Wake County Schools

Wake school board accused of 'cherry-picking' data

Posted April 5, 2011
Updated April 6, 2011

Wake County Public School System

— Members of the community accused Wake County school district leaders of "cherry-picking" data to support their contention that busing for diversity was unfair to underprivileged students during the public comment portion of the school board meeting Tuesday.

The data was released last week as part of an ongoing federal investigation into Wake's student assignment policy, which was launched after the state NAACP expressed concerns that a neighborhood schools model would concentrate poor students into schools in poor communities.

In a narrative response to the data request from the Office for Civil Rights, school leaders stated that poor and minority students were subjected to "disproportionately long bus rides" under the district's former student assignment policy, which bused students to balance socioeconomic status levels in schools.

School leaders also found "a strong correlation between long bus rides and low academic performance" in black students.

But some diversity supporters aren't buying the school board's argument.

RitaAnita Linger, who supports using socioeconomic diversity as a factor in student assignment, charged that the board released "purposely misleading data to support its bad policies."

Adrienne Lumpkin called certain members of the board "data-challenged" and said they were "cherry-picking" numbers. Neil Riemann accused the board of presenting data unfairly, in part because not all achievement factors were taken into consideration, he said.

Some diversity supporters said because the students who were bused were also disadvantaged, they would likely struggle with achievement anyway.

Wake school board accused of "cherry-picking" data Wake school board accused of 'cherry-picking' data

School board member John Tedesco said opponents were the ones cherry-picking.

"They have their agenda, and they are going to cherry-pick for their agenda," Tedesco said.

He added that the district's former busing for diversity policy produced low-performing schools and failed to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.

"We pretended and ignored the fact (that) there were many schools struggling," he said.

School board attorney Ann Majestic, who helped author the data report sent to OCR, agreed.

"The policy that has been changed did not produce the benefits that some had hoped," Majestic said.

In part due to continued community outrage with the board's effort to move to a neighborhood schools model for student assignment, the board has deferred to new Superintendent Tony Tata to develop a plan.

Tata has temporarily reassigned six members of his staff to devote themselves entirely to implementing the school system’s new student assignment policy.


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  • josephlawrence43 Apr 6, 2011

    of course those who support the old racist--excuse me, socio-economic diversity plan-will be hollering because they are not getting their way. They want to go back to the old system--even though graduation rates for African-Americans under the old system was what--less than 50 %..Are the supporters of this old system saying they want the African-American kids to fail?

  • Nancy Apr 6, 2011

    And no 'competing' data is presented by those who are complaining, those who filed the complaint against the school board.

    The old board never bothered to compile a report proving the busing policy worked, ever. But once the complaints were filed, it was incumbent upon the new board to dig up and compile the data.

    They didn't make up the numbers, the facts are from the data in the school system, they didn't bring that information with them when they were sworn in.

    So, where is the proof that it worked? There isn't any.

  • bombayrunner Apr 6, 2011

    RM24 ... you hit the nail on the head. now the board needs money as it blows all it has on defense.

  • bombayrunner Apr 6, 2011

    I hope the federal investigators say that the law was being broken all along by bussing for socioeconomic diversity -- which is ILLEGAL.
    But because they are coming down from the democratically controlled governemnt that has been following its own constitution, no telling what will happen.

  • bombayrunner Apr 6, 2011

    Not sure why Wake County is going through all this when most other same size or bigger cities DON'T bus or stopped. Yet they are not being investigated.

    Though, those are also democratically held/run boards so no one is complaining. If you are republican, your racist, if you are democrat its the right thing to do.

  • Rebelyell55 Apr 6, 2011

    This report is of no surprise at all. When the data was released last week, everyone knew that those who requested the investigation were not going to be please with the results. Low performance can be traced to two factors, home/community and to a less degree, low performance teacher. I'll have to admit that I feel low performance teacher are getting to be less and less of a problem on NC school system.

  • RM24 Apr 6, 2011

    I do hope that WRAL/Mr. Barber/and the Wake Co justice system realizes how bad the county is looking.

    Dr Cook trial was a complete joke with his sentence.

    The school board made it to SNL due to Mr. Barber screaming 'racist which is the only word he knows.

    And the Brad Cooper trial is the worst of them all.

    WHY would any business or family want to move to Wake Co with all this in the news?

  • RM24 Apr 6, 2011

    The biggest problem Wake Co schools have right now is from Wayne Co.

  • westernwake1 Apr 6, 2011

    I am probably one of the few people that read all the statistics in the report regarding Wake County Schools. The report is actually a huge indictment regarding the failure of the diversity policy to serve our students.

    The only "cherry-picking" being done here -- is the opponents of the Wake County School Board cherry-picking the facts, not the Wake School Board in cherry-picking the data. If the opponents of the board actually had a case then they would be able to point to particular statistical facts in the report that uphold their assertions.

    The charge that the Wake County School Board is providing "purposely misleading data to support its bad policies" is absurd. It would be best if this debate got back to the actual facts instead of political mis-truths -- and the focus returned to what is best for our children. Obviously putting children in different schools each year to hide the failures is not improving education.

  • 1 of the original Americans Apr 6, 2011

    Wake school board accused of 'cherry-picking' data

    Noooo, not this group of upstanding, caring and respectful people. (sarcasim font off)