"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, December 07, 2009

NAACP Goes to Court Over Resegregated Schools in NC

After years of standing on the sidelines watching the resegregation of American public schools, the NAACP has finally had enough. Their target is Wayne County, North Carolina, which has two districts, one all black (four white students) and poor (94%), and the other 90 percent white and economically stable. And here is the real story from the Wilmington Journal, the one that the corporate media ignores (my bolds):
The Wilmington Journal
Originally posted 12/3/2009

New Hanover County has been identified as one of the counties that the NC NAACP will be monitoring closely, and if there is evidence of racial resegregation, the NAACP will legally challenge it.

On Dec. 1st, the 54th anniversary of civil rights icon Rosa Parks' historic refusal to accept racial segregation as the law of the land, North Carolina saw the opening salvos in a war over education where resegregation is front and center.

In Wayne County, the school board there found itself the target of a Title VI federal civil rights complaint filed by the NC NAACP, alleging that the Wayne County Public School Board engaged in policies ''that have resulted in the creation of extreme resegregation and a district of apartheid education''

It has formally petitioned the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the US Dept. of Education, and the US Dept. of Justice's Civil Rights Division (CRD) to investigate.

And in Wake County, where four new anti-student diversity school board members were sworn-in Tuesday amid stated gratitude to the Republican Party for their election victories, the conservative-led body moved immediately not only to wrest away the chairmanship, but also to impose an extensive reform agenda that will end busing for diversity during the 2010-11 school year.

New Wake school board members John Tedesco, Debra Goldman, Deborah Prichett and Christopher Malone joined conservative bedfellow and veteran member Ron Margiotta in first electing him the new board chair, ousting Kevin Hill, who had seven more months before his term ended.

Then the ''Conservative Five'' of the nine-member board, without missing a beat, whipped out an eight-point pre-planned agenda that none of the four remaining school board members, nor the public, had seen before, and attempted to codify all of the resolutions as board policy in one seven-hour session.

In fact, before they were forced to follow established school board protocol and refer their resolution to end student diversity to the board's policy committee, the new conservative majority distributed a copy of the current student assignment policy 6200.

Where one of the stated goals of previous Wake school boards was ''creating and maintaining a diverse student body,'' a line was drawn through it. Other references to diversity in the policy were also crossed out, and replaced with either ''neighborhood'' or ''community.''

According to African-American school board member Keith Sutton, it is clear that the new conservative majority intends to quickly establish a neighborhood schools policy, which observers say would racially and socioeconomically resegregate the Wake School System.

A previously unscheduled school board meeting for December 15 is now on the calendar, and the new Wake board is expected to ratify its change in the diversity policy then. That means a policy committee meeting, also previously not scheduled, will have to take place by next week to adopt those changes.

The chair of that committee, is also the new chair of the board, Ron Margiotta.

The new board moved so quickly to rush in their sweeping reforms that angry teachers and parents in the audience, originally at the first school board meeting to wish the new members well and offer to work with them, instead started booing and hissing every action taken by the conservative majority.

During the public comment phase, all but one of the 20 speakers pleaded with the new board to go slow, and listen to the community before instituting sweeping changes.

They were ignored.

Local leaders like J. Ronald White, president of the South Central-Wake NAACP, says in order to safeguard the education of all children in the system, especially African-American student, the new school board will be vigorously challenged and held accountable.

John Tedesco, the new District 2 school board member, was quoted as telling The News & Observer newspaper that what happened at their first meeting was just ''the tip of the iceberg'' of what the new majority ultimately intends to do.

The sentiment flew in the face of a threat from the NCNAACP, which had previously warned the new Wake school board that it would be subject to a lawsuit if its new policies resegregated schools and denied black children their constitutional right to a ''sound, basic education.''

That was the basis of the federal complaint filed against Wayne County Public Schools earlier that day by not only the state NAACP, but also the Goldsboro-Wayne County chapter, and fully endorsed by the national NAACP office.

At a press conference at the NC Dept. of Public Instruction, NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber said after years to trying to resolve issues of educational inequality with the Wayne County schools without success, the Title VI was now necessary.

''Title VI was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance,'' Rev. Barber said in a statement. ''As President John F. Kennedy said in 1963, ''Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.''

''We file this complaint on behalf of all children assigned to the Goldsboro, N.C. Attendance District described in the complaint, and all other children in the Wayne County Schools who are deprived of constitutional education by the policies and practices of the Wayne County School Board. The Complaint alleges Wayne County Schools (WCS) has established and carried out the policies and practices described herein and that other private and public entities in Wayne County and the State, also recipients of federal funds, have encouraged, subsidized and otherwise supported the WCS in implementing these practices and policies,'' Barber continued.

''Because of the complex and historical nature of the zoning, lending, planning, hiring, teacher placement, student placement, school placement and other policies that have directly and indirectly caused the re-segregation and other practices that adversely impact the complaining class, we respectfully request the CRD's direct participation, in coordination with the OCR's investigation, in determining the participation of municipal, state and federal entities (including Seymour Johnson Air Force Base-the major employer in Wayne County), all recipients of federal funds, in the discriminatory practices alleged herein.''

Rev. Barber by the Goldsboro school district being virtually 100 percent black and denied proper funding by the Wayne County School Board is just some of the compelling evidence of disparities that deny black students their constitutional right to an appropriate education.

''The Wayne County Board of Education, through exclusionary policies, gross neglect, indifferent attitudes, and failure to take corrective actions, has caused and will continue to cause grave and immeasurable harm to all African-American students in Wayne County, and particularly to those in the Goldsboro [''Black''] District, because this District has been stereotyped and then become a District of Racially Identifiable Schools,'' Barber alleged.

''Wayne County is in Eastern North Carolina, about 50 miles southeast of Raleigh and 89 miles north of Wilmington. So, in essence less than 45 minutes from the State Capital our tax dollars are supporting a school a system that has created a pre-1954 school system in 2009.''

Including Wake and New Hanover counties in his statement was no accident of Rev. Barber's part. He said local NAACP chapters in those and other counties statewide will be monitoring their local school boards closely, and where there is evidence of racial resegregation, the NAACP will legally challenge it.

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