Our best bet?
A recent report makes a compelling case that dual language instruction is our school district’s best bet to close the Latino achievement gap and that it can best be offered through a district-wide magnet.
The district is currently recommending that Frank Porter Graham elementary become a Spanish/English magnet. This would mean that most of its non-dual language students would be redistricted starting in 2013.
FPG is currently a fantastic school with passionate teachers and staff and wonderful traditions. However, based on the report, I also think the school is a reasonable candidate to be the new magnet. These two realities – beloved school and the potential to be a good choice for the magnet – are not mutually exclusive, and often policy-making comes down to making hard choices.
Dual language students will comprise about 25 percent of FPG’s students by this fall. (My youngest child, a third grader in the program, would experience one year in the proposed magnet before aging out.) I’m not surprised by the passion and emotions expressed by so many non-dual language families at FPG against this recommendation. Thank heavens for this reaction, really, because wouldn’t it be alarming if the district proposed such a significant change to a school and nobody reacted? I also understand concerns that Karen refugee students, who would be among those redistricted, may not thrive as well at another school. Yet the district has experience with successfully redistricting fragile families, and potentially negative impacts could be mitigated if some FPG staff and teachers, who know these families well, were moved with the Karen students to a nearby school.
Even as emotions understandably run high, I urge our school leaders to take a broad-view perspective on how a dual language magnet will support student success for many of our district’s highest need students. After all, those who would benefit from a magnet the most are families with children not yet in our schools and therefore whose voices are largely absent from this debate.Cynthia Liston CarrboroMake 12 the magnet
The public should be aware that a CHCCS planning report not only mentions plans for another new elementary school for the district, it suggests that Elementary School No. 12 become a second Dual Language magnet. If the community were aware that an entire new elementary school is slated to be a dual language magnet there is little doubt the proposal to dismantle the 50-year-tradition of FPG would be dead on arrival. The report also goes on to say that there won’t be the walk zone issue there as the new school will either be on the Greene tract (county-owned land) or Carolina North.
Although the intentions are to make CHCCS elementary school No. 12 a second Dual Language Magnet School, it should be our first Dual Language Magnet School. Dismantling any of our district schools would be disrespectful, unnecessary, unethical and do nothing to alleviate the current overcrowded non-Dual Language conditions in our elementary schools. With a shared understanding that CHCCS must expand in order to meet population growth and significant educational requests, the board should be open to the possibility that Elementary No. 12 lends an opportunity to maintain the strength and stability with which we credit the CHCCS system. This would solve most of the current conflicts.
FPG’s walk zone is host to the majority of families who rely on the stable, exceptional educational benefits and support that they have become accustomed to at FPG. It is immoral to disperse these children and break up a historic, working neighborhood school when there are other viable options. FPG has shown radical improvement over the last few years and should not be punished for their accomplishments!
A transition like this should allow more time for adjustment. Gifting the honor and authority of CHCCS elementary school No. 12 to the DL task force as our community’s first Dual Language Magnet School would allow a respectable timeline not to mention, a unique opportunity for the program to build and foster an environment that better fits their needs and satisfies their structure and philosophies. Carrie Alter Chapel HillPut tax on ballot
Orange County commissioners will decide soon whether or not to put a half-cent sales tax for transit on the ballot for November 2012. They should put the issue before voters this fall.
The transit plan consists of new bus service and light rail between Chapel Hill, Duke, and downtown Durham. Some Orange County residents and leaders have expressed skepticism about the need for light rail. But with substantial projected population increases, travel demand on already congested Triangle region roads will likely double from 2010 to 2035. Light rail in particular will be key to ensuring smart and sustainable growth.
While expanded bus service could start as soon as 2013, light rail – which would not be operational until (probably) 2030 – has distinct advantages. It runs on its own right-of-way and is not affected by traffic. Rail does not use existing road capacity like buses and will instead help take a substantial number of commuters off congested roads; in fact, a single light rail vehicle takes 60 to 125 cars off the road.
Light rail will expand access for commuters traveling to the Triangle’s largest employment centers such as UNC and attending big events like basketball games in the Dean Dome. It will encourage new high-density, mixed-use economic development that will create jobs and add to the county’s tax base.
Orange County commissioners should not hesitate to give residents the opportunity to support this issue. It’s time to put the transit tax on the ballot. Stewart Boss Chapel HillBocce Bros. thanks
We, known affectionately as the Bocce Brothers, would like to thank the recreation staff of the Chapel Hill Community Park system, especially those at the South Elliott Road location. A dozen or so of us play bocce on the center’s courts each week, and we also participate in the senior games in the spring. The staff is always friendly, courteous and efficient. The Bocce Brothers salute and thank you.Loyd Little Editor’s note.
This letter was also signed by Lee Calhoun, Louis "Buddy" Giordano, DeWitt Kennard, Lou Weinstien, George McKee, Bob Patterson, Bill Smith, Neil Smith, Tom Stumpf and Stephen Van ClayOppose aggression
With the eyes of the public and media averted toward the economy, Syria or Afghanistan, scandals and campaign faux pas, quiet multilateral diplomacy is moving cautiously with Iran.
The U.S. House is considering a bill to encourage this move. But unfortunately a Senate resolution would pressure the Administration to abandon diplomacy and push toward violence.
I hope our North Carolina representatives support diplomacy and our senators oppose aggression. More violence will only make the Middle East more destabilized, enraged, and weakened. Let our American strength support peacemaking. War only drains us, socially, morally, and financially. Nancy Milio Chapel HillSign the petition
There has been a lot in the news about the proposed dual language plan for the district.
But here’s the truth:
Those of us who support FPG as a neighborhood school, are not against the dual language program and we accept that there will be significant redistricting when elementary school 11, and then 12 come online.
But what we do feel, very strongly is that a school with over 50 years of community support cannot be dismantled because we have a smaller walk zone. Or because some strong advocates for other elementary schools were represented on this committee, and they certainly didn’t want the magnet at their school.
If you feel, as I do, that FPG deserves to remain a neighborhood school supporting our most vulnerable populations in this community, then please sign our petition. You can find it online at the address below: chn.ge/IY9Qe8Laura Hayes Morgan Carrboro
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