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Questioning when is the right time for Wake County to discard the controlled-choice assignment plan

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Is this the right time for Wake County to scrap the new choice plan and move to a base school assignment plan starting in the 2013-14 school year?

As noted in today's article, critics say problems have developed in the choice plan to warrant directing staff today to begin developing the switch back to an address-based plan. But supporters of the choice plan say it hasn't been given enough time to work.

"It's arrogant of them to do this and to disregard the parents who had problems before," said Republican school board member Chris Malone.

Malone said that some revisions of the choice plan would be understandable for the 2013-14 school year, but not discarding it. He said that most Wake families like the new plan.

A similar argument was raised by GOP board member John Tedesco, who said the choice plan needs more time to be evaluated before going back to a node-based plan in 2013.

“I’m not surprised this is something they are willing to do,” Tedesco said. “We’ve known for a long time they’ve wanted to go back to the failed policy of busing and telling families where they should go to school instead of having them choose.”

Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, said it's appropriate for the school board to be reviewing the data from the choice plan. But he said there hasn't been enough time yet to have gathered data to say that the choice plan should be dropped.

Schmitt said that dropping the choice plan so soon could undermine public support for giving more money to the school system for operating needs and for a bond issue.

"The school system is legitimately try to instill confidence and credibility for additional funding," Schmitt said. “The more confusion and instability there is in the system, the more difficult it is to build critical mass for more funding."

But Democratic school board chairman Kevin Hill said that changes such as going to a base school plan shouldn't be a surprise.

“We’ve been saying all along that once we have the data and see where the student assignment plan is taking us, we’d review it and see where we can improve it,” Hill said.

Fellow Democratic school board member Christine Kushner pointed to how they didn't make a decision to stop the plan for this fall.

“We’ve been very deliberative,” Kushner said. “We didn’t rush in and make precipitous decisions. We’ve looked at the data. Now is the time to look at where we are and go forward.”

Kushner said Wake needs to have a "fair plan." She defined it as one that:
* Doesn't create additional high-poverty schools,
* Provides predictability of assignments (i.e. a student who lives three houses from a school should be able to attend it),
* Uses school capacity efficiently.

As for potentially dropping the controlled-choice plan, Kushner said Wake already had a choice plan, pointing to how people could apply to magnet schools and STEM schools.

"We've had choice for a long time," Kushner said. "Wake County has had a lot of choices."

One of the arguments from supporters of the choice plan is that it provides stability and ends reassignment.

"People are being reassigned right now," Hill said. "“When you get your third- or fourth-choice school, don’t tell me that’s not reassignment, We’re just not calling it reassignment.”

Tedesco said there's a difference between a student not getting his top choice and moving a node with hundreds of students.

1340108549 Questioning when is the right time for Wake County to discard the controlled-choice assignment plan The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Choice is act

Your senecio applies to a rising kindergartner. It does not apply to the other 135,000 students already in the system that were given the feeder patterns with no choice. Is that so hard to understand ?

If you are not a rising

If you are not a rising Kindergartner and you are not happy with your feeder pattern you can apply for a transfer to a feeder you like. It's not that hard to understand unless you are trying to ignore the obvious just to argue a none existent point.


Sure you can toss your hat in the ring to appply to another school. The probability to get your choice for middle and high school was in the 50% range, about as good a chance as you have with a magnet.  

Did you watch the meeting at

Did you watch the meeting at all? Neil Riemann made some fantastic points that are definitely worth listening to.

So You Can Have A Base...

and when it becomes overcrowded or your proposed feeder schools becomes overcrowded, you have some level of probability you will be reassigned out.  When they decide they need more 'economic balance' in your school, there is a level of probability you will be reassigned.  So how does this differ from your example above?

Do you have data to support the 50% probability you are speaking of or is this just speculation? 


50% was the 1st choice placement rate for students not moving from 5 to 6 or 8-9.  Those rates were higher circa 60% and 75%. 

My point in all of this is that there was a massive reassignment and while a number of students were able to change it through the choice process there were large percentages that were not.  Few parents are going to make a switch for a rising 5th or 8th grader this past year however in 2013-2014 when they move to 6th or 9th grade there will be another 10,000 students seeking reassignment through the choice process and the year after that and the year after that.  How many students is an acceptable number to go through this year after year ? Call it what you want but the fact is there will continue to be reassignments as long as the county keeps growing, demographics keep changing and there is limited school capacity.


"...seeking reassignment through the choice process..."

That's called having a choice - not reassignment.

The issue I have is with reassignments mid-school level. Stability is key to a child's education. And going back to base assignments with socioeconomic and achievement level goals will lead to mid-school level reassignments. That's bad.

No Capacity = No Choice

It's not a choice plan if there's no capacity at the schools on your "choice" list.  The plan generally worked at the elementary level and middle school level, but the choice options at the high school level are a sham.  If there was adequate capacity at the high school level this plan might have worked.

No capacity means no base.

No capacity means no base. Capacity is an issue with either plan.

No Capacity...

So when your child is in 5th grade you are looking forward to your feeder pattern to your HS. Because the planning department underestimated how many kids are coming from the base of that school....they have a capacity issue at the HS. Your node is reassigned to another HS and your child is reassigned to the new feeder. This solves the previous problem how exactly?

can't wait to see how happy

can't wait to see how happy you are when the reassignments start again.

Here's the test

Under the choice plan, there would be no reassignment (except, literally, by choice) for the 2013-14 school year.  Can you say the same of whatever new plan this board is going to dictate?  How about for 2014-15?

Yes, there were some broken expectations in the switchover to the choice plan, but that's OVER now.  However, if the board goes back to a base vote, there are, again, going to be lots of broken expectations -- all the people who were relying on the promise that they'd be able to keep their feeders through 12th grade.

Semantics for next 3 years

Semantics for the next 3 years. It will take that long for the students not happy with the preassigned feeder patterns at the next break to opt out if they can.

So let's solve it by not

So let's solve it by not giving them a choice?

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.