by Bob Geary
I hear tell John Tedesco's Student Assignment Committee has been hard at work today, and the result is a decision to move forward with this staff-prepared map of 16 assignments zones as the "shell" from which to produce a final map. The 16 zones are drawn around the existing high schools. A few are grouped: Enloe & Southeast Raleigh ... Millbrook & Sanderson ... Green Hope & Panther Creek ... Wake Forest-Rolesville & the new Heritage & new H6 [Rolesville]. The rest are solos.
Staff figured out how many students live in each of these hypothetical zones vs. the available capacity in each zone (as of 2012) for elementary, middle school and high school students. Click here for that information.
[WRAL has a good story up emphasizing that the zones should be considered "fluid" since no actual boundaries have been drawn.]
What about diversity, you ask? Someone who was there (I wasn't) tells me the percentage of students in the Enloe/Southeast Raleigh zone who would be eligible for the free and reduced lunch program (F&R) is 68%; in the Green Hope/Panther Creek zone, it would be 7%, and 11% in the Apex zone. Keith Sutton, who represents Southeast Raleigh on the board, expressed alarm at the concentration of low-income kids in one zone — his, essentially.
Tedesco's answer: Staff should also create five super-zones ("regions"). Kids at the middle-school and high-school levels would apparently be allowed to apply to schools in their super-zone as well as their zones, and to magnet programs wherever they are. (Good luck getting into programs that don't exist, however.)
That's pretty much been JT's idea from the get-go. The F&R percentages in five possible super-zones ranged from 14% in the West to 52% in the Central, where Enloe/Southeast Raleigh would be.
Thus, problem solved! my source says. The super-zones help to mask the segregation in the zones!
This 16-zones/5 super-zones plan should come as no surprise to us. Tedesco described it in January; not sure why it's taken him so long to move from what was a general description then to the current, uh, general description. Politics, maybe?
In fact, if I do say so myself, my map from that January story of 14 zones — which I designed to illustrate what Tedesco was thinking — is slightly better and less segregating than the map Tedesco seems to like now. I assumed he would at least try to off-set the segregating effects of a zones plan by logically grouping the schools in Raleigh. (Thus, I put Broughton HS and Athens Drive HS together in a single zone, and Wakefield and Millbrook together in another zone. All four are solo zones in Tedesco's plan.)
Why Tedesco is so determined to pack every poor minority kid he can into a single Southeast Raleigh zone, I don't quite get, unless it's for the purpose of keeping "those kids" out of other, suburban zones. And I just know it couldn't be that.
Here's my map, by the way, for reference — the yellow lines mark the zones; the red indicates concentrations of low-income kids (the redder, the higher the concentration). If you click here, you'll find a list of the elementary and middle schools included in each of my 14 hypothetical Tedesco-style zones.