New School Board Members Oppose Busing

On Oct. 6, Chris Malone of District One, Deborah Pickett of District Seven and Debra Goldman of District Nine secured enough votes to be elected to represent the Wake County School Board.

A runoff election on Nov. 3 will determine whether or not John Tedesco will win a seat on the Wake Country School Board. Cathy Truitt, who originally had called for a runoff against Tedesco, conceded on Oct. 19.

However, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is not in favor of neighborhood schools. The group says “neighborhood schools and forced busing is a way to cover up segregation.”

The group plans to rally promoting school diversity until the runoff on Nov. 3.

If Truitt decides to keep out of the race, the election will give neighborhood-school proponents the 5-4 majority on the school board.

These School Board members all favor neighborhood-schooling, the idea that students will attend the school that is closest to their neighborhood with little to no busing involved.

One of the biggest incentives for neighborhood schools is to allow more parents to be involved with their child’s education. Stereotypically, the students that are denoted as “economically disadvantaged” have parents that are rarely involved in the student’s school activities. However, this may be because the child is attending a school 45 minutes away from where they actually live. The parents may be most likely to attend principal meetings if their child attended a school right down the street.

According to an article on WRAL, the new school board members all agree that Policy 6200 was a failure. Chris Malone said, “When 78.6 percent are graduating and only 54.6 percent of the economically disadvantaged [students] are passing, then you have failed. There is no justification for it.”

Deborah Pickett continued. “By having students attend schools in their neighborhoods, academic deficiencies can be addressed by interventions such as after school programs, helping both the students and the community. Parental involvement would increase. Parental involvement is the Number 1 factor in a student’s success.”

Former school board members and the minority on the current school board see major disruptions to the school system based on the election results.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and Durham County schools are districts that have abandoned diverse schools.

West Charlotte High, Mecklenburg High, and Zebulon B Vance High are three high schools that have been integrated into neighborhood schools. The average male percentage that passes their EOCs schools is a mere 57.3 percent; the females scoring slightly higher at 57.9 percent.

However, if you go to a different side of Charlotte, the schools seem flawless. At Ardrey Kell High 90.3 percent of boys and 90.0 percent of girls pass their EOCs.

In Durham County Schools, the numbers are even more intimidating. Southern High and Hillside High have an average of 33.45 percent of males passing their EOCs, with an average of 34.6 females passing their EOCs.

Could this be the future of Wake County Schools?

Richard Kahlenberg, a reporter for the News and Observer, comments that  there are five public elementary schools that are significantly out of agreement with Wake’s guideline that no school have more than 40 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. These five schools, which have more than 60 percent of students receiving subsidized lunch, are all performing below the district average overall and among various subcategories of students: low income, middle class, black, white and Hispanic. That is Wake County’s future — a Durham-type system — if resegregation occurs.

As reported in a News and Observer article, Rita Rakestraw states that “Charlotte Mecklenburg schools are spending $50 million more taxes for their schools than in Wake County, because they are transferring extra money into low performing, low income schools without high-quality results.  The districts are paying teacher’s $5-15,000 more to teach, yet Wake County is doing better than all Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools on every level.”

Keith Sutton, a diversity supporter, says he was disappointed with the election results. He feels that the only reason neighborhood school proponents won the election was because they were better at mobilizing their voters.

*The percentage of students that pass their EOCs was acquired from North Carolina Report Cards ( www.ncreportcards.org )

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