A tale of two cities

Gerald Grant’s Hope and Despair in the American City: Why there are no bad schools in Raleigh is really a tale of two cities — decaying Syracuse and thriving Raleigh — writes Nathan Glazer in Education Next.

A Syracuse native and a professor at Syracuse University, Grant worked to counter the decline of the city’s public schools.

But in the end, there remains an ailing minority-dominated school system in Syracuse in which fewer than 3 of 10 8th graders pass state tests in reading and math.

And then there is Raleigh, where more than 8 of 10 pass . . .

In Raleigh, Grant visits a majority-black school in a black neighborhood that attracts whites to its magnet program in arts and sciences.

In 3rd grade 94 percent of white children and 79 percent of blacks passed the state math test. By 5th grade 100 percent of both blacks and whites passed the test.

Glazer credits the merger of Raleigh’s city schools with the surrounding county, coupled with strong leadership and a booming economy for creating an effective school system. Here’s a video of Glazer discussing: Has integration made Raleigh’s schools great?

Wake County schools consider family income in assigning students to schools to achieve socioeconomic diversity (and avoid using race).  A new school board, elected by voters who favor neighborhood schools, decided this week to end that policy and return to neighborhood schools.

While Raleigh/Wake County students perform well above the state and national averages, whites do much better than blacks and Hispanics, notes the New York Times.

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  1. Some of the comments on the NYT article mentioned that the magnet schools, as well as some others, amount to different schools under the same roof; whites and Asians in the magnet/strongest academic programs and others in less advanced programs. Different choices are also made on extracurriculars. I have observed this phenomenon in several districts/states.