Wake County parents voice concerns over assignment plan
Posted February 2, 2012
Updated February 3, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Dozens of parents concerned over where Wake County's choice student assignment plan will take their children gathered at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh on Thursday evening.
Most in the crowd preferred the board's previous model that assigned students in part to balance diversity.
"No research shows choice plans are better than the ones you had," state NAACP president Rev. William Barber said.
Barber has been one of the most vocal critics of the board policy change to stop busing students for socio-economic diversity.
The new choice plan gives parents options with a focus on neighborhood schools. Some worry that means poor, minority neighborhoods will have poor, minority heavy schools.
"It will re segregate," Great Schools in Wake Coalition member Amy Lee said.
Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata, who helped build the plan, listened to the concerns.
"We are not seeing the dramatic shift in the demographic makeup of the schools," Tata said following the meeting.
Tata said magnet schools will create balance in the plan. Drawing kids from around the county to schools in need.
"We are re-enforcing the magnet program," he said.
Detractors say the magnet program is not large enough to balance the county alone.
The biggest concern among those Thursday was that district leaders are not sure what effect their plan will have.
"Don't tell us it is going to be better and let it play out," Barber said. Concerns remain over Wake assignment plan
More than 12,700 children are already signed up for the new plan. Tata said they are watching parents' selections closely and as issues arise, they are addressed.
"Once we get this first round of choice under our belts, we are going to have excellent data," Tata said.
Tata said he could have answered all the questions people had on Thursday, but he was not asked to.
Officials said they want to submit their concerns for answers in writing. The NAACP, one of the organizers of Thursday night's gathering, has a pending federal complaint against the school system involving the plan.