Twelve years ago, a candidate that opposed the status quo, business as usual of the Wake County School Board attempted to bring accountability to the system that constantly moves kids, year after year, from school to school in what has become an annual bout of torture that turns families upside down and erodes parents’ time spent with their children.
I am proud to have worked on that race way back then. I was upset on election night with the outcome but I knew that, one day, Wake County would get the School Board that it needed. I just didn’t think it would be this long in coming.
That candidate from the ’97 race fell short on election day but his legacy of listening to parents upset with the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) was a seed that grew for more than a decade into a movement of parents, community activists and conservatives that flowered on election day, 2009.
Despite all of the sour grapes that supporters of the status quo are are spewing all over the blogosphere and in local media outlets, the victory stands as an example of what motivated citizens can do when the get fed up enough with government to make change happen. The education establishment still hasn’t realized what happened Tuesday.
For years, social engineers at WCPSS have forcibly moved just enough kids in districts that weren’t up for election in the next two years to avoid reaching critical mass amongst the plebes. After making some schools year round last year and having parents sue the system, parents got motivated.
Bureaucrats have withheld assignment data from citizens and town officials while the PR shop of WCPSS has droned on an on about how great the assignment process was and how great the system was. You have to give the school system PR flacks their due. They have done an amazing job of marketing Wake County as one of the best school systems in the country while hiding the truth about student achievement.
But the system was really just a house of cards that came crashing down on election day.
A child that was in kindergarten back in 1997 will graduate at the end of this school year without ever having the piece of mind of knowing what school they would attend from year to year. How many children and their families had to suffer under the weight of part of their government that never wanted to just listen to what parents had to say about the education of their children.
So what happened to that candidate from ’97?
He decided that public education needed some competition and went on to found an award winning charter school, an award winning independent Catholic school and a chain of private schools. What was the name of this man that knew Wake County schools needed a change 12 years ago? Civitas board member Robert Luddy. I don’t know where he keeps his crystal ball, but I am glad he had a vision those many years ago.