How much weight should be given to the disapproval coming from the business community over the Wake County school board's approval of the student assignment directive?
As noted in today's article, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership both expressed disappointment Wednesday over the vote. During the board discussion, the Republican board members had pointed to the support both groups had provided to the choice plan, including paying to bring Michael Alves to Raleigh.
"I’m just suggesting that the option of tabling it for 60 days to allow the staff to show us potential impact, to allow the community to have greater conversation in depth on that impact would be reasonable considering the amount of turmoil we as a community have gone through over the last couple of years, the amount of investment the staff and the system has already made both financially and with time, the amount of investment the community has made with the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Ed Partnership and other community partners," said GOP board member John Tedesco. "To move in this direction asking for 60 days I think is very reasonable."
Fellow GOP board member Deborah Prickett said that the Chamber and WEP were "just invaluable to us" in developing the choice plan.
"Have either the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce or Wake Ed Partnership made a statement about the proposal?" Prickett said. "And the answer is yes. I looked in my email today and I had an email statement from Harvey Schmitt today with the Greater Raleigh Chamber and it was excellent, well worth reading.
We’ve also been given some other information from the Wake Ed Partnership that Ms. Goldman mentioned earlier today that we certainly need to consider. So the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce has been supportive of this plan and they actually paid for some of the Alves charges. And remember along with the Alves plan we have purchased software too that we have set up to go along with this plan.”
Prickett also singled out comments from Bob Sconce and JanisTango criticizing the directive on the WakeEd blog during her remarks.
After the lengthy recess that led to the final version of the directive, Democratic board member Susan Evans had her response.
"While I acknowledge that, first of all, the Raleigh Chamber and the Wake Ed Partnership are valuable partners in our community, and I respect the input of all citizens, at these board meetings on the blogs, wherever they choose to give their input, I just wanted to remind Ms. Prickett and the board that we are the elected officials charged with making these important decisions on behalf of the school system and while I welcome that input, we have to be mindful of that," Evans said.
It's an interesting bit of role reversal here considering how the Republican board members weren't big fans of the Chamber or the WEP when they felt they were opposing their efforts to end the diversity policy. But things changed after they backed the choice plan.
On the flip side, supporters of the diversity policy became less than thrilled with both groups when they backed the choice plan.
On Wednesday, Democratic board vice chairman Keith Sutton said that the Chamber and the WEP have misconceptions about what the board majority intends to do. Sutton said they’re trying to develop a new plan that has the best elements of the old plan and the current choice plan.
“It’s not an effort to go back to the old plan, “ Sutton said. “It’s not the intent.”
Sutton said he's envisioning a base plan that might incorporate choice elements. Sutton said he doesn't see how a base plan, as stated by the Chamber email, will necessarily result in mass reassignment.
Sutton said he hoped both the Chamber and the WEP will continue to work with the district in developing the revised plan.
In their statement, the WEP said "we will continue to work with the district to improve public education."
In Schmitt's Wednesday email, he said the Chamber will "remain engaged in this discussion and seeking the best solution for our community going forward."