Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in Town!

Sorry for the lack of recent postings, but I have been out of state for the past 5 days - basically out-of-touch with any "real world" issues. In fact, tonight (Monday) is the first chance I've had to check emails, etc. Terrible timing for me, as I have a million things I need to do, MYR-wise. Family comes first, though, so all of this had to be put on hold for awhile. Once I catch my breath, I'll try to update my blog....

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Response To "Friends of Wake County" Member

This is a very slightly edited version of my response to a Wake Co. PTA Council posting


From: Louise C. Lee []
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 12:30 PM
To: 'Virginia Parker'; ''
Subject: RE: [SPAM] RE: [wakeptacouncil] The Bond and Year Round Schools.....

While I understand that your focus is the raising of money, I hope you understand that how that money will be spent is, and should be, the focus of the voters. Parents, teachers, and other citizens can't just look at this bond from a money standpoint only. They have to make decisions based on the educational pros and cons, the impact on their families, professional repercussions, etc., etc. That's why the bond and mandatory year-round school plans can't be separated.

You wrote that," If folks don't like the building program, then those arguments should have been heard long ago." Yes, those arguments should have been heard, because they were presented months, and even years ago! One School Board member lamented recently --- Oh, if only parents had shown this energy and passion's too late to do anything now...  Well, the truth of the matter is, thousands of citizens - and not just parents - spoke out loud and clear as early as last April. An online anti-mandatory year-round schools petition that I set up and never publicized in public, gathered 550 signatures in just a few days. Twelve days later, on April 14, that number had doubled to 1,100. By April 26, 1,500 names were present, increasing to well over 2,000 by May 12. Hundreds of comments accompanied these signatures, and I personally made sure that School Board members were kept up-to-date with the petition's progress. Besides emailing comments to them, I even made hard copies and gave them out at board meetings.

Soooo - the people of Wake County did share their concerns with School Board members and Administrators early on, in a very reasonable and rational way. To this day, in spite of my persistent questions and reminders, the names (which are approaching 3,000 in number) and comments of these citizens have, to my knowledge, never been publicly acknowledged! By ignoring them, the School Board and Administration have sent this message to these people - you don't matter, you are nothing. So now, over the past few months, these folks and others have turned to other means in order to be recognized and heard. This is just tragic to me, because the level of anger, resentment, and mistrust out there now, could more than likely have been greatly minimized.

I share all of this just to point out only one example of why thousands of concerned citizens are so upset. Bond supporters have been alienated.

They hear me asking the School Board and Administration over and over, "Is it really true, as several have alleged, that you are hearing from close to the same number of  MYR supporters as those who oppose MYR? Are you counting these petition signers? Are you counting folks you've heard from all along, or just those who have responded to your publicized public comment opportunities over the past few weeks?" I have yet to have these questions answered.

I had hoped that things wouldn't come to this. I am sickened that the citizens of Wake County are being torn apart. I am concerned that bond money for vital school construction and renovations might be lost. I am disappointed that thousands of citizens have been made to feel like they don't even exist. And I am sorry that people's trust for our education leaders is being chipped away, bit by bit. In my opinion, it doesn't have to be this way. I'm glad I believe in miracles...

Louise  Lee

PTA Member

Leesville Road Middle School 

From: Virginia Parker []
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 7:16 AM
To: 'Louise C. Lee';
Subject: RE: [SPAM] RE: [wakeptacouncil] The Bond and Year Round Schools.....


Thanks for your thoughts and your response.  I know how much this issue means to you personally - and how much time you have devoted to understanding it thoroughly.  And - as you know - I respect your opinion. 

In response specifically to your comment regarding the failure of bond proponents to point out that all but two of the new schools in the building plan will be mandatory year round - I would suggest that it is not intentional - nor did we think it was necessary. 

Whether schools are year round or not was decided long ago by the county commissioners and the school board when they agreed on the building plan.  The number of year rounds was a key factor in determining the amount of the building program.   All the specifics of the building plan were made public all throughout that process - never hidden or made secret. 

Bond proponents are focused now on how to provide the funding for that building program in the most economical, efficient, equitable and accountable manner possible - and that's through a public approved bond.  That's our focus - and what we are trying to educate the voters about.  The bond - not the building program that was decided on months ago.

If folks don't like the building program, then those arguments should have been heard long ago.  As I've said before, the bond is not the vehicle to make that particular voice heard.

And thank you for hearing me out.  As you and I both know - we respectively disagree - and the key word there is respectively.

Virginia Parker

PTA Member

Carroll MS; Sanderson HS

Member of  Friends of Wake County

Thursday, October 19, 2006


This is very long, but please take the time to read it. I wrote this in response to a letter that Virginia Parker emailed to the PTA Council yahoo group. Virginia is on the Friends of Wake County Board and President elect of the Wake Education Partnership. Her original email follows mine.

-----Original Message-----
From: Louise C. Lee
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 1:50 PM
To:; 'Virginia Parker'
Subject: RE: [wakeptacouncil] The Bond and Year Round Schools.....

Thanks, Virginia. You knew when you sent this email out that I would have a lot to say! :^) This is more than I intended and I apologize for the length! I do believe that these points need to be made, however, so please bear with me! You and I have already discussed some of what I have to say----

As you know, I have fought against the forcing of year-round school attendance for at least six years. You also know that my opinion is based largely on irrefutable facts which I have consistently presented in a reasonable manner. I make it a practice not to divulge how I vote, and not to tell others how they must vote. I trust that Wake citizens are savvy enough to, after hearing all of the facts, make up their own minds. Part of the problem, however, and a major source of my frustration, is that there is selective fact-sharing taking place and/or misperceptions due to fact omissions. Cost is one example. Another is the failure by bond proponents (from where I sit) to point out to the public that all except two of the newly constructed schools will be mandatory year-round. Without that vital piece of information, people could jump to the conclusion that all of those who oppose the mandatory year-round plans are against building badly-needed new schools. That would just be flat-out deception. At the very least such practices are a disservice to both sides. They are also insults to the decision-making capabilities of the citizens in Wake County.

Part of the confusion with this entire issue lies in the fact that there are no clear-cut lines. The subject of mandatory year-round school attendance is so much more involved and complicated than most people realize. At the same time, the very mention of "bond referendum" brings questions to mind that call for detailed discussion. Mandatory year-round opponents are speaking out for and against the bond. The same holds true for YR supporters. Generalizations don't work here, and only create more friction when utilized. Your letter mentions misperceptions that surround a "yes" bond vote. I contend that there are even greater misperceptions about those who are opposed to mandatory year-round school attendance. Consider the following statements - in my opinion, not a one of them holds true for most MYR opponents.---

-- Mandatory year-round school opponents are out to destroy all year-round schools. The word "mandatory" is there for a reason!

-- MYR opponents are just uninformed. What an insult! We were the ones who first presented vital facts to the Administration and the School Board - in fact, they solicited information from some of us. I oppose MYR schools because I AM informed! Most supporters of MYR schools that I know were not, and are still not, familiar with these facts.

--MYR opponents are afraid of change. This one is almost laughable, and has no merit whatsoever. I was a new teacher the year that the Wake County School System merged with the Raleigh City schools. Talk to me about change!

--MYR opponents would like year-round schools if they would only try them. That might be true - IF we were there by choice. Otherwise, the "try-it-you'll-like-it" notion might apply to a few families, but not to most. I know very well why I oppose MYR schools, and the reasons have nothing to do with some imaginary fear of the unknown.

--MYR opponents are against the bond, therefore they are anti-education. First of all, there are many anti-mandatory year-round folks who support the bond. Secondly, those who do not support the bond for the sole reason of the forced year-round plans would be some of the most vocal bond advocates if those plans were dropped. In other words, they support education and want to vote in favor of new school construction and renovations. Groups such as Friends of Wake County should, in my opinion, be calling on the School Board to remove conversion language and drop plans to designate mandatory year-round status for every new elementary and middle school being built. Then the bond would have a greater chance of passing. Isn't that the goal?

--MYR opponents are being selfish. Is it selfish to want to preserve year-round schools for those who choose to go there, and still allow families to choose a traditional schedule if they know that works best for their particular situation? What about those of us who have put everything we have into fighting the forcing of year-round schools, yet have no children who will be directly affected? I am certainly not doing this out of boredom, or because I enjoy it! Every citizen of Wake County will face the repercussions that forced year-round school attendance will bring. History proves that such a move will affect much more than education, and that the "ripple effect" will negatively impact our county.

Virginia, you know I have great respect for your devotion to the goal of "bettering" Wake County. You also know that my comments are never meant in a personal manner, so please keep that in mind as I continue!

I couldn't help but notice that your letter focused on numbers - the number of seats for our students, the dollar number, the "cheapest and most accountable way to provide funding", etc. Since numbers are what the bond is all about, it stands to reason that you would need to highlight them. Plus, we all know that enrollment numbers are currently the impetus behind our School Board's decisions. However, while I am more than aware of the reality at hand, and have certainly done my part to suggest solutions to Wake County's seating challenges, I am disturbed by the observation that the numbers game is overshadowing more important considerations - namely, providing the best possible education for the children of Wake County.

I could spend days expounding on this topic, but this letter is already too long! Suffice it to say that I see little benefit in placing a child in a seat when:

a) A teacher shortage could very well keep him/her from having a highly-qualified instructor (we all know how short on teachers we were when school opened this year - even some first-graders were welcomed on Day 1 by a substitute)

b) Employee morale is low at schools where year-round schedules have been forced against majority preference.

c) Learning disabilities and/or learning styles dictate the need for a traditional calendar for optimal success - regardless of what certain educational leaders are saying, year-round school schedules are, in fact, harmful to the education of many children, and I doubt very seriously that Wake County will be able to honor all transfer requests.

d) The family is experiencing the sadness and stress of being torn apart as siblings are forced into different schedules

e) There is no neighborhood unity anymore, and a sense of "ownership" and pride in one's school has been stripped away

The list could go on, but you get my point....

Virginia, I want the bond to pass. I want new school construction and needed renovations to take place. These things have a good chance of happening too, IF the Wake County Board of Education will commit to solving our growth challenges through more reasonable and educationally sound means. Many combinations of other options have been suggested, so I am not asking for the impossible. No, there are no good or easy answers, but the one they have chosen is one of the most harmful. I cannot for the life of me comprehend how bond advocates could expect any individual to support a venture that propagates the very object of their aversion. There are many things that I would urge, and have urged, folks to compromise on. But I cannot, and will not, encourage someone to betray their principles, sacrifice what they know is best for their child, and turn against everything that is near and dear to their heart.

Just the discussion of and early planning stages for massive mandatory year-round school attendance have driven deep wedges between individuals and groups, pitting parents against parents, teachers against teachers, school against school, and on and on. Our teachers and students are already experiencing negative repercussions. Serious wounds have been inflicted, and matters will only get worse unless we unite to come up with a new growth plan that will bind citizens together, not rip them apart. It is not too late, but time is running short. With powerful groups lobbying against the bond for reasons of their own, how can bond advocates support the School Board's decision to include plans that alienate multiple thousands of potential "yes" voters?

I apologize for the lengthiness of this email, but I believe strongly in the validity and timeliness of my comments. Thanks in advance for actually taking the time to "hear me out"!



From: [] On Behalf Of Virginia Parker
Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 7:14 PM
Subject: [wakeptacouncil] The Bond and Year Round Schools.....

There seems to be a misperception in this community that if you are in favor of passing the bond on November 7th, that you are taking a stand either "for" or "against" year round. No one knows which one - it is just assumed that you are taking a stand regarding year round.

There are those who believe that if you vote "yes" for the bond that you are voting "for" year round schools. The current bond amount is based on school capacity numbers that includes year round schools - therefore, you must be for year round schools.

However, there are others who believe that if you vote "yes" for the bond, you are voting "against" year round schools. These folks believe that if you bring the needed funding to the county, less year round schools are needed.

Who is right? The answer is neither.

The real answer is that a vote of "yes" for the bond has very little to do with year round schools - but has everything to do with the most equitable, economincal and accountable way to finance the building of needed schools. A vote of "yes" for the bond means that you want to have the cheapest and most accountable way to provide funding for the seats that we need in this rapidly growing county. Seats for our kids are needed now - and the county - by law - must provide them.

Please don't use the bond issue as a means to "vote your conscious" on all the different issues that the school board debates. Use the bond issue as a means to demonstrate your commitment to the most economical way to pay for our schools.

If you've got a beef with all the other issues that the school board deals with (year-round schools, reassignment, AG classes, etc.) - be bold and courageous and face the school board with those issues. Don't hide behind the bond as a means to "voice" what you have to say. Your message will get lost. Use the right means to advocate - and use the right means to ensure that all children in this county have a seat in which they can sit when they come to school every morning. Vote "yes" on November 7th!

Virginia Parker

PTA Member

Sanderson HS, Carroll MS

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Anti-Mandatory Year Round Schools - Public Meeting in Garner

Passing on an announcement from Garner residents:


YOU must attend this very important PUBLIC MEETING:

Location: Garner Town Hall

900 Seventh Avenue

Date: 10/22/06 (Sunday)

Time: 3:00pm

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What About Children With Special Needs?

This is the text of a letter recently sent by Wake parent Linda Hayduk to the Wake County Board of Education, County Commissioners, and members of the NC General Assembly.

"The decision to force students onto a year-round schedule has raised a lot of concern. Many parents feel it will be detrimental to their children and their families. I count myself in that group.

"What about children with special needs, specifically, autism? Surely, if this plan is to be implemented in less than one year, you must have considered these kids. As a parent of an eight year old child with autism, I want you to know how serious this issue is. Transition is one of the main areas of difficulties for people with autism. This is documented fact, not just one parent's opinion. Teachers, staff and parents meet annually to make transition plans for our kids. Experts, including Dr. Sally Flagler, of the WCPSS Autism Department, advised against putting our child with autism in a year-round schedule because of the added transitions of tracking in and out, to different class room settings.

"Of course no child lives in a vacuum. Along with a child with autism, our family includes two typical children, one in middle school and one preschooler. We look forward to hearing the details of your plans to make this situation work for all of us, and provide the education all Wake County students deserve." -Linda Hayduk

If you are a parent in a comparable situation, I encourage you to write to the county and state leaders, and to the editor of the N&O. Links to help do that are on the right side of this page.

An Update

From the father I quoted Sunday...
"...As of Friday, Oct. 13th, 2006 we will no longer be attending Wake County School Reedy Creek Elementary. We are moving to New York, I feel that Durham County might be in the same trouble as Wake County. I sold my business. This is so I do not go to jail for breaking a court order. Just a little F.Y.I, Florida makes builders build schools before they build developments and then they give the builder the tax write off. Thanks for everything." - Thomas H.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Letter To Local And State Leaders

I wanted to share this letter that I sent on Friday to local and state leaders.  Please take a moment to read it.


From: Louise Lee []

Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 7:26 PM

To:; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;; ; ;; ; ;;;;; ; ; ; ; ;; ;
Cc: ;

Subject: A County in Crisis

Dear Local and State Leaders:

I would like to share with you excerpts from three emails that were recently sent directly to me. Keep in mind that these are just examples that represent thousands of citizens. Please take a moment to read them carefully. Wake County is on a major crash course which can only be averted by the removal of plans to massively force year-round school attendance. A combination of other options must be explored before it is too late.

The first excerpt is from an email that a teacher friend sent to me. She is a young, energetic, top-notch teacher who will join hundreds of fellow educators and search for employment elsewhere if her school is converted to year-round. These are not idle threats. I personally know many of these teachers, and they mean what they say. The teacher recruitment and retention crisis that currently exists will pale in comparison with what is yet to come. Also, as you can see from the excerpt, the education of our students is already being negatively affected as a result of the plans for 2007. Don't be surprised if test scores drop this year. If teacher morale is low, which it is at many schools, learning will suffer. That's a given. I quote:

"Finally, at least at our school, now our principal totally has her mind on NEXT SCHOOL YEAR. This school [year], it seems, is considered "a wash". She's not getting  us the help we need for THIS school year b/c everyone's "scurrying" to prepare for next year.

It's also set up HORRIBLE TEACHER MORALE. Everyone feels DUMPED on. Not to mention, people are "Pitted against each other" within staffs as to "what side they're on" on this issue. It is being "frowned upon" by OUR principal if we DISAGREE with YR. We aren't really ALLOWED to have our OWN opinions about it. I have already had my "hand slapped" by the principal for e-mailing the school board members about YR. (I guess NO FREE SPEECH for teachers.)

Oh...ALSO...has WCPSS really prepared for ALL of the transfer requests that are going to come from teachers, the EXIT &/or early retirement of lots of teachers, &/or HOW they will FILL these teacher vacancies at the schools [that] are being converted? " 

Next, an email from a father, once again showing how mandatory year-round school plans are already causing hardships. 

"Louise... I will have to move to Durham County mainly because I can't break a court order for visitation for my ex-wife...Pretty much I'm doing the same thing the School Board did...I'm putting a Band Aid on the situation...The sad part is [my son] loves his school, friends, and his hockey team...They really messed up my child's life...You know what really stinks [is] that [my son] is in special speech classes where he is loved and had adapted sad for him... Thank You," -Thomas H.

Last of all, a short note from a grandmother - I include this because it bears witness to the fact that citizens other than parents are 100% opposed to forcing families into year-round schools. I am very concerned about the lack of support for the bond referendum. We need that money badly, and most people I know want to vote "yes" in November. However, with the majority of the bond money slated for construction of and/or conversion to mandatory year-round schools, a "yes" vote would mean a betrayal of their deepest principles. I'm not telling people how to vote, but I certainly can't expect them to stand behind a plan that destroys the very tenets of what they hold most dear. If anyone thinks citizens will compromise on that, then they have no idea how deeply this issue penetrates. Even residents with no direct connection to education are confiding to me that they will not back the bond. With powerful groups lobbying against the bond for reasons of their own, we can't afford to intentionally alienate multiple thousands of voters! In my opinion, the onus lies on the backs of those who insist on following through with an agenda that is destined to failure (according to history). It is not too late to make a change. Take away the mandatory language and allow me to advocate for the bond's passage! Here's the grandmother's note:

"I am the grandmother of five Wake County school students. We live in a senior neighborhood with many other interested grandparents. We vote, and we can vote no in November if our grandchildren are forced into year-round schools."

As always, I appreciate your taking the time to "hear me out." My passion for this issue is based on a grave concern for the well-being of my county - our county. Just the discussion of and early planning stages for massive mandatory year-round school attendance have driven deep wedges between individuals and groups, pitting parents against parents, teachers against teachers, school against school, and on and on. Our teachers and students are already experiencing negative repercussions. Serious wounds have been inflicted, and matters will only get worse unless we unite to come up with a new growth plan that will bind citizens together, not rip them apart.

Respectfully Yours,

Louise Lee

P.S. - The anti-mandatory year-round petition signatures now total 2,825 - an average of about ten per day over the last couple of weeks. I wonder what the increase will be when the petition's existence is widely publicized? I continue to wait for proof that the Administration and the School Board members have, as they have claimed for weeks now, heard a similar number of pro and con comments on the mandatory year-round school issue.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


This meeting is being hosted by Leesville Elementary PTA

Bond Information Night
A Bond Information Night has been planned for Monday, October 9th, 7 p.m. at the Leesville High School Auditorium for parents and others in the community to learn details about what is proposed in the bond and to hear arguments both for and against. Speakers will include Chuck Dulaney, Asst. Superintendent of Growth and Planning, Francis De Luca, State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Phil Zachary from Friends of Wake County, a group of volunteers that has been put together to educate the community about the bond, Hope Carmichael- Wake Families for School Choice and Dave Duncan, co-founder Stop Mandatory Year Round. Philip Isley will be our moderator for this event.