NAACP: Chapel Hill schools being resegregated

Michelle Cotton Laws, President of the Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP , addresses a news conference Thursday.

February 25, 2010 12:35:15 PM PST
The NAACP took aim at Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools Thursday, saying the district is being resegregated by student assignments to advanced placement and honors courses.

The group cited data that it says shows less than 1 percent of the students currently enrolled in advanced classes are African-American or Latino/Hispanic. It also claims district administrators are implementing policies that will widen the achievement gap.

"We are not against raising standards and challenging all youth to succeed and excel at high levels. What we are against, however, are policies that expand opportunities for those persons at the top, with little or no genuine attention given to how to bring those children at the bottom along," said Michelle Cotton Laws, President of the Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP in a statement. "This is not a Black or White issue. This is a Human Issue."

Laws said African Americans and Latino/Hispanic kids are disproportionately assigned to lower level classes. And, she claimed there is no evidence that they can't do more advanced coursework.

Responding to the NAACP claims Thursday, Superintendent Neil Pedersen and school board members acknowledged that not enough has been done to close the achievement gap, but said they were committed to doing that.

They said they're looking at other models in other states for ideas on how to go about it. They've also worked on raising achievement levels so that some students have an opportunity to move up to advanced classes.

"The board has committed additional resources to revise and invigorate standard level courses so they are engaging to students who might not be as enthusiastic about the subject matter or who have experienced difficulty in the past in science and social studies courses," offered Board Member Mike Kelley.

The NAACP says it opposes a plan to expand advanced classes across the district without a plan already in place to identify and recruit more minorities while increasing teacher accountability.

"We will not stand by and watch our schools become resegregated inside their halls, by class and race. We are on the verge of educational apartheid," Laws claimed.

Currently, about 13 percent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro students take A.P. courses. That compares to 6 percent in Wake and 7 percent in Durham.

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