Education

Wake schools can spend magnet money that renewed diversity debate

Posted August 4, 2010

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— The Wake County schools have no easy road ahead in paying for educating 140,000 students, but it does at least have permission to spend $1.3 million with the approval of a federal magnet school grant extension that figured in the strident debate about student assignment policy.

Magnet Schools Director David Ansbacher said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Education has approved using the money in the 2010-11 year, even though it is part of an $8.5 million, three-year grant that expired this year.

Wake County magnet schools – elementary, middle and high – had 29,609 students at the end of the 2009-10 year last month, or about 21 percent of the students in the district.

When the school board voted earlier this year to seek the extension, it was in the process of the controversial change away from socio-economic diversity as a criterion in assigning students to schools.

The grant application included a board-approved statement saying it remains committed to voluntary desegregation in schools and a copy of the official policy in effect at the time, which included diversity.

Opponents of the policy change charged that it was disingenuous to include the policy while in the process of dropping diversity, and they challenged the supporters by asking if they would later send a copy of the new, community-based assignment policy.

Proponents of the policy shift have cited magnet schools as the system's primary tool in encouraging diverse student bodies by attracting applicants from around the county.

At another time, a routine matter such as the grant application would have been placed on the "consent agenda" at a board meeting, routine operating items that are passed unanimously as a package without discussion.

The school system also has applied for a new, three-year federal magnet grant for about $10 million. Ansbacher said word on that application should come later this month or in September. If it is approved, the grant would be for three years beginning in October, the start of the federal fiscal year.

The amount of magnet grants often varies from what is asked, he said, and he declined to predict how much federal officials might offer this time around.

"We were a bit late getting started on this grant," he said of the time extension, so not all the funds were committed by the end of the 2009-10 school year. Officials had expected permission to carry over the money, however, he said.

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 4, 2010

    "To be honest, kids on discounted lunch isnt the total problem. The problem is the rich children doing what ever they please and involving the poor kids in it. The student with money is more of a trouble maker cause they have the resources to get in and out of trouble and nothing be said. I think if you separate the rich and the poor, you'll see the drug bust escalate in the rich schools and the poor schools concentrate on being successful. Segregate the schools, please! - ajeralddavis"

    Ajeralddavis, you need to talk with my neice and her friends who go to Millbrook High School.

    They talk about the hoods from Southeast Raleigh who are bused to Millbrook and cruise the halls look for kids from North Raleigh to terrorize and bully.

    I hear the same thing parents who have kids attending Sanderson, Leesville, and Wakefield.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 4, 2010

    Magnets are a joke in Wake County.

    They are used to encourage kids from the suburbs to attend schools in problem areas in the inner city.

    In most school districts, you have to earn your place in a magnet school based on academic performance.

    In Wake County, you earn your place in a magnet school through a lottery with no qualifications other than being from the suburbs.

  • ajeralddavis Aug 4, 2010

    To be honest, kids on discounted lunch isnt the total problem. The problem is the rich children doing what ever they please and involving the poor kids in it. The student with money is more of a trouble maker cause they have the resources to get in and out of trouble and nothing be said. I think if you separate the rich and the poor, you'll see the drug bust escalate in the rich schools and the poor schools concentrate on being successful. Segregate the schools, please!

  • blackdog Aug 4, 2010

    The county, because of the school board actions, could be liable to repay any recinded money it receives, devoid of the parameters it presented for the funds.

  • wakemom Aug 4, 2010

    yeah centennial middle school did not do good on testing.

  • mindofreason Aug 4, 2010

    Mako, I think you are not completely understanding the point of the magnet programs in the first place. First, you obviously haven't been to one, since you misspelled magnet 3 times in your post. The point of the schools are to put program-based schools in lower income areas to pull in a base of "at-risk" students. Then have volunteers bused in from other parts of the county to even the numbers out. The programs serve as an attractant to the bused students/parents, and a way of giving extra opportunities to the "at-risk" kids.

    Lastly, it is comments like your last sentence, that make me think you have no clue about the real world, and anyone who thinks like you also falls into that category. Are their abuses in the F&R program: ABSOLUTELY! However, to say that kids who's parents struggle to make ends meet, shouldn't be given the same opportunities is flat out elitist. Kids on F&R are not discipline problems just because they are F&R, that starts at home!

  • injameswetrust2003 Aug 4, 2010

    "The Wake County Schools have no easy road ahead.."

    What a clever/original segue. Of course, we knew there would be something about the new assignment policy in the article, didn't we.

  • tobywilliamson58 Aug 4, 2010

    Yawn, Yawn!!

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 4, 2010

    JustAName brings up a good point. Part of the problem is that regular schools are denied programs in order to protect the magnet schools.

    I obviously did not word what I said very well, so I will try again. I am not saying that magnet schools are in the affluent areas. They most often are not. What I am saying is that they are in the non-affluent areas that are closest to the affluent, old power structure of the county. Some of the worst poverty in the county is in the east. However, there are no magnets there.

    localyank, while I understand that the issue is complex, but I don't believe that concerns over property values should be the driving force in making education decisions. I think that magnet schools should go because there is no evidence that they help the at risk population. Look at Enloe. The graduation rate for ED (aka F&R, or 'poor') has been no higher and often lower than the F&R graduation rate for the whole county. The same for reading scores in the elem magnets.

  • JustAName Aug 4, 2010

    "why those in cary, n raleigh, etc send their kids to these two schools??"

    Because there are classes offered in Magnet schools that are not offered in traditional schools. It also goes back to the false statement that poorer neighborhood schools are underfunded. This article points out that Magnet schools get extra funding, beyond the funding from the reduced/free lunch programs.

    Throwing more money at the problem. If the magnet programs were offered at Cary High, would it affect the ability of a home base kid near Enloe to succeed? The answer is "no". There are probably very few home base kids who use the magnet program to advance their situation. At least that was my experience in the 7 years I was in the magnet program.

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