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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

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Lillian Lee files for Wake school board vacancy

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Retired educator Lillian Lee has got some pretty prominent backing in her bid to fill the vacancy on the school board.

Lee, who submitted her application Monday, included reference letters from former Superintendent Bob Bridges and former principal Johnny Farmer. This could give Lee's application some weight as the board weighs who will fill Rosa Gill's District 4 seat in Southeast Raleigh.

"Mrs. Lee appears to be a clear thinker and is confident in her abilities," Bridges wrote in his reference letter. "I believe that the current state of affairs in her life will permit the commitment of time and energy required to serve on the school board."

Retired teacher Doris Burke is the only other person whose application has come in so far. Community activist Venita Peyton has said she'll file.

In her application, Lee argues that her experience in the school system, including 12 years as principal of Rolesville Elementary School, make her well suited to serve on the school board.

The diversity policy makes a frequent appearance in the application. Lee stresses that she's a supporter of Wake's long-running diversity efforts.

"While employed with Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), I worked to implement its goal and mission and continue to strongly agree with them," Lee writes in her background letter. "Since 1976, WCPSS has worked to promote system wide diversity; which has made a positive impact on student achievement."

Lee also notes in her application the recent distance analysis report from staff that found that 86 percent of students go to a school within 5 miles of where they live, based on straight-line distance. Noting that study, she writes "it appears that the majority of students are not traveling a long distance to attend school."

Lee also writes that the student assignment plan "allows for a balance in the assignment of students to schools."

In addition, Lee writes that "we need to strive for a diverse population of those who instruct students and those who implement the board policies."

(I'll post Lee's application after I get back from today's facilities committee meeting.)

UPDATE

Click here for Lee's application, including her reference letters. 

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Say no to Lillian

As a parent of two children who attended Rolesville Elementary, Lee was absolutely clueless. She was horrible regarding inclusion of special needs children and she allowed her teachers to not push students to perform. Students were given chance after chance if they did not turn in homework and were not taught that when you are given work, you must complete it on time. My daughter has struggled ever since.

High School graduation rates

Rosa Gill is primarily responsible for the mediocre high school graduation rates. It is time to give the parents a shot at educating their children.

I have been in a magnet school elementary level in Southeast Raleigh and I am not impressed. The paint is peeling off of the walls and ceilings. Carpet is nasty and molding. Technology is 1980's at best. If the Wake County School Board wasn't doing it's best to lose and waste millions, it would be in better shape and hopefully doing better.

Now we have Rosa Gill representing State House 33. That tells you where the interest of the Democratic Party leadership is. Not with the parents.

“have been in a magnet

“have been in a magnet school elementary level in Southeast Raleigh and I am not impressed. The paint is peeling off of the walls and ceilings. Carpet is nasty and molding. Technology is 1980's at best. If the Wake County School Board wasn't doing it's best to lose and waste millions, it would be in better shape and hopefully doing better. " 

Always remember that Wake taxpayers choose to invest the minimum in schools compared to anyone else.  While the WCPSS can be more efficient and do more with less it is amazing they are doing as much as they are doing on as little as we give them per student.  Also, remember that all schools are not equal.  Those conditions would not be allowed in the wealthier schools.

  

System

local state federal total
Arlington, VA 16217 2618 723 19538
Cary Academy       18750
Ravenscroft       15400
New York       14119
New Jersey       13800
Fairfax, VA 9765 2852 723 13340
Washington DC       12979
Minneapolis       11692
Gwinnett, GA       11650
Chapel Hill 4906 5195 477 10578
Halifax 1090 7295 1523 9908
Orange 3679 5598 519 9796
Chatham 3399 5557 812 9768
Durham 3176 5619 904 9699
New Hanover 3268 5368 822 9458
Guilford 2821 5306 883 9010
Dallas ISD       8852
US Avg       8701
Charlotte 2592 5238 765 8595
North Carolina 2075 5616 830 8521
Austin ISD       8235
Franklin 1600 5636 901 8137
Wake 2440 5180 497 8117
Granville 1611 5674 676 7961
Harnett 1450 5622 831 7903
Johnston 1785 5481 634 7900
Mississippi       6575
Idaho       6283
Arizona       6261
Utah       5257
Thales, Apex       5000

ARgh.

As I've pointed out before, your numbers are misleading.  For example, ou're taking tuition for Ravenscroft & Cary Academy, which has to account for both operating and capital expenses, and comparing it with only the operating expense of Wake County.

I'm fine increasing my property taxes to improve schools, even in this economy and the hit it's put on my family's pocketbook.  But, not to the current set of clowns in charge nor to those running to continue their legacy.

I should have just included

I should have just included the public schools.  The point is that WCPSS does not have a lot to waste since they get so little per student compared to everyone else.  Personally, I am amazed with all the hyper growth and such meager funding they function at all.

Oh great - Here comes another one just like the other one.

Wow! How can someone as educated as what she surely must be, be as dim-witted as what this quote makes her out? I'm sure she'll make a wonderful addition to that merry-band-of-idiots they call our school board!

Lee also notes in her application the recent distance analysis report from staff that found that 86 percent of students go to a school within 5 miles of where they live, based on straight-line distance. Noting that study, she writes "it appears that the majority of students are not traveling a long distance to attend school."

How Convenient

I wonder if her support of the diversity policy is just a way to get a leg up on others that write an application?? If she is viewed as someone that won't make waves then they will more eagerly accept her in.

If she is truly FOR the diveristy policy then she has not paid attention to the downfall WCPSS has taken. She also has not paid attention to how unfavorable it is with parents. And I thought the positions were meant to be a voice for their districts!!

I really hope that come November the Board is so different that it actually will make a difference...but I won't hold my breath!

Another bad choice

Could we get the letter from Johnny Farmer posted on the blog? I would be very curious to see his comments. Johnny Farmer was the long-time principal of Athens Drive High School. Both Lillian Lee and Alice Garrrett were teachers there. I can tell you from personal experience that these two women will continue to shove the WCPSS diversity policy further down the throats of parents. These 2 women DO NOT have the interests of all students in mind, just "certain" students. They have an agenda and they will push it no matter what. They are 10 times worse than Rosa Gill and that is the truth as hard as it is to believe.

Farmer's letter, along with

Farmer's letter, along with the rest of Lee's application is now posted.

The Question

Here is the question for all candidates, but particularly those in District 4.
For 2000-01 here are the passing rates for both the NC ABCs :
Student group - WCPSS - State Avg.
ED - 61.4% - 59.3%
NED - 90.6% - 84.9%
Now for 2007-08
ED - 31.3% - 33.3%
NED - 74.5% - 66.9%
Ignoring entirely the change in actual percentages and focusing only on the trends, how can anyone defend the diversity policy as academically effective for ED children when during the time in which it has been in place, the WCPSS ED population has gone from above to below average, while the NED population has increased their performance advantage versus the state average, and the in county achievement gap has widen much more than the state average?
I am all for the diversity program IF it works. Show me it works. Please. Show me data, not dogma. If it works only in some cases, fine. Identify those cases and keep it there. But let us please not think we are making a difference when the achievement scores show otherwise. Education for all means putting education first.

New Test?

Were the tests changed?  The definition of ED?

 

It is an interesting question but it seems hard to believe that >60% of ED passed at one time.  I have not seen the quality of ED students changed that much in seven years to make them half as smart.  Notice that both Wake and the State ED population both dropped in half in unison which might indicate the common element is a harder test.. that would also explain why the NED decreased also.  Just a thought.

 

Please note that I

Please note that I said:

Ignoring entirely the change in actual percentages and focusing only on the trends,

I am looking solely at how WCPPS compares to the district average and how ED and NED populations compare.  To make it easier, I will do it as an index.  State average as 100

2000-01
Group - WCPSS - State
ED – 104 - 100
NED – 107 - 100

2007-08
ED - 94 - 100
NED – 111 - 100

 

Make sense?  In 00-01, ED was four points ahead of the state average.  In 07-08, they are six points behind.  It isn't the school system as a whole that has gone down, however, as the NED population went from seven points up to eleven points up in the same period.  Why have the ED children in WCPSS fallen compared to the state average, when the NED children have improved?  Furthermore, in what way is this a reflection of the efficacy of the diversity policy which was in effect for the subject time period?

The definition of ED is the one used by the state for the NC ABCs.

I understand ... good

I understand ... good points ... but is diversity the only thing affecting ED?  From all the noise you would think NED are getting most affected.  While not trying to make this more complicated there are two things that seem interesting about the ED numbers to me.

 

1) The ED % Pass does not vary greatly in NC with 32% being the median for everyone around no matter if they do diversity or not.  So, assume ED pass rate is a constant.

2) The ratio of NED to ED scores seems to be largest in Wake which would tell me we are over investing in NEDs compare to other counties. 

 

 

  

System total ed ned ned to ed
Johnston 7900 37.3 69.3        1.86
New Hanover 9458 34.2 70.9        2.07
Chapel Hill 10578 33.9 86.7        2.56
Chatham 9768 33.5 66.9        2.00
NC 8521 33.3 66.9        2.01
Guilford 9010 33.2 68.1        2.05
Orange 9796 32.4 67.9        2.10
Franklin 8137 31.9 62.9        1.97
Wake 8117 31.3 74.5        2.38
Charlotte 8595 31.1 70.3        2.26
Granville 7961 30.9 59.2        1.92
Harnett 7903 30.9 59.9        1.94
Durham 9699 20.8 55.5        2.67
Halifax 9908 18.7 33.1        1.77
    32.15 67.4  

 

Hmm...

Be careful with this.  If you focus on the difference between the two groups, then Halifax County looks a lot more attractive than Chapel Hill, even though both ED and NED students do better in Chapel Hill.

Also, re: your "overinvesting" comment, that's really simplistic.  If you could spend $100 on a program that will get Sam to pass, or spend that same $100 on a different program that will get Fred, Chris and Ted to pass, how should you spend that money?  Does it make any difference if Sam is poor and Fred, Chris and Ted aren't?

 

Bob, it is an interesting

Bob, it is an interesting philosophical question.  

  

We have 30% of the population (ED) of which 30% pass and 70% (NED) of which 85% pass.

  

Do we write off the 30%?  Build more prisons / pay welfare to compensate?  Do we need 85% of the 70% passing?  If we could get 60% of the 70% to pass would that be ok and move the money to help the 30% EDs?  Is that politically even possible?  Or do we want a population of people with 80% pass across the board – NED move down and ED move up.

  

The general equation is [(30*0.3) + (70*0.85) =68.5] which gives you about a 70% pass rate if you can count on the NED to pull up the average.  When you report the data by segment and need all segment to do well it makes it hard to play the ‘average game” and depend on high scoring NED to pull you out.  I worry that given the 30% pass rate for ED kids in all the counties listed above that there is nothing that can be done which is pretty depressing thought.

 

I also have a bad feeling that the cost to move the ED % off 30% is very high and will never be affordable.  So, some innovation is required to make a break through. 

Have we made a break through?

"So, some innovation is required to make a break through." That is exactly what WSCA has been saying. It is what some people have been saying for a long time. Putting kids on a bus and dropping them off at a different school has not been working.

Don't give up hope. Apparently things can be done, otherwise how does one explain how DDES with 40% ED had 52% of ED pass both reading and math, compared to 31% district average. Meanwhile OGES with 8% ED had only 20% of ED pass both. That is a 32% gap. (Those two schools are in the same community area - btw.) It goes to show a lower ED school is not always a guarantee of ED success and conversely a higher ED school does not mean ED students will not do as well.

What do you think about WCPSS reassigning ED students from DDES to OGES to increase the ED population at OGES because it was deemed too low under the diversity policy?

So, some innovation is

So, some innovation is required to make a break through." That is exactly what WSCA has been saying. “

  

Unfortunately, they are saying a lot of other things too and sometime not saying anything like about diversity.   They would not dare to say they oppose diversity policy since that would make them too easy a target.

 

“Putting kids on a bus and dropping them off at a different school has not been working.“

 

What is hard to reconcile is that this issue does not affect many (any?) WSCA’s since most are probably mostly white, upper income, western waker whose kids go to NED schools so the diversity policy has little to do with them yet they make a cornerstone.  Any bad assignments they lived through were mainly due to poorly planned growth not diversity.   

 

 “What do you think about WCPSS reassigning ED students from DDES to OGES to increase the ED population at OGES because it was deemed too low under the diversity policy?”

 I can not comment on the two ES you named because I am not familiar with them but I know that good teachers and administrators can compensate for a lot of problems and so it does not surprise me that there is a mix of results.   I am guessing no one got compensated for the Herculean effort required to do more with less at the ED school.  Also, I favor minor adjustments here and there not wholesale shipping of kids across town which is the common sense approach I think should be followed.

Answers

is diversity the only thing affecting ED?

No, it certainly isn't, but it is the policy of the WCPSS on how to mitigate the impact of ED on students.  Why has it been that the diversity policy has been ineffective compared to what has been practiced by other districts during the same time period?  Why, if we have the diversity policy and other districts don't has our ED population gone from above average to below average?

The ED % Pass does not vary greatly in NC with 32% being the median for
everyone around no matter if they do diversity or not.  So, assume ED
pass rate is a constant.

No, I will not make that assumption.  On index to state average, the ED children of Wake County have seen a ten point decline in less than a decade.  Our county was above average not long ago and now it is below average.  I want to know why, especially when the leadership of the school system says that they have the answer to the problems of at-risk populations.

The ratio of NED to ED scores seems to be largest in Wake which would
tell me we are over investing in NEDs compare to other counties.

To me it says that we have a school system with high quality teachers and a strong, motivated NED student population.  I don't think you can over invest in students, regardless of the economic status of their parents.  I think what this does show is that WCPSS doesn't have the answer to the problem of low performing at-risk populations.  We have schools that can produce above average students, but not if those children are ED.

To be clear, there are certainly factors other than the diversity program at work.  However, it is the cornerstone of WCPSS's efforts to close the achievment gap.  Since that gap has widdened during the tenure of the diversity policy, there needs to be an complete examination of what is and isn't being accomplished.

Someone mentioned Garner HS before.  I taught in one of the middle schools that feeds Garner HS.  I know what these issues are.  I know that there is no magic wand that can make it all better.  And I am not claiming to have the solution.  I never have made that claim nor will I ever do so.  What I am saying is that we have a trend in test scores that runs counter to the goals of current diversity policy.  We need to know why and how the diversity policy plays a roll in the goals of high student achievement for all not being met.

"Our county was above

"Our county was above average not long ago and now it is below average.  I want to know why, especially when the leadership of the school system says that they have the answer to the problems of at-risk populations."   

Maybe we have not pushed diversity hard enough?  We know that a 1/3 of the schools are >40% and we know that when ED kids are put in NED schools that typically they have a higher pass rate at the HS level ... (ES maybe not?).    Many schools are just gradually getting more ED over time as the community and county gets poorer.  As the ED population grows at a school, motivated parents move to low ED schools so their kids will have access to advanced classes, and motivated kids and teachers lacking in the ED school.  I always felt the diversity policy was to stabilize the system / community not necessarily help anyone segment of the population.  

 

...

"I always felt the diversity policy was to stabilize the system / community not necessarily help anyone segment of the population."

 

Why would a school system pour everything into a policy that isn't designed to help anyone?

 

 

 

 

I don't think anyone said

I don't think anyone said it was not helping anyone just that is was not intended solely for the purpose of raising ED passing %.   I said I like it because it helps keep some of the advanced course that would naturally migrate to the NED schools in ED schools.  Maybe NED students benefit from making friends with ED students who are not part of their “neighborhood”.  It just seems that the most noise is coming from NED parents which makes it look like the NEDs are trying to rid themselves of ED kids and thus the source of the racist and elitest comments from some..

 

I don’t think the WCPSS pours everything into diversity given that so many schools are not very diverse.   It is one tool but not the only tool.

 

Unique perspective

I
always felt the diversity policy was to stabilize the system /
community not necessarily help anyone segment of the population. 

That is the first time that I have heard that.  I have absolutely no idea how a policy that is allowing for the gap between the haves and have nots is stabilizing the community.  As a student and teacher of history I can assure you that such a gulf has never once been a stabilizing factor.

Maybe we have not pushed diversity hard enough?  We
know that a 1/3 of the schools are >40% ... Many schools are just gradually getting more ED over time as the community and county gets poorer.
 

And here we come to the fatal flaw.  We are now a system where ≈30% of students are ED.  40% at a school is hardly a statistical outlier.  What do we do when we get to 35%?  40%?  The policy has a system wide expiration date based on the current demographic trends, and there are parts of the county that are already well over 50% ED, with no neighboring areas of NED population with which to exchange students. 

WCPSS's policy has been to ignore these kids.  Look at Wakelon Elementary.  Ignoring at risk kids because they cannot be forced into the administration's favorite policy is unacceptable.  This blind devotion to the diversity policy must not be allowed to continue.  There must be a tireless search for other solutions and an endless evaluation of the efficacy of the program.  Neither of these happen.

No more sacred cows.  No more dogma.   It is time for the sycophants who crave the adoration of the education literati or political power merchants to be kicked out.  It is time to focus on the children and the education the schools deliver.

"There must be a tireless

"There must be a tireless search for other solutions and an endless evaluation of the efficacy of the program.  Neither of these happen. "

I don't think there needs to be a tireless search to avoid diversity.  I agree that 40% is arbitrary and they should use common sense to make adjustment here and there and maybe ignore some schools that are too far gone.  But we don’t want a system with schools on the extreme though -  some very wealthy and some desperately poor and be like many other urban examples.

Diversity - tool not a goal

I don't think there needs to be a tireless search to avoid diversity.

I said nothing of the sort, so don't try to make out that I did.   Diversity should be seen as the means to an end - high educational achievement - not the goal.  Unfortunately, for you and the school board, the priority seems to be misplaced.

we
don’t want a system with schools on the extreme though -  some very
wealthy and some desperately poor and be like many other urban examples
.

That cannot happen since funding is allocated at a county level.  That is a red herring.

 maybe ignore some schools that are too far gone

Absolutely not.  No.  Never.  I will not support a school system that gives up on children simply because they cannot be force fit in their arbitrarily determined notion of the way things should be.

The big problem is that the is an entire system now that is so vested in this program that it cannot be allowed to fail regardless of its performance or lack thereof.  

“we don’t want a system

“we don’t want a system with schools on the extreme though -  some very

wealthy and some desperately poor and be like many other urban examples. …That cannot happen since funding is allocated at a county level.  That is a red herring. “

 

I think you might be a little naïve.  What happens is that advanced courses are determined by “interest” and are not equally distributed.  So, if you attend a High ED school there is not “interest” at your school since fewer kids are not going to college.  It is very subtle.  Most people at NED schools don’t see the problem because they have never experienced it.

 

“ maybe ignore some schools that are too far gone “

  What I meant was they are NED schools on the edge of the county, just let them be and ditto for some house project school that is 100% ED.  Trying to make population changes to schools at those extremes is political suicide.  

“The big problem is that the is an entire system now that is so vested in this program that it cannot be allowed to fail regardless of its performance or lack thereof. 

 

Actually, the whole county is vested… people are living all over the county since they can get a good education most everywhere and not have to pay exorbitant house prices to get into one of the “golden” nodes.    

Actually, the whole county

Actually,
the whole county is vested… people are living all over the county since
they can get a good education most everywhere and not have to pay
exorbitant house prices to get into one of the “golden” nodes.  

Tell that to the guy, Chris Marsch, in the other story who is being illegally denied his right to transfer from a school which has only two in five kids at grade level.

That is the problem.  The over realiance on this diversity program.  As with everything else in life, there is no magic solution.  There needs to be alternatives.

False

" The over realiance on this diversity program.  As with everything else in life, there is no magic solution.  There needs to be alternatives. "

 

His problem is an adminstrative one.  Every system has a few fall through the cracks and needs a person to review the problem and correct it.  Computer's first output can not always be trusted which is why we still have humans.  This is a customer service problem not a diversity problem.

Again, you mention over reliance on diversity program which is false.   Diversity policy is just one of the programs but not the only one.  It may be it is the only one you choose to see though.

Maybe

It may be an administrative problem.   But, it's also a problem that would be *very, very easy* for the school board to fix:  "Remember when we turned down your transfer application?  Well, we changed our minds.  Have it it."

The fact that the school board HASN'T fixed this tells us something about where families fall in the board's priority list.

I have no problem with that

I have no problem with that ...

His problem is an

His problem is an adminstrative one.  Every system has a few fall
through the cracks and needs a person to review the problem and correct
it.

Wrong.  Every NCLB transfer from a YR school is not falling through the cracks.

 Diversity policy is just one of the programs but not the only one.

 Name the others then.

Title I, NCLB, Extra TAs,

Title I, NCLB, Extra TAs, admins to work IDPs all help high needs schools deal with the extra workload (though much of it is gone next year, I heard .. our sporadic commitment to the poor).  Again the problem is with the school ... as the High Needs population increases, the options for advanced students decreases such that moving to a NED school is the only option to get advanced courses which further increases the % ED population - a death spiral ... note, one solution is not to teach any class unless it is offered in all schools ... and redistribute the teachers so the experienced ones don't end up in the NED schools ... that would help reduce the disparity and stablize the student population.

Ha!

"Maybe we have not pushed diversity hard enough?"

I'm reminded of a T-shirt I saw in a natuical knick-knack shop:

"The floggings will continue until morale improves."

Yes...

The tests changed a few years back and the reading tests were again changed last year (2008) in theory to bring the results up to a national standard.   At the time of the first change, WCPSS complained that the change basically undid all its work in improving the scores of ED students.   IIRC, that also happened to correspond with when WCPSS stopped justifying the diversity policy with the improvement in ED scores and started justifying it with the poorly-defined "healthy schools."

Since you can't directly compare the earlier and later scores, the important thing is how Wake's scores did relative to those of the rest of the state.  Over that period of time, Wake went from over-performing to under-performing.

Amazing! ...but not in a good way

There must be something in our county's water system that inhibits the ability to have an open mind and to think innovatively. How can every person seeking a spot on the school board from District 4 be so thoroughly ignorant of the relevant issues and parental concerns and so convinced that doing the same thing will bring about different results? It would be hilarious if the consequences were not so dire.

Does anyone have any new ideas........ZZZZZZZZZZ

MORE OF THE SAME? NO THANK YOU

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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