FIRST ON 3: Brunswick Co. school board member Catherine Cooke defends traditional schedules during rant


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Submitted: Tue, 05/20/2014 - 9:43pm
Updated: Wed, 05/21/2014 - 1:13pm
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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — There’s still debate over Brunswick County Schools deciding to change school start times once again.

One school board member got a little heated about the decision to switch back to a traditional schedule at a recent meeting.

“I’m tired of hearing about the sleep studies,” School Board member Catherine Cooke said at a Parent Advisory Council meeting in Southport last week. “I’ll tell you that right now: If I hear about another sleep study, you don’t want to say that around me.”

Cooke has two children who attend Brunswick County schools, while another is home schooled and a fourth attends private school. She was one of the first people to bring up banning the book “The Color Purple” from classrooms.

Click here to hear the Cooke’s full rant

Last week Cooke was one of three Brunswick County School Board members to vote to switch schedules again this fall and return the district to traditional start times. A day later she went off during the PAC meeting.

“The people want traditional time. We’re going to do a traditional time,” she said.

But Cooke admits she and other board members did not fully understand the reversal would cost the school system more than $1.7 million in the first year alone and could cost 60 full time bus drivers their jobs.

“We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were going to be for the bus drivers and for any other workers that were involved in the transportation,” Cooke said today.

But money was not the only target of her wrath. Cooke last week also fired off at parents complaining about dealing with changing schedules. She even took a shot at the district’s free lunch and breakfast program for needy kids.

“We’ve got free breakfast for everybody in the world,” she said. “Am I gonna be able to go to school and say, ‘Can I have free breakfast too?’ How many things… I mean are we just gonna give everybody everything? Why don’t we just let them sleep here at school, too? We can feed ‘em, educate ‘em, give ‘em dinner, let them sleep here! Just live at the school!”

Tuesday Cooke tempered her perspective.

“If they qualify for it, that’s fine,” she said. “But it’s just gotten to be where we give everybody everything, and it’s everything on a silver platter.

Cooke says the school board does not know where it will get the money to pay for the extra transportation costs, but she says she has some ideas.

36 Comments

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    This is a PRIME example of why our school children in Brunswick County are under preforming academically and emotionally. It is also an indication as to how there is no support for employees within the County. Their well being is disregarded and disrespected within numerous areas. How dare the school board not have ALL information but still choose to make an extremely pivotal decision!

    Direct quote from Mrs. Catherine Cook: “We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were gonna be for the uh you know,for the bus drivers and any other workers that were involved with the transportation.”

    This makes ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL SENSE. The concern also lies in the fact that none of the board members asked these important questions that will significantly impact the lives of about 60 full time bus drivers among the many other unkown “ramifications” that will be affected due to the additional 1.7 million dollars that will now magically be pulled from a hat!This truly disgusts me and is so disheartening for all the numerous employees and students that will be affected. Those board members that voted for this change should be ashamed of themselves. They have made blind decisions that are a hindrance to the progression of our County’s school system.

  • burgerboy says:

    I like that old cook lady we need more folks like her on that school board, i say fudge the colour purple and keep the old timey schedule, it was good enough for ppl back in the olden days of yesteryoure and it’s good enough for these young PUNKS going to school now!!!! and they need to take that colored purple down to the DUMP and throw it out with the GARBEGE cause it’s a BAG O’ TRASH!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SuZEN says:

    First she renounces the Color Purple based on religious values…then she questions a program that provides children, many of whom are so hungry that they can’t concentrate on schoolwork, with breakfast? Talk about hypocrisy.

  • Guest012345 says:

    I mean really, does this sound like a person that you want to make decisions for you child? She criticized the school system for giving the children free breakfast. The money doesn’t come from her pocket. Although when school goes back to standard bell at least she will still have a roof over her head and food on her table and a way to pay her bills. She not going liking for nothing. Unfortunately, there will be 67 school bus drivers that will have lost their full time jobs, their health benefits, their retirement and their life insurance because of people like her. It is not like the money that was paying the drivers and paying the transportation department was coming from her pocket. It is coming from the State of North Carolina. Not the county school system and not the Brunswick Tax payers either. Like I said, it was coming from the State of NC, because the transportation department was 100 percent efficient. North Carolina took care of their people. The money that would have paid these people in standard school was being used to help pay for new teachers that were needed and other items that were needed. Catherine Cooke doesn’t care about our children! Read the statement she made concerning tomorrow’s future!
    “We’ve got free breakfast for everybody in the world,” she said. “Am I gonna be able to go to school and say, ‘Can I have free breakfast too?’ How many things… I mean are we just gonna give everybody everything? Why don’t we just let them sleep here at school, too? We can feed ‘em, educate ‘em, give ‘em dinner, let them sleep here! Just live at the school!” That my friends was a slur to the people and the children of Brunswick County! Get her of the Board of Education. Find people for the board that really care for our children and our future of tomorrow!

  • LelandGal says:

    Going to love going back to the regular schedule. We need to do away with free Breakfast for everyone also… Parents need to either feed their child at home or pay for it at school. We need to go back to starting on Tuesday after Labor Day and getting out on Friday before Memorial Day. Too many Teacher’s work days. It they need training let then do some in the summer where they can get it all in a week…. We need to go back to BASIC…..And it is a shame that the Tax didn’t pass on Election day… Too many people didn’t know or understand about it.It was not talked about enough. Thank you TV 3

  • Candace says:

    This lady needs help…at this point its not completely about the sleep schedule, but also the school system and bus drivers. This lady sounds like she doesnt care about the many bus drivers losing pay and benefits, the millions of dollars that will come from who knows where when we are already 48th out of 50 when it comes to teachers pay. Teachers need supplies also so what will they do cut those out to pay for this? The bottom line is this is going to cost some serious money and cost more than needed.

    As for some other things she attacked free school lunches when for some children thats the only meal they get because their families cant afford anything more.

    “We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were going to be for the bus drivers and for any other workers that were involved in the transportation,” Cooke said today. Right well this lady sounds like she DOESNT CARE about the bus drivers losing their benefits (my mother being one, shes worked for the school system as a bus driver for 25 years), and their jobs are going from full to part time. Some of the employees do have families they need to care for. But as I said before this lady sounds like she doesnt care about the big picture.

  • taxpayer says:

    “The money doesn’t come from her pocket.”

    And where, exactly, do you think the money used to pay for free breakfasts comes from…a money tree? Taxpayers are picking up the tab.

  • Greg Dail says:

    “Rant” …or “impassioned speech”, “courageous stand against entrenched special interests” or perhaps “speaking truth to power”? I guess it depends on what YOUR particular point of view happens to be.
    Nice piece of journalism, or as I would say “hatchet job”.

  • Taxpayer$$$ says:

    “But cooke [sic] admits she and other board members did not fully understand the reversal would cost the school system more than $1.7 million in the first year alone and could cost 60 full time bus drivers their jobs.

    “We did not have the full picture of what the ramifications were going to be for the bus drivers and for any other workers that were involved in the transportation,” Cooke said today.”

    Great job in making informed decisions about our children!

    Optical Rectitis on display.

    Res ipsa loquitur

  • BC Parent says:

    For those of you who are misinformed, including the reporter, Mrs. Cooke has four children. Her oldest child graduated from Brunswick County Early College High School and just completed her third year of college. Her second child will graduate for the Early College High School this week, and her third child is a student at West Brunswick High School. Her youngest child attended Brunswick County Schools for elementary school and part of middle school. She is now being homeschooled because they feel it is best for her. As we all should know, all children do not learn the same and do not flourish in the same environment. How can you condemn her for doing what she feels is right for her child?

  • ohreally???? says:

    So BC Parent, what you’re really trying to say is Catherine Cooke’s Alias is Guest2020??

  • Stunned BCS teacher says:

    I heard about this newspaper article while working today, and this is the first chance I’ve had to read it. I’m completely stunned by the ignorant, hateful comments about the free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs at our schools. I work at one of the schools with one of the highest populations of students receiving these free and reduced meals. For most of these children it’s their only meals of the day. It’s an absolute disgrace that a school board member would speak of them and their families this way. And I can assure her, it’s not served on a silver platter. These children are overjoyed to get off the bus or dropped off by a parent and come to the lunch room and receive their breakfast in the morning, most of them very hungry. Which by the way, if they didn’t receive the breakfast, it would be virtually impossible for any meaningful learning to take place for them. You would think she’d be proud that we can help these families and children out, but instead has a complete lack of compassion like I’ve never seen. And the comment about feeding them dinner and letting them sleep at school, is so childish & flip, it’s truly shocking to know it came from a school board member. How do people like this end up making all the decisions for a school district?? I pray it’s a wake up call for the voters who, in the past, punched her name on the ballot. She clearly has a large disdain for public education and the people who come with it. Shocking to read.

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    Even though she may have four children her words speak volumes. She of course loves her children and wants the best for them (any mother would), but as a Board Member she was chosen to be an advocate for ALL Brunswick County children. She is blessed with the ability to be able to provide fully for her children by them receiving an advanced education and going to college, but there are so many more that don’t have that luxury. Her job is to find avenues for our future leaders (students) to be successful and that unfortunately is obviously NOT her mindset.

  • Marty Mentzer says:

    Dear Catherine,
    As you are my Christian sister, I am called to speak to you in love about these comments. The calling to be a teacher or school worker or school board member comes from God and with great responsibility. We are called to love all—even the least of these–these dear children. Let us remember this scripture: Matthew 35:34-40
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    We are called to take care of our children who are hungry, all of them and who need food and drink and clothing and shelter. These children will not care how much we know (in teaching them) until they know we care about them and that is what teachers do every day!!

  • Guest000000 says:

    Talk about hitting the nail right on the head. Bravo.

  • Public school mom says:

    Why did people from her district vote her onto the board?! She home schools her child! How could she possibly have any understanding of what parents of public schooled children go through or what their needs are? Se should not be on the board and I hope she is voted out at the next election. With no personal connection with the schools since her child is homeschooled and the fact that he loses her cool and goes into an embarrassing rant like this, she’s a loose cannon. I think Brunswick County finally had their own Brian Berger.

  • Jennifer Cooper says:

    did not vote this idiot in. She has no compassion for those less fortunate then her. She is causing unnecessary drama because she didn’t get her way with the book ban fiasco!

  • BCS parent says:

    The article states “Cooke has two children who attend Brunswick County schools, while another is home schooled and a fourth attends private school.”

    Although Mrs. Cooke choose to home school one student and send another to private school, all of her children have been students in the BCS school system.

  • taxpayer says:

    “At that meeting, school board member Catherine Cooke, who has two children who attend Brunswick County schools, while another is home schooled and a fourth attends private school,…”

  • Brunswick Taxpayer 12345 says:

    Really? And she’s calling the shots on how our school is run? Frankly I think the board and superintendent need to make a decision and stick to it instead of waving like reeds in a high tide. The voters denied a very small tax increase at the polls a few weeks ago, but it’s okay to spend $1.4 million more because of someone’s inconvenience? Where’s that money coming from? And yes, dear Catherine, your children can get a free breakfast if you meet poverty level income and your children are enrolled in public schools. In the meantime, either support public education or get off the board. You have a major conflict of interest! There’s enough trouble with the idiots in Raleigh. We don’t need a wacko on the board too.

  • Monkey Junction says:

    God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.

    Mark Twain

  • GuestToday says:

    Both of your posts echoed my feelings exactly!

  • Guest000000 says:

    …which had nothing to do with school system decision she made. A staggered schedule had nothing to do “letting the school system raise their child”. It was simply a means to save money, jobs and teaching positions. All things in the best interest of the school system. Things about which she cares none.

  • taxpayer says:

    her children, I admire her position with respect to telling parents it’s their job to raise their children…not the school system’s job.

  • Scott Pickey says:

    Taxpayer – we updated the story after that comment was submitted.

    sp

    Scott Pickey
    WWAY News Director

  • taxpayer says:

    Yes you did.

  • guest45 says:

    Is this the same Cooke that is married to a county commissioner, the same one that years ago wanted to go back to a traditional starting schedule even though it was going to cost the county an additional 1.2 mil on the bus’s?

  • Carolinaboater2014 says:

    Yes the same one

  • Public school mom says:

    At the time I posted my comment, WWAY had not CORRECTED their article. The original article stated her kids were homeschooled. Period. No mention was made about her having kids in the public school system. Other posts below, including Scott’s, can confirm that correction.

  • Timothy Turner says:

    Perhaps she’d like to see public schooling brought up to what home schooling can do? A nice ideal but unlikely to happen. :\ (And before anyone asks no I don’t have children so I don’t have any dogs in this fight.)

  • Guest000000 says:

    What an absolute joke. The unprofessional-ism of this “lady” is amazing. Why would someone who homeschools her child and holds the public school system in such low regard want to serve on a PUBLIC School board? Go run your homeschool group with the rest of your little hens and let the people with the best interests of Brunswick County’s PUBLIC Schools do their job. I hope all 60 of the people who lose their jobs because of your STUPID decision show up at the next scheduled board meeting and remind you how out of touch you are. RESIGN! and let someone who knows what they’re doing take your spot on the board. She should also read “The Color Purple”. It’s a great book.

  • 001 says:

    The real problem is an elected official stating that she voted on something that was not fully laid out for her. Does that mean they often vote on things they don’t understand? Isn’t this the real problem with so many elected officials out there? My advice, take the time to study issues, weigh issues, and look at all sides of the issues before you vote. The fact she voted on something she did not understand “fully” is shameful and makes her entire voting record suspect.

  • Vicki W says:

    Is this lady on trial?
    Why do you inform us that she is a homeschool parent and first to want to ban The Color Purple?
    Why do you say she “went on a rant”?
    This reporter should state his/her personal life history and how he/she is registered politically before this reporter “goes on a rant” against another. This is obviously slanted reporting. It reads like a FB status.
    State facts and allow people to form their own opinion. That is good journalism.

  • Guest000000 says:

    Nothing biased here. Reporter was merely stating that this particular person has a history of controversial decisions. And calling her unprofessional “rant” what it was is simply FACTUAL reporting.

  • Jerry says:

    Why is someone who home schools their kids on the school board discussing issues that affect kids who attend public school. How does the books in the library at school affect her children. Seems that the decisions for school issues should be based on needs & desires of the parents who actually have kids in the classroom & have to deal with the issues. Personally I think too many school boards on personal goals & not the goals that are best for the kids. The best example is the Wake County School Board of the last 5 to 7 years & the national attention they have received that has given all of NC a black eye.

  • Erlkoenig says:

    I am sure in a few years some “expert” will publish a new study stating the exact opposite of this study.

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