Wake County Schools

Parents voice final concerns about Wake student assignment

Posted January 24, 2011

— Public hearings about the future of assignment in Wake schools over the last two weeks have revealed a community divided.

There are parents who want schools on a traditional calendar, parents who want year-round schools, parents who are concerned that assignment changes will overcrowd classrooms and parents who want to attract students to particular schools.

"York wants to increase its enrollment, continue embracing diversity," said Stacy England.

Other parents simply wanted to thank the board for changes in their communities.

"You have given MacArthur Park stability, proximity and choice," said Paula King.

It seemed every possible point of view on student reassignment in Wake schools was represented at a public hearing Monday. 

The meeting, at Cary High School, 638 Walnut St., was the fourth and final hearing on proposed changes to the district's 2011-12 reassignment plan, which could affect the placement of more than 4,700 students.

The greatest point of contention continues to be between neighborhood school assignments and the district's former policy of bussing students to balance out diversity in schools.

Parents who support assignment based on proximity said it will bring families and communities together.

"Our kids can finally get to a school that is ten minutes away," said Craig Duerr.

For Bill Butler, there are five miles between his child's current assignment and the assignment he is hoping for in 2011-12.

Allison Backhouse said the move to neighborhood schools is not going fast enough.

"We are not stupid and are tired of your lip service," she said.

Other parents are concerned that abandoning the diversity policy casts negative attention on the school district, which has been in national headlines for its reassignment controversy.

"We are being held up in the national media for ridicule and disgust," Jamie Dunsten said.

These parents allege that if assignments are based on neighborhoods, children in poorer areas will be at a disadvantage. 

"Creating high poverty schools is a move backward, not forward," said Bridgette Burge.

Phillip Butler challenged school board members who have said that diversity has a negative impact on student achievement.

"I have yet to see stats on how diversity program is bad," he said.

The board expects to decide on an assignment plan next month.

Two other groups met Monday night to discuss the future of Wake schools.

Parents for Educational Freedom packed a meeting room at the North Raleigh Hilton to discuss charter schools among other things. They screened "Waiting for Superman," a documentary that focuses on the nation's public school system.

The nonprofit group supports school choice for parents.

WakeUP Wake County, a nonpartisan group of business leaders, educators and concerned citizens, held its annual meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh.

Their meeting focused more generally on growth and development issues in the county. Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker was in attendance.


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  • Shamrock Jan 26, 2011

    ncmike - One more point, my child goes to school less than 2 miles from home, but it takes 30-35 min each way. So, for other students that travel 5 miles, I would not think 1 hour ride is unreasonable. Wake rates a perfect score of 100 on the efficient use of buses. So, to get kids to/from thier schools, the bus routes are very efficient. If diversity was ended, wake would not save because 85% of busing is covered by the state. The state could certainly use any savings they can get, but the change does not necessarily help Wake county. I just want to see a thought out plan, with goals (max distance, etc). So, for students to be closer to home (1 pro), what do we give up in return (# of cons)? This is my biggest question and reason for uncertainty.

  • Shamrock Jan 26, 2011

    ncmile- I can certainly understand that having kids closer to home would be valueable. I do not know of anyone that rides 2 hours each way, and that is surely not the norm. However, this diversity issue and busing are 2 different things. I understand about 3% or around 4500 students are bused for diversity, but can't find verification of that. However, there are many more that are bused because there are not enough schools. Change to the diversity policy is not going to change that for most. When we look at Charlotte, they had to pump millions of dollars into the inner city schools once they stopped diversity. Since we do not have funds for that, how are we going to ensure every child is receiving equal education? That is what the entire discussion should be about, not a change just for parents convenience.

  • randall0123a Jan 26, 2011

    Is the intent here to have government force others to change when we don't want to make a change ourselves?
    If you don't like the local schools, grocery stores, etc, then move. If you don't have the money to move, then work harder. Already working 3 jobs? If you are working 3 jobs, then you either need a less expensive car(s), a smaller house/apt, less expensive furniture/TV, and maybe you even had more children that you did not plan to provide for (on your own).
    I took out loans and put myself through night school while working construction. When I had a low income job, I lived in a low income neighborhood, had a low income car, etc. After working my tail off, and continuing to do so, I now have better things. I only have one child, as taxes take quite a sizable portion of my salary - to provide for others that will not provide for themselves. THIS is what we should be teaching our children – work for what you want, not rant and complain until you are allowed to receive from others.

  • ncmike Jan 26, 2011

    Glad that you see that busing isn't the answer to the problem it was intended to fix. The reason for community schools isn't necessarily to improve performance - though it can be a factor that contributes to it, least of all unmasking the dilution of under-performing students so that we can help them with a variety of things that will improve their performance.
    But since you asked, let's use some common sense: saving students upwards of 4 hours per day lost times the number of days in a school year (lets average it at 180) is heck of a lot of hours (give or take 700 hours per year) that students don't have to have long bus commutes. That's a lot of additional time across the school year better spent on homework, family time, and all of the things that create a healthy learning environment. Add to that what wavesofmercy just posted and you can see the obvious benefits that helps contribute to addressing the root problem, but busing or not busing is the key to improving performance.

  • Shamrock Jan 26, 2011

    mcmike - how about you tell us how neighborhood schools will help the minority graduation rate? The WCPSS has not put out anything about savings. Don't tell me parents are closer to schools and will participate more, because will only apply to a small group of parents. The change to busing is not going to save WC any money. I really want someone to tell me how neighborhood schools will help with education because I am all for it, but expect our budget problems will not allow us to provide anything more to minorities and that is unfortunate.

  • wavesofmercy7 Jan 26, 2011

    I personally, got transferred from one school to another in high school. Was suppose to go to milbrooke, down the street, ended up going to wakefield. It was just a high class school that I felt out of place because my family is lower class. My instinct was that i didn't add up to these people in this school. So i dropped out. That's why people are failing in schools that you want to "diversify". Feeling comfortable in your surroundings at school is more important than diversity. Not feeling as if you have something to prove to a rich kid, or in my case multiple rich kids. And I'm not black, so if any one wants to break this down to race, then your wrong. There are plenty of white kids whom live in poverty or lower class.

  • ncmike Jan 26, 2011

    and this two proving that this round of busing has failed miserably. The report further reads:

    Further hard proof busing has failed its intent: The official statistics read: "If WCPSS’s diversity plan was really working wouldn’t it be reflected in minority dropout and graduation rates? WCPSS four-year graduation rates for Blacks, Hispanics, Economically Disadvantaged, Limited English Proficiency and Students with Disabilities all declined from 2005-2009. Black graduation rates declined from 70 percent to 63 percent; while Hispanic graduation rates declined from 58 percent to 51 percent."

    So how again has busing addressed the root problem of Student performance and graduation - c'mon, we are listening with open minds.

  • ncmike Jan 26, 2011

    Busing has failed and ending it in Charlotte ended up improving the performance of ED students - so no one can say ending it would result in lower student performance. If you insist on facts that include race then here you go:

    Here are the facts I posted elsewhere - facts are pesky little critters, if you have public facts that dispute these I invite you to post them:

    "An examination of elementary school End-of-Grade (EOG) and high school End-of-Course (EOC) tests don’t lie. From 2005 to 2009 (EOG and EOC tests underwent significant revisions in recent years so comparisons prior to 2005 are discouraged.), the percentage of minority students at or above grade level on EOG tests declined for Black, Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged, Limited English Proficiency and Students with Disabilities."

    So give it your best shot, give us some material reasons why keep busing over the benefits of community schools if the problem busing has attempted to solve is simply masking the problem?

  • outback1967 Jan 26, 2011

    "Is there not a predominantly black school or school system anywhere that is successful and can be used as a model of how to excel with a high percentage of black students?

    I would pay money to see one!!!!!

  • musthavecoffee Jan 26, 2011

    ncmike: So then tell me why if diversity busing ended schools would become segregated? It's either socio-economic or racist. You cannot have it both ways.