Local News

Advocacy Group Supports Diversity in Wake Schools

Posted February 14, 2008 2:40 p.m. EST
Updated February 14, 2008 10:20 p.m. EST

— An advocacy group is supporting a Wake County Public School System policy on diversity and socio-economic balance in schools.

The school board has come under criticism for its decision to reassign more than 6,000 students, about 20 percent of whom school leaders say are being moved to balance diversity.

In a report released Thursday, the Wake Education Partnership says diverse student populations can have a positive impact on the academic success of children by redistributing students who are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches and who perform below grade level on end-of-grade tests

“Wake Education Partnership believes that maintaining socio-economic balance in schools is fundamental to maintaining high standards and quality in all our schools,” said Dr. Ann Denlinger, its president. “All children deserve excellence in public education, and socio-economic balance helps ensure that.” Denlinger is former Durham Public Schools superintendent.

Wake Education Partnership stopped short of saying that reassignment is necessarily the best way to achieve diversity.

"And then, I think what you then start thinking about: Is reassignment the right way or are there other ways to do the same thing better to accomplish diversity in schools?" said Jay Silver, the partnership's president-elect. "It just gives you just a little bit different perspective."

Many parents say they support diversity but don't support busing students to schools that are sometimes more than a half-hour ride away.

"I think it's a numbers game, and it makes all our schools look like their scores are good, but how are we impacting the individual child? said parent Patricia Danielsen.

"I actually like neighborhood schools," she continued. "I think the braver thing to do is where neighborhoods are not doing well – go in there and put (in) the resources to make those schools better."

Wake Education Partnership say studies nationwide show children who attend socio-economically balanced schools, as a whole, achieve at higher levels.

The group has a historical commitment to calling on the Wake County Public School System to maintain balance in its schools.