The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, fired a heated attack on neighborhood schools and the new Wake County school board majority at an event honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
At an interfaith breakfast in Durham on Monday, Barber argued that the educational research proves that maintaining socioconomically schools makes schools stronger. As a result. he said it's really about "class and race" with neighborhood school supporters wanting resegregation.
"What many mean by neighborhood schools is the school where the price of admission is the ability to pay a gigantic mortgage," Barber said. "What they want to do Governor is to take the money of this state and essentially create private schools paid for with tax dollars.
"Now they claim it won't be true resegregation like the old days, 100 percent, because they can handle it if a handful of the kids got a little dark skin. It's ok if the vanilla is sprinkled with a little cinammon. But what they really want are highly resegregated private schools paid for with public money where their children mix only with the children in their posh neighborhood and somebody ought to say not on my dime."
Barber drew repeated ovations during his keynote speech at the 30th Annual Martin Luther King Triangle Interfaith Breakfast. The breakfast was sponsored by Capitol Broadcasting with CEO Jim Goodmon introducing Barber.
Click here to watch the video of Barber's speech on WRAL's web site. Capitol Broadcating owns WRAL.
Many of the same arguments that Barber used to praise Wake's diversity policy are echoed in an op-ed piece today by Timothy Tyson, a Duke University professor and member of the executive board of the N.C. State Conference of NAACP Branches.
Both Barber and Tyson point to the coverage the diversity policy received in the New York Times Magazine, the doubling of the percentage of black students performing at grade level and that 86 percent of students attend schools within five miles of home.
Critics will counter that the racial achievement gap has widened since the state renormed tests and that the proximity to school figure is based on the as-the-crow flies distance study by staff.