Education

Graduation rates provide ammo for Wake diversity critics

Posted March 1, 2010
Updated March 4, 2010

Wake County Public School System
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— President Barack Obama on Monday proposed providing $900 million in grants to states and school districts that agree to drastically change or even shutter their worst-performing schools.

The move is an effort to boost the nation's high school graduation rate. About 70 percent of U.S. students graduate from high school.

High school graduation generic Wake's graduation rate on the decline

North Carolina's graduation rate has improved steadily in recent years, from 68.1 percent in 2006-07 to 71.7 percent last year. Yet the graduation rates of several of the largest school districts in the state, including Wake, Mecklenburg and Durham counties, have fallen in recent years.

Wake County's graduation rate dropped from 82.6 percent in 2006 to 78.4 percent last year, and the falloff has been especially pronounced among minority and low-income students.

Members of the Wake County Board of Education who have pushed to change the school district's diversity policy point to the declining graduation rate as an example that the current system doesn't work.

The diversity policy called for assigning students so that schools had no more than 40 percent of their students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, which indicates they come from a lower-income family.

The school board plans to vote Tuesday on scrapping the policy in favor of a neighborhood schools concept that would allow students to go to schools closer to their homes, regardless of the socio-economic makeup of the student body.

"It hasn't been helpful," school board member John Tedesco said of the diversity policy, "so we have to try something new. We have to help these kids, and if we can do it with a new model that helps create stability for our county and choice and still value our goals of diversity, I think we have a winner."

Christine Kushner, a parent and member of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, which supports the current diversity policy, said population growth and state and local budget cuts are to blame for the falling graduation rate.

"There is an achievement gap in our county that we must address as a community," Kushner said, adding that she believes the numbers would be worse if the diversity policy hadn't been in place.

Cody Allison, who dropped out in the ninth grade and is now pursuing a GED at Wake Technical Community College, said there are many reasons students quit high school. But he said he believes most dropouts later regret the decision to leave.

"It was definitely a mistake. I'd love to go back and change," Allison said.

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  • raysson Mar 2, 2010

    and they can't figured out why the community college system is the alternative for students getting their GED.....where they can complete high school in two years instead of four and sometimes quicker.

    Durham Technical Community College has seen its largest enrollment of students in years where the population is comprised of high school students who had left the public school system in droves to get take additional courses and get their GED too. The same is happening in Wake County too.

  • whatusay Mar 2, 2010

    If the student is 16 years of age and decides to drop out of high school before graduating they should be required to join the U.S. Military (Army, Navy, Marines) for a period of not less than 4 years where they are required to complete their education and serve their country.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 2, 2010

    "Doesnt make any difference if diversity works or not-- segreation is no longer legal in this country-- unless they recently changed the law. Neighborhood schools will never ever fly-- it is just another name for "segreation". - Superman"

    The United States Supreme Court rule a few years ago in a case against Charlotte - Mecklinburg County schools that busing solely based on race is illegal.

    This is when Wake County changed from Race based busing to Socio-Economic Diversity based busing so that they could continue to illegally bus kids around Wake County.

    Not surprisingly, the results of Socio-Economic Diversity based busing was identical to the results of race based busing.

    My bet is that if someone took Wake County's socio-economic diversity based busing to the United States Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court would rule that Wake County was illegally busing kids based solely on race.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 2, 2010

    ""Your wrong, during the last couple of years,......"

    'Your' is incorrect. Should be you're....go back to school and learn the difference!!!!!!!!!! - nod2004"

    Typical liberal response, if you can't dispute the message attack the messenger.

  • me2you Mar 2, 2010

    "Your wrong, during the last couple of years,......"

    'Your' is incorrect. Should be you're....go back to school and learn the difference!!!!!!!!!!

  • me2you Mar 2, 2010

    Does anyone know the history of being allowed to drop out when you're 16? Why is it allowed? Just tell them to stay in until they graduate.

  • superman Mar 2, 2010

    Doesnt make any difference if diversity works or not-- segreation is no longer legal in this country-- unless they recently changed the law. Neighborhood schools will never ever fly-- it is just another name for "segreation"

  • baracus Mar 2, 2010

    "Your wrong, during the last couple of years, CLT-Mecklinburg has actually done a little better than Wake County."

    From the DPI's website Charlotte-Mecklenburg's graduation rate is 66.1 and has dropped 7.5 percentage points in the last 3 years. How is that better?

  • AnotherIgnoredComment Mar 2, 2010

    how about if a kid is held back twice, he/she can be held back a third, fourth, etc. Right now I know of a few children who are failing 5th grade but have already been held back twice in elementary school and cannot be held back again. They will be promoted with the rest of the kids who worked hard. So, there will be a few 14 year olds in 6th grade with the 11 year olds. If you are this bad of a student, you should be put into a more structured school (since its the teachers fault) where you can be pushed to achieve or be punished for laziness.

  • BraveHeart Mar 2, 2010

    i take my own child to school far away from diversity...has excellent grades now....

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