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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?

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WEP on year-round magnet schools and dropping diversity from the transfer policy

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The Wake Education Partnership is offering today its analysis of the possibility of year-round magnet schools and removal of diversity from the student transfer policy.

In this week's issue of In Context, the WEP's weekly newsletter, the group mentions how the possibility of converting magnet schools to a multi-track year-round calendar has been proposed by school board chairman Ron Margiotta. The issue came up at last week's student assignment committee meeting.

Margiotta asked the committee to consider converting magnet schools to year-round calendars in 2010-2012. He said the move would increase capacity, parental choice and educational opportunities.

The WEP says "there are a few obvious issues that will need to be considered."

For instance, the WEP says that a multi-track year-round calendar "might be a poor match" in smaller magnet schools or one that offers a variety of electives such as the Gifted & Talented program.

With course offerings of 300 or more electives at GT schools, it would be hard to offer them all to all four tracks.

On the transfer policy vote, the board voted Tuesday to remove diversity as a factor in student transfer requests. That was the last remaining vestige of diversity in school board policy.

Normally it takes two votes to pass a policy. A second reading can be waived if there's a two-thirds majority.

Going ahead with two votes would have meant rescheduling the appeal hearings that were scheduled over the next two weeks. To avoid holding up the hearings, board minority members Keith Sutton and Kevin Hill voted to waive the second reading even though they opposed the policy change.

"Faced with the inevitable, the minority relented and the policy was approved 6-2," the WEP writes. "The vote drew a quick and repeated 'thank you' from board Chair Ron Margiotta. If anyone said 'You’re welcome,' it wasn’t audible."

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Adoption of national

Adoption of national standards is a huge step forward for our schools, I look forward to being able to see just how NC schools stack up against the rest of the country.

WEP's view on YR magnets is hilarious. Personally, I don't think converting the magnets to YR is a good idea. But I find it entertaining that WEP questions how much money would be saved by converting these schools, when they were 100% behind the school board four years ago when MYR was jammed down our throats. Plenty of WEP propaganda talks about the [imaginary] millions of dollars that were saved with those conversions.

I wonder how the funding is working out for WEP now that they have shown themselves to be ineffective in influencing board policy, and ineffective in whitewashing the performance of WCPSS.

I don't know if I care who

I don't know if I care who raises the standard. Just do it. The end of the era of dumbed down curriculum can't come soon enough for me.

Adoption of National

Adoption of National Standards sounds like a good idea on the surface.  As I have said many times it would help students and I have written a masters thesis on it.  After 13 years in the educational system I have no doubt that this will only allow the Federal Government control over a national curriculum.  Do you want a new administration changing history every 4 years?  How about what is being taught in a science class?  This will be a breeding ground for political battles that go way beyond the scope of anything we have yet seen.  There will be no way the Feds will allow a National Curriculum to be established without their control.  Oh, that's right, they have run everything else so smoothly......sure, let's allow this to happen.

Our curriculum is already

Our curriculum is already controlled by the state government.  Given NC is not exactly a mecca of great education, I'd hope the Fed would set the bar higher.  Our state leaders have shown that they are unwilling to adequately challenge and fund education in North Carolina.

Education will always be political.  I can only hope that some party balance returns to washington -- some political gridlock would prevent the pencil-pushers from making radical changes.

A part of me certainly

A part of me certainly agrees someone needs to clean up this mess in NC.....but if the Feds are able to take this (a job expressly designated to the states by the US Const) then it opens the door to other areas being taken over by the Feds, too.  My suggestion in my thesis was to have an idependent body of proven successful educators make decisions so that history and science does not change every 4 years with new administrations.  I just don't see that happening (a body independent of the FEDS).  It's a scary thing when the Feds are already aligning to take over education.

I see your point. I don't

I see your point. I don't want history (and science) be re-written every four years either, but we need to raise math and reading.

Believe me, I am no fan of

Believe me, I am no fan of bigger government.  USPS, FEMA, Amtrak and others are great examples of Federal bureaucracy run amok.  Having an independent body do this work would be great, but how would this body be selected?  If voters elect them, then it becomes political.  If politicians appoint them, then it becomes political.  If somehow they are put into these positions and not held accountable by citizens, then it becomes downright scary.

Meantime, those that run NC government have shown themselves to be corrupt and ineffective.  The "feel good" dumbing down of NC curriculum and standards is just tragic.  Yet NC citizens continue to send these same people to the capital.  To me, having inconsistent educational standards would be better than having consistently low educational standards.

You know, I think Bob hit on

You know, I think Bob hit on something.  This may take a few years to work it out, but a little competition never hurts.  Have the tests designed to test for what should be taught.  Then take a look at what works as in which schools pass these tests well.  That could be a start.

The biggest problem I am seeing is this move towards grants from the Feds (Race to the Top) being linked to the Common Core Curriculum (CCC).  Before long any state that wishes to get it's money from the Feds must submit to that CCC.  Now if the curriculum is sound then it never needs to be changed.  History would be facts instead of teh Enola Gay being a terrorist weapon or students being forced to learn about creation from a specific religion point of view in a science class.  If the Feds take this over the sitting administration gets a shot at creating indoctrination and not education.

Agree

Unfortunately, we've seen the results when governments and "professional educators" make these decisions. I sure don't want Sen. Casey slipping an earmark into a federal bill requiring schools to teach 3 weeks of union history, followed by Sen. Boxer adding one requiring 2 weeks of feminist theory, etc.... The fools who can't manage the federal budget should have no say in what is taught to students.

I'd prefer to see competing curricula set up by different independent groups, and then have districts choose what to follow. That's basically how AP and IB work now -- they're voluntary. It's also how private schools run.

I don't claim to know a

I don't claim to know a bunch about magnet schools, but aren't most of them smaller buildings that wouldn't have been converted to YR in 2007 either if they weren't magnets?

 

I would imagine that at

I would imagine that at least 1/2 of them wouldn't be conducive to YR because of their size. 

One thing to note is that before she left office, Carol Parker suggested that they revisit their decision to unilaterally exempt magnets from conversion.  

I don't think its a bad idea to at least look at it.  Margiotta (and Parker back then) weren't saying definitely convert, but let's see if it's possible to convert some and if it makes sense.  Nothing wrong with considering all options.

I agree that the GT schools would be difficult to convert, but many of the other magnet programs could be done as long as the building is large enough.  Again, nothing wrong with considering all options.

No risk for Margiotta

No political risk for Margiotta in this one as the 20,000 or so students and parents impacted by a potential 'mandatory' year round are not in his district. This is an important step in the "neighborhood" school transition as YR would create the capacity to pull all of the bused kids back to the hood and at the same time create a few extra magnet spots. I wonder if the applicants from Apex and Holly Springs will be given first dibs for Track 4.

"No political risk for

"No political risk for Margiotta in this one as the 20,000 or so students
and parents impacted by a potential 'mandatory' year round are not in
his district."

Wow, poor Ron just can't win with you, huh?  In one statement, you admit that very few of the magnet students actually live in his district --- and then you seem to claim that it's all a conspiracy theory to create more magnet spots for his Apex and Holly Springs constituents.  You're ignoring the fact that a major reason why there are not many magnet students from these areas is because most of the magnet schools are well over 15 miles away.  That fact has not changed.

Really?

Much of his district were forced into Manditory YR a few years ago...and no, we don't all get Track 4!!  Trust me on that one - we are Track 2.  We want real traditional choices here in Apex.  YR only works well to increase capacity if all tracks are filled...which never happens.  Check how many YR schools have one or no classes on Track 2 for each grade.

pare it down

With course offerings of 300 or more electives at GT schools, it would be hard to offer them all to all four tracks.

Hundreds of electives seems excessive when compared to non-magnets. Granted not all are offered/ filled, the schools should take a look at dropping the more esoteric electives.

No, the truth is that Hill

No, the truth is that Hill and Sutton could do nothing to affect the outcomes of the votes, and delaying the hearings does more harm than good.

The only thing that would have happened if they hadn't voted for the waiver is that the hearing would have been delayed or a special meeting would have been called.

I'm not buying it. Actions

I'm not buying it. Actions matter, votes matter. You don't abandon principles for convenience sake. Sutton and Hill are coming around. They realize the monsters they imagined don't exist. A 6-2 vote to put the status quo behind us is a very positive step in the right direction. Thank you Sutton and Hill!

Being dogmatic does not serve the public's good

Mr Sutton and Mr Hill were thinking what was best for the parents and the staff, rather than their personal agendas.  To assume a change in their beliefs and principles, would be delusional.

I agree, their vote

I agree, their vote reflected the best interest of students, parents and staff. That is what I was praising. They finally recognized that trying to cling to failed policies serves no one.

People are judged by their actions.

OK..so the results of the

OK..so the results of the votes determine the stance of the voting BoE member?

Does that mean that if the new assignment policy creates failing high poverty schools that it's OK to assume that the majority members who voted that policy into effect wanted that to happen?

Or if the coming turmoil in

Or if the coming turmoil in WCPSS leads to higher private school enrollment are we to assume the new majority supports private schools?.... um... . nevermind.

As satisfaction with the new

As satisfaction with the new completely rebuilt Wake county public school systems plummets, private schools (like the one the Wake County Board chairman serves as trustee) will do very well I am sure. Too bad. Before all of this, the Wake County schools survey commissioned by the new board, indicated a 93% parental satisfaction rate with their childs school.

 

Another thread

In another thread Keung has up, there are links to the private school numbers by county.   Mecklenberg County had a few more thousand children in private school in comprison to Wake despite Wake having a slightly larger total district.

From what I understand,

From what I understand, since Charlotte eliminated their diversity policy the number of high poverty schools has increased dramatically. Private schools are getting more popular there among those with the means to pay.

Union county

And Union County, next door to Mecklenberg, has become the fastest growing county in the state.

"And Union County, next door

"And Union County, next door to Mecklenberg, has become the fastest
growing county in the state."

 
And what makes you think that this is solely based on schools?
 
I lived in Charlotte until 1970, when my family moved just over
the Union County line.  The community was known as Matthews, although
the actual Town of Matthews is on the eastern edge of Mecklenburg.
 
Matthews and Cary are very analogous communities.  When we moved
to Matthews, you could give directions by saying "Go to THE stoplight,
and then turn right......"  When I came to NC State in 1979, Cary of
that time looked very much like Matthews of that time.  Now both are
large bustling communities.  
 
Like Cary, Matthews is pretty well filled out.  In Wake County,
if you want to move a little further out than Cary, you go to Apex (or
Chatham County.)  To get beyond Matthews, though, you need to go to the
Union County communities like Stallings, Indian Trail, or Weddington. 
There have been annexation wars for the unincorporated areas along the
county line --- at one point, Charlotte was trying to annex property
across the Union County line.  It has property that comes very close to
it.
 
My Dad's still living there --- but now his farm is surrounded by
subdivisions of McMansions built on postage stamp lots.  Schools may be
one issue.  Another issue is the fact that people moving here from out
of state feel that their status requires a 3000+ square foot house with
all the amenities, and the 1500 square foot homes that were a la mode
when they were built in the 60's, 70's, and 80's are beneath them.
 

?

Not only that, but since Meckenburg County changed its assignment policy, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico collapsed!

What evidence do you have that Union County's growth is because of the change in Mecklenburg's policy?  Does Union County have a diversity policy?

It seems to me that surrounding counties around here have a lot of growth also -- look at the growth in Johnston County, for example.   I suspect that growth is more concentrated in the areas around Charlotte as there are fewer surrounding counties that also happen to be in North Carolina. 

Seems to be the opinion of

Seems to be the opinion of one Charlotte Realtor... 

"Union County can thank it's fine public school system as a top reason for the growth that the northwest area of the county has seen over the last decade. There are so many great school choices at every grade that I cannot possibly mention them all here... but these are among the best in the area."

...http://www.southeastcharlottehomes. com/Union-County-NC

Whatevs

A few stats about Union County:

( www.ucps.k12.nc.us/communications/pdfs/factsfigures09-10.pdf )

  • ~40,000
  • 69% white
  • 14% AA
  • 12% Hispanic
  • 32% F/RL
  • Student enrollment increased 79% over the past ten years bringing 17,400 new students (1999-2000 enrollment 21,967; 2009-10 enrollment 39,366)

For 2008-2009, there were 50 schools, 5 of which had FRL enrollments of upwards of 80%; with 8 additional schools between 50-80%.

www.unioncountycoc.com/censusquickfacts.html

  • Median household income, 2007 = $60,612
  • Persons below poverty, %, 2007 = 7.9%

Conclusions can be drawn by each individual as to any relationship to Mecklenburg's education system.

Granville co better get

Granville co better get ready for growth then!

You are becoming quite the

You are becoming quite the character. I am glad all your prognostications are being recorded so we can refer to them later.

What's wrong with private

What's wrong with private schools? Personally, I support any entity that offers students a quality education. What's up with your us against them mentality? I've always wondered why there isn't more cooperation between public and private schools...they both have the same end game in mind. To maximize potential, we need to leverage all the community resources we have available.

My first teaching job right

My first teaching job right out of grad school was in a small private school in Martin County.  The Martin County School system was a mess.  Parents got together and created this school.  Now there was a lot of infighting along the way which, I leanred, was not unusual in a private school.....and not unlike some charter schools, too.  However, at the end of the eyar the headmaster chose to administer the CAT to the school.  The school (a K-8 school) was at 85% when the results came back.  That was the school's first year in existence.

"Does that mean that if the

"Does that mean that if the new assignment policy creates failing high poverty schools that it's OK to assume that the majority members who voted that policy into effect wanted that to happen?"

LOL How is anyone supposed to take you seriously when you say ridiculous things like that? Get a grip.

"To avoid holding up the

"To avoid holding up the hearings, board minority members Keith Sutton and Kevin Hill voted to waive the second reading even though they opposed the policy change."

Wow, that's standing up for your principles...and some pretty fancy rationalizations. The truth is, Sutton -- and maybe Hill -- may finally be getting onboard with the changes. Good for them! It is about time.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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