There's a heated argument about what position the leadership of the African American community should take about Walnut Creek Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh.
A message posted on the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children's listserv questions why school board vice chairman Keith Sutton and some other black leaders "support the opening of Walnut Creek, a segregated school." The writer also criticizes the recent school board decision to offer signing bonuses and performance pay for the school's staff.
It's unclear who's the author of the message. The person forwarded it to CCCAAC President Calla Wright for her to post on the listserv.
The message, which Wright forwarded to the school board, has drawn varying reactions.
Dan Coleman, former president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association, took the opposite stance to the message, writing he's "hard pressed to take the position that a school that serves the 'middle class' black community that surrounds it is inappropriate." He also supports the extra staff pay as being something that can be "compared with the icing that Magnet Schools demand."
But school board member Jim Martin wrote that the original message "highlights issues that I think are being lost in many of the current pushes by the school system." He adds that "its a direction I do not think is wise."
Here's the message that Wright posted on the listserv on Saturday:
From: Calla Wright <email@example.com>
Subject: Why Do Black Leaders Support Walnut Creek
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2012, 7:58 AM
Why did our school board representative for Southeast Raleigh support the opening of Walnut Creek, a segregated school? Has he explained to our community why he is supporting this initiative?
Is School Board Representative Keith Sutton accountable for answering only a small segment of our community or all of us?
Why does the boe want to pay teachers more to teach at WALNUT CREEK, a high poverty school?
Why are some of black leaders supporting a segregated schools here in Wake County?
What is the payoff when our children's education is at STAKE???
How many of our black leaders who support Walnut Creek have children that attend the school?
How can they make decisions when they have no vested interest? (Next she includes a segment from Saturday's story.)
Administrators say enrollment projections for this fall indicate five schools could increase their percentages of students receiving federally subsidized lunches by five points or more, and one school may decrease by more than five points.
Simmons said he was pleased that the plan won't increase the number of schools with more than 50 percent of their students receiving subsidized lunches.
Brannon said the existing increases are a leading indicator.
"I don't think it's a healthy sign that we are trending to high-poverty schools and underchosen schools," she said.
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/10/1920083/appraisals-of-school-choice-vary.html#storylink=cpy
Wright later forwarded that message as part of this email she sent to the school board on Sunday:
From: Calla Wright <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Jmartin4@wcpss.net; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; DPRICKETT@wcpss.net; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sun, March 11, 2012 9:40:03 AM
Subject: [parentsfordiversity] Fw: Why Do Black Leaders Support Walnut Creek
TO: Wake County Board Of Education
FROM: Coalition Of Concerned Citizens For African American Children, Inc
RE: Why Do Black Leaders Support Walnut Creek
This email was forwarded to the Coalition Of Concerned Citizens For African American Children and our parent group is forwarding this to the WCPSS Board Of Education for a response.
These questions have been asked frequently in our community and we need your immediate response.
Coalition Of Concerned Citizens For African American Children
Here's the message that Martin sent in response Sunday:
From: James Martin <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Fw: Why Do Black Leaders Support Walnut Creek
Date: Sunday, March 11, 2012, 12:54 PM
Thanks Calla. This highlights issues that I think are being lost in many of the current pushes by the school system. Its a direction I do not think is wise.
Here's the message that Coleman sent Tuesday to the CCCAAC and the board members (He appended his comments to the end of the original message posted on the listserv):
Perhaps the question should be Why shouldn't Black leaders Support Walnut Creek? Or perhaps why do Black leaders support the public investment of re-aligning Jones Sausage and New Hope Road, or why do we support the connection of Tryon Road to Sunnybrook Road or why do we clamor for amenities in our communities that offer goods and services found in the other communities?
I am hard pressed to take the position that a school that serves the 'middle class' black community that surrounds it is inappropriate. I know we don't have a high dollar country club in the immediate vicinity and the black ‘middle class’ is not as well-heeled as their white middle class counterpart but what is lacking in dollars and cents in compensated for with community pride and common sense.
I am very proud of the communities that surround Walnut Creek. I think those families can choose to send their children to the school that is easily accessible to them or not. If the icing on the cupcake at Walnut Creek includes paying the teachers more or feeding the children more often compared with the icing that Magnet Schools demand then the trade-off is fair and justified through cost benefit analysis.
Wake County Public Schools play a very strategic role in building communities. I applaud their move to focus on this segment of SE Raleigh. Rock Quarry Road is one of the primary corridor's in SE Raleigh; the school, located at the intersection of Sunnybrook (Tryon Road) and Rock Quarry in the years to come will be the magnet for future growth that will allow SE Raleigh to compete with other communities across the city because of the goods and services that will cluster between this intersection and the New Hope Road/Jones Sausage - Rock Quarry Road intersection. This bright future in large measure will be the by-product of the foresight in locating an elementary school along the corridor so the families (roof-tops) needed to justify other goods and amenities being located along this corridor.
I worry that our future, the county's future is threaten by the unintended consequence of the class divide, class warfare that this whole issue of having a new elementary school built in an ethnic ‘middle class’ community conjures up.
There was a time when we promoted One Wake County. I am an active member of that Wake County and I think schools in Briar Creek or Wakefield or SE Raleigh should be at the nexus of good planning and community development. Communities are the center where we promote that people can live, work, play, educate their children and worship. I admonish the wonderful people that feel intensely about diversity that the enemy is not this issue of a school being located in SE Raleigh but rather when your child joins the workforce that we have jobs and a sense of national pride and upward mobility that your parents and grandparents felt and built your future upon.
Here's the group response on Thursday to Dan Coleman from the CCCAAC:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. As an advocacy group, the CCCAAC strongly believe that all children should receive equal access and opportunities while attending public schools.
The questions are:
As a parent, are your children a product of Wake County Public Schools and did they attend a high poverty school?
Were your children grouped homogeneously if they attended public schools?
Are you Mr. Coleman, the recipient of a public school education?
How do public schools prepare children for the global society when they are placed in a segregated setting?
Specially, how will you help the children of Southeast Raleigh obtain all the
resources/opportunities needed to ensure that they are prepared to become apart of our global society?
What specific resources will you provided the children who attend Walnut Creek?