nationwide cradle to career network”.

KnowledgeWorks has been around since about 2005. Their purpose is a ‘future forecast vision’ of education. They are obsessed with data and yes, they have received Gates grants.
Hit the CommonCoreDiva’s post on KnowledgeWorks for a lot of details.

KnowledgeWorks partners with the  International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).  iNACOL is managed by MetisNet. iNACOL partners with Achieve, Inc. American Youth Policy Forum, Jobs for Future and the National Governors Association.

KnowledgeWorks had an employee named Cris Mulder, who was their VP of Marketing in 2013. Snippet from the press release of the VP spot Mulder was hired into; emphasis added:

Mulder most recently served as the Deputy Secretary of Communications for the North Carolina Department of Transportation where she led all communication efforts for the second largest transportation network in the U.S. Prior to joining NCDOT, she was Chief Communications Officer for the Wake County, NC Public School System, the 16th largest school system in the nation. Mulder was also instrumental in the development and implementation of the repositioning of a 20+ year old brand and corporate marketing initiatives at VIF International Education as their Director of Marketing. There, she most notably created the communications and brand strategy for the Global School Network.  

The press release also mentions Mulder worked for Microsoft.

Ms. Mulder also serves on the board for CIU; A board which contains former Bill Gates employees and other Common Core promoters.  Mulder’s bio for the board includes this at the bottom:

She currently serves on the District 7 Board Advisory Council for the Wake County Board of Education and as a member of the marketing committee for the Wake Education Partnership.

Two points from this extended bio on Ms. Mulder:

1. Multiple members of the Wake County Board of Education has pushed Common Core. Mostly, they parroted the approved pro-core talking points.  Now we have an idea of who might have crafted those talking points.

2. Wake Education Partnership has locked arms with the Chamber of Commerce on Common Core.  Wake Education partnership is a “strong supporter of the Common Core“:

“Wake Education Partnership is a strong supporter of the Common Core. As one of the business community’s most important voices on education issues in Wake County, the Partnership was quick to support an effort that holds schools to higher standards and provides students with stronger skills. Allowing Common Core to reach its potential will not be easy. Real progress rarely is. But we are confident it can succeed if we support our teachers, principals and students in the endeavor.”
- Steve Parrott, President, Wake Education Partnership

Of note, Wake Education Partnership is chaired by Caroline McCullen of SAS.  SAS has been advocating for Common Core yet does not use it in their own Cary Academy.

Fun Side Fact: Sometime during Governor Easley’s term, CIU released their World Action plan titled, “A Plan to Increase Student Knowledge and Skills About the World“.  You can tell it had to be during Easley’s time frame because Howard Lee was on the State Board of Education and signs the opening letter on the report.  One of the endorsers of this plan was Kay Hagan, at that time a state legislator. 

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NC Common Core Commission Should Bring In Stotsky, Milgram

Earlier this week, the NC Common Core Commission (known as the Academic Standards Review Commission or ASRC) held their second meeting.  I live-blogged it as best I could.

The Commission heard from “experts” from the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) on the ELA standards at the urging of the Governor’s appointee, Andre Peek.

The NC public and the NC General Assembly, as warned by Senator Tillman at the first meeting, will not stand for a rebrand or a rehash. I’d also warn against blowing off the Common Core Copyright.

I respectfully submit to the Commission that they practice the transparency and thoroughness they have been preaching, lest they be seen pulling shenanigans like we saw happen in Missouri this week.

The Commission should make immediate arrangements to hear from the experts who were involved in the Common Core at the ground level and served on the Validation committee for the standards: Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram.

Frankly, the General Assembly should have brought these two in during the Legislative Research Committee hearings instead of Fordham’s Common Core mouthpiece, Michael Brickman.

Citizens can contact Commission Co-Chair Andre Peek at 919-426-3713 and/or Co-ChairJeannie Metcalf at 336-287-2804 to encourage them to bring Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram to North Carolina.

Overview of the 10/20/14 Meeting
The public who attended were treated to a multi-hour presentation by NC’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that covered the Common Core ELA.  It took four representatives from DPI to make this presentation. Bear in mind that DPI mentioned that two other relevant staff members couldn’t make it.

The presentation was convoluted in its attempt to parse the multiple layers of standards even for just one grade level. The presentation also included having the Commission members do exercises in highlighting differences in the layers and between grades.

Overall, the entire thing really laid bare how ridiculously over-complex the Common Core standards are.  Commission member, Dr. Schiek, made the follow comment after the presentation by DPI that hit the nail on the head:

““I do not see how this material is clear to the average parent. My suspicion is that they need to be simplified somehow,” said John Schieck, a retired professor from Wake County.”  – WUNC


Related Read:  Students Should Be Lifetime Learners – But Apparently Teachers Don’t Have To Be

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‘Our Schools First’ Jumps The Shark With Halloween Handouts

Politicking in our schools? CHECK.
Using kids as props in fliers?  CHECK.
Ruining Halloween by giving kids slips of paper in their treat bags? CHECK.

Wait, what?
Slips of paper handed out on Halloween to push the School Bond referendum?

Boy, “Our Schools First” has completed the trifecta of fail with that one.

It reminds me of the classy move Obama made while campaigning, where they told  people to put donations to his campaign down for their wedding registries.

This is how I found out about this, as sent to me by a parent:

“From the our schools first website:
“Be ready for trick-or-treaters this Halloween–and help us gain support to pass the November 4 bond referendum.
Simply print out either of the two documents below on yellow paper, attach them to your favorite treat, and pass them out on Halloween!”


That same parent has done some digging on this bond issue and contends that Mooresville graded schools is behind this bond push.  The parent sent me this outline of how Mooresville graded school district has used their local school tax money. It would appear from the outline that Mooresville waited silently until they hit critical mass before launching this effort.

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