WakeEd

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?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

Choose a blog

"Muddled" support for diversity

Bookmark and Share

The fourth speaker presented a paper with the colorful title of "To Turn Back Would Be a Huge Mistake": Race, Class and Student Assignment in Wake County Public Schools."

Sheneka Williams, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia and co-author of the paper, said the title wasn't meant to show their opinion. She said they simply found a good quote from a Wake person and thought it would be an intriguing title.

Key findings included:
* Some "key stakeholders" do not believe the diversity policy has netted clear achievement gains for disadvantaged students.
* The need for the diversity policy was "muddled" in the minds of the public as the community will was diminishing.
* Implementation of the policy is challenged by rapid growth, newcomers who view the current plan as a nuisance and the influx of free lunch students into Wake.

Additionally, while segregation by race is increasing slowly, segregation by socioeconomic status shows a strong increase.

Audios:

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

"Look at the percentage of

"Look at the percentage of ED students that passed both reading and math EOGs..  It's 36.4% at McClintock and 32.9% at Davis Drive.  How do you explain this? "   

Eric, if you had stepped back and thought before you wrote that you would have realized two groups who only share being ED really can not be compared.  The only way to control the experiment would be to have the same kids in both schools at the same time.

   

For example, you did not mention that McClinton only has 20 kids per classroom compared to Davis’s 29.  Is it likely at Davis since most kids are NED that they let the class size get huge since the NED don’t need much attention while at McClinton with  20 kids per class, ED kids get more attention.  You have to control for these things and not just take a few numbers at random to make your point.  Interestingly, Davis LE kids blow past McClinton’s LE kids so what does that tell us?  LE kids should be grouped with NEDs?

    

    Tests %Pass
McClinton ED 527 36.40%
  NED 160 53.80%
  LE 105 21.90%
       
       
Davis ED 140 32.90%
  NED 1,067 87.50%
  LE 60 31.70%
       
Per Class 6th 7th 8th
McClinton 22 20 20
Davis 25 29 24

       http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/servlet/srcICreatePDF?pSchCode=450&pLEACode=600&pYear=2007-2008 

http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/servlet/srcICreatePDF?pSchCode=391&pLEACode=920&pYear=2007-2008

 

"Eric, if you had stepped

"Eric, if
you had stepped back and thought before you wrote that you would have
realized two groups who only share being ED really can not be compared."

Of course there are differences between students at the schools.  I never claimed that there weren't.  I'm just pointing out that low F&R at a school does not automatically equal improved test score performance.  If a school with 72% F&R can beat a school with 13% F&R maybe the poverty level at a school does not affect academic performance like WCPSS says it does.

"The only way to control the experiment would be to have the same kids in both schools at the same time."

False.  You could measure student performance for the 5th grade EOGs vs. the state average to find a starting point then look at 8th grade EOG performance for the same group compared to the state average 3 years later.  The gain or loss compared to the state average tells you the relative knowledge gain of the group you are looking at.

This is something WCPSS could easily do to measure student performance and the effectiveness of the diversity policy, but they refuse to.

"For example, you did not mention that McClinton only has 20 kids per classroom compared to Davis’s 29.  Is
it likely at Davis since most kids are NED that they let the class size
get huge since the NED don’t need much attention while at McClinton
with  20 kids per class, ED kids get more attention."

I would say smaller class size helps, so why aren't we doing that here?  Why don't we have smaller class sizes and more resources for low income students??  How can you hope to help low income students if you lump them in a larger class with high achieving students with very different needs than they do?

"You have to control for these things and not just take a few numbers at random to make your point."

I didn't take a few numbers at random.  I looked at McClintock Middle because the N&O did a story about how bad the school is without even referencing the test scores.  What I found was that the ED EOG passing rate at McClintock beat almost every middle school in WCPSS.  That fact was conveniently omitted from the original story.

"Interestingly, Davis LE kids blow past McClinton’s LE kids so what does that tell us?  LE kids should be grouped with NEDs?"

I'm not sure what your point is.  Student assignment is done based on socioeconomic status, so that is why I looked at the ED numbers.

“I would say smaller

“I would say smaller class size helps, so why aren't we doing that here?  Why don't we have smaller class sizes and more resources for low income students??  How can you hope to help low income students if you lump them in a larger class with high achieving students with very different needs than they do? “

  

I think not only does class size help; it might be the main influence.  It is so important that it is written into state law and needs authorization to exceed.   Note McClintock lower pupil per class assuming equal teacher pay would cost 20% higher than Davis.  Maybe that is why we don’t do it.  So, in round numbers, 20% increase times 30% ED or a 6% increase in your property tax.   Another way to view the same result is that CMS cost about $500 more per student than Wake.   So, if as you say, McClintock beat every other MS in Wake (I did not verify that fact) than reduced class size maybe the answer and increased property taxes can make that happen.

 

We could also get the same results by increasing the NED classes to say 35 and the ED to 20 at Davis and possibly get the same results.   Normally the ED get short changed with bigger classes and the advanced classes the NED take are smaller.

How about assigning classes by ability

Why does everyone keep ASSUMING that ALL ED kids are high needs and ALL NED kids are not???

There are well-behaved and AG ED kids and NED kids who are remedial/IEP/even LEP and with behavior problems.

What world are people living in where family income is an automatic determination of EVERYTHING else about a person?

"We could also get the same

"We could also get the same results by increasing the NED classes to say 35 and the ED to 20 at Davis and possibly get the same results.   Normally the ED get short changed with bigger classes and the advanced classes the NED take are smaller. "

 

Now there's a suggestion--once kids are bussed to a school, divide them up by ED and NED.  Then give the ED kids smaller classes.  But if you're going to do this, why bother with the busing (unless you just want the socio-economic numbers at the school to look good).  Why not just keep everyone close to home, save on assignment and busing money, and create really good and appropriate classrooms for each individual school situation and demographic.

Why not divide them by

Why not divide them by ability which most likely result in high needs classes filled with ED and low needs with NED if that would make people feel better.  Today the advanced classes get the low class sizes (due to interest and testing) but maybe the high needs classes should be allocated more teachers and have the smaller classes. 

Now there's a

Now there's a suggestion--once kids are bussed to a school, divide them up by ED and NED.  Then give the ED kids smaller classes. 

  

“But if you're going to do this, why bother with the busing (unless you just want the socio-economic numbers at the school to look good).  Why not just keep everyone close to home, save on assignment and busing money, and create really good and appropriate classrooms for each individual school situation and demographic.”

  

That would solve all your problems of having to mix with these kids.   If there was a proposal to keep kids local and bump the NED schools to 35/class and the ED schools to 20/class I could think about supporting that given the funding would nor dry up as soon as you got rid of them.  Again, I don’t know if class size is the main lever for improving ED but if it is than that that proposal sound interesting.

  

Really, it comes down to goals.  One goal could be to educate a few people as much as possible … so a lot of small, advanced classes for a select group of kids (probably wealthy or connected) and just warehouse the rest.  So, spending 3X on a Special Ed kid would not be seen as cost effective.  Another choice would be to educate all kids to some basic level such that they could function is society.  So, the smartest kids don’t reach their full potential and the least smart kids get more than they will probably return to society.  Personally, I support the second which I think builds a better, stable, middle class democracy.

I was shocked that user1234

I was shocked that user1234 made that suggestion, although I chose not to comment.  To me it sounds like diversity in the school, but segregation in the classroom.  What's the point of that?

Personally, I do think it could be beneficial to group classrooms by ability given enough possibilities for students to move up into a more advanced group.

"I was shocked that

"I was shocked that user1234 made that suggestion, although I chose not
to comment.  To me it sounds like diversity in the school, but
segregation in the classroom.  What's the point of that?"

I was kind of surprised too.  But - and don't take this to mean I support the idea - it's not's hard to come up with theoretical possibilities for justifications for such a strange policy. 

One is that the school itself would still retain the overall higher levels of parental involvement (PTA funding, more parents volunteering, etc) that come with more economically diverse schools.  Presumably *some* of whatever benefit derives from that would go to the classroomwise segregated kids.

I can think of at least two others offhand...but since I don't support the idea I won't bother making further arguments for it.... ;)

"So, in round numbers, 20%

"So, in round numbers, 20% increase times 30% ED or a 6% increase in your property tax.   Another way to view the same result is that CMS cost about $500 more per student than Wake."

Or you could just move to a neighborhood schools model so that the Title I funds can be allocated to schools in high poverty areas.  Or you could do what Charlotte does and allocate 30% more funding per ED student.  There are alternatives to direct money to low income students.

I keep hearing this $500 per pupil number thrown around as an excuse for WCPSS' mediocre-to-poor performance for low income students. Your own numbers that you have posted previously show that $$$ does not necessarily equal better performance. In particular, Chapel Hill gets good results from their increased spending, but Durham County does not.  Johnston County has less spending than Wake but manages to do comparably, especially among low income students.

If you want to keep throwing out the $$$ difference, start showing some proof that more $$$ equals better student performance.

"So, if as you say, McClintock beat every other MS in Wake (I did not verify that fact)"

I never said McClintock beats ALL middle schools in Wake.  They do not.  They beat most middle schools in Wake.  There are outliers like Salem Middle that blow away all the other middle schools in ED student performance.

“If you want to keep

“If you want to keep throwing out the $$$ difference, start showing some proof that more $$$ equals better student performance. “

  

I have never said that scores and $$$ are linked.  I don’t know.  I have not studied the literature that closely.  Personally, I don’t think Scores are the beginning and end of life when it comes to education.   I am just saying that CMS invests $500/student more than WCPSS.  VOR will say we should expect the same performance for less.  I think that is naive especially when you are talking about the government.   So, given equally inefficient governments, more investment by CMS in smaller class size probably contributes to better scores.  If you wanted to send all the F&Rs home and get the CMS results, you probably need to convince taxpayers to accept a tax increase to make it work.

Convincing the taxpayers

"you probably need to convince taxpayers to accept a tax increase"

 I think there are some challenges to accomplishing this: 1) WCPSS has alienated a number of people at this point, 2) while national scholars think WCPSS is great, locally the feeling is not as strong and 3) trust.

As I mentioned before, even in tough times my home town has voted for higher taxes to fund education, but there the school system and parents and the community are much more in harmony than here. The school system does not alienate the parents who will support schools and they don't waste the taxpayer's money.

To head this of at the pass - according the supportwcpss parents here are all rah rah about WCPSS, well maybe in the circles he/she runs in, but not in the circles I encounter. People I know generally have a positive view of the school staff in the trenches, but a negative view of the BoE, WCPSS "upper management" (those that manage the tax dollars) and their actions and attitudes.

 

One question … you always

One question … you always talk glowingly about you hometown and how they have such a high F&R% and how they continue to vote more taxes for education.  I am assuming you are an adult so your hometown has been doing this for years.  But I don’t get the impression that it really has mattered and the area is just as poor now as it was before??  So, looking at results, it would not seem the investment had panned out??

  

“To head this of at the pass - according the supportwcpss parents here are all rah rah about WCPSS, well maybe in the circles he/she runs in, but not in the circles I encounter. People I know generally have a positive view of the school staff in the trenches, but a negative view of the BoE, WCPSS "upper management" (those that manage the tax dollars) and their actions and attitudes.”

  

I think smart families, businesses and communities know to keep internal squabbling between the family and not air dirty laundry for customers (e.g. taxpayers).  In my 27 years here (VOR is checking), the smart, well educated, people here seem to vote to support education, libraries, parks.  It has only been lately (last 5 years?) that a new crop of people who feel entitled seem to have come to the front.  They seem to want everything now for their kid now.   They make a lot of money, pay a lot of taxes and feel they deserve a higher level of service.   Maybe that comes from living in CA or the NE but it was not part of this area until lately.

  

So, what you see as rah-rah was considered community support.  While BOE has handled the hyper growth poorly, we would have worked slowly behind the scenes to rectify the problems and not had public lynchings which are more attractive to mobs.

They voted to increase taxes to cover lost revenue

due to economic downturn. They still spend significantly below the state average there, have higher F&R than average and still manage to acheive results at the state average. The point was that even when that community was going through really tough times, much tougher than here, they were willing to give more than they had to give because of the positive relationship and history of good fiscal management. Items that seem to be lacking here. This time around they may not have to vote to increase the tax rate because they just got about $700 per student in stimulus funds.

It's not that they don't air dirty laundry, it's that there is none to air about the school system. If there is something to air there on other topics, it gets around plenty fast. Overall, elected officials do a good job there - no big ethical issues.

Education is only one factor in a community's economic success or lack of success and people's desire to continue to live in that community. There are considerations for job opportunities, taxes, weather, size of community, access to entertainment/cultural events, etc. It's a blue collar town. How many blue collar towns are getting less poor these days? Many of the students educated there go on to college and choose not to go back. Fortunately, some do return to become teachers, principals and community leaders.

Also, I've said before those that think education is the only factor in determining a person's future success of getting out of poverty are naive. It has a lot to do with their home experience. The school system can do a great job of educating a student, teach them respect, get them accepted to a college on scholarship, but then the student has to make the right choices to keep that scholarship and it's hard to overcome growing up in household were drugs, instead of books, are covering the coffee table.

I never said it was a perfect place, but they do a good job with education given the other factors there and when you do a good job people are more likely to continue and increase support -- an upward spiral versus a downward one.

All I'm saying is the first time I heard multiple parents state (not on this blog BTW) that they were glad their kid was out of a school system was here.

Who wants to "turn back"?

I feel like those who don't want the truth exposed about our "magical diversity policy" are trying everything they can to discredit those of us who truly DO support diversity, but have huge reservations about the way that it is being implemented in WCPSS.

I don't think ANYONE wants to "turn back"---DO THEY?? I personally want to MOVE FORWARD to a more realistic way of approaching diversity where there are VERIFIABLE RESULTS and it can be PROVEN that it is working.

This all seems so childish, and the losers in all of this are the kids who keep getting shuffled around, year after year, with NO regard to how they as individual students are performing. (and the families who are suffering because of it the needless movement as well)

I would find it easier to

I would find it easier to accept your argument if I saw any evidence that those on the "against" side really WERE only against the implementation.  I just don't see it though.  Where are the proposals for alternative implementations that still achieve socioeconomic diversity?  Haven't all of the groups formed  to fight the school board endorsed some form of neighborhood school as the prime assignment method?  Neighborhood schools are fundamentally incompatible with the idea of socio-economic diversity because most neighborhoods aren't socioeconomically diverse...to get the diversity you HAVE to mix people from different neighborhoods in most cases.

 

It's one thing to question the need for socioeconomic diversity.....it's quite another to claim to support a different implementation while actuallly suporting something totally incompatible.

Implementation

The WSCA Steering Committee has had many discussions about this. We are 'only' parents afterall. We believe that the key will be to find candidates who ARE WILLING TO LISTEN TO PARENTS - ALL! PARENTS and translate that into working models. And so we are not advocating specific models. However, WSCA's motto is 'learning forward'. Not turning back the clock, not the status quo - going forward. 

I think what many of us would like are the best characteristics of several models - the stability and community provided by neighborhood schools; the enrichment and learning with a diverse population; academic excellence for all; and a child/student centric model, not a school/data centric model. Oh, yeah, and fiscal responsibility!

It seems to many of us that the woods have been lost for the trees.  

Come to our next meeting in Garner, Chaboard - April 16, and see what you think then. We'd like to know.  

Where is the

Where is the proposal/outline plan for the ORIGINAL implementation that they are actually trying to carry out now?  I'm sure all Wake County parents would love to see where we are in the midst of the current implementation.  I have not yet listened to the above post on the speakers view of Wake's implementation but she indicated it was only partially implemented at this juncture. 

But what about.....

I have heard wonderful things about the school system in City of Atlanta. Wonder why the speaker didn't mention that, especially being a "Georgia Cracker" and all.

Folks in glass houses should not be throwing stones.

...

* Some "key stakeholders" do not believe the diversity policy has netted clear achievement gains for disadvantaged students.

 

Maybe because it hasn't. Believe me, if WCPSS could show "clear achievement", they would be screaming about it from the rooftops.

Hey Shaneka, Who is the Wake person who gave you the title?

Giving a paper a title like that devalues the scholarship of the paper.

I'm sure a scholar who is anti diversity would never "quote" a supporter of neighborhood schools and title his paper that way.

This is interesting "The need for the diversity policy was "muddled" in the minds of the public as the community will was diminishing."

Why is there a NEED for diversity? There is a NEED for education, but liberals are the ones who seem to NEED diversity. So when parents pull their kids out of the system, those parents are idiots, b/c they're "muddled". No, no, the parents aren't making an educated decision on what is best for their children, their families, they're "muddled".

Liberals. (shaking head)

PS- don't tell me that there's a need for diversity. If there were quantifiable results, Wake County would be touting them/testing for them.

well of course it wasn't!!

well of course it wasn't!! Wake is like a Giant sized Peyton Place. all those dirty little secrets that everyone knows about but no one will write/talk about....

How much of that segregation

How much of that segregation by socioeconomic status is attributable to MYR? Did she address that?

Mandatory year-round was not

Mandatory year-round was not mentioned at all.

Thanks for the reply and

Thanks for the reply and for all of the great coverage, Mr. Hui. 

I have the feeling from speaking with Dr. Kahlenberg and from your reply about mandatory year-round that some of these scholars do not have a clue about what the real situation is "on the ground" for parents in Wake County.  Mandatory year-round clearly causes increased segregation by socioeconomic status and one glance at school demographics and the socioeconomic status of students opting out of year-round would show that.

Eric - could you

Eric - could you elaborate.....how does MYR clearly cause increased socioeconomic segregaton?   And how does glancing at opt-out data for non-mandatory YR tell you what the effects of MYR would be?  I've obviously missed something.

BTW, are you the same Eric_B I used to work with?

Hi Charlie - Yes, I am the

Hi Charlie - Yes, I am the same Eric_B you used to work with.  Nice to chat with you.  I hope you are doing well.

MYR schools have lower F&R percentages than traditional calendar schools due to the fact that the overall F&R population is about 28% in WCPSS, but the opt-outs from MYR (due to Judge Manning's ruling) are 60% F&R.

For example, in the Leesville area, compare MYR Leesville Elementary (17.6%) and Sycamore Creek (11.3%) with the traditional calendar schools of Hilburn (42.0%) and York (47.3%).  These are schools located within about a 5-6 mile radius of each other.  Chuck Dulaney has admitted the F&R differences are caused by YR opt-outs.

For voluntary YR, the families that apply are overwhelmingly middle class.  Reference Board Chair Rosa Gill's comment in the N&O recently about VYR schools being "elitist" and the threat by Chuck Dulaney to do away with YR all together if WCPSS loses the Wake Cares case.

YR is simply incompatible with Wake's diversity goals.

Sure, if WCPSS wins the Wake Cares case they can force F&R students to stay at their MYR school, but these students will still find a way out.  See the 2004 student assignment study by WCPSS where they attempted to study the affects of reassignment on low income students.  Out of about 250 students in the study, only about 17% ended up still attending their assigned school after only 2 years! (I can reference this if you are interested.)

I'm Still Not Getting It

Eric - hope you ar well and all the girls too.

 

I'm still not getting it.  Since we do not have - and have never had - MYR here I just don't see how any stats from here can logically tell us much of anything about what effects MYR will have (assuming the NC SC upholds the appeal ruling - if not it's a moot question anyway) on diversity when (if) MYR is finally implemented here.

Your argument seems to be that if we ever do get MYR the "mandatory" part will be gotten around so hat the stats mirror those under the current voluntary opt-out system.   I don't see how that happens.  Perhaps what I'm missing is in the study you reference...is it online?

Personally I can take or leave MYR....but I consider the socio-economic diversity policy (or - more accurately - the end goals of the diversity policy) to be untouchable.  I think it is necessary on both societal interest AND moral imperative grounds.   At least until I see some other plan that can accomplish the same goals.

Well, I do agree that we

Well, I do agree that we have not had true MYR here in Wake County, although Growth & Planning does everything possible to make parents accept the MYR option.  (e.g., unknown or unappealing traditional calendar opt-outs, no guarantee that the opt-out school option will stay the same from one year to the next).

The diversity policy study I'm thinking of is online here:

http://www.wcpss.net/evaluation-research/reports/2005/0506reassignment05.pdf

The main sentence I'd like to point out from the study is here:

Only 37 (17%) of the 218 original students identified for reassignment based on school poverty levels remained in the schools to which they had been reassigned at the end of the second school year.

If low income students can find options to get out of reassignment, what makes us so sure they would not find alternatives to MYR when YR has proven to be so unpopular among low income students?

If a study can be done that tracks the performance of both low-income and middle class students as they are reassigned and determines whether they meet expected academic growth, we could put this debate to rest.  Isn't it worth figuring out if low-income students are helped by the current policy?

How about figuring out if middle class students being reassigned for diversity purposes are being helped or hurt?  If middle class students are hurt by reassignment, is that an acceptable sacrifice?

Eric, I'll read it tonight

Eric, I'll read it tonight and respond after some thought.   But offhand I'm thinking if it's really so easy for even the poorest and least well-connected to get around the "mandatory" part of MYR to such a degree as to render it  incompatible with diversity reassignment....if it's really that easy to get out of then why did the much more savvy and well-connected suburban parents feel the need to take it to the Supreme Court in an attempt to keep *their* kids from being MYR'ed?  

I've thought some more

I've thought some more about what you say here.  I should have been more circumspect about saying mandatory year-round.  There is plenty of evidence already that the year-round with opt-outs scheme that we have now decreases diversity and has pushed low income students toward traditional calendar schools.  I think that has been "proven" as much as is possible by the events of the past several years.

Suburban parents are fighting MYR more than others due to the fact that the MYR-converted schools and new MYR school construction is being done almost entirely in the suburbs.  If your child's school with 1200 students is suddenly converted to YR, you have to expect that among the approx. 1000 families at the school, you will have a significant amount of opposition to the plan.

Curious

Chaboard, 

This is not a snide question, but an honest question. At the very root of it, at the very core, what in your mind should be the idealistic goal of the diversity policy? 

- to give LI children the best education possible?

- to mix our communities so we 'get used to each other' thereby, theoretically, reducing racism?

- some other goal?

Because maybe that's where we are disconnecting. Most parents simply want their child to be provided with the best education possible. And most children would rather be with their friends. Why can everyone have both? Friends will be people from the neighborhood. The children around our nearest school - to which we do not attend because we were reassigned - are low and high income, and all colors. 22 languages spoken. 

I think if we could agree on the core goal, various details of the implementations would reveal themselves as extraneous. Some implementation characteristics have become so familiar and some folks are so used to fighting for them, that its uncomfortable to get out of 'fight' mode and look at what it is we are really trying to achieve. 

 I'd like to know from you what you think that is. 

 Personally, I'd just like all children in Wake County to have an excellent base school, tailored for their attendees, close to home, which provides a stable, warm, supportive environment for academic achievement. This would require stability so that the teachers could get to know the unique chemistry of their student population. They are all different!

On top of that might have some special schools - maybe children from all communities would have an AG school available to them? This might be a magnet. Maybe children from all communities would have a KIPP school available to them - this might be a magnet. Math school? Art school? But in my mind you should go there by talent/merit/ need. 

I See The Diversity Policy

....as a mechanism to provide at least some "floor" of opportunity to those kids who need it most.   My understanding is that there is a very strong body of research showing that concentrating poor kids in their own schools leads to failed schools and denies those kids even the most basic chance at an education.   (I Googled and read some of this stuff a couple years ago when the whole MYR kerfluffle broke out and it seemed to be pretty well-established associal science propositins go).  Providing that floor would be the "goal".   If I thought there were other mechanisms that could reliably do so at least as well....then I'd be willing to reconsider the diversity policy. 

On a more personal note,  for many years I volunteered in my sons' classrooms at Cary Elementary.   There were kids in those classes bussed from far outside Cary who had never had anyone read them a story before! Had never had someone sit with them one-on-one  and help them to understand basic arithmetic.   Everytime I hear the "neighborhood schools" mantra I think of those kids - one little girl, in particular - and ask myself if she ever would've had that experience in a local school in her neighborhood that lost 60-70% of its parental involvement because it was converted to a neighborhood school? 

I don't have all the answers...but the memory of the smile on that little girls face and the delight in her eyes when she first grasped addition - those memories force me to ask the questions.

I agree .. if you volunteer

I agree .. if you volunteer in a mixed income school it is hard to think how warehousing low income kids in their neighborhood schools is a good solution.  I would like people to expand their definition of "neighborhood" beyond their street or HOA and think wider and broader.

So why did you choose to live in Cary?

I know Cary's schools have a relatively low F&R leevel. If that were to change and your school started to go downhill, would you reconsider your position. It nice to pick out an anecdotal example and try to tug at people's feelings, but when you took at the toatal picture, how is it helping? Where is the proof this policy is working? I can give an anecdotal example of a child that was shortchanged in public school because his teacher was overwhelmed in the classroom with ESL and disruptive children in a school that use to be great. His parents noticed he was going backwards and decided to remove him from public school at great financial strain. The child is now making strait A's in private school. Anecdotal examples don't make a policy right.

"Proof"?

I don't think you can "prove" such a thing.   But evidence?  Well, we've been using the same basic underlying policy for close to 30 years. During that time the citizenry has largely been happy and keeps re-electing advocates of the policy by large margins (88% of the current school board, for example). During that time Wake County schools garnered a national reputation for excellence and have been a big part of the draw that fuels our growth explosion.  And, of course, there IS a body of academic research supporting the assumption that underlies the poilcy.  That counts as evidence too.

So what alternative do you personally support and where is the "proof" for your alternatve?  I hear a lot of "NO" from the anti-school-board forces...I don't hear much in the way of positive ideas for change.  That's what I'm listening for. I understand the frustration and feeling of powerlessness....but without solutions on offer it's just pitchfork mentality.

And that little girl may be just an anecdote to you but she's quite real to me.   

Charlie, WCPSS has very a

Charlie,

WCPSS has very a effective propaganda machine.  Tax deductible corporate and individual donations to Wake Education Partnership keep the drumbeat of support going for the diversity policy despite any evidence that this policy works as implemented in Wake County.

The NY Times has contributed to the national coverage with poorly written and researched stories.  See critiques like the following that someone else posted to WakeEd previously:

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh072808.shtml

It further helps that most of the large school districts that WCPSS is compared against are large, densely populated urban districts like NY City schools, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, etc.  Wake County is nothing like Los Angeles, for example, and its not proper to compare the two districts.

Yes, I will admit that there is some generic research showing that low income students placed into middle class environment do better than those left in a high poverty environment.  There is no research, however, showing that a large scale student assignment plan such as Wake's garners results.

Most of the so-called proof used to justify "healthy schools" comes down to the "duh!" conclusion that schools with more low income students have lower overall test scores than those with a more wealthy population.  I don't see proper research comparing low income students at low poverty schools with low income students at high poverty schools.

Often when you look closer, the results are surprising.  The story the N&O did showing the decline of McClintock Middle School in Charlotte (http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/1398096.html)  conveniently leaves out the point that low income students at McClintock outscore low income students at some of the best, lowest poverty middle schools in Wake County.  For example, the economically disadvantaged (ED) children at McClintock outscore those at Davis Drive here in Wake County.  Proof:

http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/schDetails.jsp?Page=2&pSchCode=450&pLEACode=600&pYear=2007-2008
http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/schDetails.jsp?Page=2&pSchCode=391&pLEACode=920&pYear=2007-2008

Look at the percentage of ED students that passed both reading and math EOGs.  It's 36.4% at McClintock and 32.9% at Davis Drive.  How do you explain this?

Dr. Kahlenberg also admitted when I asked last week that there is no research showing whether middle class students assigned into a higher poverty school are hurt or not.  If the goal is high academic achievement for ALL students, isn't it worth finding out if any students are harmed by the policy? If we've been doing the same policy for 30 years here, isn't it worth actually doing a study to see if what we are doing is working?  It would be trivial to do such a study with WCPSS student (re)assignment data combined with the NC DPI SAS EVAAS software, but WCPSS refuses to do one.  That in itself should tell you something.

If the policy was so effective and generated such great results, WCPSS would be screaming this from the rooftops.  That no proof can be provided should tell you something.

Proof

OK

First, I don't doubt your story, the one I gave was my own. Second, initially I didn't see a problem with the diversity policy, on its face value it sounds good and worthwhile. But the problem is when you start looking at the results and the consequences to others. You want me to give another idea, how about this....do what the majority of the country does and have "neighborhood" elementary schools. Fund all schools the same and have standards for facilities uniformly enforced. Title I federal money should go to Title I schools above and beyond normal funding. If Title I schools fail, allow parents to choose if they want to bus their children (federal law backs this up). If they want to stay, and the school continues to fail, allow them private tutoring (again federal law and funds back this up). Then I would establish a two track high school system for those wishing a college course and for those wishing a vo-tech course of study. I would also establish public private partnerships for the vo-tech programs to help the children get jobs in the local community. I would segregate ESL students into special schools and teach them in their native languages (if possible) until they are able to master English. I would take disciplinary problem students and utilize the "special" alternative high schools that already exist. And I would make magnet schools entry on a merit based system. I would do a lot more, but I would be writing a book and I realize what I am saying to you is falling on deaf ears since you are so well endoctrinated.

Ok, I genuinely thank you

Ok, I genuinely thank you for actually responding and telling me what you want to see happen.  Honestly.  So few WILL respond when asked that.  But when it comes to your response.....

You lost me at "I would have neighborhood schools and fund all schools the same".  You are simply writing off poor kids completely.   I re-read your entire plan there three times and I see absolutely nothing in it that is aimed at providing a bare minimum of chance to a poor kid whose parent is not involved.   Nothing.  That is neither in the interests of a healthy society (long term your "plan" would give us a self-perpetuating permanent underclass) nor something that I or a lot of other parents, voters and taxpayers can support on a moral basis.  

The FACTS are that some kids need a whole lot more resources than others, that not all of those resources are fiscal or can be bought,  and  that not all neighborhoods are created equal.   Perhaps I *have* been"endoctrinated"[sic - but at least I know how to spell the word, it doesn't start with an e!] - on this matter, but if I was it was a very roundabout indoctrination it as a child reading the teachings of this guy in the New Testament who made it very, very cear that the measure of a man (and, by extension, a society) is how he (they) treat the poorest and neediest among them.   I'm not a religious person but that is one very clear moral and ethical obligation that I don't think should be shirked.  How we treat the kids who needour help most is one of the most fundamental ways to measure how civilized we are.  In my opinion.

I'm ok with other schemes than our current policy if they can work ....but they have to at least address the same issue.  You are apparently just deciding it's a non-important non-issue and saying you're not gonna bother.   At least judging by how you yourself have described your plan above.

Fortunately, I know you don't speak for everyone on your side of these school board fights.  There are a lot of people like Eric who I know from real life experience really does care and wants to find a real solution instead of writing off a bunch of kids.  And I guess it really doesn't matter to you what I think anyway since you'e so quick to assume I'm indoctrinated just because I disgree with you.

[And I'll admit one of the reasons I responded rather than ignoring you was to see just how skinny the software here will make a column!  Can we get it down to a word per row with enough nested replies?  These N&O blog comment sections really aren't designed for or up to the task of having a serious back & forth discussion.]

Warning ...VOR gets a little

Warning ...VOR gets a little cranky when he is backed into a corner.

He also gets a little cranky

He also gets a little cranky whe he's dealing with idiots.

I am sorry to hear he feels

I am sorry to hear he feels that way about you.

Good thing she didn't

Neither have you, but it is a good warning. But yes I sometimes get cranky when I am insulted.

OK. I'll bite

First, get an RSS Reader like most of us and maybe you won't have to worry about the thin columns.

I always wondered why an atheist even bothers to try to be moral, it really serves no purpose. I understand staying out of jail, that's about it.  I guess you live to be accepted for your own selfish needs, you need that "feel good" fix to look at yourself in the mirror.  Personally I would not be such a gambler with my soul, hopefully one day you will realize that.  One thing for sure though, I don't need to be lectured about what Christ would do from an atheist.  You are making an assumption I don't care or am heartless, you are incorrect.

I truly care about poor kids, I care that the school system doesn't treat them right. They make them get up early, catch at bus, drive for hours, then rob them of homework time on a long return trip home. I care that their parents are not given the chance to volunteer at their children's school because of the distance to travel. I care that they are denied Title I protection by being sent to an non-Title I school. I care that WCPSS moves some of the lower performing children just to "cook the books" to make Title I schools look better on paper. I care that in WCPSS doing this they can avoid real improvements. I care the achievement gap has not closed. I care that these children aren't given a real vo-tech option.  I care that the graduation rate for these kids are so low. I care that some of their parents don't care. I can go on, but do you get my point. If the busing helped them, I'd be all for it.

BTW- Sorry about the misspelling, I'm just a Southerner with a non-Ivy  League college education...so give me a break.  I have seen the world though, lived and worked in many places in and out of the US and have seen real poverty, real segregation, and real unfairness. And yes, even helped many a poor person. 

I note that you addressed

I note that you addressed nothing of substance and settles for trying to insult me with athiest.  I'll just briefly say that your view that "there's no point" in moraity without the threat of a big bad god to punish you is very warped and devalues the idea of ethics.  Morality that flows from selfishmess is a very strange morality.     And I'll point out that while I pointed out that your plan made no extra provisions for poor kids whose parents weren't involved...it was YOU who actually laid out your plan and left out any such provisions.  And failed to mention them again in this latest response.

So you can get touchy about it if you like....but the only obvious logical conclusion an observer can make is that it isn't important enough to YOU for YOU to address in YOUR plan. You've had several opportunities to demonstrate otherwise and have not done so.  So please don't accuse me of insulting you because you're not happy with the logical inferences that flow directly from your own words.

And yes, the spelling comment was uncalled for.  Particularly given my own tendency towards typos. I apologize for it.

Mr. Hui, thanks for the

Mr. Hui, thanks for the posts that link to the various different papers.  It was interesting to read ..."The report notes that today, most districts seek to achieve socioeconomic integration through public school choice and magnet schools rather than compulsory busing."   I think a reasonable migration from our current system to one that caters to the personal interests of any/all students on a voluntary entrance basis would be quite doable.  It would be nice to see WCPSS expand the programs at schools (other than just magnets) to provide educational thrusts in various different areas (arts/technology/science/vo tech/etc) and tackle diversity thru more choice-type options.    

Yes, I'd love to quit

Yes, I'd love to quit hearing about how Wake County "looks" to other systems..instead they should start interviewing family, after family, after family..people that are actually in the system and dealing with it all. THAT'S what would be great to see publisized-can we call 60 Minutes or something?

send it!  send it to John

send it!  send it to John Stossel (with ABC) as well, he's done specials on the educational systems and such, the more info these places get from different people the more it might spark them to look deeper.

Cars View All
Find a Car
Go
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Go
Homes View All
Find a Home
Go

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of newsobserver.com. Click here to register or to log in.

About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
Advertisements