This edition of Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) updates includes a message ‘from the top’ through the Office of Equity Affairs, a local event that parents will want to sign up for and the WCPSS Board’s “socioeconomic” reassignment plan heats up.
#1 – Office of Equity Affairs and starting ‘from the top’
Director Trice and Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) former staffer Lauren Mascarenaz penned an article called “Equity work should start from the top,” which was published at SPLC’s ‘education’ website, Teaching Tolerance.
Yes, let’s start at the top with the Office of Equity Affairs’ (OEA) budget — which is now costing taxpayers over $1 million for a staff of six.
Bear in mind, this article is a tee-up to the Wake School Board’s “socioeconomic” reassignment plan.
The main thrust of the article isn’t what the title suggests, it’s actually an article about shutting down “dissenters” and “naysayers.”
“Because there are segments of our community that oppose the district’s approach to addressing equity challenges, we must think deeply about some critical questions: What is equity leadership in the face of resistance? How do we constructively confront the naysayers? And how do we work to keep the district’s focus on achieving greater levels of DEI?”
The article also repeatedly calls for “disrupting inequity” yet doesn’t give one example of what inequity is or how they will “disrupt” it, they talk around it with lofty platitudes about ‘inspiring’ their colleagues.
Instead of engaging “dissenters,” Trice and Mascarenaz tell readers to build their own coalition, find “allies” and set your own “language” and messaging, presumably to be used to talk over or to shout down the “dissenters” with. However, what’s even more than troubling is this line:
“Teachers have standards to back their work; we need these backbones of our organization to anchor what we do.”
The article tells readers to “look beyond yourself and your team to other departments, community alliances, and nonprofit organizations,” because “if you ever need to stand up and defend your work, having allies means that you are not alone—and that is powerful.”
The “community alliances and nonprofit organizations” in Wake County will most definitely include Great Schools in Wake and it’s offshoot, NC Public Schools First. Great Schools in Wake is already cheerleading the new reassignment plan. Keep reading, both of these groups are in a related venture, which is the second update presented in today’s article. For some backstory on them, read last week’s edition of WCPSS Updates.
Trice and Mascarenaz go on to to say that their work needs to “focus on systems” and that “Diversity, equity and inclusion must be infused within the very fabric of your organization, school or district.”
“While traditional leadership is top-down, equity leadership looks more like a lattice—everyone from families to support staff to educators all the way to the school board must be in. This is even more important if you have a district that is not rooted in core beliefs or values that reflect the equity work you are trying to do. Embedding the work in the system itself is a critical part of it being sustainable and evergreen. “
All lattices are equal, but some are more equal than others.
#2 – A local event parents might want to check out
It is no secret the Wake School Board is extremely anti-Charter and anti-School Choice and WCPSS’s Christine Kushner is part of a half-day conference being hosted in October by the partisan NC Public Schools First.
The half-day conference will be from 8 am to 1pm on October 12 and is called “Impact of Privatizing Public Schools: A Crisis in the Making.”
Privatizing? No one is privatizing public schools. Oh, they mean public charter schools. Or maybe they mean the six schools Restart Schools in Wake County? The Restart model, in essence, mimics charter schools.
The conference description says it will look at “how various education policies and programs contributed to the increased segregation of our public schools by race and income.”
In case you’re wondering, what they mean by “various education policies” is public charter schools. For now. To this group, the free association of students and parents choosing the best options for their child is “segregation.”
Just as the Trice/Mascarenaz article was a tee-up for the WCPSS reassignment plan, so it this event. NC Public Schools First is an offshoot of Great Schools in Wake. For all intents and purposes, they are one in the same and they have made it abundantly clear over the years, and as recently as this spring, that they oppose parental choice.
Anti-School Choice speakers, such as the NEA’s Red4Ed Justin Parmenter and Angie Scioli are listed as participants, as well as the far-left Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield and the infamous Kris Nordstrom.
Tickets are free, but you have to hit the Eventbrite website to register or you won’t get in. I’ve registered.
#3- Wake School Board’s Reassignment Plan heats up
At the WCPSS board’s June 1 retreat, they discussed their ‘diversity plans‘ and announced ‘resegregation’ was not going to happen on their watch. Here is a verbatim copy of the resolution they produced, read it closely:
The result has been to focus on revamping the district’s assignment policy — or rather, it has become an effort to reassign kids using something similar to the College Board’s “adversity score.”
The Wake school board is fast-tracking their bid to use “socioeconomic data” to assign kids to schools by billing it as a new “enrollment policy.” If the board continues on course, this will be a done deal before Thanksgiving.
The News and Observer’s Keung Hui does a very good job of covering the Wake County School Board meetings. At their last meeting, Hui tweeted a number of times about the board deciding what “socioeconomic” metrics would be used to move kids around the district to achieve “diversity.
The board talked about figuring out the socioeconomic imbalance of schools using the Wake County Economic Health Index. The Economic Health Index includes the following variables:
- Median Household Income: The median household income in the past 12 months
- Food Stamps: Measured as a percentage of households in each block group
- Rent as greater than 30% of Income: Gross rent as a percentage of household income
- Home Mortgage as greater than 30% of Income: Mortgage status by owner cost as a percentage of household income
- Persons living between 100%–200% of Federal Poverty Level: Ratio of income to poverty level for whom poverty status is determined between 100 and 200 percent.
Hui tweeted that the district staff then used that Index to “assign a socioeconomic score to every school based on the average of the Census block group of students attending them.”
The WCPSS staff putting this data suggested that elementary schools should have a goal to maintain an Economic Health Index within 20 percentile points of the County average and Middle and High schools would have a goal of 15 points. It was proposed these goals should be part of a five-year plan and should be met by the 2024-25 school year.
According to the staff presentation, 30 (26%) of elementary schools, 14 (37%) of middle schools, and (12) 42% of high schools are outside of their respective proposed goals. That means 74% of elementary schools, 63% of middle schools and 58% of high schools currently are just fine by the Board’s “socioeconomic index score.”
So what are we really talking about here? Moving kids around to make up for families who have left their traditional school assignment. One might as well try to nail Jell-O to a wall.
The meeting video and details are below.
- Meeting Agenda
- Goals list
- WCPSS Socioeconomic info breakout by Elementary, Middle and High Schools
- Work Session video
- Open Meeting video
If this all sounds familiar, that’s because it’s all happened before in 2009. The board members running who promoted neighborhood schools and parents who wanted the choice were called “resegregationists” then too.
The Wake School Board likes to pay lip service to the idea they somehow communicate with the community and that parents have a say in what happens in the district. The reality is this board has ignored parent complaints and concerns for years and parents are sick of it.
John Locke’s Dr. Terry Stoops points this out in a recent Education Week article on the Wake School Board’s latest moaning over their self-inflicted enrollment wounds. Here is the key section, pay attention to Jim Martin’s remarks about ‘tools and busing’:
Jim Martin, the chairman of the nine-member school board, said he and his colleagues are mindful of the past. The district has chosen to keep student assignments fairly stable for the past several years in order to ease a chaotic situation created by the previous board.
“We don’t want to go back to a time where it felt like the school board was rearranging pawns on a chessboard,” said Martin, a chemistry professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who is white. “Student assignment is one of the tools to address equitable and integrated schools. It is not the only tool. It’s not just about busing.”
With that said, “the whole issue of having, strong, equitable, diverse integrated schools is why I ran for office in the first place back in 2011,” Martin said. “We have not been able to reverse some of these increasing segregating trends, and that is a deep frustration.” Socioeconomic equity, Martin said, means more resources at a school level, which drives “opportunity creation.”
But ultimately, further student assignment changes is not what parents want, said Terry Stoops, the director of education studies for the conservative John Locke Foundation in Raleigh. Stoops and his wife, Jaime, are co-founders of a K-8 charter school opening in Angier, N.C. in the 2019-20 school year. With a final enrollment projected at about 600, it will draw students from southern Wake County as well as two neighboring counties.
Stoops said parents are drawn to his school because it will use Core Knowledge and Singapore Math, and because it promises to be a place their children can stay from kindergarten until the end of middle school.
“There doesn’t seem to be any active effort to reach out to parents and ask them whether they desire this, or whether this would make their decision to stay in the Wake County public schools or go to a school of choice any different,” said Stoops, whose children are enrolled in a district magnet school and in a charter school. He believes the board is floating a trial balloon by talking about a renewed commitment to diversity.
“But their unwillingness to make this change over the last eight years is an effort to keep the board in the hands of a Democrat-backed majority. This is an instance where politics trumps their ideology,” he said.
Jim Martin and the entire board ought to pick up Sandra Stotsky’s new book, The roots of Low Achievement.
Three key reads relevant to the reassignment plan:
- #WCPSS Updates: MVP Math, Reassignment plan, Restart Status and a Brain Drain
- Wake School Board debates version of College Board ‘Diversity Score’ to reassign kids
- WCPSS Equity Affairs: We will “Leverage student voices” to advance “Equity Framework”