4/26/16 ABSS board pulls ‘political’ resolution

ABSS board pulls ‘political’ resolution
Chair concerned about adversarial tone toward lawmakers
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 4/26/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

   The chairman of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education pulled three resolutions from the local educators association and NAACP from its meeting agenda for Tuesday saying the message had become too adversarial with local legislative members.

   Two of the resolutions would call upon the state legislature to increase per-pupil funding for public schools statewide and replace the A-F grading system of schools. The third opposed the proposed “achievement district” the General Assembly is considering that would take over five failing schools around the state.

   Working together with some other organizations on the Schools Our Students Deserve campaign, the Alamance-Burlington Association of Educators and Alamance Branch of the NAACP asked the board to adopt the resolutions this month. They also held a press conference, and Noah Read, secretary of the local NAACP, published a guest column in the Times-News April 16. Both criticized Gov. Pat McCrory and local legislators Sen. Rick Gunn and representatives Steve Ross and Dennis Riddell for their voting records on public education.

   “(O)ur state and legislative leaders McCrory, Gunn, Ross and Riddell have ignored their constitutional duties,” Read wrote.

   On Monday school board chairman Steve Van Pelt said he sent an email to the NAACP and ABAE leaders and school board members saying the board would not vote on the resolutions.

   “After the ABAE/ NAACP press conference and the letter to the editor, the administration and I have pulled the resolutions from the Board Agenda for April 26.” Van Pelt wrote in a statement to the Times-News. “While the Board and administration certainly believe the General Assembly is not funding education adequately, that the A-F school grading is a poor way to assess schools, and the achievement zones have not worked in other states; we are afraid the resolutions have taken an adversarial path. Our representatives in the General Assembly have been open and accessible to our Board and administration and have often advocated our positions even when they did not prevail.”

   Barrett Brown, president of the Alamance NAACP, said he would be at the meeting Tuesday to ask the board to reconsider and adopt its own version of these resolutions. The board meets at 6:30 p.m.

   “I sympathize with the school board,” Brown said, Monday, “it’s a political organization and has to work across the aisle, but in our opinion the local legislators are not advocating for education in a way that benefits all students.”

   Read said the NAACP is taking a stand on these issues because they affect minority students the most. Low statewide funding means wealthier districts spend more on their students, he said, while schools with lots of low-income students are graded harshly on standardized tests instead of students’ improvement opening the door to taking control of failing schools from local districts.

   “They are trying to label our schools with the highest population of challenging students as failures in order to turn over those schools to for-profit managers,” Read said.