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Notes from the Guilford County education scene

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*Education quote of the day—from Guilford Elementary School Spanish teacher Todd Warren regarding the Senate bill that would limit political activity by public school employees(emphasis mine):

“Teachers aren’t the most politically active people anyway, but right now there are a lot of people who are afraid for their jobs if they speak out on some of these issues. This could just make that worse.”

Really? Could have fooled me;

*Oops –Guilford County Board of Education member Chris Gillespie –who filled the District 1 seat after Carlvena Foster bolted for the Board of Commissioners —resigns after an anonymous caller gives him a hot tip —Gillespie actually lives in District 2. Now school officials have to review votes where the outcome would change without Gillespie’s vote;

*Locker Room’s Terry Stoops says that’s not cool; he also takes a closer look at Superintendent Mo Green’s requested $26 million budget hike:

…And don’t get me started on the fact that GCS employed 67 central office administrators and managers last year. Local dollars paid for 39 of them.

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Low levels of toxic vapors at Hanes-Lowrance…now what?

Winston-Salem Journal –which broke the story of groundwater contamination beneath Hanes and Lowrance middle schools —- reports test results by a Raleigh-based environmental consulting firm show toxic vapors are not present in significant levels:

Superintendent Beverly Emory said she hopes the report will be the starting point for deciding the property’s future.

“I’m hopeful the data gives us the power to discuss future possibilities” Emory said. “That’s a valuable piece of property.”

Board members who voted to move students mid-year said they did so out of an abundance of caution. It was a controversial decision, causing elation among some parents who aggressively advocated for closing the schools and angst among some in the community who thought it unnecessary.

“Some people are going to point to these tests and say you made the wrong decision,” said Carol Templeton, parent of an eighth-grader at Hanes. “You made the right decision.”

Board member Elisabeth Motsinger has been vocally opposed to moving the students and maintained the safety of the schools since the Winston-Salem Journal first reported on the groundwater contamination in January. The results supported that position, she said.

“It’s really important to me that children not spend the next decade of their life feeling like they were put at undue risk, because they were not,” Motsinger said.

Now WSFCS and its board have some tough decisions ahead. I can perfectly understand the sentiments of the parent quoted above, but should the decision to keep the students off the campus for the ’15-’16 school year not be revisited? And what about plans to build a new school on the site, for which Emory withdrew her support in light of the Journal’s reporting? Appears to me she’s already revisiting that decision.

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N&R peddling anti-SB 36 T-shirts

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Saw this ad for “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirts in Sunday’s N&R Ideas section and again in today’s Life section.

Seems to me N&R is trying to profit off its anti-SB 36 stance—yeah I know there’s no specific reference to Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill, but let’s be real here.

Is this the proper role for the local paper of record for a mid-sized city? Just asking.

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Gboro civil rights museum introduces new No. 2

Greensboro’s International Civil Rights Center and Museum officially introduces its new No. 2 executive, chief operating officer Bayard “Bay” Love, while interim chief executive officer John Swaine was named to the position on a permanent basis:

The museum board’s Chairwoman Deena Hayes-Greene told the News & Record about Swaine’s promotion Monday. The news came during an interview that included Love and board member Ron Milstein, who is a vice president and chief counsel at Lorillard.

…Hayes-Greene said the board is trying to develop a more collaborative professional staff rather than the top-down structure it used in the past.

She and Milstein said board members voted unanimously to hire Love, who has a background in business, public policy and working for racial justice.

“We have not had a unified board (in the past),” Milstein said. “That has changed. Today, I can tell you that we’re unified.

“(Love) is our first concrete step into that future.”

Once again the leadership insists the museum is not in a dire financial situation. We’ll see what Bay Love, who has a background as a community organizer, will do to get the museum on the right track.

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W-S ‘First Amendment audit’

Just watch, if you’ve got 22 minutes free. Winston-Salem Police Lt. R.B. Rose is now under internal investigation.

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You go Cat Barber

No doubt Anthony “Cat” Barber is the key to N.C. State’s run to the Sweet 16. A true point guard, he looks to pass first, but he also penetrates well and takes high-quality shots, opening up the middle for the big guys to clean the glass if he misses.

Yeah, I know if after a big win a college basketball player asked ‘What the *%#* is wrong with George Bush’ we’d hear all sorts of moaning and groaning from conservatives about the player’s thuggish behavior.

Still, I had to laugh when Barber ripped President Obama for picking Villanova to win the NCAA title. And Cat’s walked it back, giving Obama a little loveeee on Twitter.

But hey, a guy can always hope a brother votes Republican, right?

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Secrecy hovering over new civil rights museum exec

Greensboro’s International Civil Rights Museum has hired “community organizer” Bayard “Bay” Love as its new chief operating officer and director of development.

As you can probably imagine, a cloud of secrecy hovers over Love’s hire:

It’s unclear when he was hired, what duties he’ll perform or where he’ll fit within the museum’s leadership structure.

Twenty-three of the museum’s 24 board members didn’t return calls and emails from the News & Record on Friday to discuss Love’s new role.

….Love declined to talk about his new role Friday.

A security guard in the museum’s lobby paged Love, who said he was unavailable. The guard passed along Love’s email address, which he said could be used to set up a future appointment.

….It’s unclear why board members are reluctant to discuss Love.

On Friday, News & Record Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson inquired about Love’s job in an email to Hayes-Greene.

His email’s subject line was “Museum director.”

Johnson: “Have you folks made a hire?”

Hayes-Greene: “Hi, Allen. We have not hired an executive director.”

Hayes-Greene didn’t respond to Johnson’s follow-up question, or return other phone calls and emails later in the day.

Meanwhile, Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland and Mayor Nancy Vaughan “have said they don’t have a clear picture of the museum’s coffers.”

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N&R and Gboro council’s ‘legal ploy’

Weekend’s not over — hasn’t even started—but the N&R hasn’t yet analyzed the Greensboro Council’s apparent legal maneuver to fight Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill to restructure the council. Perhaps a big front-pager will be in Saturday’s paper.

Instead, the N&R sends out its go-to attack dog, ultra- lefty columnist Susan Ladd, who takes another shot at SB 36 supporters, including council member Tony Wilkins:

Which brings us to the Pot, Meet Kettle Award. Questioning the resolution for a referendum on Tuesday, Wilkins asked, “Is this some kind of legal or political ploy that I’m not privy to?”

The expressions and incredulous laughter from some of the other council members said all that needed to be said.

“I guess I feel so left out because I wasn’t included in the conversation,” he said.

Poor Tony. Now you know how a large segment of Greensboro voters feel about SB 36.

In his analysis of Tuesday night’s meeting, in which the council passed an ordinance and set a referendum to lengthen terms from two to four years, the Rhino’s John Hammer writes:

Eight members of the City Council, all with the exception of Wilkins, want to prevent Senate Bill 36 from becoming law at all costs, and their latest gambit was Tuesday, when they passed an ordinance to lengthen the terms of members of the City Council from two years to four years and passed a resolution to hold a binding referendum on the four year terms. The ordinance, which passed on a 6-to-1 vote, with Wilkins voting no, will not go into effect unless the voters pass the referendum set for Nov. 3, 2015, and the resolution to set that referendum passed 7 to 0.

Councilmembers Mike Barber and Yvonne Johnson were absent. It was a meeting where Barber was missed, because as an attorney Barber tends to be more forthcoming about legal issues than the city attorney, who plays his cards pretty close to the vest.

Wilkins didn’t receive a direct answer but it appears the reason for setting up the referendum is to give the City Council the grounds for a legal challenge to Senate Bill 36, which, along with reformatting the City Council, extends the terms to four years.

Watch video of Tuesday night’s meeting and you’ll see that it’s not absolutely clear how the ordinance and referendum will preserve the 5-3-1 system. To be fair, both City Attorney Tom Carruthers and Mayor Nancy Vaughan promptly returned my calls seeking clarification. Carruthers–heckuva nice guy –indeed “played his cards close to the vest” (as Hammer describes him) saying the council had every legal right to pass the ordinance and the referendum. Vaughan explained again —as she did at the meeting that — that they couldn’t put a measure on the ballot preserving the “status quo”—the 5-3-1 system — so they had to either change either the length of council terms or the election year.

All of this could be a moot point should Wade’s bill pass, which it is expected to do, possibly next week. In which case, as Carruthers put it— “council will decide how to move forward.” Which could be a legal fight. If the City Council and its attorneys have the stones to sue state government, then I say go for it— lawyers are part of this big game, too.

All this said, it will be interesting to see how out local paper of record— a vocal (to say the least) opponent of SB 36 — will approach this angle.

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You go Stephen A. Smith

The Winston-Salem state University grad and ESPN commentator wishes wishes every black American would vote Republican for just one election:

Black folks in America are telling one party, “We don’t give a damn about you.” They’re telling the other party, “You’ve got our vote.” Therefore, you have labeled yourself “disenfranchised” because one party knows they’ve got you under their thumb. The other party knows they’ll never get you and nobody comes to address your interest.

Anyone who has followed Smith’s career knows he’s a provocateur–like when he wrote the column for the WSSU paper suggesting legendary basketball coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines retire —while Smith was still playing for him. Honestly it doesn’t matter to me how many African-Americans actually vote Republican —realizing as well that there’s a big difference between “Republican” and “conservative” —but I just wish that more blacks—and Latinos, and Asian-Americans and any other racial and ethnic group– you can would realize that a more limited government would benefit them as much as white people in the 21st century world.

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Gboro council creates more questions surrounding SB 36

For now I’ll let you watch for yourself — if you find yourself with nothing to do for half an hour. Question that wasn’t answered –maybe I missed it —is exactly how does the call for a referendum— passed unanimously by the Greensboro City Council— changing council terms from two to fours years preserve the current 5-3-1 system?

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