Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week(s) in Review Nov. 24 - Dec. 6 2008

Yes, I know. I didn’t post last week….sorry. It was a very busy week and in all honesty between my council responsibilities, the Thanksgiving holiday (Grandma’s house still doesn’t have internet), my day job (the automotive one) and working with families regarding WCPSS’s student reassignment proposal I just couldn’t find the time. I’ll try and make it up to you some other time I promise. ;-)

But speaking of school reassignments… that is where the majority of my focus has been as of late. I have met with numerous families and neighborhood groups over the last couple of weeks to discuss the proposed reassignment plan, how it affects their families and community, and to give advice on how they can work with WCPSS to change the plan. I have also spent a good deal of time speaking with school board members and school system staff in the hopes of convincing them to implement changes to the reassignment plan. And I also attended the WCPSS community engagement meeting this past Monday at Cary High School. I had actually hoped to speak at this meeting, but since they only allotted time for roughly 40 speakers (over 80 signed up to speak), I felt it best that WCPSS hear from those most directly impacted by the proposed reassignments – the parents.

While I am very pleased that WCPSS has already made some positive changes to the proposed reassignment plan, I am still disappointed that many Cary and Apex children are still slated to be reassigned away from their neighborhood school and sent to another school much farther away – all in the name of “diversity”. It continues to amaze me how such a positive word can wreak so much havoc.

Studies by the National Education Association (NEA) conclude that the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which that student’s family is able to become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community. Positive results of parental involvement include improved student achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored confidence among parents in their children's schooling. When parents are involved in their children's education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school — and the schools they go to are better.

Moving children away from their neighborhood school makes it increasingly difficult for parents to become or remain involved in their child’s education – it also places more of a burden on teachers. Separating children from their community and neighborhood friends they have grown up with all their lives can also have serious consequences on a child’s mental well being.

Now I believe the goal of balancing the percentages of F+R children at our schools is an admirable one – I really do. I think it’s stupid however to reassign children away from their neighborhood school while continuing to bus in children with similar demographics who live ten miles away. If we need to move lower income students out of a particular school, how about we start with those that are bused in before those within walking distance? But what do I know right?

A few quick notes:

This past week I met with town staff and Singh, the developer of a project in Silverton I have spoken about in earlier posts to discuss their upcoming meeting with area residents over the possibility of a mixed use proposal instead of the commercial plan they have proposed. This meeting will be held on December 16th and it is my hope that both the residents and developer can work together to craft a plan that all stakeholders can live with.

I also spent a good deal of time this week reviewing applications for vacancies on both our Environmental Advisory Board and Information Services Advisory Board, as well as reviewing staff reports to prepare for our upcoming council meeting. Council members were also tasked with recommending 4 citizens for the recently approved Site Design Focus Group. After speaking with a number of highly qualified and involved citizens I recommended Lindsey Chester, Glenda Westbrook, George Dohanich, and Cynthia Sinkez. Each one of these individuals would serve our town well.

Well that’s about all for now. Thanks for reading and thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you as a member of the Cary Town Council. It is truly an honor to represent you.