I know y'all were planning to get to the next round of TTA transit planning sessions starting March 22, but just to whet your appetite:
I've heard it twice now from well-informed Raleigh officials that the TTA's latest scheme for getting light-rail transit through downtown Raleigh is to go OVER the Boylan Avenue Bridge. (As someone just said on an email thread, you mean under? No, I mean over.)
[TTA's response, according to a spokesman, is that they aren't proposing any single option to serve downtown Raleigh but rather a series of alternatives. "Ultimately, it’s up to elected officials and the general public to help guide the decision-making progress to come up with the best alternative for light-rail or commuter rail in downtown Raleigh."
That's why everyone who cares about this subject should attend one or more of the March workshops, the TTA says.
Starting March 22, all the various alternatives will be posted at the TTA's project website, www.ourtransitfuture.com.
The key point in all this would be to bring the light-rail line out of the main rail corridor from just east of NCSU to the proposed Union Station in downtown Raleigh, which would be located in the West Side (a.k.a. Depot) district just north of the current Amtrak station.
If the light-rail line departs the corridor (in other words, isn't running on tracks in the corridor any more), then the issue becomes:
* Does it run on tracks in a street? (Say, West Morgan Street, as the city's Passenger Rail Task Force recommends.)
* Does it go up in the air and go over at least some of the streets on a dedicated flyway?
Why does the llght-rail line need to come out of the corridor? It doesn't, and early plans called for a heavier version of rail transit (using so-called DMU cars) to stay in the corridor all the way into downtown Raleigh. But that meant light-rail would get mixed up with all the other trains using the Boylan "Wye" — mainly freight trains with priority status — calling for an expensive widening of the corridor itself.
Also, the corridor ain't exactly in the middle of downtown, which is fine for freight cars but not so hot for passenger transit.
Long story short, the thinking then became, use a true light-rail system that can run on streets as well as railroad tracks, and shoot it directly into the heart of downtown via either West Morgan Street or West Hargett Street.
Where the new new idea came from to put the light-rail system up in the air over the Boylan Avenue Bridge, I'm not sure. Something about it going faster and not getting caught in downtown traffic, is what I've heard. Anyway, if that's the solution, the rail bridge would cross over Boylan Avenue just south of Andy Leager's Boylan Ave. Brewpub — and a block or so north of Mayor Charles Meeker's house.
At this point, it should be said that whatever the TTA brings forward in March, it will be in the form of alternatives for public discussion, not a final plan. So mark your calendars. Here's the schedule from the TTA:
SPREAD THE WORD: THIRD ROUND OF TRANSIT PLANNING PUBLIC WORKSHOPS!
Seven public workshops have been scheduled for March 22 - 31 around the Triangle to present the corridors, alignments, and station locations for public feedback. The workshops will be run 'open house, drop in' style with information displays, staff to answer questions, and looping videos. There is no single presentation time. Here are the locations and venues of the third and final round of public workshops during the Alternatives Analysis:
Tue, Mar 22, 4 - 7 PM | Triangle Town Center, space 1001, next to Dillard's, Triangle Town Blvd, RALEIGH.
Wed, Mar 23, 4 - 7 PM | Durham Station Transportation Ctr, 515 W. Pettigrew St., DURHAM.
Thu, Mar 24, 4- 7 PM | The Friday Center, 100 Friday Center Drive, CHAPEL HILL.
Mon, Mar 28, 6 - 9 PM | Mt. Peace Baptist Church.1601 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., SOUTHEAST RALEIGH.
Tue, Mar 29, 4-7 PM | Cary Senior Center in Bond Park, 120 Maury O'Dell Place, High House Rd. between Cary Parkway and NW Maynard Rd, CARY.
Wed, Mar 30, 4-7 PM | McKimmon Center, NCSU, 1101 Gorman St, RALEIGH.
Thu, Mar 31, 4-7 PM | RTP Foundation, 12 Davis Drive, RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK.
Call it Round 2: When Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata debuted in Raleigh at the Wake County Taxpayers Association meeting in January, protesting NC HEAT members were there to greet him, as seen above. Since Tata was spending time with the conservative and anti-diversity taxpayers group, they asked him, how about meeting with the members of our progressive, pro-diversity HEAT organization? (HEAT stands for Heroes Emerging Among Teens.)
Sure, Tata said, and the meeting Thursday was born. It's at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin St. in Raleigh, at 6:30 p.m., and is co-sponsored by the Parents Advocacy Work Group, affiliated with the YWCA. Everyone interested in Wake school issues — that's everybody, isn't it? — is invited to take part.
Here's the press release from NC HEAT and PAWG —
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Students and Parents to Host Forum in Southeast Raleigh with New Superintendent Anthony Tata
Community members will ask Mr. Tata questions about his plans for Wake's system
On Thursday, March 3 at 6:30 pm at Martin Street Baptist Church, community members and students are invited to attend a forum with new superintendent Anthony Tata. Tata, who took office on January 31, agreed to meet with the student group NC HEAT (Heroes Emerging Among Teens) after they publicly challenged him to meet with them during his visit in early January.
“It was disappointing to us that Mr. Tata decided his first visit with the community would be with the Wake County Taxpayers Association, we felt this sent a very unfortunate and partisan message. We asked Tata to meet with us as well, and he agreed so we are looking forward to hearing his responses to our concerns, not just the concerns of the wealthy members of our community," said Monserrat Alvarez, co-chair of NC HEAT and graduate of the Wake County Public School System.
NC HEAT is co-sponsoring this forum with PAWG, the Parent Advocacy Work Group housed at the YWCA of the Greater Triangle. Both organizations are members of the Education Justice Alliance.
"This forum is a welcome space for parents, students, and members of the community to come out and ask Mr. Tata questions and share their stories and concerns. This school system has been in regular upheaval over the past few years, we have deep issues with inequity and achievement gaps, and we are in a major budget crisis. We want to know how Mr. Tata intends to address these monumental challenges — and we want him to know that we want to help him be successful in building the kind of system that gives each child what he or she needs to succeed," said Rukiya Dillhunt, chair of PAWG.
WHAT: STUDENT AND PARENT FORUM WITH ANTHONY TATA
WHEN: THURS, MARCH 3 FROM 6:30-8:30
WHERE: MARTIN ST. BAPTIST CHURCH
1001 E. Martin Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Last time I checked, there was a philosophical difference in this country about taxes. On one side, "fair tax" (a.k.a., tea party) folks think everybody should pay taxes at about the same rate. On the other side, progressive-minded people like myself think people's tax rates should reflect their ability to pay. That is, the rich would pay at higher rates than the poor and the middle-class because they can ... and because they're benefitting from a well-ordered society to a greater degree than others. (That's often, e.g., because they inherited property and, as tempting as it might've been to the rest of us, no angry mob formed to steal it from them or even levy a serious estate tax on their windfall.)
All that said, however, to my knowledge no one argues that the poor and middle-class should pay taxes at higher rates than the well-off, let alone the really really rich. (That last group would be your top 1 percent of income recipients — I don't use the term earners in this context — whose "labors" net them upwards of $367,000 a year per household, with average household income of $929,000 a year.)
No one argues it (out loud), but that doesn't stop our North Carolina lawmakers from causing it to happen, which they do.
In North Carolina, state and local tax rates not only aren't progressive, they're not even flat ("fair"). Instead, they're regressive, as the above graph produced by the N.C. Justice Center's budget and tax experts illustrates. You make $15,000 a year, you pay almost 10 percent of it in state and local taxes. You make $15 million a year, your tax rate is less than 7 percent.
Tea-party conservatives and liberals alike have gotta think that's just wrong.
And it would've been so easy for Perdue to accomplish, or at least to propose (let the Republicans who control the General Assembly nowadays make the case for doing the wrong thing). The Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center experts did all the heavy lifting for her in their tax modernization plan issued this week.
Alas, Perdue didn't just whiff the tax issue, she picked up the bats from the Democrats' dugout and handed them over to the Republicans.
The Justice Center's plan spelled out a straightforward path to filling HALF (not all, half) of the budget hole with new revenues and doing so in a slightly progressive way. Details are on the Justice Center's website; suffice it to say here that the plan would raise about $1.3 billion, half again as much as Perdue's $824 million, and would:
1) Make the state income tax ever so slightly progressive — it's essentially a flat tax now — and by doing so generate a good deal of money for the state, almost all of it from those who have a good deal of money;
2) Broaden the sales tax to include most services, thus raising somewhat more money via the sales tax overall while reducing the sales tax rate.
3) Change the corporate tax rules so the North Carolina subsidiaries of national and multinational firms can no longer dodge their in-state tax responsibilities.
Instead, Perdue proposed a tax cut for corporations with no requirement at all that the money they save be invested in North Carolina.
(As the Budget & Tax Center's Alexandra Sirota said, some of the money will instead go to shareholders who don't live here or else be invested in other states or other countries. Or it will go to the federal government, since every dollar not paid in state taxes is a dollar not deductible from federal taxes. Sirota cited a study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a national group, pooh-poohing the idea that a state can spark job creation by cutting corporate tax rates.)
And Perdue proposed to extend 0.75% of the 1-cent sales tax increase enacted two years ago as a "temporary" revenue measure; but she does not want to extend the income-tax surcharge on the highest income brackets.
It's as if Perdue went out of her way to spare the wealthy while socking the middle-class and below with higher taxes.
Of course, what Perdue proposes and what comes out of the Republican legislature will be two different things. But Perdue's budget lowers the bar on what Republicans can get away with.
Perdue could've said, I'll veto a budget if it's balanced only with spending cuts and regressive tax increases. But she didn't, and now the door is open for Republicans to walk through with a budget that cuts education funding and social services and hands the "savings" to business and the wealthy.
Cheered that state aid to schools would be slashed, UNC and community college tuitions hiked, and 3,000 actual state jobs lost (of the advertised 10,000 "positions" eliminated), meaning 3,000 folks who were deemed necessary to the proper functioning of state government yesterday were reclassified as disposable today?
But apparently, this qualified as good news to progressives who, let's face it, have given up hoping for the best. "No draconian cuts," the Together NC coalition said with relief. Just "extremely painful" ones. Well, thank you and may I have another?
With Republicans in charge in the General Assembly, though, the expectations for Perdue weren't high, leaving the coalition to wring its hands that she could've ... should've ... but really we didn't think she would:
The better path would be to include more reform-minded revenue options that could have protected other key public investments in jobs, health services and more and protected us in future economic downturns.
But now, it’s up to the General Assembly to stand up for North Carolina. Any more cuts would increase job losses, cut off health care to our state’s children, and imperil education.
Any more cuts? Count on the Republicans to start where Perdue left off —
(The full Together NC statement is copied below the fold.)
Interesting that the $300 million a year in corporate income tax cuts that Perdue proposed, plus the $65 million she wants to cut from small business taxes, plus the $300 million she's losing by only asking that 3/4ths of the temp. 1% sales tax increase be continued, plus the $250 million lost by not asking that the income-tax surcharge on top-bracket earners be continued, adds up to more than Perdue is proposing to slash from the K-12 budget, the UNC budget and community college budgets.
In other words, the money to avoid more education cuts on top of the cuts already exacted over the past two years, was there to be had, or at least to be fought for.
Why not put the money in your budget and let the Republicans in the General Assembly take it out ... and take the heat for the damage done?
But instead, Perdue chose to cut education funding in order to cut business taxes. That's a solid idea if you're a Republican. If you're a Democrat, it's par for the course of always compromising before you ever say what you were supposedly for in the first place.
According to the Office of State Budget and Management, Perdue's proposed education cuts are:
* K-12: $389 million
* UNC System: $284 million
* Community colleges: $104 million
The total is $777 million.
The total of Perdue's tax cuts: More than $900 million.
Perdue made a point of saying that her budget protects every teachers' job and every teacher assistants' job, though it cuts state aid to schools in other categories.
According to budget office chief Charlie Perusse, Gov. Perdue looked at a budget with no temp-tax continuations at all — in other words, one that fulfilled her pledge two years ago that the temp taxes, if enacted, would expire this year cross her heart.
But without the extra $824 million that 3/4ths of the temp-sales tax increases provides, Perusse said, the next things taken from the budget would've been 3.500 teachers jobs and 9,000 teacher assistants — saving some $500 million. Community mental health services would've been chopped as well, he said.
Perdue decided that was unacceptable. So she split the baby, protecting education sort-of ... while sort-of keeping and sort-of breaking her tax pledge.
But if she sort-of expected partial credit from the Republican leadership, she didn't get any. Those guys play for keeps.
(Update: To get on the list for text messages from the HK on J coalition as the General Assembly session moves forward, send your text to 46988 with ncnaacp as your message.)
Picture postcard day in Raleigh. That helped the turnout for HK on J, no doubt, as did — don't you think? — fresh images of people power from Egypt. I'm guessing between 2.500 and 3,000 were there in front of the General Assembly building. And for sure, a diverse crowd. White, black, brown, for labor rights, immigrant rights, education rights — equal rights. In contrast, I must say, to the Wake Republican Party turnout Tuesday night at the Fairgrounds: It, too, was an impressive crowd of some 1,000, but if more than two of them (Bill Randall and Tim Johnson) were of a color other than white, I missed seeing them.
"Looking at the crowd today," Darryl Hunt told the HK on J throng, "I do believe we will win." Hunt, one juror's vote away from being executed for a crime that, 19 years of imprisonment later, he was proven not to have committed, is a good witness when it comes to taking the long view.
Diversity and equal education were big themes, and the fight for diversity in the Wake school board's assignment policies was raised repeatedly as well as the importance of organizing to vote in the October, 2011 school board elections and municipal (Raleigh, Cary) elections. The Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president, said the 2011 voting should be "a referendum on regression" — not bothering to say whether he had the Wake school majority (elected in '09) or the new Republican majorities in the General Assembly (elected in 2010) in mind.
Barber didn't address the compromise student assignment plan proposed yesterday by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership, a business-supported group. I asked him about it afterward. Like other pro-diversity leaders I've talked with, Barber is withholding judgment until he can study the plan in detail.
In fact, he said, "the devil is always in the details," a statement that seems especially apt in this case — when the details, if they come, will be filled in by the same conservative school board majority that made its distaste for diversity apparent early on.
"The reality," Barber said, "is that we had a nationally recognized [assignment] policy until it was dismantled by five ideologues on the school board. "It bothers me that we are asked to compromise with them when we ought to be trying to do what's right."
Rather than seek a new assignment plan, Barber said, a better approach would be to restore and build on the old one with the same commitment to education excellence for every student that ex-Superintendent Bill McNeal brought to the task. "We've got to take a stand against resegregation and sacrificing our children's future," Barber said.
As always at events like this, folks were out with their literature about a variety of issues and future events. A few I picked up:
* Democracy North Carolina is battling the Republican push in the General Assembly for legislation requiring voters to have a Photo ID before they can cast a ballot at the polls. (Absentee ballot, no problem!) They want supporters to phone, tweet or otherwise let Gov. Perdue know she should veto this bad thing. For info: www.democracy-nc.org
* And the Green Party was out collecting signatures to get their candidates on the ballot in future elections. Info: www.ncgreenparty.org
* Great Schools in Wake, a progressive group, launches a new film series about civil rights and education issues. First up, With All Deliberate Speed, a documentary about the Brown v. Board case. It's at the Galaxy in Cary on Feb. 24, 6:30 pm. $5, students $3.
* "FBI and Grand Jury Repression" will be subjects of a conference next Saturday, Feb. 19 at the UNC School of Law, sponsored by the Triangle Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
* The NAACP's Barber and Gene Nichol, head of UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity announced a day-long conference aimed at "putting a face on the poverty issue," Barber said. Its title: A North Carolina Summit: Progress and Economic Justice in a Time of Crisis.
(Update: Will the Alves/Chamber/WEP Plan avert the creation of high-poverty schools? I think that's a huge question — it's THE question — especially since the plan includes no hard trigger to signal that student achievement levels in a school are unacceptably low. I've added something about this in the form of a comment at the end.)
As of 10 a.m., when the veil is officially lifted, the proposed student assignment plan we've been calling the Alves Plan (for consultant Michael Alves) should henceforth be known as the Wake Education Partnership's plan, or perhaps the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce/WEP Plan. Because, having worked with Alves, it's now these two organizations recommending a new way of doing student assignments to the Wake school board. At 10, the Wakeschoolchoice.com website is supposed to go live with lots of details.)
The WEP/Chamber plan is, above all, a parents' choice plan, though not a wide-open one; it's also a proximity and stability plan. Interestingly, it contains no assignment zones at all — none — nor any assured "base assignment" schools. That will be controversial. It also strikes me as the best way out of perpetual fights over where the zones lines should be drawn.
And diversity? The parent-choice method will "promote diversity," its sponsors say, but indirectly rather than as a goal in and of itself.
Chew on this: With parents choosing schools, any "bad" schools that develop will either need to be fixed in a hurry — before their bad rep means nobody's choosing them — or else they'll have to be abandoned and taxpayers forced (expensively) to supply a new school somewhere else.
This, then is the so-called "student achievement" goal in the mix — as diversity's proxy — along with proximity and stability. The authors don't put a fixed number of the achievement goal, however (e.g, "no school below 70 percent performing at grade level" or whatever the measure is), unlike the old assignment policies which sought to maintain diversity by keeping free & reduced lunch-eligible students at less than 40 percent of any school's student body. Will this work?
More on the concept below.
The choice idea: Every parent (and child) would be offered a list of at least 10 elementary schools to which they can apply, and 5 middle schools and 5 high schools. Each list would contain year-round and traditional calendar choices and at least two magnet school choices. Parents would be asked to rank their top five choices from the list of the 10 elementary schools and to rank the 5 middle and high schools in order of preference.
Would you necessarily get your first choice? No. But you'd be highly likely to get either your first or second choice, according to Tim Simmons, the WEP's expert vice president who worked closely with Alves on the plan. About 80-85 percent of parents will get their first choices, and 93 percent either their first or second choices, based on Alves' experience with similar plans he's done for other school systems around the country and the simulations Alves, Simmons and the helpful computer geeks at SAS ran.
On that last point, this is not merely a hypothetical plan. WEP and the Chamber have put together possible lists of 10 & 5 & 5 schools for every neighborhood in Wake County. The lists aren't supposed to be perfect, and Simmons said that if the school board accepts the basic framework, there's much work ahead in tweaking those lists and making sure every child "has a solid list of choices."
That may, in some cases, require that for a given neighborhood, the list may expand to more than 10 elementary schools and/or more than 5 middle schools or high schools, he said.
So this would be a parent-driven assignment process, not one driven (as current assignments are) by the school board itself or by Wake school officials.
Other important points:
1) Stability. One you're in a school, you stay there — if you want to — to the end. Only at the entry points (kindergarten for elementary, 6th grade for middle schools, 9th grade for high schools) does the parental-selection process come into play. That is, of course, unless you want it to.
1A) Ultra-stability. Whatever school you're in now, you're "grandfathered" in it and can stay to the end if you want. Only at the next level (6th, 9th) will you be asked to select. "If you're happy, you can stay" is the principle, Simmons says. "There's not going to be any mass reassignment from this plan." Rather, the plan seeks a gradual transition from the old way of doing things to the new, parental-choice way.
2) Proximity: Applications to a school would be accepted according to a rank order of factors, and proximity — how close you live to the school — would be the first on the list. Preference would be given to students who live within 1 1/2 mile of the chosen school. Interestingly, about half of Wake students don't live within 1 1/2 miles of any school, and of course the odds go down as you get older (i.e., there are fewer middle schools than elementary schools, and fewer high schools than middle schools).
For students who don't live within 1 1/2 miles of a school, they'd be given preference at whatever school is closest to them, Simmons said.
3) Magnet schools. The recommendation is, keep the magnet system intact. It's working; don't mess with it. Currently, some 10,000 students are coming "in" to the downtown magnets from somewhere "outside." To make room for them in the magnet schools, about 5,900 students who would otherwise be assigned to those schools are bused "out" from Raleigh — most of them from historically black Southeast Raleigh — to other schools. (Do the math: Without the magnet students, these downtown schools would be half-empty.)
Currently, too, those "bused" SE Raleigh students aren't given a choice of schools or access to magnet schools. In the new plan, they'd be given both ... every student would be offered a list of 10-5-5 schools and it would include at least two magnet options.
3A) Southeast Raleigh. Plans based on proximity and stability, AKA a "neighborhood schools" plan, bumps up against the fact that low-income families are concentrated in the eastern Wake County and especially in SE Raleigh and along the Capital Boulevard corridor. So, won't schools in these neighborhoods by default be chosen predominantly by low-income families, resulting in high-poverty schools that will be seen as "bad" schools?
3B) Student Achievement. This is where the student achievement goal needs to come in, the WEP/Chamber report says. Once a school gets a reputation for lousy achievement, it's almost impossible to turn it around. So what's the magic number? Well, there isn't one, Simmons says, but when the number of parents choosing a school falls below its capacity, that's your danger sign. 70% would be a good number, he says. 95% would be even better.
I took it from our conversation that the sponsors were loathe to put a number of this goal that wasn't the school board's own number, first of all; and secondly, any number tends to be honored in the breach, as with the 40 percent diversity goal that slipped to 50 percent and then 60 percent ...
Here's what the executive summary of the report says:
"A recent proposal by the school board's Student Assignment Committee suggested at least 70 percent of the students in every school [should] perform at or above grade level. We believe that is educationally sound. The school system in past years set a goal suggesting that 95 percent of all students perform at or above grade level — a laudable goal."
What's the situation now? 85 percent of Wake students perform at or above grade level on state math tests, and 76 percent on state reading tests.
Bottom line: The lists of schools that students in SE Raleigh get won't be as gilt-edged as the lists given to students in Apex and Cary. No way around that. So the challenge for the school system, under this plan, would be to make sure that: (1) all students get a list of good schools, and (2) schools drawing heavily from low-income neighborhoods are given the staffing — good principles, good teachers — and the money they need to do the job of keeping achievement levels high.
Otherwise, as Simmons says, you'll get in Wake County what Charlotte-Mecklenburg got when it dropped its diversity policy and moved to a "neighborhood schools" plan: Over-capacity suburban schools with lots of classroom trailers on the grounds, and empty downtown schools now slated to be abandoned.
4) Lottery. Under the parent-choice process, if there are more applications for a school than it has seats available, the following criteria would be used, in order, to select students: a) sibling goes there; b) proximity; c) school type desired — i.e., magnet, non-magnet, year-round calendar; d) whether the school's student achievement goal is helped or hurt. If needed, a lottery would be used to make the final sort.
5) Cost. Simmons says this plan was put together in close consultation with Wake's (and state DPI) transportation planners. They're confident, he says, that this plan won't add to Wake's school-bus costs and may well save some money.
How will this plan be received by the school board, and especially the 5-4 conservative majority? That remains to be seen. One of the five, Debra Goldman, has split with his four allies lately on student assignment issues, arguing that every student should be guaranteed a "base" school. This plan doesn't do that; rather, it guarantees every student a list of schools, a choice, and a good shot at getting their first or second choice.
The old Student Assignment Committee headed by John Tedesco was trying to fashion a plan not terribly different from this one, but with fixed zone lines and no student achievement or other diversity goal.
Acceptance of this plan will hinge on whether Goldman or Tedesco — and preferably both of them — are willing to sign on to this compromise approach, either as part of the majority-five members or in concert with the minority-four members who are likely to give this plan a good reception.
Is my guess.
New Supt. Tony Tata? A wild card. He may have his own ideas —
At a Super Bowl party Sunday I was introduced to a white liberal minister (our mutual friend said he’s as liberal as anyone can be, to which he nodded) and we got to talking about the Wake schools imbroglio. He’s pro-diversity, no surprise there. He did make a point of saying, however, that the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, has been unnecessarily confrontational in taking on the anti-diversity Wake school board majority. Barber’s tactics are repellant to folks who are on the fence about the school board’s actions, the minister said.
“That’s utter foolishness,” Walter Farrell exclaimed when I related the conversation to him. Farrell, who is black and a Raleigh native, is professor of management and community practice in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. He was giving a talk at the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh Tuesday night—after our press time—entitled “Inching Toward Resegregation.” So I called him in advance.
Inching, I asked?
Inching, Farrell answered, in the sense that Raleigh—as the county seat and the state capital—is the latest battleground in a determined but so far largely unsuccessful right-wing push for the privatization of American school systems that dates back 40 years.
Inching, he added, in the sense that even in Raleigh the battle for equal education is far from over and remains winnable despite the fact that the right-wing appears on the verge of breaking through.
But the battle can’t be won, Farrell said, if white liberals like my new acquaintance persist in thinking that they’re engaged in a debate over education policy—and will be listened to if they just make better arguments. “We’re in the political fight of our lives,” Farrell insisted. “You can’t settle a political argument with reason. You settle it with votes.”
Barber will lead the 5th annual HK on J march in Raleigh this Saturday, joined by national NAACP President Ben Jealous. HK on J (Historic Thousands on Jones Street, where the General Assembly is located) is aimed at a 14-point “people’s agenda” about equal housing, health care, environmental justice and labor issues.
But number one on the list, and the reason Jealous is coming, is the fight for “high-quality, well-funded, diverse public schools for all children,” a goal that gets lip service from the right (except for the diversity part) even as they work to deny it to the children of low-income families.
Barber is eloquent, passionate and correct to take his issues to the streets, Farrell said, just as Dr. Martin Luther King did in Birmingham, when he, too, was warned not to upset the local gentry and responded with his famous “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.”
The criticism is “understandable,” Farrell went on, “because if you’ve never been under the heel of the boot, you think, well, can’t we all just sit down and reason together?”
White liberals don’t get it, he said, that “you don’t get change without conflict, you don’t get crops without plowing the field.” Sure, be reasonable. But if that’s all you are, “the other side will just roll right over you.”
So yes, Farrell said, Barber’s been confrontational, but he hasn’t lost his temper or struck out at anybody—quite the opposite. If he’s missed the mark, it’s only in not balancing his on-the-ground leadership with an equally effective political organizing job.
Farrell’s been in Chapel Hill for the last 12 years. But for two decades prior, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he watched the nation’s first major experiment with privatizing the public schools take shape led by a black conservative, Howard Fuller, who was installed as Milwaukee’s superintendent of schools in 1991.
Taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and parochial schools were the conservatives’ answer to Milwaukee’s failing schools. Initially, Farrell said, Milwaukee’s vouchers were just $2,500 per student. Now, they’re $6,700, not counting some additional, direct public aid that the private schools collect.
Twenty years later, Farrell says, data from the 125 voucher schools in Milwaukee willing to supply it (some aren’t, presumably because it’s not good) shows their results to be no better, and in some cases worse, than traditional public schools.
The piecemeal approach, if it continues, will kill Wake's diversity policy by a thousand cuts, as opposed to just ditching it in one sweeping move as the board majority seemed to have in mind until one of them, Debra Goldman, got off the Ron Margiotta-John Tedesco bandwagon.
Alves, in general, supports the idea of student assignment zones — not unlike Tedesco — but Alves thinks the zones should be relatively equal in socioeconomic terms. That's very much unlike Tedesco.
Whether the school board will listen to Alves is a question. But first, let's see what he recommends.
And then, let's see how what Alves recommends is received by new Superintendent of Schools Tony Tata.
National NAACP President Ben Jealous will be back in Raleigh a week from Saturday. His presence is meant to focus the 5th annual HK on J march on the issue of school resegregation, with the Wake County battle over student assignments continuing to be an enormously important test case.
The march — which calls for Historic Thousands at the General Assembly on W. Jones Street (HK on J) — is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12.
From the NAACP national office:
Thousands Will Rally in Raleigh To Fight Segregation
NAACP Pledges “Forward Ever, Backwards Never” As Tea Party-Backed School Board Advances Re-Segregation Agenda in Wake County
WHO: NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Reverend William J. Barber II, will lead thousands of NAACP members and over 90 organizations in demonstration against “separate and unequal”
WHAT: On Saturday, February 12, thousands of activists will march to the North Carolina State Legislature building to oppose attempts to re-segregate the schools and to march for jobs. NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous and NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Reverend William J. Barber II will be leading the march of over 90 organizations.
“Forward Ever, Backwards Never” will serve as the march’s clarion call. Local Tea Party-backed school board officials have advanced an agenda of “neighborhood schooling” that would drastically reduce school diversity and roll back years of progress. Like Arizona and immigration policy, Wake County is being watched by other states where efforts to restore segregationist educational systems are being considered.
“Our fight in Wake County against resegreation should be our fight throughout the nation,” stated Reverend Barber. “We will never back away from our struggle to ensure that every child has access to a high quality, constitutional, well funded and diverse public education.”
“Separate but equal was wrong then, and it’s wrong now,” stated Jealous. “We cannot in good moral conscience separate the struggle for diverse and superior education from the struggle for jobs and economic solutions. We’ve got to fight for our children, for good schools, for good jobs, and for a great future for all people in our nation.”
WHERE: Raleigh, North Carolina
Marchers will depart from Estey Hall (100 block W. South St., Shaw University campus) and march to the North Carolina State Legislature building (16 West Jones Street)
WHEN: Saturday, February 12, 2011
Marchers gather at Estey Hall: 9:30 AM
March begins: 10:30 AM
Program at Jones Street: 11:00 AM — 12:00 PM
Press availability: 12:30 PM
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
And also, no threats allowed that if you don't fork over some cash, they will [via a "statement, gesture, or form of communication that a reasonable person would perceive as a threat"] see to it that you'll regret it:
APPROVAL GIVEN TO AMENDED PANHANDLING ORDINANCE
The Raleigh City Council today unanimously approved an amended ordinance regulating begging and panhandling in the Capital City. The new ordinance places restrictions on when and where begging and panhandling can occur. It takes effect on March 18.
As is the case under the City of Raleigh’s current panhandling ordinance, the new ordinance requires a person to obtain a City permit to beg or panhandle on streets or other public property. The permit is valid for one year, unless another expiration date is specified on the permit. The permit is revoked if the holder is convicted of violating the City’s begging and panhandling regulations.
The new ordinance prohibits begging or panhandling from occurring earlier than 8 a.m. or later than 8 p.m. on any day. No begging or panhandling is allowed in school zones “while students are beginning or ending the school day.” Furthermore, begging or panhandling is not allowed in the following areas:
• Within 20 feet of any bus stop, train station or taxi zone;
• Within 100 feet of any automated teller machine or any other machine that dispenses money to the general public;
• Within 100 feet of the entrance to any financial institution open for business;
• Within 20 feet of any commercial establishment open for business;
• Within 20 feet of any duly permitted outdoor dining area during hours of operation; and,
• Within 20 feet of the entrance to any residence or residential building.
Also under the new ordinance, no one is allowed to beg or panhandle in the following manner:
• While under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication unless the prescription medicine is prescribed by a licensed physician;
• By coming within 3 feet of the person being approached unless that person has clearly indicated a desire to make a donation;
• By blocking the path of any person along a sidewalk or street;
• By following the person who has been asked for a donation after that person has either declined the request or walked away;
• By using profane or abusive language during the request for a donation or after a donation has been refused;
• In a group of three or more;
• By using any statement, gesture or any other form of communication which a reasonable person would perceive as a threat;
• By using false or misleading information, such as stating the donation is for a specific need that does not exist, has already been met, or the requestor already has the funds to meet the need; and,
• By falsely indicating the requestor suffers from a physical or mental disability.
Violation of the new panhandling ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.