Well, I have never intended to allow comments on the blog, but I did not restrict them properly. For this reason, I was fortunate to receive a response from Mr. Tedesco to my last post. (I assume it is really him. I guess we will see.) The response, presented in full at the permalink, is reprinted below with my reply interspersed.
You may need to clarify your facts and think harder. First, I have NEVER - NEVER said Charlotte - Meck is a model to look at. I have repeatedly said that I fundamentally reject the idea that it has to be the Wake Way or the Charlotte Way. I have always said that we can do it different than Charlotte. The zone plan with large scale choice aligned under regional infrastructure and additional choice that we were proposing is nothing like Charlotte.
We can leave it to the others to evaluate the accuracy of the statement that “Tedesco often promotes the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a ‘neighborhood schools’ model.” I agree that the zone plan you had proposed differs from the assignment system in Charlotte, though both are alike in the key respect that one has produced and the other would have produced many more schools at 60%+ FRL than we now have in the Wake County Public School System.
Next, I will be glad to get you the facts presented by our Growth and Planning Department. They are dedicated professionals with years of expertise who partner with ITRE, NC STATE, SAS, municipal planning leaders and others when they produce there reports. They produce an annual demographic report that will show you the trend line of families opting out of public education in the last 15 years from 9% to 17.5% ( I have on occasion said 18% rounding up).
Here is a link to their report from last year – page 7 of 23 on the pdf shows a line noted as Annual Market Share. You will see the 17.5%. http://www.wcpss.net/demographics/reports/book09/IV-projections.pdf I believe our dedicated staff, but if you are suggesting that they are lying or have failed to produce accurate data, please let me know and I will have their performance evaluated and their positions reviewed.
I have accused no one of lying. I said you had made two public statements that were untrue. Because the public misstatements are important, I have pointed this out publicly.
Here they are again. In the first, you say “Our rate [for opting out of public schools] has doubled in 10 years to almost 18 percent.” In the second, you say that “In 2000, approximately 9 percent of families with school-aged children had opted out of public schools. In 2010, the percent of Wake County children enrolled in private schools had nearly doubled to 17.5 percent.”
I see no reason to believe that the 17.5% figure compiled by Wake County is inaccurate. You have simply misstated their data and misused their figure.
First, the 17.5% number does not measure those “opting out of public schools” or “enrolled in private schools.” It measures those not attending WCPSS. Importantly, this number includes those who are enrolled at charters, which are taxpayer-supported public schools, not private schools.
Second, the rate of departure from WCPSS (or public schools, if you prefer) has not “doubled in ten years.” As shown by the chart you cite, the rate (including charters) has increased from 13.6% in 2000 to 17.5% in 2010, an increase of 33%, not 100%. More importantly, the “opt outs” have increased by a grand total of 1% since 2001; the rest of the growth was before that and arose when charter schools were opened. This pattern of growth mocks the notion that the diversity policy has driven the affluent from our schools.
(In your response to the blog post, you go back 15 years, rather than the 10 years claimed in the quotations, in an effort to reach the desired result. You still overstate the change by misidentifying the starting point, which is 10.1%, not 9%.)
Further, it is the common practice and language used in the district, administration, and throughout the general community to refer to the children in the FRL program as children of poverty. You are correct that it is not the census definition of poverty, but nationally it is also common to refer to public school poverty by this rate. It is actually a practice I am disappointed in and have spoken about routinely in speeches and reports. When districts do comparisons they also routinely use the FRL rate as the percent of poverty in their school system.
I have repeatedly said this is “a bad measure for poverty as it is a moving target” (I am quoted regularly saying this – just ask your friend Anne). My references almost always say Wake Schools have roughly 30% (which you confirmed with 31% this new year) of its children in poverty as reflective of our FRL rates. However, this number too has grown significantly over the past decade even though our county rate of children of poverty 9%-10% has remained unchanged. Go back to the demographic book to see that trend line.
I was not quibbling about nomenclature or the utility of the measures. I was pointing out that your comparison of one measure to the other misleads, because it implies the existence of a much larger gap between poverty in WCPSS and poverty in Wake County than the gap that actually exists. You identified a gap of 3 to 1. The actual gap is likely not even 1.5 to 1.
I am not sure what your motivation is to provide this inaccurate portrayal, but feel free to ask me where I have sourced materials for my notations in the future, and try not to take them out of context.
While neutral observers are in the best position to judge, I do not believe I have portrayed things inaccurately or taken anything out of context. My motivation was to publicly correct public misstatements about an important issue of public policy. The source of your materials was not pertinent here, because you did not present them accurately. But as it happens, I have asked about your facts before, and you have ignored my questions, so I had no reason to believe you would treat my concerns differently this time. I am pleased that you may have reconsidered your position and look forward to our future discussions.