Welcome to the first WCPSS updates article. I usually roll Wake County Public Schools up into my NCED updates articles, but lately, the district has had enough news to generate its own edition.
This edition will cover MVP Math updates, reassignment plan, restart status declarations and a ‘brain drain’.
Before kicking off the updates, it bears mentioning that elections have consequences.
Monika Johnson-Hostler (district 2) has become the third board member to jump ship prior to the 2020 elections.
Johnson-Hostler announced that she is going to run for the NC-02 Congressional seat held by Republican George Holding.
Also jumping ship from the board are Keith Sutton, running for NC Supt and Christine Kushner, running for last Republican-held Wake Cty seat at the General Assembly.
Currently running unopposed for Kushner’s seat is the Terrance Ruth, a current professor at NCSU and former Wake County teacher/administrator.
Ruth’s announcement of his candidacy left out some very significant facts about him: he’s a former adviser to Rev. William Barber and a former Executive Director of the NC NAACP.
Parents/Wake County readers, be aware that all of the WCPSS board seats are on the ballot in 2020. Interested?
#1 – MVP Math
Many may know by now that the parent leading the fight against MVP math in Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) has been hit with a legal complaint by MVP math. The type of suit looks like what is known as a SLAPP suit.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and it is a legal intimidation tactic used to suppress the First Amendment rights of critics or activists with the thread of high court costs. Many states have laws blocking such suits, called anti-SLAPP laws, but North Carolina is not one of them.
The suit accuses the parent, Blain Dillard, of “libel and slander.” Dillard has refuted these allegations on the Wake MVP parents website, which reads in part:
“He is innocent of all allegations and can defend each and every point made in the summons. This is an attempt at intimidation and bullying to silence Blain and other parents’ free speech advocating for their children’s education. Citizens must stand up to these tactics or you may be next when you speak out against something in your government.”
If you’re so inclined to back a parent’s right to advocate for their kid’s education, hit the GoFundMe for his legal defense.
I do not know who MVP’s public relations person is, but they might want to consider a new career. The optics are ridiculously bad and no good can come from suing a concerned parent. Any parent who has advocated for their own children like has Dillard has likely finds this SLAPP suit against him extremely chilling.
For more backstory on this fight, how WCPSS has responded and more relevant details, read my June 18 article. Another good article on Blain Dillard’s lawsuit fight worth your time was recently written by colleague Karen Effrem at the National Pulse.
Parents against MVP have charged that the WCPSS’s review and adoption of MVP violated district policy and the law, but the board disagreed and stood by their decision at the August board meeting. The WCPSS board did not back down but instead doubled down in the form of voting to hire an outside firm to review MVP math.
MGT consulting is the company who was chosen and how it was chosen has already come under scrutiny.
The documentation included in the August 7 board materials includes the RFP response from MGT, which is dated July 19 – weeks before announcing an outside party would do a review. So, when did the RFP go out? I’m attempting to determine that and have requested a copy of the RFP and all staff communications associated with it from the district.
The contract with MGT was also included in the board materials and although it says that costs will not exceed $125,000 and the current contract is already for $107,899. Wake might be getting off easy with that dollar figure, judging by other districts who have used MGT.
A Denver district forked out $8.3 million for a multi-year contract for MGT to manage the whole district. The MGT takeover of Adams 14 school in Colorado was allegedly done in a backroom/closed-door fashion and is being challenged with 2 lawsuits.
Another $11.4 million was spent over 4 years in Gary, Indiana.
I shared this review information with colleagues and one of them made a very important point. As far as the review WCPSS says MGT will perform, the language in the board meeting materials suggests that this is not a review of the actual curriculum. The documents say that “MGT is tasked with evaluating the implementation” of MVP math.
This type of review isn’t going to deal with the problems and concerns parents have. Implementation is but one cog in a larger machine.
My colleague summarized this move best, saying that “Evaluating the implementation is an expensive endeavor to appease parents by trying to fool them into thinking the district is looking into things.”
As a parent who lived through the 15-month horror of the Academic Standards Review Commission that evaluated Common Core, I have to agree. This is appeasement.
#2 – The Reassignment Plan
I previously wrote about the WCPSS board’s big idea they debated in July for over an hour how to legally reassign kids using metrics that won’t run afoul of the law and how that approach is eerily similar to The College Board’s new ‘Diversity score‘, which uses socioeconomic data on a student as a proxy for race.
Remember, this board created the conditions that have led to a steady exodus from the district. It is unlikely a single one of them realizes that just like a few years ago that this board didn’t see the warning signs and began denying in-district transfers.
At the WCPSS board’s June 1 retreat, they discussed their ‘diversity plans‘ and announced ‘resegregation’ was not going to happen on their watch. Here is a verbatim copy of the resolution they produced, read it closely:
“Resegregation will not happen on our watch and we are committed to making decisions that are good for the district even when
they are not the best forconstituent groups do not agree.”
The work session debrief involved “facilitators” Frederica Nash and Michael Martin from a company called RTI. I sent a records request to Wake County to see how much RTI is costing taxpayers. Since 2016, WCPSS has made payments to RTI totaling $382,948.
Well, this reassignment plan as been rebranded as an ‘enrollment policy change’ and it’s moving fast. Really fast. As in, it will be a done deal before this Thanksgiving unless parents intervene.
The non-profit Great Schools in Wake has begun the push to support whatever plan WCPSS comes up with and that laughably applaud the board’s lipservice to doing ‘better job communicating’ with the public.
Great Schools in Wake was founded and run by far-left activist Yevonne Brannon and it has direct ties to board member Christine Kushner, Jim Martin and to former board member Susan Evans.
This group is politically partisan and is linked to a number of left and far-left organizations such as WakeUp Wake County, who in turn has direct ties to the Left-leaning Capitol Area Friends of Transit, and Public Schools First NC (PFSNC).
PFSNC is “project” of WakeUp Wake County and is also run mainly by Yevonne Brannon. In addition, Red4EdNC was first a front group project of Public Schools First NC.
PFSNC’s partner, Great Schools In Wake, was responsible in part for the 2011 Wake school board protests alongside Rev. Barber. Brannon had used both Greater Schools in Wake and PSFNC to manipulate the practices and policies of the Wake County School Board.
#3 – Restart Applications
There are currently over 8,000 families on wait-lists for charter schools in Wake County. Demand for options other than the traditional district schools clearly there.
The WCPSS Board, and their allies like left-leaning Public Schools First NC and Great Schools in Wake, have been attempting to kill charters off in the district, most recently by trying to kill the applications for three north Raleigh charters.
That push to block charter schools makes what I am about to say next all the more hypocritical and ironic.
Under the 2010 Race To The Top grant, NC agreed to develop a program to reform low-performing schools. Low performing is defined as a school that for two of the last three consecutive years has had the majority of students performing below grade level and did not meet growth and performance grade of “D” or “F” and did not exceed growth.
That program that was developed is called TALAS, which stands for Turning Around North Carolina’s Lowest-Achieving Schools. TALAS has four options districts and schools can use for this reform: turnaround, restart, closure, and transformation.
The Wake school board applied to and were approved by the NC State Board of Education (NCBOE) for five low-performing schools to enter into one of four TALAS reform models.
The one they chose was the Restart model. That model, in essence, mimics charter schools.
How Restart status works is the district converts the school in question by closing and reopening the school under a charter school operator, charter management organization or an education management organization that has been “rigorously” vetted by the district.
The schools are:
1. Creech Road Elementary
2. Forestville Road Elementary
3. Powell Elementary
4. Timber Drive Elementary
5. Wendell Elementary
6. Beaverdam Elementary
#4 – Brain Drain
Minding how one’s tax dollars are spent in a $1.9+ billion district takes vigilance.
The WCPSS Office of Equity Affairs spent $3,900 on 2-day workshop called “Culturally responsive teaching and the brain” but brain drain is a more apt title.
The workshop is part of the teaching of Zaretta Hammond, who runs a California based company called “Transformative Learning Solutions.” Hammond, for all intents and purposes, appears to be a female version of Glenn Singleton. Hammond and Singleton are both in the white privilege seminar business and are even connected by the same publisher.
Glenn Singleton’s ‘Courageous Conversations’ drew controversy in NY City Schools as part of their “anti-bias training” that turned out to be anything but anti-bias filled. Singleton was paid $775,000 for his role.
Wake County taxpayers have unknowingly shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars – $261, 790 to be exact – for Singleton’s seminars, which boil down all educational problems to skin color. Singleton could be said to be the education version of Ta Nehisi Coates who has been invited to speak in Raleigh by the NC Public School Forum.
Singleton’s ‘Courageous Conversations’ and ‘Beyond Diversity’ training sessions have been used by the Office of Equity Affairs (OEA) across Wake County Public Schools for more than 4 years. That’s a drop in the bucket. Singleton has been peddling his white privilege training for decades and has made millions doing it.
Singleton’s Courageous Conversations is a key element in the OEA’s “Equity Framework” which will “leverage student voices” in the classroom.
The “Equity Framework” focuses on training teachers to have an “action-oriented mindset” to move social and racial justice themes through their students and classrooms.
Teachers are supposed to see “inequities wherever they are,” according to remarks made to the NC State Board of Education by Rodney Trice, Director of the OEA. Trice went on to say we need to make sure these inequities are “disrupted wherever we see them,” and that the goal was to “see, understand, interrupt.”
According to the OEA:
“Educators will work to socialize intelligence and effort among all students in every school, every classroom, every day.”
“Educators will be intentional about interrupting beliefs and practices that serve as barriers to student achievement.”
“Leaders will model and advance courageous conversations about special education status, family income, and race, and how these attributes shape teaching and learning experiences in schools and classrooms.”
The OEA also means for schools and classrooms to start using the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Social Justice Standards.” Training offerings for teachers in the district on these standards has already begun.
It’s just my opinion, but it seems like making kids put their friends and classmates into silos based on the color of their skin is the opposite of tolerance and inclusion. Shaming anyone regardless of age for who they are or the way they look is obscene, yet that appears to be the unspoken foundation of the OEA’s “Equity Framework.”
It is one thing to force adult educational staff to attend what is essentially a divisive, race shaming conference, but it is quite another to use public funds to impose a highly subjective and politically charged social justice narrative onto public school children.
Speaking of funds, the OEA is costing Wake taxpayers over a million a year now. Imagine how many teacher positions, supplies, smaller class sizes or reading programs that could fund.
Related Reading: What is the Office of Equity Affairs and Why Does It Exist?
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