Friday, December 06, 2013

Eye Witness Account of Sen. Soucek’s Public Forum on Education: “Downhill For Dan”

All photos: Lonnie Webster
Submitted by Anonymous, who was there:

It was a bad night for Senator Soucek.

Thursday, I had the joy of attending a forum in Deep Gap, NC, on public education hosted by state senator from the 45th district Dan Soucek. He put together a panel of experts such as immediate past NC Teacher of the Year Darcy Grimes, Watauga County Teacher of the Year Katie Matthews, and ASU Professor and member of the Watauga County Board of Education Ron Henries.

And guess what? His own panel ripped him a new one.

Right off the bat, Darcy Grimes got him on teacher compensation. She was the first to speak against him, but not the last. Soon after the forum began, Soucek discussed that the plan had been to give bonuses to 25% of teachers in a given school district. There were no clear guidelines for choosing that 25%. His reason for supporting this new, poorly written policy? “No one is worse off. Some people are just better off.” The audience shouted, almost in unison, "WRONG!"

It only went downhill for Dan from there.

Maybe 15 minutes from the end of the forum, a Watauga County teacher in the audience made a comment about the unreasonably heavy testing done in our schools. A sheriff’s deputy immediately and forcefully removed her. Even after she complied and said to the deputy “I got it, I’m leaving!” and began heading to the exit, the deputy grabbed her, exclaiming, “No you don’t!” and continued to pull her to the exit.

A young man tried to take a still photo of the incident, with Watauga GOP Chair Anne Marie Yates jumping up and down trying to physically block the young man's iPhone. It’s worth pointing out that we were never told we could not take still photographs. Yates called in another deputy, and the young man was scolded for taking a single still photograph during a public forum.

My impression? Not only is the local GOP trying to kill quality public education across the state, but they also don’t seem too fond of our First Amendment rights either. Yates and a Soucek staffer were photographed choosing, rewriting, and combining questions [see photo below]. That perhaps explains why my question on teacher retention was never addressed.

Soucek even made the comment, in response to the outcry over North Carolina’s being 46th in teacher compensation, “Some of that rhetoric is just overblown.”

This “rhetoric” he is referring to is the sound of furious teachers, concerned parents, and students whose education is being compromised for little more than political gain.

Senator, we ARE furious. We ARE concerned. And we will continue this “overblown rhetoric” until you listen.

Anne Marie Yates, Center, trying to block photograph

In background: What are Anne Marie Yates and the Soucek staffer doing with those questions submitted by the audience?


Anonymous said...

JW you and pam should drop dead. hope some one puts you in your place one day.

Anonymous said...

“No one is worse off. Some people are just better off.”

Sounds like the NCGOP plan for NC - except Soucek forgets that children and teachers are worse off, thanks to the GOP plan for NC education.

When Soucek, an elected official, has an "open meeting" and ejects people for asking questions, he's clearly stating that the public is not anything he cares about.

So what does Dan Soucek care about? Who's funding him? How does he get money?

And who can run against him to make sure we get a state senator who believes in the first amendment rights of his constituents? And who believes in the value of education as an investment - not just a burdensome expense for the state.

Anonymous said...

All in the fashion of Nelson Mandela's teachings, I think not.

How do you explain our low rankings in math, science and reading? What we are doing is not working, and old Williams just wants to stroke the fire. Maybe he can get on the low rating Rachel Maddow Show. If any of those individuals had my child in class, I would stand on the toes of the School Board until they were moved out of their class or fired. Lots of parents feel the same way.

You are not going to defeat Soucek sp why treat him so badly.

Anonymous said...

Wow....JW and Pam should drop dead? That's a nice, Christian comment!

bettywhite said...

"What we are doing is not working." So the solution is to cut funding even more, lose the good teachers that we already have, and demonize the teaching profession even more? Yeah, that'll work!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @10:40 - you may thank No Child Left Behind (we can thank the GOP for this!) for the drop in rankings - teaching our children that the answer is no bigger than a test bubble is woefully inadequate.

Soucek can be defeated - and the reason to do it is because he's treating his constituents badly.

Using police to eject people at a public forum is a terrible precedent. A police state is the antithesis of a democracy. Soucek does not understand that.

me said...

I believe the person treating others badly is Soucek. JW is simply covering it.

JW, may you and Pam enjoy many more years of joy together.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until all these GOP people are out! It's just too bad that we on the left are going to have to spend years fixing the problems the right has created.

Anonymous said...

We spend more on education than any country in the world, more per child. We spend more on the administration of education for the children than any country in the world.
This system is not working. Parents are leaving public schools like never before in every state.
Put your head in the sand and yell at your state senator and the results will be the same.

JW has been after Soucek since 2010. Voters did not listen to JW then and they will not listen now.
PS to JW: According to Obama, children of elected leaders are off limits. Take a lesson here. No family should have to live in fear, not even Soucek.

Anonymous said...

We've got a long way to go when some that make comments begin to understand the manipulation and back door negotiation that goes on in the local government and then right up the ladder. I can only speculate the reason for "no recording" devices but it seems to me that the local GOP might want to avoid embarrassment for the idiotic things that are said by Soucek. Without those recordings, all we have are eye witness accounts, and it becomes a he said she said event. Other than trampling on individual rights, guarding against progress, and pushing his thin veil or religious prejudice, what has Soucek done to earn a paycheck. I can't think of anything but I'm willing to listen. Since we don't have local TV covering the event, I appreciate the fact that JW and the local democrats are pressing for transparency, something only those feared by the same people guilty of covert misguided, immoral and self serving actions.~~RT

Anonymous said...

I guess Soucek isn't on the "Sunshine Ticket." I guess Yates needs to get on that!

Anonymous said...

More back room deals and moving in the shadows. Seems like we've seen this movie before. The low rating Maddow show brought national attention to the gop raping our rights.if she were here now, maybe she could shine a light an the lack of transparency and suppression of pictures and video. Why do you republicans think they didn't want pics or video that they didn't control? We can expect the gop to cut pay for teachers and education in general for a variety of greed driven reasons, but to keep it all behind a curtain is a bold move indeed. I wonder which way I'll vote when I'm at the polls?

Anonymous said...

The post is too kind. Soucek made a fool of himself to those of us who can see through his false message. How about that women who compared teachers to fast food workers, and basically said that home school parents control their children/students better than state teachers, and wants to collect state money but keep it all a secret.....

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 7:40 AM, actually NC was the second state in the country, after Texas, to begin such consistent testing of school children. It began under the Democratic state house and governor. As a teacher, I despise high stakes testing. During the first 7 years of testing, NC rose to about 25th in the country in education, depending on what measures you choose. Testing made all teachers teach to the state standard course of study.

Anonymous said...

N.C. General Statute § 143-318.14 – Broadcasting or recording meetings.

(a) Except as herein below provided, any radio or television station is entitled to broadcast all or any part of a meeting required to be open. Any person may photograph, film, tape-record, or otherwise reproduce any part of a meeting required to be open.

(b) A public body may regulate the placement and use of equipment necessary for broadcasting, photographing, filming, or recording a meeting, so as to prevent undue interference with the meeting. However, the public body must allow such equipment to be placed within the meeting room in such a way as to permit its intended use, and the ordinary use of such equipment shall not be declared to constitute undue interference.

Anonymous said...

Using police to eject people at a public forum is a terrible precedent. A police state is the antithesis of a democracy. Soucek does not understand that.

In that case Vekma Brumley didn't understand it either. She threatened to do the same thing on several occasions.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean Velma Burnley, Anonymous, who is no longer in office? We're talking about our current state senator here.... do you support his tactics at this meeting, or not?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:52' yes we do spend more money per student than any other country, but that's the United States as a whole. North Carolina is near the bottom in per pupil funding, so what we spend per student in NC is far less than what is spent in many other countries. What's your solution? And by the way, have you ever been a classroom teacher?

Anonymous said...

you think Soucek gets the message? yes, I do think that resounded with him. Do you think he even cares? No. Absolutely not. When confronted with the people face to face that his policies have adversely affected, without a glimmer of intelligent response, he moves on............ VOTE HIM OUT!!

Anonymous said...

The US may spend more per student, but too much of that is spend on administration and not on the classroom and the teachers. A big part of the problem is is that we spend the money where money already is. We don't spend it in poor areas, just wealthy ones. There is no justice or equity in our current system of funding education.

Anonymous said...

According to Urban Dictionary, "drop dead" means "to 'zone out' and lie immovable on the ground, often after consuming cannabis." I think it means "the utterer is a jerk with no writing or speaking skills. Someone who needs a better education. Someone who needs to get a life."

Richard Tidyman said...

Lately, the comments at WataugaWatch and coverage in local media around Soucek's visit are as interesting as the story itself. Soucek and the recent controversy around Isabel Allende's "The House of the Spirits" book use at Watauga High are useful. It sheds light on what would happen if the vocal minority or conservative faction got even more more power. In both cases, their opening the door to enter and take control also sheds so much light on their issue, that it becomes obvious how much in the dark they have been. Just because they feel strongly about their decisions, made in the dim light of either self righteousness or manipulated by greed, the light of transparency guides the rest of us as to how to vote next time around. It is time more people came out of the dark ages and lived in the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

This forum is just progressive rhetoric and leftist propaganda.