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Rev. Mike
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Brian, come to think of it, re-reading your post, you were actually pretty clear about that. Unfortunately, I didn't read it carefully enough and instead ended up responding to what I heard on WBT yesterday. Your point is very clear here where it wasn't yesterday because it got lost on account of Tara's "shellfish sanitation ... isn't that the STUPIDEST thing you've ever heard of" response to nearly every item you pointed out. My apologies for not reading closer. Regarding "good investment," I think that is EXACTLY the line of reasoning we should be taking. When I consider that my children can score 4's on NC EOGs and yet still only be considered "proficient" when compared with NAEP, I really do have to question whether my "investment" in teachers is really such a great bargain, especially when they carp at every opportunity about "how dare we" try to hold them accountable, even on this bare minimum standard. I'm all but ready to home school, in which case, what good does a state-paid teacher do me? My answer to our opponents would be to ask them to show me how the teacher produces a better product than the biologist in the shellfish sanitation program. Again, good luck on that one. Since the only people here in Charlotte who lost their jobs appear to be ones who needed to lose them anyway (assuming these first ones were performance-based), I say keep my oysters edible and let's move on. Zack, I suspect that this money has nothing to do with AP. CMS has a "middle college high school" program at CPCC's Cato campus, and the kids there take college-level classes for credit, receiving a high school diploma AND, if I recall correctly, an associate's degree at the same time when they do their last two years there. They can then transfer those credits within the UNC system. I think that is what this funding item is about, and if that's the case, then maybe the distinction between this and AP may be semantic, but for my part I think it's probably a good investment in kids that will have the gumption to take a run at it. With AP classes it's harder to tell when you have school districts putting kids in those classes and testing them in pursuit of that much-coveted (sic!) Newsweek rating. Some of those kids arguably are diluting that program for persons like you who were serious about the process.
Brian, I heard you yesterday on WBT, and generally, I appreciate what you've done here--someone definitely should be doing this, and one wishes it were our elected officials! A note of caution, though ... some of the stuff you've highlighted here really is up for reasonable debate and not quite as cut and dry as it might seem, certainly not deserving of the kind of sneering treatment Tara was giving it. For example, you both made a big deal out of "shellfish sanitation." Following a hunch, I Googled the term, and sure enough, this relates to "monitoring and classifying coastal waters as to their suitability for shellfish harvesting for human consumption." (See http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/shellfish/shellfish.htm.) I can't speak to whether these fine folks do their job particularly well or not, and I don't know if I'm getting $1.7 million worth of value out of their work, but I'd at least be willing to consider some potential merit that might accrue from not getting sick from eating bad oysters. Likewise, with regard to spending $18.8 million on Learn & Earn High Schools to allow HS students to take college courses for credit for free, I'd entertain a real debate on whether we get more long-term value out of a program that gives a kid a head start on college coursework than by throwing that same $18.8 million at most of the workaday nonsense that passes for education in NC public schools. Your premise yesterday that the program has only been running since 2005 is completely irrelevant to answering the question of whether or not it's a good investment. Those are just a couple of examples in which I think you've put forth weak or questionable arguments against these expenditures, in my opinion, and I'm on your side! The political zeitgeist is not in our favor at this point in time; we don't do ourselves any favors by not building a strong case, and we certainly don't help matters by being smug about it in the manner in which Tara conducted herself yesterday. If we want to be taken seriously (as I think we should be, but good luck with that!), we have to be more serious than those with whom we disagree. Lord knows they're not being serious about it.