Changes coming for Aycock Middle?

Long post alert.  Sorry but I couldn’t explain this in six sentences.


Deep within the SOS post’s comments came this bit of news via the commenter “grierouttahere”, whomever that might be:

“David, I saw today in the News-Record that Kris Cooke is on the record as proposing reassigning children of Irving Park parents from Aycock Middle to Mendenhall Middle because the parents are taking their children out of Aycock because of discipline problems at the school. She says that Aycock should be turned into magnet school and restrict student attendance to the local area. That doesn’t sound like Kris Cooke is committed to solving the problems there at Aycock, but rather just abandoning it and moving the Irving Park students out to a less troubled school. What do you think about that, David?”

My first thought was “deja vu all over again.”

Back in 1999, the Aycock neighborhood was fighting like crazy to populate Aycock Middle with a mix of students that matched the community that surrounds the school.  Our mantra  was “Aycock 50/50″,  meaning that our goal was to have the school become 50% white and 50% minority.

Plan after plan was devised.  Everytime a line was redrawn to drag some affluent white neighborhood into Aycock, they kicked and screamed. Most of Fisher Park didn’t want to come even though they were right across the tracks – they wanted to go to Kiser.  Old Irving Park didn’t want to come either even though they had been assigned to Aycock since eternity (but sending their kids to private school instead) - many thought that Mendenhall was supposed to be ”their school”.  Other neighborhoods protested as well.  The only people who really wanted to stay were us and the VSN (Level III) families who knew what Aycock was all about.

We finally threw our hands up and proposed that the redistricting committee make Aycock a total magnet with a small attendence zone that only encompassed Aycock and the Bluford neighborhood to our south.  We figured that since no one wanted to come to Aycock anyway, we would just say to hell with them all and work to make Aycock our own private/public school.  The school board didn’t go for it.

What is currently going on is this.  Not counting the two “magnet” programs currently housed at Aycock (county-wide VSN and Spanish Immersion, which is 1/3 of the population), Aycock’s attendance zone draws students from six elementary schools.  When students reluctantly leave Aycock, those same students attend three different high schools.  None of this is very good for community cohesion.

As it stands now, most Irving Park and Fisher Park families happily send their kids to Irving Park Elementary (where they are districted).  It is a great school.  But when it comes time for those families to transfer their babies to Aycock, most of them pass. 

Instead of sending them to Aycock, which would help balance the school in every measurable way, most of them opt out of public schools altogether and go down for private school tuition…. or… they make up some cacamamy story about their child living with some uncle or sister … and Eugene Street gives them a waiver to attend Kiser or Mendenhall.

The unstated (but obvious) reason for this?  Those white families don’t want their kids rubbing elbows with so many poor Black, Hispanic, Cambodian or whatever children.  Damn shame, they don’t know what they are missing, but after so many years of trying to woo rich white families to Aycock, I say to hell with them.

So, Mr Outtahere, I think Kris Cooke has demonstrated that she is paying close attention and knows what is best for Guilford County Schools by her comments. 

She seems to understand that many white parents, of substantial means, are shunning Aycock because of its minority population and sending their kids to private school or obtaining waivers so their children can attend what they consider to be “their” schools.  But, the fact is, we need to keep (or return) those rich white  families’ considerable involvement and influence within the public school realm.  By doing so, the whole system will be stronger for everyone involved.

By turning Aycock into a desirable magnet school, with a small attendence zone comprised of families who actually want to be there, the School Board would be making a giant leap forward.  Bring it on.

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