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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Facebook, Debra Goldman & Wake County Schools: DIVERSITY

Wake County School Board Tension Plays Out On Facebook

With the movement toward a controversial student assignment policy in Wake County’s public schools now stalled, the architect of the plan is firing back at the school board member who shifted the board’s majority to one against the proposal.

On Tuesday, the school board voted 5-3 to kill a student assignment revision process that was headed toward assigning students to zones instead of the district’s longstanding policy of busing students to help create socio-economic diversity throughout the school system.

Board Vice Chairwoman Debra Goldman introduced a resolution to scrap the 16-zone plan, saying there hadn’t been enough input from parents and other board members.

John Tedesco, who heads the board’s Student Assignment Committee, which drafted the plan, responded to Goldman on his Facebook page Tuesday night.

"Then tonight, Benedict Goldman voted with the four minority members to do away with our efforts for community-based assignments and declared things should stay as is with the forced busing diversity model in place,” Tedesco wrote.

The two former allies traded jabs at school board meetings Tuesday in what was sometimes a tense and contentious exchange of words. At one point, Tedesco called Goldman a “prom queen” and at another, suggested her objections were all about her.

“It isn’t about me, this is about representing our constituents,” she said during the board’s public meeting, receiving applause from the crowd. “Every single person should have an opportunity to express their viewpoints.”

But Goldman, one of four members voted into office last fall, said she still supports neighborhood schools over the current model of busing for diversity, but that Tedesco’s plan is not the best way to get there.

"We are heading down a rabbit hole and so far down a rabbit hole that there will be no way to get out of it,” Goldman said.

She called for an "equity-based" system that still works toward community-based schools without “putting in lines and dividing communities.”

Parents from WakeCARES, a group that lobbied to get the conservative majority on the board, don't know what to think now.

“I want to say we're back at square one, but I don't even know if we're back at square one. I'm not sure where we are,” Allison Backhouse, one of the group’s leaders, said Wednesday. “Mrs. Goldman stated she supports community schools and doesn't support diversity busing, but I'm not sure what she supports at this point.”

Board member Chris Malone, who has been a proponent of the community assignment plan, said Wednesday he still believes Goldman is committed to the vision.

“We’re going to move forward. We’re going to make this happen. It’s going to be difficult,” he said.

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Sources: Facebook, Wikipedia, WRAL, Google Maps

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