The Great Schools in Wake Coalition is forum is off and running with a few hundred people so far at N.C. State's McKimmon Center.
GSIW chairwoman Yevonne Brannon opened things up by praising socioeconomic diversity as being an important part of the foundation for the success of both the school system and the county. School board member John Tedesco, who is in attendance, got beaten up indirectly during Brannon's remarks.
Without saying Tedesco by name, Brannon chastised his statement after Thursday's student assignment committee meeting that SES was no longer going to be used in assignment.
"Denying the term does not make it go away," Brannon said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Brannon also said the proposal to divide up the county into community zones, which has been pushed by Tedesco and will apparently become a reality in Wake, as being "irresponsible."
It was noted at the beginning of the forum that school board chairman Ron Margiotta and vice chairwoman Debra Goldman had turned down an invitation to speak today. But Tedesco, who's been the most outspoken person on the new direction wasn't invited to speak. He came on his own today.
Also present are school board member Anne McLaurin and Carolyn Morrison.
Brannon also said parents should know that growth is driving reassignment. She said that socioeconomic diversity only drives 5 percent of reassignments.
(Brannon's 5 percent figure likely only includes reassignments where SES is the sole factor. But especially in the recent era of trying to make schools comparable, it likely doesn't include assignments where diversity is one of the factors. For instance, a number of moves of high-poverty nodes in the assignment plan adopted last year cited feeder patterns and filling new schools as the main reason.)
Also at the start of the forum, Brannon gave a special thank you to the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP. She praised Barber as being "steadfast" for ensuing his support for providing an equitable education to all children in North Carolina.
After getting applause from the crowd, Barber gave some love back to the GSIW.
"You are to be commended," Barber said. "This is the right issue. This is the right time you are the right people."
For those who can't make it today, Raleigh Television is taping the forum and will air it at some point.
While all nine school board members were invited to attend, only Margiotta and Goldman were invited to speak.