questions, questions, questions

I am actually enjoying the pursuit of questions at the moment. Sound odd? Should I not be pursuing answers? As Pattsi Petrie has reminded me, I do not even know what kind of questions I should be asking at the moment.

So here are some of them:

  • Why exactly did the Supreme Court declare the previous racially-based kindergarten lottery unconstitutional?
  • What exactly are the institutional arrangements and contemporary individual actions that maintain a residentially segregated society (from Dr. Alves book)?
  • Are all magnet programs (and magnet schools) open to the Controlled Choice program? What are the details?
  • Why are schools like Barkstall and Bottenfield drastically chosen more often than Garden Hills and Washington?
  • What is being done to make underchosen schools more attractive?
  • Where can I locate a fuller set of statistics; for instance, broken down by ethnicity, determining factors like siblings, proximity, etc?
  • How many 2nd and 3rd Choice Applicant were there (2009)?
  • Where did the Unassigned students go?
  • What happens to unallocated seats? (Garden Hills has a whopping 42 + 4!)

On my journey to find more questions and even some answers, I have kicked into high gear:

  • Submitted an FOIA for the numbers from the 2009 kindergarten lottery
  • Received said numbers, which spawned a few more questions and a phone call into Ms. Sandra Duckworth
  • Submitted a request for a 2002 publication entitled “Student Diversity, Choice, and School Improvement” by Dr. Charles Willie, Ralph Edwards and Dr. Michael Alves (requested from I-Share)
  • Received said book a couple days later, started reading, taking notes, asking more questions (see 2nd bullet in first list)
  • Reached out to the local Family Information Center, spoke with Michelle and Ms. Hattie Paulk, both of which were very helpful and encouraging
  • Submitted questions to the Unit 4 Administration and School Board; questions about what steps are being taken to improve under-chosen schools and the make-up of the Education Equity Excellence (EEE) Committee, of which I have some serious concerns. Questions are still outstanding.
  • Came to the realization that as a middle-upper class white American, I am quite privileged, and that I am quite selfish and find it hard to grapple with giving up privilege so that others may be enriched. Have been challenged by Dr. Willie and Dr. Alves in this regard, that their purpose is to enhance the community as a whole, via both equity and excellence, not at the exclusion of one or the other.
  • Propagating this idea on IlliniPundit and within my church; how are we in Champaign-Urbana going to deal with this?
  • Came across a few links that talk about why and how Seattle overturned race as a deciding factor in Controlled Choice (1, 2, 3)
  • Found an article that analyzes Controlled Choice; within, I also found a point that does not agree with the work of Dr. Willie and Dr. Alves, even though the author quotes them in his work.  The point I highlight is that Dr. Harris relates schools to the market, whereas Dr. Willie et al clearly make the distinction that schools are not like the market at all. My favorite quote so far is “In the economic system, there may be unworthy buyers who are unwilling to pay the asking price. But in education, there are no unworthy seekers of knowledge.”
  • Contacted Mr. Phillip Van Ness and Margie Skirvin about the history of the Consent Decree; set up a meeting to chat with Margie on Friday at 10:am
  • Also contacted Susan Zola about more history on the Consent Decree and Champaign’s relationship with Dr. Alves
  • Had a wonderful talk with Ms. Sandra Duckworth; she was extremely wonderful and a delight to talk with, being very pragmatic artfully combined with a listening ear and a desire to place herself in my shoes. She explained many things about Unit 4’s relationship with Dr. Alves, explained the numbers from the kindergarten lottery a bit. I am hoping she is able to forward a request on my behalf to Dr. Alves for a meeting. Ms. Duckworth and Beth Shepperd are also looking into the possibility of getting those numbers made public so one does not have to file an FOIA.
  • Ran across Chip Bruce’s blog while looking for wordpress sites about Champaign Consent Decree.

In my last post, I failed to mention not only the date for the “Special Community Meeting”, but also the source for that reference. I found it at the Family Information Center (linky), and the full announcement is:

Special Community Meeting
– Jan 13, 7 p.m., Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., Champaign. Special Community Meeting with Michael Alves, the District’s consultant on the Schools of Choice process.

Ahh… now I am exhausted. =)

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