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The End of Diversity Policy? Wake County Public Schools and Student Assignment

Jenni Owen & Megan Kauffmann (Duke University)

July 2015


This case is grounded in three overarching themes: the policymaking process, the role of different actors in policymaking, and education policy. It also provides a strong dose of the role of politics with regard to these three themes and provides students with windows onto a complex, controversial, and nationally-known set of circumstances concerning the issue of assigning students to schools.

Students will learn about the multiple perspectives and factors that went into Wake County, North Carolina’s school assignment process. In doing so, the case offers multiple opportunities for students to develop their own insight about and strategies for addressing the challenges faced in Wake County.

The case highlights that, importantly, policymaking often happens with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including but not limited to elected officials, the media, advocacy organizations, lobbyists, individual citizens, and others. It also raises the question of the use of research and other evidence in policymaking, important for students to understand, given the fast-growing evidence-based policy movement.

Given the seemingly endless sources and quantity of information, a challenge for students will be to determine what information to consider in making recommendations and what information to set aside.

First Place Winner, Best Teaching Case Competition, 2015.

400 Eggers Hall