02/27/05 — Summit: Discussion of schools may do some good, eventually

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Summit: Discussion of schools may do some good, eventually

There’s going to be a Big Three Summit.

This time it isn’t the Big Three world powers — as with Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. during World War II. But let’s hope it’s as friendly.

This will be the Big Three powers of Wayne County: The Board of County Commissioners, the Board of Education and the Goldsboro City Council.

Members of the three boards met Tuesday night to talk about education, mainly about the schools in Goldsboro. They disagreed on a lot of things, but they did agree to keep talking.

That’s good. The longer they talk, the sooner they will tire of harping at one another. Then their meetings might become productive.

It isn’t that these elective officials are lousy public servants. Most of them are right well-intentioned. But they are all looking at what they consider an important problem, and they all have different ideas about what to do to solve it, if anything.

Most of the commissioners and council members look with shame on some of the Goldsboro schools, and they are impatient with the school board.

The school board members see things differently. They are frustrated because they have tried hard to make the Goldsboro schools better — and with some success — and yet they keep hearing the schools slammed by commissioners and councilmen.

Besides, it’s natural to feel a little resentment when people keep telling you how to do your business. And the schools are definitely the school board’s business. Anyone who hears a calling to fix them should run for the school board.

Some of the commissioners and councilmen want to turn Goldsboro High School into a civic center. A new high school would have to be built, costing maybe $20 million, and it could be built at a site where it could serve a more diverse student body than the current Goldsboro High, which is 99 percent black.

School board members don’t want to give up the campus. They prefer to consider solutions like enhancing programs at GHS to make more students want to go there. That is similar to the magnet-school concept, something that should be considered more deeply.

Another area of agreement at Tuesday night’s meeting, in addition to the summit proposal, was the establishment of a countywide “educational council” to talk about education issues with the boards. In that regard, here’s another suggestion:

Let these meetings be run by a neutral party who is not a member of any of the three boards. The mayor of Goldsboro and the chairmen of the two countywide boards are capable of doing it, but this meeting requires a leader who would not be seen as for or against any existing proposals, someone completely without prejudice toward the issues. Someone who has nothing politically to gain or lose.

Someone whose only interest is what is best for the children in the schools.

Published in Editorials on February 27, 2005 12:45 AM