An e-mail heckler styling himself as Albert Einstein sent around a blast to Wake County commissioners and school board members venting his frustration with the school system's reassignment plan. A copy came in this direction as well. Suffice it to say that the gentleman doesn't think much of any plan that has diversity of students as one of its criteria.
Kevin Hill, school board vice chairman, took it upon himself to respond. He didn't argue. Hill (who also included us on the distribution list) simply wrote,
"Dear Mr. Einstein,
"Please read the attached."
What he attached was an article from Education Week, published last June. The article is titled, "Socioeconomic Integration: It's Legal, and It Makes Sense." The authors are identified as Angela Ciolfi, attorney for the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, Va., and James E. Ryan, a University of Virginia law professor. It's a concise piece with this point at the core: Socioeconomic integration promises "more academic benefit for less money than under alternative policies. More than 40 years of social science research shows that the socioeconomic composition of a child's school has an effect on academic performance over and above that of the socioeconomic status of the child's family." (Find the piece here.)
Socioeconomic diversity, or integration, is one of the Wake school system's goals as it prepares to shuffle several thousand students over the next three years (the need to divvy students among new schools that will be coming online also is driving the process). The school board's majority believes that keeping any school's student body from being drawn mostly from families who are poor is a way to promote academic success. The Education Week article is the sort of thing that reinforces their commitment to stay the course. Check it out. There's even a comment posted by a reader that will warm the heart of the board's critics, such as the distinguished Mr. Einstein.