The Wake County School Board (WCSB) held a work session on July 16 in which they debated for over an hour how to legally reassign kids using metrics that won’t run afoul of the law.
The approach is eerily similar to The College Board’s new ‘Diversity score‘, which uses socioeconomic data on a student as a proxy for race.
If a high tide raises all boats, then WCSB’s ‘Diversity Plan’ is more like an undertow, dragging kids and families out to sea.
The July 16 meeting was a ‘debrief of the WCSB’s June 1 retreat at which they discussed their ‘diversity plans‘ and announced ‘resegregation’ was not going to happen on their watch.
The WCSB created very telling resolution at that retreat on how they would achieve their goal – by going over whoever they have to. A verbatim copy of the resolution is below, read it closely:
“Resegregation will not happen on our watch and we are committed to making decisions that are good for the district even when
they are not the best forconstituent groups do not agree.”
The work session debrief involved “facilitators” Frederica Nash and Michael Martin from a company called RTI. A records request has been sent to Wake County to see how much RTI is costing taxpayers to have their children reassigned for what members of this board have called the ‘greater good’ of the district.
I’ve included the video of the session below, and afterward, I have some thoughts about what was said. But first, some highlights of what was said by WCSB members and the RTI ‘facilitators’.
Work Session Highlights
‘Reset the base program for all schools’
RTI’s Martin quoted someone from the retreat, but doesn’t know who said it: “We have to reset the base program for all schools.” He then says that a board member stated that “We have to make sure that every student has access to an excellent education.”
Martin goes on to say that focusing on areas where there is neither high nor low poverty is a component that is “key to achieving student-based outcomes.”
Students = metrics
WCSB members Bill Fletcher and Jim Martin bring up the topic of what metrics they can use to reassign kids. Jim Martin pushes using FRL as a metric, but RTI’s Martin cautioned that might not be “the right metric to use.”
WCSB member Heagarty puts the onus on the School Assignment Dept. to come up with “public data sources” to use with WCPSS’s own internal metrics. He then goes on to say they should look at who attends a school who lives nearby, who is opting out and who attends a school that it isn’t their base.
WCSB member Lindsay Mahaffey talks about how North Raleigh was ‘the big growth area’ and then it was West and now South like this is something new. Her comments underscore how this board has consistently failed to anticipate growth areas and students have paid for it by being forcibly reassigned as was the case in the Holly Springs/Apex Friendship fight.
We have to pass the plan before we can see what’s in it
Mahaffey talked about holding stakeholder meetings, but her remarks indicate these meetings are for the board to dictate their plans to the public. Mahaffey said they have to develop a “communications plan” so people ‘know how we are going to do things’.
“I think the parental feeling is, ‘Oh my gosh. Is my family going to be impacted?'” said Mahaffey.
Heads up, parents. That was your money quote. Yes, you are going to be impacted.
Monica Johnson-Hostler follows up, and said, “we can’t let this die.” She then goes on to set the narrative that the board is ‘doing something’ but gives the board an out on communicating it.
“People are overwhelmed with what they see in the media, we’re consumed – so part of this communication plan is also going to have to be intentional because what will happen is if we have is press, press and it goes away people will assume we are not doing anything,” said Johnson- Hostler.
Oh – We know you’re doing something. You know we don’t like it. But you’re doing it anyway.
Johnson- Hostler went on to say “And then we surface with ‘We have a plan!’ and inevitably not all stakeholders will be at the table and I think the three of us who came on as mothers with issues with the district said, and I still say today, that that becomes an issue for the parent who wasn’t a part of those conversations.”
Who is she trying to kid?
Johnson-Hostler and the ‘moms who came in with issues’ are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to ignoring the public. Point of fact here – The only ‘stakeholders’ they invite are on these panels always agree with the board.
Fletcher spills the beans
Around the 49:48-minute mark, Bill Fletcher makes an amazing statement admitting the goal is to even out achievement in all schools and that their plan will use socioeconomic status (SES) to mean race.
“It would seem the objective that we adopted is an effort to put in place a student population in each of our schools that is more easily educated than were to be concentrated in poverty,” said Fletcher. “And to me, that would seem to be the driving force in this policy to provide an integrated community and SES and race still follow each other largely.”
Maybe he realized how that first statement sounded because he then tried to backtrack.
“I’m hesitant to go down the racial route as the first step just because of the legal issues that are associated with it and to jump on moving kids in order to pad school performance numbers seems to be counterproductive to improving the education outcomes for kids in the schools where they are,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher then devolves into a word salad made up of academic outcomes, diversity and socioeconomic status that in the end. He goes on to say that using a “socioeconomic metric” will allow schools to “contribute to the health of the community” and the “growth of their children academically.”
Sutton tried to sweep Fletcher’s comments away and reiterated that what they are talking about here is the board “looking at reassignment based on SES” and not on race.
The two of them want the public to believe they aren’t peeing on our shoes by calling it rain.
Can we legally get away with using race? Yes, we can!
At the 54:30 mark, Lindsay Mahaffey starts talking about what they were told they can “legally” do in terms of reassignment.
Around the 56:30 mark, I believe it is a WCPSS lawyer who is asked to clarify what the board can legally do using race as an assignment metric. I could not fully discern his name, but it sounded like Neal Remy. We’ll call him Neal.
What Neal says is that the “basic legal parameters regarding race, socioeconomic status, and achievement scores, race has the most legal protection constraints by far of the three categories because race is a protected classification.”
Neal explains that the Supreme Court is not keen on singling out students based on race for student assignment plans, saying that “The courts, and the Supreme Court, in general, are very skeptical of … it’s not necessarily invalid, but it requires a very high level of justification.”
Neal goes on to say that the cases brought to the high courts have not passed ‘strict scrutiny’ to be able to justify the consideration of race as a factor to which schools they can attend. He then described the guidance from the Dept. of Education under the Obama administration which has since been rescinded by the Trump Administration.
“It’s an analysis of the law, but it is not part of the formal education guidance anymore,” Neal said. “And that’s that those rules did not prohibit school districts from considering the general demographics or neighborhoods when they draw school attendance lines.”
The above statement for school assignment is reminiscent of the Democrat gerrymandering lawsuits charging race was used too much in map-making. It’s apparently not ok for voting, but fine for your child’s education?
Neal continues, saying that it is still accurate to say that but implies there’s a loophole by calling it a ‘diversity plan’.
“The difference here is if someone could make a case in a lawsuit that an individual student’s race impacted their chance in some statistically significant way, that’s bad,” said Neal. “But if it’s just ‘we know… we tend… we promote diversity…racial diversity’, the Supreme Court has said that’s a valid, even worthy compelling public interest goal and to pursue it. So, just a general awareness that demographics is not problematic.”
“Now, when you’re talking about getting into the granular data, I think there are some issues to sort through there,” Neal added.
Neal then says SES is the second most protected class, but that by using a census for pulling data, they’d have cover and would be ok. He warns the board about attaching data to specific students and that they will need to have other data attached to it to avoid issues. He also warns about using or producing data on a student that would make them publicly identifiable.
Board President, Jim Martin jumps in and says “It’s changing the conversation from ‘can we?’ to ‘how can we?’ The work we need to do can be done, we have to figure out how.”
Jumping forward to the about the 1:10:26 mark, the mask falls a bit, showing ‘diversity’ is not about improving student outcomes, but mitigating bad ones.
“Our role… what we’re trying to do is not develop an assignment plan, that’s staff’s job,” said Sutton. “But our job is to create policy that will mitigate the impact of race and poverty.”
Martin says not long after the board needs to develop a “governing structure” which will dictate this reassignment processes.
Here’s the full video. My personal take follows below it.
Woke County Public Schools
No, that’s not a typo. I meant to type ‘woke’. A colleague of mine recently tweeted to me that Wake County Schools should be called Woke County Schools. After what I’ve seen go down just in the last few months alone, ‘Woke’ is an understatement.
Over and over the board and their RTI consultants kicked around the idea of ‘what is the metric’ we want to use to achieve our goal of ‘diversity’.
Not once during the entire work session did this board ask, ‘why are families and students leaving for other options?’ The answer to that starts with ‘It’s not us, it’s you’.
Heagarty was the only board member to even come close to asking that million-dollar question when he asked about pulling metrics on who is opting out of their base school. That’s as close as anyone came.
To compound that lack of questioning, the WCBS pumped out a line about how ‘every child should have a great school and education’, yet not once did the WCSB even speak of, or even consider as a factor, the quality of the education (or lack thereof) being provided in the district’s schools. Instead, the board only talked about ways to force the remaining students into the schools the board chooses.
WCSB is not really interested in diversity, or equity, or improving any, much less all, student outcomes. It’s about metrics. It’s about a school’s grade. It’s about looking like you’re doing something to improve a situation by using students in a numbers shell game.
If you like your neighborhood school you can keep your neighborhood school.
Like the Obamacare lie of the year, if you moved to a neighborhood because of the schools your kid might not get to go to them if the WCBS gets their way.
This board claims to want to improve all student outcomes, yet the ‘diversity plan’ they are proposing is really about leveling out school grades by shifting kids around. The method of doing that is to base reassignment by their socioeconomic status. The ramifications of which will be your child being shipped halfway across the district in order to ‘mitigate’ the impact of race and poverty.
What WCSB is really considering here is very similar to The College Board’s ‘Diversity score’. The College Board’s ‘Diversity score‘ uses SES as a proxy for race so colleges can claim plausible deniability if they are sued for discrimination involving race-based admissions.
If the WCSB wants to see parents head for the exit even faster, they should go for it.
The constant myopia of the Wake School board is compounded by regular rounds of patting each other on the back while the elitist, virtue-signaling echo chamber they dwell in protects them from complaints made by the great unwashed taxpaying public.
There is one solution here.
Every single board seat is on the ballot in 2020. Vote the echo chamber out.