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

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Raleigh's Resegregationist School Board Majority Votes to End Economic Diversity Plan in Wake County

Richard Nixon got elected in 1968 by turning the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Apartheid, i. e., by embracing the social policies demanded by a segregationist South that was ready to even change political parties to protect the only social policy that mattered: separation of the races.

In a book that should be required reading in any educational history or policy course on American education, Gerald Grant recounts how Nixon and his White House thugs, Haldeman and Mitchell, instituted a segregationist and anti-busing litmus test for any judge to be considered for appointment to the Federal bench, including the Supreme Court.

This litmus test would be applied, of course, before any potential judge ever went before the lights of a Senate confirmation hearing. To get to the hearing, in fact, potential judges had to be on the side of school segregation and housing segregation. And if not for the White House taping system, we would never have the documentation to prove Nixon's active complicity to kill busing and to re-institute his version of Jim Crow America.

From Grant's book:
Nixon was making sure the he would not have to ask any nominee about his stand on busing, while directing Mitchell and key aides to apply that test to any potential appointment they brought to the president's desk. Because of the possible retirement of a second justice, Mitchell suggested to Nixon that he might make a "double play."
Nixon: Well, even then I don't want a liberal.
Mitchell: Oh no, no.
Nixon: I don't want a liberal.
Mitchell: Absolutely not.
Nixon: I jus feel so strongly about that, I mean, when I think what the busing decisions have done to the South, and what it could do with de facto busing [in the North].
Mitchell: I agree.
Before Mitchell left, Nixon underlined his instructions once again: "I want you to have a specific talk with whatever man you consider. And I have to have an absolute commitment from him on busing and integration. I really have to. Go out and tell 'em that we totally respect his right to do otherwise, but if he believes otherwise, I don't want to appoint him to the Court."

Nixon got the Court he wanted. The four justices he appointed--replacing liberal judges of the Warren Court, including Chief Justice Earl Warren himself, along with Abe Fortas, Hugo Black, and John Marshall Harlan--radically changed the direction of the U. S. Supreme Court and provided the majority to stop desegregation at the city line in the North. The Warren Court had ordered desegregation of city and suburbs in Charlotte in 1968, but Nixon's Court refused to do so in 1974 in Detroit (pp. 151-152).
The decision to strike down Detroit's desegregation plan, and thus seal the fate of desegregation efforts nationwide, was a 5-4 vote based on that new Nixon resegregationist Supreme Court majority.

Now almost 40 years later, it is another 5-4 vote by yet another purchased and screened majority (this time in Wake County, NC) that would seem to seal the fate of the most successful school diversity plan in the history of American public education. Where is Secretary Duncan on this, who has nothing but bad things to say about school boards that want to protect students and teachers? Any Duncan or Obama criticism of school boards out to protect racists?

The story here by the Charlotte Observer and below by the Raleigh Public Record:
By Will Huntsberry • Mar 3rd, 2010

Yesterday Wake County’s school board met amidst a packed house of supporters for Wake’s diversity policy and supporters for the new school board majority. The school board’s agenda for Tuesday received national coverage from the Associated Press and The New York Times because of the board majority’s intent to enact a resolution to end Wake’s diversity policy. The measure passed in a 5-4 vote.

Though, the new majority was elected by a vocal, well-funded faction of Wake County parents, supporters of the diversity policy toted the biggest signs at yesterday’s meeting. And they represented a majority of the voices during what’s become almost the standard 2-hour public comment period.

Photo by Will Huntsberry.

The board agenda listed the fiscal implications of the new neighborhood schools policy “to be determined.” Board member Keith Sutton requested that the vote on community schools be deemed “out of order” at this time on the grounds that its fiscal implications have yet to be presented. Another board member, Kevin Hill, asked for a “work session” on the matter before the vote.

36 of the 55 speakers spoke out in support of the Wake County diversity policy at yesterday’s meeting and one of those speakers was on the verge of being forced out by police.

Police almost ejected Curtis Gatewood of Granville County, right, from the meeting. Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP, center, intervened. Photo by Will Huntsberry.

Several other parents asked how equity could be achieved by uprooting current policy in a recession. Creating a majority of high poverty schools within the Beltline, as many think the neighborhood policy would achieve, would require additional funding to provide equal education in those areas.

This has lead many to deem the new policy “re-segregation” or a return to “separate but equal.”

Yesterday’s meeting reported a negative increase in county appropriations per student. The number went down this school year by $37 per student and in 2010-11 will go down another $63 per student.

The public comment session was cut short to proceed with the agenda, but not before one commenter was allowed to cede her two minutes at the podium to North Carolina NAACP President William Barber.

Barber spoke of “data and morality not supporting” the new school board majority’s direction and then asked the crowd to join “an old country preacher” in singing the hymn, “We Shall Overcome.” While the crowd sang, Barber resumed making his comments to the school board, asking why it wouldn’t allow the NAACP, “an expert on high poverty schools, 45 minutes to give a presentation to the board?” He answered, “it’s because you know you’re wrong.”

Before Dr. Barber stepped down over three-quarters of the room was standing after he asked for those in favor of Wake’s diversity policy to rise.

As a mix of snow, rain, and ice fell outside Wake County schools four-story building, the school board minority, lead by Carolyn Morrison, desperately sought for half an hour more time before a vote should take place. Finally, a last-ditch attempt to recess was voted down 5-4, as the audience nervously chuckled.

After the monumental vote took place, a large crowd gathered in the center of the room at the the urging of Rev. Barber. He lead the congested and tearful mass in chanting, “We’re not going anywhere! We’re not going anywhere!”

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