What do Wake County school board meetings and the Cartoon Network have in common?
The New York Times thinks both have a lot in common according to this article that was posted online Sunday night and will appear in Monday's print edition. The Times article notes the more recent developments in the Wake school diversity controversy and how the Wake School Choice Plan could be the solution.
"The (school) board is split five Republicans to four Democrats, and for the last 15 months meetings have looked like a Cartoon Network special, featuring in the lead role Mr. (John) Tedesco, 36, the most verbal member of the majority," according to the article. "He is single with no children and has lots of time on his hands to stir things up.
Since he was elected, his ups and downs have been chronicled practically daily in the media: his house was in foreclosure; he’d been interviewed by Fox News; he’d lost his job; he was a featured speaker at a Tea Party rally; the county Republican Party was asking for donations to support him; he refused to accept those donations and said he would give them to charity."
“Every day, something I said was a story,” Tedesco said in the article. “I said the school system is kind of like the Titanic, it’s hard to turn around. Next day the headline is ‘Tedesco Compares Wake County Schools to Titanic.’"
(To be accurate, he was quoted in this Feb. 1, 2010 N&O article as saying "we're going to turn around the Titanic that is the Wake County school system." That wasn't the headline for the story.)
The Times article says that Tedesco, school board member Kevin Hill, Superintendent Tony Tata and former Superintendent Bill McNeal all said that the Wake School Choice Plan is a good start and could work.
"This may be the first time these four have agreed on anything," the article says.
The Times makes the provocative statement that "advocates of the plan believe that schools balanced by achievement won’t look too different from schools balanced by socioeconomics. That’s because there is a strong statistical correlation between wealth and test scores; generally the wealthier a child’s family, the higher the child’s test scores."
Considering how the Wake School Choice Plan makes proximity a priority, it's debatable whether schools would have the same demographics as now if Wake adopted some variant.
The article says that Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, "thinks that both racial and socioeconomic integration have been proxies for academic integration; that what a parent — white, black, Hispanic, Asian — wants most for a child is to attend an academically successful school; and that race and wealth have been roundabout ways to accomplish that."
It was the Chamber and the Wake Education Partnership that hired education consultant Michael Alves to develop the Wake School Choice Plan.
The article also says that Schmitt says "integration by achievement will be good for business because no matter where a family lives in the county, their children can attend a high achieving school.
“Companies can come into this market and not have to pay extra for employees to send their children to private schools,” Schmitt said in the article.
No front page this time. The article appeared on pg. 11 in the A section of Monday's New York Times.