By March 16, we'll have Round 1 results of Wake public schools' choice selection process, and some will finally learn what the rest of us already knew: Students in Wake County's fastest-growing areas - especially Western Wake - may not be assigned to overcrowded neighborhood schools even if they can walk.
Proximity was never what mattered most. The bottom line is whether there's room in a school for more. Parents get five school "choices." Before, you'd simply plug your address into an online assignment locator and view base school assignments and magnet choices elementary to high school. If newcomers packed the node, you could be reassigned to a school with a seat or (God forbid!) a more or less diverse student body.
School choice doesn't solve growth-related capacity problems, the real driver of musical-chair reassignment. It doesn't increase magnet space. It creates the illusion of "choice," more assignment uncertainty and homogenous schools.
As the last magnet students graduate Daniels Middle, my child's school, the student body will become overwhelmingly white and affluent based on neighborhood demographics. Broughton High, fed by Daniels, will reflect this homogeneity. School yearbooks eventually will bear this out.
Fiscal conservatism has bred public acrimony and "neighborhood school" choice for some. This isn't progress. Some knew it all along. The rest are about to learn.