The race and not the gender of the students who could attend two proposed Wake County single-sex leadership academies seems to have raised more of a concern with critics.
As noted in today's article, two Guilford County single-gender schools cited by Wake Superintendent Tony Tata as role models are almost exclusively made up of African American students. Those two Guilford schools also happen to spend twice as much per student that the district's other high schools.
The question for some is whether Wake could have similar almost all-black schools if it adopts the single-gender academies on Tuesday.
"I want to make sure that those special academies are not racially identifiable," said school board candidate Christine Kushner at a recent District 6 forum.
Fellow District 6 candidate Donna Williams praised the leadership academies as being an innovative approach for Wake to use.
School board Chairman Ron Margiotta said those concerned about the potential racial mix of the new leadership academies should instead focus on the academic benefits of single-gender schools.
"Our purpose isn't to create a school filled with any particular race or socioeconomic class," Margiotta said. "The only thing we're trying to do is to help kids. What people should care about is results."
Both Guilford schools have graduation rates of 95 to 100 percent and the students do well on standardized tests.
One factor that could impact the racial mix of the two Wake single-gender schools is location. For instance, the two Guilford single-gender schools are application schools. But the fact they're located on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities could explain why basically just black families apply.
In Wake's case, the male leadership academy is proposed to be located on the campus of the Longview School near Enloe High School in East Raleigh. No site has been determined yet for the female academy but one of the locations that's been considered is near Peace College on the outskirts of downtown Raleigh.
The two Wake schools could be all application students or include a mix of base and application students. Will non-black Wake families apply in large numbers for those leadership schools? Or does it even matter if only minority families apply in large numbers?
"I'm not sure what we'd do about that," said school board member Keith Sutton about the possibility of the single-gender schools being racially identifiable. "If you open the school to everyone - those who are attracted to the school, that's who you roll with."