Now, the district is pivoting to a more conventional system in which students attend neighborhood schools
and diversity is not considered in the student assignment process.
Meanwhile, the NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint arguing that the new policy has increased
The debate in Wake County, McCrummen
explains, revolves around a pivotal question: should school districts be
promoting racial and socioeconomic integration? Some say it's "no longer ... necessary," and that integrated schools even "dilute" problems that would otherwise be addressed. Meanwhile, critics are disturbed by integration being abandoned "in one of the last places to promote it," historically.
Opinions on the topic abound, including some from people who attended school in the county:
- This Is Ridiculous, states The American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie:
schools ... are situated in
environments which--typically--include high unemployment, low parental
engagement, and high crime rates (as well as closer ties to criminal
networks). They have a hard time recruiting good teachers and
administrators, and their students score far lower
than their peers in higher-income schools, from everything to reading
and math to music and art. These schools have lower graduation rates
and lower rates of college attendance for their graduates.
school board members might support extra funding for the schools that
inevitably revert to concentrated poverty, but the fact is that
additional funding does little to ameliorate the problems that come
with high-poverty schools. If these conservatives really cared about
poor students, they would support the consensus that has benefited
Raleigh schools for more than a decade.
- Remember This? "The idea," charges
Richard Kahlenberg at Taking Note, "that low-income
students will do better if concentrated in certain schools has
disturbing echoes of the pre-Brown v. Board of Education argument that
Negro children would do better with their own kind."
- School Board Is Not Racist, declares Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters. The "school board is simply moving to
reverse decades of busing that shuttled some students to schools
farther away from their homes in an effort to artificially engineer the
socioeconomic and racial diversity of the county's individual schools." He also complains that "[The Post's] McCrummen waited until the 19th paragraph in the
article to note that the 'diversity' plan has had little success in
sewing up the 'stubborn achievement gap that separates minority
students from their white peers.'"
- Benefits I Gained As Wake County Student Will Be Lost, claims Lynn Parramour--who went to school in the county--at The Huffington Post:
times the busing was hard and inconvenient. But children like me who
dealt with people from all walks of life at an early age found
ourselves better equipped to meet the demands of 21st-Century America
when we grew up. Part of the reason that Wake County is such a great
place to live, less marred by the racial tension that plagues other
cities, is the long-cherished commitment to diversity that dared to
dream that kids from different backgrounds could not only grow to
accept one another--but actually enhance each other's education.
- Tea-Partiers Are Short-Sighted, maintains The Economist's Ryan Avent, who also attended Wake County's schools:
Partiers could maintain intellectual consistency by calling for, in
addition to an end to bussing, an end to public schools, public funding
of social services, and a public police force. This they generally opt
not to do, presumably because such a platform would be wildly
unpopular. But the result seems to be a policy position that's penny
libertarian, pound foolish. The limited benefits of increased liberty
and public spending associated with reduced bussing will be entirely
offset, and then some, by an increased infringement on liberty from the
higher taxes necessary to undertake later efforts at remediation for
students failed by the public school system.
- We Have to Consider What's Best for Students, argues
Wake County's new superintendent Tony Tata, who previously served as
the chief operating officer for Washington, D.C.'s public schools: "If
what we're trying to do is create a diverse environment and we're not
concerned about their student achievement, then that's not something
I'm interested in."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.