Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Transparency is Key

In my letter asking the board to stop work on the blue plan, I stressed that transparency was essential for any assignment plan to be successful. After the turmoil of the past decade(s) not knowing when and why our neighborhood might be targeted for reassignment, we need an assignment policy that makes sense and is open to scrutiny. When Wake Education Partnership first unveiled their "Alves Plan", upon which our new assignment model is based, one of my first thoughts was that it was too easy to manipulate. Without maps to see who has which schools to choose from, it's impossible to know what is happening.

The elementary choices that my node has are the 5 closest schools. That's what we've been told--that our choices will pretty much be those in closest proximity to us with the addition of an achievement school that might be further away. I decided to look up some other nodes in District 3 to see if that was the case and unfortunately it isn't. I found nodes in North Raleigh that have Reedy Creek, Dillard Drive and Weatherstone as some of their choices. How does that make any sense?

The choices often varied a lot for people who lived fairly close to each other. I found 2 nodes that were a perfect example of this and mapped them in google. The green and blue push pins represent an address and the matching colored teardrops represent the elementary schools those addresses each have to pick from. The two red teardrops are schools that each address has in common: Wildwood Forest and Durant Elementary.

View Farmlea Cir & Riverside in a larger map

Why are the options so different for these two nodes that are directly across the road from each other? This illustrates to me that it will be so easy for WCPSS to manipulate your choices in this plan to steer you where they want you to go. No longer will we be able to see entire nodes getting moved and question it--it will all be done under cover and we will never know about it.

** Edited to add: These school choices are so ridiculous that Wake Forest Elementary barely even shows up on the map. It's green and is way up at the top.


Anonymous said...

Transparency would be nice and the release of all data used to determine school choice and why. Additionally, when choosing a school, clear seat counts and expected chance of getting into each school during the choice open window. There also needs to be data provided on percent of people getting 1st,2nd,3rd,etc choice by node and why they were denied.

With regard to transparency, they also need to disclose how they will handle crowding, opening a new school, etc and the impact of choice by those items.

Lastly, they need to be extremely clear in that choice is at entry and that the number of seats at 6th and 9th grade choice is severely limited by the feeder override. This has not been clear and is only become clearer now that the feeder pattern discussion has come up.

Jennifer Mansfield said...

Great comments. Another issue that they haven't thought about is magnet middle and high schools. At one of the sessions, somebody asked what percentage of seats were going to be set aside for magnet applicants at the MS and HS level. The responses was that they were counting on those schools filling up from the feeder schools so they weren't planning on setting aside any particular percentage.

Anonymous said...

We elected a new school board in 2009, to take us back to neighborhood schools. This blue plan is NOT neighborhood schools, and in the wrong hands this assignment model will let the school system send our kids wherever they want.
Please, keep on publicizing this!

Anonymous said...

While I'm a fan of "choice", I don't need THIS MUCH choice.

Heck, I can barely get out of my subdivision to go to work in the morning for all the school buses. I can't imagine what it will be like when there are 5 school buses on every street.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see that the little transparency available is now gone. As soon as people started using the address lookup tool more and asking questions about the logical assignments they take it away saying it is wrong based on current logic and now will be available after it is finalized. Exactly the problem, people want to see what they think the final plan is before it is finalized to get a real understanding of the implications before it is voted on, not after.