No one wants to see the Wake School Board fail in its effort to reassign students. To wish for the school board’s failure is to wish for a poor education for Wake students, particularly its low income and minority students. That would be tragic.
Those who oppose the school board’s decision to abandon the district’s nationally renowned diversity policy are not hoping to see the board fail. They are motivated by a desire to make sure our students succeed. Education experts say that diversity is necessary for school excellence. Unfortunately, if the board majority fails – meaning Wake County ends up with more schools and more students struggling– it will be because they dismissed the current plan without a plan to replace it.
The board has posted maps of possible student attendance zones to the district’s website for public comment. If the idea is to make the public feel as if there is buy-in to the plan by allowing comments, it will fail. The time for discussion was before the current plan was scrapped. Allowing for comment at this stage seems hollow given the past actions of the board (requiring tickets for meetings, not holding meetings in a larger space when attendance over capacity was foreseeable, blunting public comment, etc.) There is no reason to believe that whatever anyone can say in the 250 words or less that is requested will be heeded. If they ignored their own survey that resulted in 94.5% of parents saying that they are satisfied with their current assignment, it is unlikely that the board will acknowledge the comments to the maps.
It looks very much like what no one will get what they want. The board majority has made unsustainable promises. It cannot create the neighborhood schools it promised because the zones will be unworkable. There will be schools that will be overcapacity if every parent sends their child or children to schools in their neighborhoods. Some children will have to be bused passed their neighborhood school to another school. It will also fail to fulfill Board Chair Ron Margiotta’s promise about not intending to create high poverty schools.
The school assignment plan that was being used needed improvement. Instead of improvement, Wake students received nothing. The uncertainty that existed about student assignments before has now has increased becoming some fantasy of neighborhood schools that the board wants to create but does not seem to know how to get there. So what Wake is left with is four maps, a statement of good intentions and absolutely no plan. There is a saying if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. No one wants the Wake School Board to fail, but a lot of time has passed since they discarded the diversity assignment policy and they have not presented a plan. Tragically, the longer the board waits to plan or refuses to go back to the old plan, the more likely is that failure will be inevitable.