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Wake County's Big Secret Paperback – September 22, 2008
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For the past ~10 years or so, our entire county has been carved into tiny 'nodes' that the Board of Education move around like pawns as they try to 'balance' the socio-economic status of everyone across the county. We have mandatory busing for diversity purposes, and the board is VERY committed to it...so much so that they refuse to allow research into the admirable results they claim are being achieved. The effect is a large-scale social experiment that affects every family, neighborhood & child who live here. Wake county includes: Apex, Cary, Fuquay, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, and Zebulon.
The board is bold and arrogant, they (not parents) have the power over our children's lives and scoff outright at parental desire to have anything resembling a neighborhood school...even if it's walking distance from the house you just purchased, even if it means every block goes to a different school, and every student could sit on a bus for up to 2 hours per day.
The fact is that there is simply NO WAY for you to know the base school your child will attend if you're in the Wake County Public Schools, as the BOE performs what they call the 'Spring Dance' of reassignments on a regular basis in this part of the world. That elementary school you can walk to is not for you, the Middle or High School to which your address is currently assigned...they may or may not be what you have by next year. And, your neighbors on the next street may be assigned elsewhere as well. We're all just pawns to be shuffled around every year, as we're seen not as neighborhoods, families, people...but as impersonal nodes that simply represent our economic means.
If you have too many middle-class nodes, the board will move some of those to a more distant school and make students from a low-income area get on a bus and trek an hour to diversify your school. Too many from a low-income area at one school and it becomes a magnet and only a few from that neighborhood are even allowed to attend. Our system prefers to put all our children on a bus (at $5 million/year+) rather than spend this money on those schools with greater academic needs. The shuffle of 20% low-income students into a 100% performing school...makes the school appear 80% successful on paper, but what does it REALLY do for those 20% other than put them on a bus to a foreign neighborhood where they realize just how much they don't have compared to their new peers. When called on to justify the upheaval & disruption our system perpetrates, our BOE refuses to have it studied and quantified so that residents might understand what is being gained by the constant sacrifices expected of us and our children as they go to yet another school. It's not terribly unusual for one student to end up at 2 or 3 different schools in as many years...without ever changing their address, this is our system as it stands.
This is the only book I've seen address these issues directly, and I think every Wake County resident should read it if only to be aware of what we have in place. And, if you're moving into the area and ever plan to have kids, you should definitely understand our public system...it's not like wherever you're coming from. We do have some great schools, especially the magnets and charter schools (as they are free from the reassignment shuffle IF you can get into them). We also have more students in private schools than the national average (~18-20% I believe) as well as one of the largest home-school populations around.
This is an inexpensive way to educate yourself on what to expect in Wake County, and to potentially do something about it...just in case you happen not to embrace it with all the fervor of the constant media spin as to what great system we have here.