Some of the groups who've spent the past three years fighting efforts to eliminate diversity from Wake County's student assignment policies are now focusing on statewide education issues.
As noted in today's article by John Frank and Lynn Bonner, several liberal advocacy groups have joined to form Public Schools First NC. Their goal during the legislative agenda that opens today is to counter "the growing threat to privatize and weaken North Carolina’s public schools."
Members of PSFNC include the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children, the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and the N.C. Justice Center.
PSFNC's beliefs include "children are best served by learning in an environment that reflects the diversity of their local district."
The group is also not a fan of charter schools.
Instead of being independent of school districts and not being capped, PSFNC says "a few truly innovative charter schools designed to work within local school districts could be constructive in the overall delivery of instruction."
The group has a video on its web site charging that right-wing groups are attempting to privatize public schools and weaken public education in this state.
Among those quoted in the video are former Wake County Schools Superintendent Bill McNeal and former Wake Area Superintendent Ann Hooker, who both decry North Carolina potentially allowing vouchers for private schools and charter schools being run by for-profit groups.
Also heavily quoted in the video is Duke University Professor Helen Ladd, whose recent report on the economic and racial imbalance in the state's public schools is highlighted on the PSFNC website.
"The notion that competition is going to improve our education system just doesn't hold water," Ladd says in the video.
A clip of education expert Diane Ravitch warning against the "privatization of public schools" is included in the group's video.
Ladd seconds the sentiment.
"We just can't sit back and let the privatization movement roll over us," Ladd said. "I think what's happening now is people are fighting for the soul of education. Those of us who are committed to preserving the public interest think this is a crucial fight for us to wage."
The group also posts a video link to the "vision for education" speech given by Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. Lewis gained national attention when Chicago's teachers went on strike last year to protest education changes in the nation's third-largest school system.
With the General Assembly and governor's mansion under Republican hands, PSFNC is going to have a hard time getting what it wants passed.