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.

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Political opposition rising against Wake school board majority

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The Wake County school board majority is getting political heat now from more than just the minority members on the board.

As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith and Sarah Ovaska, the Raleigh City Council has joined the Democratic members of the Wake County board of commissioners to oppose the school board majority's plans to end the diversity policy. Both have now passed resolutions expressing concerns with the majority's plans.

“We need to do anything in our power to stop the school board,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said to the City Council on Tuesday.

Meeker is married to school board minority member Anne McLaurin.

School board member John Tedesco wasn't happy with the passage of the resolutions by the county and Raleigh. He accused those who had voted for the resolution of "playing politics" and backing an old assignment system that promoted "institutional racism" and failed thousands of students.

Meanwhile, Tedesco and other majority members faced more internal opposition from the board minority on Tuesday over the voluntary desegregation resolution. The school board had to pass the resolution to apply for new federal magnet school grant money.

The tone got strained after minority member Carolyn Morrison introduced her amendment to the resolution. She said she was only proposing it to strengthen Wake's effort to get the magnet grant.

But majority members said Morrison's amendment, along with the tweak from McLaurin, was redundant.

School board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman questioned the revised wording saying that every effort would be made to avoid minority group isolation when drawing up the new zones. She argued that minority group isolation is now taking place despite the current use of socioeconomic diversity.

But minority board member Kevin Hill said the resolution was only saying they would try to avoid isolation, not that it wouldn't happen.

After the amendment was rejected, Morrison said she couldn't back the resolution.

"I’m very favorable to magnet schools," Morrison said. "I want the magnet grant but I can’t support this resolution."

School board chairman Ron Margiotta responded that he hoped Morrison's vote wouldn't hurt Wake's effort to get the grant. Someone in the crowd said it won't be Morrison's fault if they don't get the grant.

After the vote, Goldman went after board minority member Keith Sutton. She questioned how Sutton could have voted against the resolution when he had helped write it with her and Tedesco.

Sutton took advantage of the option from Margiotta saying he didn't have to respond to Goldman's question.

UPDATE

School board chairman Ron Margiotta opened today's joint meeting by saying that he recognizes that the commissioners' resolution can be in conflict with the school board's new assignment plans. He said they'll meet to discuss it later but need to focus today on the agenda topics.

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Garner isn't as big as

Garner isn't as big as Raleigh.  A strict neighborhood-style model wouldn't really result in a ton of high poverty schools for Garner.

That isn't the case in Raleigh.  In Raleigh, neighborhood/zone assignment will create schools that are high poverty.  I think it has been shown that high poverty schools require a lot of extra resources and have a lot of teacher turnover.  WCPSS tried to avoid those schools, and did a pretty good job of it.

Your golden example, Fairfax, also has language in their assignment policy to avoid high need schools.  They also provide extra teachers and other resources to those schools.

Is it really honest to "Promise" extra resources to certain zones when we're currently facing 20-40 million dollars in budget cuts.

 

So why doesn't Raleigh and

So why doesn't Raleigh and Mayor Meeker do something about their "poverty problem" instead of dumping their issue on the COUNTY's school system?

Is there anything stopping Raleigh from raisng their own taxes to pay for extra programs to help high poverty kids?

Todd, remember Raleigh is

Todd, remember Raleigh is housing all the poor folks who cut your grass, tend your flowers, cook your meals, clean your house, pick up your trash, work in McDonalds, clean the bathrooms, direct your car when you go to the opera, etc.  Raleigh's poor serve your needs so you can spend more time playing tennis at the club.  They would live closer to their job by you but the cost of housing and zoning has kept them in Raleigh.

User (When are you going to

User (When are you going to have the courage to allow us to address you by name?),

Other than working at McD's, the person doing all of those things you listed in my life would be ME.  I have worked at Domino's delivering pizza so that probably pretty equivalent to the McD's reference.  I'm also not a member of any club as I don't play tennis or golf.  I wish I could live the life envisioned for me.... sounds pretty nice.Smile 

 

No, what Raleigh needs to do

No, what Raleigh needs to do is walk the talk on diversity when it comes to new development and infill development.  The better job they do creating development zones that are diverse, the less they will have to rely on wcpss to create part-time diversity through the school system.

Exactly!!!! I find it very

Exactly!!!!

I find it very disconcerting that the county and city leadership are so willing to heap the economic development challanges we see in some parts of Wake County onto the school system. 

The fact is, if F&R really does relfect the level of low income  in the County, then we should be very concerned that the percentage of students receiving F&R has gone from 19% in 1998 to 31% in 2010. If these figures are accurate, it seems clear that poverty in Wake County is escalating rather dramatically. County and city leaders need to address this troubling situation. 

The economy is not what it

The economy is not what it used to be, this month alone Wake Co. had 266 more bankruptcies filed, numerous foreclosed homes, etc.  There are more people joining the ranks of the poor daily (btw, they are probably not going to like how they get treated).

So do you believe that

So do you believe that nearly 1 in 3 famlies with kids attending WCPSS cannot afford to provide their children lunch? That just cannot not be true. We are being bamboozled. 

Raleigh doesn't have its own

Raleigh doesn't have its own school system.  Raleigh property taxes also make up the majority of Wake County revenue, which is where a lot of school funding is created.

The issue is the county's issue.  People are jealous of the extra programs/resources that go to magnet schools.

Why should anyone believe that they won't be jealous when extra resources go to the "Promise Zone" so that those schools have more teachers and smaller classes. 

Are you really going to say "well, it's OK that school 'x', where we attend, has 24 or 25 kids per class, and school 'y' in the promise zone has 15 kids per class, because they are high need children".

 

Dan, my 'jealousy' of magnet

Dan, my 'jealousy' of magnet schools isn't about magnet schools in general.  First, I have a major problem with magnet schools serving a high income base population.  Some of those magnets have been referred to as 'bringing back the base'.  If the basic education that the rest of us receive isn't enough for some families to stay in their neighborhood school, we're supposed to give them extras so they stay?  Most people I know, myself included, have no problem with giving up academic extras at our schools in order to help a school that's in a high poverty area.  I have a major issue with giving up opportunities so that people living in $400K-$1M houses can have those things at their neighborhood school.

My other problem with magnets has been the selection process.  It is discrimination to say that a student living in a higher poverty node or attending a higher poverty school should have less access to academic opportunities.  

 

 

Magnet schools serve a high

Magnet schools serve a high income base population?  I guess you are referring to Broughton (no longer a magnet) and/or Farmington woods?  I can't think of any other magnet schools that fit that definition. (admittedly, I driven by every magnet school in the entire county, but by looking at the demographics)

So, then, what do you think of the new boards idea of putting magnet schools in every zone?  Won't that put magnets in high income base areas?

Brooks, Joyner, Martin,

Brooks, Joyner, Martin, Wiley & Underwood all have base nodes that are middle to upper income with expensive housing prices.  And those schools are all well below 40% F&R. 

RIght now, every other student in the county is making sacrifices in some form for the success of the magnet schools.  Yet not everybody has equal access to the magnets (this mostly changed with this year's lottery) and about 1/2 of the magnet seats are filled by base students.  

I'm not sure what the magnet schools are going to look like under the
new plan.  Personally, I don't think any magnets should have any base,
or at the very least only a low income base.  Basically, if we are going to have limited opportunities for certain coursework, then everybody should have acess to those opportunities.

 

So..

In general, I have no issue with directing additional resources to help high-needs children.  But, at some point, it gets silly -- I think your 24/25 v. 15 comparison is approaching that point.

The 'jealously' you mention is pretty specific.  I'm annoyed with the magnet program because, even after the budget cuts, magnet students will have a choice between multiple foreign languages, and it's looking like my neighborhood middle school won't have any.  That's a pretty stark contrast.  If the magnet programs were switched to "four types of remedial math," for example, that jealousy disappears, even if those remedial math courses cost more money than my neighborhood middle school gets.

 

Not really. When I taught in

Not really. When I taught in another state, one high poverty school took measures to impove student achievement. They used Title I money to hire a second teacher for every classroom. Effectively creating a student teacher ratio of 1:13. Other schools had classes in the 23-28 student/teacher range.

I haven't analyzed the figures yet, but looking at CMS, some of their recently improved high poverty schools appear to have significantly more teachers than other schools.  Unfortunately, student success is very much tied to this extra resource and any progress tends to diminish when the student teacher ratio returns to normal levels. 

So, there are some

So, there are some non-magnet middle schools that do provide foreign languages - Alot teach Spanish, some also teach French.  Any idea why your middle school does not?

No...

I don't fully understand the situation.  There's a chance that it will be offered next year -- Spanish was evidently an option on the 6th grade elective enrollment form, but was asterisk'd as being on the chopping block for budget purposes.  Don't have any kids in middle school yet, so not really in that loop.

I do know that there's absolutely no foreign language in my kid's elementary school, in contrast to magnet schools.

I don't really mind if magnet schools want to offer a variety of bizarre classes to attract kids to them.  What bugs me is when local schools don't offer what ought to be mainstream classes that magnets offer in spades.  Foreign language is a great example of that.

FL in ES

Several years ago the board tried to hire a foreign language teacher for every Elementary school and then decided they didn't have the money. Of course, since the economy tanked there has been no more talk of this.

I think I remember this.  A

I think I remember this.  A problem with this IIRC was that they would give each Elem a certain number of Months of Employment that were intended to go for FL teachers.  But the principals weren't going to be required to use it for a FL.   Similar to the MOE they get now.  They're required to have Art, PE, Music & a 1/2 time IRT.  The other MOE can be used however they want.  According to Donna Hargens, most schools use it to have a full time IRT and some sort of remedial position.  Others use it for Spanish, Drama or some other elective.  

Thats why I asked - If some

Thats why I asked - If some middle schools can swing it why can't the others?  I don't think it has anything to do with the magnet schools. 

"Thats why I asked - If some

"Thats why I asked - If some middle schools can swing it why can't the
others?"

Non-magnet middle schools

Non-magnet middle schools were mandated a few years back to limit their days to 6 academic periods.

So...

Can't speak to middle-school level.  At my kid's ES, my understanding is that the money is being directed to ESL.  It may be that elementary schools without many ESL students don't have that cost.

As a practical matter, it only has to do with magnet schools to the extent that they get more money than non-magnet schools, and thus don't have to make choices between ESL and Foreign Languages.   But, most people don't really think of it in terms of money -- they see core education classes at magnets which are unavailable at their schools.  The fact that their principal could have made other choices and offered those core classes is invisible.

 

Not sure about ES, heck...

Not sure about ES, heck... my kids didn't even have an Art teacher in ES (or foreign language).  But anyways, of the middle schools I looked at that offered a foreign language one of them (surprisingly Davis Drive) had the second highest ESL percentage of all middle schools. So that does not seem to be the driving factor. 

Do you really consider Spanish in elementary school a core education class? That seems a bit of a stretch.  Far as I have seen, its reading, writing and 'rithmetic.

So...

Core...  I suppose that depends on your definition.  I think that foreign language instruction (typically Spanish) in elementary schools is becoming commonplace and is generally expected in good schools. But, I was really thinking of middle schools.

I suggest that the actual reason that some schools do not have Spanish is irrelevant -- maybe the money's being funnelled to a swiss bank account.  The key thing is that some schools have foreign languages in spades, and some schools don't have any.  And, if you're at one of the schools that doesn't have any, your response is going to be "What The <expletive> ?"

Middle Schools

Got tired of your complaints on this so I went to the website for each Middle School in WCPSS and searched for information on foreign languages.  See post near the beginning of the thread.

Well you can count me as

Well you can count me as another complainer about this issue.  I consider myself in good company with Bob.

Spanish is not a done deal at Wakefield MS for next year.  There is no foreign language this year.  Daniels is still phasing out its magnet program--foreign language is required of all IB students.

I find it appalling that there are ANY middle schools in WCPSS that don't offer a foreign language.  I remember talking with Eleanor Goattee about this and she expressed disappointment in this fact as well.  

 

See above

There is no requirement for Spanish.    Since it is elective and thus students and parents have voice / choice AND it is an option for Wakefield, then maybe you should be looking around at the students in the school who express little interest in Spanish.

I agree to an extent, but I

I agree to an extent, but I don't think that this is unique to magnet schools - it could be facilities or the crazy high number of AP courses at Wakefield compared to Knightdale High for instance. 

And I don't know that there's been any kind of organized clamor or outcry for spanish at every middle school.  I would hope that this board would respond to parents if there is a push for this. 

So..

Organized Clamor...  Probably not.  Disorganized clamor -- definitely.   That sort of thing is school-by-school and is probably mixed in with other concerns for a school.

I'm with you on the Knightdale v. Wakefield thing, especially if Knightdale is missing AP English or something big.  If it's something non-core (AP organic chemistry?), I'm not worried -- Wakefield probably never has enough interest to actually offer that anyway.

Does school "x" get some of

Does school "x" get some of those precious magnet perks?

If so, I'm thinking I'm ok with that...

Yeah...I'm sure you'd never

Yeah...I'm sure you'd never mention the advantages of having small classes.

"Yeah...I'm sure you'd never

"Yeah...I'm sure you'd never mention the advantages of having small
classes."

I don't think that there is

I don't think that there is a school in SER that has 15 kids in a pre-algebra class right now, either. 

 

Small class size is

Small class size is clearly an advantage and something to be considered.  Not sure why you wouldn't expect me to agree with that?

Accusing someone of being a

Accusing someone of being a member of the KKK is pretty loaded. Even among the comments other people have made about the new board majority, I don't think any of the commenters have actually gone that far here. If someone has said that amid all the comments and I missed that, I'm sorry I didn't spot it. This post still has relatively few comments so it's easier for me to note what people are saying.

Umm

With all due respect Mr. Hui, didn't you do an entire blog post (with link provided) about a guy that had a blogspot/website with pictures of the new BOE members and when you clicked on their picture up came a search on "lynching"?

I actually agree with the standard you are now suggesting, but I'm confused as to why it was OK for you to post links to a site implying KKK stuff about the new BOE members if not implying that sort of thing is the standard you want people to follow.

Using KKK is "loaded" but

Using KKK is "loaded" but clearly not true or believed by anyone.  On  the other hand the comments made  toward the board  and reported ad nauseam such as" racist," "segregationist." and worse are more damaging and conveniently are part of the N&O favored lexicon.  You want it both ways claiming "loaded" words meanwhile using words that are more palatable to your sensibilities yet impart a stronger negative connotation.

 I also notice that the N&O often uses segregation (as if that wasn't a loaded word) in a way that implies the racial segregation of old while the board's use of the word is in an economic sense.  A fine distinction and some of the same outcome but it's the way that's it's used - in the "loaded" sense - by the N&O that is similar to the sense you complain about with using "KKK."

Keung, You should not have

Keung,

You should not have let me slide with that comment, and I didn't want you to. 

Again, I apologize to the Meekers for using them to make this point.  Re-segregationist, segregationist, etc describing the board majority has been plastered on this blog dozens of times.  Its been part of your articles and headlines and you have quoted Barbar, Norwalk and others using that term repeatedly.  Please tell me how its different.

Segregationist = racist

Racist = segregationist

Klan member = organized racist/segregationist with uniforms

Segregationist, racist, Klan member = despicable

I don't think its that far of a stretch.

I want to steer this

I want to steer this conversation back to the blog post but linking someone to the Klan, a group which has had a history of committing crimes is more severe than even using the term segregationist.

Keung, I my view are are

Keung,

I my view you are debating a nuance. Calling someone a segregationist is just PC for racist...and being a KKK member is the embodiment of racism. I don't think you can claim one term is off-base and the other is not. They are all equally offensive and have no place in the discussion about our children's education. 

Keung,I just want to know

Keung,

I just want to know where the line is.....

Calling someone a racist (and please don't claim that the term "segregationist" is any different) without any proof whatsoever is ok with you and the N&O but making a joke about "hoodies" is going too far?

Perhaps if I made the same joke about the board majority it would have been ok.

I'm sorry to continue, but I think this topic is much more interesting than the current blog post.

Geez

Can you drop it already.  Admit you went too far and run the other way with your tail between your legs instead of defending it.

No... I will

“We need to do anything in

“We need to do anything in our power to stop the school board,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said to the City Council on Tuesday.

Thank you, Mayor Meeker, for making it so crystal clear just how incredibly out of touch you are.

The beautiful thing about the power of our vote is that even with  Goodmon's media empire and left-wing social engineering politicians working against them,  the new BoE majority can move courageously forward with their inititives to focus on the academic achievement of ALL students and respond to the needs of families.

I say let the status quo continue to grandstand about some irrelevant, narrow-minded and bastardized
version of diversity. The voters ain't buying that snake oil any more.

As for Johm Odom (RINO) who voted along with those pandering to the status quo, he can ...(self censored)

One thing established in an

One thing established in an earlier strand is that research in education does not have to make anything even appear to be valid (ie National Board teachers being better teachers, etc).

That being said, it seems that many people have been unhappy with the way things were.  That Board did what they felt was right.  I don't think anyone had any animosity towards parents, students etc and tried to make them fail.  So what is it we have here?

IMHO I think people are upset about not being in charge any longer.  We have a system that is about voting.  I certainly understand that people feel as if the new Board is "paying back."  In my view this Board was elected with certain expectations.  It is the same as if someone promises a group of people something in order tog et elected and then changes the very thing that got them into office in the first place.

What I would like to see....if I have my druthers.....is this Board given a chance with fair and civilized dissention.  Nothing tastes better than being able to say I told you so? LOL  Well, maybe.  I am not aware of any research that says neighborhood schools are detrimental.

The voters, in whatever numbers, voted with certain expectations.  I'd hate to see someone voted into office overshadowed by someone (in charge?) appointing another person OVER the elected official, wouldn't you?  Just a though.

Assertion that majority can

Assertion that majority can do anything is wrong. Ron-n-John have lost credibility and effectiveness. They will have to work with other governing bodies to get there agenda through. Unless they come up with community plan that saves $$, there is nothing good they can do. Even if they came in with strong convictions, there actions have made them weak. If Ron cannot make his constituents happy by next year, he will be forgotten as quickly as previous board.

Other argument about Raleigh's kids going to other towns does not hold water. It is a countywide school system. Kids go to county schools irrespective of where they are.

!!!

“We need to do anything in our power to stop the school board,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said to the City Council on Tuesday"

Guess we can all help.   I stopped using my garbage disposal and reduced my showers to 3 minutes.Wink

 

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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