The Great Schools in Wake Coalition is blasting the decision to convert Hilburn Elementary to a K-8 campus and the creation of two single-sex leadership school as "foreshadowing future chaos for Wake County residents."
In a press release today, GSIW says it's "deeply concerned over recent decisions by the Wake County Board of Education to use expensive and poorly analyzed reconfigurations of several school buildings as a means of repairing problems of its own making." It also says the decisions "highlight the Board’s willingness to rush important decisions without obtaining adequate input from the community or studying the facts."
The group blames the Hilburn decision on school board member Deborah Prickett's efforts to convert Leesville Road Middle back to a traditional calendar. GSIW questions the costs of the conversion, placing kindergartners and eighth-graders in the same building and whether enough families will choose the school.
But the GSIW says it's "perhaps even more troubling" that the board approved the single-gender leadership academies.
The GSIW questions the displacement of the special-ed students and the facilities costs for the alternative schools and the leadership academies.
“The K-8 and single-gender academy programs are yet another example of the School Board majority running roughshod over families,” said Yevonne Brannon, GSIW chairwoman, in the press release. “There was limited discussion among a small number of parents regarding Hilburn, and absolutely no public input into the idea of single-sex academies.
There is no detailed cost analysis, no known demand by families, and no evidence of the benefits of either program. In fact, significant research indicates that single-sex education does more harm than good.”
Brannon also cites the recent article in Science magazine done by critics of single-sex schools to question the academic benefits for Wake's decision.
“Sadly, the Board majority appears to be creating an illusion of progress by haphazardly enacting expensive, new, and entirely untested programs,” Brannon said. “This is a transparent effort to distract people from a record of failure. And it is exactly the kind of Board mismanagement that has put our high schools' accreditation at risk.
While the Board is trying to sell the public on school choice, the reality is that they’re creating unappealing and unproven programs that, in fact, are under enrolled in places like Washington D.C. In the end, many parents feel that the Board majority will end up forcing its poor choices on families, at a great cost to taxpayers.”
In an interview today, school board vice chairman John Tedesco pointed out that the leadership academies were proposed as a bipartisan initiative by him and Keith Sutton. He found it ironic that the board majority was being criticized for approving a bi-partisan program considering all the prior complaints that they weren't working with the minority.