NAACP hears 'controlled choice' for Wake schools

Posted July 28, 2010 6:33 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— An educational consultant who believes Wake County parents can have more choices in their children's schooling without creating high-poverty schools met with leaders of the state NAACP Wednesday to explain how.

Michael Alves has been in Raleigh this week presenting his "controlled choice" concept to local business and community leaders, as well as Wake County Board of Education members.

The concept uses a computer model to divide the school system into several zones in which student population is representative of the entire school system.

The NAACP has been a vocal opponent of the school board's recent decision to move away from a longstanding student assignment model that buses some students to one that assigns students based on where they live.

Policy opponents fear it will put poorer students at an educational disadvantage because the move would segregate schools, lead to pockets of poverty and cause high teacher turnover. Proponents believe it can help improve test scores, allow parents to be more involved and provide stability for students.

Those on both sides of the debate who've heard from Alves this week believe what he's proposing could be a potential solution.

Great Schools in Wake Coalition opposes community-based schools.

"We all want to have a situation where every school can be balanced, can be equitable in terms of its resources," Chairwoman Yevonne Brannon said of controlled choice. "This is really back to the future."

"I think it's a great opportunity to listen to other methods of student assignment," said Claude Pope, president of the Wake County Republican Party, which backs community-based schools. "I have always been a big proponent of more choice, versus less choice."