NAACP plans 'Mass Meeting' on schools

NAACP North Carolina State Conference President William J. Barber II. (AP image)

May 11, 2010 8:10:21 PM PDT
The North Carolina NAACP said Tuesday it plans a "Mass Meeting" on Tuesday May 17 at 7 p.m. at the Martin Street Baptist Church.

State NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber said he will present research on the Wake County School Board's proposal for community based schools.

Monday is also the anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that desegregated schools across the country 56 years ago.

"It was wrong then and it is wrong today," said Barber.

Barber says the school board's plan to do away with the current socio-economic diversity busing policy currently in place in Wake County is unconstitutional and morally wrong.

"It is time that all citizens of Wake County and throughout North Carolina join together and lead us toward the sane, sensible, research-based and constitutional educational policies that really will help educate all of our children," said Barber.

Meanwhile, the Wake County school board chair says he is confident that changing to community-based schools will not lead to re-segregation in Wake County.

"They're dinosaurs," School Board Chair Ron Margiotta said. "We are one of the last if not the last school districts in the country that still bus for diversity."

Margiotta says the existing socio-economic diversity bussing policy is simply not working.

"It's about time that we come out of the dark ages," he said.

And improve student achievement, Margiotta says, by moving toward community-based schools. But Barber has expressed otherwise.

"They should have never started this fight," Barber said. "We should really be working on the real things that make schools better. We will fight with every tool morally and legally available to us to fight any attempt to step backwards into a past that we have already moved beyond."

Reverend Barber says he will also share the NAACP's researched-based position on re-segregation at the meeting on Monday, something he says he wanted to do with the board, but was shut out.

"The chairman never brought that before the school board and they never voted on allowing us to come for 45 minutes or even 30 minutes," Barber said.

Margiotta says he offered a private meeting to the Reverend so he could share his views, but the Reverend declined the offer because he wanted to do it in front of the entire board.

"A public spectacle and that's a circus," Margiotta said. "We don't need a circus."

As for the claim of re-segregation, Margiotta said, "Segregation is something that's not coming back to the Wake County schools. It's forbidden by laws, it's forbidden by court rulings."

In the meantime, Reverend Barber says he continues to be troubled by the lack of specifics on how the board will prevent re-segregation from happening.

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