Read the headlines and stories from every major TV station as well as The N&O and you’ll see that the Wake school board passed a “new” student assignment plan Tuesday night.
But the plan’s not really new, which would make it more like the second assignment plan in three years. Give or take a few details, the plan is a return to the same base assignment structure that was in place in the 2011-12 school year.
Students’ addresses will again be tied to a particular school, based on the same assignments that were in place in 2011-12. The assignments for the current school year are based on a choice assignment plan, created by former superintendent Tony Tata.
In that plan students were not assigned to a school based on their address. Each student ranked a list of five or more schools instead. Based on a list of priorities and school capacity, students were then assigned to one of their choices.
Under the choice plan, economic stratification among schools increased, which led Democrats who control the board to strike down choice. Last night’s vote was the final step in ending choice assignment. But in itself, it does not represent a new direction.
Democrats still have to decide what the new direction will be. Each has said in the past that they would like to see some measure for socioeconomic balance restored to assignment.
But for now members of the Democratic board majority say they are putting stability above all else. That’s why the plan that was passed last night does little to rock the boat.
Some Republicans argue that ending the choice plan furthers instability in Wake’s education community. Tuesday’s meeting, however, was relatively calm.
“I’m a bit surprised that on a night we’re voting on student assignment, we only have three speakers,” said board chair Keith Sutton. “People must either be happy or waiting for us outside.”
Watch a video produced by Wake County schools that explains the “new” plan here: