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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wake school board: the usual 5-4 for "community assignment zones"

Posted by on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 7:45 PM

(Update: State NAACP's statement: Intentional resegregation is still illegal -- and we will sue. Letter from the Rev. William Barber to Board Chair Ron Margiotta is below the fold.)

You know, there's a good way to make public policy, and then there's just ram it through and the hell with anybody who doesn't like it. That the new school board majority just voted, by the usual 5-4 split, to establish "community assignment zones," before a student assignment committee has even been named, let alone met, just takes the damned cake, doesn't it?

Just sayin' -- the Tea Party is in session in Raleigh.

Developing, as they say.

One more thought: I didn't understand Debra Goldman's statement that this "directive" for community assignment zones was necessary before her policy committee could move on a new student assignment policy. She said community schools and diversity "can work in tandem ... in a holistic policy." Absolutely right, they can. But not if you draw hard lines, a.k.a, assignment zones.

What puzzles me, listening to Tedesco and Goldman in particular, is what they really envision for the schools and whether, at the end of the day, they have any intention whatsoever of avoiding the resegregation effects of zones. Since they continue to make policy on the fly, without full discussion (let alone thoughtful consideration of what the board minority might think), it's impossible to tell whether they actually care about diversity but can't articulate how it might be preserved in a community-schools plan ... or whether they're willing to let it slip away and can't quite bring themselves to admit it.

If they really want to balance community schools and diversity, they need to get busy with the kind of countywide stakeholders process that Tedesco talked about during and after the election campaign, but which he somehow hasn't managed to get started in the four months since.

Dear Chairperson Margiotta:

We received your letter that said the Board delegated to you and Ms. Goldman the power to respond to the NAACP's request to make a comprehensive presentation to it before it acted to dismantle the heroic efforts of thousands of Black and White parents, teachers and children since the 1970's to create  diverse constitutional education. The NAACP has worked for 101 years to mend our society, rent asunder by slavery and Jim Crow.   Our work in the past few decades has become more complex, because our communities are made up of deeply segregated neighborhoods—direct results of Jim Crow housing, lending and zoning policies backed by the government—that still make us strangers.

Your proposed resolution relies on the same euphemism used in the recent campaign – “neighborhoods.”  Everyone knows this is a code word for race and class.  A vote for this shall establish  [white] “neighborhood schools” for the elites and, at the other end of the scale, shall establish [Black and Brown] “neighborhood schools,” that will reinforce low expectations, the flight of good teachers, and multiply the problems of concentrated poverty.

This is to put the Board on notice that we have informed the NAACP National Board and staff of your partisan political promises to re-segregate Wake Schools.  We were advised that political promises are a dime a dozen.  But should you make a policy decision and direct your staff to establish segregated schools by race, no matter what euphemisms and stratagems you use to try to disguise your intentions, the evidence is overwhelming that you know what you are doing and you are doing it intentionally.  At that point, all legal options are on the table.

I still believe it would be useful for the Board and its many constituencies to hear the NAACP's wisdom on these critical human rights issues, and request the full Board vote on our previous requests.

Sincerely,

/s/

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

President

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