Letters to the editor
On June 24, I attended the hearing at the N. C. General Assembly concerning the 751 Development project. I am not a member of the Durham Alliance, but was there simply as a citizen who is interested in the fact that this project, while already voted on by the Durham City Council, has somehow gone to the state in what appears to be an appeal of that decision.
Many citizens of this area got up and spoke respectfully and articulately on the issue, urging a "no" vote on letting the project go ahead, citing that state intervention in this matter is not appropriate. Others who were "for" the development spoke also, but they rehashed environmental, growth and jobs concerns that have already been addressed and discussed many times over. After an hour of testimony, it was hard to imagine that anyone in the legislature could vote for this project to go ahead.
I was disturbed by the treatment of this matter in The Herald-Sun. Knowing full well that many readers read the first part of an article and then the last, the beginning stated that the Durham delegation in the State House is divided on the matter, and ended with a quote from one of the developers, that the dispute is "simply growth versus no growth" and is "not about any logical issue." Anyone reading this in a cursory way would not get the true picture. Misleading, to say the least.
Look to DoD schools
I grew up in an eastern North Carolina near a military base. Most large bases have their own school system, Department of Defense (DoD) schools. Not military schools, but government-regulated schools, equivalent to state-supported public schools.
When families moved off base and the kids enrolled into the public school system, they were one to three years ahead of us academically. Since we interacted with them away from school, we knew it wasn't a question of IQ levels but something else.
As a 30-year local taxpayer, I had to ask myself the question "What is the difference between the local school systems and DoD schools?” I think I have found the answer -- parent and community participation. Non-working spouses are legal dependents and received monthly allotment checks from the government.
So in many cases, the guidelines and base commanders required or asked that they participate in all school activities. No one had to qualify for these positions All that was required was to participate in the academic growth of the students enrolled in the DoD system. So, is participation too much to ask for parents of the students in the Durham Public Schools system?
Maybe its time for the DPS system to look at studies done by Vanderbilt University, read established criteria/guidelines stated by the Peabody Center for Educational Policy commissioned by the National Educational Goals Panel, also read the results of the National Assessment Educational Progress. It contains some very interesting data in the report card about "achievement gaps".