"Controlled Choice" in Wake schools

Consultant Michael Alves presents new (yet old) plan for school assignments:

Massachusetts education consultant Michael Alves is rolling out the idea of a "controlled choice" plan for student assignment before a Wake County school board committee.

Alves has gotten mostly positive reaction from the six school board members and other community members at the meeting at the school administration building on Wake Forest Road. Since a school board majority discarded Wake County's former diversity-based assignment plan in March, the board and the student assignment committee meeting today have been looking at possibilities for a replacement.

I've spent the last few hours trying to see how other communities who've put this in place have fared, and it seems to be a relatively successful formula. Here's a little history of this (and other) desegregation initiatives:

Controlled choice divided the city of Boston into three zones, each with an evenly distributed racial makeup. The zones were drawn up with the purpose of keeping traditional neighborhoods together as much as possible. "Each of these three zones was supposed to replicate the proportional distribution of people by race in the school district," explains Willie.

Students could attend any school within their zone, and their school assignments were based on criteria including the student's preference, sibling attendance, the school's proximity to the student's home, and the racial makeup of the student body. "We had what we called racial fairness guidelines," says Willie. "Whatever the racial populations are in each of those zones is what the racial population should be in each school within the zone. If the proportion goes up one year, then each school enrolls a larger proportion of that particular group. If the proportion goes down for a group the next year, then each school enrolls a smaller proportion of that particular student population.

But if you're thinking about checking with the folks in Boston to see what they think now, it's too late:

But in 1999, a group calling themselves "Boston's Children First" filed a suit charging that white students were unfairly denied their rightful places in neighborhood public schools, and the Boston School Committee voted to eliminate race as a consideration in school assignments. The new policy went into effect in 2000.

The part of this program that's supposed to "drive improvement" is a market-based evaluation; the "under-chosen" schools should try to emulate the "over-chosen" schools, in some sort of parental (consumer) feedback system.

But here are some questions: If (or when) the under-chosen schools identify needs that would bring them up in the eyes of "consumers", will the money be made available? Will the Wake School Board put all of the system/formula into place, or only parts of it, resulting in a fair-sounding system which is (in reality) unfair? Along those lines, when dealing with the over-chosen schools, will they rely heavily on "distance traveled" when deciding who gets to atttend and who doesn't?

Here's more from Michael Alves on possible ramifications of poorly applying this program:

"What's most important is that the zones are diverse and that they have equal quality of education," Alves said, later adding. "You have to have some criteria to get started. If not, you're going to be all over the map."

Comments

This stuff is hilarious

I love how "controlled choice" is so much like a "vague plan."

Try your own two word make-up!

Why again are we breaking up the cost efficient model we have, magnets and all?

Thank you to the past 10-15 years of county commissions (need I say mostly radical GOP-lead) that didn't fund Wake County's explosive growth!

Starve that beast of government, schools, education, and prosperity.

Bathtub America, here comes Wake County!

 

Controlled Choice in action

An apt comparison to the Wake County School Board

Or maybe this is more like it?

Either way, it's destructive with untold collateral damage.

Why all the hassle?

This is an honest question, from a person who knows little about the public school system. Why all the hassle of forced bussing, "racial fairness guidelines," etc.? Why not just have children attend the schools closest to their homes, or otherwise most convenient?

From what I understand, the argument stems from funding. White people are generally the most affluent, and they tend to congregate their children in schools with other children from affluent (i.e. usually white) families. So, this ends up pooling all the money in a few schools, while schools mostly made up of minorities lose funds. And without money, the schools aren't able to offer the same level of education. If I've missed some other central argument, please fill me in.

So, if this is the main purpose behind desegregation, why not just distribute money from school taxes across all schools in the state based upon enrollment, such that every school in the state gets $X per student?

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

School funding disparities

are driven by local (city to some extent, but mostly county) decisions. Your suggestion would amount to a takeover of all public schools by the state. And even then, disparities would continue. Affluent communities can and do pour money into their school systems ... beyond what comes through property taxes.

"I know nutzingk!"

As I said, I know nothing of how public schools are run. I was under the impression that the were generally run by state regulation. Is the state actually pretty hands-off, except for curriculum guidelines?

And so, to revise/summarize, the point of bussing is to spread out children from affluent families so that more school systems benefit non-tax contributions from affluent families?

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

Cheers,

The Black Sheep

There is no single "point"

behind diversity efforts, BS. The benefits are many, from equal distribution of public/private resources to the broadening of psychosocial environments.

We live in a country/state/community with varied racial and economic demographics, and schools should reflect those. If a child attends a school that is almost exclusively made up of students from their ethnic group or economic class, and then they go out into a world that's structured differently, they're not going to cope well.

It's a big world, but lack of diversity in schools forces folks to believe they live in a much smaller world with fewer choices.