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Point of clarification

In the article "Breaking point" (cover story, Feb. 28), staff writer Bob Geary quotes me as follows: "De Luca says he'd like to see the whole public school system fall of its own weight." I did not say that.

I stated that the current education model in Wake County and North Carolina was very similar to the economic model that the Big Three automakers and the old-line airline companies built. It consists of a huge infrastructure, bloated bureaucracy and excessive pay and benefits. It was a system that if costs continued to increase, the taxpayers in Wake County could not afford and would not support such a system. In today's global economy, you need an education system that can respond quickly to changes and new requirements. If it can't, just like the auto companies and old airlines, it will fail.

That is what I said. Other than that quote, Geary got most of what I said in our half-hour conversation pretty accurate. I recognize the need for a healthy public education system that includes choice and competition and more of an entrepreneurial spirit.

My last comment concerns my continued dismay and amusement at Wake County Board of Education members who answer every alternative proposed by saying that it won't do anything for two to three years, so why bother—when any bond passed doesn't do anything for two to three years. I guess that means we should not do any more bonds?

Francis X. De Luca
Americans for Prosperity

Kudos for story on autism and schools

After reading this week's cover story, I felt compelled to write and compliment the Indy for the story about autism and the public school system ("Great expectations," by Lisa Sorg, March 7). While your piece focused on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, the many issues it raises can be applied to the region's other systems, including Wake and Durham counties.

As mother to a 5-year-old boy with autism and apraxia, it's taken intense family focus and financial hardship to navigate the complexities of healthcare, insurance and therapy. Asking families to face yet another fight with the public schools to obtain an appropriate education for our children adds insult to injury. Government agencies must face this issue; if they do not provide intense therapy and special education to these children when they are young and most able to absorb knowledge and regulate behaviors, then society at large will pay a huge price later in the loss of millions of productive, tax-paying citizens. Thank you for helping bring this to light.

Pam O'Connor

Expect accountability

I commend staff writer Lisa Sorg for "Great expectations" (cover story, March 7), which highlighted some problems with Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. The article was well written and offered a glimpse of the myriad of issues facing our children.

I realize that many parents won't talk for fear of retaliation, and that court settlements have gag orders imposed, but I wish readers could read more about the experiences some students in our district have endured: physical abuse, inappropriate restraint and unimplemented individualized education programs (IEPs).

The Special Needs Advisory Council chairperson was quoted as saying "What was, was," but I challenge the chair to explain to a child who was abused how they should let it go. Then explain to the parents who have battled unsuccessfully for years to get their child an evidence-based reading method, how they are supposed to look ahead when their child still can't read. Years have been wasted. Children have been physically hurt, emotionally traumatized and are not prepared for adulthood. I do agree that the past is past and that nothing would improve if the SNAC were just a forum for addressing past grievances, but before people can move on, prior wrongs must be addressed and responsible parties held accountable.

Almost every school board meeting is the same. The vast majority of time and attention revolves around our college-bound students and their needs. Frequently, entire meetings go by where there is not one single mention of special education. At least with No Child Left Behind, we finally see the district paying some attention to students of color and English-language learners.

The article frequently mentioned the exceptional children director. Why did no one place the blame at the feet of the superintendent and school board members, who—ultimately—are responsible?

Linda Guzman
Chapel Hill

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