Consultant will lay out plan for 'controlled choice' in Wake schools

Posted July 22, 2010

Wake County Public School System

— Amid a raging debate over community-based schools in the Wake County Public School System, a consultant out of Massachusetts says he might have an option that can help give parents more choices in their children's education without creating high-poverty schools.

It's called "controlled choice," and Michael Alves will present the concept next Tuesday to members of the Wake County Board of Education's Student Assignment Committee, which is working on implementing a new assignment policy that tries to place students in schools closer to where they live.

It's a reversal of the current policy, in which some students are bused so that no school in the district has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunches.

The "controlled choice" plan is similar to what the school board majority wants in that it would divide the county into several assignment zones.

But instead of geography being the only factor, Alves says, the zones would be based on a computer model that distributes the student population so that each area is representative of the entire school system.

"The idea is to be fair," Alves said, who has worked for nearly 30 years with other large school systems on assignment plans. "You subject everything to a practicality test. It has to a plan that is implementable. It has to have a fairness test."

Board member John Tedesco, who head's the board's assignment committee, invited Alves to speak at Tuesday's meeting while he is in town visiting with local business leaders and elected officials about the assignment debate.

The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wake County Public School System Administration Building, at 3600 Wake Forest Road.

Tedesco says he is open to hearing more about the "controlled choice" concept.

'Controlled choice' could be option for Wake schools 'Controlled choice' could be option for Wake schools

"We understand that this community is huge – it's 850 square miles – so we want to manage it in some geographic zones that make sense as a part of a community while allowing for stability and balance for our families," he said.

State NAACP President Rev. William Barber, who has led a high-profile campaign against the community schools policy, says he's skeptical of the "controlled choice" plan, not having seen the details or been able to talk to Alves.

"We know that when you use selective real estate – so-called neighborhood schools – as opposed to sound research, then we end up creating pockets of misery," Barber said.

The controversy surrounding the student assignment policy has thrust Wake County Schools onto the national stage, attracting attention from national media outlets, including The New York Times and several news networks.

Tedesco and Barber both appeared on CNN's American Morning Thursday to debate the issue.

School board co-chairwoman Debra Goldman goes On the Record with WRAL News' David Crabtree about the controversy surrounding the student assignment policy and the Wake County Board of Education. Watch Saturday at 7 p.m. on WRAL-TV.


This story is closed for comments. Comments on news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • kmb0694 Jul 23, 7:39 p.m.

    This is worth repeating:

    "We are in it because we care for children, we want them to have the best learning environment possible, and if it means you come in off the clock to clean a room then so be it!!"

  • got3kids Jul 23, 7:27 p.m.

    I am a full time teacher and a mother of three. I don't mind cleaning my classroom. I think it does directly affect the teaching time in my room. The children I teach deserve to come to a clean, tidy, interesting classroom. And I do think it's part of the job description. Teacher are certainly underpaid and under-appreciated, but I don't know a single one who is in it for the money or for the status. We are in it because we care for children, we want them to have the best learning environment possible, and if it means you come in off the clock to clean a room then so be it!!

  • kmb0694 Jul 23, 7:23 p.m.


    When push comes to shove, you roll up your sleeves and get the job done. I don't care what your job title is, when funds are tight, you do what you have to do.

  • teacher56 Jul 23, 6:57 p.m.

    "Would you rather your job be eliminated so that money could be used to hire a cleaning service?"afteradeal

    That is not the point! Should an RTP scientist clean and dust his lab? Should a Food Lion cashier clean the toilets? Should a nurse or doctor wash the laundry in a hospital? Should a salesman in a car dealership wash all the cars? Teachers have been cleaning and moving their furniture on top of teaching for many, many, many, years. Point is that it is NOT our job and this is not being done due to the hard economic times. This has always been the case.

  • soyousay Jul 23, 6:39 p.m.

    Would you rather your job be eliminated so that money could be used to hire a cleaning service? after

    That is not exactly a winning strategy to keep and recruit teachers, now is it. Should you be employed is perhaps your job equal to the cleaning serve? That might explan it though

  • Tawny Jul 23, 4:18 p.m.

    That's not even the point at all, afterdeal! Teaching is a very difficult job. Education majors are taught educational strategies on how to engage students, lesson planning, some curriculum design, etc. Rural counties have fewer resources, therefore teachers may be required to wear a "few more hats" than in a county where there are more plentiful resources. Folks don't realize how challenging this profession can be until you are actually "in it".

  • afteradeal Jul 23, 3:35 p.m.


    Would you rather your job be eliminated so that money could be used to hire a cleaning service?

  • Tawny Jul 23, 2:46 p.m.

    That's true. It does depend upon the principal, but I have to say that the majority of administrators that I'm in contact (in my role) of consultant with over the summer encourage such access.

  • teacher56 Jul 23, 2:34 p.m.

    Tawny, it depends on the principal of your school. Some will let us in over the summer or not. Either way, we shouldn't have to do all that cleaning and moving of furniture.

  • Tawny Jul 23, 2:30 p.m.

    Teacher 56: In WCPSS, the carpets are cleaned, floors are waxed, desks replaced and moved around as needed. This process currently takes place in WCPSS.

    I understand how you feel. I am a retired WCPSS teacher, but I do have to say that one enters this profession knowing that "direct instructional time" with students is not the only thing that teachers do!