Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Civil rights and the news from Raleigh

Update at 2:50 p.m.: Turns out the projections for Wake's teacher cuts come from a state report that lays out projections for all districts. Read that report here. I'm posting a story shortly, but quirks in our software make it easier to post a link from the blog than from a news item.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold a national education summit in Raleigh this weekend, with a focus on school resegregation. National President Benjamin Todd Jealous is scheduled to speak Friday evening, with a Saturday panel on "Reversing Resegregation."

This lands, of course, at an interesting time for our state. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is grappling with huge budget cuts, which drove a recent decision to close several schools in African-American neighborhoods in 2011. The U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights is still weighing how to respond to complaints -- the total was at seven as of yesterday evening -- that those closings and other student assignment changes are unfair to black and Hispanic students.

Wake County Schools, which just became a majority-minority school system, is going through turmoil as a new school board majority prepares to shift to a neighborhood-based assignment system, scrapping the longstanding system that used family income to promote school diversity. CMS crossed the less-than-half-white threshold many years ago (currently about one-third of students are white), and beat Raleigh to the punch on the shift to neighborhood schools.

It's always interesting to check the News & Observer's education page. Among the other highlights from up the road: The Wake school board is preparing to interview finalists for superintendent, and officials are projecting huge classroom hits based on the likelihood of state budget cuts for 2011.

And there's a fascinating piece about the turmoil ahead for North Carolina's largest district, a title Wake claimed from CMS a few years ago.


Anonymous said...

Ann, I wish you had included in your comments about Wake County schools information about student achievement under their socio-economics based assignment plan. For most of the 2000's Wake's plan was touted both in Raleigh and throughout the country as the end all for solving the achievement gap and fairly educating all students. In fact many Observer articles and commentary critiquing our assignment plan would include a reference to how they did things in Raleigh. A few years back a research report from Queens College finally revealed that Wake's minority and high poverty students were not making progress under Wake's vaunted assignment plan. (Actually this information had been available on the state department of education's website and also, amazingly, although well hidden, on Wake's website, but apparently no one had bothered to look.) Meanwhile, under our assignment plan, CMS minority and high poverty students had been making steady progress. Recent state report card results show the trend continuing.

Hopefully our community and opinion makers have learned a lesson from what has been occurring in Wake County--when their newly elected school board began making plans to restructure assignment many civic leaders (including the mayor), the editors of the paper, and the local education foundation all went after the new board members with a vengeance. When the NAACP jumped into the fray things really got ugly, with major board meeting disruptions, arrests, name calling, etc. While we have had some of that here, at least most of our civic leaders and the press have not piled on as they did in Raleigh. If you are a school news junkie, Wake's travails have made and continue to make fascinating reading. However, I'd hate to see a repeat of that situation here.

Sharon Starks

therestofthestory said...

I think the Department of Education is going to have a difficult time since they openly support closing perpetually failing schools under NCLB. I'm not sure what they can do in Wake County short of having the Supreme Court reinstitute busing for diversity without proving schools are segregated by races. The court has ruled before that neighborhood assignment is not segregation.

I think this is a bunch of people you let scream and yell all they want and then you go about trying to manage by the decreasing budget as best you can. So much has been done for this crowd and yet it is never enough for them.

If CMS does not do something to address the class sizes in the high schools, I think the public's confidence will go to nearly nill for future support. It may get so bad that areas of the county may just stop participating on the school board. The voter representation via districts is so bad now that voters in Districts 1 and 6 only see their votes count as 1/3.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Sharon, I'm sure you know the Wake/CMS test score comparisons have been reported prominently and repeatedly in the Observer. I don't plan to revisit the entire scenario every time I blog or write about Wake -- but that's what comments are for!

Anonymous said...


The latest tongue twister to defeat me is “Reversing Resegregation”
No matter how hard I try it comes out “regurgitation.”

I practiced all morning in front of a mirror while some ugly cuss looked back and the best I was able to do was, “Ra, Re, Re, Ra, haw, gee, nation”

The guy in the mirror frowned.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville, NC

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a comparison of how many $100,000+ employees Wake county has compared to CMS.... or even how many employees they have in departments like "support", curriculum, HR, specialists,area "executives" and "chiefs" etc.
CMS will have to make cuts, but there are hundreds of people who don't ever step foot in a school, talk to a teacher, or provide any benefits to the system- let's cut their jobs!

Ann Doss Helms said...

I do the six-figure comparison every spring, when we request the payroll. Here's what I had in April: "Wake County Schools, which has almost 5,000 more students than CMS, currently has virtually the same number of administrators earning $100,000 or more: 103 in Wake, 104 in CMS. Wake, which had 112 at the six-figure level last spring, has also been eliminating jobs."

I have found it very challenging to make solid comparisons of administration between districts because there are so many ways to assign titles, departments, etc. Last year I e-mailed folks in CMS, Wake and Guilford simultaneously, hoping to get communication and agreement on budget-related questions. I still ended up with quite a bit of apples-to-oranges reporting.

Ann Doss Helms said...

p.s. The "who's not essential" question is also tough. The folks who maintain buildings, make the computers work, run payroll and handle benefits don't teach kids, but I'm guessing teachers wouldn't want those jobs abolished.

And as I noted yesterday, the folks involved in accountability --that is, generating and analyzing data that's presented to the public -- could be labeled dispensible under a kids-first focus. But from a reporter's point of view, that's essential to a good public system.

Anonymous said...

"Majority-minority population..." It's hilarious how the Left stumbles over this one, i.e. How do you make claims of racism when whites are the minority?

This will be a fun topic to watch in the future.

Anonymous said...

Would love to see what the NAACP plans to do about re-segregation.

It's not like they can go around block-busting again to see if they can lower property values and buy into neighborhoods.

Property values are already ruined.

So what tactic will they try this time?


Smuggling illegal Russian immigrants?

People apparently re-segregate for a reason.

Can the NAACP handle that?

Anonymous said...

To therestofthestory: I hope that there are a few people running for the school board in the at-large seats that come for District 1 and District 6.

therestofthestory said...

Thanks 7:00 PM. The problem candidates from District 1 and 6 will be the character assasination the CO will foster and push the inner city racists for more and more yelling to make what they think is readership and good for their advertisers. Since these 2 districts are at opposite ends of the county, it is hard to get all the suburbanites to agree and support just the conservative candidates. Some voters screw up by thinking the 2 conservatives they vote for is okay so they have no problem voting for 1 not conservative. The problem is almost half the other voters will be anti-conservative believing all the hate mongering speeches of the inner city airheads. So at best, only one conservative gets elected.

Anonymous said...

Pete Gorman was firing excellent teachers and spending money like water for consultants before the true budget crisis hit. This was all under the pretense that he was going to replace CMS's current teachers with highly effective ones. That never happened. Instead, he placed TFA's in the poverty schools and over crowded the classrooms at the others.He helped to create the disparity within many of the schools he is closing. He planted 200 students at West Charlotte last year that had only three credits to their names and long standing criminal records. His excuse "we dropped the ball on this one". Now he has everyone looking at Charlotte like a back-woods racist Educational District. What highly qualified teacher would want to work for CMS?

Shame on you Pete Gorman,Eric Davis, and Mayor Anthony Fox now claiming to be "looking for Superman". Well look in the faces of teachers in a class of fifty or the faces of teachers and assistant principals he is preparing to fire after assuring 1 million for his "thinkers"

The chickens are coming home to roost.