Wake school chair says he wants NAACP meeting about diversity

Posted February 4, 2010

— The president of the state NAACP wants to know why Wake County's school board chairman denied a request to speak before the full board regarding the district's longstanding diversity policy.

Rev. William Barber said Thursday that he sent a letter to school board Chairman Ron Margiotta asking to give a 45-minutes presentation but that Margiotta offered him only an opportunity to meet with the board's leadership.

NAACP wants meeting with Wake school board NAACP wants meeting with Wake school board

Margiotta said Thursday that the decision is consistent with the board's past practice over many years to refuse such a request. It does allow time during each public meeting for public comments at a maximum of three minutes each.

"We actually extended ourselves, as far as I'm concerned. It's very rare that the school board gives these meeting to any group," he said. "We really welcome sitting down with (Barber) and discussing these issues."

The state NAACP opposes a plan by the school board's majority that would end the decade-old practice of assigning students to maintain socio-economic diversity in the school system.

As it stands now, the policy allows no more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches at any school. Students are reassigned each year to maintain that level, as well as to fill new schools and relieve overcrowding.

At least five of the school board's nine members have indicated that they plan to end the practice in favor of neighborhood schools so that parents have more choices in where their children are educated.

Barber argues that doing so would re-segregate schools and deny children their constitutional rights to a sound, basic education.

"The cynical and dangerous push to separate our children cannot be tolerated," he said. "Re-segregation under the guise of 'neighborhood schools' is the enemy of student achievement."

Instead, he is pushing for equity in funding, high-quality teachers and smaller class sizes, as well as more parental involvement.

"I think there is a stretch when they're talking about re-segregation," Margiotta said. "That's something that will never happen in Wake County. We would never permit that to happen."

Margiotta said the board is also tackling other issues that economically disadvantaged students face, such as improving graduation rates and test scores and reducing the high rate of suspensions.

"We've appointed a committee that is going after some of the concerns that I would think we share with Rev. Barber," he said. "I mean, that's something we're going to go after, and we're going to take positive steps there, and hopefully, the reverend understands that and would want to cooperate in any way he could."

The NAACP isn't the only group that has asked to meet with the school board.

The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a local conservative group that supports ending the diversity policy, recently asked for equal time to talk to the board about budget practices.

"We didn't even offer to meet with them as a leadership team," Margiotta said.

"The past practice has not been pleasant to groups, and I think we've extended ourselves by offering a meeting with the leadership," he added. "I certainly want to listen."


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  • Scrat Feb 5, 2010

    What, no talking points? The point of my comment was about the "the people have spoken" crowd, and how this is cool when they win, and socialism when they lose. Sarah Palin is the poster-child for this bunch, the savior of the republican party, or independents, or whatever they call themselves now.

  • wakeconative4ever Feb 5, 2010

    What really irks the NAACP is that they cannot control the fact that people DO segregate themselves based on the homes they buy and the neighborhoods they choose to live in. So, they target the school system as a way to make sure things are "equal". I do not see the NAACP calling for racial balance in the sports arena. Why not, NAACP? I guess it is ok for one race to completely dominate professional sports teams? It shouldn't matter if only the BEST players get hired to be on a team. It should be racially balanced so ALL races get to participate. Affirmative Action for Sports Now!!!

  • Garnerian Feb 5, 2010

    What does Sarah Palin have to do with school diversity in wake county? lol

  • Scrat Feb 5, 2010

    Maybe that was a little mean. "Folksy" Sarah is going to "donate" her 100,000 dollar "speaking fee" at the tea-party convention back to the "cause".

    Translation: The money will go to her PAC, and will be used to buy copies of her book, THEN it will go into her bank account. Clever girl! Most "folks" won't suspect a thing, and she comes out smelling like a rose! You go girl! WHOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO!

  • Scrat Feb 5, 2010

    Barber may be full of it, whatever. The mystery to me is that the same people here who say "the people have spoken", (and seem to be happy in their majority) are usually the same ones who wail and bitterly complain about the majority election results that put Mr. Obama in the White House. They are happy when the majority rule favors their preferences, but cannot abide the results when they don't get their way, and will not be satisfied no matter what. Has anybody ELSE noticed this? Should we be as smug in our own assertion that the "people have spoken", and expect that they will stop attacking the Prez for his inability to solve in one year what it took the Neo-idiocracy EIGHT years to destroy? Not likely, most of them think Sarah Palin can save America! 500 dollar-a-plate "Tea-Party" anyone?

  • greentara Feb 5, 2010

    Good points Never Surrender!
    Bring back critical thinking!
    Most students graduating these days cannot write a complete sentence much less fill out a job application properly!

  • Remy Feb 5, 2010

    If Barber is really interested in making a difference, he would take whatever meetings were offered to him, not only the ones where he gets press time.

  • batricia1 Feb 5, 2010

    oh lets make sure the naacp gets heard on somthing thehy have no bussiness in

  • wildcat Feb 5, 2010

    they arent big on kids being bussed forty miles from home.

    They don't have to ride the bus; their parents can take them each day in the car. They are going to do that any way.

  • wildcat Feb 5, 2010

    On the free-lunch program, these same children is eligible to get free breakfast too. Meanwhile, just so you will know, tax payers pays for this too. So quit complaining. A child deserves to have food regardless who is feeding them. Why deny a child that?