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Wake County single-sex leadership academies drawing demographically diverse enrollments

It looks like fears that Wake County's two new single-sex leadership academies would become predominantly African American schools have turned out to be unfounded.

Figures released last week by the district show that white students are projected to have a plurality at both leadership academies. Critics of the academies had raised concerns that Wake's schools are modeled on two largely black single-sex schools in Guilford County.

Wake's data shows that the Wake Young Men's Leadership Academy's enrollment is projected to be 42 percent white, 27 percent black, 13 percent Asian and 11 percent Hispanic. The school will also have 43 percent of its students receiving federally subsidized lunches.

Wake County school board vice chairman Keith Sutton to speak at tonight's CCCAAC forum

Wake County school board vice chairman Keith Sutton will face the heat as a guest at tonight's community engagement meeting sponsored by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children.

Agenda topics will include an update on Walnut Creek Elementary School, bell schedule changes, the impact of round one of the student assignment plan on Southeast Raleigh and the school-to-prison pipeline.

The meeting comes after Sutton has faced criticism from some CCCAAC members about the demographic composition of Walnut Creek's enrollment.

Black leaders and the situation at Walnut Creek Elementary School

There's a heated argument about what position the leadership of the African American community should take about Walnut Creek Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh.

A message posted on the Coalition for Concerned Citizens for African American Children's listserv questions why school board vice chairman Keith Sutton and some other black leaders "support the opening of Walnut Creek, a segregated school." The writer also criticizes the recent school board decision to offer signing bonuses and performance pay for the school's staff.

It's unclear who's the author of the message. The person forwarded it to CCCAAC President Calla Wright for her to post on the listserv.

SEE UPDATE AT END OF POST FOR CCCAAC'S RESPONSE TO DAN COLEMAN

Groups urge Wake to halt single-sex schools

A coalition of liberal groups is urging the Wake County school system to halt plans to open a pair of single-sex leadership academies next year.

In this memorandum sent Thursday to Wake Superintendent Tony Tata and school board members, the groups argue that approval of the academies was rushed through without enough input or review. The groups also oppose having single-sex schools and the requirement that students at the academies participate in the Junior ROTC program.

“Instead of spending precious funds on the proposed single-sex academies, spend them on improving and expanding alternative educational programs for struggling students,” says the memo.

The memo was signed by the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, Advocates for Children’s Services, the YWCA of the Greater Triangle, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children, the North Carolina chapter of the ACLU and CHOICES — a group that’s criticized JROTC programs.

CCCAAC criticizes adoption of single-gender leadership academies

It looks like we have a split between Wake County school board member Keith Sutton and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children over the newly created single-gender leadership academies.

In a press release today, CCCAAC calls the creation of the schools "a troubling decision" with "the hurried approval of the academies (as) another example of the reckless decision-making by the board majority." It questions the academic effectiveness of single-sex schools that Sutton joined the majority in backing.

CCCAAC doesn't buy Superintendent Tony Tata's argument that the schools will be cheaper than the ones they're modeled on from Guilford County. Also citing how those Guilford schools are almost all black, CCCAAC calls them "costly schools to resegregate and reassign without community input."

CCCAAC also complains about how the academies will displace special-education students. They also complain that the money spent making the academies ready "means that other school projects, such as repairs to existing facilities, are being placed on hold."

Film accuses Koch brothers of resegregating Wake County schools

A new video from a liberal group is accusing the conservative Koch brothers of having bought the Wake County school board elections in 2009 in an attempt to resegregate the school system.

The 11-minute video, released today by Brave New Films founded by Robert Greenwald, is part of a series of films attacking the Koch brothers. For this film, a variety of local supporters of the old diversity policy go on to blame the Koch brothers for the 2009 election results and ignore the notion that there was any large grassroots support for the changes.

"In 2009, the Koch brothers tried the destroy the Wake County Public School system," says a blurb flashed on the screen.

SEE UPDATE AT END OF POST FOR RESPONSE FROM DALLAS WOODHOUSE AND FOR A LINK FOR AN INTERVIEW ROBERT GREENWALD GAVE TO MSNBC ON MONDAY ABOUT THE FILM

Cash Michaels on the change diversity policy supporters never wanted to see

Cash Michaels is not a happy camper about Wake County's move toward a controlled-choice plan that stresses proximity.

In an analysis piece in the latest issue of The Carolinian, Michaels calls the new plan "the change that no one who embraced the heralded and productive socioeconomic student diversity policy ever wanted to see - Wake County Public Schools, moving as far away as possible from the old mission - making sure that no child was trapped in an unhealthy school."

Also in the piece, Michaels champions the call for Democrats to regain the school board majority, criticizes school board vice chairman John Tedesco for his new job at the N.C. Center for Education Reform and takes Superintendent Tony Tata to task for his letter to the state NAACP.

UPDATE

Click here to view Michaels' response to criticsm of his article.

GSIW hosting community forum Tuesday on the Alves Plan

We could be getting closer to an official position from the Great Schools in Wake Coalition on the Wake School Choice Plan.

GSIW issued a media advisory yesterday on a March 15 community forum on the Wake School Choice Plan that it's sponsoring with the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children.

The forum will run Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin Street in Raleigh.

Carolinian looks at Bill McNeal era and Walnut Creek Elementary

How good were the old days under former Wake County Schools Superintendent Bill McNeal and how bad could they get it after the elimination of the diversity policy?

In the first part of a series last week in The Carolinian looking at the new Walnut Creek Elementary School, Cash Michaels looks fondly on the era when McNeal was superintendent from 2000 to 2006. The article contrasts that with the demographics of the new Walnut Creek in the post-SES policy era.

The article trumpets the low teacher turnover rates and high test scores when McNeal was superintendent as Wake tried to maintain "healthy schools."

Calla Wright responds to Kathleen Brennan's Washington Post letter

More words are being traded in The Washington Post over last month's article on Wake County's school diversity fight.

In a letter to the editor in Saturday's Post, Calla Wright of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children challenges a recent letter submitted by Kathleen Brennan of Wake CARES.

Wright accuses Brennan of "scapegoating" by blaming the diversity policy and not growth for reassigning 60,000 students over the past 10 years.

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