Don’t Think of an Elephant

 Neat trick of the day:  The N&O makes the anti-school Right's case without anyone having to say a word.  It's all right there on page 1B, ye olde City & State section:

Next threat to Wake wallets?  High Schools

Oh sure, on the website they're going with the less inflammatory "Wake may need more high schools", but make no mistake, the print edition is utterly galling.  Here we are on the brink of a recession (or are we in it?  No one seems to know) and the anti-tax crowd is being handed a freebie on a plate.  Nice.  Education – surely a public good, no? – is now simply the next THREAT to our WALLETS.  Ooooh, hang on to your purse, Penny.  Hide your bill-fold, Bob, the county is comin' ta git ya.  Couldn't we send a posse out to round up all the teen-aged varmints out there and send 'em to the People's Republic of Chapel Hill, where they're rich and like to pay for frills like edumacation?  I hear tell they got plenny of high schoolin' out that-a-way.

The headline isn't the only editorializing, though it's the worst to be sure.  There was also a reference to "the expensive bricks-and-mortar fix" to the increasing high school population problem.  And, this:  "It won't be cheap to ramp up high school construction."  Enough with the opinion, just tell us the facts: "A new high school costs $70 million, nearly the cost of building three elementary schools."  Okay, that is a lot of money, but I don't need to be told two or three times that it's a lot of money.  Just stick to the facts and I can see where the school system's in a bit of a pickle.  Of course, fear-mongering before there's even a bond issue on a ballot isn't going to help, is it?  Developers don't want to do anything about growth, pols can't stop giving away tax revenue in "incentives", and people are always loathe to bear a tax burden, so what are we to do?  We've made Wake County a wonderful place to move for work and a great place to live.  But don't expect much in the way of a high school education, because that's too much to ask.  


  1. aplum

    March 12, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    I don’t have to look at the by-line, I already know who wrote this article–T. Keung Hui–the anti-education reporter at the N&O.

  2. Dallas Woodhouse

    March 12, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    explain why Wake needs twice the land for the same size schools than in Johnston and other counties. Why the cost per pupil for construction is so much higher. They waste lots of money in Wake.

    Why are they bulldozing Lacy elem?

  3. Max

    March 12, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    What’s with the Taj Mahighschools, Andrea? Seriously, cuteness with dialect doesn’t change the fact that there is some grave problems with out-of-control school construction funding…


    …and that places that are losing population are begging for statewide school construction bonds. Does that make sense to you?

  4. Max

    March 12, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  5. Rob Schofield

    March 12, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Excellent post, AV. The far right has clearly been successful in getting a lot of people (including some members of the media) to buy into their education factory model for public schools.

    This column (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/cms/2007/03/01/ideologues-push-the-education-factory-model/)
    from this time last year explores the absurdity of their “solutions.”

  6. gregflynn

    March 13, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Johnson actually has higher land requirements, building spread out single story schools with individual pre-designed building modules connected by long corridors which eliminates the fire protection normally provided by expensive fire-rated construction and sprinklers in denser buildings. Johnson has also had the benefit of state legislation exempting some individual projects from state bidding laws. This essentially authorized sole-sourcing, which is fraught with both opportunity and danger.

    Wake has been integrating community facilities into school projects and has been purchasing land with room for several schools and multiple playfields on the same site to save on overall county infrastructure and building costs. Wake makes more use of smaller and more difficult sites than land rich Johnson. This requires more building adaption and site adaption especially on urban sites. It involves two, three story and now four story buildings, hence the unfortunate comparisons with commercial buildings.

    Re Lacy, see JLF report: “1) maximizing the efficiency of existing and new sites; 2) using urban school designs that utilize small sites.” Only part of Lacy is being demolished.

    The biggest variations in construction costs can be attributed to the free market. In a booming market, like Wake’s, there is plenty of non-residential work and bids are higher because contractors can afford to be choosy. Locally, subcontract labor and equipment are in short supply. The lowest price you get is the lowest price a contractor is willing to give on bid day. It works like any market.

  7. Max

    March 13, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    It’s so easy to spend other people’s money, huh Rob? Why not get Frank Gehry to design them, Whole Foods to stock them, and Roy Williams to coach the basketball team?

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