This Week in History

From China with love

July 15, 2014 

Jim Alford sends forth the ceremonial first pitch before the July 6 Carolina Mudcats baseball game at Five County Stadium. He participated in “Hoss Alford Night” at the ballpark honoring his dad/sports fan/local favorite. His granddaughter did, too, by singing an emotional national anthem.

2004 FILE PHOTO

This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was going on in the eastern Wake County area.

In 2004, East Wake High School was beginning to send students off to China on a foreign exchange program. In 1989, teachers won a bout with the school board and secured their full merit pay. And in 1964, Zebulon business owners were watching for the potential impact of a civil rights bill passed by Congress.

2004

There’s a lot we can learn from other cultures. Everyone does things differently all around the world, and learning the methods with which others deal with life’s challenges can give us insights on ways to improve things at home. To that end, the foreign exchange program is a time-honored tradition to teach local students about the wider world. In 2004, East Wake High was in the preparation stage for a program to send students to China, as well as the institution of the school of Health Sciences.

Two new programs at East Wake High School – one stretching across continents and the other preparing students for careers in health science – will have school officials busy in the 2004-05 school year.

Several administrators will travel to China to kick off an exchange program for EWHS students. And the school now has a name for a program funded by a grant from Microsoft founder Bill Gates: the East Wake School of Health Sciences.

Principal Herman Norman said the program will offer students a chance to learn about an important and growing field. Norman, along with other educators, traveled to New York City earlier this year to study similar programs already in place there.

Norman said the academy could include a distance learning lab through a partnership with East Carolina University. “We are really excited about some of the things we’re envisioning for the program,” he said. “We’re really looking at making it a school with a tremendous amount of autonomy for the teachers and staff. This summer, we’re working on questions of location, staffing, facilities and the type of equipment needed for a first-rate health science program.”

1989

Last week we remembered a spat between the teachers of Wake County and the county’s board of education over promised merit pay being cut without notice. This week we bring you the story of the teacher’s victory in that debate.

Some 100 teachers broke into applause on July 5 when the Wake County Board of Education voted to restore the merit pay bonuses to the full amount of $2,000. The decision came on the heels of much heated response from qualified teachers who underwent the evaluation process.

Instructors who received the merit pay were graded on a 6-point scale using four visitations to judge classroom performance. One or two of the evaluations were surprise visits, where the teacher was not notified before evaluators arrived.

The process of evaluation has been widely criticized, according to a local teacher. Many of the evaluators were sent to judge teachers of different fields than themselves. Those teachers who did voluntarily sign up for the program found it to be a stressful one, three area teachers indicated in a letter to the school board.

Of the Wake County system’s 4,100 teachers, 1,230 qualified for the bonuses. The board had decided on an earlier occasion to reduce the allotments to $1,340, citing its option to pay anywhere up to $2,000, or any unspecified amount below that.

Teachers retaliated with protests of unfair treatment. They pointed out that they had received $2,000 for the past two years, only to be told just a few weeks prior to receiving the checks that the money was to be cut by $660 this year.

1964

Change is a slow-moving but inexorable thing. In 1964, the U.S. took another step toward racial equality. As expected, many business owners were wary of possible trouble that could arise from the change.

Most local business men here apparently have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to the Civil Rights Bill recently passed by Congress of the United States.

No reports of demonstrations or racial disorders have been reported, and there have been no major tests of the public accommodations section of the new law.

The most controversial part of the Civil Rights Bill is the public accommodations section which applies to establishments offering food, lodging, entertainment and other services to the public.

This section of the bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.

Another controversial section permits the attorney general of the United States to initiate legal action whenever he has reason to believe that an establishment is continuing a practice of discrimination. Prior to the passage of the bill, individuals were required to file their own suits alleging discrimination.

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