Failures of GCS redistricting

I attended Tuesday night’s school redistricting meeting at Page High School and came away feeling very uneasy about the process for two reasons.

You would think, what with this being all about where our children will be attending school and all, that the school system would make its best efforts at presenting the many options (maps), but they have not.

As I walked in the lobby of the Page Auditorium, I noticed a lot of people scratching their heads and squinting their eyes as they attempted to make sense out of the several maps that were on display. Upon closer inspection, I too undertook some vigorous head scratching and pulled out my most powerful “cheater” spectacles to find if any changes were depicted for my little corner of the world. But to no avail.

The maps contained plenty of colorful lines that wound their way through the whole of Guilford County, but there was no legend explaining what they meant. So I took a seat to hear what others were saying about the maps… which brings me to my second observation and resulting trepidation.

There were nearly two hundred folks in attendance last night, but only about five of them were parents of color.

Now I don’t know what to make of that fact, but if I was one of the school board members looking out on that sea of parents – the make-up of which was almost lily-white – I would be very concerned that someone didn’t get the memo: “We may change where you go to school.”

I don’t pretend to know the reasons for such an imbalance between the racial diversity of our schools compared to last night’s gathering, but I can tell you it was stark and disconcerting.

I listened to speaker after speaker as they passionately urged the school board to assign their children to a reasonably close-to-home school. And then I got the shock of my life.

A lone neighbor from Fisher Park got up to speak and urged the school board not to transfer them from Irving Park Elementary to Lindley Park as Map “B” recommends.

My mouth dropped open as ran back out to the maps to figure out what she was talking about.

Fisher Park and the Aycock Neighborhood have long been ‘paired’ in school, so my assumption was that we, too, might be up for change under map “B” if what she was saying was true. But, if that was the case, the maps on display weren’t telling. And as of this writing I still don’t know the answer as to where Aycock would go under Map “B”.

If even I, as involved as I am in school board related matters, am not really sure as to if or where my neighborhood might be reassigned under all of the options presented, the marginally informed among us may not even have a clue that big changes could be looming for their school-age children.

In this case, ignorance is not blissful – it is a harbinger of bad feelings to come when folks get redistricted without their knowledge.

As I see it, the current redistricting process is a dismal failure on two counts: Clarity of the information provided and a lack of widespread participation on the part of the black community. But the first failure may be causing the second.

Because of these failures, redistricting efforts will create more problems than they will solve unless efforts are made yesterday to get clear and concise information into every parents’ hands.

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