NAACP says neighborhood schools a 'public emergency'

Posted June 16, 2010
Updated July 6, 2010

— The state NAACP says the Wake County Board of Education's move away from busing students to help balance socio-economic diversity in the school system is a "public emergency" and that the group won't stop fighting the board's "morally wrong" decision to move toward community-based schools.

"If it is necessary that we be locked up to resist policies that will lock down our children in re-segregated, high-poverty and unconstitutional schools, so be it," state chapter President Rev. William Barber said at a news conference Wednesday.

Barber and three others were arrested Tuesday evening and charged with second-degree trespassing after they interrupted the school board's meeting, locked arms and sang songs.

The "non-violent conscientious objection," as Barber called it, disrupted the meeting for about an hour.

"We love all the children of this community. We love the teachers … We even love the wayward members of the school board," Barber said Wednesday. "We love them enough to correct them, to challenge them, to pray for them. But we're not going anywhere."

Board member John Tedesco defended the board's decision to re-shape the system and said the NAACP's efforts aren't necessary.

"We're trying to work for all our children in the community," Tedesco said. "I offered the (NAACP) the hand of friendship. I offered to sit down with them, have lunch with them. I'll talk about the issues. They don't want that. They want a media circus, and I'm not going to give them that."

The Wake school system's assignment plan – which used socio-economic status to assign students to schools across the county – became a national model for districts looking to achieve balance in student populations without violating a 2007 Supreme Court decision that limits the use of race in how students are assigned.

The five board members who voted to end the policy argued there are better ways to achieve diversity in schools. They favor keeping Wake's nearly 140,000 students as close to home as possible.

NAACP protest NAACP vows to continue diversity fight

Barber was joined by the three others arrested Tuesday – Nancy Petty, a pastor at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh; Timothy Tyson, a Duke University research scholar; and Mary Dobbin Williams, a Wake County parent.

Ending the longstanding busing policy, they fear, will re-segregrate schools and result in a high concentration of poverty, low-performing schools and high teacher turnover.

"This will undermine the education of all students, hurt the life chances of many and harm the whole community," Barber said.

Most of the 44 worst-performing high schools in the state are segregated, he said, adding that 40 of them are racially isolated, predominantly non-white schools.

"Many are segregated schools within diverse communities, in which student assignment polices are directly responsible for economic and racial isolation," Barber said. "The diversity policy is not a cure-all – and the system has inequities and problems that it does not address, but abandoning it will make things much worse."

The NAACP is mobilizing further action, he said, that will likely include more protests, as well as marches and days of community action. A community gathering, he said, has been set for 7 p.m. Monday at Pullen church.

The group, he said, isn't ruling out legal action either.

"Can a local school board that gets a majority of its fund from the state and federal government engage in actions that diametrically oppose the fundamental principle of the Constitution?" Barber said. "That's the question – and we believe they can't, and we believe they will be challenged, and we're moving forward in how we open up that challenge."


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  • dcshadows Jun 24, 2010

    What is he really saying about the neighborhoods? If that is the problem then shouldn't 2Ton be in the neighborhoods changing the root of the problem rather than chasing an outcome of the problem? Makes sense to me, but wait, these people don't care about common sense, they just want to be needed in the position they are for their own benefit. Nevermind. I see, got it.

  • bht579 Jun 18, 2010

    If the good reverund really cared about kids, he would realize that its a proven fact that PARENTS participate more in the childs education when the school is nearby and not across town. And PARENTAL involvement is key to learning success. Add to that , the extra time each child wastes busing back and forth (which could be spent studying or sleeping), the costs of Busing( which could be spent better on schools), and the environmental impact of polluting buses running back and forth, and its a no-brainer. Neighborhood Schools...FOR THE CHILDREN !!!!

  • wilko Jun 17, 2010

    This thread saddens me.

    It was one of those rare moments where I got to teach my Dad something. We had been moving and unpacking boxes as I was the in process of moving from Charleston to Wilmington. We were tired, hot, hungry, So we stopped at a drive thru at a chicken joint.

    Got some stuff for us to take back to the house so the family could eat dinner. I thought I was just being polite..

    He says to me "Why are you being so nice to HER" I said to him "How much must her life suck that she is working at a chicken joint? She has a job and is doing her best, why else would she be THERE if she didn't have to. A little courtesy doesn't cost me anything, and ours may not be the dinner she spits in"

    Some folks are saying things here, they wouldn't dare say to someones face. If we cant pretend to get out !@#$% together, what hope is there for our kids?

    manners and civility people...

  • captigor Jun 17, 2010

    I work hard, take care of my family, and I don't do drugs or alcohol. I have been blessed by God and do not want my children brought down by thugs and gangstas (the disciples of the devil). Yes God CREATED us equal but that does not mean we remain equal.

  • wildcat Jun 17, 2010

    Oh=--lets not forget the current buzz words--economic diversity--read racism.

    Its the world the humans has created. God did not create this mess. Oh, remember that God created us all equally. Too bad man/woman on earth cannot see that.

  • josephlawrence43 Jun 17, 2010

    "public emergency"--one that the good Rev. and his associates are creating with all the protests, non-violent civil disobedience, etc. Oh=--lets not forget the current buzz words--economic diversity--read racism.

  • wildcat Jun 17, 2010

    go to school with those people.

    "Those people" - exactly who are you referring too. Did it ever occur to you that maybe no one wants your kids there because of you and your attitude?

  • captigor Jun 17, 2010

    I bought an expensive house, in an expensive neighborhood so my children wouldn't have to go to school with those people.

  • eddiwill9 Jun 17, 2010

    Instead of protesting, spend your time encouraging the parents of the children you want to help to get involved in their local schools. Being involved with a low-performing school that includes all race and economic levels, I know that all without parental support children will not achieve their full academic potential. If you must fight for something , fight for more honors classes and encourage students to enroll. Fighting aganist these classes is counter-productive. Telling children they are not smart enough to achieve unless they are in a school outside their community is also counter-productive.

  • NoFreakinWay Jun 17, 2010

    the public emergency is that guy's health!