The Wake County school board majority may have passed its community schools resolution but it may have been boxed into a bad PR position by the board minority.
As noted in today's article, the board passed the resolution by a 5-4 vote after rejecting most of the amendments proposed by the minority. But one amendment that was turned down could be a PR nightmare for the board majority.
Board member Carolyn Morrison put the majority in the position of having to vote for, or against, “a plan that ensures that schools will not become segregated.” The amendment was voted down 5-4.
“The eyes of the nation are upon us,” Morrison said.
Morrison also pointed out that the amendment might reassure the state NAACP, which has threatened to sue Wake.
Board member Keith Sutton said the amendment would go a long way toward demonstrationg Wake is adopting a voluntary segregation plan to comply with getting federal magnet grants.
But board member Debra Goldman questioned the lack of parameters to the amendment.
Malone argued that the term segregation was being used politically, which Sutton denied.
Sutton said passing the amendment would show that the district isn't supporting either racial or economic segregation.
Baord member John Tedeso sharply disagreed with the charge that ending the diversity policy will lead to resegregation.
“That doesn’t happen today," Tedesco said. "The fact is, the laws of the state of North Carolina and the federal government are sufficient to make sure that does not occur.”
Tedesco questioned the lack of a definition for what would constitute segregation. He argued the high poverty levels now in place at some schools under the diversity policy might be considered segregated.
But Morrison's amendment wasn't the first attempt by the minority members to slow down or modify the resolution.
The first attempt was an amendment from Sutton that would have essentially replaced the wording of the original resolution. The most contentious part was the wording saying that "the Board will eliminate high concentrations of low-income students in schools, which disproportionately has a negative effect on the achievement of African American and Latino students."
Tedesco said he couldn't support continue using the use of socioeconomic diversity in student assignment.
The amendment fell 5-4.
Then Anne McLaurin introduced a motion to send the resolution to the policy committee for a review. That too fell 5-4.
The third attempt was a motion from Morrison to amend to the resolution saying that prior to adopting to any changes or before moving forward with a new assignment plan, the board will hold a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss student achievement in each proposed assignment zone.
Tedesco argued the resolution already calls for hold stakeholder meetings.
The amendment is defeated 5-4.
Tedesco proposed a variation of Morrison's motion saying that the plan would be presented at public hearings before adoption. This amendment passes 5-4.
Sutton then pops out another amendment calling for a work session "to review data, cost analysis, and other information related to future student assignment policies" before adopting any policies which revise the student assignment policy. This is voted down 5-4.
It's now board member Kevin Hill's turn to propose an amendment. His says that prior to adopting the final assignment model that the board must first consider a full assement of all costs. One of the things it would look is the cost of any additional expenses associated with the creation of high p-poverty schools.
Hill's motion fails 5-4.
Undaunted Sutton pulls out another "handy dandy amendment.'
"I’m trying hard to get you to say yes to something," Sutton.
Goldman walks over to Sutton's seat and jokingly asks if he has typewriter by him.
This latest motion calls for amending the resolution to say that "the Board will not create any high poverty schools, defined as 75 percent or more of students meeting the district's definition of poverty."
Tedesco says he can't support it because the community needs to get out of the mindset that low-income kids are different and can't learn as well.
Sutton argues that low-income children "are worthy and require our special attention and effort.”
Tedesco retorts back that all children deserve our attention. He says the current system leads to low expectations for poor kids.
The motion died 5-4.
Next comes an amendment from McLaurin that she says everyone can agree on. She calls for the resolution to be amended to say that it will lead to "a plan that provides all students at all schools with an equal opportunity to a sound basic education."
Board member Deborah Prickett says “I am proud to support something from the U.S. Constitution.”
People shout out from the audience that the wording from McLaurin's amendment is from the state constitution. One person shouts out "idiot."
McLaurin's amendment passes unanimously, leading right into Morrison's segregation amendment.
I'll post all the amendments later.