Point of View

Don't delay the school plan

October 14, 2011 

— A little more than seven months ago, the superintendent of Wake County's public schools and his staff were charged with the task of developing a new approach to student assignment. The result is a plan that would empower parents to choose where their children attend school, produce the stability that Wake County parents desire, create a culture of competition among schools for the benefit of students, efficiently use existing facilities and create a natural diversity without mandatory reassignments.

After multiple community meetings and review, it appears the Board of Education is ready to vote on the student assignment proposal. While there is no perfect plan, this proposal is a logical blueprint for moving beyond the divisive issue of reassignment.

Delaying a decision at this point would only prolong the corrosive debate and further distract from pressing classroom issues and needed discussions about how to handle future enrollment growth.

The plan is structured to address community concerns, parental feedback and many other details. At its core, it is based upon the guiding principles of stability, choice, proximity and student achievement. Wake Education Partnership and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce believe this is a logical and solid foundation for a plan that we hope will serve our community well into the future.

As organizations made up primarily of local businesses, let us be clear in our intentions. Having a high-quality educational system is vital to the children of Wake County and to our county's economic future. As one of the best places to work and live in America, Wake County has received numerous awards for its reputation and achievements. Our schools have played a key part in earning these honors.

This proposal helps the county retain these qualities. It preserves the magnet school program and promises quality academic choices to all students, regardless of where they live within the county. It immediately begins to create stability for families by allowing those who are happy with their current schools to remain in those schools. It gives parents more control, which should lead to more community support.

We understand it is not possible to address every detail in a plan this size, but the framework is clear.

We also appreciate that the full effect of the proposal, like any plan, will hinge on the quality of its implementation. Based on Superintendent Tony Tata's first eight months in office - and the community's overall reaction to his leadership - we believe he and his administrators will serve the community's best interests.

Successful choice plans rely on educated parents. It is time for a coordinated community effort to educate parents about the opportunities and choices this approach can provide. It is time to move forward.

Jim Brown is chair of Wake Education Partnership's board of directors. Jim Beck is chair of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

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