New WRAL Documentary Examines School Diversity Debate

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Focal Point: “Where the Bus Stops”
New WRAL Documentary Examines School Diversity Debate

Airs Tuesday, April 27, 2008, 7pm

Focal Point Diversity in schools has become a hotly debated, polarizing issue in Wake County. Leaders in public education around the country have praised Wake County Public Schools for its efforts to create schools that are racially and economically diverse. Many parents say the school system’s diversity policy tramples on their rights to choose what’s best for their own children.  A new WRAL News documentary, Focal Point: Where the Bus Stops fairly examines both sides of the heated debate over student assignments to promote diversity. It’s hosted by WRAL News anchor Gerald Owens and airs Tuesday, April 27 at 7 pm on WRAL-TV.

Wake County’s school system, which is the largest in the state, has used magnet schools, busing and student assignments to promote diversity.  The idea is to avoid schools with high concentrations of poor, minority students where student performance is typically lower and where experienced teachers are difficult to recruit and retain. 

Educators say children from low-income families do better academically in schools with middle and upper-middle class students without hurting the performance of those students. 

Many parents say the diversity policy goes too far and takes away their choice in schools.  Their anger fueled a political movement that helped elect a new majority to the Wake County school board.  That majority is working to end student assignments and busing for diversity. 

The move has angered educators, business leaders, civil rights activists, and parents who say dismantling the county’s diversity policy will cause schools to become racially segregated again.  They say that will damage Wake County’s nationally recognized school system.

Focal Point: Where the Bus Stops looks at how Wake County’s diversity policy works, why it was created, what impact it has had and the heated debate over dismantling it.

Watch the online preview here:

Focal Point
“Where the Bus Stops” is the latest episode in the WRAL News series called Focal Point.  These in-depth news documentaries focus on a single topic, bringing depth and clarity to complicated issues facing North Carolina.  From North Carolina’s economy and environment, to health care and race relations – Focal Point takes viewers inside the lives of the people most affected.  Focal Point tackles the tough questions with leaders and policymakers who have the power to effect change.  WRAL News anchors, including David Crabtree, Bill Leslie, Gerald Owens and Debra Morgan host the series. 

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Shelly Leslie for this capcom story.

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