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Asking Debra Goldman about the board directive on student assignment

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Wake County school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman could find herself being grilled by other board members today on what to do next following the recently passed board directive on student assignment.

Goldman had joined the four Democrats on the board on Oct. 5 to back the resolution written by Kevin Hill and Keith Sutton to end all work on the zone-based plan. But there are a lot of questions about where the directive leaves the district.

“Mrs. Goldman and Mr. Sutton need to tell us what they intend to do next,” said Republican school board member Chris Malone. “They can’t simply say what they don’t want.”

Malone, a member of the student assignment committee, had joined committee chairman John Tedesco in complaining at last week's meeting that they were back at square one. Goldman wasn't at last week's student assignment committee meeting to face their questions.

Goldman has repeatedly maintained since the Oct. 5 vote that she still supports community-based schools. How that would be implemented now is the big question.

But pushing Goldman too hard could strain relations even further between her and the other four Republican board members.

The work session starts at 1 p.m. in the board conference room, 3600 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.


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Malone's Confused

Mrs. Goldman and Mr. Sutton need to tell us what they intend to do next,” said Republican school board member Chris Malone. “They can’t simply say what they don’t want.”

In other words it's okay for Tedesco and Malone to operate without telling anyone what direction they are taking the kids but not anyone else to do so.  What a loser this guy is.  I guess he and Tedesco will need to put their heads together and decide what names they can call the others again.  Tedesco is great at coming up with names for people when they don't agree with him.  The best thing for all is for these two guys to step down and leave our kids alone.

Tedesco is great at coming

Tedesco is great at coming up with names for people when they don't agree with him.
You seem to be pretty good at that yourself.


Apparently I struck a nerve - The truth must be hard on you !!!!!!

next step

I don't think they should be asking Goldman and Sutton what they want, as if now they get the final say the way that JT seemed to have the final say before. I think they need to have the conversation they should have had in the first place but didn't. What are the pros and cons of the various ways of assigning students, because every method has strengths and weaknesses. Then the board needs to decide which method they will use, establish guiding priorities, give that to staff to come up with a first draft and then have the student assignment committee go from there.


I would like the board to come up with a list of goals they hope the new assignment policy will achieve (e.g., greater stability in light of the anticipated growth in the county, proximity to schools, preservation of magnet schools, avoidance of high poverty schools, equitable offerings for students, keeping all schools at about 100% capacity, etc.), then model a couple of different assignment methods (e.g., current model, zone model, Alves (sp?) model) to see how each of these models will likely fair under current economic conditions given the various goals of the assignment policy.  I think we could then get a good sense of the pros and cons of each assignment model and the tradeoffs each model entails.  That would give the stakeholders a good basis on which to provide input.  The last attempt by Tedesco was a fiasco as the maps posted on the wcpss website were not at all informative as to the impact of the assignment models on the above goals or the financial impact.  They models were just a bunch of lines and unless you had hours and hours to spend parsing through data, the only information you could glean from those maps was in what zone you resided.

We should also set a timeline

for the year 2020, just because it sounds nice as it flows off the tongue, to have an actual Plan to change to.

I do believe that should give us enough time, don't you think.

The information was

The information was available all along, but most people were either not paying attention until a map was put out and some people’s cheese had been moved or were paying attention but so focused on let’s not change that they didn’t really listen.

Goals from the March community-schools resolution:

The final approved model by the Board of Education must include:

• A multi-year transition plan that limits impact on student reassignment and ensures

program equity within each zone.

• A plan that will be respectful of our history as a community and an institution, while being

innovative and mindful of future growth.

• A plan that ensures a commitment to a high quality education for ALL children.

• A plan that creates consistent and logical feeder patterns with a defined plan for “optional

choice” assignment opportunities. These opportunities will highlight strong support for high quality year-round and magnet schools as viable options for families, while planning

for both a vocational and alternative school.

• A plan that is effective and efficient in the utilization of our facilities and transportation


• A plan that establishes better alignment of internal management systems and functions.

• A strategy that supports and promotes high functioning and engaged communities.

• A plan to support families and keep siblings from being separated by tracks or schools

without parental consent.



Then there was the voluntary desegregation resolution in April:


Then there was the presentation of the vision to the entire BOE in April:


Then in June the draft transition plan and more goal metions:



Among goals the committee put on a tentative list Tuesday were:

  • Continuity in feeder patterns from elementary to middle to high school
  • Preventing minority isolation
  • Not having buses drive by nearer schools while taking students to assigned schools
  • Trying to understand what parents consider their "communities,"not just geography
  • Recognizing different priorities that parents hold in different areas
  • Moving as few students as possible to implement the new plan
  • Planning for growth in parts of the county where it's predicted
  • How to incorporate choice schools



Then there was Alves presentation to the SAC in July:


In August, the staff presented various options to use as the starting basis for developing zones, including high school base maps, current transportation zones, superintendent zones and current planning zones and public comment was requested:


Then in September they moved forward with the high school base map with strong cautions that the map will be fluid.

Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County settled Tuesday on a "shell" map of student-assignment zones based on high schools and larger "regions," though the decision by the school board's Student Assignment Committee came with strong cautions that lines on the map will be "fluid" and that more data on student performance and financial impacts have to come first.


People saw the fluid map and started to pay attention, but because they hadn’t been paying attention all along, they just ate up whatever sound bite and fear mongering was fed to them. They raised concerns and gave feedback and suggestions on the fluid map.

Then at the SAC meeting, they started moving the fluid lines on the fluid map based on public concerns, feedback and suggestions and actually started making changes that the public had requested while stating that more adjustments would be made and got nailed for it.

What does this community actually want? People complain about not having input, then complain when changes are made based on input. People claim they want input, but then can’t be bothered to pay attention and listen and try to understand along the way.

They complain about the BOE not listening – how much listening and paying attention did the public do in March, April, June, July, and August?

IMO it’s not OK for the public to complain at the school system and BOE about accountability and not hold themselves accountable at all in the process. The BOE said all along it would be a lengthy and fluid process.

It would have been interesting to see what the SAC, by using the information they were being presented and with community feedback, came up with had it been allowed to progress because the presentation by Tedesco in April and Alves in July aren’t so very different, so they may have ended up in similar places, but then would have had at least two options to consider.

Great Summary

Thanks for taking the time to put all that together Angela.  It seems like the process has

been pretty transparent IMO.  Not sure how Goldman can say otherwise.

Missed Goals


The SAC wasn't even close to achieving the goals from the community directive with the "plan" they were developing.  Its a stretch to say they were close on any of them.

The SAC lost its direction and was wasting everyone's valuable time.  In this case "fluid" became the politically correct term for directionless.     

"Among goals the committee put on a tentative list Tuesday were:

  • Continuity in feeder patterns from elementary to middle to high school
  • Preventing minority isolation
  • Not having buses drive by nearer schools while taking students to assigned schools
  • Trying to understand what parents consider their "communities,"not just geography
  • Recognizing different priorities that parents hold in different areas
  • Moving as few students as possible to implement the new plan
  • Planning for growth in parts of the county where it's predicted
  • How to incorporate choice schools"

I think the BoE should all go on an off site retreat and comeback with some meaningful ideas that they can all move forward on.




as for the complaint about public input....when it became clear that the work of the committee was quickly devolving into an "every neighborhood for itself" strategy with no regard for how public input meshed with any of the goals set out by the committee, then, yes, those in the public who found fault with this kind of "process" complained.

Long before any boundary lines, there should have been a full SAC discussion to define the objectives for each of the goals and decision rules for cases where goals compete (e.g., school choice and logical feeder patterns are in conflict). In fact, my recollection is that some of the SAC members tried to start discussions about the definitions of these goals but they were cut off by JT. Presumably, had this nitty gritty work been done upfront, the SAC would've had well reasoned responses to address concerns and build consensus among folks who were upset by potential changes imposed by whatever map was proposed. Relying solely on public input from the get-go, without establishing a framework for student assignment based on well-defined goals and related objectives that led to the creation of a rational zone-based, node-based, region-based, etc. map, left the SAC flat-footed and vulnerable to criticism.

as for the info being there all along...believe it or not, I would venture to say that the general public is not as engaged in the day-to-day workings of the BoE as those who post on this blog. I think it's fair to say that most people thought this reassignment fight had to due with busing and the diversity policy and, if this didn't apply (and it doesn't for most people with kids in the school system), then reassignment was not on an issue.  


I agree with your assessment absolutely. Process is important -- especially with something that affects as many people as this does. There is a reason that one goes from big picture to mid-level decisions to details. The SAC went straight from big picture to details, without the all-important mid-level decisions. The directives that TPG posted (thanks for that by the way) are extremely broad -- as they should be. However, the SAC never turned those directives into a workable framework.

I agree with this

I agree with this assessment. 

I'm still wondering how Goldman & Morrison can reconcile being against a zone proposal with no base assignments yet still be 'excited' about seeing what Alves comes up with.  From what I understand, his won't have base assignments either.

I absolutely agree with

I absolutely agree with this.  I think you said something on another entry similar to this.  The previous board's biggest weakness on this was their inability (refusal?)  to set priorities for GM to follow. 

They need to have a real discussion on this--probably several work sessions.  Find the things that they can all agree on.  They will only have a few things on that list at first, but they have got to start somewhere.  Both sides need to make concessions (haven't seen either side do that) and they both have to compromise. 

Finally, although some here disagree that this is our responsibility, we (parents, citizens, educators) must start behaving in the same manner.  It's not enough to just blast the 'other side' and make snide remarks and accusations.  We have to offer compromises and concessions in order to find the solutions as well.  I really wish the public dialogue was focused on this instead of just yelling at each other.


Hopefully they (and all of us) will do as you suggest Jenman.

I agree

we need to find areas of agreement, then work from there.

P.S. Yelling (in moderation) is fun.... let's not give that up.

Yeah, I'm not ready to give

Yeah, I'm not ready to give up the yelling entirely either.  lol

Wow Jen -

When we agree 100%, I say it - AND WE DO!

Grilling Goldman, however

Grilling Goldman, however great that temptation is, will accomplish nothing.  Everyone including Goldman needs to put tempers and egos aside and focus on the business of serving kids.

Talk about hypocrisy...

Do the rest of the BoE members really know what they want? They have told us they are against busing (which is pretty all they talk about).

What is it that they have actually proposed (as a well thought out plan)? Nothing.  Based on what they "don't" want, they came up with some pie-in-the-sky alternative, with no real plan that describes how they are going to achieve anything. What they did do was draw some random lines on maps and called them "zones". Which solves nothing.

And no one is supposed to question their "no-plan" plan!


How are well-thought out plans supposed to be developed?  In general, the board determines a general direction and appoints a committee to work through the details.  The committee fleshes out the plan by listening to a variety of stakeholders, keeping the board informed of its progress along the way.

That sounds an awful lot like what has been happening, and is the way that this board has been making decisions for decades. 

Wasn't happening

  1. The committee didn't flush out any plans. (Posting maps online for comment can't be construe for separate plans.)  It was closer to throw one against the wall and see if it sticks....and we now know the results.
  2. They didn't listen to a variety (emphasis on variety) of stakeholders.  You can argue many reasons both ways why this didn't happen.
  3. They didn't keep the whole board informed. 

If the committee did what you suggest for developing well-thought out plans we certainly  would have had a different outcome right now.  Can't really debate the poor execution and communication by the SAC chair.

I disagree

Bob, I think that's what was supposed to be happening, but I don't think that WAS what was happening. A lot of data was presented but not really discussed, or used as the basis of any decisions. I never saw a presentation of guiding priorities when the inevitable complications arose, and I never saw a presentation of the most relevant data such as capacity data per zone or how transportation works under a zone plan. Every model they put forth that I saw that used the zone plan either was very small, compact system or there was the opportunity to use public bus transportation along with school system transportation.

appearance vs reality

In watching several committee meeting broadcasts, I noticed that committee members' questions/comments were never thoroughly discussed.  John clearly brought his agenda to each meeting (ok since he's the chair, of course), but he was always very careful to not allow meaningful discussion about what he proposed.  John also had staff introduce volumes of data, but again, he would pack the agenda, so no meaningful processing could take place and discuss in particular how all the data could be used by the committee for student assignment.  The committee has yet to discuss the basic structure of the zone plan John proposed to figure out if it's even workable based on the different things the BOE has said they wanted in a new student assignment plan.  In one meeting, John was moving lines and nodes as if the plan were near completion and going to be implemented in July!  When some committee members questioned why he was moving nodes before discussing fundamental goals/principles of the plan, he ignored them and forged ahead.  He was a one-man show that day with his sidekick Chris Malone.  When I later heard John talk in the media about what happened at that meeting, he described a completely different scenario that what I watched online.  He is a master of reshaping reality to suit his purposes and talk about it in a convincing way (with a straight face!).  And for some reason, people still choose to believe his campaign-like sound bites . . .


I watched in panic as JT started a discussion of moving boundary lines based on ad hoc examples of some of the feedback staff had received from the WCPSS website. JT completely undermined his own call for transparency in making school assignments by failing to establish a process or set priorities for making assignment decisions.  What JT proved by that rash discussion was NOT that the lines were flexible but that the "squeaky wheel" -- not the mounds of data prepared by staff -- ruled the discussion. Good grief!  

I saw the same thing,

I was wondering, "why is he undermining his own plan?".  The problem is not his vision, but the lack of basic planning skills coupled with poor listening skills.

Step, Athey, Awake, Turner, Apex

These five blog posts sum it up.  Thanks for posting for the rest of us that don't pay attention on a day to day basis. 

Exactly.  Even Jimmy

Exactly.  Even Jimmy Goodmon is now throwing a "sure, there are a few things we can do better" bone into his rants, but none of them can say what that is.  Based on the old policy 6200, one thing they could have done better was to bus even more kids in their failed attempt to keep all schools below 40% F&R.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.