Wake County Schools

Parents, NAACP focused on Wake student assignment

Posted June 8, 2011 4:38 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2011 9:32 a.m. EDT

— A new student assignment plan for Wake County schools remains a top concern for many parents. 

Parents have less than a week to give feedback on two proposed plans.

Many parents at Tuesday night’s school board meeting spoke in favor of the Green plan, also known as the “Base Schools Achievement Plan.” The plan is similar to the current assignment model. Under it, the school system assigns students based on student achievement, ensuring that students from low-performing areas end up at high-performing schools.

Advocacy group Great Schools in Wake Coalition prefers the Green plan. 

“We feel its more focused on student achievement, and the Blue plan just has too many questions,” said coalition member Lynn Edmonds.

The Blue plan has drawn more support in on online feedback left on the Wake schools' website. Nearly 500 people have said they prefer it, compared to about 200 who favored the Green plan.

Under the Blue plan, or the “Community-Based Choice” plan, parents can choose from a variety of four to six elementary schools, each linked with a middle and high school. Students get priority based on whether they have a sibling at the school or live close by, and the district takes into account achievement balance and capacity at any individual school.

The Blue and Green plans are proposed courses of action to replace the district's current long-standing policy of assigning students based on socio-economic diversity in favor of a policy that assigns students based on where they live.

“The people in this community want to have choices, choices that are fair. Choices that value proximity and stability," board member John Tedesco said.

Opponents of the current plan have said that it results in long bus rides for some. Those who support it say the new policy will keep students who are economically disadvantaged from receiving the same quality of education as their counterparts.

State NAACP president Rev. William Barber fears the board is abandoning a concept for healthy schools. Barber has been one of the most vocal critics of the board policy change to stop busing students for socio-economic diversity.

The NAACP has concerns about the plans and the process. Barber argues data about the current assignment plan should be compared to the new proposals and says any plan that doesn't link diversity and student achievement is flawed.

“Diversity and resources are key components to student achievement and adherence to the law,” Barber said.

Board member Keith Sutton, also a strong supporter of diversity, believes considering many factors and community feedback are key steps in the right direction.

“At the end of the day, we'll be able to come up with something that everyone can live with,” Sutton said.

The NAACP plans to release more detailed questions about the plans on Friday, along with a letter requesting a meeting with Wake schools Superintendent Tony Tata. They hope to meet with him before he presents recommendations to the school board on June 21.

The proposal to the board will include a work plan on how to implement the plan through next March, as well as a schedule for more public hearings and time to refine the plan, Tata said.