Raleigh-Durham Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)

Revolutionary socialist youth in the US South

School segregation resisted in North Carolina

Posted by raleighfist on December 15, 2009

By Vidya Sankar and Dante Strobino
Raleigh, N.C.

Fighting to reverse 40 years of progressive change in the Wake County School Board, North Carolina Republican Party candidate John Tedesco was successfully elected to a District 2 School Board position in the Nov. 3 elections. Tedesco, a staunch segregationist and champion of “neighborhood schools,” and three other school board members joined incumbent Ron Margiotta to secure a pro-segregationist majority on the nine-member board.

Anti-segregation supporters tried to link a return to neighborhood schools in Wake, whose county seat is Raleigh, with what has happened to Charlotte, N.C., schools since the district abandoned busing in 2002. With more children returning to “neighborhood schools,” the suburban schools, with more white children, have become more affluent, while inner-city Charlotte schools, with more people of color, have become poorer. Many of the racist demagogues like to cloak their campaigns with arguments that busing is “anti-parent”—meaning that busing hinders parental involvement—to make the masses of white workers feel it is in their interest to side with them.

In recent years Wake schools have shifted from busing children primarily based on race to organizing schools based on income. County officials assign and bus students in order to ensure that no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, Wake County Public School System students, on average, spend almost 15 minutes less on a bus each day than the state average. Eighty-six percent of Wake students currently attend a “neighborhood school” within five miles of their homes, and 99 percent within 10 miles. (Oct. 2)

Community stands united against racist segregation

The few policies implemented by the ruling class to help working-class and oppressed people, such as busing to help counteract Jim Crow apartheid, are scapegoated as the reason for budget shortfalls caused by the capitalist economic crisis. Thus, they are seen as targets for cuts during recessions. Oppressed groups are always disproportionately hurt by the failures of the capitalist system, and the push to re-segregate schools by the racist right wing is a move to increase that oppression.

Tedesco’s racist chauvinism came out in full force the night of his election, while hanging out with Republican supporters like Garner, N.C., Mayor Ronnie Williams. Tedesco stated that school segregation was “generational”—a thing of the past that African-American youth would go along with—as if Jim Crow doesn’t still exist in the South!

Tedesco completely underestimated the capacity of the community to respond. On Oct. 30 the NAACP organized a march and a mass meeting in downtown Raleigh that attracted several hundred parents, children and community members of all nationalities. The meeting, hosted at the Martin Street Baptist Church, urged the community to hold the school board accountable for any future plans. Later that weekend the NAACP organized a second mass meeting at Juniper Level Baptist Church near Garner.

“You and I here tonight know that when children are packed into the most underfunded, most segregated, most high poverty schools, it is nothing more than institutionalized child abuse,” the Rev. William Barber, North Carolina NAACP president, told the crowd in Raleigh. “We won’t let them take Wake County because it could lead to the whole state, then the whole South.”

Barber continued: “The truth is the people use the ploy of neighborhood schools and busing as a wedge issue to divide us. … Their motives are rooted in a past which all of America—including the old slave states that tried to leave America to maintain slavery—wants to leave behind.”

The movement behind quality education and the fight against racism is growing to resist these efforts by Tedesco and the new school board. Combined with the fight for jobs and against budget cuts, the unity and determination of the community will undoubtedly prevail.

Sankar attended Wake schools for eight years, and Strobino attended Charlotte schools for 10 years.

Both are organizers in Raleigh FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.

One Response to “School segregation resisted in North Carolina”

  1. John Tedesco said

    This is extremely sad – and disturbing that you have so little facts and know nothing about me – the man you comment on in such distateful fashion. I am a huge proponent of diversity. Where I choose to live, work, and worship reflect that. I wish others who claim to like diversity made similar choices. In fact, I intentionally bought my home in a diverse community, my subdivision has 30% minority households (above the county average), my church is just as diverse if not more, my place of work is employs over 60% minorities on its staff, my family and extended family has several mixed relations and my godson is African American, past girlfriends have been African American and Hispanic, my daily career serves thousands of at-risk youth of which in 2008 92% were below the federal poverty guidelines. On top of it I volunteer in our prisons and have stated publicly that my efforts are to end the direct school to prison pipleine we have for at-risk youth. I have just launched the NC Mentoring Children fo Prisoners Campaign to serve 3,000 kids, and I have built homelss shelters for over 8,000 abused and abandonded children primarily from minority homes. I grew up in and out of projects, shelters, and various low-income communities. And I have dedicated my life to helping children of poverty. What do you do? But this is how you speak of me due to me wanting to fix a policy that fails these kids leaving us with ten years of declining graduation rates for economically disadvantaged children.

    Diversity is a rewarding goal for our community to strive for in the enhancement of all of us; and our schools have a great opportunity to help us cross cultural and racial divides. However, the socio-economic redistribution of children is not the proper tool to achieve those goals. While I support diversity I am opposed to WCPSS Policy 6200 as I feel it fails to serve us as affectively as it should. It inadvertently limits parental engagement, disrupts a child’s continuity and self identity in some cases, deteriorates neighborhoods, and increases school conflicts, as marked by our increased violence and drop-out rates. Our current 54% graduation rate for economically disadvantaged children is a sin, and was noted in a similar case by superior court judge Manning as “academic genocide”.

    Shuffling kids to balance out numbers, test scores, and income ONLY waters down the real problems to the point where we can no longer identify or then solve them. Together we can find ways to help our most challenged students and not just hide them among better test scores in other locations.”

    I am for a Community Schools Model and PRO-DIVERSITY, further I am opposed to mandates on families regarding child assignments. The community schools model I and has been from day one listed on my web site and endorsed by the Obama Administration.
    I know we can figure out how to support diversity, build up neighborhoods, and provide families with choice. I am trying to get to that solution, you are trying merely to tear people down. I am ashamed by your commentary and would expect better from those who supposedly value other people.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas,

    John Tedesco

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