Wake Ed

New book looks at Wake County student assignment politics

A new book out Monday by a pair of N.C. State University professors looks at the heated debate over student assignment in Wake County that garnered so much national attention.

The End of Consensus: Diversity, Neighborhoods, and the Politics of Public School Assignments” by Toby Parcel and Andrew J. Taylor looks at the ways diversity and neighborhood schools have influenced school assignment policies in Wake County, particularly during 2000-2012. It includes the period of 2009 to 2011 when the former Republican school board majority upended the socioeconomic diversity policy.

In a blog post Monday, Taylor says the book shows how some pieces of conventional wisdom about Wake’s diversity efforts were wrong. Some of his statements may ruffle feathers, particularly those of residents who live inside the Raleigh Beltline who’ve historically been among the most supportive of Wake’s diversity efforts.

“Newcomers to the state — mainly from the Northeast and Midwest — were not less supportive of diversity than whites who, the argument went, having lived in the South for decades had been part of a momentous effort to desegregate schools,” Taylor writes. “Residents of the affluent western suburbs were not diversity’s most energetic opponents; it was individuals who lived in the county’s southern and eastern small towns. There is also evidence to show that urban whites—particularly those who lived inside Raleigh’s ‘Beltline’ — supported the diversity policy because it effectively bused minority children from their communities.

Among African Americans, those with higher incomes tended to support diversity; poorer residents were considerably more ambivalent. A view among those who lived in southeast Raleigh, for example, was that their children should be educated in their neighborhoods and that their schools deserved the kind of resources and teachers enjoyed by suburban kids.”

Taylor and Parcel will discuss their book Thursday at 7 p.m. at Quail Ridge Books & Music, 3522 Wade Ave. in Raleigh.