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Wake school board candidates differ on diversity policy

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Deborah Prickett and Karen Simon pretty much took 180s from each other during this morning's District 7 Wake school board candidate forum.

Prickett repeatedly found ways to mention her support for neighborhood schools as a way to promote stability and improve academic performance. LIke the other WSCA-backed candidates, Prickett repeatedly pointed to Wake's 54.6 percent graduation rate for low-income students to attack the diversity policy.

"There is overwhelming evidence that the diversity policy isn’t working in Wake," Prickett said. "Too many poor and minority students are not graduating."

Prickett said 95 of the state's 115 school districts have a higher graduation rate than Wake for low-income students. (I haven't checked that yet.)

Prickett also compared Wake to Guilford County. Guilford has a higher overall graduation rate than Wake and its percentage of low-income students graduating is also higher at 74.2 percent.

"Guilford County is proving that the interventions they’re putting in place are promising," Prickett said. "...But Wake County is using the same old strategies.”

In contrast, Simon stressed Wake's good academic performance. She pointed to the the "solid gain on SAT scores" and how the district's average AP score is at a four-year high.

Simon acknowledged there are problems but she compared Wake to the foundation of a home. She said you wouldn't tear down a building because there were a few leaks. Likewise, she said you wouldn't dismantle current board policies.

"I would not suggest dismantling policies in a school system with a proven track record of successes," Simon said.

Both candidates differed on year-round schools. It came up when they were asked about the unique issues facing District 7.

Prickett said that mandatory year-round is an issue in the district, arguing that "the greatest majority of parents" didn't want either Leesville Road Elementary or Leesville Road Middle to be converted.

Prickett said the conversions have had a negative domino effect on area traditional-calendar elementary schools such as Hilburn and York.

She questioned the wisdom of the conversions when Leesville Road and Sycamore Creek elementary schools are so close to each other and the latter has 400 empty seats.

Simon countered that assignments to year-round schools are used mostly to relieve crowding at existing schools and fill new schools.

Simon then brought up the multi-year reassignment plan saying that only one in 13 students will have to move in the next three years. (It's basically the same argument that folks have used to argue that far fewer kids than the 24,654 in the plan have to be moved.)

She added that reassignment is driven by growth and year-round schools are an option to accommodate that growth. She said that a traditional-calendar middle school could accommodate 1,100 students while a year-round middle can accommodate 1,400.

While Simon said she hears the frustrations that parents have about year-round calendars and assignments, she said those problems are because of growth.

"Unfortunately these are unintended consequences that stem from growth and are not intended to cause hardship," Simon said.

During the forum, Prickett took a jab at Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce President Harvey Schmitt for his Monday interview supporting the diversity policy. She again referenced Wake's graduation rate for low-income kids.

Prickett said that "appearances may be sufficient in [Schmitt's] work."


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Diversity issues raised again http://www.carynews.com/schools/story/13643.html

Candidates clash over school board policies http://www.carynews.com/schools/story/13563.html

Is diversity the only thing that matters? http://www.carynews.com/opinion/story/13592.html


meet/greet event with

meet/greet event with DEBORAH PRICKETT this WEDNESDAY NIGHT, September 23 from 6:00-8:30 PM at the LEESVILLE TAP ROOM at 13200 Strickland Road (On the corner of Leesville Road and Strickland in the Harris Teeter shopping center)
Stop in to have a drink, appetizers, or even eat dinner. For all of those who have been asking how you can contribute to Deborah's campaign, this is your chance! ---cash or checks payable to "Committee for Student Success" will be accepted.

Excellent idea AngelaW.

Excellent idea AngelaW. Thank you for the posting.

Prickett is a class act!

Prickett blew Simon completely out of the water with facts, insight, solutions and a vast and in-depth knowledge of the educational issues in Wake County and beyond. She is a winner in all respects and a class act.

she is CLUELESS about her OWN district situation

"Unfortunately these are unintended consequences that stem from growth and are not intended to cause hardship," Simon said.

it's been proven OVER AND OVER AND OVER that the Leesville conversions had NOTHING to do with GROWTH, (which is why the middle school is underenrolled to date?? just sayin').

If one is going to run for school board, one should AT THE VERY LEAST understand ONE'S district if one can't comprehend that the whole system is broken.....CLUELESS...

Clueless and then some

I wonder why she (Karen Simon) is even bothering to run for school board.  She hasn't even done her homework to argue for the status quo.

That is my question too. Why

That is my question too. Why would anyone put themselves through the election process if they did not even have the interest in doing a little fact-finding. Simon did not seem to know the slightest detail about District 7 ...or educational issues for that matter. Very odd.

Answer to your

Answer to your question.

The Democratic elite, WEP, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, etc. are looking for people who will vote to support their ideas and policies to run for the school board.  It doesn't matter whether the individual knows anything about the school system or not or has an original idea of their own, if fact, its better if they don't.  It goes like this, "Run for school board, we'll get behind you, fund your campaign, put up your yard signs and, when elected, all you have to do is show up at the meetings and we'll tell you how to vote."

All too true. I do wonder

All too true. I do wonder what her status quo recruiters thought about her change change change quote. My money says they cringed multiple times. She does not even understand that she was supporting D. Prickett every time she supported change. Too bad really. Being a spineless puppet for destruction would be a cowardly way to live life.

I'm sure they were ok with

I'm sure they were ok with the word "change".  They probably told her to say that.  Apparently just saying the word "change" is all you need to do these days to be elected.  You don't even have to define what "change" you are talking about.  She probably just means change the curtains or perhaps the color of the carpet.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.