Forum on neighborhood schools sparks debate

Posted December 16, 2009

— A discussion over whether to end busing in favor of neighborhood schools in Wake County quickly turned into a debate about race Wednesday evening during a forum at the YWCA at 554 East Hargett St.

Reassigning students and busing them away from their neighborhoods to achieve economic diversity in the school system has been a controversial issue for years.

Board member Keith Sutton said changing the school system's current policy, which is to have no more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches at any school,  would hurt the district's future.

"It does concern me right now,” Sutton said. "I think we will be in serious trouble in terms of going back to a segregated system."

The diversity policy was a key point in this year's election in which voters elected four candidates who said they supported changing the policy in favor of neighborhood schools.

Newly elected board member John Tedesco said the majority's vision for a new model of neighborhood schools is to give parents choices. He said the issue is not about race but about keeping children closer to home.

"Socially engineering our community by re-distributing our children, I do not believe that to be the right tool to do that for long term success,” Tedesco explained.

Tedesco said the goal is not to re-segregate and that the busing issue has been sensationalized.

"It brought up some old feelings from 40, 50 years ago. Using rhetoric of terms like segregation, which is just not even possible today,” he added.

Sutton disagrees and said re-segregation has happened in other places where neighborhood schools have been implemented.

Wednesday's forum was sponsored by the YWCA Greater Triangle and WakeUP Wake County.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Tidbit Dec 17, 2009

    I'd also like to add, that there are plenty of schools in wake co. where if the student lives within a specific distance from the school - no bus comes to pick them up - i.e. They walk or get a ride.

  • Tidbit Dec 17, 2009

    Mr Middle of the Road:

    Your argument has one large falacy, everyone can't live within walking distance to a school. It's area contrained - impossible. There were 450 students in my senior class - just the seniors alone. Let's just say - for argument sake, that 2 lived in the same house - that's 225 houses directly surrounding a school within walking distance. Now let's add 3 more grades to that with equal students (same applies - 2 to a house), that's an additional 675 houses / apartments withing "walking distance"... which by your comments = less than 1 mile.

    That's just completely impossible to accomplish.

    Now, let's add that there is an elementary / middle and high school all together. That's 12 grades with an average of 200 houses (using the same 2 person to a house) for each grade.

    There is no way that many houses (12 x 200) can fit in less than a 1 mile distance from the schools.

  • Nancy Dec 17, 2009

    Mr. Middle of the Road, you mistakenly assume WALKING is the goal, when in fact it's letting children attend the closest school, allowing parents to be involved more with their schools.

    As a former bus driver, would you like me to explain how inane the busing was even a mere 12 years ago? Ask me, I'll tell you about some of the routes then.

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Dec 17, 2009

    So tarheelnotsomuchJohnnyEdwardsfan, are you saying that the youngins in Durant could walk to that school if it were not for diversity busing? Or would they need to be bused to the school one mile away anyway? Thats what I am against. Why should I pay for someone elses child to be bused simply because they choose to live that far from a school. Let them move closer to the school if they do not want to be bused. And pay for the busing themselves if they choose to stay in Durant!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 17, 2009

    "Minorities deserved a better education and more." wildcat

    They deserve an equal education.

    Since we now have a Black President, the need for affirmative action is over.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 17, 2009

    "afr1000, we have busing in this county mostly because so many people have chosen to live in subdivisions that are miles from any school."

    Children in my neighborhood in Durant Trails live 1 mile from the closest school and are bused pass that school and another school to a third school because of Socio-Economic Diversity.

    Your argument doesn't explain why thousands of kids inside the beltline who live near schools are bused across Wake County to attend school

  • Eduardo1 Dec 17, 2009

    mep...I do not know your: age, race or gender, but I could kiss you for your posting. Our teachers are the ones that should be bused as needed to insure quality education for ALL of our children. They are our EMPLOYEES! I would offer incentives for those who travel further from their current home to the current school that they now teach in. In some case, they might live closer to the reassigned school then the one that they now reach in. We are in Wake County, and my neighbor (OUT OF CHOICE) TEACHES IN HARNETT cOUNTY. sHE MIGHT HAVE SCHOOLS CLOSER TO HER HOME RIGHT HERE IN tOWN.

  • atozca Dec 17, 2009

    "Sutton disagrees and said re-segregation has happened in other places where neighborhood schools have been implemented."

    "If a return to neighborhood schools results in schools with drastically different racial profiles, that is a result of voluntary segregation within the community." slick rick
    My thoughts exactly!

    "The word segregation is definitely being used to sensationalize the issue..."slick rick
    So true. Many middle and upscale neighborhoods are racially balanced with middle easterners, blacks, etc.

    All schools should receive equal funding and equal opportunity regardless of race and location.

  • Da Toy Maker Dec 17, 2009

    "As it stands now, the higher the property tax value, the more the school in that area gets. The lower - the less......


    Are you sure about that? I thought the properties tax is collected and then a portion given to the School system. Not each school getting a % from its area.

  • mep Dec 17, 2009

    Socially engineering our community by re-distributing our children, I do not believe that to be the right tool to do that for long term success.... and neither do I.
    EVERY child is suppose to get the same education, no matter what neighborhood they live in. It is up to the school district to see that it happens. NOT move children around to meet quotas. And with all the money that is saved by not busing students around, more money can be spent bringing ALL the neighborhood schools up to par. And I firmly believe TEACHERS should be bussed/re-assigned per a schools need. Teachers are employees after-all. They work for the county.