Highlights from State and Local Campaigns - Wake County
A New Plan for Wake County? (March 2011)A proposed plan for the Wake County public schools would respond to the harmful resegregation of the Raleigh public schools with a new approach – “integration by achievement” – Read the NY Times article here. Washington Post reported on the school board's decision to dismantle a long-standing successful racial and socio-economic integration plan. For years, the plan has required that no school have more than 40 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced price lunch. An ambitious student choice and assignment plan as well as the creation of magnet schools gave Wake County positive ratings on national rankings of large school districts. A recent conservative shift in the school board, with several candidates promising a return to neighborhood schools, foreshadowed the eventual demise of the plan.
The NAACP has filed a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that the district intentionally created a system of racially segregated schools by making changes to the student assignment plan. In addition, the complaint argues that changes to the plan will result in non-white students attending significantly lower-achieving schools than white students. The complaint is filed on behalf of the nearly 700 students that have received school reassignments. You can find the complaint here.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the Post article, arguing that the move towards racial isolation in Wake County was "not a positive outcome for children of any color or background." Furthermore, the Secretary urged school boards not to implement changes like those made in the district. Read the Secretary's letter to the editor here. PRRAC, and other members of the National Coalition on School Diversity, have encouraged the Department of Education and Congress to more aggressively incentivize districts to maintain or implement student assignment plans that decrease racial and economic isolation. See www.school-diversity.org.
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