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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Possible impact of redistricting on school board elections

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This week's scheduled vote on the new Wake County school board redistricting proposal could have a major impact on this fall's election.

As noted in today's article, the new maps move some possible candidates into new districts. It could cause at least one incumbent not to run and impact the decisions of other prospective candidates.

The new maps muddy the waters for some potential candidates who support the old diversity policy.

Let's take the case of school board member Anne McLaurin, who has said she's leaning toward running for re-election in District 5. But the new maps change her boundaries enough that she might be less willing to run.

Neil Riemann, an ally of McLaurin, has been considering running should she not seek another term. But the plan moves Riemann's precinct into District 6, now held by board member Carolyn Morrison.

Morrison hasn't announced if she'll run again

While Riemann could run in District 6, especially if Morrison bows out, that would put him at odds with Anne Sherron.

Sherron, an ally of Morrison, said she won't decide until June if she'll run in District 6. Sherron is a Republican but her support for the old diversity policy puts her at odds with the GOP leadership. If she ran, Sherron said she's not sure she'd want or ask for the Republican Party's endorsement in what's a non-partisan race.

The plan also moves Jim Martin, who has been considering a possible run in District 8 against board chairman Ron Margiotta. He would now find himself in District 5, forcing Democrats to find an alternative in District 8.

While some prospective candidates have been moved, the new plan leaves GOP candidate Heather Losurdo on the border of District 3, allowing her to continue her bid against board member Kevin Hill.

The board will discuss redistricting during Tuesday's work session. But only 30 minutes has been set aside on the agenda for the issue.

The agenda for the special called board meeting that starts at 4:30 p.m. calls for a vote on the redistricting plan.

FIXED LINK FOR WORK SESSION AGENDA

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The survey was at the insistence of the new BOE members

During the BOE work session, it was Anne McLaurin, Carolyn Morrison and Keith Sutton who questioned the purpose and the validity of the survey.  It was Prickett, Tedesco and Margiotta that were pushing WCPSS staff to quickly get the survey into the hands of parents....because they felt that the results of the survey would support their ignorant plan.  When the survey results did not come back as the G5 wanted, they disregarded the results.  Especially the results for LRES - those families, teachers and administrators were perfectly happy with the YR schedule.

Two words - "Survivor

Two words - "Survivor Bias"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

You don't make changes to a

You don't make changes to a 10-year, county-wide plan that factors in census data, 9 districts and 866,000+ citizens to accommodate a couple of people who might someday decide to run for a school board seat. This is just more of the same from the N&O.

So you're saying that it's

So you're saying that it's just coincidence that a couple of likely pro-diversity candidates were moved from their districts and a likely anti-diversity candidate wasn't?

I wish people (on all sides) would stop with the games and just tell the truth....starting by not having dog-and-pony show public comment sessions while at the same time saying you're not going to change anything.

Public Comment

It is called public comment, meaning the public can make comments and voice concerns. The public comment period is over now the BOE gets to vote and impliment what they feel is appropriate. If the public does not like the vote, they can vote out their member of the BOE on election day.

How do you identify "likely candidates" and why should the districts be gerry mandered to satisfy "likely candidates". All the "likely candidates" still reside in districts that are having elections this year. No one was moved to a district that is not voting this election cycle (Oh wait we are talking about likely candidates, I am sure someone will claim they were going to run but can't now because of redistricting).

I know it's called public

I know it's called public comment.  But, if that public comment is supposed to be a part of the "transparent" redistricting process, then it should be done prior to board members making up their minds about their votes.  At the very least, it should be done before they publicly announce that they've made up their minds.

I haven't been around here in quite some time, and even then most of those same names were being rumored as candidates.  You can pretend that their potential interest in running played no part in the redistricting, but you're fooling yourself.

If ANY of the likely candidates (for either side) in this year's elections are in ANY of the totally unnecessary split precincts, then the new board members have totally let politics take over.  Splitting precincts is stupid and likely will result in wasted time and money during elections by complicating something that could (and should) be simple.

Dan,Have you done any

Dan,

Have you done any research at all?  Have you looked at any maps or studied the situation in any way?  Do you know the reasons the BOE is splitting the districts?  Do you have a detailed alternative plan that could avoid the split districts and meet the requirements of the laws in place regulation this process (particularly the Voter's Rights Act)?

Or....are you just throwing out slanderous accusations with nothing to back it up?  Surely not because that would be totally irresponsible given the importance of the school system to our children's education.

Finally, the redistricting process should completely ignore who the current BOE members are and who may or may not be running in the next election.  We will all have to live the new districts longer than any of those people will likely be in office.  After all, our school system is not about the BOE members or your political party, its about education.  The only two factors that should be considered are logic and reason.  Unfortunately, we have laws that must also be followed which were put in place with a lack of logic and reason.  Therefore, some things will be screwed up.

I know that they are

I know that they are redistricting to balance the districts.  I know that they are using a possibly shaky connection to a court case to avoid using potential future growth considerations in their calculations.

I know that if they are willing to redraw the lines so that there is a "finger" that reaches out to Panther Creek HS, they could also have had a couple of "fingers" that enabled Knightdale to remain in one district.

To be honest, I hadn't thought much about the redistricting until the attorney for the school board (a public entity that I believe promised an open, transparent redistricting process) cited attorney-client privilege to avoid giving exact lines for the new districts.

Perception is reality.  UNC using FERPA rules to avoid reporting parking ticket information for athletes gives the perception that they are hiding something.  Shanahan hiding behind attorney-client privilege gives the perception that he is doing something that isn't above-board.

I can't get back to my quote from here, but I don't really think I said anything slanderous.  If you're referring to my "anyone with half a brain" comments, they certainly aren't slanderous.  I would expect any group with control of the redistricting process to attempt to benefit their side without being overt, which is exactly what appears to be happening now.  I don't really care that it is happening.  I wouldn't care about the split precincts if it was more common and if the attorney didn't seem to be trying to hide the real lines....that makes it seem shady.

It's like dealing with my kids.  "I got a green frog today, daddy......but don't check" means I should get his folder to see what he did.

Let me help you... "If ANY

Let me help you...

"If ANY of the likely candidates (for either side) in this year's elections are in ANY of the totally unnecessary split precincts, then the new board members have totally let politics take over."

Obviously, you don't know this to be true...Clearly, there are reasons, other than politics, that may have gone into the decisions and you have no, zero, zip, natta, evidence to the contrary other than your intuition (at best). 

For that matter, how is the BOE going to realistically take into consideration ALL of the likely candidates (whom, in my opinion, shouldn't be taken into consideration at all). 

Public comment not public

Public comment not public input. There is a difference. I can comment on the shirt you are wearing. But after making my comment you are not obligated to put on a different shirt. Nor does it mean you have to change your opinion of your shirt. Nor does it stop you from stating the love of your shirt and unwillingness to change it prior to my comments.

Nothing is simple about redistricting. No matter what you do someone will scream foul. I personally don't think sitting board members should be "protected" during the redistricting process let alone potential candidates. The potential candidates can still run for election. And no I don't think the redistricting process was manipulated to move these potential candidates around. The fact that the majority ended up in the same district speaks more to where they chose to live than anything else. Do we create "Rorschach test" districts to place potential candidates into the districts they prefer to be in? Every ten years we change the districts to reflect the changes in the population of the county. This process should not be subjected to the political aspirations of a few people (potential, actual, declared, rumored and suspected) Maybe the "potential candidates should have waited until the redistricting process was over before becoming potential candidates. This is a non issue.

Right, but if I had been

Right, but if I had been provided that shirt by Wake County, and I had told you that I would let you have some input into what shirt I was wearing, then I would be wrong to show up at the meeting where I was supposed to get your feedback having already chosen my shirt.

Let's be honest:  Anyone with half a brain knows that they aren't very likely to change anything about the redistricing maps.  Anyone with half a brain knows that they have very likely worked the numbers (and, therefore, the shapes) a little to benefit "their side".  They won the elections, so that is their right as long as the districts are relatively fair.

So...

Precisely, what did they say?  I suspect that their original statements were not so black-and-white as they've been made out.  I know Chris Malone has been saying (on this blog, even) that he wants to try to figure out something for Knightdale, even though that situation looks difficult.

Split precincts are an necessity, especially in the suburbs.  Look at the precinct map -- there are downtown precincts with 1,000 people, and suburban precincts pushing ten times that number.  If you're trying to get the district sizes to within 1% of each other, then you HAVE to split precincts. 

We had at least one split

We had at least one split precinct before this year's redistricting, this is not a new concept.

...

"...a couple of likely pro-diversity candidates..."

Is that part of the regulations? Do not move potential unannounced future candidates -- especially if you like their politics.

What coincidence? All

What coincidence? All announced candidates remain in their original districts... is that the coincidence you are referring to?

I was referring to the unannounced potential candiates. It makes no sense to grant them special consideration just because they are thinking about maybe running.

McLaurin's best move...

Would be to ask to be moved into District 6.  That puts her back into a district with people who know her.  Further, Morrison's probably not running, so there's an open seat.  That would allow Jim Martin to run in District 5, without running against McLaurin.  And, it might partially help solve Knightdale's issue.

I don't think it matters.

I don't think it matters. Remember that McLaurin's acolytes don't tire of reminding everyone that 95% of parents are happy with WCPSS. Hence, McLaurin could run from anywhere and still win by a landslide. Ditto for all the other BOE members in the 'diversity' boat.

3 years of stability under diversity rule?

Boy you had a large bowl of dummy this morning didn't you! Were you awake during these last 3 years? 1,000's upon 1,000's of us would totally disagree with that and if you mix in YR schools and the many changes that have happened within over the last 3 years you're simply out in left field. "90% satisfied" based on what, a meaningless survey that all of about maybe 50% of parents responded to?

I do agree with you that once the 412th reassignment plan is decided on it is game over.

And it can't come soon enough.

On a side note, if Ann "Shearon Harris" Sherron thinks she would have any chance to get elected I think she has now provided the final proof needed to prove her incompetent.

A 50% response rate to a

A 50% response rate to a survey is actually pretty good for a survey.   Can only use the data that exists based on the last publically released larger survey of parents.   There is no doubt that many students were moved but the 3 year plan did reduce the previously large number of yearly reassignments and started down a path of more stability than there was before.   Year round schools is something that Wake county had to bite the bullet on at some point and is necessary.   Until more schools go year round, there will be lots of No votes in my future for more bond money.  

The new reassignment plan still has to figure out what to do with magnets and nothing about how to handle overcrowding.  Will wait to see the details of the new assignment plan before even thinking about saying if it will promote more stability.    My guess is that reassignment during the last 5-7 years under the old plan and new plan wouldn't have looked different because you can't open new schools and solve overcrowding without forcing people to be reassigned.

Year round schools is

Year round schools is something that Wake county had to bite the bullet on at some point and is necessary.   Until more schools go year round, there will be lots of No votes in my future for more bond money.  

YR schools have been tried and abandoned hundreds of times across the country. The savings just aren't there. Here's a list of hundreds of school districts that tried YR, rejected it, and returned to traditional calendars (the website may have an agenda, but there's no disputing the facts):

http://www.summermatters.com/rejects.htm

YR schools can only be economical when all 4 tracks have similar enrollments. YR schools are failing right here in Wake County because it is difficult to get enough families to choose tracks 2 and 3. In fact, if you look back at the survey, the satisfaction rate drops significantly if parents are unable to get the track they want. And families have a far greater preference for tracks 1 and 4, then they do for tracks 2 and 3.

Because of family preferences, many of our YR schools are operating with less enrollment than when they were on traditional calendars -- and that wastes money.

Yes and Tata is continuing to waste money

and continue the train bus wreck of instability with at least 9 schools that should not be YR.

He jumped the gun, gave more false hope and put out a list that the public should have never seen and THEN withdrew the bulk of what HE had suggested.

Kind of like the first look at the plagiarized assignment plan that we were supposed to see yesterday.

I'm picking up on a real pattern and problem with some of Mr. Tata's decision making skills.

...

"... the 3 year plan did reduce the previously large number of yearly reassignments and started down a path of more stability than there was before."

Wrong. It didn't reduce reassignments -- it just alerted people to their impending reassignment that year or one of the following 2 years. Path of more stability? Please.

Correct; the 3-year

Correct; the 3-year plan was merely an alert system for the pain to come.

does it really matter anymore

it really doesn't matter.  Once the current school board picks the new assignment plan, it is game over.    No matter what side people are on (personally i come down in the middle that the current school board had some good ideas but chose to implement them in a way that rubbed people the wrong way), there is no way that anybody in their right mind could argue that redoing assignment again is good for any kid.    It is pretty obvious that after 3 years of stability in the old assignment plan, 90%+ of the people were pretty satisfied.   That satisfaction will drop significantly in the next 2 years of the chaos of reassignment and then go back up to the same level.   Most people care more about stability than any political or philosophical side.    The old school board and likely this one will get done in by growth causing reassignments and less stability, not some way of assigning students.   

My big question on the new assignment plan will be with the "stable" feeder plans from elementary->middle school->high school, how they will keep stability when overcrowding happens.

The 3-year assignment plan

The 3-year assignment plan moved 26,000 kids.  Prior to that, we had reassignment plans almost every year, always moving thousands of kids.  Grandfathering may have helped reduce those numbers some, but opt-outs were an offset.  Stability?

question for cc

CC, how would you have assigned students in the years when new schools were opening at a rate of several per year both to fill new schools and to relieve overcrowding in some areas?  Also, what was your proposal for new students moving to overcrowded areas at a rate beyond what could fill new schools?  Finally, how do you explain the general satisfaction rate in the survey conducted by the new BOE shortly they took office?

For the last freaking

For the last freaking time........the 90% satisfaction rate was to a question specifically about your child's school, not the school system! 

Hence the problem with survey results....people will just ignore the original question and just try and spin the results to fit their agenda. 

one example

'Finally, how do you explain the general satisfaction rate in the survey conducted by the new BOE shortly they took office?'

I responded that I was satisfied in the survey I took for my older son who is in HS at LRHS.  I wanted to recognize the principals and teachers there.

Thanks goodness we weren't moved to Millbrook, which is a 40 minute drive in rush hour traffic (versus 5-10 min for LRHS).  That was only changed after Millbrook was designated a magnet, and more students could be assigned to LRHS.  

I did not get to take the survey for my younger son - first LRMS was designated YR AND we were transferred to WMMS.  We could grandfather in, but on track 2.  No thank you, as that would have been a 2 week summer for him, and a total mismatch with my older son's traditional schedule.  We opted out, so no chance to answer negatively on the survey for that one.

 

I'll Jump In...

In regards to the survey results...did anyone ever consider that many parents that answered were already in their neighborhood schools and never had to deal with reassignment? Would their satisfaction change if they were reassigned? You bet... I asked some parent that live within a mile of our school how would they fill if they were moved to a school 6 miles away.....everyone of them said they would not be happy!

In regards to filling new schools, that is an interesting challenge.  I can tell you from experience there was a new school that opened in our area.  There were plenty of families that would have gone voluntarily, but the problem was they wouldn't allow these families to go to this new school under the old policy.  The main issue was the SES balancing they were trying to do!   Would volunteers fill a new school...I honestly don't know, but it is the path of least resistance! 

That's a weird argument to make...

They said they were satisfied because they were. At that point of time. Almost like saying - are you happy with your current job? Would you continue to be happy with this job if you were fired from it next year?

Also, what school are you talking about where students were prevented from signing up?

That's a really poor

That's a really poor analogy.  A better one would be "are you happy with your current job" followed by "is there a job you'd like better."

If 90% of parents were happy with their school assignment and how the system was run, there's no way the four neighborhood schools candidates would have won -- in a landslide.

A small % of motivated

A small % of motivated people to vote in an election where tedesco had a winning vote count of 3,255 (49.36%) is far from a landslide as one example of the neighborhood school landslide.    A majority, that is true and that is how we run our elections and he won. 

The survey that had 28% response rate where 94.7% of people were satisfied or very satisfied with the current school.   Could you get that number up higher by allowing people pick their school or get neighborhood schools, maybe but it is diminishing returns.  Would be interesting to see after the next round of chaos on reassignment and there will be one, what the result of the same survey of the school becomes.   

No matter what the plan becomes, you are going to have a percentage of the people upset because it is all about parents getting their kid in the best school they can with some bias based on distance from home.   And if those percentage of people are concentrated enough to get a majority of people that actually show up and vote and have enough political power they will get the changes they want through the school board.

In the end, the school board could have ended up at the exact same spot as they are now with a new model of assignment with little controversy if they just went about the process a bit differently.  Hopefully we don't end up stuck in litigation for the next year and leave things in limbo because of it

the school board could have

the school board could have ended up at the exact same spot as they are now with a new model of assignment with little controversy if they just went about the process a bit differently

Hey, no doubt the board made things harder on themselves than they needed to be, but if you think there was any way they could have done away with diversity-based busing with "little controversy" you're kidding yourself.

A small % of motivated people to vote in an election

Well, now we have GWIS, the NAACP, the NC Center for Social Justice, FIST, nCheat. the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Party and the Raleigh Chamber mobilized for this year's elections.  You should be expecting that all five seats are won by pro-diversity busing candidates, right?

Tedesco received over 49% of

Tedesco received over 49% of the vote in a FOUR WAY race and over 70% of the vote in a run-off. That is a landslide by any definition.

Also, as has been pointed out countless times, the 94% claim has nothing to do with satisfaction for the Burns-led school system, the former status quo board or the previous idiotic, burdensome and discriminatory forced-busing student assignment fiasco.

Boo'ing

Then it must have been the 51% and 30% at Garner's ScottyFest booing Tedesco.

...

I think the Claymates egged them on.

This needs to be on billboards all over town

Well said and exactly to the point. A point some just can't seem to grasp.

Well...

I'm making a valid point...many parents were satisfied with their schools because they were neighborhood schools and they didn't have to deal with reassignment.   If you want to have a serious conversation about this topic then I welcome it...if you just want to brow beat me...you can go elsewhere!

In regards to the school, I'm referring to Sycamore Creek.   There are several neighborhoods that are within 2 miles or less from Sycamore Creek that specifically asked Patti Head to be assigned there when it opened.  They were ALL denied!  It was all about balancing.  The biggest shame is Sycamore Creek had 450+ available seats at that time that just remained empty! 

Not a bad analogy...

You can't take a survey that says "how satisfied are you with your job" and use it as any indication about "how satisfied are you with the direction this company has taken in the past few years?"  Yet, lots of people are doing the same thing with the survey about satisfaction with the current school.

And, speaking of which, recognize that there is a "survivor's bias" -- when you ask "how satisfied are you with your current school," you are only asking it to people still in the school.  Many of the most dissatisfied have already left.  (It's a bit like asking people at McDonald's what they think of the food at McDonald's.)

no way

Are you suggesting that parents who didn't have children in a school should have been able to complete a survey?  Haven't those people already expressed an opinion by leaving?   If you follow that logic then every adult in the school's base should have been able to complete the survey. There was already a bias in the results because parents of children in terminal grades were allowed to participate, but parents of rising students were not.   

?

No. I am saying that because they weren't includes in the survey, you cannot use the survey to make conclusions about a group that includes them.

Well, then, it's not true to

Well, then, it's not true to say 94% of parents approve of the schools.

It's silly to say everything is just great with the schools when people are turning out in record numbers to vote out incumbent school board members, and leaving the school system in droves.  

huh?

You can spin the survey any way you want to fit your agenda, but you can't deny that the results were ignored by the majority.   The very people who asked for it and who wasted money and time on it. 

Huh?

They used that survey in deciding which schools to convert back to traditional calendar.  Sure, it wasn't the only consideration, but the survey was certainly used for exactly its intended purpose.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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