Debate continues over Wake's diversity

WAKE COUNTY On Tuesday, Meredith College held another public forum on the direction of Wake County schools.

In attendance was the group Wake Education Partnership. It has been a group of business and educators who have championed Wake's diversity policy.

Now, as a new school board takes the Wake system in a totally new direction, the partnership hopes to still have a say in debate.

"We need to back away, wipe the slate clean and take a more family friendly approach to student assignments," Wake Education Partnership Executive Director Ann Denlinger said.

The group says the board needs to offer answers for parents who are tired of seeing their children constantly sent to different schools.

"We need to respond to those parents who have those concerns," said Gordon Brown with Wake Education Partnership. "They are legitimate concerns."

But they say they need to also answer parents who are tired of seeing their children re-assigned to different schools every year.

"We as an organization have not typically gotten as involved in the discussion on stability and how to solve that, but that's exactly what we're looking at," Brown said. "Let's break some new ground from what we tend to be doing right now with all the rhetoric."

The group says they will stress balance with no schools overly weighted with low-income students, but also stability for parents who want to know where their children will go to school for more than the next year.

"Well, I'm glad they took the quotes right off of our sheet," Wake School Board Member John Tedesco said. "It was right out of the resolution. That's what we've been talking about all along with the community assignment zones."

In changing their message, Wake Education Partnership says it still hopes Wake's school board will try to keep all school enrollments below a certain percentage of kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

But the board member leading the new assignment plan says it's not that simple.

"Simply labeling a kid as a low income kid and then subjecting the whole system to that is not the best way to do that," Tedesco said.

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