There is quite a fight here in Raleigh over our schools. Because of the way we build school districts here in Carolina, our district is the 18th largest in the nation. And because we are so large, we have quite the diversity; and with it–debate.
Because we are so big, the decisions and policies of the district get much attention; here as well as at the state level. And one of the most controversial polices has been our diversity policy. For a long time, Wake schools would bus students in order to achieve a racially balanced profile. Of course, years ago, busing based on race was made illegal and Wake had to change. And they did. The current policy is to create economically balanced schools. And the way they do that is to bus based on free and reduced lunch populations.
The idea is that families with higher incomes value education more than families from a more economically challenged home. As such, those wealthier families will volunteer, contribute money to the school and simply ensure that the school fulfills it’s role in providing a safe environment to learn.
There is another side to the debate and that is the concept of neighborhood schools. The folks who oppose busing and value neighborhood schools want to end the policy of diversity and move back to the method of assigning kids to schools in their neighborhood.
The pro-neighborhood school crowd won big in the last election and now a majority of the board has changed the districts policy away from busing and diversity and more towards neighborhood schools. And the NAACP is going crazy.
Now, I ‘m a supporter of the diversity policy and am opposed to assigning based on neighborhood. This would make me and the NAACP allies in this fight. However, this is one ally that I could do without. They are caustic and intimidating. They are irresponsible and bring an element of debate that is irresponsible and disruptive. Further, the NAACP seems more interested in their own agenda rather than one that is best for the kids of Wake Country. Namely calling for the resignation of the current chairman Ron Margiotta:
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, joined the state chapter on Tuesday in calling for the resignation of Wake County School Board Chairman Ron Margiotta after comments he made during a heated public hearing on March 2.
Further, the State chapter has filed an accompanying claim of racist attitudes:
Officials with the North Carolina NAACP filed a complaint Friday against the Wake County Board of Education, saying that a comment by Chairman Ron Margiotta referring to opponents of the policy as “animals” indicated that the board has “racist attitudes.”
This isn’t helpful in the debate. It takes away focus and instead flames emotions that would best be kept under control as we try to do whats best for our kids.