Editorial: Schools attempt to fudge achievement using sketchy integration practices

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist
Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Student integration is being targeted in a new proposal to a North Carolina school district that would integrate students based on academic success rather than economic or racial status.

The proposal comes after the district voted to dismantle an integration plan based on socioeconomics, which required schools in the district to enroll a mix of students of which 60 percent do not require subsidized lunches and 40 percent who do require subsidized lunches.

Under the new proposed plan, however, the schools would be integrated based on academic success so that 70 percent of students would be required to have scored proficient on state exams and the remaining 30 percent be below grade level.

If passed, each of the schools will enact this integration policy that puts business before learning, which corresponds with the proposal developers’ intentions. The Greater Raleigh Chamber members developed this idea, and describe the proposal more as a good business opportunity.

“We believe our proposal is consumer friendly,” Harvey A. Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber, said in a New York Times article. “We believe it will sell well in a market of high expectations. … Companies can come into this market and not have to pay extra for employees to send their children to private schools.”

The integration plan for the school system has become less of a plan for education, if it ever was one, to a plan for business gains. It has become a proposal for a business venture that profits the city’s growth rather than considering the academic well-being, social environment and mental health of the child.

This false sense of academic success will do nothing to benefit students.

Teachers may become complacent in teaching with no motivation to improve the quality of education since students have already been distributed to make each school in the district satisfactory.

Evidence of such thinking is found in the article, which cites Schmitt with the belief that what each parent, regardless of race, “wants most for a child is to attend an academically successful school; and that race and wealth have been roundabout ways to accomplish that.”

Based on Schmitt, the proposal is being made not to benefit the students with true learning and academic success, but instead to pacify parental and societal expectations by creating schools with overall mediocre rates of academics.

According to the New York Times, a school in North Carolina is considered low performing if more than 50 percent of its students are below grade level. Under the new proposal, no school would fit this description, as each would be balanced with a 70 percent average or above average grade level.

However, we would contend that a school would fit parents’ standards of academic achievement from dedicated teaching and learning rather than a distribution plan that has been formulated to balance the smart and the below average in order to create and maintain a false image of success that fools no one, least of all the students.

While the plan has not yet been voted on, the proposal shows how society’s strong focus on academics has forced education to become a race to the finish rather than a slow and steady pace of full learning and comprehension.