Wake County Schools

Chamber, nonprofit hire 'controlled choice' schools consultant

Posted September 16, 2010

— The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake Education Partnership have hired a consultant who is a proponent of "controlled choice" to provide input as the Wake County school board forms plans for a community-based student assignment system.

The chamber, which represents businesses, and the nonprofit, which has worked with the school system for over 25 years, announced Thursday that they have hired Massachusetts-based consultant Michael Alves.

Chamber officials said that Alves, an expert with 35 years of experience crafting student assignment plans, will produce an assignment plan within the next two months.

"We are optimistic that he can offer suggestions that will emphasize proximity, increase school choice and reduce assignments even father than any of the announced proposals to date," said Jim Beck, vice-chair of the chamber's education committee.

Balancing student achievement in order to attract and retain good principals and teachers at all schools is also a priority, Beck said.

He said that any plan created by Alves isn't meant to substitute what the Wake County Board of Education is working on, but is meant as a "meaningful" response to a call by the board for public comment.

The groups alerted the board to Alves' hiring but haven't discussed it any detail, Beck said. School board member Debra Goldman attended the press conference Thursday.

"I think looking at this and opening up to another viewpoint and plan is very positive," Goldman said.

With budget cuts, the school board was unable to afford professional expertise, she said.

In late July, Alves presented a plan called controlled choice to a Wake County Board of Education committee and to leaders of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.

The controlled choice plan divides a school system into zones based on a computer model that distributes the student population so that each area is representative of the entire school system. At the time, Alves said that the goal is both to give parents choices about their child's education and to improve "under-chosen" schools. Raleigh chamber, nonprofit talk about Wake student assignment plan Web only: Raleigh chamber, nonprofit hire consultant for Wake schools

The school board's move to replace a decade-old assignment policy that included a focus on socioeconomic diversity has drawn protests from the NAACP and a number of community groups over the past six months. Opponents say the change will lead to re-segregation, high teacher turnover and a lower quality of education for low-income students.

Five of the school board's nine members disagree and believe the move, still months away, will help improve test scores and give parents more chances to be involved in their students' education.

The school board committee tasked with generated a map for new student assignment zones released its first draft on Aug. 31 with strong cautions that map is "fluid" and that more data on student performance and financial impacts is needed.

The map, which the committee will use as a model for discussions going forward, creates 16 zones around 21 current or planned high schools. Zones would be grouped into five regions.

The committee is soliciting public comment through Sept. 27.

Goldman said she talked with Alves last July and respects his experience and expertise.

"(If his plan) encompasses diversity, that's a win-win," she said. "What I don't see happening is the board, in general, supporting factors regarding diversity that put scalable numbers or percentages."

Goldman stressed that no matter what plan comes into focus, it has to benefit all students in Wake County.


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  • Lerxst Sep 17, 2010

    @celli "I guess you are assuming I live in Wake County!"

    I guess so, since you are commenting on a *county* issue. You don't have a dog in this fight so why are you commenting on this?

  • Shamrock Sep 17, 2010

    "Did you not realize that you're going to get to pay those increases too? We planned it that way!" flipoff

    I guess you are assuming I live in Wake County! You for one are always crying about taxes, and now you say who cares? Go on down to Tedescoboro and get yourself some kool aid.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Sep 16, 2010

    No, this is the most stupid statement of the day!

    "All that voted for them can start dishing out for the major increase in taxes needed to implement this disaster!"

    Did you not realize that you're going to get to pay those increases too? We planned it that way!

  • OGE Sep 16, 2010

    what is the plan to devote more resources to the underperforming schools?

    how much are all these changes going to cost us?

    Though they won't say it the money for underperforming schools will be taken from high performing schools

  • Lerxst Sep 16, 2010

    balance for racial diversity = balance for socio-economic diversity = balance for student achievement.

    It's the same failed policy of attempting the hide the under-achievers amongst those who are in school to learn, so that no one school/area is deemed poor performing.

  • Shamrock Sep 16, 2010

    "What ever they cost they cost. You'll be paying for it either way, so what does it matter." flipyourselfthebird

    Most stupid statement of the day!

  • Shamrock Sep 16, 2010

    Thank goodness they now have someone on board with some experience in school zoning since the current "majority" have absolutely no idea what they are doing. All that voted for them can start dishing out for the major increase in taxes needed to implement this disaster!

  • ncwiseguy Sep 16, 2010

    wow glass........

    thanks for your enlightening comment.

    you know there are some sort of restrictions on getting a drivers license that key off high school graduation.

    a wise move......make similar stipulations about graduation for those seeking guvmint aid.

    thanks again.........glass

  • carnival glass Sep 16, 2010

    ncwiseguy - My middle school child said that a boy on the bus told her, "I wish I could just drop out already so I can get my check." True story. She didn't understand his reference, so I had to explain it.

  • Lerxst Sep 16, 2010

    "how this new plan is going to be able to accomodate population growth"

    Trailers! Add when you need them for growth, remove them when the population decreases. Move them to where they are needed.