A Nov. 6 article reported that black and low-income students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools scored higher than those in the Wake County schools. This was presented as evidence that Wake's diversity policy is not helping our black and low-income students, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg has abandoned its diversity policy and now has many high-poverty schools.
A closer look at Mecklenburg's passing rates leads to a different conclusion. The passing rates for black and low-income students are significantly lower in Mecklenburg's high-poverty schools than in Mecklenburg's diverse schools.
On the end-of-course exams, high schools with over 50 percent low-income students had average passing rates of 55.6 percent for black students and 57.5 percent for low-income students. High schools with fewer than 50 percent low-income students had average passing rates of 64.9 percent for black students and 66.1 percent for low-income students. The differences in elementary and middle schools are even more dramatic.
Clearly, black and low-income students are suffering at Mecklenburg's high-poverty schools. This leads to the conclusion that Wake must preserve its diversity policy. Yet the fact that Mecklenburg's overall passing rates for black and low-income students are higher than Wake's leads to the conclusion that Wake must raise its per-pupil expenditure at least to the level of Mecklenburg County.