Here's a taste of the kind of questioning that the student assignment plan could get from the new Wake County school board majority.
During last week's ED task force meeting, new Wake school board member Jim Martin grilled staff during a Q&A on how the new plan is being presented to parents. He was concerned that the choice process isn't being adequately explained to parents, especially those who are less educated.
After hearing the staff presentation about the community outreach efforts, Martin, who has been a citizen member of the ED task force, said they were "getting a lot of the 10,000 ft. story."
Martin gave an example of an African-American dad who is working three jobs, has a third-grade reading level and had school discipline problems so he's scared to talked to school officials but knows he needs to because of the choice plan. He asked how staff would talk about the choice plan to that kind of person.
Chief Transformation Officer Judy Peppier said staff won't tell the parents where to go. But she said staff will show the parent the list of school choices, explain what the test results mean, explain the distances from home, talk about transportation and before and after-school options.
Martin asked what about if the person can barely read. Peppler responded that staff will be reading along with the parent the information.
"At the end of the day, the parents will make the decision, but they (staff) know to emphasize the high-performing schools and the regional-choice schools," Peppler said.
Martin asked how staff would emphasize the high-performing schools. Peppler responded they'd explain it has very good test scores and growth as shown by state exams.
Peppler added that it would be a very one-on-one individualized process with parents.
“It communicates to me the Ph.d. professor," Martin said. "For someone with a third-grade reading level, they will find it a challenge.”
Peppler said that person might be challenged if he was doing it by himself. She cited how they walked through the choices with a lot of parents. She said they will reach out to people who haven't made a choice yet.
Toward the end of the discussion, ED task force member Marvin Pittman said staff needs to send another message that the choice plan "isn't easy." He said it needs to be communicated to parents that it's a new system, "but it's not the best thing since sliced bread."
Pittman said they shouldn't try to sell it a a bill of goods or say it's easy to understand. Pittman said "intelligent educated people" are telling him that it's not an easy plan.