Vol.#17: A Choice Education

“My neighbor’s kid has been in Wake County schools for six years, and his school has changed six times. He has no childhood friends. Why does the county do that?”

I have no answer for this stranger who, upon learning I am a public school teacher for WCPSS, demands it. His tone is curious with only a hint of accusing. He knows I personally did not set any policies, but he’s grappling for a logical reason. Some counter argument which I cannot provide. This county is infamous known for the sometimes contentious board meetings and how it repeatedly rearranges student reassignment. Though the news has explained they are touting choice and address-based models and assuring students will be “grandfathered in”, it does not always seem to coincide with the stories from some parents like this one speaking to me now.

Actually, as a parent I know little about it as well. I am fortunate that the county accommodated my request to have my son at the year-round elementary school that is adjacent to and feeds into the middle school where I teach. There’s even a bus that runs to and from the school to bring him from and deliver him to my school. Therefore, I missed much of the agonizing analysis many parents experience.

Image Credit:http://artschools.com/resources/how-to-choose-an-art-school
Image Credit:
http://artschools.com/resources/how-to-choose-an-art-school

This past week, letters went home to parents about the 2013-14 school year assignment and their choices. I sent them home to my homeroom, as well as received one from my son’s teacher. I decided to go to the Wake County Student Enrollment & Assignment page myself. There’s lots of information on choices and many, many magnet programs. Curious, I entered my own address into the page provided to look up base schools we’re assigned.

Both the base Elementary and Middle schools for my address are year round, however are not the same ones where I teach. (Interestingly, the year-round school where I teach & he attends is 5.2 miles from our driveway, but the year-round base schools we are assigned are 8.4 miles away.) There were also two more Elementary Schools and one Middle school as an option should I have wanted a traditional calendar with summers off and no track outs. (No, but thanks. More on why I love year round here.)

However, where it really gets interesting (overwhelming?) is my “Magnet Options” and “Application Magnet” Options on the third tab of more choices.

Thirteen more Elementary School options:

Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 11.57.09 AM

Seven Magnet Middle School Options and two Magnet High schools in addition to those base and calendar choices:

Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 11.57.39 AM

And four schools that accept Applications, but are listed separately from the Magnets:

Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 11.58.04 AM

I am currently very happy with the arrangement I have as a parent, but I couldn’t help but wonder how these options differ from a teacher’s perspective. I had the opportunity over a track out this year to visit some colleagues at an array of the proffered options:

In my upcoming posts, I’ll endeavor to analyze what these options bring to the table in terms of the choice education teachers all wish to provide and parents all want for their children.

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