Again, more letters than we can print before the Wake County school board votes tomorrow on whether to revise the system's diversity policy and whether to go ahead and let superintendent Del Burns go (read latest stories here and here). Find other letters on tomorrow's Editorial page. In the meantime, here are 15 more.
My family loves our neighborhood school, but we are deeply concerned by the resegregationist movement euphemistically known as neighborhood schools. Diversity is often discussed in bleeding-heart terms suggesting that segregation isn’t fair to poor black kids. That misses at least half the point. As a white parent, I know that my children must live effectively with black peers to genuinely succeed in the 21st century. Our magnet school is 40 percent white.
I also do not support the status quo. Parents are frustrated with the Wake County school system for good reason. However, we cannot throw out aspects of the diversity policy that truly work, and magnet schools are a genuine success. The only schools in Raleigh that are truly integrated are magnet schools. It’s not coincidental that they have been repeatedly recognized as excellent schools. School districts without a diversity policy show significantly lower graduation rates, which costs all of us more in the long run.
Good policy comes from careful dialogue, not from irrational reaction to squeaky wheels.
I would like to bring to your attention the situation faced by Project Enlightenment due to looming budget cuts. Project Enlightenment helps prepare young children to be successful in kindergarten and beyond, to get off to a good start by intervening early in the lives of young children.
At the school board meeting Tuesday, a recommendation will be given to the board concerning the staffing and funding of Project Enlightenment, which has served Wake County for 40 years. Tens of thousands of parents, teachers and young children have been significantly affected by the array of services this organization has provided. Additionally, this award-winning program provides workshops for parents and teachers.
Decreasing this service may save the county a little money now, but in the long run it would be a costly decision. WCPSS has been a national model with this program and has shown wise forethought by having these services. Please keep the program intact.
I am the PTA president at Farmington Woods Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate magnet school. Since the election of the new school board, I have received numerous inquiries from concerned parents about the status of magnet schools and the board majority’s desire to move from the current model of integrated schools to one of neighborhood schools.
I have reached out to Debra Goldman, our board representative, and she has come and answered questions. We appreciate her willingness to talk and listen. Still, the board is having meetings concerning pushing superintendent Del Burns out early because it did not like some comments he made. If they are willing to waste $100,000 to force someone to retire three months early, I question their ability to manage the school system.
Campaign rhetoric is fine for elections. However, our schools have real issues. The bottom line is, are they going to improve our schools? I don’t care what the policy is called if it works.
The previous board saw an end to its tenure because of poor communication and a perceived indifference to concerns. Chairman Ron Margiotta and his majority may find their tenure even shorter if they don’t shift their focus from playing politics to fixing the system.
I’m in support of the diversity policy for Wake County. I see firsthand how it’s working at the elementary level, as a magnet parent at Powell GT Magnet Elementary. I’m in the schools and very involved in the classrooms and PTA.
Powell has an over 50 percent lower socioeconomic population, and it scares me to think of what would happen if the diversity policy is removed. Day to day I work with young children that are starved for attention at home, among many other problems. I walk in the school and can’t tell you how many hugs I get from these children before I make it to a classroom.
My children are so blessed to have the great friends they have at Powell. They value the things that are important: friends, diversity, and helping one another.
I want to help the school board and all those parents in support of “neighborhood schools” to think about the children who are most benefiting from this nationally renowned program. Build a community, enrich all children and protect what's working – not for my children (because they will do well anywhere), but for those children who deserve an equal chance, but have so much against them.
“With great power comes great responsibility”- (Whether it’s Uncle Ben, in the “Spider-Man” movies or a translation of Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given, much will be required”).
I am thankful that Jim Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting gets it; crossing my fingers that the Wake County School Board does, too.
Jina Bowman Propst, J.D.
I’m amazed by the uproar from people decrying the elimination of the Wake school diversity program. In a way. the board is following the lead of President Obama, who canceled the DC voucher program opposed by the teachers unions, forcing 1,700 poor kids back into to the worst and most expensive school system in the country. These kids, once destined to higher education, now will probably not be admitted due to much lower academic standards in the DC schools.
Obama has stated that this program is not the answer to solving failing school systems. He just does not have any answers except pour more money into failing schools . What about the 1,700 kids who have been looking forward to college?
The Senate voted 50 to 39 Tuesday to reject a Republican-sponsored amendment to the spending bill that would have extended the voucher program beyond the 2009-2010 school year. Yeah, those Democrats really care about their union donations.
Albert F. Rodrick
There was a moment at last week’s school board policy meeting when committee chair Debra Goldman seemed on the verge of tears. Everybody likes to guess what I am made of and what I believe, declared Goldman, right before declining to back a motion to strike diversity from the student assignment policy. We are still guessing.
Last week, she called for research into how diversity affects achievement. She wanted that information, she told her committee, because the school board had seen no data based on socioeconomic status. (The evidence abounds: Two landmark studies show grouping poor kids together results in decreased performance because of difficulty retaining teachers and principals.) With Goldman’s prudent decision, she acknowledged the importance of making evidence-based decisions.
But wait – within a day or so, she hammered out a resolution that would carve the state’s largest school system into separate community zones, effectively dumping diversity in favor of an unsubstantiated, unresearched neighborhood schools framework. Will the real Debra please stand up?
School board members are elected to smartly assess studies and statistics before making the best decisions for our schools. We expect students to do their homework. The new board majority should do theirs, too.
The evidence is clear: The new Wake County School Board majority intends to dismantle the public school system in favor of private schools. Think not? The majority’s largest election donor, Bob Luddy, owns a system of private schools (a system whose board includes Chairman Ron Margiotta – apparently it’s not a conflict of interest if you believe the best public school is a private one).
The second largest donor, Art Pope, is the driving force behind the John Locke Foundation, an organization dedicated to the principle that all services are best provided by the private sector. The board is now single-mindedly pouring millions of dollars down a drain as if it knows from experience that starving a public entity of funds is the best way to reduce service and undermine confidence.
And they are not letting contrary opinion, scholarly research or a survey showing 94 percent satisfaction stand in their way. I can’t help but fear for the future prosperity of Wake County when parents seeking a good education for their children have no alternative but to pay $15,000 per child per year for private school, all unwitting victims of a master plan carried out in the open. Machiavelli must be proud.
I watch with interest the work of the new Wake County school board majority. Their perspective might have merit. Poor people are fine people, as long as they stay in their place, live in their own neighborhoods, go to their own schools, ride in the back of the bus, eat at their own restaurants, drink from their own water fountains, use their own rest rooms and don’t grumble about their plight. And when they finish school they can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps by working fulltime in Iraq or Afghanistan.
There is a debate raging in our community about the “diversity” policies of our school board.
Some are alarmed that the board intends to stop busing students in order to achieve “economic diversity.”
Those alarmed by the proposed changes would have the rest of us believe that hundreds of engineers and high tech managers from California to Scandinavia refusing transfers to our area because their children might have to go through WCPSS schools without having their children sit next to children from public housing projects in Southeast Raleigh.
This is pure nonsense.
The issue is fairly simple. Either economically disadvantaged students benefit from being bused or they do not. Inasmuch as busing costs and money is tight, the onus is on proponents of busing to demonstrate a benefit to students.
In the recent past, proponents of “diversity” have not only been unable to demonstrate any benefit from busing, they also have refused any attempts at studying the issue.
In the absence of any demonstrable benefit, this costly experiment in social engineering ought to be terminated.
Wake County residents are justifiably proud of their schools. However, many have yet to understand that many of our schools excel despite busing and not because of it. In my view, the new majority of the WCPSS is on the side of the angels.
As a graduate of Green Hope High School, I am deeply disturbed at the prospect of the end of the diversity policy that has been a hallmark of our school system. Throughout this contentious debate, I think that we share a tendency to overlook a major benefit of the diversity policy that we currently have: exposure to people different from us.
As an adult in the larger community, the experiences I have had with people from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and the many unique perspectives that I have been exposed to have been vital to shaping me into a functioning member of our community. If we really want our children to be productive citizens in an increasingly globally oriented society, we will keep the diversity policy in place.
A lot’s been made of the opportunities that the diversity policy provides for socio-economically disadvantaged kids, as well as the plusses for the advantaged kids who get to be with a more diverse population in their neighborhood schools. But there’s another aspect of the program that’s been overlooked.
All three of our children were bused to diversity-policy-mandated magnet schools in downtown Raleigh from elementary school through high school. At these schools, the bused-in kids chose to be there because of the superior programs the schools offered, and because of the opportunity to learn with other kids focused on academics and achievement. Enloe High School is ranked one of the top public high schools in the USA, and when our eldest went to Brandeis, she was surprised and disappointed to find the academic rigor a notch or two below her high school experience. We moved to North Carolina from NYC, which has a similar, extremely successful approach, drawing kids from all five boroughs to public high schools specialized in various disciplines (e.g., Bronx Science High, High School for Fashion Industries, etc.).
For Wake County to deny all these opportunities to future generations of children at a time when the competitiveness of the USA is more challenged than ever is not only self-destructive and irrational, but it borders on being unpatriotic.
There’s been much debate about the value and impact of diversity in schools, with some skeptics saying that the emphasis should be on educating students. Let’s not forget that our students must be prepared for life in ways that cannot be measured by grades and test scores alone. They must be prepared and equipped to live as citizens in an increasingly diverse nation and world.
Carnies hit the road in early spring to make a profit during the carnival season. They probably will pass on Wake County this summer due to the fact that their double E-ticket rides cannot compete with our year-round three ring circus.
Two articles appeared on your Feb. 27 front page I thought were connected – “Wake sets vote on school busing” and “For aspiring clown, it’s big top of bust.” In ring number one: the famous chameleon act of the Wake County school board. In ring number two: the incredible vanishing act by the school superintendent. Finally, in ring number three: the stupendous special interests groups performing the “I’m first then me next” act.
Side shows include surveys to ensure the voters really meant their votes were sincere, special interests groups performing superb public relations campaigns, and the thrilling high wire balancing act of the school board. Rides include busing, parent driving and walking.
Now really, would you give all that entertainment up in order to take your kids to a traveling carnival for a double E ticket ride? Bottom line: I can describe this in two words - Absolutely Incredible.
I hope our friends who oppose school busing will ponder the consistency of their political positions.
Are they equally outraged, for example, that over 30 million people in our country without health insurance have to bus their children right by the neighborhood doctors office in search of a free clinic that may be open one or two days a week, if there even is one?
What about the 15 million or so migrant workers who come from places like Central America and Mexico, often on buses, to do the work none of the rest of us wants to do? Are the busing opponents outraged by that busing, or by frequently substandard living and working conditions at the end of the ride?
Have the busing opponents figured the probability that lunch in their neighborhood school has at some stage been handled by an undocumented worker in the picking or slaughtering, in the processing, in the preparing, in the serving? When these workers get sick, where do the germs go? Not to a doctors office. Even the Obama health care plan bars illegal immigrants from receiving medical benefits.
Maybe our anti-busing friends are just the ones to propose an amendment to that plan, one that at least covers illegal immigrants if they have communicable diseases.