I saw Gerald Grant's "Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh"
advertised on the American Prospect's webpage, and felt proud. As I've mentioned before
, that's the school system that produced me. If this reviewer comment is accurate, I agree with the author: "The difference is that in Raleigh, in 1976, the Wake County Public School system was created to zone the suburbs and inner city together to ensure a continued healthy mix of social classes."
I thought that was illegal. I forget the cite, but there was a supreme court case involving Detroit's effort to create super-districts including suburbs in an effort to preserve integration in the face of white flight.
All I know about it I learned from a talk Peter Irons gave in connection with his book Jim Crow's Children.
I believe the case said such a super-district couldn't be imposed by a federal court. Nothing said it couldn't be done voluntarily.
It's worth pointing out, though, that Raleigh's neighboring municipality, Durham, did much the same thing and merged its (poor, underperforming) city schools with its (richer, better-regarded) county schools--albeit much later, in the late 80s/early 90s--and it doesn't seem to be working out as well.
it's not just Raleigh and Durham, city-county school districts are the norm for most of North Carolina's cities. I'm from Winston-Salem, which operated on a similar system. I lived in the suburbs but went to elementary and middle school downtown, and took all of my AP classes at the Career Center downtown. The quality of instruction was quite high in my classes; for example, the pass rate for the AP US History exam was north of 90%.
There was, however, a great deal of social segregation within the well-integrated schools I attended, such that I'm doubtful that the benefit was that great for the lower SES kids, but I certainly found my education to be fantastic, and certainly better than what many of my private-school educated college classmates received
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