Update(s): The N&R’s Allen Johnson has more, including: “…To say she can use inflammatory words to express her views is, well, an understatement.”Ã‚Â Also…
Piedmont Publicus regarding the BoE’s silence on Hayes’ remarks: “…They sure donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t speak up. But by the same token, are they really expected to get into a dark-side-of-American-history pissing match with Hayes? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what she wants. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s her way of showing her constituents that sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing something.”Ã‚Â
But wait… one newly minted board member and frequent commenter hereÃ‚Â has spoken up below.Ã‚Â Sez Jeff Belton: “…As I heard DeenaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words I was stunned and saddened to hear that she views the presence of two different demographic groups in the same building as an obstacle, not an opportunity for each group to learn about the other, and develop some empathy and understanding.”
Recent comments (N&R) by school board member Deena HayesÃ‚Â invoking “slaves and slave owners” (RhinoÃ‚Â Times)Ã‚Â were characteristically inflammatory.Ã‚Â However,Ã‚Â the central point she was trying to get acrossÃ‚Â was uncharacteristically on the mark.Ã‚Â At issue was the expansion of Guilford County’s “Very Strong Needs” (VSN) educational services to Welborn Middle in High Point.Ã‚Â
For many years, this excellent and needed program for our brightest students housed all elementary aged students at Wiley and all middle school participants at Aycock Middle.Ã‚Â That arrangement ended two years ago when some VSN parents got fed up with howÃ‚Â the principals of those schoolsÃ‚Â were trying to water the program down by “mingling” the VSN students and teachers with the general school population.Ã‚Â They successfully lobbied the school boardÃ‚Â andÃ‚Â got the two schools’ student bodies combined andÃ‚Â relocated to Lincoln Middle.Ã‚Â But traveling to Lincoln is an onerous daily journey for High Point students which limited the number of families willing to make such a sacrifice of time.Ã‚Â Thus the recent push for creating a closer-in site for the program at Welborn.
Even though the VSN program is open to all GC students scoring in the highest percentile of intellectual proclivities, the program’s student population is overwhelmingly non-black.Ã‚Â In light of that reality, the school board usesÃ‚Â the VSNÃ‚Â children to boost “diversity” in traditionally majority black schools such as Lincoln, Wiley and, now potentially, Welborn.
Even though “diversity” is the reason the VSN programs are assigned to those schools, truth is – for the most part – what gets created is a school-within-a-school and the two populations rarely “mingle”.Ã‚Â Necessarily, the VSN polulation is on a completely different academic path than the school’s regular population.Ã‚Â The VSN program employs some of GC’s best teachers, they get the latest in classroom technology, they take frequent off-campus enrichment trips, and so forth and so on.Ã‚Â In addition, and I can say this with certainty, VSN parents are way more involved in their children’s education than your average parent.
So, anyway, DeenaÃ‚Â Hayes took umbrage to the comments of one of those parents back in DecemberÃ‚Â who was making the case against the Welborn expansion.Ã‚Â Parent Bill Spaulding was only stating the truth when he said…
“At the risk of sounding arrogant and elitest, I might guess that if more parents were as attentive as we are to the quality and importance of their children’s education that (Guilford County Schools) would be in much better shape.”
That’s when Hayes also stated the truth, but did it badly, and in a way that only served to further drive racial wedges between us all.
During the push to move the combined VSN program to traditionally black Linclon Middle, some VSN parents argued strenuously to keep the re-constituted school 100% “magnet” and not place any neighborhood students there.Ã‚Â Their background reasoning for a purely VSN school was the avoidance of exactly the “inferiority/superiority”Ã‚Â charges leveled by Hayes.
The VSN kids – again, necessarily – ARE treated differently than any other student population.Ã‚Â That’s the whole pont of the program: to fully develop the above average potential of our highest achievers.Ã‚Â And when the “regular” student population and their parents witness the ‘special treatment’ required to feed the extraordinary minds of our overly bright students, animosities are created.
So Hayes was right in stating that a new “mingled” VSN program should not be created in High Point until we,Ã‚Â “…have the talent and experience of a department that can help make that adjustment.”Ã‚Â Because to do otherwise do will, naturally, “…produc(e) that sense of superiority and inferiority” that she fears.Ã‚Â
But for her to summon up the demons of slavery in her otherwise justifiable comments was unconscionable and uneccessarily divisive.Ã‚Â
Would it have killed Hayes to leave the slavery images in the closet and speak of “have’s and have not’s” instead?Ã‚Â Instead of driving wedges, would it be too much to ask for her to see what can be done about placing more black children into the VSN program so the racial make up of the program isn’t so starkly different from the community as a whole?
Such positive and healing actions require leadership, not finger pointing and slavery-era-baiting, Ms. Hayes.