How good were the old days under former Wake County Schools Superintendent Bill McNeal and how bad could they get it after the elimination of the diversity policy?
In the first part of a series last week in The Carolinian looking at the new Walnut Creek Elementary School, Cash Michaels looks fondly on the era when McNeal was superintendent from 2000 to 2006. The article contrasts that with the demographics of the new Walnut Creek in the post-SES policy era.
The article trumpets the low teacher turnover rates and high test scores when McNeal was superintendent as Wake tried to maintain "healthy schools."
“We understood that if we did not keep a handle on what we deemed were healthy schools, then we would be looking at teachers moving from certain schools, and not having the best teachers there,” McNeal said the article. “We were successful.”
The article acknowledges critics of the diversity policy who argue the state tests then were too easy. But Michaels points out that Wake was still outperforming the rest of the state then.
But the era had to end, article says, when the GOP-led Wake County Board of Commissioners "denied the school system' additional resources.
"When he couldn’t get the kind of resources to adequately keep up with growth and maintain the level of support he knew not only the school system, but its most challenged students needed, a frustrated McNeal left, knowing that things would fall apart fast, challenged students would fall behind, and more high poverty schools would result," according to the article.
Michaels blames the lack of resources for causing the school system to fall behind and to have problems such as fewer than 60 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduating on time.
Fast forward to the present where, in the absence of the diversity policy, Walnut Creek is opening up with more than 80 percent of students projected to be receiving subsidized lunches.
“They (Walnut Creek students) won’t be getting the same quality of education that other children in surrounding schools are receiving,” said Calla Wright, president of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children, in the article.
According to the article, Wright says the children there will not have the same enriching experiences as they would in diverse student populations, and she worries that this will limit their ability to meet the challenges of a global society as they mature.
The article notes the $7,000 signing bonus that will be offered to the new principal and questions whether additional resources will flow in the future to the high-poverty schools.