Wake County Schools

Meeker says Wake school board 'way off track'

Posted January 17, 2011

— Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker received a standing ovation Monday morning after criticizing members of the Wake County Board of Education for not upholding the dream and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Speaking to community leaders at the 31st Annual Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, the mayor called four school board members “way off track” for moving ahead with student assignment policy that places children in schools closer to their homes instead of busing them to help achieve socio-economic diversity in schools.

“This is a civil rights issue. We all have roles to play in this,” Meeker said. “Our community simply needs to stand up and get the board back on track.”

Meeker, like his wife, school board member Dr. Anne McLaurin, has long opposed the controversial and divisive measure that was narrowly adopted last year by the Republican-backed board majority.

He urged students Monday to write letters and for business leaders to “stand up for what’s right.”

“We all need to be involved,” he said. “This is an issue where the spirit of Martin Luther King needs to shine through. This is an issue on which we need to prevail.”

Meeker was one of a number of local and state officials speaking at Monday’s breakfast in honor of the slain civil rights leader, who would have turned 82 on Saturday.

In speaking about King’s legacy and fight for racial equality, Gov. Bev Perdue alluded to the school assignment controversy, saying King’s work is not finished in Wake County and that “we need to keep on pushing.”

“I believe that everything that we have and hope to be is defined by education,” she said. “I believe that the only way to give a young girl or young boy a chance to be somebody is through a free public education that works for all of the people.”

“Education is the thing that American promises for all of us, even in Wake County. Education is synonymous to equality,” she added. “Education was what Dr. King understood would be the fundamental promise of opportunity."

Opponents say they believe the new assignment policy will segregate students and keep economically disadvantaged students from getting the same quality of education as their counterparts.

Supporters say it will improve student achievement and allow parents to be more involved in their children’s education.

School board Chairman Ron Margiotta, who supports community schools, responded to Meeker’s criticism Monday morning, saying it is “part of politics of the day.”

“The (school) system has been failing low-income children,” Margiotta said. “We're making a strong attempt to turn that around."

Newly hired Superintendent Tony Tata supports that view. When asked this month about the importance of diversity, he said that his priority will be increasing student achievement and preparing children to compete and succeed in a global economy.

The new assignment policy, still more than a year from being in place, led to the NAACP filing a complaint with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights. The result of that investigation is pending.

Work on how to implement the new policy was also stalled in October, after board Vice Chairwoman Debra Goldman – the deciding vote in changing it – broke from the board majority and stopped a proposed plan, asking that the transformation slow down to include more discussion.


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  • Timtooltime Jan 19, 2011

    Meeker ! Who asked for your two cents ? I guess you need more votes ?

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 19, 2011

    Who would thought that this guy could end up being such an amazzing kissing suger daddy. ( I don't think this will get posted but kind of makes ya feel better) lol

  • walences Jan 19, 2011

    We moved to a different part of town so that our kids would be able to attend a better school with lower percentages of minority students. Why should we be penalized by having those students bussed to our better school? Wake up mayor Meeker. We dont want bussing and we voted accordingly. You must follow the will of the people or step down.

  • edbuck51 Jan 19, 2011

    I am insulted that the notion of kids that attend a predominately black school can't do well. my daughter attended a rural 85% black school, graduated a year early with honors and got a full ride to college before she got tired of school and joined the army, she scored over 1400 on the SAT as well, and my son attended a city school. 80% black and finished college and works as a first responder, they were in college before they realized that I didn't have to check their homework, this letter probably won't make it by the censorship committee , most of my never do

  • hynoats Jan 19, 2011

    (I think my last post didn't go through) Why is this such a big deal??? The students who are performing poorly in diverse schools now, will continue to perform poorly in their community school. The kids who are doing great now, will continue to do great when we go to community based schools. The problem is NOT the Wake County School Board, NOR is it teachers. The problem with poor performance 99.99% of the time is lazy students and sorry parents. I know many great teachers in this state who are seriously thinking about leaving the profession because of lack of raises the past 2 years, and the almost certainty of no raise next year. The school system needs to cut costs anyway possible without losing educators. The current busing system did NOT improve performance at all, because again, the problem is parents and students. If you really want to improve performance, hold PARENTS/GUARDIANS accountable for their child's performance. Meeker, enjoy the rest of your last term as a politician!

  • atac001 Jan 19, 2011

    Meeker is a tool

  • Timtooltime Jan 19, 2011

    How much money would we save getting rid of vote seekers like meeker ??

  • atlas_shrugged Jan 19, 2011

    We will save at least $30M by eliminating the costs (buses, bus maintenance, bus drivers, bus dispatchers, bus fuel, bus oil, bus tires, bus liability insurance, bus security, etc.) imposed by an out of control student busing policy.

    I would remind you that while you may not have voted for your so called "maverick 5", the MAJORITY of voters did! Get over it and "move on" to coin a phrase!

    The accreditation issue is completely overblown. We (the taxpayers of Wake County) pay AdvanceEd (a private business) to perform an accreditation service for our schools ... that is all. AdvanceEd decided to become a pawn supporting the political agenda of the socialist progressive left, rather than an unbiased, professional accreditation agency. Simple solution ... take our tax dollars and business elsewhere. Find a new accreditation agency (many out there better than AdvanceEd).

  • superman Jan 18, 2011

    Someone in Washington feels they are "off track". They have already lost a 30 million dollar federal grant. Some people have their head in the sand and only remember what that want to. And then least you forget-- may I remind you of the 3 million the board threw away when they changed the location of the new high school. And then may I remind you that all of us did not not vote for the maverick "5". The system is crumbling fast. Accreditation is almost out the window.

  • lkanzig Jan 18, 2011

    lets get real here meeker! the only ones way off base is you and the rest of the political gang in raleigh. as politicians you have no clue what the average american wants, just only how much money the good old boy network can walk away with! at the rate the politicians have been going for the past few years, the dictionary is now going to have this next to this entry... politician- see also crook, corruption and lack of morals. but then again everyone knows that already!