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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 07/22/2010

Wake County diversity battle

By Valerie Strauss

“Idea intrigues Wake school board factions.”

That’s the headline in a story in North Carolina’s News & Observer today.

I know what some of you are thinking about school boards. Stop it.

This is an idea about a real issue in Wake County, N.C., where there is a battle underway over the divided school board’s plans to end busing and find a new school diversity policy.

The school district’s well-regarded superintendent, Del Burns, resigned at the end of the school year after a number of changes were approved by the new school board majority, including a decision to end the school district’s longstanding policy of assigning students to schools to help achieve socio-economic diversity.

Parents wary of the board have protested and some were arrested Wednesday, prompting Gov. Bev Perdue to speak out in support of those standing up for what “they feel passionately about.”

So what’s the idea that intrigued the school board factions?

According to the News & Observer, the idea involves something called “controlled choice" to replace the old diversity policy, which involved busing students to schools outside of their neighborhoods. Instead, "controlled choice” would end busing but supposedly maintain diversity -- without creating high-poverty schools -- by setting up about a dozen attendance zones.

Each zone would reflect the population of the county and parents could choose where to send their children, with a lottery making the decisions when schools were overcrowded.
You can read more about the proposal -- which has been implemented in other places -- here.

What do you think of this idea? How is it working in places it has already been implemented?

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By Valerie Strauss  | July 22, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Equity  | Tags:  arrests in wake county, busing in wake county, controlled choice, diversity issues, wake county and busing, wake county and diversity, wake county school board  
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