by Joe Schwartz
Members of the NAACP stood on the front lawn of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools administration building Thursday morning, calling a plan to add new honors courses a harbinger of resegregation.
"We will not stand for the resegregation of our schools," Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP Chapter President Michelle Cotton Laws said, standing behind a banner reading "the struggle continues" and flanked by parents and activists both black and white. "Separate is not equal."
Earlier this month the school board voted to add six honors courses in science and social studies, following four meetings and a public hearing.
The vote split 4-3, with the three black members opposed. The NAACP says adding honors courses without first addressing the achievement gap that cuts along race and class lines only heightens the disparity in local classrooms.
School board members and administrators held a press conference in response immediately after the NAACP event and acknowledged the need to do more to address the gap. Chairman Mike Kelley said leaders will use this summer as an opportunity to both develop the honors courses and review and update standard level curriculums.
They say they've also eliminated the need for a teacher to grant students entry into upper-level courses. Prior to this decision, students needed a teacher signature, which was supposed to be automatic, though parents have pointed to cases where teachers refused to sign.
"The achievement gap is real," Kelley said, amid murmurs from the back of the room, where several who attended the NAACP rally had filed in. "That has been and continues to be our highest priority."
Read next week's Independent for a full-length analysis.