Cue the outrage from the "neighborhood school" crowd:
At a retreat last month, board members discussed tracking data to help balance student diversity and bring as many schools as possible within 20 percentage points of the district average. While the board hasn't approved a specific goal yet, the intention is to avoid having schools with extreme differences in poverty and race.
The board continued that discussion Tuesday, led by facilitators with RTI International, who walked the members through discussions about how to define diversity in schools, what data they could examine and how to get community input as they move forward.
Oh, I'm sure they won't have to struggle to get "community input." The fearmongers are probably already at work talking about gangs, and dreams of being accepted at Dartmouth being quashed. But there's one big difference between this effort and the circus that took place ten years ago: Wake County is now neck-deep in charter schools, and scared parents will likely make that switch very soon:
"There’s an anxiety factor that comes in," board member Lindsay Mahaffey said, noting that the discussion might prompt parents to worry about their children being reassigned to different schools. "I think the parental feeling is, 'Oh my gosh. Is my family going to be impacted?'"
Mahaffey and other board members said it will be important to communicate with families about the process and explain why they are setting diversity goals.
"We have to explain our why over and over again, and it's a powerful why," board member Christine Kushner said. "It helps all children when we have integrated schools."
I hear you, and I agree. But that's almost exactly the same argument used before, and parents freaked out anyway:
“My main concern is the quality of education. That was the main reason we moved into the neighborhood that we are in, is to get the quality of education,” parent Nander Brown said.
The reassignment proposal is an attempt by the Wake County Public School System to begin planning for population growth and student movement more than a year in advance. District authorities said planning for three years would save money for schools and lessen aggravation for families.
The school system also says it needs to make room for low-income students who are often bused to schools to achieve economic diversity.
“There is no evidence to show if you bus a kid across town, they do better,” parent Marcy Bullock said.
Wake County Board of Education member Ron Margiotta was at the community rally in Apex Sunday night. He is against redistricting for economic reasons.
"We aren't in the Bronx, N.Y. We aren't in Detroit. This is Wake County, and those lower-income students can and should get the same education in their own communities,” Margiotta said.
Wake can expect the same kind of reaction this time, and maybe even worse with all the Trumpism pervading our culture. I'm not saying they shouldn't implement diversity programs; they most certainly should do it. Just don't be surprised when the torches & pitchforks come out.