It’s hard to weigh anything without a scale. It’s difficult to tell how long anything is without a ruler. It’s certainly impossible to avoid creating high poverty schools without a way to determine wealth or the lack of it. Although, it appears that John Tedesco, Wake County School Board Member, will try to do just that.
After Dr. Michael Alves presented to the Wake Board of Education Student Assignment Committee about the concept of “controlled choice”, Mr. Tedesco made his own presentation in what was described in the agenda as “Review various geographic assignment area possibilities.” The committee saw many maps created by Wake County Public School System staff illustrating the geography of the county.
During his presentation, Tedesco said that he does not want to use the number of students who receive free or reduced lunch as a measure of poverty in the county. When he was met with the words of Board Chair Ron Margiotta that there was no intention on creating low poverty schools, Mr. Tedesco agreed. However, when asked how this would be done without using students who receive free or reduced lunch as a measurement of poverty, Mr. Tedesco used either a vague answer, danced as fast as he could to not answer or completely tried to shut down discussion by saying that the issue was not on the agenda.
If Tedesco wanted to answer truthfully, he could have said that the number of students on free or reduced lunch is not an accurate way to gauge poverty because it is underreported (although, this year, Wake County just saw the highest ever percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch).
While Mr. Tedesco could not answer the question about the measure of poverty, if he watched the presentation by Dr. Alves he would have heard the words “fair and just” several times. If he read anything about controlled choice, he would have learned that diversity based on socio-economic status is a major part of the system. Controlled choice is, in large measure, precisely about promoting diversity as a way to achieve school excellence.
While more needs to be studied about the program to see if it is right for Wake County, John Tedesco needs to know that a real plan has to exist. The only way to develop a real plan that does not create high poverty schools is to have a true method for measuring poverty.