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NAACP: Year-Round School Debate Threatens Diversity

Posted May 14, 2007

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— Some community leaders said Monday that  the pressure to find seats for thousands of new students could disrupt the racial and socio-economic diversity of Wake County classrooms.

The Wake County school system sent letters last Friday to the families of about 32,000 students, asking for their permission to send the children to year-round schools. Anyone who doesn't return the letter by Friday will be assigned to a traditional-calendar school.

The school district plans on converting 19 elementary schools and three middle schools from traditional to year-round calendars, saying it needs the extra space to accommodate a projected 8,000 new students.

A group of parents sued to block the move, and a judge ruled that the district couldn't assign students to a year-round school without parental consent.

More than a dozen African-American community leaders and clergy urged parents to sign and return the letters, saying year-round schools are important to maintaining diversity at a number of Wake County schools.

"We're here to stand for what's right," Michael Leach, president of the Raleigh-Apex chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said at a Monday morning news conference. "The NAACP supports a school system designed for all people."

The Economist magazine recently highlighted Wake County as a leading example of school diversity. But some community leaders said they fear the district will backslide if too few parents elect year-round schools, forcing more students into traditional schools that are already overcrowded and creating more segregation.

"My fear is that we could move back to segregated schools in a while," said Alice Garrett, a retired teacher and chairwoman of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association. "One segregated school in a county is one too many."

"This is a matter of ethics beyond ethnicity. This is a matter of principal beyond interest," said the Rev. Joe Stephenson, the pastor of Macedonia New Life Church.

Classroom diversity remains important to district officials, spokesman Michael Evans said, but it is only one factor in school assignment.

"It has become harder and harder (to balance) because of the growth in general. We do not live in a socio-economic integrated community," Evans said.

Parents who opt for a traditional school, by either choosing it on the letter or declining to return the letter, won't find out until at least mid-June where their children will be assigned.

"It is critically important that black parents do not neglect to return the the forms to their current schools.," school board member Rosa Gill said. "Leaders would like as many people as possible to choose the year-round option, but even if they want to remain in traditional-calendar schools, the forms still need to be returned to voice their choice to remain where their children are now."

District officials said they expect at least two-thirds of the families receiving permission letters to accept year-round assignments.

244 Comments

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  • Steve Crisp May 16, 2007

    I need to know something. Is there anyone on this board who has children and supports year round schools who does NOT fit any of the following criteria:

    1. Single parent or two parent household where both parents work a day job either both full time or one full time and the other part time.

    2, Income such that day care takes a significant portion of ones budget at the expense of other needs.

    3. Has a child who has been diagnosed with any type of learning disability.

    Just from anecdotal evidence, it seems like all the parents who want year round schools do so from a babysitting standpoint and not an educational one.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • Educator May 15, 2007

    I'm glad the NAACP stepped into this fight. They are very educated and have a valid concern. As a teacher, you need that diversity in your class and school. THANKS NAACP!

  • Educator May 15, 2007

    jchelpus- Boy do ever sound racist. You completely contraducted yourself. You need to do your history before you go around making comments like" look around it ain't our people". We won't ever be equal when we have people like you who whine about inequality instead of trying to work it out and educate people. You also stated that if you had it your way you would have your children go to school with kids like them. Didn't we go through a race war during segragation to stop that?

  • Not_So_Dumb May 15, 2007

    We explained "race/ethnicity" to our children in terms of dogs.
    There are many different breeds of dogs. Dogs come in all kinds of colors, sizes, shapes, fur etc., but they are all dogs. They all sniff bums to get to know whoever they are meeting. They all want to be good, be loved, get rubbed. They all need food and water and exercise.
    People are just like dogs. They come in all colors, sizes, shapes etc., and they all want/need the same things in life.

  • Nurse on the run May 15, 2007

    MedicMomOfAngels.....I agree!!!

  • poke-a-dotcom May 15, 2007

    jchelpus...if your comment wasn't race baiting I don't know what is!!!!

    Where are the WRAL censors when your kind of nonsense is being submitted????

  • MamaBear May 15, 2007

    This is the whole reason why I write N/A in the field that asks for race when I register my son.

  • jchelpus May 15, 2007

    If is wasn't so racist then why was it mentioned. I as an African American is humiliated by such a statement that the NAACP should be eliminated or they shouldn't speak in a case as this one. Do your history folks, it was always African Americans fighting for fairness, equility, and still haven't to come recieve equality. But speaking for myself and knowing that racism will always exist leads me to believe the igornance of all races. We are too far stuck into our own plans to think about our children black or white. I totally agree wholeheartdly with Elhalema; if I had my choice or my way I would send my child to a school with the people that he resemble the most. Why send him to a school that teaches that time out is better than a whoopin'. That's how you get the paris hiltons, or the boys who throw acid on teachers, or the kids that bomb the schools. Look around people, it aint our people who is doing this crazy stuff.

  • TAO May 15, 2007

    yabo2k3: Your point about "the teachers are highly qualified" and so on misses the point. A highly qualified person does not equal a person that does a good job, no matter how you cut it. I went through the public school systems here myself, and I feel that while I had some great teachers, some of them were far from good and the system itself fails excellent students such as myself who run through classes "BORED" because we're throttling down, even in AG courses, to keep the "slower kids" learning, and letting the brightest rot.

  • MedicMomOfAngels May 15, 2007

    Diversity???? That's ridiculous. Since all people are equal regardless of gender, national origin/ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status then why should it matter who is in what classrooms. Why can't our kids just go to the school closest to the house we live in? That seems to be a radical thought. Quit trying to balance "factors" that will NEVER be balanced (with such a fluctuating population) and get back to the business of education.

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