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Busing, Race at Center of Controversy Concerning Mayor

Posted April 14, 2008

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— The mayor of Garner says the town has too high a percentage of low-income students in its schools because of busing. His comments have offended some community leaders in southeast Raleigh.

"With a higher percentage, there are lower test scores – end-of-grade and end-of-course scores," Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said.

Town aldermen have threatened several times to hold up building permits for new schools if the Wake County School Board doesn't even out economic levels among the students in the schools in Garner.

"They are coming from the 27603 and the 27610 ZIP code(s), which is outside of Garner,” Williams said when talking about the underprivileged students.

The 27603 and 27610 ZIP codes are south of Raleigh.

"I was offended," Dr. David Forbes, pastor of southeast Raleigh's Christian Faith Baptist Church said of Williams' statements.

Forbes and other southeast Raleigh leaders want the mayor to further explain his position.

"The issue is one of trying to be good citizens and trying to respect all of the children and not victimizing the poor, black children of southeast Raleigh," Forbes said.

"I understand their concerns and I understand their sensitivity, and in hindsight maybe I should have worded it a little differently,” Williams said.

The school district measures economic diversity in a school by the number of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. It tries to keep the level below 40 percent.

Of the nine schools with a Garner address, more than half of them are above that standard.

"We are not targeting any student from anywhere. The numbers are there, and they reveal the facts,” Williams said.

Forbes argues the issue is bigger than Garner.

"It's a systemwide issue and problem that needs to be addressed," he said.

The mayor said he hopes more schools can be built in southeast Raleigh to accommodate students living there. Community leaders said they aren't sure that is the answer, but it could be something to consider.

The mayor is scheduled to meet with community leaders Tuesday to discuss options.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • GetRight Apr 15, 2008

    The babyboy ought to think about what he's saying before he shoots off his mouth about something he knows nothing about.

    Mayor Williams HAS focused on getting resources for his schools and the children that belong in them. The WCPSS has turned the children they are busing into Garner into termites that are devouring those resources. Don't mis-quote me. The children are not to blame. They had no voice in this. The WCPSS has over-burdened Garner with more needy kids than we have resources to handle. THAT is the point!

  • Babyboy Apr 15, 2008

    The mayor should focus on getting resources for his schools instead of trying to prevent students from filling his schools.

  • empowered activist Apr 15, 2008

    Who would think African americans are still being pushed to the back of the bus in 2008. espicially children Go get em reverend!

  • batcave Apr 15, 2008

    u da man mayor- tell it like it is.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Apr 15, 2008

    "Mayor Williams' mistake was being honest. We have become so sheltered, picky, and whiney that any comment that even approaches the truth will cause a controversy."

    This says it all

  • issymayake Apr 15, 2008

    Good job Mayor Williams. No students should ever be bussed to make school look the same. We live where we live to be with those we want to be around. If that falls with race lines then those who are not succeeding should look at themselves and figure out how to correct their problems.

    You ignore WAYYY too many factors while making this rather simplistic statement.

    As for the rest of you all, I'm enjoying hearing both sides of the debate. Keep up the frank, and honest discussion.

  • stand_up Apr 15, 2008

    The busing is just a drain on tax dollars. Moreover, I think the no child left behind act is a much bigger problem. Let's keep the whole class back just because a few students don't get a concept. Meanwhile, the advanced and academically talented students aren't getting any attention and teachers are failing to foster their academic gifts.

  • enigma1469 Apr 15, 2008

    Good job Mayor Williams. No students should ever be bussed to make school look the same. We live where we live to be with those we want to be around. If that falls with race lines then those who are not suceeding should look at themselves and figure out how to correct their problems.

  • claudnc Apr 15, 2008

    First of all - doing what is right is allowing the children that live in 27610, 27601 and 27603 to attend the magnet school that is in their back yards. They shouldnt be bused all over timbucktoo to attend school - because redistricting does not allow them to attend the magnet school right next door to their homes. So if you want to get real - get completely real about the situation. Why are the magnet schools right there and they cant attend and you have folks being bused in from other areas to attend the "magnet" school. I agree Garner knew what they were getting into when they wanted the schools built so figure out how to make it work for everyone.

  • Felton23 Apr 15, 2008

    I'm a product of Garner schools, went on to college, graduate school, etc. Individually, school is what you make up it. However, positively, or negatively, the peers in your classroom can impact your individual education.

    I remember in 4th grade, we had kids who lived in Chavis Heights, and other neighborhoods off of Garner Rd headed toward Raleigh that were in our class. Meanwhile, I lived in the neighborhood across the street. It is difficult to say what is right, neighborhood schools or balance by busing. I guess you just try to find the best mix. I will say, that if the issue is free/reduced lunch kids, no matter what race/sex, etc, they are, Garner, regarding this issue, has been slapped in the face by the Cary's and the Apex's of the county. These are the people that shout "deal with it Garner", but then would turn around and say "not in my backyard", the San Fransisco of the county.