Tea Party Backed School Board Kills School Integration in Raleigh, North Carolina

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The Washington Post reports that a tea party-backed, largely Republican school board in North Carolina has vowed to “say no to the social engineers” and voted to abolish its policy of socioeconomic integration. (Raleigh’s inner-city schools, which are essentially magnet schools filled with economically and racially diverse student enrollments, often have waiting lists and are some of the best in the city.) Reports WaPo‘s Stephanie McCrummen: 

“Critics accuse the new board of pursuing an ideological agenda aimed at nothing less than sounding the official death knell of government-sponsored integration in one of the last places to promote it. Without a diversity policy in place, they say, the county will inevitably slip into the pattern that defines most districts across the country, where schools in well-off neighborhoods are decent and those in poor, usually minority neighborhoods struggle.”

 The NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint and federal education officials have visited the county, first steps toward a possible investigation.

Unfortunately for students in Raleigh, socioeconomic integration was one of the policies that actually seemed to work. As Gerald Grant wrote in his book Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh, this approach “reduced the gap between rich and poor, black and white, more than any other large urban educational system in America.” Besides, it’s cheaper than charters and better-tested, argues Richard Kahlenberg, a leading voice on this topic and a senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

Despite the data, even progressives are deeply divided on whether socioeconomic integration is practical. As Andrew Rotherham, one of the most influential voices in school reform, argued in a recent column, “The glaring problem from a policy perspective is that low-income families tend to live in the same neighborhoods, and dramatically changing housing patterns—or school-zoning boundaries—as a large-scale reform measure is impractical.” Affluent parents are usually against socioeconomic integration, argues Rotherham.

Stay tuned to Raleigh. As McCrummen notes:

“The situation unfolding here in some ways represents a first foray of tea party conservatives into the business of shaping a public school system, and it has made Wake County the center of a fierce debate over the principle first enshrined in the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education: that diversity and quality education go hand in hand.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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