After reading Clay Aiken’s candid and eloquent blog yesterday, I wanted to know what was going on. If Clay is concerned about the Wake County School System, I wanted to know why. I did a little research.
The Wake County Public School System is located in Wake County, North Carolina. There are 158 schools in the district and approximately 139,599 students. It is the largest public school district in North Carolina and the 18th largest district in the United States.
The district is known for its integration efforts. The schools in the system are integrated based on the income levels reported by families on applications for federally subsidized school lunches. The goal is to have a maximum ratio of 40% low-income students at any one school. Because of this, thousands of suburban students are bused to magnet schools in poorer areas. Likewise, low-income students are bused to suburban schools. This is necessary to help maintain the income balance.
The Wake County System has been cited as a model for how other school systems can maintain diversity in enrollment. But the election in October 2009 of new school board members who want to make changes could move the school district away from its diversity policy.
The Wake County Public School System made headlines in 2006 and 2007 for converting 19 elementary schools and three middle schools to a mandatory year-round calendar. It puts more than a third of the elementary schools on the year-round calendar starting in July 2007. The decision was unpopular with some families who argued that the calendar switch should be voluntary. A group of parents sued to block the school system from converting the schools.
In May 2009, the state Supreme Court ruled that parental consent is not needed to send students to year-round schools. As a result, the school board decided to no longer seek consent. But the election of new school board members in October 2009 who said they opposed mandatory year-round schools could cause the district to make more changes.
From all I could read in a short time, it seems that the district was a leader in making sure that education was equal for all students. They seemed to think that the education of all students is more important than the inconvenience of a few.
Unfortunately, the citizens of the county did not vote in the last School Board election. Only 6% of the population remembered to vote. For that reason, a group of people were elected to the school board who are ready to change everything about the school district. They are open about eliminating the diversity in enrollment and do not want students to be required to be on year-round schedules. These are the “idiots” that Clay blogged about.
The new board has already caused a stir as they met for the first official board meeting last week. Some people are even questioning the legality of what they did that night. They added things to the agenda without prior announcement to the other members of the board or to the parents and teachers who have the right to question and discuss each point. There are many news articles about what they did. Some even wonder about a meeting that took place before with the new board members before they were sworn in. They met together to ram their ideas through the first meeting.
I am not an expert in education, nor do I know the laws of the state of North Carolina. I have only brought over some facts. I think it is important that we know what Clay is so passionate about.
Today, the county board of elections will hold a preliminary hearing to challenge Clay’s voter registration. Wake County GOP Chairman, Claude Pope has challenged Clay’s vote. I guess he didn’t like what Clay had to say. When we get the results of the meeting, we will let you know what was said.
Wow……..Think of all we have learned because of Clay Aiken. I guess he is still a teacher. His students are all over the world.
There is an excellent article from examiner.com. It reports about some of the problems with the new board members.
Some of this information is from Wikipedia.