Wake County Schools

Panel proves proposed Wake school map is 'fluid,' voting for changes

Posted September 28, 2010

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County school board committee charged with implementing community-based school assignments made a point Tuesday of proving its proposed map is, as proponents have said, "fluid," deciding to change the lines to accommodate requests from some parents.

The action came at the same meeting that emphasized the clear divide between supporters of the new policy and those who believe the 140,000-student system was wrong to jettison socioeconomic diversity in deciding who goes to which schools.

"This isn't a move yet. This is about making a plan!" the chairman of the Student Assignment Committee, John Tedesco, told the panel after its three school-board members had voted 2-1 to change the proposed zone in which some neighborhoods lie. The zones are based on current high-school attendance zones.

Exactly how many areas and students wound up in different proposed zones was unclear after the meeting. The

The decision caught non-voting citizen members of the committee and board member Carolyn Morrison by surprise. After Tedesco and Chris Malone outvoted Morrison, Tedesco began a review of which areas they had voted to move.

The action was based on comments that the district's planning staff had selected as examples of concerns they were hearing from parents who had viewed the proposed map on the district's website since the committee settled on it as a starting point a few weeks ago.

"Let's move those lines. Then we'll look at capacity problems at the next meeting," Tedesco said.

Part of the meeting had been about the questions that accompany trying to have community-based assignment, including drawing zones so each has enough school seats for the children who live in it.

Several citizen members argued that not enough is known yet about fiscal and capacity issues to begin shifting the map.

"There is no reason for us to come in here!" member Anne Sherron said. "You know what you're going to do when you come in here."

The staff had not intended the examples to be representative of overall comments, but Tedesco said the committee should fix problems it finds as it goes along.

The proposed map has lines that divide neighborhoods that had been together in school or otherwise seemed to be problems, Tedesco said. After the vote, he went through the staff's examples, asking school board members attending the meeting if they wanted areas in their districts moved.

Some on the list were decided to have been moved while others were not.

Tedesco had begun the meeting by laying out the differences between his position against diversity considerations and opponents of the change to a community-based system that emphasizes keeping children near their homes. In the current system, some children are bused to schools away from their homes in a bid to balance diversity at schools, though many are moved because there are not enough seats in schools where they live.

“I think we have serious disagreement,” Tedesco said. There are two views of “how we move forward with student assignment in this county,” he added. He called the diversity approach a “quota” system that needs to be abandoned.

At the same time, however, he is insisting on setting performance goals for all schools regardless of their student makeup and holding administrators and teachers accountable for reaching them.

“I’m going to recommend an academic accountability model” for all students, Tedesco said. “As a system, we have to be held accountable for getting those kids to proficiency,” he said.

Others on the committee argued that poverty is clearly linked to student achievement and that creating community-based districts with high percentages of poor families will make it more difficult to raise achievement.

"Why would we concentrate" low achievers in one classroom to give teachers bigger challenges, a citizen member asked the group. "I think we setting teachers up ... for failure."

I think what we're doing is setting ourselves up" to evaluate teachers to understand who teaches low-achievers best, Tedesco said. "We need to get the right teachers in front of the right kids."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • wildcat Oct 1, 2010

    Thanks for removing the article.

  • josephlawrence43 Sep 29, 2010

    The Rev. Barber and the NAACP wants things their way--no other way. Never mind that "their way" produced a graduation rate of something like 51% of the African American population that was bused hither and yon in the name of "socioeconomic diversity". Why doesn't Rev. Barber and the NAACP try to do something positive to help African American kids instead of insisting on having things "their way". The school system ain't McDonalds...

  • Lake Sep 29, 2010

    The only thing we are doing now is sit two "A" kids next to a "F" kid and it makes the school look like it is has a "B"

  • Smiley30 Sep 29, 2010

    I don't think change for change sake is always a good thing. I think people should be afraid of making things worse instead of better. If the Wake School board learns from the mistakes of Charlotte schools they will probably be OK.

  • Sherlock Sep 29, 2010

    To change is to seek inprovement in the current status of any operation. It appears that most everyone in Wake County is very afraid to accept any change that will improve their kids.

  • Smiley30 Sep 29, 2010

    I think Tedesco is on to something when it comes to getting the right teachers in front of the right kids. The problem is how to get that done. I guess great, experienced teachers are going to leave Green Hope & Leesville to just run to teach at Knightdale or Southeast Raleigh because someone tells them to? I don't think so. If they institute some serious pay incentives they might get some teachers who will do that but not many. Most teachers would prefer teaching in a safe, orderly environment full of kids that are excited to learn any day of the week instead of getting what amounts to combat pay. Unless there is a significant pay increase for teaching in a school full of disadvantaged kids then you will not get many good experienced teachers who are willing to move there. Before you start saying just move them to a new school or fire them think about the consequences of that decision as well. Good teachers can probably find a job in another county pretty easily.

  • rroadrunner99 Sep 29, 2010

    Tedesco want's the right teacher's in front of the right kid's...then why not move the teacher's instead of the kid's? They had a bad system to start with and now it is even worse. Wait a year or so and the school system will be a disaster in Wake Co. When all the people in Wake Co. have to pay for Tedesco and his "majorities" school plan in taxes, I would think they won't think they voted the right people in then. In my opinion they have no idea what they are doing, they talk to hear themselves speak, and get TV attention.

  • Smiley30 Sep 29, 2010

    I think everyone in this county needs to read about what is happening to the Charlotte Mecklenburg schools before we do anything else. They ended their diversity program earlier this decade & now they are having to close schools left and right. That whole school system is a disaster at this point. I am fine with changing to a neighborhood schools approach. I just don't want it them to rush it and screw it up the way the CMS board has done. I also would like it if they learned from Charlotte's mistakes. Judging by this boards performance so far I am not going to hold my breath. The 5 member majority has handled this whole situation pretty poorly from the beginning. I am in favor of the concept of what they are doing but the execution has been ugly and poorly done IMO.

  • whistler411 Sep 29, 2010

    It should be no surprise whatsoever that the parents in the Lochmere community who complained got their way. I guarantee if it had been a poor neighborhood the lines would have stayed in place.

  • Shamrock Sep 29, 2010

    "I'm afraid Ms. Sherron is mistaken. These people haven't a clue as to what they are doing." luvbailey

    You have it backwards, and you are exactly right. Ms. sherron was talking to Mr. Tedesco. He has no clue as to what he is doing, and he is not listening to his team. She was complaining that he is just doing what he wants without input from the team. She is like "why are we here?" if he just does it his way anyway.