Wake County School Board In North Carolina Eliminates Integration Busing In Face Of Budget Cuts
In Wake County, N.C. some are accusing the local school board of upholding segregation, elitism and even racism.
According to the Washington Post, the Wake County School Board has slowly eroded much of its integration policy over the past year, including integration busing. However, proponents of the trend say it's not about race or class war, but about practicality.
ABC Local reported that the school board claimed the existing desegregation policies regarding busing were unfair and unhelpful, citing long bus rides and costly bus routes as detrimental to student success.
Wake County's new superintendent, Tony Tata, looks to continue the school board's emphasis on "neighborhood schools." Tata told WRAL that he believes progress and diversity are two separate issues, and his focus is on the former.
"If what we're trying to do is create a diverse environment and we're not concerned about their student achievement, then that's not something I'm interested in."
According to the Washington Post, John Tedesco of the school board defended his position by saying that desegregation busing policy is too outdated to be applicable.
"This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s -- my life is integrated. We need new paradigms."
The local community has responded differently.
In March, the Christian Science Monitor reported that protesters sat outside of a school board meeting, chanting, "No resegregation in our town, shut it down."
A few months later, WRAL reported on another protest that ended with 19 people arrested. Wake County school board member Keith Sutton noted the trend:
"It is beginning to create something of a spectacle I think, in terms of our meetings."
Many are concerned that lack of busing will result in poor, racially-secluded pockets of schools. These areas would then perpetuate the disadvantaged climate rather than produce the change that usually results in integrated schools.
Public ire aside, the Tea Party has shown its support of Wake County's actions. Art Pope, a popular republican figure who sits on the board of Americans For Prosperity, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying the isolation factor might make things more convenient.
"If we end up with a concentration of students underperforming academically, it may be easier to reach out to them. Hypothetically, we should consider that as well."