The Wake County School Board passed a resolution Tuesday that says ending mandatory year-round schools is the goal, but not a guarantee. Board member Debra Goldman split with the Republican-backed majority to pass the resolution.
Tuesday’s vote was to be the second reading of a resolution ending the mandatory year-round calendar. The change means the school board will have some leeway as it tries to give parents a choice between year-round and traditional school schedules.
As they have in recent meetings, the school board got an earful from parents, students and other Wake County residents. Here is a representative sample from the comments at the meeting:
Matthew Brown, Raleigh
Miss Pritchard’s resolution takes the first step in dismantling Wake Counties Diversity Policy. A policy which has kept our schools from segregating… According to Time magazine and CNN the number one under-reported news story in America last year was the re-segregation of American schools and the damage that re-segregation is inflicting on America’s competitiveness in the world economy…. This year the national media will be looking for narratives to tell that story and if America’s eighteenth largest school system which has been recognized for its diversity as well as its high academic standards decides to move away from diversity towards segregation that is exactly the story that the national media will be all over.
I know of a very prominent writer who is preparing this story for the NYT. He can not publish it of course until this board abolishes our diversity policy, but when you load the gun, he will pull the trigger. This board will be nationally known as the new face of segregation in America.
Defend your action with examples.. of all the school districts that have segregated, high-poverty schools that are successful.
Please do your research, so you can show us that segregation works.
David Lee, Cary
I agree with the folks that were elected in October as far as wanting to allow parents to have a choice as to whether their child goes to year-round or not… I want to offer you encouragement, because I feel like you’ve been getting hammered… I would just ask you to stick with it and hang in there and please do what the folks elected you to do, which is to come in here and allow parents to choose not to go to year-round schools.
Janny Flynt, Raleigh
The notion of neighborhood schools, on the face, sounds promising but in reality remains a mirage. A neighborhood school is not the best option or solution for each and every child nor are the magnet or year-rounds the best options. We need to have all of these choices but not at the expense of each other. There must be more equity. It’s my opinion that choice without control will cause chaos for the years to come.
Donna Williams, Raleigh
If I am understanding this correctly, the parents get to choose if their child goes to a year-round school or not. What a lot of emails… are saying is that the board is going to vote on ending year round schools, period. I’m just like, “how did we get from the one thing to the next?” I just want you to know, for those of us that are here.. .we’re reading what you’re saying, but out in the public there is a lot of confusion on that whole issue.
In a society where choice has become such a huge part of American’s lives I am really a little confused, as an adult, as to why the fact that you want to give parents a choice is a problem?
Lisa Mowat, President of the League of Women Voters of Wake County, Raleigh
The league has long advocated open, transparent and responsible government.
Recently there has been a pattern of resolutions injected into the board’s agenda. This pattern contradicts the basic tenants of democracy. Namely, openness and transparency. Neither board members nor the public have had advance notice of resolutions which have been presented and passed at single meetings. Neither the board members nor the public have had the opportunity to benefit from study and debate on these resolutions. Democracy is ill-served.
Erica Martin, Apex student
The schools with lower economic students will have more trouble with the fund-raising and therefore have limited opportunities. If talk continues about moving diversity based on economic levels one must be willing to accept that the students with less income will have less opportunity in the classroom and a lower chance for success.
Jim Martin, Apex
The current issue about mandatory assignments, I want to emphasis, I believe can not be simply about choice. There’s lots of things I would like! I’d like a Mercedes Coup! Why not?! It’d be great. The issue here is what am I willing to pay for. And when we’re talking about public services, what are we as a society willing to pay for. Whether we like it or not, we as a society have not made the choice to have enough infrastructure so that everybody could have their school on a calendar that they would choose.
It’s not that choice is bad or that we don’t want people to choose. It’s that choice comes with a cost! And we as a society have to decide what is the cost we’re willing to bear for the choices that we would like to make.
There is only one demographic of student who truly benefits from year-round schools. The demographic that benefits from year-round schools is economically disadvantaged children. They benefit extensively from the continued learning process, so that you don’t have the retention problem… Many of them are on the free or reduced lunch program. Try going without lunch for a whole summer!
Nikita Rathan, Raleigh student
If it wasn’t for my families choice to enroll me in inner-city magnet schools, I wouldn’t be where I am today, which is about to graduate at 16… I never really realized how privileged I was to grow up in such a diverse setting… I’ve only recently realized how important it is to meet others who are so drastically different from yourself at such a young age.
I remember practicing with the step team in the 5th grade and not being the only non African-American kid there. I remember actually rapping on the bus. I remember us all being asked if we were “free or reduced lunch” but never knowing or caring what it meant. I remember my tight-knit circles of friends including white kids, black kids, Native-American kids, Latinos and myself… and I still remember all the powerful lessons that it taught me.
Diversity is not only linked with measurable student achievement but with vast non-measurable life experience that students gain. It is regrettable that Enloe is being negatively targeted for being so outspoken on this issue, because personally I find it beautiful and inspiring, yet slightly tragic that any students at all are sacrificing time they could be devoting to extra curriculars or studying to fight for the magnet program and the diversity policy.
Greg Krauss, Cary
When we set out a system of “your schools” and “our schools,” what we’re setting up is a system of separate but equal. And what history has taught us is that separate but equal does not work. It creates a fertile ground where all of the worst things that we can do start to take root, like these seeds of class-ism and racism and we all get caught up in it. That’s what history has taught us, but we think it’ll be different this time. We think we’re going to do separate but equal right this time. But it never happens!
I fully admit that there are problems with the way that economic diversity is implemented right now. It tears up a lot of families in the way that they have to move around the county.
If we do end up going with the neighborhood schools option the one thing I really want to know is how are we as a county going to answer the question “who is my neighbor?” Because in my experience how you answer that question makes all the difference in the world.
Kevin Rogers, Raleigh
As a board you may have great ideas for how to run our school system, but I and a great many others are having problems even considering your proposals because of the way you as a board are conducting the business of the school district. For example, every board agenda in the past has had a financial implication listed for every budget item, even if there was no financial cost. This common practice has been disregarded by the board since Dec.- until today… The cost of your decisions should be clearly spelled out for everyone in the community!
Also, please include all board members in your discussion. In the previous meetings the introduction of the year-round resolution without public scrutiny or even without scrutiny from your fellow board members was not appropriate. We have a very complex school district and we need nine board members to represent us, not five.
The lack of transparency from this board both in financial matters both and in conduct is truly bad government. You undermine the credibility of your own ideas by conducting yourselves with secrecy. And most importantly, you are undermining faith and trust in your own leadership ability.
Truman Newberry, Raleigh
There are things that have been mentioned about dealing with the calendar that are monumental issues to deal with. Busing could be reduced by probably $25 million and still meet the needs of busing if the proper balance of calendar is there. I would challenge you and I would encourage you and I would thank you. Keep up the good work and anything we can do as a public, just reach out and grab us and put us to work.