The good folks in the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children issued a statement today questioning the hurried decision of the Wake County Board of Education to rush through a new plan to introduce single-gender schools.
Here’s the release:
COALITION OF CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN
Contact: Gerald Wright FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: (919) 231-9057
WAKE COUNTY BOARD MAKES FORCED CHOICE FOR
Costly Schools to Resegregate and Reassign Without Community Input
Raleigh, NC—September 26, 2011— The Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children (CCCAAC) wishes to express its deep concern over the troubling decision made by the Wake County School Board to create two new single-gender academies—without any evidence that separating boys and girls results in improved academic achievement. Further, the new academies are modeled after two Guilford County schools that are also segregated by race.
The hurried approval of the academies is another example of reckless decision making by the Board majority. Instead of creating a comprehensive, market-driven, and family-friendly plan for desirable new programs, there has been little discussion among the Board—and in the case of the academies, no discussion whatsoever with the public— about the specific merits of these new programs for Wake County. Given this familiar pattern of disregard for the value of community input, it is inevitable that the Board will also force parents into school choices.
“There’s no doubt that we are headed down a path where Wake County will wind up with more high poverty, segregated public schools, like brand new Walnut Creek Elementary,” said Gerald Wright, CCCAAC co-founder and vice president. “The data clearly shows that these schools are much more expensive to run and, when funding dries up, which happens more often than not, they become undesirable places to teach and to learn.” According to the News and Observer, the Guilford County academies operate at a cost of about $14,000 per pupil—or twice the amount of dollars spent on students in Wake County. For the 800 students who would attend the Wake academies, this would result in an addition per pupil cost of $5.6 million every year. Further, research shows that for single-gender schools to be successful, specific training in best practices for gender-specific teaching is required; no mention of these additional costs was made during Board discussions. Per pupil and teacher training funds are exclusive of capital costs required to upgrade and furnish school buildings.
In addition, the academies will force the reassignment of special education students and their specially trained teachers. As part of the package, the Board approved $2.6 million to retrofit nearly new facilities at the current Longview School, a facility specially designed for students requiring “Special Education services and whose academic and behavioral needs require intensive and intrusive intervention.” Longwood School has a capacity for 102 students and no room for mobile units; the proposed all-male academy to be housed there is designed for 400 students, which is four times the size of the Guilford schools. Shuffling students at River Oaks, Mt. Vernon, and Mary Phillips High School to free space at Longview comes with an additional $1 million price tag and no regard for the additional length of bus rides for these children.
The all-female academy, also designed for 400 students, will require an initial outlay of $1.3 million, in addition to a minimum of $3 to 5 million dollars to lease the proposed facility, as well as significantly higher per pupil costs. The millions of capital and expense dollars approved for these academies means that other school projects, such as
repairs to existing facilities, are being placed on hold.
The bottom line figures for two schools with an unknown demand: $3.6 million for facilities, an annual expense of over $6 million dollars, and other indeterminate expenses for transportation, teacher training, and instructional materials.
“The message is clear and profoundly disturbing,” continued Wright. “They are playing a shell game with our children. We are robbing one program to pay for another. Our most vulnerable special education students are being moved, dollars are being shifted under the nose of the community, and schools are slowly but systematically being resegregated. Ninety-four percent of families don’t want that to happen.”
About Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children (CCCAAC):
CCAAC is a parent based organization advocating for students who attend public schools. Our goal is to empower parents to become effective advocates for their children while providing them with information on Wake County Public School System’s laws policies, and procedures that govern our children, and to assist parents in helping their children make choices that will enhance their children’s educational opportunities.
For more information about the CCCAAC, please visit our website at www.cccaac.com or call (919) 231-9057.