On July 20, I took my 15-year-old son downtown. He spent the next 10 hours marching, attending a rally and waiting at the Wake County Public School System building to attend the board meeting. After 10 hours of working for an opportunity to express his views, the school board moved into "closed session" instead of continuing with the public hearing. Here is what he wanted to say:
"I have spent 11 years in the WCPSS. I am proud to be in a school system recognized across the country as a model for diversity. Sadly, this is about to change because of five close-minded board members.
"I am a product of a school system that taught me to value diversity. I understand that when I graduate, I will enter a diverse world. I will also graduate with the understanding that I can learn something from every person I meet—black, white; rich, poor; conservative, liberal. It is also my responsibility to share what I know with others. And what I know is that a neighborhood school system will segregate schools based on socioeconomic status and create unequal opportunities for learning. It will also prohibit current and future students from benefiting from the diversity that was so important and relevant in my education.
"In January, I was honored to be asked to read a litany at a joint service with Pullen Memorial and Martin Street Baptist churches. I was humbled to read words spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. On that day, I made a promise to myself that I would take the words that he once spoke and make them resonate in my life and throughout the world. That is why I will never stop fighting for a diverse public school system in Wake County."
Dr. Jill Hinton and Seth Keel
I hope that you will discuss in further detail a major obstacle to progress on this issue: the U.S. Senate, or more specifically, 40 to 50 senators who refuse to acknowledge the threats caused by our dependence on fossil fuels. These senators, including North Carolina's own Richard Burr, hide behind phrases like "energy tax" and "saving jobs." But the truth is that real leaders would work with the rest of us to create the level playing field that will save jobs while still keeping oil off our beaches, our children from getting asthma and our climate from getting unbearably hot.
I hope that we can awaken this sense of leadership in enough of our senators to give the rest of us a fighting chance.