Durham doesn't want to sacrifice principals for federal money

Posted December 14, 2010

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— State education leaders have requested that three Durham Public Schools principals be allowed to remain at their schools under a federal grant program.

The school district wants $4.5 million in "Race to the Top" money to help three schools that are considered low-performing. One of the requirements to get the money, however, is replacing the principal at each school.

Durham Superintendent Eric Becoats said Tuesday that the district wouldn't sacrifice leadership for the money and said the state has asked the U.S. Department of Education to waive the requirement for schools that show significant growth in student test scores over a two-year period.

"I don't think we are trading leadership for iPads," Becoats said. "We are utilizing an innovative tool to help further instruction, to also enhance teaching and learning based upon what we're seeing and based upon other visits and research."

The grant money would pay for iPads to help students at W. G. Pearson Elementary School and Lowe's Grove Middle School learn. Teams of specialists also would work with teachers to help them help students.

Neal Middle School plans to use its grant money to convert to a magnet school and adopt a science- and math-based curriculum.

Teachers at Lowe's Grove Middle said last month that they planned to fight to keep Principal Kathy Kirkpatrick, who has been credited with turning around the school in recent years.

Last spring, Kirkpatrick testified before Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, who oversees a lawsuit to ensure that students across North Carolina receive a quality education, and the judge said later that he was impressed with the work she has done.


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  • quaten Dec 17, 2010

    "They need to first teach the basics or reading, writing and rithmatic!!! What is the help of all new technology gadgets if children can not read, write or do basic math?"

    That's just dandy. While other schools are teaching their kids to use the latest technology, Durham will be teaching the use of the "slide-rule, eraser, and pencil-sharpener". I know... that's a stretch, but if the old methods aren't working, why not give the new gadgets a tryout? After all, who needs to remember all those grammatical rules, when there's spell-check(in any language)? How often do we really use Pythagoras, Euclid, or Euler, in the long hand?

    My point is, the old methods were only relevant during a spelling-bee, or flash-card session. From my experience, the only people who benefited from those sessions were the teachers and their prize students.

    It is possible that the new gadgets, for reasons unknown, connect better with students nowadays.

  • quaten Dec 15, 2010

    The problem with laptops is security policy and maintenance. Ipad is simpler in those regards - probably worth the investment. When a laptop leaves the (school) network, it becomes vulnerable when connected elsewhere.

  • Vietnam Vet Dec 15, 2010

    Why in the world are they buying ipads??? Probably one of the most expensive pieces of hardware that is out there. Laptops or netbooks would be a lot cheaper?

  • avidreader Dec 14, 2010

    They need to first teach the basics or reading, writing and rithmatic!!! What is the help of all new technology gadgets if children can not read, write or do basic math?

  • com_mon_sents Dec 14, 2010

    If Durham does this, it's like selling your soul to the devil. I wouldn't touch that money with a 10 ft. pole!! When schools kick out a principal inorder to accept technology...that's a sad SAD day in the education world. If it happens, God only knows what the federal gov't next! BEWARE!

  • anne53ozzy Dec 14, 2010

    I meant to type "typing", not "tying". clearly, typing is not one of my strong points but the point I make can be verified by studies available on line.

  • anne53ozzy Dec 14, 2010

    I am with the locals 100%. I have written before that one of the most successful programs in the US of late has had kids write. tying. Write a paper or a response to a question in class. Writing involves the brain in a more comprehensive manner and has apparently proven to be successful in learning and retention.

  • coastalnc Dec 14, 2010

    How many of the Ipads will be"lost" broken or sold from these schools?

  • BigUNCFan Dec 14, 2010

    I rarely agree with Durham on much of anything but I think they are correct here. If the principals have shown big improvements in their schools the last 2 years, they should be allowed to stay. Not worth a few iPads to get rid of good leaders.

    That is the problem with feds telling local govts what to do all of the time.

  • mep Dec 14, 2010

    When you make a deal with the Devil (our Federal govt), sacrifices must be made.