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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Teacher transfer requests up in Wake

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Teacher transfer requests are up this year in the Wake County school system.

There were 1,699 requests for transfers to different schools this fall, up from 1,633 last year. Those are only requests, meaning they weren't necessarily approved. Before a certain date, teachers don't need to get the permission of the principal to request a transfer.

The numbers at individual schools are interesting, especially at some magnet schools. Whether the increase at these schools indicates teachers are wary about potential changes to the magnet program or want out for some other reason is uncertain.

This spring, 25 Ligon Middle teachers requested transfers. There were eight requests last year.

A total of 20 Hunter Elementary teachers requested transfers this spring. That's up from six requests last year.

Some non-magnet schools also saw some interesting differences.

A total of 23 teachers requested to leave Leesville Road Elementary this spring. The school is switching back to a traditional calendar for this fall. There were five requests last year.

Leesville Road Middle, which is also switching back to a traditional calendar, had 23 requests. That compares to 24 requests last year when the school was switching to the year-round calendar.

You can speculate why some schools have a lot of requests.

Knightdale High had the most requests of any school at 38. But is it because teachers want to work at the new Heritage High or is it because of dissatisfaction with the work environment?

Another school that stands out is Creech Road Elementary in Garner, which had 30 requests for transfers. There aren't any new schools opening nearby.

Over time, transfer requests are going up. There were 859 requests districtwide in 2005. Then 1,090 in 2006, 1,551 in 2007, 1,435 in 2008, 1,633 in 2009 and 1,699 in 2010.

Click here for this year's school-by-school totals.

Click here for last year's school-by-school totals.

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Mr. Hui?

why didn't you include the number of teachers that wanted to transfer IN to schools?? this is equally important and I'm fairly certain you received or have access to that as well?

Teacher surveys in NC

Found this webpage that gives more details on teacher surveys of all schools in NC.

http://ncteachingconditions.org/reports/

I have not dug real deep into them or did any comparisons, and I'm sure different people will read into it what they want... But it seems to have some good information

THANKS!

I have been looking for this for EVER!  The N&O used to publish the link - this is great data.  thanks again!

LOL It has always been

LOL It has always been interesting to me to see and hear how people view Keung. When I met Keung in 1998 I found him to be very objective in what he saw and what he wrote. Principals always talked about him as an enemy of the WCPSS. Some here on the blog see him as a school system "puppet." How strange that these people are both looking at the same person.

Hmm

WHen you live in the dark, the light is your enemy.

Teacher Transfers

Another made-up news item from Keung Hui. The increase of transfer requests is up 4% from the previous year. And why do teachers request a transfer?

1. They don't like their current teaching assignment
2. They don't like their principal
3. They don't like a long commute
4. They don't like working in a high poverty school (Creech Road)
5. They don't like working a traditional calendar
6. They don't like working a year around calendar

And this is what passes for news at the N&O these days?

All the above are some of

All the above are some of the reasons why teachers are  putting in for transfers.  But, do not kid yourself that teachers are not on edge on what the implications of this new plan are going to do.  I expect that transfer request will get higher next year.

It would be more interesting

It would be more interesting to find out how many teachers are looking to leave WCPSS this year compared to prior years -- not counting the unfortunate ones who have been laid off.  Seems like many of the school systems across the state are also reducing teaching positions, so I'd be a bit surprised to see a sudden emmigration of teachers.

Why would any teacher

Why would any teacher leave?  Unless they retired ... there are no jobs anywhere ... the surrounding counties are in worse shape and shedding teachers ... States up north are going bankrupt and teachers there are looking for work ... so, I don't expect to see anything meaningful from teachers leaving Wake in this economy ... the best they can hope for is just to get to a better school within WCPSSS.

I agree with you, so much

I agree with you, so much for thepr statements that our forced busing program was the linchpin of teacher retention.

Not sure what you are

Not sure what you are talking about ... not having extremely poor schools helps retain teachers whether you get that from zoning, bussing, magnet programs, etc. does not matter. ... if all the schools are within a range, teachers tend to stay put and stay in the system ... the transfer data shows the predictable migration of teachers from poor schools to affluent schools (yes there are a couple of exception on the list ... but in general). And a bad principal in an afflent school can cause teachers to transfer ... maintaining a diverse student population is just one element of attracting and retaining good teachers ...

Again, I'm agreeing with

Again, I'm agreeing with you.  There are many factors a teacher considers when deciding whether to leave a school.  And, as you pointed out, there's nowhere else to go.  The folks at WEP would disagree with us, they have been adamant that Wake County's ability to attract quality teachers is hinged on having the forced-busing policy.  Glad we can agree on something.

I think the theory is that

I think the theory is that current WCPSS teachers would constantly be looking to transfer out of the high poverty schools that would result from proximity-based assignments, and that the subsequent openings created in those schools would be difficult to fill.

You often trivialize the "healthy schools" concept in WCPSS, but I think it is a little dishonest to act like a system full of "healthy schools" wouldn't attract better teachers across the board.

They Should Pay Attention....

There was a middle school in Raleigh that had a transfer request rate that was quite high (55%) for many years.  This school had an awful reputation.  It took WCPSS many years to wake up and see there was a problem.  Most of the teachers were extremely unhappy with the principal at that school.  They replaced the principal with a new guy that has really made an positive impact.  Their transfer request the next year was less than 5%. 

Onw of the goals of this

Onw of the goals of this blog is to provide information that might not normally get in print because of space issues. I didn't write the blog post with the expectation that it would be picked up in Sunday's paper. I didn't realize it was going to appear there until I read the paper this morning. While you may not care, I get several requests each year from parents asking about transfer requests for their child's school.

I took some time today and

I took some time today and just went down the list and randomly picked 6 middle schools (just 8th grade scores with algebra scores and science scores) in Char Meck and 6 in Wake. I'll not offer any comment, but here are the numbers:

Char Meck #stdnts reading math algebra sci

Albemarel MS 807 54/72 >95 62

Alex. Grahm Bell MS 1135 78/86 >95 75

Bailey MS 1233 80/92 >95 74

Carmel MS 1003 78/87 >95 74

Cochrane MS 602 46/64 >95 35

John Alexndr MS 1406 60/76 >95 62

Wake County---

Apex MS 1016 85/93 >95 88

Carnage MS 1083 61/76 >95 70

Durant Rd MS 1075 80/90 >95 81

East Millbrook MS 1128 58/63 >95 55

F/V MS 946 73/80 >95 75

Leesville MS 1274 75/81 >95 74

You wasted your time and

You wasted your time and ours.  Unless you pick schools with similar demographics (and not random down to letter L) your comparison is meaningless.  For example, Carnage MS in Wake County is a AG/GT magnent program - which of the 6 from Mecklenburg can be compared?

This blog is about people

This blog is about people putting things out there to get others to think.  To make one feel inferior (accusing one of wasting ones time or yours) falls into the practice in which people try to snuff out differing views.  The fact is that both Wake County and Char/Meck are very comparable school systems.  Char/Meck, contrary to what has been said by some here, is really NO better or worse than Wake County.  If you look at the middle schools, high schools or elem schools the two systems are very comparable.  I do not think it a waste of time.  Data does not lie and I challenege anyone, using NUMBERS not OPINION to prove otherwise.  That is if you feel like "wasting your time."

One thing I keep seeing is that people seem to think that students that have a low SES, F&R status, etc cannot learn.  As I have said here, my experience is that this is not true if a teacher is allowed to do what they need to do for their students.  In a diverse population (low SES, high F&R) I walked into a school last eyar and helped my students go from 34% pass rates to 65% pass rates.  What happens is directly linked to the teacher in the classroom.  Feel free to go to where the info is......feel free to spend time comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.  I simply looked at 6 random schools from both systems.  As you, my time is limited, but at least I took the time to look at the report cards on the DPI web site.  My view is based on those scores, not opinion.

No kidding!!

All of us are here writing on this blog because we care so much about our community that we squeeze in the extra effort to try to come together to solve problems and make our school system better for ALL of our children!!

We all do not agree, that is a fact.  BUT, we do all care about our children and the future of our school system.  

There is a LOT of middle ground.

We just need to all try to leap for that.

Ironic juxtaposition

It really surprises me that, although I've held on to these two clippings for a few days, I've found no on here who has referenced the ironic juxtaposition of these two articles in the same day. The first, the pessimistic view is from the local article "Community school plan takes a step" by Ray Martin. The second excerpt from the optimistic news is - lo and behold - from the New York Times (!) about Charlotte - it is entitled "Charlotte's turnaround system".

So, I conclude that perhaps teacher retention is a manageable variable? EVEN given an 'inordinate' number of 'those' kids. Wow. Imagine the hope and determined optimism. Even the NYT had to take note. Wow. 

1. http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/29/458798/community-school-plan-takes-a.html?storylink=misearch

"Schools with too many challenged students will have too many challenges," McLaurin said. "What you don't want is a whole school of underachieving students. Teachers won't stay. And it's pretty expensive to keep teachers in those schools."

2. http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/04/29/457860/charlottes-turnaround-system.html

"In the beginning, district administrators worried that high-performing principals and teachers would resist taking on these very difficult assignments. But by giving the mission high priority - and making it a badge of honor to participate - they have turned the program into a magnet for talent. Principals are now clamoring to be chosen for this program, which has been expanded to a total of 20 schools so far.Among other things, the Charlotte program shows that teachers will often respond to talented new leadership and that it is not always necessary to take wrenching steps like shutting down a school or replacing the entire staff. The program also shows that - with creativity and the right incentives - districts can build the capacity to reclaim failing schools."

what's really ironic

What's really ironic is that when outside publications, including the NYT, wrote positive stories about WCPSS you and your gang dismissed and disputed them as not being informed or not telling the truth.  Amazing how one positive article on CMS makes you a believer.

CMS is a have/have not system.  If you really do some research on them, you will see among other tihngs that they are contemplating, if they haven't already done so, cutting 'high poverty teacher pay'--or combat pay as they call it there. Middle school sports is on this week's chopping block, as are widespread layoffs--in many high poverty schools, as it turns out.

It's the same thing that happened when they went to their neighborhood schools program.  Two years later the suburban schools were screaming for the dollars so their little darlings won't be crammed 40 to a class.   I know this--I lived it there.  In CMS, each school's  basics and amenities are determined by the wealth of the parents.  it's shameful there, and it will be shameful here.

What really surprises me is that folks who believe as you do can still convince people you actually CARE about high poverty students, rather than simply using them as a tool for your own ends.  And where is the clamoring from those of you who complained about transportation costs for diversity when it comes to the cost of all these new changes? 

We of course know $15 million for the high school and a few million here and there (and there and there) for moving trailers around to accomodate the political payoff reassignment moves.

But where is the cost of the zone program?  What will be the cost of the magnets--since there's literally no way we'll qualify for federal dollars under our anti-diversity plan? Why would they when we are deliberately re-creating high poverty school zones? What about the trailers to accomodate the overcrowding at many suburban schools?  What is the cost of the national superintendent search?  What will we have to pay someone to come into this circus? 

The wild card here is the 70% of the taxpayers in Wake who do not have children in the schools.  Without cost estimates, and with the known folly that's happened in the time the gang has assumed control, it's going to be interesting.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and my gang?

Me and my gang? People who believe as I do? 

Do you have audio tapes of my conversations and video tapes of our secret handshakes? Wow. How do you know my beliefs? Oh - right - sorry - you read the N&O and this blog so of course you know the whole story! (cough cough)

Holy cow. I just posted a couple of news articles that I thought were an interesting comparison. Don't you believe in a dialog?

As I posted below I don't think that CMS has all the answers. I don't think this board does yet either. But, unless new ideas can be brought to them thoughtfully - as in not in an emotionally reactionary way (hint hint) - no one, including them, are going to pay any attention.  

"But, unless new ideas can

"But, unless new ideas can be brought to them thoughtfully - as in not in
an emotionally reactionary way (hint hint) - no one, including them,
are going to pay any attention."

What's really ironic is that

What's really ironic is that when outside publications, including the
NYT, wrote positive stories about WCPSS you and your gang dismissed and
disputed them as not being informed or not telling the truth. Amazing how one positive article on CMS makes you a believer.  [followed by a lot more sniping.]

Were there other publications?   The fact that one newspaper (or even a handful) get something wrong doesn't mean that every newspaper is automatically suspect.

"Sniping" is in the eyes of

"Sniping" is in the eyes of the taxpayer, is it not, Bob?  Guess we'll see.

Wouldn't it make more sense

not to create high poverty schools, rather than providing incentives to have teachers/princiipals work in them?

Isn't the point

Isn't the point to help children learn and achieve? Why bus if it is not addressing concentrated needs. The big point here is that Charlotte has found something that works. Busing has not worked. And we have schools with high levels of poverty now. The point is to create schools that work for children. I think that their economic level has been too much of a distraction for too long, and too little attention has been put on actual achievement. Charlotte has put their focus on achievement and it seems to be bringing positive results. Isn't that good news? 

What is your obsession with

What is your obsession with bussing ... it only affects 10% of the poor kids today and John's plan will only affect 5% of the kids tomorrow .... while "bussing" served a purpose to get out the conservative and racist vote, it plays little role in the overall education of most kids ....... so, I do not know why you spend 100% of your time worrying about 5-10% of the problem?

Personally, I do not want to be CMS.  Second, I am disappointed that that CMS is the only schools system that you and others have found to hold up as better than WCPSS.  Finally, my concerns is Cadillac programs like Fairfax are fun to look at but we can not afford them which serves no  purpose in moving things forward.

Not my obsession

I am simply responding to the other's obsessive focus  on 'diversity' and the supposed efforts to 'resegregate'. (You know, the vigils, the protests etc which supposedly is all about keeping our schools 'diverse'?) The only mechanism the 'diversity policy' has used was busing. So, to address the 'diversity debate' one is forced to talk about busing and the fact that we already have 'too many' high poverty schools even by the 'diversity policies' own standards. Those who are in favor of the 'diversity policy' then are putting a lot more energy than I am into trying to keep us from 'resegregating', aka into forced busing of the - using your numbers - 5%. 

I'd say the fairer question, assuming your numbers are right,  is why aren't those who are so hysterical about the move away from busing are so obsessed?

 

"The only mechanism the

"The only mechanism the 'diversity policy' has used was busing."

I'm not sure that's 100% true.  When you have two nodes side by side, and one goes east two miles while the other goes west, the diversity policy may have had a role in it.

Plus, going forward, it would be simple to still use the nodes, but divide the county into 5-9 regions.  Once that was done, the individual regions could strive for balance within their boundaries.

If you keep kids within their regions, busing shouldn't be an issue.

 As much as some of you guys hate the node system, in a district this size it does provide a great deal of flexibility to help handle over- and under-crowding.

 

As much as some of you guys

As much as some of you guys hate the node system, in a district this
size it does provide a great deal of flexibility to help handle over-
and under-crowding.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I do agree with you that the node system has its positives.  Ones I hadn't thought about until you posted about them a while back. I think that the problem isn't necessarily the node system iteself but how it was being used for the diversity policy. 

There are so many instances of kids getting bused out of one school to make room for kids getting bused in from another, all for diversity.

 

Under the proposed new

Under the proposed new model, wouldn't some kids still be getting moved from one school to another?

Will it be easier or more fair for those families since it won't be for diversity?

SDR ... the folks fighting

SDR ... the folks fighting for diversity are not worried about  the marginal 10% of the kids who have pissed off affluent parents who want to get rid of them ... we are worried once you get on the slippery slope how far things can be reset ... e.g. back to white and black schools? ... for example, I fully expect the new board to push to warehouse all the poor kids in a few school under community bades and claim victory that they reduced the number of poor schools by 50% (by crowding all the poor kids in fewer number of schools) which really does not help anyone but makes conservative feel better about themselves ... humans give any chance will resegregate by race, income, even political party ... that separation leads to misunderstanding and hostility eventually ... the schools can be one of the places where people meet people who are not their clones in income, race, etc.

Don't get hung up

Don't get hung up on school classification - the measure is achievement and the performance metrics by ethnic and socioeconomic are transparent.  Can run but can't hide.  Baseline of performance will be drawn with this year's achievement metrics. So then we will see if there is an improvement in 1 years time. 

Does CMS really hold up ?

I challenge you to find a parent or teacher in a high poverty CMS school who thinks those schools are doing well.

It wouldn't surprise me if there were happy parents with children in low poverty CMS schools. 

I think it's already been posted somewhere else on this blog that Wake County just doesn't have nearly the average income or property tax rates that Fairfax County does.  I certainly don't want to see those kind of tax rates either. 

CMS system is working ?

Why do you think the CMS system is working ?

Not my words

I don't think CMS is necessarily working. There are many of us who have said all along that it does not need to be apples or oranges, that we're hoping for something more like grapes. I simply thought that the fact that the NYTimes highlighted AN ASPECT of CMS that seems to be working is something that those on this blog would like to be aware of. 

WCPSS is working for you?

Not from where I stand!

This system is currently as dysfunctional as any school system in America. The community has been ripped apart, divided, alienated and separated thanks to the last, and a few previous, school board(s)!  Yell

And just for the record, 50% missing from our so called makeup day yesterday!

And these 5-4 guys are here

And these 5-4 guys are here to heal the divide?  We are allowing politicians to use our children to further their career and ambitions or impose their values on our kids.  We need to get back to simple reading, writing and math base for all kids and than add as many extras as the community wants to pay for ...

Are you and those like you

here to "heal the divide" or do anything besides bash, smash and trash?  I think it's very obvious you're not. 

Yes

Yes

Not to me. I believe in

Not to me. I believe in fixing problems. If kids need to be bused away from their communities, there are problems that need to be fixed. A temporary respite from a bus journey is not a fix. Hiring the right resources into schools is a good step.

Secondly, isn't it better to reward educators to help these students than to reward NEDs and hope the EDs learn by osmosis, busing, and other WCPSS patented techniques?

If you (or anyone)

could guarantee in writing that the necessary resources would be utilized to close the achievement gap, I would be overjoyed to eliminate unnecessary busing.  However, until that day, I remain skeptical.

How can one say that busing

How can one say that busing helps? The latest drama over this mess was at Moore Sq. Have you seen the stats for certain segments of the student population?

I can't back you on decreasing the achievement gap. I did not get involved with a certain related activity because I do not agree with decreasing the gap as a primary objective. I will sign up if the goal is to maximize achievements for all students.

decreasing the achievement gap is a primary objective

for me.  We will have to agree to disagree, which is ok.

Busing is not the solution, it is strictly a bandage. 

...

"...I would be overjoyed to eliminate unnecessary busing."

Busing isn't not a solution... but

creating high poverty schools is not the solution either.  Until there is a solution, resources are required for high poverty school.   By the way, what is the solution?

Define Community ?

In JT's zone model, a zone could be Wakefield and Millbrook.  So a student in the Millbrook area could decide they want to go to Wakefield - bused. So what is this student's community ? Wakefield where he/she only goes to school or Millbrook ?  or the zone ?   A community is defined by a common interest - not necessarily a physical boundry. Whereas a neighborhood is a physical boundry. So what you are saying is keep them in their "neighborhood" and fix the neighborhood.

If the BOE was really interested in addressing achievement and the achievement gap they would have first and foremost put this at the top of the agenda. Identify the drivers to improve achievement, look at schools that are successful with high ED populations. What are the factors that lead to the success ? Can these be replicated across the district ?  Instead the priority is:  calendar schedule to fit the family vacation, bell schedule to fit the after school activities, PLT (valuable time that has proven to make a difference) still up in the air, virtually no time spent on the financial situation.  - So much for working towards fixing the problems.  

 

I am not into the WCPSS

I am not into the WCPSS community vs. neighborhood semantics but I should have used the word "neighborhood" since that is an accurate term for what I was saying. Given that, I am guessing a collection of contiguous neighborhoods would be the assignment zone for a given neighborhood school. However, these semantics are of little importance to me. If one needs a good education, one can't expect conveniences.

I agree with the last paragraph but I am willing to give it some more time before drawing any conclusions upon the new BOE's commitment to achievement. 

 

More than semantics

Unfortunately community vs neighborhood is more than semantics. Nevertheless, in JT's model proximity is only one of the assignment criteria. There is also capacity and other elements he wants to introduce such as property values, parental education - no matter how you want to look at it he is trying to find a way to identify disadvantaged in order to "balance". The only difference is he wants to do it within a zone vs some of the cross county busing seen today.  The true intentions will come to light when the zones and assignment algorithm are unveiled.  We will have busing but will under the guise of choice. 

 

 

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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