Recap of our discussion by our wonderful facilitator, Courtney Napier.
The Community Circle was a huge success last weekend! Wake County parents gathered at Rebus Works to discuss the topic of school choice and it’s impact on the larger community, inspired by the Courtney Martin essay, “The Problem with Seeking What’s Best for Our Children”. Our special guest was NC House candidate for district 36 and President of the PTA Council of Wake County, Julie Von Haefen. The spirit of our conversation was well encapsulated by a statement near the end of Martin’s essay: “where nuance is prized and the ethical, examined life our common goal.”
After sometime we came to terms with the fact that charter schools and vouchers for private schools aren’t going anywhere any time soon in North Carolina. As believers in the public school system, however, we learned that there are many different ways to support our neighborhood public school. As Julie introduced us to the wonders of PTA, we learned that you don’t even have to be a parent to be a part of it! We realized that even if attending your base school isn’t what’s best for your child, that doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to supporting that school or the larger school system.
Yes, our Wake County School System is desperate need of support. From years of bad press, to incredible population growth paired with diminishing resources, WCPSS needs advocates of all kinds to speak up and give back. Julie spoke with us about the Great Schools rating system, “grades” given to schools according to the students standardized testing scores, but not coincidentally correlates with the socioeconomic and racial makeup of the student body. Julie says, in reality, some of the lowest scoring schools are doing some of the best, most cutting edge teaching. This is why, as Julie emphasized, is important to visit your local schools and speak to the teachers.
As much as we love abc believe in WCPSS, there is still room for improvement. One major issue we discussed is the confusing process of gaining admission to Magnet, GT, and STEM schools. We also had to face the harsh reality that these school play their own part in education inequality, gentrification, and a “curated diversity” in the classroom.
Ultimately all of our complaints had the same solution, involvement: involvement in PTA, involvement in local politics, and involvement in our schools. This fulfills the demand, as put forth by Martin, to, “...make decisions that honor my children and other people’s children...” We want a bright future for all of Wake County’s children, and we believe that with our involvement, WCPSS can continue to play a vital role in making that a reality.