Approach to Sustain the Quality of Education in Wake County, North Carolina
Interested in Politics, Land Use Policy, Urban Studies and/or Public Education? Check out this essay by EmilElaborates.
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. In the Spring of 2010, I studied an urban issue in Wake County, NC. which has received a precedented amount of media attention. The issue began with the Wake County School Board, which saw a transformation from liberal to conservative majority. In March of 2010, the school board voted to “rezone” schools and alter the socioeconomic diversity policy to a system that focused on neighborhood schools. The diversity plan had been in effect for ten years prior to the decision, and has been a model for socioeconomic diversity based school zoning plans for many public school systems around the country, according to the Southern Law Poverty Center.
The diversity plan was set to have no more than 40 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. This ideal had been chastised by the conservative-led school board who favored a neighborhood plan as a measure of public policy with concerns over long student bus rides, student-safety, as well as a fiscal saving. (School Board Member Chris Malone predicted that the system could save as much as $20 million annually by replacing diversity-related busing with a community-school assignment system as Wake County was spending as much as $55 million dollars on busing for the diversity program.) Bouncing back from an economic recession, the concern was high for what could have been deemed as fiscal carelessness with such an egregious budget. Many opponents of the neighborhood program, most notably the NAACP, raised concern over the quality of education in addition to “social exposure” for each child, alluding “resegregation” as a result of the decision.
There was a lot of tension in the community the role of politics and partisanship in the school board had become very transparent. The issue had become so inflated that United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, published in an article to the Associated Press, stating “how troubling it is to see North Carolina’s Wake County school board take steps to reverse a long-standing policy to promote racial diversity in its schools.” My research focused on introducing subsidized public housing as an alternative option to combat the funding and zoning problems which exist in Wake County.
New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy compared the education success of those who receive subsidized housing with those who did not, using education sucess results as the constant. It was discovered that New York City uses a lottery system to determine who receives subsidized housing, and who does not. Subsidized Housing is a type of housing where the government aids those in need of housing by allocating grants and/or providing housing. Usually, subsidized housing units are located in low-crime, diverse neighborhoods, which ultimately benefits children attending nearby schools. They compared those who live in subsidized housing with those who don’t and their success in school. It was noted that students who live in subsidized housing perform better in school. Reasons include more harmonious environment conducive to learning, less stress, increased ability of the child to focus on school related activites.
In Wake Co., N.C., subsidized housing has a great affect on those who dwell in subsidized housing units, particularly children, for the purpose of this research. Subsidized housing has become part of many local initiatives as many residents are now benefitting in addition to Inclusionary Zoning, a planning ordinance which require a given share of new construction to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes.
Public Housing, which integrates lower-class families into middle-class families, is very much more likely to provide children with the potential to obtain a better education, which also provides a cost effective alternative to busing. Though, it is important to be aware of housing prices in certain areas of Wake County which could potentially increase to encourage racial/social steering. It has become evident that the cost of living in certain areas has an effect on Public Education.
Published in the Journal of Real Estate Research, William Rayburn and Richard D. Evans conducted a study on the Shelby County School District of Memphis, Tennessee, in 1991. In the study, the mean price per square foot for single-family residences over a 15 year period in two adjacent areas of Memphis, Tennessee saw the changes in the average price of the home. The abrupt change occurred after a series of subsequent events, particularly the decision of the courts in the ruling of segregation in Shelby County and the City of Memphis, in addition to the implementation of limited/massive busing.
If analyzed thoroughly, a rational approach can be found to solve the problems associated with the School Board of Wake County, including the Quality of Education, Cost Efficiency, and Urban Development. Subsidized Housing and Inclusionary Zoning both serve as a mechanism for combating the potential for re-segregation in Wake County.