Wake Ed

Wake County school board to discuss how to promote equity

Students Kaitlyn Allen, 9, left, and Kendall Jackson, 10, study their own fingerprint on a tablet during a lesson at the Summer Institute at Compassionate Tabernacle of Faith in Raleigh on Monday, July 20, 2015. The church works with students at nearby Walnut Creek Elementary School, an almost all-minority and high poverty school that resulted from Wake County dialing back on the use of busing for diversity.
Students Kaitlyn Allen, 9, left, and Kendall Jackson, 10, study their own fingerprint on a tablet during a lesson at the Summer Institute at Compassionate Tabernacle of Faith in Raleigh on Monday, July 20, 2015. The church works with students at nearby Walnut Creek Elementary School, an almost all-minority and high poverty school that resulted from Wake County dialing back on the use of busing for diversity. cseward@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board will spend the next few days trying to determine how to promote equity in schools, including what commitments should be made to balance diversity across schools.

The board will hold its winter retreat from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday focused around four equity roundtable discussions. The topics are practices that promote diversity across schools, small/innovative schools, school improvement intervention models and differentiated resourcing.

The diversity discussion comes at a time when the school board has become less aggressive at using student assignment to promote socioeconomically diverse schools. Fewer students are being bused for diversity than seven years ago.

The diversity discussion will include reviewing the current state of Wake’s school free-and-reduced-price lunch totals, outside studies done of Wake’s socio-economic diversity policy and studies done on the impact diverse housing has on schools.

Roundtable discussion prompts include:

▪ Is WCPSS doing all it can to balance diversity across schools? Should additional action be taken to balance diversity across schools?

▪ How can the Board balance the voting public’s desire for neighborhood schools with the challenge of limiting low-performing racially identifiable schools?

▪ What are the barriers to balancing diversity across schools? Are any barriers too difficult to overcome at this point in time?

▪ What commitments should the Board make to balance diversity across schools?

The prompts for the roundtable discussion on small/innovative schools are:

▪ Is there a need for small/innovative schools in WCPSS? If so, what purpose would these schools serve to advance educational equity in WCPSS?

▪ Should there be special consideration for the location of small/innovative schools?

▪ What commitments should the Board make concerning small/innovative schools?

The discussion about intervention models comes as the state changed the definition of low-performing schools to mean schools with a D or F state letter grade and not exceeding academic growth standards. The definition could force Wake to consider taking actions down the road such as closing down schools or firing the principal and staff.

The board will go over current redesign efforts – now focused on elementary and high schools.

Roundtable prompts for the intervention discussion are:

▪ Are there components of the district’s redesign efforts that should be reconsidered?

▪ Do WCPSS redesign efforts go far enough? What additional actions should the administration take concerning school redesign?

▪ Currently, there are no redesign efforts at the middle school level. What are the Board’s thoughts concerning school redesign at this level?

▪ How should the Board further support WCPSS redesign efforts?

The discussion on differentiated resourcing comes as Wake has moved away from providing resources to schools equally in favor of providing more to those with greater need.

Roundtable prompts for the resourcing discussion are:

▪ Is differentiated resourcing an effective method of supporting focus schools? If so, should resources be diverted from high performing schools to focus schools?

▪ Should there be a baseline of resources available to all WCPSS focus schools?

▪ Should schools operate under the Managed Performance Empowerment model? What are the advantages and disadvantages operating under this model?

▪ What commitments should the Board make to differentiating resources for focus schools?

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