Students and Community Members Lead Sit-in, Protests against Resegregation of Wake County Schools
Posted by raleighfist on March 24, 2010
Students and alumni of the wake county school system led a sit-in today during a meeting of the Wake County School Board, demanding ALL students receive a quality education.
Raleigh, N.C. – This evening the Wake County School Board is scheduled to take a final vote on dismantling the system’s nationally recognized diversity policy. In response, an organized group of Wake County students, alumni, and their supporters began chanting “Shut it Down, No Segregation in our Town.” Demonstrators were forced from the building where they continue to rally outside.
The policy is a measure that seeks to ensure socio-economic diversity in all schools as a statistically proven way to bring more equity to the education system by avoiding low-performing high-poverty schools. Demonstrators, who believe this vote will move the community toward re-segregated schools and a two-tier system of education, attempted to enter the meeting en masse and declared the new school board majority was violating both legal and moral laws by continuing to operate as it had been.
Concerned parents, students, and community members have been packing the school board meetings for months, trying to stop these measures by the new majority, who were elected by less than 5% of the voters in the county.
“Separate but equal didn’t work then and it wont’ work now. This is a right-wing agenda being pushed on the people of Wake County and its being bank-rolled by some of the richest conservatives in our state – Art Pope, and the chair of Civitas, Robert Luddy, who runs several private and charter schools,” stated Andy Koch, a junior at UNC Chapel Hill and alum of Wake public schools.
Demonstrators and the public were also outraged by new procedures that sought to further limit public input on the measure by limiting attendees to only those who could pick up tickets at 10:30am for the 3pm meeting.
“How are students or working parents able to meaningfully participate and have their voices heard if the only people who attend are those who can afford to show up at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning? This is a clear maneuver to limit participation by working class people, who happen to be the people who will be most affected by this decision,” said Alicia Sidney, a single mother of two.
In addition, the school board was slated to vote on a new policy that threatened suspension for any student who picketed or protested the new policies.
“This is a violation of our human rights – what kind of civics lesson are they trying to teach us by threatening to suspend students for using their voice as we attempt to exercise our First Amendment Rights?” stated an outraged Jacob Ehrlich, a Wake County high schools student.
Demonstrators demand: that all following school board meetings be held at a time and place that allow for meaningful public participation, that the school board not move forward on any radical alteration of its policies until a full review of the data and fiscal implications, to drop the so-called “student disruption” policy that seeks to limit student’s First Amendment Rights, and finally, a re-call election to allow the people of Wake County to determine if these members truly have the support of the community.