Wake Ed

June 11, 2014

Parent says student reassignment is “preparation for living”

In a blog post Tuesday, Allison Backhouse mocks a magnet school parent for saying that being reassigned to four or five elementary schools is like “preparation for living.”

Would you consider being reassigned as a child to different elementary schools as preparing you in later life for changing careers?

In a blog post Monday, Allison Backhouse mocks Becky Burmester, a parent at Martin Middle School in Raleigh, for saying that being reassigned to four or five elementary schools is like “preparation for living.” Burmester made that comparison when she questioned David Houle, the futurist the Wake County school system invited to speak at the May 30 community kickoff event for developing a new strategic plan.

“Becky is either the worst kind of parent or she represents the epitome of a smug, patronizing, and arrogant magnet parent who thinks us ‘suburban’ parents are idiots,” Backhouse writes.

Here’s more on the exchange between Burmester and Houle.

"I am the older parent of two students that are in Martin Middle School,” Burmester said. “One of the things that I think is one of the stronger points of the Wake County Public School System has been the long-time commitment to having very diverse schools. What do you say to the parents –and I think this is part of the visioning process guys – who are so adamant that the worst thing that can happen to their kid is that they could be reassigned to a different school for the next year?

I'm sorry. If my child is going to have five to 10 different careers, my God forbid that they should have to go to four or five elementary schools. I mean, that seems like it’s preparation for living to me.

How do you help the school district maintain that diversity because it does. We don't close our schools because the population shifts. We shift the kids around and it has worked really well, except that parents get so irate because their children, are in spite of the fact that they are all digitally connected, are losing that connection."

Houle drew applause when he said there’s a difference comparing adults and children.

“If you have five or 10 careers as an adult, you’re an adult,” Houle said. “You’ve developed adult coping skills. If you’re a seven- or eight-year-old, you may not because your best friend you’re not going to see except on the weekends now. So there is an issue for that.”

Houle also touched on the diversity issue, saying how as a white male he’d be considered a minority now.

“Diversity is a loaded, social, emotional word of about 50 years standing that, if you want diversity, you have to let go of the legacy thinking of what the word diversity means and create what is diversity in this school district in 2014,” Houle said. “Whatever that is and face that diversity, rather than some formulaic thing. But the first thing is to make all schools good. Then, it doesn't matter."

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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