Wake County Schools

Wake school assignment changes stalled

Posted October 5, 2010
Updated October 6, 2010

— The Wake County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to immediately halt the movement toward student assignment based on zones.

Vice Chair Debra Goldman had been outspoken about her opposition to the use of zones as a basis for the school system's transition from a system that assigns students to balance a school's socio-economic makeup – a policy opponents said resulted in long bus rides – to one that focuses on keeping students closer to home.

Goldman claims the Student Assignment Committee, headed up by board member John Tedesco, has been unwilling to listen to input from her and others as they hashed out a way to convert the county-wide school district, the state's largest, with 141,000-students.

When Tedesco tried to brief the board on his progress at a work session earlier Tuesday, Goldman repeatedly challenged him, saying, "The only votes considered are the three of you. These decisions should be brought to the entire board." The committee has nine community members, but only its three board members can vote.

At last week's committee meeting, committee members Tedesco and Chris Malone voted on some tweaks to the proposed assignment maps, saying that the changes proved their assertion that the maps were a work in progress with lines that could change.

Carolyn Morrison, the other Board of Education member on the committee, voted against the change, saying she thought the committee was moving too fast.

"Each time you have a meeting, the temper in this county rises," Goldman said to her board colleagues Tuesday.

"You are building and building and building something on a foundation that has not been approved by the board, and that is what I have a problem with."

"We have had many inputs from many board members," Tedesco said. "You came to the last meeting ... and we listened to you."

Reassignment Board meeting, pt 2: Public comment

But during the public comment period of the ensuing public meeting, parent Barbara Garlock contradicted that claim.

"You said you were told by Mr. (Ron) Margiotta (school board chairman) and Mr. Tedesco to keep quiet," she said to Goldman.

Asked during a recess whether Garlock accurately characterized that meeting, Goldman said, "Yes. That is all I will say."

Goldman got her say in a big way Tuesday when she proposed a resolution to immediately abandon the effort to establish zones, the favored method of Tedesco's committee.

She reiterated her commitment to community-based schools saying, "I am doing what's in my heart and in my conscience."

Wake board members discuss diversity policy Web only: Goldman's resolution and vote

"This process is not working. The zone model is not working."

Goldman's proposed that "any efforts to create a zone model" cease and that schools stay with the current, board-approved, three-year student assignment plan in the interim.

"The Wake County Board of Education abandons its effort to establish Community Assignment Zones. Any and all efforts to create a zone-based assignment model will cease, effective immediately," the resolution said.

Four other board members – Kevin Hill, Anne McLaurin, Carolyn Morrison and Keith Sutton – sided with Goldman.

Margiotta, Malone, Tedesco and Deborah Prickett voted against the motion.


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  • mtnmama Oct 6, 2010

    "Active parenting" in Wake County has no bearing whatsoever on the content or speed of which a particular subject is taught. Can't even count the occurrences of having to repeat a chapter, a test, etc., b/c 1/2 the class failed. The other 1/2, ready to advance, cannot, & as a parent of one of those ready to move on, trust me when I tell that it is frustrating when your child gets put into a holding pattern while other students try to catch up.

  • mtnmama Oct 6, 2010

    babbleon-yes, I'm well aware we obviously have opposing realities. Test scores & graduation rates ARE data. Beyond that, I think you have lofty expectations & I feel for you that your chold will enter the system next year. Thankfully, this is the last year I have to endure the rediculous reassignments that disrupt family life, destroy friendships, & other foundational aspects of life. BTW, I did not imply that you were a casual observer...I was trying to say just what I did: that this issue has had an impact on my student, so I feel justified in my opinion, as opposed to many on here who just have an idea what they might think. Come back in a few yrs. & tell me if your opinion has changed. For the record. I would pay higher prop tax, but feel impact fees are unfair when we are giving millions in tax breaks to companies to locate here. People follow jobs, not housing. Developers follow jobs. Jobs bring growth, not housing.

  • yankee1 Oct 6, 2010

    If that's the case, it's my bad as to the hair comment.

  • babbleon Oct 6, 2010

    yankee: the hair stripe is to support breast cancer awareness. She is a survivor, and October is BCA month.

  • yankee1 Oct 6, 2010

    Beware the wrath of a supposedly mature women who finds it necessary to put a pink stripe in her hair. Both the hair and her comments indicate a severe need to be included. It smacks of "if you don't let me play with my rules, I'm gonna take my ball and go home!"

  • babbleon Oct 6, 2010

    mtnmama: We just parted realities here: I try to base decisions on data, using general data analysis principles. One of those principles is that the plural of anecdote is not data.

    And as a product of NC public schools, a mom about to send my son into Wake Co schools, and a concerned and active member of our society (including NC resident for 38 years and Wake Co resident for 15), I am not a 'casual observer with an opinion'.

    I know that busing causes some harm to middle/upper income kids. I firmly believe 1) that can be reduced by active parenting (as my parents did in Fayetteville) and 2) it is outweighed by the overall benefits to society.

    We have been unwilling to spend the money it would take to give everyone equal opportunities. Are you willing to pay increased property taxes and do you support impact fees? I do - I prefer them to busing - but people seem to want to have their cake and eat it too.

  • mtnmama Oct 6, 2010

    bableon: whereas you don't regard the plural anecdote as data, I do. I have seen & lived with the ramifications of busing for years. I'm an active "victim", not just a casual observer with an opinion. Your claim that busing is a low cost alternative fails to address the fate of students caught in the middle. AND they include the kids held back in class, as well as those who continue to fail, despite busing. The BEST result of busing is that it distributes low achieving students across the system thereby diluting the issue.

  • babbleon Oct 6, 2010

    Forgot to mention explicitly: there are studies that show busing helps more than it hurts. What you think is true does not match the evidence.

    Happens to me all the time - my husband is way too smart for my good.

  • babbleon Oct 6, 2010

    mtmmama: the plural anecdote is not data.

    Yes, there's a way to improve education for all: spend more money, especially on community based programs. The Harlaam School is getting good results, but they start with educating parents, especially young ones. They have preschool programs, and school for more days and more hours than NC. All of these take money. I'd spend it, but we don't have it. Busing is the low-cost alternative.

  • mtnmama Oct 6, 2010

    babbleon, I can't agree with your position. I think busing hurts more than it helps. And it's not all academic. I know that for me personally, my student had many classes where the pace was so remedial & slow, so that a handful of others could keep up, that he didn't learn anything. That time was wasted opportunity for him & many, many others. There must be a better way that is fair to ALL! Not fair to penalize a kid's education just b/c they aren't considered poor. I support diversity and I support implementing projects that will help under achievers do better....but not at the cost & detriment of educational opoortunities for another (LARGE) segment of students. Plus, I don't think any kid should have ride 30 miles past a school just around the corner from home, and for miniscule benefit if any at all. It's ludicrous & is wasteful.

    Not_so_dumb: yes, you are correct. To look hip & progressive is what attracts business which was the reason for presenting the facade.