Seemed worth the effort to compile today's front-page story "Alleged retaliation threat probed at Enloe" with the letter that started the whole thing and with the subsequent letters we have run in the aftermath of Jay Zhang's letter first running on Feb. 3.
Click here for Zhang's letter.
Click read more to see other letters in the pipeline.
When looking for a perfectly diverse and integrated Wake County public school, one will not be found. What you can find is a school that fights to keep diversity alive both inside and outside the classroom: Enloe Magnet High School.
As an Enloe senior, I have constantly been exposed to debates about the diversity policy and whether its effects are beneficial, if anything at all. In a Feb. 3 letter pertaining to Enloe’s racial make-up, a fellow senior admitted to having a significantly small number of minority students in his classes. What he fails to mention is the real reason why this is true: One cannot force minority students to take higher level classes, which are open to all students but taken mostly by whites and Asians.
What has sadly been overlooked is Enloe’s Eagle Enrichment program. Daily, a vast and varied group of students gather to seek coursework help and learn from one another. We do not simply pass different students in the hallway. We sit with them. We talk to them. We learn from them. Can you honestly say Enloe is not striving to uphold and foster the spirit of diversity?
Jay Zhang, the senior from Enloe High School, was brave and accurate to expose the big elephant in the room in Wake County magnet schools (Feb. 8 front-page article). I have viewed both the neighborhood and magnet schools, including Enloe. The honors classes in the magnet schools were anything but diverse, though there was more diversity with elective classes, athletics and arts. The magnet schools draw excellent teachers.
We cannot improve a system until we are honest about what it does well and what it does not. Wake County schools have a long way to go to reach true diversity in every classroom and improve graduation rates, but dismantling the magnet system isn’t the answer either. We need leadership from all perspectives of the system to work together toward this goal.
As a junior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Enloe Magnet High School, I found myself in my AP/IB History of the Americas course today gazing upon the faces of my classmates. I could not help but notice the diverse circle of students which surrounded me; black, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian in ratios versus that of Caucasian which exceed those of the general population. This was reflective of what I have seen throughout the school as a whole (the majority of my IB/AP classes are equally diverse). Walking down the breezeway, I saw no form of separation between races and ethnic groups, but a multifarious population of students eagerly interacting with each other. It is that diversity, which enriches our daily lives, that separates our school from others.
To claim that Enloe's manifold ethnicities function as a mask that our magnet program hides behind would be erroneous. Enloe provides ALL of its students, both magnet and non-magnet, with the opportunity to succeed through many different programs, from the IB program to the myriad clubs (both academic, non-academic, magnet and non-magnet). Enloe strives for excellence for each and every one of its students, and successfully accomplishes that through its diverse population.
My comments regarding Enloe High School were filled with positive, but not Pollyannaish, words about the schools vibrant environment, the wide-ranging opinions among students and staff, its rigorous education. Your recent article, however, is all negative.
You fail to note that Enloe achieved high growth last year in student proficiency. Or that the graduation rate at Enloe for black students is 72.2%, much higher than the 63.9% district average. You ignore, too, the positive work being done to close the remaining achievement gap at Enloe. An unacceptable achievement gap between minority and white students exists at ALL high schools, not just Enloe. It is a gap many take very seriously.
Enloe is doing hard work to close its gap, with exceptional teachers and staff. Achievement is rising. It's the school I want my children to attend. It's the school WakeCARES founder Patrice Lee wants her child to attend. If two such parents each value such a place, clearly it is worth celebrating, preserving and strengthening. Instead, this paper has repeatedly singled out and attacked Enloe, on its front page and in its blogs. Is this what a school doing so much right really deserves?
I was surprised to read about the controversy surrounding Joseph Hoffman and Jay Zhang. As I know him, Joseph Hoffman is the best kind of teacher, one who wakes up every morning with a fiery passion to educate his students. While I do not condone his alleged actions, I applaud his passion in constantly trying to improve our schools.
Zhang's letter, while overly simplistic, does contain kernels of truth. There is a tendency by some to hold up Enloe as the idyllic example of the success of Wake County's diversity policy. As a former student, I confess that Enloe is no utopia. While not perfect, Enloe is a place that incessantly challenges its students, teachers and community to strive to be better.
Wake County's diversity policy has ensured desegregation of our schools. Zhang's comments should be taken as a call to action to ensure that every school is fully integrated, a difficult goal, but one that Enloe is clearly committed to.
Enloe needs teachers like Joseph Hoffman and students like Jay Zhang, people who care deeply about the future of our schools, and endeavor to achieve better.
Former Enloe High School Student Body President (2005)