NAACP decries conservative group's budget advice to school boards
Posted April 14, 2011 1:23 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2011 4:07 p.m. EDT
Winston-Salem, N.C. — Members of the state NAACP protested the decision by four Wake County school board members to attend a budget training session Thursday sponsored by a conservative group.
The Civitas Institute and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Schools organized the half-day seminar, which was attended by Wake board members Ron Margiotta, John Tedesco, Chris Malone and Deborah Prickett.
State NAACP President Rev. William Barber, who has criticized ending the use of socioeconomic diversity as a factor in student assignment in Wake County schools, said the Civitas Institute is bad for diversity and has no business training school board members.
"The policies of Civitas are about going backwards. The policies of the NAACP for 102 years and all of our friends have always been about pushing this nation forward," Barber said.
Malone said the seminar is one option to fill requirements for continuing education for school board members.
"It's required training. Every year, we are supposed to get about 12 hours of credits, and that's what we are doing," he said. "We are going to take care of our responsibility."
Barber said a seminar organized by Civitas fits the political agenda of the majority of the Wake County school board that favors neighborhood schools.
"It seems they traveled here, and they'll travel anywhere to go somewhere that lines up with the regressive thoughts," Barber said.
School board members, though, said they attended the seminar to learn, not for a political agenda.
"I would encourage, before people challenge it, that they come in and see what's being taught," Tedesco said. "I don't think it's any different than any other training that's happening all over the state."
Board members pointed out that the meeting included nonpartisan speakers – Philip Price, chief financial officer of the state Department of Public Instruction, and Kerry Crutchfield, former finance director for W-S/FCPS – as well as Terry Stopps, education studies director for the conservative John Locke Foundation.
Bob Luebke, with the Civitas Institute, said it's simply interested in education.
"We are very much in favor of improving our schools and working toward strategies that do that," he said.
Luebke said that all members of school boards across the state were invited to the seminar. The other five members of the Wake County school board did not attend.