October 9, 2017
The Durham People’s Alliance and the Durham NAACP are writing you today to express our concern for, and opposition to, considering Glenn Elementary School as part of the Innovative School District. As two community organizations that strive to represent the values and best interest of the citizens of Durham, we ask you to hear our request that you allow our city to maintain local control of all of our schools, and work with our elected school board to continue to improve them. Our community is strong, and we know what is right for our children. Privatization of Glenn Elementary is not what we want or need.
Durham is not blind to the struggles at some of our schools. Our public school system serves all children, including those with high cost special needs and high percentages for whom English is not their irst language. As you know, DPS demographics are 82% children of color and 65% free and reduced lunch. We recognize and share the belief that our struggling schools need support to successfully serve our children.
Instead of taking over and privatizing Glenn, we want the state to increase per pupil funding to the levels we enjoyed before the recession. This would allow us to restore teaching positions, instructional assistant positions, and equipment and supplies. With increased funding and lexibility through Restart programs and school improvement grants, we will have the tools needed for growth with one clear difference: our school stays a part of our community system, governed by the board that our community elected, and accountable to the families of the children that attend them. We do not want our schools controlled by a board in Raleigh. We do not want the decisions made for our public schools dictated by a private charter program.
Our organizations know and support the incredible work already being done by the dedicated faculty, staff, and leadership at Glenn Elementary with very limited resources and many students struggling with complex needs. We know that we want to continue to ight for more resources and more lexibility to help this school grow. We ask you today to allow that to happen outside of the Innovative School District. This is not the innovation that Durham wants, or feels is best for our children.
We appreciate your time and consideration of our communities’ request. Sincerely,
The Durham People’s Alliance
The Durham Branch of the NAACP
The Durham People’s Alliance and NAACP Opposition Letter (PDF)
Dear Dr. Hall,
As one of Durham’s three members in the House of Representatives, I am writing to ask that you do not put Glenn Elementary School in the Innovative School District.
The Durham community has rallied together and is committed to provide support and involvement with Glenn School.
The data points that were used to determine which public schools are failing does not take into account Durham’s commitment to provide support to the teachers, administrators and parents who are all devoted to help Glenn School.
On Tuesday night a rally of over 200 leaders pledged their collective energy to engage and help this public school.
The student population at Glenn is one that needs much more attention. Of course, more state funding for public education is needed, especially for our youngest students as we have at Glenn Elementary, but I have no doubt, Durham Public Schools has the best innovative plan to address these issues.
Durham Public Schools can meet this challenge.
The entire Durham community is in support for Glenn Elementary School to remain a traditional public school and should not be considered for inclusion in the ISD.
I would be most happy to talk to you about this anytime.
House of Representatives
Durham – District 30
Durham Council of PTAs supports strong public education for all students. Consequently, we vigorously oppose the Innovative School District.
Our schools and districts are entitled to partner with the state. Forcing districts to concede control of their schools undermines this core value. We must all cooperate to make every school as good as it can possibly be.
We earnestly encourage the State to forego the Innovative School District in favor of a collaborative, stable, and accountable approach that respects all stakeholders. We oppose the Innovative School District for the following reasons:
- Lack of partnership between citizens and the State.
- Lack of community engagement in a top-down initiative.
- Lack of accountability as school leadership is moved away from locally elected and appointed personnel to an entity that does not answer directly to our families.
- Lack of appropriate funds. The State is may require districts to pay for transportation and meals for Innovative School District students without providing the required funds further taxing a limited budget to serve our students.
- Failed model I. Research demonstrates that minority students do not perform better at Charter Schools and often fair worse than in public schools.
- Failed model II. This type of “district” has been tried in other States resulting in long- lasting damaging effects to the schools, families, and district. Tennessee’s Achievement School District, which North Carolina has looked to in creating the Innovative School District, has been an abysmal failure. After 4 years, 5 of the 6 schools in the Achievement School District are in the bottom 2.5% and the sixth school is in the bottom 7%. These schools are worse off than before and far from the State’s goal of the top 25% within 5 years. (Tennessee Department of Education Statistics)
We support Durham Public Schools Staff and the Durham Board of Education because of their proven track record and deep compassion in service to our students. Together we can improve all of our schools.
For a better future for all students, The Board of Directors of the Durham Council of PTAs
Durham Council of PTAs ISD Position Statement (PDF)
The Durham County Board of Commissioners issued a Letter requesting that no Durham school be included in the ISD.
Full text of the letter follows (emphasis added):
September 26, 2017
Dear Superintendent Hall:
The Durham County Board of Commissioners is aware that the NC Innovative School District is considering asking the State Board of Education to transfer control of five North Carolina public schools to a charter school management organization over the next two years, and that now two of the schools eligible for state takeover are in Durham County.
As funders of public and charter schools in Durham County, the Board of Commissioners believes that recipients of our citizens’ local tax dollars should be held accountable for their use. While we understand that is the state’s goal as well, we believe that goal is best achieved locally through the school district and believe actions currently being taken by Durham Public Schools indicate they are taking this task extremely seriously. Durham already has quite a variety of charter schools, not to mention magnet school options and other choices available to parents. The Durham Board of County Commissioners simply does not believe that additional charter options are the key to helping Durham schools succeed.
On July 6, 2017, DPS’s school transformation application to “Restart” these two (and several other) schools for the 2018-19 school year was approved by the State Board of Education. They would operate with charter-like flexibility while remaining under local control. DPS staff is planning formal collaborative conversations with the families and educators at those schools in order to design and pursue innovative strategies for school turnaround. We and the DPS Board of Education would remain accountable for the adequate funding and academic success of these schools, but the schools would have the freedom to adopt the strategies that a charter management organization would likely consider. They would also be starting this process with a superior knowledge of the children and the communities they operate in.
Durham is also carefully tracking progress at these schools and would like to retain the ability to further strengthen positive trends at some of them. While we remain concerned about overall results in these schools, we believe the best long-term strategy for their success is to give them even greater flexibility in their management but to allow final accountability to remain with Durham parents and elected boards here in Durham.
The Durham County Board of Commissioners therefore requests that no elementary schools in Durham County be selected for state takeover by the Innovative School District.
Wendy Jacobs, Chair