Looking ahead to Tuesday and the mass march/rally at the State Capitol in favor of diversity in the Wake school system:
It's mid-July. The new school board majority has been in office for almost eight months, and a referendum on their actions to date is coming in November with elections for the Wake County Board of Commissioners. The (Republican) majority has thus far managed to scrap diversity as a policy goal, change a few school calendars and move some students around, notably the ones from Southeast Raleigh who were attending school in Garner but won't be henceforth. They won a recent showdown with Democratic Commissioner Stan Norwalk over where to put a new high school in the northeast quadrant of the county: Norwalk wanted it close to the hugely over-crowded Wakefield H.S.; the school board majority wanted it in Rolesville, i.e. not that close. The majority got their way on a 4-3 vote of the commissioners, with Democrat Lindy Brown deserting her party to side with the three Republican commissioners.
But the school board majority has made little (some might argue no) progress toward adopting a new student assignment policy and no progress on the issue of ED (economically disadvantaged) students and their lagging academic performance. The ED issue was a hobbyhorse whipped relentlessly by the majority (or, more accurately, by John Tedesco and Deborah Prickett, purportedly speaking for the majority) before and after their election wins last fall. Since then, it hasn't seemed to occupy much of the majority's time, however. Do they still contend that "neighborhood schools" will help kids living in high-poverty neighborhoods? Or was it always a fig leaf to cover their real agenda, which is neighborhood schools for their own suburban neighborhoods?
On the other side, the NAACP, the Great Schools in Wake coalition and a slew of other groups have come fiercely to the defense of diversity as a critical element in school excellence overall, but especially in any effort to help ED students and close the achievement gap between more- and less-affluent kids.
To Tedesco's stance that diversity didn't work because graduation rates for ED kids slipped over the past decade, diversity's supporters answered that he's got it exactly backwards: Rather, they say, as adherence to the county's diversity policy slipped over the past decade — the victim of Wake's unbridled growth — so too did the performance of ED kids. To put it another way, as the number of schools with high concentrations of ED kids grew from fewer than 10 to more than 50, the number of ED kids not graduating increased apace. High-poverty schools, usually also characterized by high-minority populations, yield terrible results for the kids forced to attend them, they believe.
Bottom line: Eight months in, the effort by the new board majority to seize the moral high ground by appearing, at least, to advocate for ED kids is fading.
Now, diversity's supporters have the high ground, and they'll try to hold it through November, starting with Tuesday's march. Organizers are talking about "thousands" turning out, a big word for an event on a steamy mid-July day. But the AME Zion convention is in town — that'll help.
A big turnout for the march could be the launch point for the fall campaign, but also for the more important campaign to raise ED achievement scores in Wake and fulfill the promise of socio-economic diversity AND school excellence.
The march is set to begin at 10 a.m. from the Raleigh Convention Center. Here's a promotional video posted by the NC NAACP:
One of the three young women on a hunger strike for immigration reform was hospitalized last night, apparently due to heat stroke. (Update: Just before noon, WRAL reported that Loida was treated and released from the hospital and is resting at home.) A fellowship event scheduled for 8 pm tonight — Monday — will go on as scheduled at their encampment. It's at the southeast corner of Lane and Wilmington Streets in Raleigh, very close to the Legislative Office Building.
An announcement came in today from the N.C. Justice Center:
Hunger Striker Hospitalized
Announcements about the strike will be made tonight at 8 p.m.
RALEIGH (June 28) — Loida, one of three women on a hunger strike until Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) co-sponsors the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was hospitalized last night after suffering what appeared to be a heat stroke.
Several supporters were among her when she fell ill. Friends and family are with her at this time. While we cannot offer specifics to the press this morning, a full update will be given this evening at 8:00PM at the campsite, located at the intersection of Wilmington Street and Lane Street in downtown Raleigh.
The NC DREAM Team, composed of the hunger strikers and their immediate supporters, had previously scheduled a fellowship event open to the public at the campsite for 8 p.m. Some of this time will now be devoted to updating press and all concerned community members about Loida’s situation and everything that has happened with the hunger strike thus far. We will still be accepting visitors to the campsite.
Any major announcements about the strike will be made tonight.
Efforts to schedule a meeting with the senator have not been successful. Last week, Senator Hagan announced that she would not support the DREAM Act, but it is unclear if she opposes it simply as a stand-alone bill or even if it were included as part of a broader immigration reform measure.
The downtown amphitheater in Raleigh won't be the BLA after all. The state ABC says it can't be named for Bud Light or any other booze item. Doggone it, the BLA seemed so perfect.
$300,000 a year times 5 years = $1.5 million down the drain.
What are we bid for your name [HERE] on the city's new amphitheater?
This is Whitley Street in Raleigh. I know, it's not much — yet. But use your imagination. What about shops and cafes on either side of it as part of a new, mixed-use, transit-friendly, walkable development near the Hillsborough-West Morgan roundabout in Raleigh? You know, all those cool buzzwords we use to describe what we want Raleigh to be when it grows up? Well, here's a chance to grow up some.
Anyway, I thought a picture of Whitley would help frame the column I wrote for the Indy this week, which ran with the headline — I didn't write it, but it's right on — "The most important property in Raleigh." As I was finishing the column, some folks from the neiighborhoods went to the City Council with a petition to extend Whitley from its premature termination over to Ashe Avenue — not far. As they counted it, Whitley could provide 40 on-street parking spaces for a future Bolton tract development. Not too shabby.
Note: The public hearing on FMZ’s rezoning application for the Bolton tract, Z-011-10, is scheduled for July 22 at 6:30 p.m. in City Council chambers.
Here's a link to the column. Full text is below.
Cap it off with a 3.7 mile tour (above) that goes right through my neighborhood.
The event at Marbles Kids Museum will offer free bike check-ups by REI, a bicycle rodeo for kids and a bike safety clinic for adult cyclists. Free beverages provided by Coca-Cola and food provided by Roly Poly!
* 3 - 6pm: Cycling & Environmental Expo
Free children’s helmets with fittings (First come, first served). Bike on bus demonstrations. Includes the following events:
* 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30pm: Kids Bike Safety Rodeo
* 4 - 5pm: Community Leaders’ Bicycle Transportation Information Exchange with Elected Officials
* 5-6pm: Commuting 101 for Adults and Students.
* 6pm: Downtown Group Ride - 3.7 miles following the route above.
In honor of Bud.
After all, who's done more to make this a great city than —
(Did they ask PBR? Now there's a name.)
Groundbreaking for the new Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) is set for Tuesday, May 11 at 5 p.m. All I can say is — how do you spell S-wheat?
One of the first stories I did as a freelancer for the Indy was about Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer and his band of "Annie" fans on the City Council, who'd killed funding for the old CAM (back then, it was a gallery on Moore Square). '97 or so. (Pre-web days; it's not online.) They didn't like contemporary, obviously. They preferred tried-and-true — with Jesse Helm the last word on true.
Not long before, Fetzer, aided and abetted by then-Councilor Paul Coble, Helms' kin, had so frightened the arts community here that sponsors "voluntarily" cancelled a touring company's performances of "La Cage Aux Folles." Too gay.
Re-runs of "Annie" were quickly substituted.
Kids, those were dark daze in Raleigh back then.
Mayor Fetzer has gone on to greater fame, of course, as the state Republican Party's chairman. Councilor Coble, later Mayor Coble, is now Wake County Commissioner Coble.
Meantime, CAM soldiered on as a "virtual" organization and never gave up. Now, it's back, thanks in major part to Mayor Charles Meeker's support along with virtually every other City Council member since Meeker ousted Coble in the 2001 election.
Meeker brags on the CAM some in this press release, as he should:
Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) will officially break ground at its future home, 409 W. Martin Street, on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at 5:00 p.m. The renovated 20,000 sq. ft. historic warehouse-turned-museum will serve as the only non-collecting museum of contemporary art + design in North Carolina.
Jay Gates, CAM Interim Director, City of Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and Dean Marvin Malecha, NC State College of Design, will lead the ceremony. Predicts Mayor Meeker: “The opening of the Contemporary Art Museum will be key to the revitalization of Raleigh’s Warehouse District. Its location near the City’s Convention Center and planned Union Station Transit Center, in addition to its innovative art and design exhibitions, will make the new museum an important cultural destination for our region.”
More from CAM is below:
Saturday morning dawns, and Morgan Street is now 2-way all the way from downtown to the new roundabout at Hillsborough Street. No more "Do Not Enter" sign going west when you come to St. Mary's.
Slowly but surely, emphasis on slowly, the city is converting our downtown one-way raceways to two-way urban streets. The former: Good for cars in a hurry to get out of Dodge. The latter: Good for pedestrians, dogs, residents and what, for lack of a better term, are known as walkable neighborhoods. (How about just neighborhoods?)
In other words, slow is good.
The completion of the Hillsborough Street—Morgan Street roundabout, and the conversion of Morgan Street, sets the stage for downtown Raleigh's latest rezoning case, involving the nearly 7-acre "Bolton tract" and Charlotte-based developers FMZ. (Note: That's the old Bolton building on the right in the picture; the acreage is around and behind it.)
This is in the area that city planners attempted to attach to the downtown Central Business District last year when the new comprehensive plan was in play. Neighbors in the adjourning Pullen Park, West Morgan and Cameron Park neighborhoods (I live in Cameron Park) pushed back, one fellow calling it "the monster's head" because of the shape the DT-CBD would've had if given a big neck and head (the Bolton tract) out to the west. City Council then made the Bolton property and West Morgan the subject of a special "small area study" that is underway to determine what the character of this area should be.
Fodder for another day. On a lovely Saturday morning, it's enough to say that this is one of downtown Raleigh's most important, strategic locations. It's halfway from downtown to the NCSU campus. It's on one of Raleigh's busiest bus routes. It's close to the spot where a streetcar line might someday run if — a big if — we ever get a light-rail system going in Raleigh and IF — another big if — the line comes out of the rail corridor behind Central Prison and runs into and out of the downtown along West Morgan Street.
What should be built at such a strategic location? A strategic location, I'd add, that has been sitting fallow for years and years — one of the first meetings I attended in Raleigh after moving here 23 years ago concerned the future of the already-vacant Bolton Corporation property.
As a neighbor, I'm involved in the planning exercise. So whatever I have to say about it and the rezoning case should be understood in that context: This is a great chance for Raleigh to move forward as a city with the right kind of development in a key location, but it's obviously not a great time to get any sort of development anywhere ... so how should we proceed?
There are at least four good reasons to be downtown between 10 am and 2 pm Wednesday. One, the return of Wednesday Farmers Markets. Two, a Pig Pickin' courtesy of The Pit. (What goes better with fresh vegetables than, uh, pig?) Three, Old Habits is playing. Four, it's in City Plaza, which — if you haven't gotten down to see it yet — is a big downtown plus.
Oh, and make that five: Mayor Meeker's remarks are at 11:15.
It's all in the press blab from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which is copied below the fold.
And for the first time ever, ever, it'll be held in the southeastern U.S., where WWW traditionally stood for wrestling until Raleigh, NC become the center of the creative universe. (Thanks, Sparkcon!)
That's right, the WWW2010 will be in Raleigh at the Convention Center starting Monday, April 26 through Friday, April 30.
With Google, Yahoo, Lulu and all your other favorite internet characters.
See more below or check the website.