by Bob Geary
What critics term "busing" in Wake County -- or sometimes "forced busing" -- is in reality a web of policies mixing neighborhood schools, year-round schools, and magnet schools with a limited number of assignments (usually for kids from low-income neighborhoods) to somewhat distant schools for the purpose of maintaining socioeconomic diversity in all schools. Pull the diversity thread out of the web, add a new policy of "equal funding for all schools," and you may begin an unraveling that ends with the collapse of the magnet system. Thus, though new Board of Education Chair Ron Margiotta has written recently [his letter is copied below the fold] to assure magnet-school supporters that his new majority bloc has not discussed any changes to the current magnet system, many worry that what they are discussing will submarine it, intentiionally or otherwise. And Margiotta's letter, of course, doesn't say they won't change the magnet program eventually, only that they haven't gotten around to it as yet.
Enloe High School students are organizing in support of the magnet program, including an online petition which can be found, and signed, here.
The petition reads:
To: Wake County School Board
For years Wake County has had a policy that ensured students would attend diverse schools. Students would be able to go beyond their own social classes and experience views expanding across the entire world by stepping through their school doors at 7:00am. Students were taught that no matter what their class, race or religion, it was possible to unite and form a community that was strengthened by their differences. However, there are plans in motion to change this current system. There are those who wish to build neighborhood schools that would socioeconomically segregate students. Not only would the division between lower-income students and higher-income students cut deeper, but racial diversity could very well take a step backwards by discouraging students to venture beyond their own racial group.
Please, sign this petition and preserve diversification within our schools.
Staff and parents,
Over the past several weeks, many concerns and questions have been raised
about the future of magnet Schools in our Public School system.
I heard many comments during the Dec.1st. School Bd. meeting as well as
numerous stories in the media that have created uncertainty and frustration
with parents and staff. As Chairman of the School Board I feel it is
necessary to address this issue with those who are involved with Magnet
Schools on a daily basis to quell further rumors and hearsay.
Magnet Schools serve as an integral piece in educating children in Wake
County.In conversations with School Board members, I can assure you that no
discussions have been held about the magnet system or its future.
As the Board moves forward, the magnet system will certainly be part of our
discussion in improving education for all children but only with the input
of parents, staff and taxpayers. Your involvement in the discussion process
is vital to achieving academic excellence for all our students.
I thank you for your work and commitment to the children of Wake County and
look forward to your guidance in the future.
Chairman Wake County School Board