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Candidates for commissioner agree on taking over school construction

You would have been disappointed if you had gone to Wednesday night's forum hoping the candidates for the board of commissioners would talk about Wake County's student assignment fight.

As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, the Wake Schools Community Alliance stayed clear of student assignment questions at the forum the group sponsored. While discussing other school issues, candidates from both political parties blamed the other for the economic woes facing the nation and county.

Some differences emerged with Democrats Jack Nichols and Steve Rao both saying the county will have to consider impact fees or other means to meet school construction and renovation demands that could easily run to $2 billion in the next 20 years.

Wake CARES urging people not to give money to the Wake Education Partnership

Wake CARES is going right after the Wake Education Partnership's pocketbook.

In a press release today, Wake CARES blasts the WEP for not supporting the new school boar majority's student assignment changes. Wake CARES says people should donate to groups such as Read and Feed and Communities in Schools of Wake County instead of to today's WEP's 24-hour online Money Drop fundraiser.

"Rather than support a group that is perpetuating a deceptive and controlling approach to education, we ask that you make a donation to a local organization that more clearly focuses on benefiting students’ educational needs," according to the Wake CARES press release.

UPDATE

The WEP ended up raising $8,931 from more than 90 contributors.

Using academic achievement to maintain diversity in student assignment

Is factoring student achievement into the mix for student assignment in Wake County another way by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership to at least partially maintain the old diversity policy?

As noted in today's article, there's a strong correlation with lower test scores, poverty and race. Balancing achievement levels in the new plan being developed by Michael Alves would likely result in zones that are more racially and socioeconomic ally diverse than those being considered by the school board.

Alves said Thursday it's his goal to make the new zones reflect the demographics of the county by using student achievement. For instance, he said he wouldn't put all of Southeast Raleigh in one zone.

Chamber and WEP asking Michael Alves to develop student assignment plan

The big news out of today's press conference is that the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership are hiring Michael Alves to develop his own student assignment plan for Wake County.

Alves, the leading proponent for controlled choice, will develop a plan using most of the same criteria that the school board is using such as stability, choice and proximity. But they're asking him to also balance student achievement at schools as a fourth criteria for the new map.

"We believe this is important because a plan that balances student achievement makes it more likely that every school can attract and retain good principals and teachers," said Jim Beck, chairman of the Chamber's education committee.

Chamber and WEP to comment on draft student assignment map

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership will speak out Thursday about the draft student assignment map being reviewed by the Wake County school board' student assignment committee.

In a press release this afternoon, both groups said they'd "address issues related to a proposed student assignment plan for Wake County's public schools." They say they're holding the media briefing in response to the student assignment committee's request for input on the map.

Considering how both groups aren't exactly fans of the elimination of the diversity policy, the tone could be less than positive Thursday. Don't be surprised if they note the sharp demographic differences among the 16 zones.

Debating whether to build new schools in Southeast Raleigh

The question of whether to build new schools in Southeast Raleigh is becoming a political issue that could have a major impact on Wake County's magnet school program.

As noted in today's article, school board member John Tedesco wants additional schools in Southeast Raleigh to accommodate the return of neighborhood kids and to leave open seats at area magnet schools. A News & Observer analysis shows 5,244 Southeast Raleigh kids now live at addresses bused for diversity.

But school board member Keith Sutton and some of the other leadership of Southeast Raleigh aren't so thrilled with getting new schools. They're worried that the new schools won't provide a good quality education.

Ron Margiotta on diversity and choice in student assignment

Supporters of the diversity policy are focusing on how Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta answered questions about diversity on Thursday at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce conference.

As noted in today's article, Margiotta faced several questions about including diversity in the new student assignment plan after having slammed the diversity policy in his speech. One person asked if there was a way for the community to embrace the values of choice and diversity in the assignment plan.

"I don’t see how that could be done," Margiotta initially said.

Ron Margiotta asks business leaders to cooperate with school board

I'll keep it short for now but Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta urged members of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to cooperate with the district as it moves forward

Margiotta was the opening speaker this morning at the Chamber's Summer Leadership Conference in Greensboro. Margiotta was walking into a tough crowd considering how the Chamber adopted diversity earlier this year as one of its core principals for student assignment.

Margiotta repeatedly urged the audience to keep an open mind about what will happen after the elimination of the socioeconomic diversity policy.

UPDATE

SEE END OF POST FOR LINK TO PDF OF MARGIOTTA'S SPEECH

Looking at possible zone maps and controlled choice today

Controlled choice and at least a rough map of what the new community assignment zones could look like will be on today's Wake County student assignment committee agenda.

Today's meeting will include what's being billed as a "review of various geographic assignment area possibilities." Much of the talk will likely revolve around maps of potential zones being presented by staff.

Growth & Planning were asked by the committee to use as a starting point the high school feeder patterns. From there, they'd see what middle schools feed into the high schools and what elementary schools feed into those middle schools.

Student assignment consultant to speak to school board committee

The Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce are bringing to Raleigh an education consultant who has specialized in drawing up student assignment plans using controlled choice to achieve diversity.

In a media advisory today, the WEP and the Chamber said that Michael Alves will visit with local business leaders and elected officials later this month. John Tedesco, chairman of the school board's student assignment committee, has offered Alves the opportunity to speak at the July 27 committee meeting.

Alves was mentioned in the WEP's April Topic Review on how Wake could still achieve some level of balance in its new community-based student assignment model.

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