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Learning From Past Mistakes

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The results of the 2009 Wake County School Board elections served as a dramatic example of how elected officials should not behave. The new majority came into office with an ego that was larger than life and an attitude that essentially said "no one can touch us." Unfortunately, their inappropriate behavior made our county the brunt of jokes and unwanted attention on late night television shows, and we received some undesirable publicity by the national media as well. Did we learn our lesson?

On Tuesday, December 3, the newly elected school board members will be officially sworn in. Collectively, the board has an historic opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Wake County's public school students - but only if they remind themselves to be humble and non-partisan. The county's citizens have made it clear that education is a top priority for them. This was best exemplified by the $810 million education bond they approved only a few months ago. The bottom line is that our citizens want Wake County to have a first rate public school system - one that prepares our children for personal and academic success.

In light of recent developments at the state level, the school board needs to re-evaluate its priorities and demonstrate its full commitment to our teachers. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Work with the county commissioners to increase the county's salary supplement for teachers.
2. Seek ways to improve teachers' working conditions by making sure that they do not have to spend their hard earned money to purchase classroom supplies.
3. Ask local vendors to offer special deals for teachers and their families on a year-round basis.
4. Show the teachers and school administrators that their work is appreciated by recognizing their efforts more than just one day a year.

These are just a few simple ideas - and there are many more that are available to us. The idea is simply to let our teachers know that in spite of the state legislators' poor judgment and lack of appreciation for our teachers' many sacrifices, the people of Wake County support them and want them to continue working on behalf of our children. They need to know that we consider them an invaluable part of our community.

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