Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Fresh off of labeling parents as segregationists at the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children, Stan Norwalk is at it again. When we last caught up with Stan at the CCCAAC meeting, he rambled around for about ten minutes incorrectly citing the Leandro decision as the landmark case for the Mecklenburg school system.

And now this.

Leave it to Stan. He doesn't let facts get in the way.

And who is to blame for the reassignment mess? Chuck Delaney, Del Burns, Central Office, an unresponsive school board? Nope. Lo and behold it's

Drum roll please....

The home builders once again. While you're at it Stan, why not blame them for the spread of malaria in Africa as well.

By the way Stan, you cheapen real issues of racism and segregation that occurred 40-50 years ago by trying to put the Bull Connor label on parents justly concerned about the quality of Wake County's public school system.

Might I recommend a book for you? It's called Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson. I know you are not from the South originally so maybe you ought to brush up on your Southern history rather than just spouting out self-righteous drivel and throwing labels around. In case you think it's a right wing book, it was chosen by the folks at UNC-Chapel Hill for the Summer Reading Program. The same folks that forced students to read Approaching the Quran.

In Defense of Diversity
Posted 03-28-2009 at 04:11 PM by

In Defense of DiversityThe rallying cry of the coalition promoting the reversal of WCPSS’ diversity policy is “neighborhood schools” aka “community schools” The coalition consists of three Political Action Committees (PAC’s) involving irate parents who are supporting four candidates for the Board of Education (BOE) in this falls election. Other individuals supporting vouchers and private schools have attached themselves to the PAC’s.The unstated message of “Neighborhood Schools” is “keep your poor kids in their own schools, not in ‘our’ schools.” Rather than re-segregated neighborhood schools we need a new commitment from all levels of government to raise the academic bar for all children. Irate parents have been led to believe that reversing the school board’s (BOE) diversity policy would resolve their legitimate concerns, i.e. the pain of frequent reassignments, lengthy bus rides and the inconvenience of mandated year round schools (MYRS). However, rolling back the diversity policy will not address these grievances and may make them worse. The false choice of raising the funding level for schools with high concentrations of needy children will eventually fail as it require an increase in property taxes - including the 70% of voters who do not have children in public schools.The understandably irate parents are aiming at the wrong target. WCPSS’ diversity policy plays a minor role in their grievances. Rather the BOE’s use of these measures results from decade’s long mismanagement of growth in Wake County. For twenty years both the State and the County have been unwilling to insist that growth must be connected to new school infrastructure (read: an Adequate Public Facility Ordinances) and that growth must pay for growth. (read: impact fees on new residents.) Too few in the State legislature and the County Commission are willing to vote against powerful special interests opposing widely used solutions.As a result, Wake is has over 25,000 seats in trailers, (1170 trailers) over-crowding campuses to the point where schools must be capped and children assigned to more distant schools. Inadequate funding leads to MYRS and lengthy bus rides. Worst of all, taxes from existing residents are used to pay for constructing schools rather than educating the children they house.All students are impacted. Teacher intensive, specialized courses are the first to go when funds for education are tightly restrained.NC is 44th in the nation in support of K-12 classroom education . Likewise, Wake’s schools are 85th (of 115 school districts) in the state (not counting the costs of constructing schools. Source NC DPI). Focusing on reversing the diversity policy will not resolve these deplorable facts. Wake’s children are caught in the crossfire of a blame game between the BOE, the County Commissioners, and state legislators – and now, misinformed parents.Concentrating poor children in segregated schools will not address parents’ grievances. Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s experience in re-segregating their schools resulted in more bussing; abysmally low academic performance in re-segregated schools; “brain flight”; shifting resources from more affluent area schools to pay for education in poor ones and higher property taxes for all. It has taken decades of mismanaged growth to dig the hole for our schools. Especially during a deep recession there are no silver-bullet solutions to undo the damage of those decades. Growth will return and we should remember the need for real reform. For now, let’s avoid taking giant steps backward. Rather we should focus on using limited resources to advance academics.Rejection of funds to advance academics for our growing school population, we result in lower graduation rates. There will be more citizens who cannot find adequate employment. Then we will spend much more money fighting gangs and building jails.Consider that Wake’s success in attracting high-paying jobs is based on its concentration of brainpower. Wake’s competitive advantage needs nurturing. Constantly raising the academic bar attracts quality jobs and prepares the next generation for such jobs. Diversity is a given in the worlds of business and government. Do we really want to teach our kids that diversity is unimportant? Dealing with the challenges in our schools requires leadership with a long range vision and a focus on what’s critically important. It requires courage to resist powerful special interests and the “critical many” rather than the critical few. Leaders need to find common ground across organizational, ideological and party lines.Past great leaders have fought and for diversity in schools. Some even died in the effort. Where will Wake’s citizens stand this fall?Stan Norwalk is a member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. His views on diversity are his own. He can be reached at stann@nc.rr.com