Sendolo Diaminah is literally phoning it in

You remember him, right? School board member elected in 2014? He’s not making it to the meetings:

By the time the board voted to approve $90 million worth of capital projects it will ask voters to approve in a Nov. 8 bond referendum, Diaminah had disappeared from the conference call.

In an earlier H-S article:

Since January, Diaminah has missed nine of 16 board meetings or board work sessions, according to meeting minutes available on the Durham Public Schools website.

I briefly met the guy when he was campaigning. He seemed personable, earnest, enthusiastic, and I’m sure he’s got good reasons to miss these meetings. Yet… at a certain point, showing up is the job. If you can’t do that, regardless of your circumstances, you have to ask if the public would be better served by somebody who can.

Durham schools receive failing grades because poverty

You probably saw the news that 53.7% of Durham’s public schools earned a grade of D or F. What do these scores actually measure? Essentially, they’re a proxy for how poor a school’s student body is. My biggest takeaway is from TheDurhamNews.com:

Scores across the state correlated with school poverty rates. Only 13 percent of schools that received an A had at least 50 percent of students in poverty. But every school that received an F had a poverty rate at 50 percent or more.

Throughout the Durham school system, almost 65 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch, a common poverty indication.

That’s not to say that DPS’s schools are perfect, but it’s pretty clear that many of Durham’s public school woes are symptoms of poverty rather than issues that can meaningfully be addressed by school administrators.

Hey parents, it’s time to play the DPS lottery!

That’s right, the DPS Magnet lottery is back! Registration runs through January 30th, and you can do it all on that there web site.

This is my first time actually playing the lottery, although I did write a bit about it last year. The long and short of it is that Durham has a number of pretty well regarded magnet schools with limited space, and for most people the only way to get in is via a lottery process (the most notable exception to this is for students who live in a “walk zone” near certain schools, who get either priority or automatic enrollment depending on the school).

The most coveted prize of all is free preschool, which is available at Watts and Morehead. If you happen to get into one of these schools, your preschooler wins taxpayer subsidized child care for 9 months (a prize which, I can tell you from personal experience, is valued at upwards of $10k).

Some people are interested in changing this, and personally I’d like to see some kind of needs based test to determine how much (if any) subsidy kids should be getting. The current system effectively creates incentives for parents to move into the “walk zones” near these magnet schools, and I’d argue that many e.g. Trinity Park residents aren’t so hard up for cash that they need taxpayers to foot their day care bills.