The Iliad, Beowulf, and the epic tale of Wake County schools

The saga of Wake County, NC continues. This week, district superintendent Anthony Tata (formerly of the U.S. Army and then of DCPS) released two plans for Wake's new school-assignment policy. (Remember, Wake County, once a poster-district for socio-economic integration, saw its program scrapped in recent months by the district's new school board. Since then, the community has been struggling to find a middle ground?one which will neither ?resegregate? schools nor force students to bus over an hour to schools in order to fill quotas.)

The first plan, the green plan, or the Base Schools Achievement Plan is similar to the current assignment model?but with a twist. Students would be assigned to schools by achievement level (instead of by family income). No one school could have a concentration of low-achievers. This would, it is assumed, offer low-achievers access to some of the districts best teachers while reducing the number of high-poverty schools. A novel concept, but one with questionable feasibility in the long-term, especially as Wake County's population grows or declines.

The blue plan, aka the Community-Based Choice plan, elementary-school parents would choose between four to six schools, each linked to a middle and high school. Students get priority based on proximity and sibling enrollment, but the district has the right to factor in achievement balance when assigning schools. This plan would allow for long-term flexibility (though transportation costs from year to year would be difficult to budget) and offer stability of school assignment, but could potentially lead to ?zoned schools? that are less socio-economically integrated (or academically integrated) than they are at present.

Tata is a fan of the blue plan himself. But which pill would you swallow? The green or the blue? (Or, for the Matrix buffs in the crowd, the red or the blue?)

?Daniela Fairchild

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