school segregation

MLK's struggle against white moderates

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Hypocrisy can be a tough nut to crack:

After the Watts uprising, Dr. King focused on the racial dishonesty of the North which “showered praise on the heroism of Southern Negroes.” But concerning local conditions, “only the language was polite; the rejection was firm and unequivocal.” The uneven attention was clear, he noted: “As the nation, Negro and white, trembled with outrage at police brutality in the South, police misconduct in the North was rationalized, tolerated and usually denied.”

Dr. King also highlighted white people’s illegal behavior that helped produced Northern ghettos: The white man “flagrantly violates building codes and regulations, his police make a mockery of law, and he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services,” he said in an address to the American Psychological Association in 1967.

I hesitated to write about this today, because it's eerily similar to what many Southern apologists have clung to in the past: That Northern racism was/is just as bad (if not worse) than here. But I see many parallels of 1960's New York/New Jersey in North Carolina's suburban and exurban communities today, so taking a closer look won't hurt anything but our feelings:

Stark evidence that private/charter schools are bringing back segregation

The numbers don't lie:

In 1988, enrollment figures for Wilson County Schools showed 52 percent non-white students and 48 percent white. Today, a breakdown of Wilson County Schools’ 11,164 students shows the student population is 44 percent black, 30 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, 1.4 percent Asian and 4.6 percent other race.

According to PrivateSchoolReview.com, Wilson area private schools have a lower percentage of students of color. The site notes that Greenfield School has 11 percent students of color, Community Christian School has 17 percent students of color, Wilson Christian Academy has 5 percent students of color and Garnett Christian Academy has 11 percent students of color.

Bolding mine, because a shift of that magnitude over a thirty year period doesn't happen by accident. That's what providing "choice" to parents will accomplish; the choice to avoid black people. Let's roll back the clock a little bit to see why this is so important in Wilson County:

The re-segregation of NC schools just got a jump-start

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Four Mecklenburg towns will build their own lily-white charter schools:

Despite warnings that it could resegregate North Carolina schools, a bill that would allow Mecklenburg County towns to run their own charter schools moved closer to passage Thursday. The N.C. Senate tentatively approved House Bill 514 after a sometimes heated debate over the local and statewide implications of the measure.

Supporters said the bill would give suburban parents options and ensure that towns frustrated by a lack of CMS facilities and resources can provide their own in the form of town-run charter schools. The bill, which originally affected only Matthews, was expanded to include Cornelius, Huntersville and Mint Hill.

Republican leaders in the NCGA are transparently hypocritical. When towns or cities try to develop policies or programs that are progressive in nature, that lift up those in the community in most need of lifting, the heavy hand of authority reaches down from Raleigh and strangles those efforts. But when towns want to do something horrifically regressive, like separating the races and creating "havens" for the students of affluent white residents, those same Republican leaders are giddy at the prospect. And apparently they're hoping other towns across the state get on board with this new (yet very old) segregation approach:

Reporter attacks Democrats for attacking Legislative report

Somebody apparently pushed the wrong buttons:

Democrats charge racism, mischaracterize school report: The state Democratic Party said Wednesday that a new report from an off-session study committee will "break up North Carolina’s county-wide school districts and re-segregate North Carolina’s public schools." It will not.

In fact, the report doesn't recommend any legislation. It says "any future legislation considered by the General Assembly to create a procedure by which citizens may initiate the breakup of large (school systems) will require additional study.” The report also recommends that any division efforts "take care to ensure equality."

I don't usually include headlines when grabbing quotes, but in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the (angry) flavor of the article. Not sure where the animus comes from, but I can guess. Some efforts by political operatives and over-zealous advocates to influence news stories can cross the line, into the area of bullying and harassment. I've seen reporters complain about this on more than one occasion, and those complaints are justified. Let them do their jobs. But even if that is the case, that "irritation" should not bleed into the actual reporting. And as far as that last sentence, I've got three words for this reporter: "Separate But Equal." That was the justification used by Segregationists for decades for keeping black children in their own poorly-funded schools. As to the report itself, which generated this apparent bad blood, it most certainly does give lawmakers a roadmap for re-segregating some of NC's schools:

Is Teach For America promoting "separate but equal" schools?

Charlotte's problems with diversity and integration may have a new apologist:

While the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board talks about breaking up racial and economic isolation, Teach For America Charlotte is holding a forum on making “hypersegregated” schools successful.

On Dec. 15, two national speakers will discuss ways they’ve seen schools thrive without significant numbers of white or middle-class students. The free forum is part of its “New Reality Speaker Series,” focusing on poverty and academic success in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The first, on CMS history, was held in October.

Of course efforts have to be made to improve education in ways that don't rely on re-integration as a cornerstone. But that work needs to continue, as well. It not only benefits the students in their achievement, it also helps the community become less polarized around race. And as obvious as that may seem to those reading, there are many in the field of education who still fall for the arguments put forward by anti-integration elements of the 60's & 70's:

Charters and the resegregation of NC students

The dark side of parental choice:

One reason is that as charters have grown, they haven’t met the needs of low-income and special needs populations. By law they are expected to serve minority populations, but they are not required, like traditional schools, to offer transportation and subsidized meals. In practicality, that’s a deterrent to non-white families. “There is no doubt that the charter school system in this state is contributing to racial segregation,” Ladd says.

She said white parents, in picking out charter schools, are concerned as much about minority enrollment – they prefer less than 20 percent – as about quality. Satisfaction surveys and re-enrollment trends, she said, show higher satisfaction with charters among white families than minorities.

And I'm sure more than a few of them would prefer zero percent, whether they would admit to it or not. And their children, more than any of their peers, would benefit from engaging in a diverse school population. It's the best (only?) way to break the cycle of generational prejudice. An observation which I'm sure would have the Puppets grasping for their smelling salts:

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