Sunday, April 29, 2012

Facing reality

Some members of the School Board are now talking about changing the assignment plan. They claim the plan is flawed and needs to be fixed. But, are they really just going to fix what’s not working? Are they really listening to what parents are asking for?

I’ve listened to the relatively few complaints over the past months. Parents – whether they have current WCPSS students, rising K’s, charter, private or home-school students – want a neighborhood school. Some were frustrated that they were left unassigned (and rightly so). But, most of them were concerned over the distance of their assigned school or their feeder pattern schools.

But, the comments made by some School Board members about this plan, once again, seem completely disconnected to reality.

Susan Evans speaks about the new assignment plan in some way at every Board meeting. Most of what she says is to satisfy her friends in the audience – you know, the GSIW crowd. The issues she raises during these soapbox speeches, however, have nothing – nada – zero – to do with the new assignment plan.

She says some parents are unhappy with their predictable feeder patterns because it keeps them in the year-round calendar rather than at a more proximate school. Evans knows full well that the problems we have with YR in our district – and throughout the county – are a direct result of MYR and previous Board’s imbalanced distribution of that calendar.

I completely agree that we are still feeling the aftereffects of MYR in our district – but Evans is intentionally misleading parents by pinning their discontent on the new assignment plan and letting them believe that changing this plan will address their concerns.

At last week’s Board meeting, Christine Kushner indicated she would like to explore a hybrid assignment model for the future – a cross between addressed-based assignments with expanded choice. I’ve written to Ms. Kushner about her comments so she can elaborate but haven’t heard back yet.

After decades of base assigning students and knowing that base assignments WILL LEAD TO REASSIGNMENT, I am baffled that any School Board member would even suggest bringing them back. It may serve to satisfy a few (magnet parents who want to opt back into their neighborhood school, realtors want a school assignment attached to the home) but we all know that base assignments are too rigid for our school system, are unable to effectively address growth, create more problems than they fix and will never be able to provide long-term stability. Who in their right mind would consider bringing them back?

Well, since writing to Ms. Kushner, I found this statement from GSIW and the NC Justice Center from last year which calls for a “fine tune” of the old node system. Both Evans and Kushner were still active leaders in GSIW when this paper was published.

Are these comments about the new assignment plan from Kushner and Evans just another example of GSIW pulling their strings? It’s no secret that GSIW and Evans, in particular, do not like Supt. Tata or this plan. Are these Board members just following their agenda with complete disregard to what parents really want?

Is this School Board interested in facing reality?