Published: Jan 12, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 11, 2013 11:20 AM
Redistricting is never easy. With new schools built every few years to relieve crowding comes the necessary but difficult task.
Because most people want their children to stay at their current schools, organized opposition to reassignment has been the norm. I have followed this process for several cycles and this one particularly seems to have touched a nerve for many. I am concerned that public comments have offended some in the community and are straining how we relate among different ethnic cultures.
The ability to freely express our opinions is a privilege that we all enjoy. But with this privilege comes great responsibilities. Responsibility to be respectful to others who disagree with us. Responsibility to not use offensive words. Responsibility to be mindful of how other cultures view our public expressions.
The Asian American Parent Advisory Council has worked closely with school administrators and school board members and other Asian families, often acting as mediators. Our policy as a parent advisory council is to stay out of redistricting process in order to stay neutral and not show favoritism to one neighborhood over another.
Our council has worked closely with many school board members. They truly are hard-working public servants who really try to listen and give careful thought and consideration to each of their decisions. Unfortunately, they face a thankless task in the redistricting decision.
Many parents in the Asian community have raised concerns over the lack of transparency on how the four plans were initially drafted. Other concerns were that there was no public input when drafting these initial proposals and no community proposal was accepted for discussions. We believe these concerns need to be addressed before our next redistricting cycle.
On Thursday, Jan. 17, the school board will vote on a redistricting plan. Their decision will be based on the following 3 policies: 1) balancing socio-economic status and at risk children in each school, 2) balancing academic performance, 3) balancing busing distance/time. I believe those guiding principles will produce a result that is favorable for all of our children. We agree with the recent commentary by Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin (CHN, Dec. 23, bit.ly/V4D52f
) that our schools should put diversity as a top priority.
Fortunately, our school district is relatively small geographically, compared to other school systems. In Wake County schools, the long commutes faced by some families contributed to often contentious and heated debates about school assignments. The distance and time to get to the assigned school in Chapel Hill is rather modest in comparison.
The school board needs to look out for the needs of all the children. Being a parent in this school district for over 14 years, we endured multiple redistricting cycles. Children in our neighborhood had to pass four schools to get to their reassigned school. However, we understood that this was a relatively small sacrifice made to ensure that all children in our community had the opportunity to attend excellent schools. In the end, the kids thrived and the parents adjusted.Sarah Ro Whang, vice chairwoman of the Asian American Parent Advisory Council, is a physician in Chapel Hill Primary Care.
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