More red flags for Wake school superintendent’s “choice” plan

This is just out from the good people at Great Schools in Wake:

Contacts: Yevonne Brannon/Patty Williams FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: 919-244-6243/919-696-8059
Email: info@greatschoolsinwake.org

PUBLIC MISTRUST CONTINUES TO BUILD OVER STUDENT ASSIGNMENT PLAN

Raleigh, NC—February 17, 2012— Great Schools in Wake (GSIW) is again calling for a full public disclosure of the detailed financial analysis behind the new “choice” student assignment plan. The latest proposal tied to the new assignment plan —a new busing system that significantly affects bell schedules—boasts a theoretical cost savings based on the old assignment plan, without demonstrating how it will offset the undocumented costs of the new.

“Superintendent Tata’s actions continue to erode the public’s trust. The plan he rushed through is starting to show signs of real inadequacy, but rather than responding to the community’s concerns in a comprehensive way, he is forging ahead,” said Yevonne Brannon, Chair, GSIW. “He presented the new transportation plan to the public as if it were a ‘done deal’—despite the fact that the Board has yet to vote on it. This is a clear violation of Board policy, which states, ‘adequate data and back-up information shall be provided to assist the Board in reaching sound and objective decisions consistent with established goals.’ We can only conclude that the proposed transportation plan is a smoke screen designed to mask the significant, undocumented costs of the new assignment plan. We simply cannot calculate the savings without knowing the full costs.”

To date, any discussion of costs has been piecemeal. From the outset, Superintendent Tata indicated there would be more busing under the new assignment plan, and there is no doubt that inefficient assignment patterns drive transportation costs upward. Because neighbors are no longer assigned together in a cohesive manner, more busing is inevitable. Now, the newest child in a neighborhood will be capped out of their closest school and forced to “choose” a more distant school. Additional costs include significant consulting fees and software charges, incentives required to attract teachers to new high poverty schools, and more.

The student assignment plan was approved in October after ignoring long-established established avenues for engaging the public, including soliciting feedback through Board Advisory Councils, PTAs, and public meetings. The process for introducing the new transportation plan has similarly shut out the public. The only avenue for feedback on the transportation plan was a weeklong, online survey, conducted after many families had already selected school options for their children and cannot now make changes.

“This is neither a family-friendly plan, nor a community-friendly process,” continued Brannon. “In the interest of all Wake County residents, we are asking that our School Board demand a full disclosure of assignment and transportation plan details before any more costly decisions are made. It is time for the Board to take back the reins and rebuild trust with the community.”

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About Great Schools in Wake Coalition:

A project of WakeUP Wake County, Great Schools in Wake Coalition (GSIW) is a community coalition of organizations, business leaders, parents and citizen advocates who are working to ensure educational excellence in the Wake County Public School System. GSIW’s mission is to provide accurate information to educate the public about policy initiatives that would impact the quality of education, foster well-informed discussions about critical education issues, and advocate for policies that improve public education in Wake County. For more information on the Coalition or to join, please visit: greatschoolsinwake.org.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. jlp75

    February 17, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Or she would like to ensure that a half-baked plan, that was sold as a cost savings, actually saves money. Plans do not save money because Republicans say they do. Plans save money when they actually save money. Since no cost assessment of the plan has been made public, we do not know one way or the other. It is funny how conservatives give a pass to Republicans for something they would surely skewer a Democrat for. Last I checked the best way to practice fiscal conservatism is to actually determine the cost of a new plan and compare it to the old plan prior to implementation. I guess it is better to pull a George W. Bush and go from your gut.

  2. jlp75

    February 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Furthermore, the absence of a cost/benefit analysis sort of proves the point that this is not about cost savings anyway. It proves that the skeptics were correct all along. This is simply a plot to create publicly funded “private” schools so the upper crust won’t have to associate with “those” people. It is not a scheme that I want to fund with my tax money. If I am paying for the schools, I want everyone to have equal access to good schools regardless of race, wealth, etc.

    Are the public schools perfect? No. Will this plan make it better? Probably not.

  3. Jeff S

    February 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    The board approved the plan.

    Bus plan design is an operational exercise that really is beyond the scope of the board. Or are you saying that the board failed to consider the cost implications of the plan? Traffic patterns, etc. While I would agree with you there, that still doesn’t make it their responsibility to micromanage daily tasks.

    I’m at a loss to explain what WakeUP is after lately. Costs, school caps, bus routes, expenses, recruiting, “guaranteed spots” are all items that should have been factored in to their vote.

    They should lay off for a year or two and the plan will take care of itself. I’ve said from day 1 that the “choice” parents think they want will only result in a considerable increase in the number of disappointed and irate parents in the system. Every parent that doesn’t get their first choice is a potential complaint. Every parent that tours schools and sees the problems for themselves will be that much more hurt when they miss out on the better schools. Long-term, we should be raising the quality of all schools, but in the short run this isn’t going to happen. I will be curious to see whether the board will stick to their votes on this, and whether Tata will stay around long enough to prove whether the plan is feasible.

    Personally, I can only be thankful that our rising kindergartner got in her first choice magnet. Had we been forced into some of the schools we toured (or worse yet, some that we never would have considered), I would be worrying about how to pay for private tuition about now. I feel for the families that won’t be so lucky.

    We all pay our mandated share of taxes and should have the same level of access. What annoys me the most about these discussions is that they always focus on where a school is located, how far it is from your house, how new the building is, what the average skin tone is, or how much money the parents have in the bank. In short, they inevitably focus more on how the parents are affected, largely ignoring the people that should matter the most.

    If your biggest concern is how far your kid rides a bus each day, then you just don’t get it.

  4. Jeff S

    February 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    jlp, I don’t believe the plan was ever advertised as cost-saving.

    Everything I heard was just propaganda used, mainly by Tedesco I believe, to promote it. It was clear at the time that he had no basis for his claims and we shouldn’t hold his comment against the plan itself.