Press Release

National education experts to debate Wake school assignment controversy

posted on

RALEIGH — Two nationally known education scholars will offer their expert opinions on the Wake County public schools’ student assignment controversy during a lunchtime debate Tuesday at the Campbell University law school in Raleigh.

Richard Kahlenberg is senior fellow at The Century Foundation. Abigail Thernstrom is vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The John Locke Foundation and Campbell Law’s Federalist Society chapter invited Kahlenberg and Thernstrom to participate in the debate. It’s scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 22, at the law school building in downtown Raleigh.

“We are delighted that scholars of this caliber are willing to come to Wake County to debate an issue that has generated months of news headlines, shaped election outcomes, and raised the temperature of political discourse among parents, taxpayers, education activists, and others connected with North Carolina’s largest public school system,” said JLF President John Hood.

The two experts will discuss different views about the Wake public school assignment policy. The current Wake school board majority has focused on the merits of assigning students to neighborhood schools. Critics have touted the benefits of busing students forcibly to achieve socio-economic diversity within the school system.

“Much of the discussion about ‘neighborhood schools vs. diversity’ has featured heated rhetoric and accusations of bad intentions,” Hood said. “Richard Kahlenberg and Abigail Thernstrom will take a different tack. They will draw on their expertise to examine the facts behind the arguments. What types of policies have worked? What hasn’t worked? Where should Wake County go from here?”

Kahlenberg has been called “the intellectual father of the economic integration movement” in K-12 schooling and “arguably the nation’s chief proponent of class-based affirmative action in higher education admissions.” He is also an authority on teachers’ unions, private school vouchers, charter schools, turnaround school efforts, and inequality in higher education.

Thernstrom co-authored the 2003 book No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning. The Los Angeles Times and American School Board Journal named it one of that year’s best books. It’s also been awarded the 2007 Fordham Foundation prize for distinguished scholarship. Thernstrom and her husband were 2007 winners of a Bradley Foundation prize for Outstanding Intellectual Achievement.

The Kahlenberg-Thernstrom debate is free and open to the public. Preregister with an e-mail to the John Locke Foundation’s Kory Swanson at [email protected].

For more information, please contact John Hood at (919) 828-3876 or [email protected]. To arrange an interview, contact Mitch Kokai at (919) 306-8736 or [email protected].

Donate Today

About John Locke Foundation

We are North Carolina’s Most Trusted and Influential Source of Common Sense. The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” The Foundation is named for John Locke (1632-1704), an English philosopher whose writings inspired Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders.

The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)(3) research institute and is funded solely from voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations.