Local News

Heartfelt Goals Clash in School Reassignment Plan

Posted January 8, 2008

— The Wake County schools are one of the best systems in the state, with test scores well above the state average. Wake officials attribute much of that success to balancing out economic diversity in the system’s schools.

The majority of board members support a policy that requires assigning students to balance schools to avoid high concentrations of poverty.

Many parents argue that the policy can prevent them from going to their neighborhood schools.

The policy is under discussion because the school board Tuesday released its plan to reassign 6,800 elementary students this year, partly to handle growing numbers of students and partly to fulfill the commitment to diversity.

Parents at Davis Drive Elementary in Cary don't want their kids moved to another school.

“We want the stability,” parent Sarah Redpath said.

“Change is difficult, and I don't minimize that,” schools Superintendent Del Burns said.

Facing growth, though, , the school system had to build new schools, Burns said. Filling them means moving students, and maintaining diversity means moving more than would be needed otherwise.

“In terms of students with disabilities, students who use English as a second language, economically disadvantaged students – we look at all of that,” Burns said.

The measure schools use to determine if students come from poor families is whether they qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. They then seek to avoid having concentrations of those students in a school.

Middle-class neighborhoods like the one around Durant elementary school have found their children bused away from neighborhood schools to keep others balanced.

“Here we are right next door to Durant year-round and Wildwood Forest, and they want to bus us all the way down Capital (Boulevard) with all that traffic,” said parent Michelle Witherspoon.

Frustrated, Witherspoon opted for a charter school instead.

“I feel in my heart that they're doing the best they can, but it's impacting each of us personally and our kids,” Witherspoon said.

The superintendent and a majority of board members say they feel that the school system and the community would suffer without the economic balance.

“Then we'd fall into a situation where you have schools that are ‘have’ schools and ‘have not’ schools,” Burns said. “That does not help a community. it doesn't help kids and it's not something I want to be a part of.”

In an ironic twist that contrasts with Tuesday’s protests, the school system is also taking a hit for not keeping schools well-enough balanced.

The Town of Garner has threatened to hold up renovation projects on two schools unless the school system lowers the number of students receiving free and reduced-priced lunches at schools in the town.


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  • ncguy Jan 10, 2008

    I sure am glad that my kids have to be shipped off so the illegal hispanics can send their children to my neighborhood school. Gracias!!!!!!!!!!
    The liberal ultra left setting policy is not good!!!!

  • richard2 Jan 9, 2008

    Go to the nearest school and we will give you a free bus ride. You can go to any school you want, but if its not the nearest, then you provide your own ride. Quit short changing the brightest, because they are our future.

  • Harrison Bergeron Jan 9, 2008

    "Must we reference Jane Elliot's theory." -letsblog

    One flaw with this theory is the arbitrary assignment of superiority and inferiority. IQ is the strongest indicator of successful outcome in later life; more than any other single factor. Until there is a frank and truthful examination of psychometric analysis and corresponding aptitude test scores (universally reflected anywhere aptitude exams are given) and the differences therein, we will continue to chase these ridiculous theories of "institutional bias".

  • Harrison Bergeron Jan 9, 2008

    "Part of the broken link is Wake County talks about diversity but the teachers are not very diverse." -letsblog

    Oh boy. I've heard this line before, right before I hear that black children are best taught by black teachers with an Afrocentric curriculum. Rubbish.

    "Minorities are suspended at a higher rate than white students in Wake county because of bias and a lack of multicultural understanding."

    No, they are suspended more because they commit more suspend-able infractions; a microcosm of the adult world where minorities are over-represented in violent crime offenses AND incarcerations.

    I can refute this "institutional racism" and cultural misunderstanding fallacy in two words: Asian-Americans.

    "Our schools need diversity so our children can compete globally in the future."

    More rubbish. We only have to look at the homogeneity of Japan and China in contrast to their economic power to realize you can participate globally without multi-culturalism.

  • letsblog Jan 9, 2008

    daFoMo, There are many minorities and cultural perspectives within a certain race. There is not just one "minority culture". The specific question indicates a lack of understanding that many other cultures exist aside from ones own. I agree w/ discipline, yet when you expect a certain behavior from a child & treat them accordingly, you will get what you expect. Must we reference Jane Elliot's theory. Teachers play a significant role in a student's academic career, and yes so do parents, even if ones need to be mandate to get involved. Both must work together for the students success, but my Wake County experience has been one of fighting a system of biased teachers. My overall concern is that there are many facets to the Wake County schools & growth issue, not just to bus or not to bus. I would like to work with board to resolve the issue long term and not just continue to put a bandaid on the issue each year.

  • NoToIllegals Jan 9, 2008

    The liberal interpretation of "economic diversity" = Socialism

    and we wonder why we have some of the lowest test scores....hmmmmmmmm.

    Hold back the haves to accomodate the have nots.

  • ForeRight Jan 9, 2008

    The Wake County School Board and administrators hide behind their self anointed veil of superiority. If WCPSS wants to claim superiority, then match themselves up against others on a national level. The whole policy of busing is a mess and puts children in danger due to higher miles traveled to get to school. Wake County needs community schools, the district is too large and bureaucratic. Lets return to simpler times where local taxes pay for local schools and children go to school with neighbors, close to home and where parents can easily access their children.

    The county should give tax credits for people who opt for private schools against their property taxes. Those that send children to private schools reduce the need for more classrooms, additional teacher salaries and buses. If the county school system is superior then parents who send kids to private schools would likely choose the superior choice for their child's education. The school board need to look outside the box.

  • thewayitis Jan 9, 2008

    No matter your skin color, if you break the rules, you should be disciplined. Discipline should be applied equally -- same punishment for the same behavior, no matter your skin color. If one race acts out more than others, than so be it, those kids need to be disciplined regardless. Children who disrupt class should be removed until their parents can get them to shape up. It is not the school's responsibility to teach the kids how to behave. That needs to be learned at home. And if the parents won't do their job and require their kids to behave, then their kids should be removed from the regular classroom and placed in a "special" class or school. It is not fair to the kids who want to learn to be constantly disrupted by the kids with behavior problems. I've lived through such a scenario, and that is why my kid is no longer in public school. His class was months behind because the teacher couldn't teach due to the behavior problems, and the principal didn't care.

  • daMoFo Jan 8, 2008

    I never wrote that the higher suspension rate was due to them being black. I said it was due to them causing more problems. Their skin color is not the cause of them causing problems.

    Can you give a specific example of "misunderstanding culture and practices" causing a problem? And what is "minority" culture?

  • letsblog Jan 8, 2008

    daMoFo, Teachers can be found, however, diff. at $35K/yr. I respectfully disagree that higher suspension rates of blacks students has a lot more factors to it than them just being black. My children are respectful and do well in school yet each year I encountered biased teachers who stereotype them based on the color of their skin. Wake Co. teachers need training on how to embrace all children, Misunderstanding various cultures & practices may lead to misinterpretation of actions. Teacher-Student-Parent relationship are crucial but simply managing behavior with high suspension rates, is choosing to ignore the problem, not engage in solutions. An n observation of rushing to judgment. An black Enloe honor std observes stds coming to class late. W/o a pass = lunch detention. The white stds are told to get to their seat & get prepared but teach.pulls out the pink det. slips for black stds. It's easy to say all is well when u benefit from bias. Understanding diff is hard but necessary.