I listened to the public comments at last night’s School Board meeting.
(As a side note…Mr. Hill felt it was more important for the Board to hold their closed session discussion than to listen to everyone who signed up to speak at the beginning of the meeting – which left many waiting until 10p to make their comments. But, that’s another topic…)
Speaker after speaker last night complained about the new student assignment plan. And, after each speaker, the crazies in the audience (GSIW, I assume) clapped wildly. But, if you really listened, what these parents – and some students – were asking for in their complaints was to have a neighborhood school.
Some were families from charter schools who wanted a proximate “base” assignment along with their neighbors who currently attend a WCPSS school. Others complained about their feeder pattern as it fed into a different and usually further school than their classmates. Almost all of them, however, regardless of their specific complaint, were pleading for a neighborhood assignment. I wondered if the GSIW women were actually listening – or just clapping out of habit.
I also wondered if any of the Board members were actually paying attention to what these parents were asking for. My wonder didn’t last long. Enter Jim Martin.
During his comment time, Mr. Martin said:
“I would like to recommend…that we try to work with staff to establish a control process for next year’s assignment plan to at least ensure that the demographic make up of schools does not drastically change from where it is this year.”
I’m surprised he didn’t actually mention Carnage Middle by name.
Then, during her comment time – and after much pandering to the media and her GSIW friends in the audience, Susan Evans said:
“I can’t promise what all we’ll be able to change for next year but I just want people to know that we are taking this very seriously and we’re looking very closely at how we feel like our populations are going to be affected by the data that we’ve seen.”
So, after all those comments from concerned parents and nervous but articulate students, Martin and Evans still had no clue. Parents aren’t arguing about demographics or school populations. They’re arguing about how this plan affects them personally.
Martin and Evans remain completely blinkered by diversity, hung up on demographics and obviously fearful that they aren’t doing what GSIW and the NAACP want them to do. What is that, you ask? Bring back diversity in assignment, of course.
Even the magnet parents who showed up in masses two years ago hollering to “save diversity” have changed their tune. They are now leading the charge to have the ability to opt back in to their neighborhood high schools as they used to be able to do. Everyone wants a neighborhood school but Evans and Martin (and maybe Kushner) are still stuck on diversity.
No, this plan isn’t perfect. Yes, it will probably need some adjustments as it moves along. But, the changes that parents are asking for are completely different than what these Board members have indicated they intend to do. These Board members want to be able to better control the populations of a school (Carnage Middle, for example) and manipulate your choice. Well, maybe not your choice specifically – but certainly the choices made by the low-income families in Wake County – because, in Martin’s and Evans’ world, those low-income children and the choices made by their parents can break a school.
Whether Martin and Evans get traction in bringing back quotas or ranking F&R status higher in the priority list remains to be seen. But, regardless of how diversity is brought back, it will ultimately affect everyone’s choice. And, it will be the first step back to the way things used to be.