Wake Cty Schools “Strategic Plan”? More Common Core.

The Wake county public school system (WCPSS) is revising their strategic plan yet again. Work began on this new plan sometime back in February of this year and now WCPSS is having a kick-off of sorts. On Friday, WCPSS held a forum about the “Community Vision For Wake Children”.

The news report from WRAL says a whole lot of nothing about what this new strategic plan entails. Parents who are just finding out about it on their site will have to fire up Google to figure out what this event was about – or read my article. The WRAL video segment has an interview in it of Superintendent Merrill, where he seems to be choosing his words very carefully.

Only the N&O seemed to have a story (behind their pay wall) on this “Community Vision” event prior to the event itself. No big advertising of this event, much like the Wake Superintendent’s Direct Line forum, was done. That Superintendent Direct Line forum had maybe a dozen people show up at any of the given locations. The one I attended was similar, but that didn’t stop nearly every speaker from speaking out against the Common Core. You can read about that Direct Line forum and watch the videos here. At any rate, WCPSS might want to re-think the ‘less-is-more’ strategy of attracting parents to their event.  

Neither N&O nor WRAL had links to the WCPSS site where I located what the heck this event was about. From the link on the WCPSS calendar, I got to the page where the “Community Vision For Wake Children” comes up. Apparently, this “vision” includes “futurist” David Houle.

For those unfamiliar with Houle, he’s the author of “The Shift Age“.  The main premise of the book is that the world is changing so fast, we can’t keep up, everything is data, information Clouds, global economy and that we’re headed for an “intellectual collapse”.  WCPSS brought him in to be their keynote speaker at Friday’s ‘strategic kick off’ event. Wonder how much that cost us?

WCPSS’s site has this little bio up for Houle:

David Houle is a futurist, thinker and author of the book, Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education. In this talk Houle identifies and explains the new age we have entered. He looks at the forces of the Shift Age and how they will affect us as individuals and leaders. He takes a look at the future of education and provides the audience with eye opening transformations dead ahead. According to Houle, The Shift Age is one of, if not the most transformative and exciting times in human history. Houle leaves us with suggestions for how to prepare for and adapt to this new age.

Houle is Futurist in Residence and Faculty member at the Ringling College of Art + Design in Sarasota, Florida.

* Read the extended Bio here.

“Futurist, thinker and author…”
In any other time period in history, that would be code for unemployed.

The bio on the WCPSS site doesn’t mention that David Houle is also a favorite speaker and resource with the pro-Common Core crowd.

His book, Shift Ed, talks about the Common Core on page 116. He characterizes the Core as a framework only and it sounds like he’s not really supporting the Core, but he is in the sense the core is a means to an end – that end being ‘fundamental transformation’ of public schools. The paragraphs that surround Common Core’s reference on page 116 could have been summarized to say that the Core Standards are content-free and that’s a good thing because Houle says we’re in a constantly changing, hyper-speed information society. What’s ironic is Common Core is putting all kids into one middle-sized box – something he advocates against in an interview he did promoting his book in 2011. More video of one of his ‘transformative’ speaking engagements here.

Houle loves  his technology and his “21st Vision”. Apparently, I must be a technophobe:

There are more tweets of interest. Including the new online townhall website to get input. Helpful, since the events WCPSS puts on are never advertised very well. Now we can talk at a website where our feedback gets heard… or something. Very 21st century that is – removing real interaction in favor of one way traffic.

Houle is co-author on “Shift Ed” with a man named Jeff Cobb. Cobb appears to get nowhere near the media attention or speaking engagements Houle does. Wonder why that is? Jeff Cobb has his own website and according to his own bio, has tons of  2 decades of experience in the education and technology field. Cobb also has ties to UNC Chapel Hill. Cobb’s LinkedIn profile doesn’t really match his self-written bio.

Quick note about Houle and Cobb’s publisher, Corwin. Corwin is a SAGE publications company. SAGE is a major clearing house for educational books and materials, especially Common Core publications.

Bottom line for both of these guys seems to be that they’re both ‘in education’ to make money.


Back To WCPSS’s Future Vision

Since our media can’t be bothered to dig below the surface, I did. This vision? It’s about how to keep Common Core, whether that be a rebrand or shuffling deck chairs.  Here’s what I found with a quick Google search:

The Strategic Plan for Wake County Public School System, Vision 2017

Common Core is mentioned 7 times throughout the document.  One would think Common Core would appear more in the document, given the entire thrust of this plan is to implement and align everything to Common Core. The number one strategy listed in how WCPSS will prepare kids for the future is on page 13:  “1. Align the implementation of a rigorous and relevant curriculum with the Common Core and Essential  Standards.” 

None of this is very shocking. Parents paying attention have watched WCPSS officials push Common Core and watched the Wake County School Board cheer-lead for it. Apparently, our protestations over it are irrelevant.


Update: As of 7/15/14 – a total of 23 ideas have been added to the Wake “Envision” site. How much did we pay for this big event and the accompanying website? How about the “listeners” salaries?  This was supposed to create parent input and outreach right? Wrong. I said at the time this lacks real  interaction.

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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