December 12, 2010 Leave a comment
So, I took a trip to North Carolina’s terrific (and free) Museum of Natural Sciences as a chaperon with David’s 5th grade class on Friday. We learned about ecosystems and food webs. A good time was had by all. Anyway, while one essentially random group of students I was with was learning about the Longleaf Pine Savannah ecosystem (its along the coasts and depends on fire every 3-5 years to keep a properly functioning ecoysystem), I took a moment to take note of the amazing diversity of students in this group of 19. 6 white, 6 black, 4 Hispanic, 3 Asian. I think that might be a little more diverse than your typical 19 Kingswood elementary students, but not by much. Honestly, I feel like David and Alex’s school is pretty much a model of what diversity in a school should look like and how it should operate. From what I can tell, there’s very little evidence of racial cliques and the kids from the poorer SES backgrounds certainly benefit by attending a school where there’s also a number of kids who’s (very involved) parents work for NCSU or SAS. This truly strikes me as better for the community’s education that the schools that I went to that were 90+% rich white kids.
Of course, Wake County’s new (very Republican) school board majority is intent on completely removing socio-economic diversity (not race) as a criteria in school assignment. One of my friends– an impassioned supporter of the under-fire current policy, put me onto this great new blog, Wake Reassignment, that discusses these issues. Here’s a representative post on the problems of concentrating high poverty students in particular schools:
…Tremendous resources are required to effectively build achievement when academic deficits have been concentrated in one place like this. In Charlotte, for example, some schools are spending approximately three times as much as others per capita. While disparities in per capita spending also exist here, they are not nearly as stark. Realigning our resources in a similar fashion, in an environment where the school budget is shrinking dramatically, would sharply reduce the resources available to lower poverty schools. Alternatively, the Board might not realign those resources, in which case the academic deficits of those in our high poverty schools are unlikely to be addressed successfully.
I’ll be checking back here to keep up on these issues. For now, I’ll just mention that its a real shame that the model that works so well at Kingswood Elementary is on the road to being eliminated by the school board.