by Bob Geary
State NAACP President William Barber, together with the presidents of the three Raleigh-Wake NAACP chapters, terms it an urgent meeting (flyer is copied to the right) after another tumultuous session of the Wake school board on Tuesday. "What is the Nature of the Threat of Re-Segregation" raised by the new school board majority? That's what the NAACP is asking now that the board, by a 5-4 vote, has resolved to put year-round school attendance back on a volunteer basis only -- no year-round assignments. And if the demand for year-round slots outstrips the supply, as it will in many parts of the county, the majority has determined to stop giving any preference in the application process to kids from low-income areas ("nodes").
This "blind" policy on year-round schools is considered by many to be the board majority's first step toward gutting the school system's longstanding diversity policy, which is designed to prevent having any "rich" schools or "poor" schools. For reasons not fully understood, low-income parents don't volunteer their kids for year-round schools as much as affluent parents do. A voluntary process, therefore, with a random lottery system if there are too many volunteers for a specific school, is likely to result in some rather upscale year-round schools, leaving in their wake (as it were) some traditional-calendar schools with much higher numbers of low-income kids.
It almost certainly will do that, in fact, unless the school board weighed in strongly with a countervailing diversity effort -- but that's just what the new majority is against with its "neighborhood schools" philosophy.
The NAACP meeting is at 5 pm Sunday at the Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin St., Raleigh -- a short distance from Moore Square.
Meanwhile, WakeUP Wake County has formally announced the launch of the "Great Schools in Wake Coalition." Individuals and groups are invited to join.
The press release is copied below the fold.
Great Schools in Wake Coalition Forms: Responding to Board of Education proposals
RALEIGH, NC-"Every Child, Our Child" summarizes the vision of the Great Schools In Wake Coalition, a growing coalition of Wake County parents, students, taxpayers and civic organizations, with a goal of strengthening education throughout Wake County. The coalition brings together a broad group of Wake residents who wish to advocate for all students in the public school system and educate parents, taxpayers, and residents about public school policy and initiatives.
"We believe that all children in Wake County, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, or residence, should receive the highest quality education possible," said Yevonne Brannon, chair of the Board of Directors of WakeUP Wake County...
The Coalition's mission is to:
- provide accurate information to educate the public about policy initiatives that would impact the quality of education,
- foster well-informed discussions about critical education issues, and
- advocate for policies that improve public education in Wake County.
Brannon said the Coalition's core values center on producing great students, supporting skilled educators, supporting diversity, using resources efficiently, providing student stability, fostering partnerships, and modeling educational excellence.
Members of the Coalition are specifically examining whether proposals by the new Board of Education will lead to even more widespread student reassignments, the re-segregation of some of Wake's schools, fewer school choices for parents and students, and strained finances for the district and county. In addition, the coalition will examine how proposals of the new BOE might affect the economic growth of Wake County and our ability to attract new business; how these changes would impact taxes needed for additional space, and what impact the changes would have on student learning and stability.
"We are concerned that the policies of the current Board of Education will result in far more reassignment than any previous Board," Brannon said. "Coalition members also are concerned that the Board has proposed changes in assignment without fully assessing capacity, economic or tax implications, or the impact on student learning and stability."
In fostering partnerships, the Coalition includes organizations and individuals working to improve public education throughout Wake County. Current Coalition organization members include (note organizations' contacts below):
- WakeUP Wake County: Lois Nixon, Education Team (email@example.com)
- YWCA of the Greater Triangle: Folami Bandele (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children: Calla Wright (email@example.com)
- Raleigh Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance: David Dolby (ddobly1942 @yahoo.com )
- Harriet B. Webster Task Force for Student Success: Charlotte Turpin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- NAACP-3 Wake Chapters: Ron White (email@example.com); Charles Upchurch (firstname.lastname@example.org); Portia Rochelle (email@example.com)
- Bigger Picture4Wake: Rhonda Curtright (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- NC Justice Center: Bill Rowe (email@example.com)
- Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association: Alice Garrett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- UUFR-Social Action Committee: Ticie Rhodes (email@example.com)
- NC Housing Coalition: Carley Ruff (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Real G.I.R.L.S. Inc.: LaShon Ormond (email@example.com)
- The League of Women Voters of Wake County
- NC Policy Watch: Rob Schofield (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- NC Social Justice Project (email@example.com)
The Coalition is being coordinated by WakeUP Wake County, a 501(c)(3) grassroots organization that has earned a reputation as an effective and active citizen voice on growth issues, advocating through citizen engagement in the public policy arena.
Individuals and groups who wish to join the Coalition can do so by visiting:
The Great Schools in Wake Coalition is a community coalition of organizations, business leaders, parents and citizen advocates who are working to ensure educational excellence in the Wake County Public School System.
Our vision: We believe that all children in Wake County, regardless of income, race, ethnicity or residence, should receive the highest quality education possible.
Our mission: Our mission is to provide accurate information to educate the public about policy initiatives that would impact the quality of education, foster well-informed discussions about critical education issues, and advocate for policies that improve public education in Wake County. Our core values: Wake County citizens expect and deserve schools that:
- Produce Great Students. Our community needs the Board of Education to focus its attention on, and make decisions for, the success and achievement of all students to be competitive in both the global and local workforce.
- Support Skilled Educators. We value our teachers and staff and believe that the Board of Education must assure opportunities for professional development and good working conditions. Every school must be a place where teachers want to teach and students learn.
- Support Diversity. Our community expects schools and curriculum that reflect a diverse world-providing exposure for students to many races, languages, arts, cultures, economic levels and ideas.
- Use Resources Efficiently. Our community expects the school system to wisely make the most of our limited resources. We support fair growth funding at a level equal to or greater than the national average per student.
- Provide Student Stability. To the extent that growth in our community permits, we believe that student re-assignments should be minimized, and that calendar continuity should be available for all families.
- Foster Partnerships. We value a school system that fosters partnerships between teachers, administrators, parents, businesses and the community as a whole, with communication and open dialogue as a part of every strategic change.
- Model Educational Excellence. Every school must be a place where teachers want to teach and students learn. As a key component of our community's quality of life, our community expects our schools to achieve a global reputation for excellence.