Wake County schools: Death by a thousand cuts?
Tomorrow is Election Day in North Carolina. One of the most important elections will take place here in Wake County in which voters will have a chance (albeit a small one given the districts that are actually up) to dislodge the current right-wing school board majority.
The schools debate has faded from center stage somewhat in recent months for a variety of reasons, including public fatigue and the complexity of the debate.
If there’s one main reason for the shift, however, it’s this: the anti-diversity forces have gotten a lot more sophisticated. Rather than sticking to the clumsy, amateurish attacks they used after first taking power, the group has focused instead on implementing an enormously complex — almosy impenetrable — plan under which they propose to alter school assignments in the capital county.
The thing is just so darned complicated (which is especially ironic given the past complaints from conservatives) that it defies easy explanation. Unless you really immerse yourself in the issue and pay extremely close attention, an average person has very little chance of fully grasping the new plan — much less explaining it to others.
Fortunately, some really good and really smart folks have been doing the work for us. This includes the folks at Great Schools in Wake and a cadre of passionate citizen journalist/bloggers like Raleigh activist Neil Riemann, who posts at Wake Reassignment.
And here’s the gist of what you learn when you read what these experts have to say: Nothing has really changed. The re-segregation forces on the school board are still actively pursuing the same plan; they’re just doing it in a more gradual and less in-your-face way.
Riemann put it this way over the weekend in a thoughtful post critiquing the Board’s reassignment plan:
“The plan will further polarize our schools by race, wealth, and achievement.”
In other words, it’s hard to follow and frequently secretive, but the bottom line on what the Wake school board majority has been doing is this: The group is slowly dismantling a once-excellent school system one cut at a time.
If voters do take the extraordinary step of turning out the right-wingers like Board Chair Ron Margiotta, it will be because they decide they’ve had enough of such an approach.