RALEIGH — Wake County board of education members agreed today that they should include a commitment to voluntary diversity as they craft a replacement to the discarded Wake policy of mandated socio-economic diversity throughout the system.
The board has already passed a "directive" that replaces the former policy of mandated diversity, sometimes supported by busing, as a key element of student assignment. The board's policy committee, meeting today, debated how much detail to include in a commitment to voluntary desegregation as part of the redrawn document. The committee did not vote on the policy and will revisit it in two weeks.
In addition, a draft document prepared by policy committee chair Debra Goldman deleted the former policy's reference to below-grade performance as a potential factor in reassignment. The discussion returned often to the commitment Wake County must make to federal magnet officials in order to qualify for as much as $12 million in grant money.
"I keep going back to the magnet grant," board member Carolyn Morrison said. "I think there has to be somehow to look at performance of students and not have a whole school full of low-performing students."
Goldman said the draft document's commitment to academic success by all children incorporates the former provision on below-grade performance. She does favor including some language committing to voluntary desegregation in the new policy.
"I think that somehow we have to make that link," she said. "There has to be something that gets that message across."
Board member Keith Sutton said the panel needs to keep in mind the amount of local and national attention focused on the system's decision to remove economic diversity as a factor in assignments and replace it with commitments to keeping students closer to home in stable assignments.
"You cross out 'diverse' and now it says 'stable,' what does that say to you?" Sutton asked. "Does the theme of diversity still ring through the document?"
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