Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Meddling from the Unelected

Cape Fear Future (CFF), a taxpayer-funded arm of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, likes to meddle.

CFF considers itself to be a valuable resource in our region promoting education and trying to recruit the elusive "knowledge sector" in our local economy. Their efforts are hard to quantify in any meaningful way. Most of their news updates consist of regurgitating news and events taking place outside of their sphere. However, recently, the group involved itself with one endeavor on their own.

A proud news release entitled, "Cape Fear Future releases new tri-county education brochure" states:
"In the spring of 2011, representatives from Cape Fear Future and the Chamber Foundation (both initiatives of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce) joined forces to assist the improvement of K-12 schools by raising awareness and support through marketing."
Interestingly, the two groups who "joined forces" are simply spinoffs of the same umbrella organization, and no outside influence appears to be present in the process of "raising awareness and support". The most noticeably absent entity from the effort is anyone from the public education system; specifically, the New Hanover County School Board. Why is this important? For one, the school board is elected by the people, and their involvement vicariously involves the public in these initiatives. However, one thing CFF has been consistent in, is not involving the public.
The result of this effort is an up-to-date profile with relevant statistical information to be provided to corporate prospects, commercial and residential realtors and anyone looking at our school systems. Our first goal was to create a printed brochure, and the second is to create and expand educational materials on the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce website.
The deep involvement of our Chamber in our public education calls into question their true motives. The specific mention of "commerical and residential realtors" makes perfect sense, given those who our Chamber and its satellite groups are comprised of, and the primary focus of their efforts. However, the idea that unaccountable taxpayer-funded groups operating in the shadows, without any input or accountability to the public; assigning, dictating, and communicating public education policy borders on highly questionable.

The draft brochure available here, may in and of itself seem harmless, and it may in fact be so. However, why are those elected by the public to look after and direct educational policy in our county being excluded from this process? We take our childrens' education seriously (well, many of us) - that's why it is so critical to have real people that can be held accountable for decisions affecting such. However, when a hodgepodge of faceless, publicly-funded bureaucrats, who are appointed by the inner players of the social and political machinery that seems to involve itself in everything, without any accountability to the public, one should be concerned.

Another notable example of what is most accurately described as meddling, is the implementation of a program in public schools, being completely directed and executed by the Chamber:
Shallotte Middle School in Brunswick County has adopted and implemented Project Lead the Way (one of only 3 in the state), a STEM-based curriculum that incorporates engineering, robotics, aerospace and other STEM-related courses... 
The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s Cape Fear Future initiative is exploring adoption and implementation of the PLTW program to New Hanover County
While this particular example may seem like a good idea, and in and of itself isn't alarming, the idea that CFF now wields the power to "adopt and implement" a program in our public schools should be alarming.

Another portion of text in CFF's brochure states that:
The Cape Fear region - New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick Counties - features dynamic public and private education choices for students and parents. Programs range from pre-kindergarten to alternative and special needs, early-college curriculums, magnet schools, and a host of other unique courses that produce well-educated and socially responsible adults (emphasis added)
"Socially responsible adults"? In the view of CFF, this is a valid function of our public schools. A more traditional view may consist of it being the public schools' role to educate students in the basic areas of reading, writing, and math - social responsibility is a job for parents, families, and the student's sphere of influence. School plays a role in this certainly - but in an indirect way. This isn't something that should be taught directly in school - who's to say which view of social responsibility is the agreed upon view?

CFF's view of social responsibility could very well be vastly different from that of yours and your family's. However, teaching social responsibility is a very valid activity in public schools in CFF's view, and they are doing their part to ensure their seat at that table - with your children. However, CFF has no accountability to you whatsoever. If you dislike or disagree with their influence over your children, you have absolutely no recourse. Is this the proper role of an unelected board of self-ascribed intellectuals and elitists, funded with your money?


  1. This is another shining example of wasted tax dollars. Another example of how our government does not represent the majority anymore. Everyone, including these people should have the right to express their opinion, but they should not be paid to do so with tax payer funds. The only people that should decide what is available and taught in the school system, are those elected to do so and those hired to do so. In these hard economic times, eliminating money funding groups such these is an easy way to find the extra money needed for relevant projects and needs. It is time to elect people that understand this.

  2. Our elected officials don't seems to be stepping up to create the "relevant projects" that will help transform our community into anything more than one composed of wealthy retirees and college students. Our workforce has nothing to offer our bright graduates after they receive diplomas beyond a job pouring drinks at tourist hotspots. CFF aims to unite the members of government organizations with business and non-profit members in an effort to solve our areas unique problems. The CFF staff is incredibly dedicated to our area and are personally invested in it's success. Their tiny paychecks would hardly be motive enough to "meddle" in community affairs to set some sort of evil agenda in motion.

    These people are devoted members of the community and are simply trying a new approach to get the wheels turning around here. Your elected officials are the ones rendered useless by egos and bureaucracy.


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