NAACP critical of Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system

Posted February 25, 2010

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chapter of the NAACP wants the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to put more resources toward narrowing the student achievement gap in the district rather than putting more money into its honors program.

The school board recently voted 4-3 to add six more honors classes to the curriculum, upsetting the civil rights group, which claims the school system is focusing mostly on high-performing students, which will widen the gap.

Chapel Hill school system under NAACP fire Chapel Hill school system under NAACP fire

Last year, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 95 percent of white students passed end-of-grade and end-of-course testing. Among black students, 48 percent passed end-of-grade tests and 53 percent passed end-of-course tests.

Protestors rallied outside the district office Thursday, saying the gap is too great for resources to continue to go to top performers.

"We are not against raising standards and challenging all youth to succeed and excel at high levels," said Michelle Cotton Laws, president of the local NAACP chapter.

"What we are against, however, are policies that expand opportunities for those persons at the top, with little or no genuine attention given to how to bring those children at the bottom along," she added.

Less than 1 percent of students enrolled in honors and AP courses in the school system are black or Latino/Hispanic, the NAACP says.

In particular, protestors pointed to a school system policy they say required a teacher's recommendation to take an honors class.

In a news conference following the NAACP rally, school board Chairman Mike Kelley said that any student can register for an honors course and that the teacher recommendation hasn't been a requirement for years. Some schools still use it, though, he said.

"Unfortunately, that has been the practice, so that came to light during some of this discussion," Kelley said. "That was a practice that was not sanctioned by the school board nor the administration, and it will be stopped."

Superintendent Neil Pederson says closing the achievement gap is the system's highest priority and that a lot of strategies are being implemented to try to do that. The district has seen more progress, though, in elementary and middle schools than in high schools.

"I wouldn't say adding honors was a strategy for closing the achievement gap but enhancing the rigor in some or our courses," Pederson said.

The perception that no minority students are in honors courses is a misconception, he said. For example about 25 percent of black students are in ninth grade Honors English, he said.

"My goal would be to see all our students choosing to be in honors classes," he added.

One way to help close the gap among high school students, Pederson said, is to re-write standard course curriculum.

"I look at this as a challenge and an opportunity to rethink the courses that perhaps most of our students are in and make them more engaging," he said.

Spencer McKinnon, a sophomore at Carrboro High School, is enrolled in Honors English II, a foreign literature class, and plans to take more advanced courses in his junior and senior year.

He said he had no trouble getting into the class and thinks students have access to honors courses but that some just are not interested.

"I think it's more of not wanting to get in, because it's more of a work ethic. If you work really hard to get into an honors class, then it's not much of a complication," he said. "I definitely think it's more of a want, not a can't."


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  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Feb 26, 2010

    Does anyone care what the NAALCP thinks these days?

  • IzzMad2016 Feb 26, 2010

    I pay the same attention to anything the NAACP says as I do PETA -- which is zilch.

  • Connected1 Feb 26, 2010

    @beachboater: You pointed out EXACTLY what is wrong with Barber. I'd love for him to read what you wrote.

  • arfamr1006 Feb 26, 2010

    and by the way he had killer jobs at UNC and Duke doing cancer research before he got caught growing marijuana

  • arfamr1006 Feb 26, 2010

    some of the smartest people I know struggled in school!! there are book smarts, and then there is common uncle has a PhD from Cornell and got busted growing pot. Is he smart? YES!! He is a genius...but he lacks common sense.

  • arfamr1006 Feb 26, 2010

    I am all for giving TRUE underprivledged kids (poor kids who try) then benefit of free books and supplies. But to say the underpriveleged are all black is a farce!! You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink. If the US had not abandoned trades like manufacturing and textiles the "low performers" in school wouldnt be in such a pickle because decent jobs for academically ungifted people would be plentiful

  • arfamr1006 Feb 26, 2010

    Did you just compare the KKK to the NAACP?

    YES!!! The KKK wants to bring down minorities (through more radical practices of course) and the NAACP want to bring down the minority (through race bating and lawsuits)

  • Shadow213 Feb 26, 2010

    Kids spend 7 hours out of a 24 hour day at school. That means more than 2/3rds of their day is spent OUTSIDE SCHOOL (most likely home). If you ask me, it seems like it'd make more sense to give a child's home a makeover rather than the schools. If their parents were able to spend more time helping their children succeed, then it would naturally show in the schools.

  • beachboater Feb 26, 2010

    First, has anyone ever seen anything that made the evil Reverend Doctor William Barber happy? Didn't think so.

    If you listen to them, and think about it, it sounds like Barber and company are saying that minority kids are not as smart as white kids. Is this the truth? I don't think it is.

    Barber and Company find it easier to go after the schools than to go after the kids and parents that are not doing their jobs.

    If a kid is willing to work hard, and study, he will graduate from high school. I think the low numbers come from lack of caring. If Barber and Company would try to put somethink positive into this, and work in the minority community to help there, the school situation will take care of itself.

    If the parents don't care, the kids don't care. And if the kids don't care, they will not do well in school.

    So Mr. Barber, why not take your efforts to your church in your community and start working on that end. I've never heard tell of you doing anything to help

  • CSA.lifer. Feb 26, 2010

    What is the NAACP priority in the first place?
    February 26, 2010 2:44 p.m.

    The TRUTH really hurts them bad.