Wake school board splits over saying desegregation is still a goal

Posted April 6, 2010
Updated April 19, 2010

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— The Wake County Board of Education found itself back in a difficult and familiar 5-4 split on the diversity issue Tuesday, this time over a resolution that is part of a school district application for an $8 million grant to continue federal funding for magnet schools.

The resolution said the Wake system "stands committed to voluntary desegregation in an effort to reduce and prevent minority group isolation and promote cultural integration." The four veteran members of the board who voted twice against a change from diversity-based school assignments to a community-based system doubted the statement truly represents current policy.

John Tedesco, elected last November and the point man for the effort to have students assigned to schools near their homes, pleaded with his colleagues not to think that diversity and community-based assignments are contradictions.

"Community schools can go hand-in-hand with diversity," Tedesco told his colleagues. The district's eventual attendance plan with a community-based focus will show that, he said. Some in the community have a "false understanding" about the matter, he said.

Opponents were unconvinced.

"The previous decision the board has made in votes of 5-4 has been clearly not to honor diversity," board member Anne McLaurin said.

The new assignment model, which is still more than a year away from being implemented, would give parents schooling options closer to homes.

Opponents of the new plan fear that community schools will create pockets of poverty, unintentionally separate students by race and keep economically disadvantaged students from receiving the same quality of education as their counterparts.

Part of the resolution asserts: "The Wake County Public School System desires to provide the best education to all children served by the school district, and is committed to equal opportunities for all students in schools throughout the system."

"We value stability for families. We value parental choice, and we value diversity," Tedesco said. "They don't have to be exclusive."

The board on Tuesday also named Donna Hargens, the system's chief academic officer, as interim superintendent and undid some school reassignments it approved March 31.

Hargens became acting superintendent on March 9 after the board removed Del Burns from the post. Burns is on paid administrative leave through his June 30 resignation date.

Tedesco said Hargens, who had been the system's chief academic officer, could be among the candidates considered for the job permanently.

The board voted to undo 19 reassignments it had approved at its last meeting. The changes are all for the school year that begins July 1.

Chairman Ron Margiotta urged members to tread carefully, changing assignments only if they involved overcrowded schools or moves to fill new schools. It will take time, he said, to undo assignments that have accumulated over years.


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  • luvbailey Apr 7, 2010

    Gotsomesense, you may not get to read this because the comments will close soon and i doubt the story will stay up overnight. But here's the thing - the golf analogy is offered only to demonstrate the potential benefits of diversity. Whether or not the "smart" kids should be forced to go to school with the less smart kids is a whole different question. When i was in high school we had some classes stratified by ability. Today, kids in high school can take advanced placement and honors courses. Kind of the same thing but by choice. So i don't buy the "dumbing down" argument at all. My kids went to Wake Co schools and we were pleased. And I will match my ed credentials with you any day, for those who might ask. Thanks.

  • IMHO05 Apr 7, 2010

    I hear ya MileageDontPlayDat. THAT is the problem!

  • MileageDontTakeYourKidsCrap Apr 7, 2010

    "I am tired of catering to the lazy and unmotivated!"

    Heh, better get used to it, dude. Welcome to the United States of Entitlement.

  • IMHO05 Apr 7, 2010

    SaveEnergyMan--BTW: what rights do the smart kids have, not to have their lessons watered down to the lowest common denominator?

    I would really like an answer to this question. My kids go to school prepared and eager to learn. They come home and tell me about the lazy and unmotivated students that disrupt their classes and don't bother to do their work. I have also worked in the classroom and witnessed this problem first hand. I would like to know what my kid's rights are, shouldn't they be given the right to not have their lessons watered down and classes disrupted? I am tired of catering to the lazy and unmotivated!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Apr 7, 2010

    After reading this article it's easy to see that WRAL is on the side of the pro-diversity crowd.

    WRAL has a problem being impartial when the owner of WRAL is a big Democrat supporter.

    That's why WRAL never mentioned the John Edwards mistress scandal until the "news" source the National Enquirer broke the story.

  • gotsomesense Apr 7, 2010


    Interesting analogy you make with the golf game. Basically you are saying that because YOU play better when with players better than you that they should HAVE to play with you even though, just as you experienced, you probably make them play worse. Does that mean that it's good to MAKE my kid go to school with a kid who is probably going to make my kid perform worse? When I was in school we were segregated by our abilities for most classes (excluding gym and maybe health and typing). ALL of the kids in my classes performed and there was nobody dumbing us down and holding us back. Our country didn't used to be behind the global standards and now we are. We are more worried about everyone doing good than we are about the ones who are capable and willing doing GREAT! This does not help our children, it just dumbs everybody down to the same level. And no my kid doesn't go to Wake County schools (not old enough) and I have a Master's in Science from ECU for those who might ask.

  • rich son Apr 7, 2010

    Improvement in the quality of education should be the #1 priority regardless of where you have to attend school, regardless of the success of it's students. If I can receive a high quality education at a "neighborhood" school I should be able to receive the same or similar quality education from a "non- neighborhood" school. To insist that only neighborhood schools will improve the quality of education tells me this board has an agenda and has lost focus of priority.

  • rand321 Apr 7, 2010

    The schools board should have as the prime objective to provide the optimal education to the most students utilizing the resources provided to them by the taxpayers as productively as possible. Tying kids to a school as if its a small town or little house on the prairie may not be the best solution for a county with the growth rates and lots of new construction. Just as the rim schools were once in the "affulent" schools,as the population has spread they are not.

    the communities, the students in the communities, the neighborhoods, etc. are going to change a lot every few years. Resources from teachers, to special ed, to facilities will change as the areas changes. We are not a static county or collection of communities.

    The school board and the community as a large, should keep these longer term needs in perspective. Unfortunatly, as new schools are needed and built and the talk of new and higher taxes to finance and fund these come about, the battles will continue.

  • soyousay Apr 7, 2010

    Find out....generally when people want to know, say what college you went to or what your square footage is or pretty much anything is because they (that would be you)somehow feel inadequate and hope a comparison will won't help you I'm afraid. It is not the degree that you have or actually where it is from (I might argue - Duke -or Dook if you prefer- is where you went when you could not get in where I went)...its what you do with it. I have noted that in general, you seem to have issues with trailers, but you are all too happy to stuff your children in them at overcrowded schools

  • somey Apr 7, 2010

    soyousay - are correct. If all else fails, scream racism.