Election Results: Charles Meeker Wins, Koopman Defeated, School Board Goes Neighborhood

Election Results: Charles Meeker Wins, Koopman Defeated, School Board Goes Neighborhood

Over 10% Voted- Here's who they picked.

October, 06, 2009, by David

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A rainy election day with thin turnout across the city.  Slightly over 11% of eligible voters made it to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes for Raleigh’s city elections and four of the Wake County School Board district elections.

The biggest news of the day: the clean sweep by the Republican backed school board candidates who have vowed to end diversity based busing.  Chris Malone, Deborah Prickett, and Debra Goldman were all elected by a highly vocal and organized group of parents. John Tedesco defeated incumbent Horace Tart, but may have to have a runoff next month against Cathy Truitt who came in second in November. Truitt is also a neighborhood school supporter. The winning candidates and their supporters believe the existing system of bus based blending decreases the quality of their schools by bringing poorer students to the schools in an effort to have uniform ratios of free and reduced lunch students across the system. 

There was also a surprise upset for incumbent Rodger Koopman.  John Odom handily won District B with 59% of the votes.  Odom has been a city councilor before and ran against Meeker for mayor in 2003.

In the at-large race, both incumbents won, with Mary-Ann Baldwin capturing 35% of the vote and Russ Stephenson capturing 33%.  Our pick behind Russ Stephenson, Lee Sartain, received 8% of the vote- a healthy showing for this fresh face- with a heavy set of opposition against him.

As the sole candidate Nancy McFarlane took 100% of the vote in district A.  Even unchallenged McFarlane campaigned consistently showing up for candidate forums and fund raising. 

It was incumbent James West who won against a challenger by the widest margin, taking 85% of the votes in district C.

Thomas Crowder defeated Ted Van Dyk.  Van Dyk had tried to differentiate himself as a cooperative voice and had the backing of real-estate and construction industry.  Crowder has been tireless in seeking what is best for his citizens in district D and they showed their support by giving him a crushing 68% of their votes.

Bonner Gaylord also defeated his opponent, Waheed Haq in district E.  Mr. Haq had failed to campaign in any significant capacity and after missing candidate forums and lacking any real visible strategy or message, his election was doomed.  We are surprised that Haq managed 24% of the vote after what amounted to a camouflaged campaign for potential voters. 

Charles Meeker also took the Mayors Seat for a 5th term.  The humble, soft spoken leader delivered his acceptance speech at his son’s restaurant tonight, the Busy Bee, talking of restarting the city after the downturn and working for a more environmentally friendly city as a whole. 

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Politics, Other posts by David.


Nancy McFarlaneThomas CrowderMary-Ann BaldwinBonner GaylordRuss StephensonJohn OdomJames WestRodger KoopmanCharles MeekerLee Sartain


  • rt
    10/06 07:25 PM

    Koopman is one of the good ones.  It’s a shame he won’t be serving again.

  • Thought Criminal
    10/06 08:23 PM

    Amen to neighborhood schools!

    This is just the first shot across the bow at taking back our local, state and national governments from the loony left. Get ready for Republican governor in VA and NJ (NJ!) this November and an absolute Democrat bloodbath in the halls of Congress in November 2010.

    Conservatism is coming…

  • Rex
    10/06 09:00 PM

    From the Amazon review of Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh, by Gerald Grant

    “Grant (The World We Created at Hamilton High) persuasively argues that economically and racially balanced schools are the key to revitalizing declining cities. He compares the problem-ridden public school system of his native Syracuse, N.Y., with the superior schools in Raleigh, N.C., arguing that the disparity exists because the Syracuse school district has remained confined to the core city, while Raleigh merged city and suburbs in 1976, creating the Wake County district. Students are assigned to schools to ensure a healthy mix of children by race and socioeconomic class. Although some parents object to the busing, the majority are reportedly convinced that the results are worth the inconvenience. Whereas nearly half of Syracuse’s ninth graders fail to graduate from high school, Wake County students produce high levels of success. Although Raleigh is the prime example here, other Southern schools are similar success stories—a paradoxical twist, as parts of the South, long fiercely resistant to integration, can show the way for struggling Northern cities. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in urban planning, race relations and education reform.”

    Sure, let’s undo something that works…

    Thought Jockey - get your head out of your hindquarters, and play your conservative politics somewhere outside a decent and honest conversation about what works in public education, specifically Wake County Public education.

  • race criminal
    10/06 09:52 PM

    Watch as Wake County schools go from being one of the most highly rated and admired systems in the country to one of the worst, especially for low-income families.

  • Chico
    10/06 11:22 PM

    Amen to neighborhood schools… if you live in a good neighborhood. Everyone else is fucked. Those neighborhoods should have strong gates to keep the barbarians out.

  • Justathought
    10/06 11:54 PM

    We can talk about diversity all we want but the important think is achievement.  Raleigh has good schools, we have no clue how the new policy will affect that.  However what we do know is that right now the current system is not serving low income students well.  SAS’s study, which was in the N&O yesterday clearly shows that Wake County is behind its peers including Char/Meck in placing minorities in 8th grade Algebra, which is a key metric for determing future success and opportunity.  Whatever your thoughts on the diversity policy it clearly is not as effective as many think in helping low income students.  I say the real problem with the current system is that its really not that flexible so that rational decisions can’t be made about where students should go to school.  I don’t blame the 10% of parents for voting against “diversity” when it means their kid has to change schools every couple of years or leave from school before sunrise and come home after sundown.  My hope is that the new board will work to consider diversity and keep the policy intact to the extent possible while focusing on the the most important thing - giving educational opportunity to all kids no matter their race or economic level.  The diversity policy does no one any good, especially the kids it was designed to help if those kids are pushed down by the system and not allowed to advance.  Sure some upper middle class white guilt might be alleviated but that does’t mean much to the kids that actually deserve a quality education.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 01:37 AM

    Well, the important thing is that Deborah Prickett’s kid won’t have to change schools.  That’s the real goal of a rational county-wide policy: keeping one loudmouth happy.

    I’m sure she’ll be happy to recommend tax increases to pay for the improvements in facilities her policies will require.  Republicans are famous for that kind of willingness to spend on the future.



  • Rex
    10/07 03:31 AM

    Diversity is education, plainly and simply put.

    The minute we go back to segregation by race - and there are clear correlations between race, socioeconomics and where in Raleigh (et al.) a family often lives - our students lose something very valuable that contributes to their success and the quality of their education.

  • Brian Smith
    10/07 05:06 AM

    With only 11% of voters going to polls for this election, we get what we deserve. Shame on Raleighites for not voting and letting the loony fringe conservatives take over the school board. I second the comments from “raleigh resident”. Republicans do not want to fund schools, but they’re the first to meddle and want control as long as rich and middle class kids are taken care of. Screw the poor kids is their attitude. I guess the rationale is if you want to go to a good school, you should move to a well-off district. How impractical!

  • smitty
    10/07 05:28 AM

    As a product of the WCPSS, I think this will be interesting.  Maybe the board shouldn’t have cooked the books. http://blogs.newsobserver.com/wakeed/sas-and-wakes-achievement-gap

  • ROB
    10/07 06:09 AM

    one thing is for sure wake county is still prejudice as hell. my thing is do you really want schools to go back to segregation? thats what this is. i agree with the guy on the top, neighborhood schools are good… of you live in a good rich neighborhood! i mean lets be real here once they divide the schools again the county is not going to put the same amount in money into a school in the hood as they would a rich high class neighborhood in lets say, cary! now wake county schools are gonna end up like guilford county where you have schools that are 95% white and 95% black and the black ones are all underachieved and under funded! this is bullshit!

  • DT
    10/07 06:12 AM

    I think that the gates idea, mentioned earlier, was a good concept.  Though we should be building a wall around poor neighborhoods instead.  We could create districts that would keep both us and the poor people safer by giving them work and schools on the “inside”.  We’ll all feel safer that way. Good job Wake County Schools!

  • A Non-Person
    10/07 06:12 AM

    “The winning candidates and their supporters believe the existing system of bus based blending decreases the quality of their schools by bringing poorer students to the schools in an effort to have uniform ratios of free and reduced lunch students across the system.”

    While this is partially true, the rest of the story is that low-income students—Wake County’s proxy for minority and underperforming students—have not fared as well under the diversity system.  In the absence of any evidence that these children are being helped by bussing, the policy should not stand. 

    Let’s hope Prickett and her merry band can maintain what works at Wake County and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Dre
    10/07 06:22 AM

    Don’t complain if you didn’t vote.  And let’s face it, Wake County schools have lots of room for improvement, and diversity was not working to close the gap. 

    This change will be good for Wake County.

  • arthurb3
    10/07 06:44 AM

    Why have any public education? Parents should educate their kids at home or send them to private school. Is that what you want??

  • CR
    10/07 06:51 AM

    After we build these walls around the poor neighborhoods, we could send a truck there once a week to toss over our leftover food scraps and outdated text books.  This way, we wouldn’t be viewed as inhumane.

  • Robert E Leebowitz
    10/07 08:01 AM

    Convenience wins.  Excellence loses.

  • BE
    10/07 09:21 AM

    Interesting observations.  Some with merit, but many seem laced with hypocrisy.  This and other similar sites concern themselves with the development/gentrification of downtown.  As part of those discussions, issues related to the homeless, lower income neighborhoods, and crime centric locations are raised.  Seemingly, when it comes to the development of downtown, the universal opinion is that the homeless (and their shelters) need to be relocated, that low income, architecturally insignificant areas are blights on downtown, and that the criminal element needs to be removed.

    Yet, when it comes to schools, a different standard is espoused.  Schools in “wealthy” and “nice” parts of the triangle are intentionally introduced to lower income elements.  Seemingly, many posters here do not mind that the academic standards of these “good” schools may be adversely affected by the incorporation/export of students.  Some of the comments above are telling: “After we build these walls around the poor neighborhoods, we could send a truck there once a week to toss over our leftover food scraps and outdated text books.  This way, we wouldn’t be viewed as inhumane.”, and, “Amen to neighborhood schools… if you live in a good neighborhood. Everyone else is fucked. Those neighborhoods should have strong gates to keep the barbarians out.” Do the same arguments apply to our precious downtown?  Should we intentionally incorporate the homeless; the criminal elements; bland houses?  My guess is that most who visit this site will internally confess that they do not want these elements in our downtown, even if they won’t admit it publically. 

    Moreover, race should not be an issue here.  The issue is failing schools vs. schools with high academic achievement.  Why does that argument boil down to black and white?  Cannot the same be therefore suggested with respect to crime laden or lower income neighborhoods?  Who lives in those places?  Is the suggestion that those types of influences are not desirable to downtown area also racist? 

    I do wonder how many of the commentators here have children, and are responsible for their well-being, happiness and development.  I have two children.  I bought a house in Cary (gasp!) with the understanding, in part, that the schools would be safe and reliable for my kids.  I worked hard to afford my house, I have since engaged in my community, and have endeavor to ensure that I am responsible for my own behavior and that of my kids.  Am I a racist simply because I now want my children get the best possible education? 

    I believe that these issues are not so simple that we can hurl broad based accusations without a exhaustive consideration of the competing perspectives.  Perhaps before aspersions are cast and tempers are raised, we can employ a little more thoughtfulness and consideration to all who are affected.  Or is venting your spleen so much fun that you cannot resist?

  • Rex
    10/07 09:50 AM

    Head up to Milbrook High School and Enloe High School and shout “amen to neighbor schools!”

    The issue is not just one neighborhood and one school getting funds or getting screwed. The issue is a greater level of acheivement for the most amount of students.

    I understand economics allows for a certain degree of selfishness, and kudos to you for working hard to live in a nice neighborhood as to provide a safe enviroment for your children as well as a healthy level of education. At the same time, these issues are greater than one family, one school and one neighborhood. Hence a Wake County School System (n.b. my employer). The minute we chop up the district into a number of individual schools, we leave education and educational resources to those independent communities, namely parents, some of which can provide handsomely for their own and some that cannot.

    In the end, the onus probandi is on the voters who showed up and those who did not. I was not able to vote for a school board spot this time around, and it would only be convenient for me to lay blame and wag finger. I just wish my opinion was as motivated to campaign, canvas and vote as the opinion who took the time to show up and vote yesterday and take the spots. -In Lacrimarum Valle.

  • matt
    10/07 09:53 AM

    I addition, I must note that those of you who have thus far attempted (what appears to be perhaps) irony, humor and sarcasm are quite inept at it, leaving much doubt as to what you’re actually trying to say (arthur, two question marks doesn’t clarify things).

    Just drop your cleverness and say what you think. I’m sure your opinions may be valid, but you’re not the prose masters you clearly think you are.

    Extra credit for “Thought Criminal”, though, who managed to use the term “loony left” without a single cackling “LOL”. We know you guys don’t really laugh. You’ve just learned the term because you think it makes you seem more human.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 09:56 AM

    How quickly can I point out the unwarranted suppositions in the above post, which was evidently written with the aid of a thesaurus.

    I don’t live downtown.  I work there, but I live in an economically and racially diverse neighborhood in NW Raleigh, just off Creedmoor Road about halfway between 440 and 540.

    Two of my kids, (I have three - surprised?), go to a school that is not the closest to our house.  In fact they have about another mile after the closest school.  My son could ride his bike there if he didn’t have to cross Creedmoor. 

    If these “neighborhood schools” advocates think they can reassign my child to the nearest school, rather than the diverse, interesting and really good school he hasbeen in for the last three years, without the same kind of fight they have been putting up about recent reassignments, they have another thing coming.  Those reassignments were to accomodate the ridiculous growth in Apex and Wake Forest, areas that can’t say no to development, but routinely and readily say no to school construction.

    The reassignments that will be necessary under the rhetoric of these folks witll be reassignments solely for the advancement of a political agenda.

    I find that extremely distasteful, and I can promise you that Ms. Prickett is going to be very tired of me by the end of her term.

    Race is not an issue here.  Socioeconomic status is.  And if socioeconomic status correlates with race, then we have other issues to discuss.  But don’t worry. Soon there won’t be any socioeconomically disadvantaged kids in your precious little Cary school.  your child will be able to attend school in one of 150 trailers parked in the back of Cary Elementary without ever bumping into a kid wearing handmedowns or eating a reduced lunch.

    How nice for you.

  • Robert E Leebowitz
    10/07 10:07 AM

    I agree with Raleigh Resident.  Cary would have dropped out of the Wake Co. system years ago if it didn’t benefit them.  The mapping of the “neighborhoods” of new school bases will be very interesting and contentious, as apartment complexes and subsidized housing will be pushed back and forth like hot potatoes.  Will the Lacy Elementary base contain all the apartments around Lake Boone Shopping Center, or only the wealthier neighbors to the East?  Lawyer-up!

  • matt
    10/07 10:09 AM

    BE: what was that “understanding” based upon? Because as I see it, it was based upon nothing but your own desires. Asking if you’re a racist because you want your kids to get the best possible education is disingenuous. The answer is no, that doesn’t make you a racist. It makes you a sociopath, though. You don’t seem to have any concern or empathy for anyone else.

    A lot of people work very hard and don’t get everything they “understand” they’ve bargained for. Work is just work, and doesn’t entitle you to anything but the direct pay for that work.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 10:10 AM

    I am also curious as to the newly elected Board members’ stances on issues such as realistic and accurate sex education, the importance of the arts at all levels of education, teacher pay, etc.

    All we’ve gotten out of them so far is bromides about school choice and “cutting the waste.”

    Wait til they see that budget.  Oh to be a fly on the wall in that room.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 10:17 AM

    And science - what is their position on real science education?  Or are we to be faced with the fundies’ insistence on teaching young earth bullshit?  Will evolution be a dirty word?  Will they cave to the bookburners in Called2Action?

    If they take the vote of 60% of 11% of the eligible voters and interpret that as a mandate for becoming Topeka, Kansas, they won’t be in office very long.  I’ll announce my candidacy against Ms. Prickett 3 years early.

    Think Keung Hui will feature angry quotes from me in every story about the school system? 

    If there is an enterprising einvestigative journalist out there, the story of Keung Hui’s “journalism” on this issue is begging to be investigated.  He had an agenda.  I bet he had a good night last night.

  • jb
    10/07 10:19 AM

    The shame of this whole thing is how it keeps us as a community from looking ahead. Bus, don’t bus, blah, blah, blah. Why do we keep sending kids to sit in a room and listen to a minimally-qualified talking head( or heads) talk all day? The future of education is the same as the future of everything else-individualized, flexible and technologically driven.This goes beyond having a computer in every class room (anyone else remember spending massive amounts of time playing Oregon Trail in school?) or some other soundbite. It’s a fundamental change that will require effort and resources.If we really want to provide the best education for our kids, let’s begin this conversation.

  • BE
    10/07 10:25 AM

    Raleigh Resident:  Your kids are being shipped a mile further? You aren’t really correlating that with the massive bussing issues involved here are you?  Moreover, it’s hard for my to accept your indignation when you live in North Flipping Raleigh.  Hardly a bastion of socio-economic diversity. 

    Matt:  Wanting the best for your own kids does not demonstrate a lack empathy for others.  You don’t know me, and don’t know what I may or may not do for those in need, or for those who are less fortunate.  That’s quite a leap, especially from someone who clearly does not know the definition of “sociopath”.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 10:36 AM

    I see you put aside thh thesaurus, because you evidently can’t read what I wrote.  I don’t live in North Raleigh.  I live in NW Raleigh, off Creedmoor Road, between Creedmoor and 70.  And I’ve lived in Cary.  Cary makes my neighborhood look like Brooklyn.

    And your “massive busing issues” are a fraud.  A complete and utter fraud.  90+% of Wake County kids go to a school within 5 miles of their home. 

    This is a classic example of 10% of the people making 90% of the noise.  Unfortunately, everyone else got complacent and didn’t bother voting last night.  And, frankly, they deserve what happens to them.  But my kids don’t. Which is why this particular voter is going to start making a lot more noise.

  • BE
    10/07 10:49 AM

    Raleigh Resident, sorry I confused NW Raleigh with North Raleigh. But given the two, I am sure you can understand my confusion.  For what it’s worth, I lived in NW Raleigh (off Duraleigh), and know that your argument is, at best, semantical.  In any event, if the bussing is not really an issue, why are you so exacerbated by the vote last night?  If your kids go to a school where 90% of the other students live within five miles, why be so righteous?  Do you even have a reason to be upset?  Shouldn’t you be advocating for greater diversity?  Would you offer up your kids to a school in SE Raleigh?  Garner?  Durham?  Doubtful.  By the way, I moved here from Brooklyn, and to those from Brooklyn, NW Raleigh and Cary are indistinguishable.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 10:50 AM

    I’m sorry, I misspoke.  86%.  EIGHTY SIX PERCENT.

    We’ll see if Ms. Prickett et al can do better than that.

  • ct
    10/07 10:51 AM

    Fair to say that regardless of people’s disposition on the question of diversity and neighborhood schools, many people are irate at WCPSS management—ineptitude in how year-round schools are being implemented (particularly about aligning tracks with children of one family in multiple schools), for example. Also, the megadollars on school renovations being spent (mainly inside the Beltline) with bond money, even though it doesn’t add one bit of capacity.

    Sure, there were people who went to the polls yesterday intentful to end the diversity policy, but there were also parents expressing their dissatisfaction at overall WCPSS management.

  • Phillo
    10/07 10:52 AM

    OK. So the new reality is that we are going to have some schools with wealthier students and some schools with poor students and some schools in between.  As as result, the schools with the poorer, darker students are going to have crappier teachers. 
    So lets address these issues and get something done rather then spending the next 2 years in a town hall-like tantrum and tears deadlock. 
    One side hated 2 hour commutes for their children.  Another side thinks the poor and dark won’t get a fair shake in schools that don’t have the pale and wealthy in them. 

    As for myself, I was never terribly impressed with WCPP when I was in them and I’m not terribly impressed now.  There is a name for the place a young person goes to get an education - it is college.
    Living in the ghetto and sitting next to whitey in school isn’t going to change the probability of going to college any more than getting up at 430AM and changing schools every two years. 
    Regardless of this school board crap, it comes down to the parent. And if there is no parent around for guidance, the world needs ditch diggers as much as it needs doctors.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 10:54 AM

    Lynn Road elementary was one of those renovated schools and the results are extraordinary.  That school is now an airy, natural-light filled and spacious learning environment.  They did a wonderful job.  And again, we aren’t inside the beltline.

    I agree that the schools handled some opponents with arrogance, and they shouldn’t have.  It is a legitimate concern whether or not kids in the same family should attend the same track.  That should certainly have been addressed.

    But don’t kid yourself about what this vote meant. 

    A relatively small number of people outside of socioeconomically stressed areas voted to keep those kids out of “their” schools.

  • ct
    10/07 11:01 AM

    True, Lynn Road needed remedial work because of its unfortunate design. But compare that Lacy Elementary—torn down to be rebuilt completely, and Martin Middle across the street 90% torn down and rebuilt over a 5-year period. There is zero growth within miles of these schools. Absurd.

    There was no exit polling yesterday, so nobody really knows why people voted as they did. What we do know is the predictable result.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 11:10 AM

    Feel free to go back to Brooklyn.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 11:12 AM

    check the thesaurus again.  The word is exasperated.  Not exacerbated.  I am not made any worse by the vote last night.  The problems in Wake County Schools may be, however.

  • tito
    10/07 12:00 PM

    can someone explain this to me? i don’t have kids -

    why don’t children just go to the school closest to where they live?

    don’t all public schools get funded the same in wake county? does one school get more money because it’s in a nice neighborhood?

    if your kid needs to go to school with poor people or rich people to turn into a well-rounded adult then isn’t that a sad testament to parenting?

    if a town opts to not build a school but continues to allow growth, shouldn’t it fall on them to figure it out?

    i tend to be pragmatic about these things, and my outsider opinion is that it’s a lot of people getting really upset about things they think might possibly happen someday that in all likelihood won’t ever happen.

  • cc
    10/07 12:12 PM

    This is not a diversity issue, it is a community and creating better schools/education issue. The focus needs to be on making the schools in ALL areas of Wake County safe and effective places for learning.  And simply, what kid wants to go to a school far away from their friends and community?? There is no continuity. Kids need to go to school in their own areas so parents are close to activities and their friends and social networks are solid. 
    For the first time in my life, I am glad the Republicans made a clean sweep….

  • matt
    10/07 12:28 PM

    OK, BE. You are correct. I don’t know you. You don’t know me either. Your post was far, far less-than-compassionate, though.

    So spell it out. Let’s get to know you, since you seem to believe that will win us over to your point of view. What DO you do for those in need, or for those who are less fortunate? Does whatever you do somehow buy your children what you understood to be rightly theirs? Since our shared resources appear to be doled out according to prosperity, rather than need, go ahead and try and justify what you believe. You’ve already out-bred me, so out-compassion me. Go ahead, wow us.

  • matt
    10/07 12:32 PM

    A kid attending school away from home will have two sets of friends in two communities. We’re talking miles away, not states away. They’ll be driving before you know it.

    You just want to keep them around their own kind.

  • Lew
    10/07 12:32 PM

    BE, I appreciate your viewpoint and understand your concerns. I would first like to point out that I think you are confusing -at least to some extent - downtown and what most people call Southeast Raleigh. Unless you consider the South Park neighborhood to be a part of downtown, there really are not any lower income or crime centric areas in downtown Raleigh. I am not aware of any “universal opinion” that homeless shelters, the Raleigh Rescue Mission or the various downtown churches that offer clothes-washing and food services to the poor (this is why so many homeless people from around the state find their way to downtown Raleigh) need to be moved to make way for redevelopment.

    I live in what can only be described as a middle-class neighborhood in Southeast Raleigh. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently, there are nice neighborhoods in this part of town; there just aren’t enough of them (yet) to balance out the lower income and subsidized housing neighborhoods. Studies have shown a very strong correlation between high percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunches and poor school performances. I cannot explain the scientific reason for the correlation – I went to k-12 school with three very bright and gifted girls whose families made much less than the median and all of them went to very prestigious universities. The difference with them, however, was that their parents valued education more than most.

    As for the children living in lower income neighborhoods who are being bused out to the schools near Cary and Apex, I’ll agree that it should not be yours or your children’s problem to fix. But if you’ll agree that all children should have the opportunity for an education good enough to keep the doors of social mobility ajar, and if allowing the children of low-income families to share a learning environment with those of higher incomes might be one way to ensure that opportunity exists, then isn’t bussing the least we can do? After all, a school system ought to serve the children first, not just the parents. And a child does not get to choose their parents, their parents’ income, or the degree to which their families value education.

  • ROB
    10/07 12:38 PM

    some of you i think must have just crawled out of a cave or something. dont you people know that schools are not all the same and that they do favor some schools over others because of WHERE WHERE WHERE IT IS LOCATED! just because they are all county schools does not mean they are all funded the same… are you serious? lets get this out, i am an african american and i know first hand that this is exactly how it is in the school system. i know this from experience because i saw the same thing when i was in the public school system only it was worst back then. the diversity policy made a huge difference and now that it will go back to how it was before, you will see that it is only gonna make things worst. yea neighborhood schools are good… IF YOU LIVE IN A HIGH END NEIGHBORHOOD AND IF THEY REALLY DID TREAT EVERY SCHOOL EQUAL BUT WAKE UP FOLKS THIS IS AMERICA LET ALONE THE SOUTH THEY WILL NOT GIVE BUGG ELEMENTARY SCHOOL THE SAME PROGRAMS OR THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY AS LETS SAY… WEST LAKE!

  • VaNC
    10/07 12:41 PM

    To say that Lacy should not have been rebuilt is an ignorant position.  The air quality was so bad at Lacy that people, including adults, were getting physically sick from breathing the air.  They were having to close off classrooms that did not meet the indoor air quality standards.  They opened others back up after the brought the air to “meet standards”...gee I can’t wait to send my kids back in that room.  The place was falling apart, not to mention the campus style building for elementary school, so that kids were walking in and out of buildings to get to lunch, gym, etc.  It was a security nightmare.  It had been needing replacement for years, while they keep building fancy new schools in the outlying areas, our kids were getting sick and everyone was saying “the ITB people don’t deserve a new school”.  And you are also wrong about this not being a growing area.  These neighhorhoods are turning over fast.  Our street had two kids when we moved here and now has 18 school aged kids…and that is repeated everywhere.  The size and capacity of Lacy is based on available footprint….and we are already WAY over capacity, even with the new school.  So, don’t go making statements you know nothing about.  I am not sure of Martin’s condition before it was rebuilt, but do know that much of the population is from Cary AND that it is currently the 2nd most over capacity middle school in Wake County.

    Here is what scares me: Quote from a person on wral.com about yesterday’s election. ” The reason people work hard to make more money is so that they can buy nicer houses so their children can go to nicer schools. No one is stopping any child from going to any public school except for the parents. My child shouldn’t be affected because you can’t afford to purchase a home in a nicer school district.”  Do people really think like that?  For real?  Scary.

    And be aware that some of us didn’t get a vote in this election regarding school board.  I too, like Raleigh Resident, worry about what these new Board members know about other than hating the diversity policy.  That Board has TONS to deal with.  I am just praying that they move slowly and that they don’t just act to solve their families issues.

  • ct
    10/07 12:52 PM

    That’s just a crock about Lacy. If you really want to see a deteriorated school, visit any of them in south/southeast Raleigh. My kids went to Hunter, one of the supposed magnet schools. Truth is, Hunter is a physical abomination. Ask the pediatricians in town; they know. Even so, ain’t nobody throwing money at those south/southeast schools. It’s the inside-the-beltline schools in wealthy and politically influential parts of town neighborhoods that are getting the teardowns and rebuilds, and for no capacity increase—don’t kid yourself.

    I knew Martin very well. No reason for it to get the teardown, other than politics. Didn’t expand capacity by one seat, although the offices for the principal and non-instructional staff are really nice now.

    If you want to see growth, get outside the Beltline. I’m sorry, but in-fill within the Beltline is inconsequential compared to development outside. The neighborhoods around Lacy/Martin are just getting back to the number of school-age kids that they had in the 1950s when those schools were built.

    Meanwhile there are schools out here (full schools, byu the way) where there were cow pastures just seven years ago. And I can assure you that the new schools aren’t fancy.

  • nauseous
    10/07 12:55 PM

    Matt, do you seriously believe that our shared resources should be doled out according to need?

    Who is the arbiter of need? Do you view yourself as so superior to the rest of society that you’re worthy to determine one person’s need as greater than another’s?

    That’s disgusting. I suppose it is your right to believe such things, but your arguments would be more readily accepted if you kept such nonsense to yourself.

  • BE
    10/07 12:59 PM

    Lew, your comments are compelling and refreshingly civilized.  All kids should have shared access to scarce resources. Schools in Cary, N. Raleigh, and ITB should not be accorded more funding or resources merely by virtue of location or demographic. A rising tide should lift all boats, and not merely those in wealthy waters…  In the end, a global, collaberative approach to improving the educational opportunities for all kids will be required.  However, I don’t believe that my kids, your kids, any kid, should bear the burden of a failing system.  If particular schools do not meet accepted standards, then efforts should be made for their improvement.  In the alternative, if kids are volitionally bussed from failing schools to successful schools, and overall educational goals are met, then great. But that should not come at the expense of others. This is not a tragedy of the commons scenario where all should be bridled by the failings of a few.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 01:02 PM

    Boy, nauseous, you have the right name.  Your thoughts are indeed nauseous.  As in “inducing nausea or vomiting, disgusting”

    Perhaps you meant nauseated.  But I think you might have accidentally hit the nail precisely on the head.

  • VaNC
    10/07 01:02 PM

    If Hunter is so horrible, then why are people zoned for Lacy and other “oh, so wonderful” ITB schools opting to go there (and Ligon and Enloe, two other SE schools) rather than their neighborhood schools?  What worries me is what will happen when those schools become “neighborhood schools” and lose their strong PTA, with their money and volunteers, and have even larger needs for resources.

    And I certainly understand that cornfields are being turned into hundreds of school kids every day in the outer reaches of Wake County, I am just responding to your statement that this is not a growth area…as if it is a stagnant place, which it is not.  These neighborhoods were largely retirement 15 years ago, but now are young families. 
    And if you think all those kids in the huge new neighorhoods in the outlying areas are going to fit in their “nearest neighorhood school” you are wrong.  I agree with the above poster who talked about schools lined with trailers.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 01:02 PM

    BE with the resounding call for separate but equal.  Nice job!

  • nauseous
    10/07 01:09 PM

    A big shout-out to Raleigh Resident. Apparently the only thing he has to contribute to the conversation here is Websterian insight.
    So I’ll present the question to him as well: Do you claim to be the arbiter of need? Upon what moral high ground do you believe to find yourself? By what right do you claim to be capable of determining the value of one man’s need over another’s?

  • ct
    10/07 01:11 PM

    Hunter still has its attractions, but the status of the building is a dirty little secret… until little Johnny and little Susie develop mysterious breathing problems. Takes a while for parents to notice. That said, getting into Hunter has been the easy ticket into Ligon and Enloe, so that’s what parents do. =

    I’m not pushing neighborhood schools; don’t confuse me with the other people posting. I’m a registered Democrat. My point was that the amount of money being spent in school construction across WCPSS is astronomical when you see how little additional capacity is actually resulting. Instead, the bond programs—which were sold to voters on the basis of growth—have created a feeding frenzy for all the politically influential neighborhoods to get their schools remade nice and shiny. Lacy and Martin aren’t the only ones.

  • raleigh resident
    10/07 01:31 PM

    Actually, I live in a pluralistic society with a system of government set up to make such decisions through representative democracy.  Last night a decision was made which I disagree with vehemently and will work to prevent.  But an election is an election.

    What system do you live in, nauseous, which allows you to declare such controversial topics as social safety nets and being responsible for each other to be too outrageous for debate?

  • BE
    10/07 01:38 PM

    Raleigh Resident, seriously, go look up “separate but equal”... at some point, you have to stop digging.

  • nauseous
    10/07 01:38 PM

    Raleigh Resident, you’re the only person in this thread to mention social safety nets or “being responsible for each other”. I’m not sure what either topic has to do with the elections or Wake County schools.

    Again, by what moral authority does one assume ability to judge one man’s need over another? You seemed disturbed that I asked such a question, I believed you would be eager to answer it.

  • Ken Metzger
    10/07 01:50 PM

    I love the concept of diversity in our schools.  It is a noble cause.  The reality does not match what is being talked about.  I went through the Wake County system, and diversity existed in statistics only.  One could easily scan the classrooms, cafeteria, and social clubs of Broughton to see that the policy did not lead to any true diversity.  The school was segregated based largely on where the kids grew up.  I wish it worked better.

    One just worries now for the schools left in the poorest neighborhoods.  Yes, the county will do their best to apportion funds correctly, but the PTAs will not.  How much more money is raised through the PTA, school band, and athletics at Broughton compared to some other schools.  They just had a major renovation at the gym, for God’s sake, the band travels across the country to play, and they even had a well funded show choir (Show choir I tell you!!)  I think that is where the big money difference exists.  All this was under the current policy, so it may be even a bigger difference going forward.

  • VanC
    10/07 01:51 PM

    Nauseous, actually, in education, need is somewhat easy to assess.  If a kid can’t speak English, he can’t learn, he needs ESL help.  If he is struggling with learning, he needs extra help of some form.  If he excels and needs more challenging work, he gets pulled out for more challenging work, or grouped by level in the class.  Not a perfect system, sure, but if the school is not overburdened with one issue or the other, then most schools are successful.

  • Methinks
    10/07 01:52 PM

    1. Unlike the arguments made by the anti-busing crowd, the arguments made by many of the pro-diversity crowd are not implicitly racist.  They are explicitly racist and elitish.  Minorities are not able to learn as well are more violent and won’t succeed unless they have white middle class kids who can learn to follow as a example.  That seems to me to be the basic argument.  I find it sad.  Sounds a lot like eugenics and should not be a part of the debate. 

    2.  If the diversity crowd wants to argue diversity is a good unto itself, that’s fine but then why must it always be 40%.  Why couldn’t the WCSB figure out a way to make sure the 1 in 10 kids that were bussed way out of their neighborhood and especially the smaller number of kids that were really forced to travel a long distance were placed in a closer school.  Sure it might throw the numbers off a bit but I see no reason why diversity and being assinged to closer schools could not co-exist.  Unfortunatly the WCSB became to dogmatic and they are paying for it now.  If the new board members do the same thing they will pay soon enough.  That’s why democracy is good - we Amerian seek pratical solutions.  The WCSB refused to give it to us - they lost. 

    3.  I hope that the new board comes up with a system that can address both issues, but more importantly I hope for the future of the African American kids and other minorities including the disadvantaged that the WCSB will find a way to correct the real problem, which is that minority and poor students in Wake Co are not getting as good an education as their peers including those in the Char/Meck school system.  Until we address that problem really it doesn’t matter what we do.

  • T-Plain
    10/07 02:01 PM

    My younger brothers lived in the same house and Wake County saw fit to make them attend different high schools. I’ve yet to hear a rational defense of that. And hearing about some of their teachers, I believe Wake has far more work to do than making sure that every classroom looks like a stock photo of “diversity.”

  • Shando
    10/07 02:39 PM

    Raleigh Resident -

    Just a real quick question for you - and please, no fibbing here…do you actually HAVE kids, and if so, are they actually IN the Wake County School System, and if so, what is there age(s) thereabouts? Am just super curious…

  • A Non-Person
    10/07 04:35 PM

    “Diversity” does not magically occur by throwing rich and poor into the same school. 

    Living in NWR with a second child at a prestigious magnet school ITB, I can tell you that very few neighborhood students interact with those who opt-in to the school.

    Don’t get me wrong:  I favor continuing and expanding the magnet system because it benefits my children, and there are other benefits that inure to neighborhood kids by having very smart, driven children and their very active parents opt-in to the school.  But I suspect that the few neighborhood students the magnet benefits probably would be driven to succeed without the school’s magnet status.

    The critical problem is that spreading out the poor keeps individual schools from failing (compare Wake with Durham and Charlotte) but as a whole busing students is not increasing the overall competence of students.  Put another way, the poorer students are failing at an equal or higher rate in Wake County than students in other North Carolina counties who have so-called “neighborhood schools.”

    What is the solution to this problem?  Neither the incumbents nor the upstarts have an answer to this question.

  • ct
    10/07 04:46 PM

    I agree with “A Non-Person”. My kids went magnet K-12. Basically they are two separate (equal?) schools under one roof.

  • Lew
    10/07 04:56 PM

    It seems to me that the opponents of diversity bussing are in favor of allocating additional resources ($$$) to failing schools. I am willing to believe that smaller classrooms, incentives for faculty, and specialized programs could help Wake’s failing schools. However, I’m not at all confident that Wake citizens will be okay with the extra taxes it will take to make those improvements. Call me a cynic, I guess. The reality is bussing is/was probably the cheaper alternative. Throwing money at problems is the other one. We shall see how long it will take for that policy to become unpopular.

  • VaNC
    10/07 05:08 PM

    Lew, I agree.  That is what has happened in Charlotte.

  • smitty
    10/07 05:58 PM

    Can anyone explain to me why the school board isn’t allowed to build for growth?  They can only build schools for current enrollment numbers, not for projections.  Is this a state rule?

  • smitty
    10/07 06:24 PM

    The “5 miles from school” talking point is deceptive.  I think people who use this may not realize how far 5 miles is.  The north to south diameter of the beltline is about 5.5 miles.  The driving distance between the Capitol and Crabtree Mall is about 5.6 miles.  Driving from 440 and 540 on Capital is about 4.5 miles.  Imagine riding that distance on residential streets in a school bus that stops every couple blocks.  Five miles is not a good measure of anything.

  • Amy G
    10/08 04:15 AM

    This is a very interesting discussion and I think you all are making great points on both sides.  I always thought that bussing kids in to a “better” school was a waste of resources.  Kids with a drive to succeed and with involved parents will flourish anywhere.  I went to a Wake County school that might be described as good to some, but to be honest, by the time I got to college, I realized that I did not receive a quality education.

    Is bussing kids poor kids from one school to another really “Diversity” anyway?  Isn’t true diversity everyone living and working together in a community without force?

  • Jenna
    10/08 07:14 AM

    @Smitty: I’m so glad you made the point about the 5-mile standard! I looked at the WCPS website yesterday and discovered that there are at least 15 elementary schools within a 5 radius of my house!

    @Ken Metzger: You’re absolutely right about the de facto segregation that occurs within schools. I graduated from Enloe, where the population is about 50% white 50% black. However, classes, social clubs and lunch tables looked a lot different - students of different colors rarely interacted. I think the only area where there was any diversity was in athletics. (How does this on-paper version of diversity benefit anyone?)

  • Jenna
    10/08 07:15 AM

    Correction: My post above should say 5-MILE radius

  • raleigh resident
    10/08 07:28 AM

    Responding to Shando, who must not have read up thread.

    Yea, I have three kids.  Two of school age and one in pre-school.  The two older ones are in fact in a Wake County Public School, and happily so.

    I and my wife are involved with the school on a weekly if not daily basis.  We sit down with our children and supervise their homework.  Where they need more instruction, we provide workbooks.  And, importantly, we drive them to sleepovers and playdates with the kids in their classes - black, asian, white, and hispanic.

    I am very happy that they don’t go to school and see 100 faces just like theirs.  I’m even happier that they don’t go to school in a trailer, because assignment has reduced overcrowding.

    I’m greatly looking forward to this group of board members trying to keep what is very very good about this school system while advancing their political agenda through children. Should be a good battle, because I’m going to fight them the whole way.

  • raleigh resident
    10/08 07:30 AM

    ages 8,5 and 3.

  • raleigh resident
    10/08 07:35 AM

    Gosh, jenna, you’re right.  Why didn’t I see it before?  We should certainly abandon any hope of encouraging people to live, work, study and do business with people other than those exactly like themselves.  How could I be so stupid?

    You know, I agree with you now.  We should definitely have schools for different races.  While we’re at it.  Let’s make sure that we divide up neighborhoods as well.  People just don’t like to live near people of other races, so we shouldn’t have laws and policies that encourage the opposite.  Red lining is healthy!  It protects property values for those of us who have “worked hard” so that we can live in gated communities in beige towns with beige signs and beige people.

    Let’s go further than that.  I’m tired of Catholic kids being in my kids classes.  Jewish kids too.  Why should I pay to educate some kid who is going to worship differently than my kids?  We should have separate schools by religion, too.  Kids don’t naturally hang out with people fromdifferent faith backgrounds, why should we force them to go to school together? 

    And Hispanics!  Dont even get me started on Hispanics!  If I want a margarita, I’ll go to a Mexican restaurant.  But I want my kids saying “Hello” in the morning, not Hola.  What country is this anyway?

  • Jenna
    10/08 07:53 AM

    @raleigh resident: You misunderstood me. I was simply pointing out that the current policy does not do what it purports to do, at least in high schools (unless the goal is to make sure that WCPSS bureaucrats’ spreadsheets look good).

    Based on your other comments, you’ve seen better results at your children’s elementary school.

    If you think the policy HAS worked in high schools, then say so. If you think we should stick with a failed policy, then say that. Maybe you’ll change some minds instead of alienating people.

  • matt w
    10/08 08:02 AM

    It seems to me that the only thing the diversity initiative is good for is spreading out at-risk students among a lot of different schools.  This is good for a couple of reasons: 1) No one school will have a massive failure rate, and 2) Teachers are less likely to burnout and leave because there are not overwhelming numbers of failing students. 

    That being said, the most important piece, which is that at-risk students receive a better education, does not seem to be the case.  Studies cited above show pretty clearly that there isn’t an overall reduced failure rate among at-risk students.  Also, again as discussed above, there is no real “diversity” at the school, as students segregate themselves and really only interact in athletics.  I personally lived this in high school 10 years ago back in St. Louis, and it seems to be true here as well, basis anecdotal evidence above.

    Another factor, which I don’t think has been discussed yet, is the possibility of the diversity initiative limiting smart growth of Wake County.  Parents don’t really have a problem with diversity per say, but if such an initiative carries a chance that your child will be sent to a lower-performing school than he/she might have been otherwise, you can be sure that they will do everything in their power to not let that happen, including moving.  If I was a parent and my child was going to be sent to a lower-performing school, you can bet that I would be looking at moving to Johnston County or at least further out in Wake (Apex? Holly Springs?) to ensure that he/she was getting the best education possible.

  • CR
    10/08 08:40 AM

    Who cares if there is in school segregation by the students themselves?  This will happen until the end of time.  At least the students SEE that there are other people in this world who are not just like them.  They sit in class together, and learn together.  Even if they are not skipping through the halls and holding hands or chatting it up together in perfectly mixed groups in the cafeteria - they have a better view of what the world really looks like.

  • matt w
    10/08 10:39 AM

    So let me get this straight.  Let’s pretend I’m a parent in say NW Raleigh (where I live).  I should be happy that my child is chosen to go to a school that is farther away and lower-performing than the one that is close to me, because Wake County Schools thinks that he/she needs to have a better idea of what the world really looks like?

    I mean, I’m a registered Democrat and vote that way 90%+ of the time, but that strikes me as totally absurd.  Especially in light of the fact that this policy is not helping the very kids this is supposed to help.  This whole thing seems to me like it is partially a culture war against people who choose to live in North Raleigh and Cary.

  • Shando
    10/08 11:49 AM

    Raleigh Resident -

    It’s a shame that you are completely unable to have a civilized discussion with someone who might possibly hold a different viewpoint than your own. You are condescending, rude, and completely disrespectful of every single person who doesn’t see things the same as you, and that’s a real shame - looking at many other forums - namely N&O off the top of my head, I expect that from the kooky wingnuts with their fear-mongering rhetoric, but you’re quite frankly giving us liberals a bad name. It’s great that you’re so involved in the lives of your kids - but let us all hope your anger, bitterness, and raw resentment is even mildly veiled in their presence.

    As someone who actually LIVES in the middle one of the FNR neighborhoods you’re spittling in quaking anger over - I can tell you it’s not a policy that’s working well. Maybe back when it started it served a critical purpose, but that was before Wake County grew into infinity and dog-and-ponied the kids from this neighborhood as far from home as they could. Are children getting to sit in classes with kids of other races, sure. Are kids from at-risk homes/areas spread throughout the county so it looks like no one school is miserably failing - uh-huh. I am surrounded by “diversity” everywhere I look in my neighborhood - and having talked to loads of kids can tell you that they aren’t spending sleepovers and birthday parties and pep rallies with the Bradentons and Mackenzies of our fair county. Outside of school hours, they are here, in our neighborhood, or at least in the immediate vicinity. Many do not have any means of alternative transportation when their parents are at work/not around - and it’s not exactly like they can ride their bikes up the street for school functions, friends, etc., outside of school hours. Certainly there are execptions, but they are most certainly not in the majority. 

    My own child, a first grader, rides on a bus nearly 40 miles each and every day - sometimes she goes to school before light and returns after dark when traffic is especially bad. Her school is so damn far away, that it’s impossible for her parents to have the interaction we so desperately want to have - PTA’s, parties, field trips, taking her to school and picking up…I’m guessing your angels don’t have that kind of schlep or you have a heckuva more flexible schedule than the average SE parent - in that case kudos to you. In JUST my immediate area, kids are assigned to 10 different elementary schools alone - children who live 5 doors down don’t go to the same school - how in the world is that helping kids feel a since of community and consistency? Parents from this neighborhood have been asking for changes for years, all of which have gone completely ignored.

    If WCPSS had actually listened to parents concerns, which have been voiced for years and years throughout the county, about the terrific distance to assigned schools (and frequent reassignments) instead of turning a deaf ear, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. And though your panties are wadded up to your eyeballs about what this means, NONE of us know what will happen - and whatever does/does not happen will likely not be seen for years. Let me assure you, if you think you are rallying for a population who was in favor of maintaining the status quo, you are sorely mistaken. After loads of neighborhood meetings and years of discussing this matter with the residents your heart is bleeding over, I’m here to tell you that the majority didn’t think things were working either and were sick of their kids being used as props.

  • matt
    10/08 11:57 AM

    Nauseous said “That’s disgusting. I suppose it is your right to believe such things, but your arguments would be more readily accepted if you kept such nonsense to yourself.”

    Are you Yogi Berra? Or what?

  • arthurb3
    10/09 08:35 AM

    Wow! A whole 10% voted?

  • raleigh resident
    10/09 10:31 AM


    I appreciate the time you put into that response.  And I hope I can empathize with the difficulties your kids have faced, which indeed sound problematic.  I don’t however, agree that those problems are necessary results of a pro-diversity policy.  Seems to me they are more the result of an administration that failed to address the more extreme problems.  Nobody I know seriously contends that the board or the administration have been any good at PR or crisis management.

    However, to throw the baby out with the bathwater appears to me to be an overreaction, when the solution should have been to address the very real concerns of a relatively small number of parents (130,000+ kids in the system).  The pro-diversity candidates on this ballot promised to do just that.

    To eliminate the entire diversity policy, and impose on the rest of the children of the district the unavoidable consequences of that decision strikes me as a grand overreaction.

    Moreover, the keys to the system are now in the hands of people who were astrongly supported by interest groups who have never had the best interests of public education in mind.  In fact they have always done what they can to undermine it. 

    We shall see what happens.

  • raleigh resident
    10/10 03:26 PM

    See?  If you’re nice, nobody responds.

  • Shando
    10/11 07:55 AM

    RR - Thanks for your response - and thanks for…being so nice :) Was away yesterday and just saw this. I totally agree that not all the problems are pro-diversity - the fact that scores and scores of parents county-wide have been complaining about frequent reassignements/excessive busing for years points to that. But I do maintain that the FRL children are disproportionately/negatively affected for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned - and that those folks who are “pro-current policies”, though I am certain have good intentions, don’t truly realize how these kids, many who already come from fragile environments are being affected. Someone who lives in the burbs might like/appreciate the fact that their children are being exposed to diversity, but the diversity kids don’t appreciate having to spend so much of their lives sitting on a bus, unable to attend/participate in school functions, a lot of them knowing that the reason they are they are there is because it looks bad for too many kids, who are like them, from their neighborhood, to be together in one place (I actually had a 8th grader tell me this). Our SE neighborhood has been having conversations about changes for years - group meetings, neighborhood meetings, appeals to the school board - this is not just black parents and not just white parents, but many parents who have been incredibly dissatisfied…and I agree that it was an appalling shame to see such a sensitive issue politically hijacked in the last six months or so - when I read the rhetoric coming out of people’s mouths about “social-engineering/gotcha libs” on other sites, I was dumbfounded - our children should never be used as toys. Here’s to hoping we can see change here and compromise there so that in the end, all of our children have a fair shake at this big world.

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