Education

Wake magnet schools not an issue, board member says

Posted January 7, 2010
Updated January 8, 2010

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— Spanish is just one of the daily lessons for students at Joyner Elementary School in Raleigh – it's taught without exception for 45 minutes to every student.

"I think it's a fantastic opportunity. That's why we're here," parent Donna Renberg said.

Wake board has no issue with magnet schools Wake board has no issue with magnet schools

Renberg has three children at Joyner, a magnet school known as a center for Spanish language and culture. She wanted her children immersed in foreign language at a young age.

"My base school wasn't offering (any foreign language)," she said.

Joyner is one of the Wake County Public School System's 19 elementary schools, nine middle schools and six high schools that offer specialized education in one of a variety of programs, from engineering to international studies to creative arts and science.

Nearly 30,000 K-12 students were enrolled in the Wake magnet school program for the 2009-10 school year, and of those, 36 percent applied to be in the program. The schools serve as base schools to the remaining students.

In light of recent policy changes by the Wake County Board of Education, many parents, like Renberg, are asking what changes could be in store for the district's magnet program.

Four new school board members took office last month, creating a new majority pushing for changes to some of the school system's policies that they say will provide parents more choices for their children's educations.

On Tuesday, for example, the board voted 5-4 to end mandatory assignment to year-round schools, a method the board has used in recent years to balance a growing student population.

Because of such changes, board member Debra Goldman says school officials have been flooded with questions and concerns about the future of magnet schools.

"Parents are so upset, students so upset," said Goldman, who represents District 9 in western Wake County, which includes part of Cary. "They're writing e-mails, calling and coming to meetings over an issue that's not an issue."

Goldman says she supports magnet schools and has not heard any opposition to them from any other board members. Several other board members confirm there's been no discussion to get rid of them.

"I'll tell you, my own child attends a magnet school, so that should tell you right there the value I place on the magnet program," Goldman said.

It's a relief to parents like Renberg.

"Because we not only have Spanish here, but we're an (international baccalaureate) school, so global awareness is really important," she said. "I think it'll serve them well all their life."

Since it's first meeting in early December with a new majority, the board has made what some have called sweeping changes to school system policies.

Two years ago, Wake County converted 22 elementary and middle schools to year-round schedules, and officials ordered all new schools to operate on that calendar.

Administrators defended the controversial move to go to a mandatory year-round calendar by saying it would help the school system keep up with enrollment growth and save money on school construction since year-round schools can accommodate more students than traditional-calendar schools.

At its first meeting, in December, board members voted to reverse the policy that new schools be year-round.

It has also decided to survey parents about their attitudes toward the year-round calendar so that it can make what board members have called better decisions in the future.

The board also wants to change Wake County's decade-old busing policy, in which students are transferred to schools across districts to help achieve socio-economic diversity among student populations.

The board majority favors neighborhood schools, where students would be assigned to schools closer to where they live.

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  • Arrggghhhh Jan 8, 2010

    The new majority's actions are not in the best interests of Wake County, but the majority does not care. Art Pope paid for thier campaigns, so the board serves him, not the childern.

    ncwebguy... do you have Art Pope's phone number? I voted for the current majority on the board and have not been paid, since Mr. Pope paid for this board I am guessing he forgot to send me my check. I love how your post tells how the current members have broken promises ect..They have been in office 38 days and accomplished everything you have listed WOW!!! Can you say retoric and over sensationalization?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 8, 2010

    The current Socio-Economic Diversity Busing used to be called Race based busing until the Supreme Court ruled that race based busing was illegal in the case against Charlotte-Mecklinburg County Schools. To continue to illegally bus kids around Wake County based on race, the school board renamed the race based busing to socio-economic diversity based busing. Yet, amazingly the results were also the same. My bet is that if someone would take Wake County to court, the supreme court would rule that they are illegally busing kids.

  • SatelliteBgan Jan 8, 2010

    Let's see, you're no longer forcing me to send my children to a year round school--I like freedom of choice. If I have to pay for that freedom, OK. Let's see, less busing-- Wow what a cost savings, I like that. Let's see, I voted for them to do this--Wow, people actually doing what they campaigned on--I like that.
    You mean my children might even go to the school closest to my house, how stupid is that--They should be forced to be bused across town to a year round school against my choice.
    Maybe we should send them to Washington next if they do what they say they will do.

  • Arrggghhhh Jan 8, 2010

    Thank you Tarheel...it is a system designed to make the old school system feel good about themselves by creating a system they saw as fair, with no regards to the outcome.

  • ncwebguy Jan 8, 2010

    Wake County has done far more with far less for decades BECAUSE of the policies in place. The new board is on a dangerous path of overturning these policies without proposing any way to pay for it.

    A few token minority students do not "desegregate" schools in Cary, Apex, etc. Forcing kids into "neighborhood schools" and then REFUSING to build schools in neighborhoods that need them (see the rejected East Raleigh high school) is selective overcrowding.

    Saying "well, its their fault" while delaying and/or cancelling maintaince in schools in poorer areas is the opposite of "caring for all childern in Wake County Schools".

    The new board majority continues to break its campaign promises, and the greedy "my child deserves better than those other children" parents love them for it.

    The new majority's actions are not in the best interests of Wake County, but the majority does not care. Art Pope paid for thier campaigns, so the board serves him, not the childern.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 8, 2010

    A lot of posters mistakenly think that we live in a Democracy and that every voice counts.

    We live in Representative Republic with Representatives elected to represent us and do things based on their agenda and hopefully the will of the majority of the voters that elected them.

    Even the President isn't elected by the people, he's elected by electors on the electoral college. There is no law that says the electors have to vote based on the will of the people.

    The current Socio-Economic Diversity Busing used to be called Race based busing until the Supreme Court ruled that race based busing was illegal in the case against Charlotte-Mecklinburg County Schools. To continue to illegally bus kids around Wake County based on race, the school board renamed the race based busing to socio-economic diversity based busing. Yet, amazingly the results were also the same. My bet is that if someone would take Wake County to court, the supreme court would rule that they are illegally busing kids

  • Arrggghhhh Jan 8, 2010

    Mr Middle, correct the new board speaks for me!!!And if it is selfish to be concerned about your childs educate, then call me selfish. But my concern extends past my children, i want all Wake County children to get a good education. This is not possible with the school system that is currently in place. Thank you for the personal attack, I have found that when people can't debate the facts they respond with personal attacks.

  • CarolinianByChoice Jan 8, 2010

    The “new” school board is a joke. Already they have proven they are not here to serve the CHILDREN of the WCPSS, but rather the parents whose pocketbooks were big enough to help get them elected. This board has a self serving agenda and only care about SOME of the students in this school system. I am the single parent of an academically gifted child – under this board’s regime my child would never have received the educational opportunities he DESERVED to excel, thrive and grow (and certainly never been exposed to the diversity that is vital for our children to grow up in)-because of where we live. Thankfully he started college this year and we don’t have to be mired down in the mucky mess the current board is creating. Obviously this board believes you are entitled to a quality education ONLY if you live in certain areas and are of a certain income level. Just because I don’t pay the same amount of taxes you do doesn’t make my child any less deserving of a good educ

  • Arrggghhhh Jan 8, 2010

    Scarlet...How are we resegregating? Once again it is illegal to segregate students based on race. Please stop going with an emotional response and base your arguments on fact.Why is it unreasonable for someone to want their children to go to school close to home? Schools are part of the community, participating in a school that is part of your community helps improve parental involvement, parental involvement is the key to school success. Busing a kid miles from home does not improve parental involvement, in fact the further a childs school is from home the less likely the parent will be involved. If parent X is involved and parent Y is not, Johny Y's success doesnt go up because he gets to see Johny X's parents at school.

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Jan 8, 2010

    Arrggg speaks for the new board. They don't care what is right for the majority of Wake County or what the public wants. They are jsut concerned about their own selfish agendas.

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