Clergy wants Wake board to wait on school assignment vote

Posted March 19, 2010

— A group of more than 20 ministers, priests and rabbis are calling on the Wake County Board of Education to postpone a vote next week having to do with a controversial community-based student assignment plan.

"We are convinced that the proposed changes of abandoning the current integration policies, however well-meaning they may be, do in fact lead to a re-segregation of our schools," the Wake County Clergy Coalition said in a news release Friday.

The school board voted 5-4 this month in favor of a resolution to begin plans to move away from the school system's policy of busing students to help ensure each school is socioeconomically diverse.

Board members want to implement community assignment zones, in which students go to schools closer to their homes.

Critics argue, in part, that it will segregate poor students and keep them from receiving the same quality of education as more economically advantaged students.

School board members, however, have insisted that they have no plans to segregate students and that student achievement is their top priority.

The coalition wants the board to delay its vote and study the issue and hear further from the community before making a final decision.

"Our (school system) can always be improved, and its problems need be addressed, but the current board’s rush to effect a major and historic change in policy is proving divisive and controversial in our community. This is not the right way to make policy and solve problems," it said.

If the resolution, as it currently reads, were approved on Tuesday, a student assignment committee would spend the next nine to 15 months developing an implementation plan based on input from the community, school system staff and other government planning and zoning officials.

The coalition has planned a candlelight vigil in protest of the vote. The Little Light of Mine Candlelight Vigil for Diversity in Our Schools is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin St., Raleigh.


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  • yg58 Mar 19, 2010

    Clergy can improve education by adopting poorer schools and supporting them monetarily and by volunteering as tutors. Let them use their resources (money and manpower) for actual improvement actions, rather than by criticizing and trying to promote their own social agenda. I want my children assigned by proximity.

  • katzpauz Mar 19, 2010

    The people have spoken through the vote. Now, make those changes.

  • onedayatatime Mar 19, 2010

    One of the ministers was identified in the following N&O story

    Rev. Tom Rhodes, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh

    This is my favorite line from that story

    "Participants in the vigil are asked to bring their own candles."

  • htomc42 Mar 19, 2010

    Actually, church/state separation doesn't really apply here. They are perfectly free to speak out on specific policies, as is any non-profit. It only crosses the line when they ask for special laws affecting them, or spending tax money on them, or supporting specific candidates for office.

    It's still an asinine protest, though. The educational effects of poor students being one school versus another, most likely pales in comparison to the effects that they themselves bring to the school experience.

  • invisible69mailx2 Mar 19, 2010

    clergy????..........what bout separation of church and state. if the clergy persists with their involvement, then their exemptions under the tax code should be pulled.

  • coffeecup Mar 19, 2010

    Listen to all the Republican blather! Wow, you'd never know those people shout religion to the high heavens when it suits their hypocritical purposes, but let a group of clergy support a viewpoint different from their own and all of a sudden religion is the bad guy! Oh you hypocrites are so amusing! Keep it up, right-wing! Free entertainment.

  • Nikka Mar 19, 2010

    I cannot imagine not going to school with children from my community which I grew up with, busing is crippling our children socially.

    Busing also harms our chilrens by giving them less time at home, with friends and sleeping as their commute tends to be quite long at times.

  • elsammons Mar 19, 2010

    So many good comments and so many good points against our current policy of busing students. Having moved here 3 years ago I can say that I was shocked to find a school system set up in this manner. I thought we were doing the right thing by selecting our new home in a neighbourhood that appeared to have decent school assignments. Within one year that changed and it is slated to change yet again next year. Upon further investigation I find so many of Wake County schools are failing and all this; failing schools and annual re-assignments all so that the county can throw away my tax dollars on gas to continue a policy that obviously isn't working. On top of that I have quickly learned that in our current policy schools are not created equal; one middle school can have foreign language while another does not. We need to spend these tax dollars on levelling the playing field and stop busing students.

    I for one hope the school board can remember; separation of church and state.

  • theartistformerlyknownasspeedy Mar 19, 2010

    I'd like a coalition to sponsor a candlelight vigil for tutoring and parental involvement. Maybe these churches could sponsor people to get involved in their NEIGHBORHOOD schools instead of fighting attempts to improve things.

  • melvinb Mar 19, 2010

    Lee and Karen, you've hit the nail squarely on the head! Those who WANT the best education possible for their children are being forced to abandon the public schools and either homeschool their children or sacrifice to pay to send their children to private schools, while being forced to conintue to support the public school system. America is NOT a mediocre country (YET!); it is a country where every citizen is FREE (so far!) to pursue the American Dream. The Preamble to the Constitution states that all men are CREATED EQUAL and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights to LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. The Scriptures tell us we will always have the poor with us, so attempts to uplift those who are not inclined to work their way up the social/economic ladder will never eliminate poverty. My thanks to the School Board for their attempts to reduce the cost of educating our children by upholding the neighborhood schools concept and eliminating forced-b