Neighborhood Schools Will Sever Progress

February, 23, 2011, by Andrew

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Karey Harwood, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, NC State University

It is easy to underestimate the ambition and idealism inherent in Wake County Public Schools’ countywide system.  This particular arrangement -- resulting from the merger of city and county schools in the 1970s -- has afforded us the chance to pursue, if not completely achieve, the lofty ideal of equal educational opportunity.  This goal is a practical impossibility in most counties around the United States.   Within Union County, New Jersey, for example, a county of a little over a hundred square miles, there are separate school districts with very high and very low rates of poverty right alongside each other, with correlating educational experiences that are worlds apart.  

It has been a point of pride for residents of Wake County, which fills an ample 831 square miles, to hold onto the American dream of equal educational opportunity.  Although we may fall short in many ways, a bedrock value of our community has been the continual aspiration to provide good schools to all of our county’s children, regardless of their family’s income level or the color or their skin.  Just how close we have come to meeting that goal is a matter of great debate.

Specifically, our yearlong battle over student assignment has brought to the surface many complaints about long festering inequities in our system.  Many of these complaints are valid: we do have an egregious achievement gap between minority and white students, there is evidence of inequitable access to higher level math classes, there is a gross racial imbalance in school suspension rates, and there is unequal access to the county’s coveted magnet programs.  What do we do about these problems?

Neighborhood schools are not the answer.  Simply put, neighborhood schools placed in high poverty neighborhoods become high poverty schools.  And most available evidence indicates that high poverty schools exacerbate the academic struggles of poor and minority children rather than ameliorating them.  There is little logic in seriously contemplating neighborhood schools as a solution to the achievement gap.

Neither is there much reason to think that neighborhood schools would improve access to higher level math classes, as high poverty schools would be less likely to even offer them.  Nor is there reason to believe that high poverty schools would decrease suspension rates.  

Neighborhood schools might bring magnets closer to the suburbs, but this is problematic. Magnet schools provide excellent educational opportunities, but they exist in our system to prevent high poverty schools and use capacity more efficiently. High poverty schools are rare in our suburbs, and so are underused schools. Some want magnet schools in the suburbs, but we do not need magnet schools in the suburbs to reduce poverty or improve facilities use.

Further, neighborhood schools proponents have tried to reassign thousands of poor minority students to schools in Southeast Raleigh. This is another way to utilize those schools, which are now magnets, but it is not a good way. It will destroy magnet programs by eliminating room for them and leave in their place high poverty schools, which rarely work. Our current magnet system is an excellent program that has taken decades to cultivate and that has served generations of children in Wake County of all racial and economic backgrounds.  In its place will stand thirteen segregated schools (91% black and Hispanic), two-thirds of whose students will receive free or reduced price lunches.  Is that really where we want to go?

So what could we do instead?  We could decide as a community that we will not view the education of our children as a zero sum game, in which some children are forced to attend “have not” schools so that other children can attend good ones.  There is no law of nature that dictates such a distribution of resources.  If we in Wake County could reaffirm a commitment to equality of educational opportunity, which is the purpose of public education in a democratic society, and also reaffirm our commitment to the existing magnet program is it was originally conceived – to maximize the utilization of facilities and encourage voluntary integration – we could turn our attention to solving the problems that vex us.

What we need are pragmatic and creative solutions, not a defeatist attitude that abandons our effort to ensure that good schools exist everywhere in the county.  If access to magnet schools is plainly inadequate, expand the magnets.  Commit the resources to make it possible to magnetize an under-enrolled rim school, for example, decreasing travel times for suburban students and increasing access to desirable programs.  If access to magnets is viewed as arbitrary, revise the process to make it more transparent.  Consider testing for access to AG Basics, as this program cannot function without a critical mass of AG-identified children.  The magnet program may present complicated problems, but solving them is not insurmountable.  And under current board policy, the magnet schools are the only thing left in our county encouraging voluntary integration.

Similarly, if we are serious about closing the achievement gap, we must immediately cease all reassignments that create high poverty schools.  Academically struggling students don’t need to be corralled together.  They need mentoring, teachers who hold them to high standards, rigorous curricula, academically stronger peers, and social support.  Moreover, teachers and staff need to be trained to discuss openly the problem of institutionalized racism in schools and to learn new skills that encourage the success of students of color.  The achievement gap is an enormous national problem that deserves the focused attention of our best leaders.  It should never have been used as an excuse to re-segregate our schools.

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  • JeffS
    02/23 11:07 AM

    We need to put pressure on the board members to declare a plan, not just a vague intent. A plan that can be held up to public scrutiny.

    Their seemingly random micromanagement of student assignments is more difficult to deal with. It is aimless and not an acceptable way to manage the system.

  • Ian
    02/23 11:48 AM

    I’m honestly tired of people like the author of this article.

  • blow
    02/23 12:05 PM

    you liberralll dumbass needa shititup!

  • Alex
    02/23 12:12 PM

    I’m honestly tired of people like the author of the previous comment.

    Do you even have children in the school system?

  • JeffS
    02/23 12:51 PM

    We can only hope such idiocy hasn’t procreated.

  • L Boyd
    02/23 12:57 PM

    Did not read past the title as this will all be resolved naturally once oil consistently STAYS above $100 barrel.

  • Adam
    02/23 02:43 PM

    I’d like to post something useful and coherent, unlike the majority of the previous comments.

    While economic diversity is an important issue concerning Wake schools, so is the budget shortfall.  At what expense should we continue to bus children for the sole purpose of economic diversity?  Why should we spend so much money each year on drivers/buses/gas and force kids to spend 2+ hrs a day on a bus, when we will lose great teachers because of it?  What about the families who work hard and move to a nice area, only to have their kids bused to a lower performing school, all because of diversity?

    It is already evident that economic diversity doesn’t SOLVE the problems with our education system.  I’d argue that the cost outweighs the benefit, especially since our state is so mismanaged that education in general takes a back seat to corporate interests.

    Even though Wake schools are diverse, it just creates segregation within the schools themselves.  If we go back to neighborhood schools, we can save Wake County a lot of money and focus our efforts on fixing the communities that are underperforming.  Our community needs to take a step back and realize that busing kids all around the county doesn’t fix the problems within the poor/underdeveloped communities they live in.  These kids still have to go home to environments that shape their lives as much, if not more than their school environment.  If some parents in the community took more responsibility in their kids education, a lot would get solved.

    There are no easy answers to this, but first and foremost we need to address the schools and conditions in these lower socio-economic communities.  Busing for economic diversity not only wastes money, but also takes our attention away from the issues that need addressed in these communities for their children to succeed.

  • JeffS
    02/23 03:03 PM

    Adam, there has been no evidence presented to show that assignment changes will reduce busing, only a blind assertion that this is true. I welcome some numbers from the people making these assertions.

    The answer to your “we work hard and moved to a “NICE AREA” question? Fix the schools. Rewarding parents with the money to segregate themselves is punishing those without that ability.

    Don’t get me wrong, I personally care very little about diversity. I believe that we should offer the best educational opportunities to every child in the system. We continue to dumb the system down and strip funding at every opportunity. Ask yourself, are you one of the people who cares about educating kids to the best of our abilities, or are you one of the people pushing a political agenda. I see very little of the former going on from either side, and absolutely none from the special interest money lobbying for these changes.

  • JeffS
    02/23 03:06 PM

    To clarify, I was referring to busing costs.

    Money is a politically convenient argument during budget talks, but it was never the primary motivator. Without an assignment plan (or proposal, or even a vague idea) you cannot calculate costs. As such, claims of cost reduction are at best premature.

  • JK
    02/23 03:15 PM

    So busing costs concern you, Adam, but not the cost of overcrowded schools within certain catchment zones or lack of elementary/middle/high schools within those zones? How interesting.

  • Steelcity36
    02/23 03:24 PM

    If there is no compromise using the Wake Education Partnership Plan I fear the consituents that elected the Majority are essentially going to choose another option. They are going to choose to go back to Raleigh City and Wake County Schools. That way the Raleigh City Schools can use the NAACP sanctioned Economic Diversity plan while the County Schools will choose the Pope Foundation sanctioned Neighborhood Schools plan. Everybody gets what they want in this plan right? Compromise is a neccessity at this juncture or everybody will end up happy and we don’t want that.

  • Michael
    02/23 03:35 PM

    I really find the condescending notion that just placing rich, white children near the poor, hopeless minority children is going to ‘improve’ them to be very offensive. I don’t understand why people are assuming schools in low-income areas must necessarily be pits of despair. Isn’t the point of having a combined county/city school system so that funds and resources can be distributed fairly and equally to schools in every neighborhood.
    By ‘rescuing’ children from these so-called low-income neighborhoods you’re only reinforcing in them the notion that they are lesser and must be brought up to the level of wealthy, white children. Every school should have the same resources regardless of location and the people who live in every neighborhood should be shown the same respect as any others.
    I really find the position of this article to be insulting and distracting to the real issues that face us.

  • 2xwinner
    02/23 04:16 PM

    Yet another one sided Opinion from a person who has no expertise in the subject matter that we could at least gain some CREDIBLE insight from.  Here we have an Associate(?)Professor of Religion “preaching” the same old tag line as the NAACP and the OLD Board Members have been crying about since they lost the majority within the Wake School Board.

    Before the last vote the liberal board ran shotgun over the public without listening to any of the concerns/demands of the public concerning this very issue of busing for many years. Now that the PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN and VOTED NEW Members to the Board to do the right thing, we are all racist, selfish, cold hearted jerks, only because we are on the path to killing the unfair busing issues of the past.

    By all means, lets make sure the inner city schools are not deprived in any manner when the busing ends! That doesn’t mean they should get a unlimited amount to money if they can’t perform after they are given the tools to succeed. If it takes more salary and a bonus cash system to get the great teachers to come to the inner-city and get higher results, let’s do that!

    But let’s not just throw money at the problem if the parents and students refuse to perform and participate what’s needed for their kids to rise above their circumstances. Yanking a kid from a newer part of town as a “sacrifice” to somehow raise up a kid from the inner-city is NOT the answer.

    Parents in the inner city could do what my mother did when we lived in the projects near South Central Los Angeles.She made the decision to put her children first, and moved us to a better part of town that had the better (and safer) schools. She gave up her Section 8 status, and had to work more hours to afford a move. But the schools were not great, and we were surrounded by people who accepted losing and taking Welfare as a way of life. That will never change for many people, but it’s not a school district’s job to change that behavior.

    We crammed into a 1 bedroom apartment with 3 boys and a single mother. It was not comfortable or fun. We spent much of our time at he library across the street because it was bigger, warmer, easier to study at(with resources available) and we could meet friends there without being ashamed of out tiny quarters. Our mother’s involvement and commitment for us paid off.

    Our parent took responsibility and became INVOLVED in the education of her children. She had not done so until that point (didn’t finish high school), but later on in life she was very proud of her decision to move us near better schools, and her children’s success. She took the challenge of checking homework, knowing where we were at night, and working within the education system to get the most out of it for us.
    Parents have that same option available to them right now in Wake Co.

  • jb
    02/23 04:35 PM

    If an Associate Professor of Religious Studies says so, it must be true. I hope you didn’t hold off grading those 3-5 page essays on the Great Awakening or whatever to write this.

  • ct
    02/23 05:08 PM

    I like her argument, but it’s anachronistic. The argument made great sense when Wake had only 300,000 residents, half of whom lived in the city of Raleigh (and a large portion of those ITB). Even then there were people in the outskirts of Wake who thought the WCPSS magnet programs were too far distant, but there simply weren’t enough of those people to matter politically. Fast forward 30 years. Now there are over 100,000 people in south Wake and a rapidly increasing number in east Wake. Those numbers are large enough to matter politically. They’re not happy that they have to send their kids 30 miles round-trip ITB for access to high-quality magnet programs. It’s glib and unpersuasive to respond to them “Well, you should have chosen to live ITB if you wanted good education”. That’s not what a county-wide school system is about, and it sounds like “Let them eat cake”.

  • 2xwinner
    02/23 05:38 PM

    I didn’t mean “Let them eat cake” by suggesting a family moving into a better performing school boundary for better results and safety. But by looking at the this complex issue as a puzzle to be solved, a concerned and committed parent CAN work within the system (once they kill the busing) to get the desired outcome.

    The goal of equal schools everywhere in a county is a good and noble, but unrealistic for many reasons often mentioned on these posts, and because of the financial issues that will only be getting worse in this economy. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. I don’t believe people are ever unable to change their own circumstances (or place of residence). Waiting for a school system to do it for them will disappoint in the end, regardless of what the district comes up with.

  • Matthew Brown
    02/23 06:13 PM

    Adam, current policy saves money because it maximizes utilization of our school buildings. Mecklenburg is closing some low-perfoming schools while building new schools in crowded areas. Furthermore, high-poverty schools are expensive to run because of all the extra needs. AND furthermore, our transportation costs are actually comparatively low. Mecklenburg County, with a smaller school population and a much smaller land area, spends almost the exact same amount on busing as Wake County, despite having no diversity policy.
    Under our diversity policy, students are not bused from wealthy areas to poor areas unless they choose to enroll in magnet schools.
    Michael, nobody is “assuming” that high poverty schools will be pits of despair. The evidence is overwhelming: high poverty schools have low student achievement, high teacher turnover, crime and drug problems, discipline problems, low support from the PTA. And, yes, the children in these schools suffer from a lack of exposure to children from diverse backgrounds. Most of them finish school unprepared to get a good job and prosper in mainstream America.
    In the year and a half since this issue came to the fore in Wake County, the anti-diversity crowd has been unable to present a single example of a successful segregated school system with high-poverty schools. They can find individual high-poverty schools with special programs and millions donated by foundations, and self-selected student bodies. But not a single SYSTEM can they point to.
    For failure, I can point to Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Petersburg, Harrisburg, Syracuse, Cleveland, Houston, Birmingham, Atlanta, Rocky Mount, Washington, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Savannah, and Houston.
    Why would we want to join this list of failures?

  • Seann
    02/23 09:21 PM


  • Alex
    02/23 09:41 PM

    I’m still stuck on the comment that this is all about the cost of busing and then trying to justify it by saying that then we can pay teachers more to work in the poor schools? Does that really make any sense.  If John Tedesco really wanted to help kids, he wouldn’t tow the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” crowd’s line because it is myopic and ancient. Try telling a single mother in a poor neighborhood who dropped out of high school and was raised by a mother and grandmother who lived in a very prejudice society that all she needs to do is do something she never learned and everything will be better. It is naive and an ignorant to think it is just that easy. It takes time, it takes a consistent change in environment, and it takes a progressive viewpoint. The only reason the Tea Party won this year is because the average age of the electorate was the oldest in decades. In this community, old white people voted…old white people without kids.

  • Tired of the "busing" boogeyman
    02/24 11:29 AM

    Seconding Matthew Brown on all points.

    I’m so sick of the right-wing busing bugbear. What percentage of students is bused today in Wake Co.? Something like 6 percent, right?

    And how many parents responded they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their kids’ assignment and school experience in the new board’s own survey last spring?

    That would be 94.5 percent. (See Question 2 at

    How many of the parents of kids getting bused are actually quite happy their kids are getting access to a better education? It’s worth thinking about.

    Did you ride a bus as a kid? I did, in a small town, to my one choice of school. It took probably 25 minutes each way, which I’ve read is the average bus ride in Wake County—again, for the *very small* percentage of kids bused out of their neighborhoods. The ride in no way affected my education. Please.

    This is a case of a *very* few well-financed, politically and socioeconomically (perhaps even racially) motivated people agitating for massive, expensive, poorly planned, ideologically driven changes that will undermine the experience of the majority. In the process, these people are trashing Wake County’s excellent national education reputation, which in turn can harm our ability to attract top employees and businesses.

    The few pockets of problems that existed—which I understand the “old” board did not sufficiently address—could have been fixed with a scalpel, not an Art Pope–financed machete.

  • ti
    02/24 04:29 PM

    why can’t you just make the shitty schools better? does it really take millions in funding to teach poor kids?

    framing the argument as racist is stupid. as much as their argument is poorly executed, the school board is trying to deal with an issue that has been a problem for a decade. i lived in apex in 2001 and this was the hot topic of the neighborhood. the “solution” back then was year-round schools but someone had to cry about that.

  • ti
    02/24 04:34 PM

    also, by default, i want my future children to go to school near wherever we live. if they show some mental acumen (doubtful given the lineage) then it’s on me to get them to a school that provides a resource to that ability. i don’t see how that makes me a racist.

    diluting the poor by spreading them around doesn’t really fix anything either.

  • JeffS
    02/24 04:56 PM

    ti, I feel like you’re oversimplifying. I will present one specific (extreme) example.

    You do no busing at all. Every kid has to walk to school. Because of the way we tend to group by income, you end up with poor schools, medium schools and rich schools.

    So:  Which school do the teachers want to teach at?

    The end result is rich schools with that can hand-pick their teachers and poor schools where few want to be. They take what they can get, often comprised of new teachers who leave as soon as they can find a job somewhere else.

    I’m not advocating anything with this post, just pointing out that there are levels of complexity. You’re absolutely right though. We should be fixing the “shitty schools”. Why then is the primary focus of so many on school proximity rather than school quality?

  • 2xwinner
    02/24 05:43 PM

    The costs of busing isn’t just the money for leasing the buses. The “real costs’ may not be available, but come on, it costs a lot to run them, insurance, time and manpower, maintence, gas, ect…and they clog up the streets during rush hour. 

    If we didn’t bus kids to we would free up cash. How many busses do we have in Wake? Do you have the budget from the last year showing how much TOTAL dollars spent running them? PLEASE provide it. ONE of the ways to spend the busing money could be to “consider” paying the teachers who hit higher standards with the inner-city school a bonus, that might get them to stay there longer. The costs of busing certianly not the only reason why people want it stopped. People want to have their kids at the nearest schools. That is not racist or something the TeaParty came up with. It’s resonable. That’s why the new board members were elected, and why there is finially change coming.

    The “pull yourself up by your own bootstarps” idea Alex is against is exactly what makes most poor people financially secure or even rich in later life. Being poor again makes some of us work harder and plan better because we never want to be back there again. It makes me wonder how soft some posters had it growing up to NOT get that.

  • Alex
    02/24 06:28 PM

    2xwinner -

      I personally know poor. I grew up with it, I lived around it and I experienced prejudice because of it. I know that my parents valued education and valued hard work. Now, I don’t live in it. However, rational, intelligent thought built on my good education and experience allows me to deduce that if you take someone who has never seen the value of education, never been taught the value of hard work, never seen the success of “doing it the right way” - they will not just “come around” because they don’t want to live that way.  It isn’t that easy. If it was that easy, SO many people would move out of poverty into a successful life. It it was that easy, a young single mother with 2 children born in poverty, living in an impoverished neighborhood, surrounded by blight, joblessness, hopelessness and more could just wake up tomorrow, work REAL hard and get a new job with little or no education, make enough money to feed her kids with a minimum wage job, move out of her poor neighborhood with poor credit and prejudice landlords, oh and go to the doctor to stay health without any health insurance. It’s just THAT easy.

    It takes a concerted effort of the community to change things - and honestly, so many community schools around the country are proof that doing the same thing, over and over and over again does nothing to fix the problem.

    The Tea Party came up with this, the conservative right came up with this. If most of the parents in a survey said they approved of the way schooling is handled, then why the need for a change? Because a predominately white, older electorate without children in the school system voted. Let me also state, I am white.

  • 2xwinner
    02/24 10:39 PM

    I feel for the underclass, understand their plight (we were there!), and agree that the problem is big and won’t improve for the underclass schools without new and different approaches to the problem. Getting the money is an issue and bigger than this subject.

    Throwing money at it has not fixed the problem. The school systems in some major markets listed in trouble had a ton of tax dollars wasted in trying to change something that may never change: Personal Choice. I just can’t accept that any person, when presented with the map out of their situation, is so blind they “can’t” see the map out.  Rather, I see it as choosing to look away and refuse, to settle for what they know, rather than reach for what is there for the taking. That is a choice some people continue to make each day. Sadly, not everyone will get out, like anywhere on earth.

    My grandmother and mother were welfare recipients, under-educated from Puerto Rico, and we lived in the projects (sucked!). Mom decided to get out when being brown in our hood was no longer safe. My mother got the “map out” from a SSI rep who checked on us kids, found an advocate there, and moved us near the beach (safer) and into a very small 1 bed apt that would allow 4-5 people to live there.  She asked the landlord, pleaded her case, paid a little more rent, and took on more hours at her restaurant to get us there. She took the opportunities available to her to get out of her circumstances. She broke the cycle of welfare by asking for a plan when prompted, and yes…working harder, longer, and I’m sure she was harassed along the way out.She was eventually offered a sales position, and did pretty well selling to the Hispanic market.

    Being PR means we saw and felt the things you mention above, but we also figured out that we could use the existing system and eventually we finished school, and were able to use the system to get grants, loans, work study, tuition discounts, public transportation to middle school, high school,college. ect..while we attended Community College, then major universities.  Every person has those same opportunities today. Create opportunity, and hope people embrace it, that’s what education, the free market system, and our country is about.

    The movement to end busing started way before the Tea Party came along, like 30 years before it. I’m not a fan of the TP, but don’t blame them for what they are not connected with. Busing has been tossed out by the State Supreme Courts for decades in very integrated cities like Raleigh. Lots of people here who vote more liberal than conservative also want their kids in a school close to their home for many reasons.

    This issue is not about politics, just regular people who want their own kids to be in the school nearest their homes. They/we are not trying to hold anyone down, or exclude anyone. Fix the under-class poor performance schools somehow, but not by forcing busing on the other citizen’s children. Get the underclass kids to the schools they desire, but if they want it they need to do SOMETHING to get it, like public buses, parents driving them there, or caring enough to carpool (none of them have a car and the time? Really?  If they are INVESTED they may actually care about it.

    The former board members were tossed out and replaced because they refused to work on a new plan or even discuss it with the citizens, NOT because there is a conspiracy with conservatives and old white people. Do you understand how insulting and silly that sounds to the people who just want their kids near their homes while in school? Why would the old white people without kids even care? I bet after the next school board elections, you will see at least 1 or 2 more members who support the end of the current reassignment practices.

  • Sluv
    02/24 10:58 PM

    If diluting the poor by spreading them around doesn’t really fix anything then what does concentrating them in one area do?

  • Sluv
    02/24 11:26 PM

    I spent the first half of my childhood in a very poor neighborhood before my parents improved their situation and moved us all to a more affluent, safer neighborhood. I’ll never forget the friends I had in the old neighborhood, and my goodness did we turn out completely different. Most of my friends from high school went to college. I don’t think any of my ‘old neighborhood’ friends went to college - a few of them didn’t finish high school.

    What’s different between me and my ‘old neighborhood’ friends? My parents valued their children’s education and decided to change the environment in which we grew up.

    What do we have in common? Neither of us had any control over who are parents are, how much they care about us and our education, or the neighborhood in which we grew up.

    You seem to be someone who believes in rewarding people for their efforts and holding others responsible for their actions. I believe in the same. I, however, do not believe in rewarding or punishing children for things their parents did or did not choose to do. I believe that education, being the a key to economic mobility, should be an equal opportunity system. That is, every child should have access to schools of equal caliber, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make.

    Now, I’ll agree that maybe busing for diversity is not the best way to achieve the goal of equal opportunity. I’d rather that children attended schools closer to home as it seems conducive to extra-curriculars and parental invovlement. I’d rather that the areas of South and East Wake have more schools, more teachers and smaller class sizes than their more affluent neighbors to the north and west- by the way, when you say “inner-city” it makes you sound as if you just got here yesterday and should probably brush up on the geodemographics of Raleigh and Wake County. But I also know that more teachers and more school buildings would cost a lot of money. Probably much more than busing currently does. And I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in the people of Wake County to accept a property tax increase necessary to make those necessary changes happen.

  • James
    02/25 01:21 AM

    I liked the one about fixing the community around the school instead of the school system… The way it works is see, when the boat has a hole in it, you fix the boat, not the ocean.

  • ti
    02/25 09:47 AM

    some thoughtful comments on both sides.

    @sluv - maybe nothing, so let’s not do either.

    i think alex has a really good point and, although i don’t agree with 2xwinner, i think his/her point is well stated for the other side. it sounds like it comes down to whether you believe the “underserved” (poor, uneducated, whatever you want to call it) have the ability to pull themselves out of poverty on their own or, if not that, how much external force (money, time, encouragement, etc) you believe must be applied to meet that end.

    those who are the harshest about “why can’t they just stop being poor?” have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be raised in that environment. you’re basing a lot of your argument on lifetime movies that show some kid getting out of the ghetto. it doesn’t work that way most of the time. i’ll save five paragraphs of trying to explain how being poor works by saying that you don’t magically climb out of the cycle without people around you who encourage you to try to do something no one around you is doing.

    on the flip side, the idea that having a few good teachers or an after school program is the encouragement these kids need is also a flawed argument. as someone said above - you have to change the COMMUNITY. arguably you’ll get more success by having better teachers or after school programs, but it’s still going to be on a really small scale. you have to have positive influences in the home, in the neighborhood, at school, and all around to make a difference.

    bussing 20% of these kids to a better school and hoping that’s enough influence to make a difference is a crap-shoot at best. you absolutely have to fix the community that fosters this endlessness. you don’t do that by moving the poor around and hoping they “learn from their new neighbors”.

    certainly no matter what you do, you’re going to have a small percentage of people who will never accept help, but we have to aim a little higher than we are with any of these proposals. the root of the problem is not which school the kid goes to, although that could certainly be a part of a balanced solution.

    02/25 03:11 PM

    I can understand being against busing for diversity, but can someone explain why people would be against year round schools?  That always seems to come up and I dont understand why.  Kids need longer school days and less breaks.  Teenagers should be in school 9-5 with plenty of study hall time and no homework. That is more like the real world.

  • pablo
    02/25 03:52 PM

    First off, I agree with Matthew Brown’s points 100% (I grew up in Birmingham and Rocky Mount). However, I do find it interesting that Durham, Guilford, Forsyth, Mecklenburg have never had a socio-economic diversity policies. I wish there was stronger evidence that our diversity policy,implemented approx more than 10 years ago,was bearing more fruit compared to the above systems, but it is not. I also have liberal friends in western Wake county who put up with having to switch schools an inordinate amount of times, often having to drive past one or two closer (and better) schools. Some of this was due to the high growth and some to the diversity policy. They were jerked around too much and they vote. When you lose elections by over 75%, it’s not just one party. There will never be the political clout to go back to the old diversity policy as a county. This is pipedream of liberal ITBer’s (and I’m one of them). We should be glad we had the policy as long we did and coalesce our political clout behind a compromise like the Alves plan.

  • john b
    02/25 04:14 PM

    Diversity busing is inherently and innately discriminatory. If 3 “poor” families live side by side, which 1 goes to the “good” school? or do 2 go to the “good” school? or do you bus all 3 to the “good” school?  Oh wait ...then you have a “poor” school again.
      A neighborhood school is beneficial for many reasons. If your teachers go to your same church, and play softball with the parents, and shop at the same stores as parents, of course they will achieve more.  Doesn’t it take a village? hmmmmmmm?  Where does it say, it takes a huge county?  By the way, you cant criticize NJ education policies, while NC is ranked 49th in education.

  • john b
    02/25 04:27 PM

    The first time i read the article I figured the author is just a liberal . But after reading it again, she is far more dangerous.  She believes teachers should be trained to explain institutionalized racism to students?!  I am frightened that you have a job at NCSU teaching young minds. As far as minorities inability to “succeed” ...have you ever heard of Oprah, or Obama, or Colin, or Condaleeza, or Robert Johnson, or Quincy, or Juan Williams? etc.?

  • Tony Woodard
    02/25 06:28 PM

    Again I say, all of this has been caused by a bunch of transplants who bought cut-rate, cookie-cutter houses in the sticks and are now mad because their spawn have to ride a school bus further than the closest school.
    Again I say, Art Pope saw an opportunity to fund conservative campaigns during a very slow election cycle and jumped at a bargain.
    Again I say, if you believe for a moment that this is not about black and white and brown then you are an idiot.
    Again I say, I am sick of funding a system that I don’t use when the parents of children that do can’t even come to a consensus regarding how they will use my tax dollars without taking up space on my local news and blogs that could be used for discussing more important, and interesting, issues.
    AND AGAIN I SAY, no of this even matters because by the time they do decide on a new assignment scheme we will have another school board election, sweeping in new members who will revert back to the old diversity plan, thus wasting millions more dollars that we don’t have.

    I have a headache.

  • RaleighRob
    02/25 09:50 PM

    ^Again, I say….you hit the nail on the head.  :-)

  • jamie
    02/26 01:56 AM

    Philosophical arguments aside, I would like to address the most common, most simplistic fallacy that constantly appears in this discussion - the idea that money saved on busing goes back to the classroom.

    The STATE pays 76% of Wake’s transportation costs. While no school board member has been able to attach a definitive cost savings to an actual plan, the county would only regain 24% of that (mythical) savings. Three-quarters of the savings would go back to the state to be redistributed elsewhere. John Tesdesco waves the “cost savings” flag every chance he gets, knowing full well it’s inaccurate and out of context.

  • ti
    02/26 08:58 AM

    @johnb - no one said minorities are unable to succeed. seriously, no one said that at all. what has been said is that the cycle of poverty isn’t easily broken. your exceptions to the rule prove the point even more clearly.

    also, anyone stating how much this will cost or save is basing their numbers largely on guesswork. the only thing we know for sure is that in the long run it will cost a lot more to keep trying things that don’t work.

  • john b
    02/26 06:19 PM

    “ learn new skills that encourage the success of students of color.”  Educators only have to point to examples of success to teach kids about success.There are many examples of success amongst people of “color.”

  • frank
    02/28 10:17 AM

    for those of you who somehow are under the belief that Neighborhood Schools means no more school buses - how far do you think an elementary school student should walk each morning to class? And how many 5 lane roads should a 7 year old have to cross to get to their school?

    How many little girls need to get slaughtered walked across Durant?

    We don’t live in Mayberry. sure if your house backs up on an elementary school - this is all good. But you grab a 5 year old and see if they want to walk 4 miles at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.

    But Art Pope is paying millions to make you believe the myth of No More Buses.

  • john b
    02/28 10:44 AM

    Frank!!??!!??  The savings from excess bus use, driver wages, insurance, oil, tires, and maintenance would be huge!  I walked 12 blocks in elementary school. Weird, though…if it rained, I got a ride from a classmate. who would allow their 7 year old to cross 5 lanes? Who would ask a 5 year old to walk 4 miles? Does art pope have millions?    try again Frank~!

  • JeffS
    02/28 11:15 AM

    John, no one has shown that there is such a thing as “excess bus use”. The discussion to date has been nothing but political grandstanding by those against ALL government spending.

    We build bigger schools and place them on major roads surrounded by lines of impatient parents. Everyone knows these roads are the most dangerous ones in town. All of this combines to make it very difficult for a kid to get to school on their own. Then, we attack buses as an excess expense. I am really at a loss to explain it. Sure, I understand the Art Pope position. He simply wants to remove public funding for everything. I don’t understand why the “average person” would share this mentality.

    Why are so many parents loathe to put their kids on a school bus? Has it become that much of a status issue? Do we really like burning gas that much? Do parents have nothing better to do but sit in line outside of the schools?

  • KJorge
    02/28 01:42 PM

    Just seems weird that a 1st world country is debating so much on the transportation cost of sending their kids to school, and yet readily approve the transportation cost of sending space probes to Mars.

    Just a thought,
    Dennis M.

  • frank
    02/28 01:45 PM

    i had 2 girls run over in front of my subdivision - so I guess you were lucky on your 12 block walk. guess the bodies of those 2 girls is the price of saving a buck on gas. Why don’ t you call up their moms and let them know their daughters deserved to get turned into speed bumps so Art Pope can sell his dream.

    I’m not letting my kid walk 12 blocks through this city - home of sexual predators ready to rape and kill children and put them in woodchippers. Nothing makes a sexual predator happier than finding that stray child going to school. But you don’t care if a kid gets raped - cause you need to save your money. Abducted children is just Art Pope’s way of doing business in Wake County.

    if this is all about why the county and state is in an educational budget mess - why not point the finger at John Tedesco. He’s unemployed. He’s not paying any taxes into the system. On top of that - he’s getting his house foreclosed so that he’s not paying taxes that go towards the school system. He’s a drain on society. All those John Tedescos in Wake County are bringing down the system. And then he gives a million bucks plus to General Tata. Not to mention the thousands were wasting on Art Pope’s phony educational assistance programs.

    And the good part is all that money that isn’t really being saved can be used for school vouchers to drain even more from the education budget.

    Remember when you liars sold us a lottery with the dream that it would increase the education budgets? What happened to the dream?

    Every drive I drive past the memorial to those 2 dead girls - you ever see it? Or do you care - cause they’re losers and you’re a winner.

  • john b
    02/28 02:01 PM

    Frank??!!??  some of what you say makes sense.
    why would you insinuate that someone wants children to get raped? That might be the most assannine thing ever typed. i wont respond to you any further.

  • frank
    02/28 02:40 PM

    I watch Fox News and I see how often kids get nabbed on the way to or from school and they end up dead in landfill - after they’ve been raped.

    This anti-busing community schools appears to be spearheaded by people who under normal circumstances would be seen as suspected child molesters - why should men who don’t have kids care about my children not being allowed on a school bus? Why must they make my children prone to child predators?

    Remember that the GOP wanted to protect the unborn children of child raping stepfathers from abortions.

  • 2xwinner
    02/28 03:42 PM

    Wow, This subject matter has went into the ozone with the crazy remarks of the past couple of days. The issue was the busing of some kids of some schools for racial and social-economic balance in the Wake school system. Stop the busing because it’s reverse racism to continue it. Fix the SE Raleigh schools, but NOT by forcing the kid from Apex to attend it, 14 miles away by a bus that WE pay for.

    It’s reverse racist policy against the innocent white kid with good grades who’s only mistake is being located in a suburban school where his parents worked hard to get into.  Each time you force a kid from the school located in Cary to attend one in SE Raleigh to “Balance” things out, you are using social engineering, and violating that child and his parent’s civil rights. It also has not improved the Wake school district’s test scores, even though they try and hide the scores by spreading the poor achievers into the mix with the busing policy.

    The Supreme Courts all over the country have tossed forced ethic/income busing because it is wrong since the 1970’s. It was /is still practiced here in Raleigh because the NAACP and old school board feel it is necessary, even though the facts prove otherwise.  That’s why Raleigh is one of the LAST former liberal districts to still be doing it. But not for long because the voters have spoken, and will continue to vote the policy out.

    If you DON’T want your kid out of the SE Raleigh school they are in, DRIVE them or send them on a PUBLIC BUS to one that is better. We all know only a few will actually do so, and this issue will go away. It should be a CHOICE, not a forced plan. What the heck does any of this have to do with children getting raped or killed crossing a busy street? Why are the kids crossing the busy street is a city safety issue, NOT a racial diversity problem.  If your kid lives 10 blocks away from school, and you want them delivered in a safe manner, away from the “molesters, and sick people” (are you serious?),  then DRIVE THEM THERE YOURSELF. Geeez!

  • frank
    03/01 11:27 AM

    Yesterday on on South Saunders Street, a 4 Year old boy got hit by a mini-van driver that just drove off. Nice to know this guy will have more chances to run over children when John Tedesco forces your kids to cross five lane roads to get to school.

  • Frank
    03/01 05:34 PM

    I don’t care about schools. I hate that 80% of my taxes go to schools yet I have no children. I want my taxes to pay for only the things I use- roads, ect!!

  • matt
    03/01 06:18 PM

    It is nice to get these news updates, I guess. But it’s not what I come here for.

  • 2xwinner
    03/01 07:25 PM

    Re: “Yesterday on on South Saunders Street, a 4 Year old boy got hit by a mini-van driver that just drove off. Nice to know this guy will have more chances to run over children when John Tedesco forces your kids to cross five lane roads to get to school”

    Frank: Are you nutty, or trying to change the subject?  Someone should have the parent of a 4 year old who was run over by the car arrested for neglect. BUT that still has NOTHING to do with socio-economic diversity busing…..the subject here.

    What idiot would allow a 4 year old to cross a busy street for any reason while alone or for school?  4 year olds aren’t in public school yet anyway…..  Here’s a solution: DRIVE your own kid to school, and none of this happens. Do you expect the school district to do EVERYTHING for the parents, including the parenting?

  • JeffS
    03/01 07:52 PM

    Having every parent in school drive their kid is one of the most idiotic suggestion I’ve heard of.

    And yes, I’m aware of the implications of that statement on a large percentage of area parents. In a time when we should be forward thinking and working on ways to burn less gasoline some just seem intent on proving their selfishness to future generations.

  • 2xwinner
    03/01 09:40 PM

    Neighborhood schools would make most of the cases within a short walk or kids delivered an independent method. So Jeff: You think the hundreds of buses each stopping 30 times in the street is not wasting more gas and causing more pollution, traffic, and money wasted? 

    Is the directive and priority of public schools now also to solve the gas and pollution issues, besides parenting for bad parents??  Carpool,take a public bus for the short ride to the neighborhood school, walk in a big group, or do what most kids do these days and have the Mom or Dad drop them off at or near the campus on their way to work or whereever they go during the day.

  • VdubS
    03/04 01:11 AM


  • frank
    03/04 10:12 AM

    the subject is not being changed. we have a city where people treat children as speed bumps and you want to put more of them crossing the roads during morning traffic when most drivers are eating breakfast, drinking coffee, doing their make up, changing the radio dial, texting or checking their iPhone to see about the traffic. They don’t care about a 5 year old crossing the street.

    Should also be noted that putting a 5 year old on a public bus is an invitation to have them abducted and raped. You’ll encounter more criminals on a Raleigh public bus than the holding tank at the Wake County jail.

    but as we can tell, there’s a lot of pro-rapist feelings on the school board - like John Tedesco and his love for the Steeler’s quarterback - a serial rapist figures out great ways to avoid getting charged.

    all people really want is to force home schooling so Art Pope and his Charter School Bandits can rape the public school budget.

  • john b
    03/04 11:22 AM

    I thought the administrators were on the lookout for hate speech?

  • gd
    03/04 12:11 PM

    Frank has no idea what he is talking about.

  • 2xwinner
    03/04 01:13 PM

    Frank: Sorry about whatever happened to you or someone close to you that has made you go all goofy on this response board. What else is there to say about the crazy posts you keep offering up regarding the changing student assignment policy and socio-economic busing changes that are coming?

  • Flash
    03/04 05:08 PM

    I gotta tell ya, Frank, I guess you care about your kids, in your twisted and utterly fear-based way, but I’d sure hate to be one of them. You’re going to be a massive embarrassment to them sooner than you think. In fact, you may already be. They’re probably eager to cross that 5-lane road just to get away.

    Now, their future opinions may not matter to you - since you’re convinced the worst is going to happen to them, you may just assume they won’t be around to be ashamed of the way you talk about your fellow citizens - but, my goodness, what if they survive and have to try to explain you to their children?

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