NAACP: "Don't Resegregate Our Schools"

Right about now, the Chapel-Hill Carrboro NAACP is holding a press conference/rally at Lincoln Center, the administrative home of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System (CHCCSS).  I'm pasting their entire (long!) announcement below as it has a lot of interesting information, including a history of segregation in the school system.

News Conference Alert

Thursday, February 25th, 10 A. M.

Lincoln Center, 750 S. Merritt Mill Road, Chapel Hill


Speakers will include:

Michelle Laws, CHC NAACP Branch President

Rev. Mark Royster, Chair of the First Blue Ribbon Task Force

Fred Battle, Anderson-Thorpe Breakfast Club President

Tim Tyson, Historian and author of "Blood Done Signed My Name"

Parents and retired educators in the CHCCS District


            “Don't Resegregate Our Schools” is the theme of a News Conference to be held on Thursday morning, at 10 A.M. at the old Lincoln High School, closed when the CHC Schools finally desegregated in 1966. (See Timeline.)  About 26 years after this desegregation, some Black and White educational leaders were able to achieve a critical mass to form the Blue Ribbon Task Force, to assess the success the school system was having with Black students and other minorities.  Rev. Mark Royster chaired the task force and issued the first of a series of reports with recommendations about how to narrow the achievement gap.             


       Now, 17 years after the first Blue Ribbon Task Force study was completed and presented to the Board of Education, the gap has closed very little.  The NAACP says: “Enough talk. It's time to act.  It's time to hold people accountable!”


        Citing data provided by Supt. Neil Pedersen, and recent actions by the School Board, the NAACP believes that, instead of closing the achievement gap, the CHC School Board and the Pedersen administration are implementing policies that will widen it. 

            "We are not against raising standards and challenging ALL youth to succeed and excel at high levels.  What we are against, however, are policies that expand opportunities for those persons at the top, with little or no genuine attention given to how to bring those children at the bottom along," said Michelle Cotton Laws, President of the Chapel Hill Carrboro NAACP. 
“This is not a Black or White issue.  This is a Human Issue.”           


            “We support increasing standards and rigor for all children,” said Laws.  “But we strongly oppose creating and putting mechanisms in place that reproduce racial and class inequality, homogeneity in classes and tracking."  


            "Currently less than 1% of the students enrolled in honors and AP courses in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools are African American and Latino/Hispanic.  African Americans and Latino/Hispanic kids are disproportionately represented in low level courses, with no evidence to suggest that many of them can not compete with the proper instruction at high levels.  We object to the decision to expand honors courses at the high school level, with no clear plan on how to hold teachers accountable for ensuring that biased selection into honors and AP courses is prevented.   We object to the great attention given to students on one end without similar attention giving to implementing best teaching practices that prepare ALL children to compete at a high level.  It is far too similar to the racist notions that undergirded the "separate but equal" doctrine.  We will not stand by and watch our schools become resegregated inside their halls, by class and race.  We are on the verge of educational apartheid.  We believe we are capable of innovative cutting edge education that prepares ALL children to be competitive in the global market place beyond high school."


            "No one race or class of people holds a higher premium than any other on the education and wellbeing of their children. We all want our children to succeed.  It is a well known fact that, in the African American community, education is considered ‘the great equalizer’ and the best path to upward social mobility.  This is part of our heritage.  It is about expectations and what happens to children when they come into contact with teachers and a system that doesn't believe they can learn with high standards and rigorous instruction.”


NO! to injudicious school board actions!

NO! to tracking our children!

NO! to stratification based upon race and class!

NO! to exclusion based upon privilege and social status!

We will NOT create a private school system with taxpayer's dollars!

 In every language and according to the moral compass of every race and ethnic group Separate is NOT Equal!



NAACP is calling for the Chapel Hill/Carrboro School Board and Administration to:

1.      Not fund an expansion of the honors courses until a plan is in place, NOT PROPOSED, to ensure that African American and Latino/Hispanic students, as well as economically disadvantaged students, will be identified early, prepared for enrollment and recruited into honors courses.

2.      Report immediately to the community, at large, on the progress the District has made in meeting recommendations of The Blue Ribbon Task Force as proposed in 1993 and subsequent years prior to its dismantling in 2000. 

3.      Provide a report within 30 days that reflects the ten year trend of students identified by race and gender that enroll in AP and honors courses AND report on the mechanism or process by which students are currently identified for honors and AP courses.

4.      Increase and enforce better teacher accountability.  Identify the teachers who have had success at educating and preparing ALL students to succeed and perform well and have them take the lead in developing plans and the PLC for that grade level AND those teachers who, consistently over time, have not performed well educating at a rigorous and highly proficient manner African American and Latino/Hispanic children should have their positions re-evaluated.

5.      Beginning with the 2010/2011 school year, link teacher performance standards, bonuses and merit pay to INDIVIDUAL students’ achievement, not merely aggregate or across the board.  If a teacher is having success with only one group of students, that teacher should NOT merit bonuses or good performance ratings.

6.      Re-explore and begin to ENACT without haste, models in education that do not track students and respects the gifts and unique abilities of every child. 

7.      Bring all courses up to the standards identified by the State as Honors level pedagogy; do not create a three-tier curriculum based on ability tracking. 

8.      Eliminate the notion that this is a private school system—PERIOD!  All community members should be able to reap the benefits of and gain access to school resources without intense labor or arduous struggle. All parents should feel welcomed and included without regard to race or class.  Starting from the administration level to the individual schools, Create a culture that reaches and includes ALL parents in the educational process of their child.

9.      Make African American History (including the African Diaspora) at the middle school level (8th grade) a prerequisite to World History AND  incorporate the local rich history of African Americans in Chapel Hill and Carrboro as early as grade 4; link and make a core part of the curriculum for all students  the civil rights history of the African American community to that of other ethnic groups including the Jewish Holocaust and Latina /Hispanic/ migrant movement.



Timeline of Chapel Hill's Segregated, Reluctant

Desegregation, and now Resegregation of its Schools 



The NAACP gratefully acknowledges the research and general historical timeline that School Board Member Mia Day Burroughs created with help from Michael McElreath, James Leloudis, Valerie Foushee, Marilyn Luby, Traci Davenport, Harry McKeon, Jerry Cohen, Susan Worley, Doug Eyre, Patrick Winn, Stephanie Knott, Donna Wyatt, Robin Nucilli and Neil Pedersen.

1902: Chapel Hill Public School opened near where the Carolina Inn is now.  It excluded all Black students, although Chapel Hill's population at the time was 30-40% Black.

1909: Chapel Hill Graded-School District, excluding all Black Students, was Chartered by N.C. General Assembly, allowing the Town to tax its citizens, Black and White, plus receive tax monies from Orange County and the State.  No charter or taxes were allocated for Black students, who at that time constituted about 30-40% of the Chapel Hill population but had no public schools within the City.

1916: Chapel Hill built a new school, excluding Black students,
where University Square is.

1890-1924:  In 1890, Quakers opened a private school serving Black students where St. Paul A.M.E. Church is.  Rev. L.H. Hackney led a private school for Black students from 1898-1912, and then opened the Industrial and Education Institute, where the present Lincoln Center is, across the road from the Town limits.  In 1916 it became part of the Orange County segregated school system, and was called the Orange County Training School. It burned down 6 years later. 

1924: Mr. Henry Stroud donated land to rebuild the OCTS and the County and Rosenwald Fund paid for the building. Orange County taxes paid Black teachers (substantially less than their white counterparts made) and the operating costs.  Most of the Black students and their families were trained to take cleaning, cooking, laundry and other menial jobs at the University or doing day work for faculty families.

1930-1954:  The NAACP legal team, under the leadership of Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, began chipping away at the Separate But (Un)Equal Doctrine that served to justify the inhuman treatment of Black people in the segregated South.  While NAACP cases were being brought up through the courts, the University and the Chapel Hill School Board continued to build new schools, and to make cosmetic changes to the Black Schools.  For example, in 1948 OCTS changed its name to Lincoln H.S.   And in 1953, Glenwood Elementary School opened off Highway 54, excluding Black Students.

1954: The U.S. Supreme Court declared Chapel Hill's school system (and all other segregated systems) illegal and unconstitutional.  The court reasoned that despite the equalization of the schools by "objective" factors (new buildings, etc., such as Lincoln H.S.), intangible issues foster and maintain inequality.  Racial segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on Black children.  Excluding them is a sign that the larger society believes they are inferior.  “Separate but equal is inherently unequal in the context of public education.”
1954-1966:  Chapel Hill openly operated its schools in violation of the NAACP's victory in the Court.  Among the illegal acts of the Chapel Hill schools was the rejection of Mr. Preston R. Weaver's request to send his son, James Vernon, to the Chapel Hill Elementary School near University Square, in 1957.  A year later, Chapel Hill Schools opened a new school, Estes Hills Elementary, illegally excluding Black Students.  In 1959 the Board rejected Stanley Vickers request to transfer to a school that illegally excluded him. 

      Although there were tiny steps taken to tokenly integrate, and the School Board itself had a 4-3 majority to take tiny steps toward desegregation in 1961, the CH Schools still opened a “colored school”--Frank Porter Graham—in 1962, eight years after that was ruled unconstitutional.  By 1963, about 160 of the almost 1200 Black students in the Chapel Hill District attended integrated schools—over 85% of Blacks were still attending segregated schools.

1966: Chapel Hill High School opened, serving all high school students in the district.  For two years, Lincoln was the home for Black 4th-6th graders, and then it was closed.  Like most Southern counties, this Place—with so much history and meaning to the Black Community—was shuttered as a school. 

1967-1990: To Quote Board Member Burroughs: “School district lines were redrawn to assign approximately equal percentages of black and white students in the district's elementary schools. This effort, the first of its kind in North Carolina, eliminated racially identifiable schools in the district.  This was not the end of the challenges of local school integration, however. Students, faculty, administrators and parents continued to struggle with the loss and/or merger of school traditions, demotions of former leaders of the all-Black schools, continued individual prejudices and fear of the unknown.”





I really like their emphasis on teacher accountability.  Not only should bonuses be withheld -- the notion that a teacher's job is safe regardless of competence once tenure is achieved is poisonous.I'm far from knowledgeable about this subject; to what extent do people hold "the notion that this is a private school system"?  What about it is privatized?  I find this objection interesting, because charter school programs in areas like DC have shown fantastic results for inner-city youth; far better than the public schools have ever done.  The objections from teacher's unions and democratic lackeys don't mean much to me, since those objections have more to do with protecting teachers' jobs than effectively educating children.Again, I know very little about how the system is run here, so please forgive my ignorance.  I do find the objection to privatization interesting though, given the results and trends in other cities.

1) There is a chapter in "Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell , that describes a successful program that erased the "achievement gap". Some may not like what they read.2) We homeschooled one son all the way and another went to Cedar Ridge for his high school years. He is currently a junior. My observation after dealing with the school system after years of hardly even thinking about it is that the public school system is designed to work on its own terms. The administration of the system is the first priority. That means dealing with many imposed federal and state requirements while attempting to educate large numbers of kids with loads of energy, curiousity, and a desire for freedom.  The end result is that parent participation is almost always viewed as a hindrance and a chore that might negatively affect the administration of the system. Except of course when money is need to support school programs. As a parent, you get your allotted five minutes every few months with teachers (although some exemplary teachers do make themselves available), are generally forbidden from communicating meaningfully with athletic coaches, and are only fully informed on the various rules that have been devised to make sure that parents and students don't interfere with the admistration of the system. I am not criticizing the teachers. I believe that most of them do the best that they can within the system - a system that doesn't pay them enough, that overburdens them with bureaucratic requirements, and does not allow them much flexibility in their teaching methods. It's hard to imagine any possible way to eliminate the "achievement gap" under these circumstances. 

Mark, can you describe what was done and what people may not like?  I've
been seriously underwhelmed by his description of that book in various
interviews and thus not really willing to spend $ on it.  Suppose I
could go to the library, but then the FBI would know what I was

Read the chapter of the book about the "achievement gap" if you care to understand a documented solution that is at least worthy of consideration. He did the serious work to describe a possible solution. If solving it does not mean enough to you to actually read what he wrote, that's cool. There's lots of other ways you could spend your time. Honestly, I feel the same way about lots of issues. That's the meaning of freedom.

Didn't think that asking for a couple of sentences of actual information instead of a bibliography reference was too much to ask before deciding whether it was worth the investment.  I thought for once I might want to follow up on something interesting you had to say here, but then you had to be a jerk about it.

You're right. It was a jerkish reaction. I knew I couldn't come close to properly duplicating Gladwell's explanation, so I popped off. Please don't let my rude response deter you from reading all or part of the book. Actually, I think the book is really interesting and important.

JCB, I read the book too. It's quite interesting and a bit controversial. If I remember correctly, his premise is that beginning of the year and end of the year testing of all students in one school district showed that the achievement gap did not widen during the school year, meaning that those public schools (I'm thinking Chicago) were doing of good job teaching everyone about the same amount of material over the school year. What they did find, however, was that at-risk students lost more ground over the summer months and the gap widened as the kids got older. One possible explanation is that affluent parents make sure their kids are engaged in extracurricular activities and trips while at-risk students are pretty much on their own. I think that's the just of that chapter and I apologize if I have misremembered. Again, I don't know if it has been replicated or what educators think of it.

Here is a longer summary of Gladwells' argument:Gladwell says, poor African-American children do badly at math—and in school in general—because their cultural world de-emphasizes learning during non-school hours. The problem isn’t the intelligence of the children, or the quality of the schools, apparently. He cites research that found that poor black students in Baltimore learned at the same pace as their wealthier peers except during the summer break, when the rich children kept on learning. “The only problem with school, for the kids who aren’t achieving, is that there isn’t enough of it,” says Gladwell.The great thing about discovering such deforming patterns is that we can change them. More so than in his previous work, Gladwell has a political purpose in Outliers. “To build a better world,” he writes,

we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history—with a society that provides opportunities for all.

Urban schools could boost their hours, as the KIPP charter schools have done, and the result might be the closing of the racial education gaps.  (The "fortunate birth dates" he refers to are those just after the cut off date for kids' hockey leagues.  The kids are bigger so they're better so they get more attention and opportunities to play, etc.  The NHL is filled primarily with people born in the first 3 months of the year.)

I haven't read Gladwell's book but since he mentions Baltimore, he might be also be familiar with the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University. Numerous research studies have confirmed that summer learning loss is greatest among low income students. 

The NAACP is asking that we not create honors courses but instead bring the existing courses up to honos level standards.  Then they say if we have to have honors courses we need  a plan to make sure A-A kids are prepared for those courses.

 Excuse me, but if they aren't prepared for honors classes today (and the criteria in the administrations proposal was automatic enrollment if you get a "C" in the previous course, not a high bar!), why would you want the existing courses to be toughened????  That makes no sense.


Sure there is a problem with lack of expectations and preparation for A-A and Hispanic kids.  Sure the schools are a PART of that problem.  But, by crying solely racism when a proposal to increase available options and create challenges available to all students is brought forward (after it is approved, no less, which is odd), the NAACP is not (IMHO) trying to improve education, but appears to be more interested in creating a single playing field where all students are exactly the same.  All students are NOT the same. Not based on race, but based on learning styles and other factors, they simply are not.  Creating additional opportunities so that all kids can learn is a good thing.  Holding some kids back to eliminate the achievement gap is not.  


I agree that the private school reference is odd. I suppose it means that the system should welcome all and be responsive to all stakeholders. Absolutely true. Ironically, once you are admitted, that is precisely what private schools are pretty careful to be good at. If they're not, families go elsewhere. So in that respect, I'd like to see public schools become more like private schools. How? Start with building smaller schools where faculty, administration, students and parents are able to build relationships over time. Smaller schools are more expensive. Then, allow for a certain amount of instructional variation. As long as teaching is basically done with one teacher lecturing to an entire class of children with differing competencies or interests across a slew of subject areas, the school system will end up tracking students either overtly or covertly. They almost have to. I, too, think all classes should be taught the way they teach honors classes or whatever they call the gifted program these days. Good teaching is messy. Good teachers teach children how to think and how to learn. Good teachers need parents, administrators, school boards and voters who support them. It's a tall order. 

While I agree with some of the NCAAP points listed above, I don't believe that Chapel Hill/Carrboro schools is the appropriate school system to tackle these issues.  If you compare this school system amongst the hundred plus school districts in North Carolina, you will find Chapel Hill/Carrboro to be way ahead of the curve.  Of course, any group will get more mileage at attacking our school system.  Alamance County is a much more pressing issue, but for some reason the silence is deafening....

I believe that honors and AP classes are becoming a more and more necessary part of an academic resume for college acceptance and scholarships, and thus understand the need for more of these kinds of classes in our schools.  I can easily envision that without access to the honors and AP classes I had in high school, which helped me get accepted into college & get scholarships, that I might well be a closeted kennel tech at a vet clinic somewhere in Mayberry with only a high school diploma instead of a happily married graduate student.Given the size of the achievement gap though, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect a plan on how to ensure access for all to these kinds of classes. Here's some news coverage that talks in specifics about the size of the gap:

Last year, according to the North Carolina Department of Public
Instruction, 95 percent of white students passed end-of-grade and
end-of-course testing. Among black students, 48 percent passed
end-of-grade tests and 53 percent passed end-of-course tests.

Protestors rallied outside the district office Thursday, saying the gap
is too great for resources to continue to go to top performers.

"We are not against raising standards and challenging all youth to
succeed and excel at high levels," said Michelle Cotton Laws, president
of the local NAACP chapter.

"What we are against, however, are policies that expand opportunities
for those persons at the top, with little or no genuine attention given
to how to bring those children at the bottom along," she added.

(stay away from the comments section though, unless you want to work up a good mad)Even if we are doing better than places like Alamance County (& maybe Wake too given recent actions there), better doesn't mean that shouldn't hear out a "decent message" even if other places need to hear that message more.  More honors classes, and fair access to honors classes don't strike me as mutually exclusive.

Well said, Jake!This is a very important issue and discussion. I know where to begin my thoughts but not where to end.I begin with my achievement gap. I came from a privileged background and wealthy community but attended a public city high school where 11% went on to college. About a third of the kids in my community took the train into the city to attend elite private schools. Our public high school program had a general track, a vocational track, and a college track. Everyone took the same English and United States history classes. Schoolmates from my community considered the primary goal to survive to your sophomore year where you would never see the general and vocational students again except in English and history classes.In my four years of high school I studied a total of about two hours. My parents (both highly educated) fretted but rarely intervened. I graduated in the lower third of my class; never wrote an essay exam; got high verbal SAT scores; was accepted and entered a college that obviously needed tuition funds, and flunked out my sophomore year. Later I got religion and completed college and graduate school.Point (finally): Who was to blame for the gap between my school achievements and my abilities, let alone the achievements of my classmates? What amount of responsibility does the school system have for achievement? Who do we blame for those students who achieve more than others? Who do we blame for those students who achieve less than others? Teachers? Pedersen? School Board? Parents of high achievers? Course standards? Good questions but the most disquieting thing is that we have all had this discussion at least four times since I came to live in Chapel Hill. Different school board members, different parents, different representatives of the African American community, different students. Same Problem. Back to the same gap? How should the school board allocate resources and get reelected?

In the next few days I will be able to post a statement that all seven school board members edited and approved.  Meanwhile, I'll just speak for myself.  I have long opposed the addition of honors classes for all the reasons stated above but changed my mind based on what I learned specifically about the achievement of African American students. I voted  to add the honors classes because in the
surrounding districts, with one exception, minority students are doing better
in classes such as Biology. One thing that those districts have in common is
that they all offer regular and honors sections. In addition, in our own
district, African American students who are in English 1, which currently
offers regular and honors sections do better than the very same students who
are in Biology which is offered as a heterogeneous class.  There are
those that might say that the test scores shouldn't drive decisions BUT many
local groups including the NAACP hold the district accountable for those
scores.  I feel I must consider that data to make decisions. 
I said at the board meeting and will keep reiterating that what we are doing
now is failing our struggling high school students and that I am committed,
when we discuss the budget, to ensuring that we spend real financial resources
specifically targeting the children who opt to take regular classes. I heard a
quote on NPR this week that sums up my thinking:  "A vision
without resources is an hallucination"   Initially, I proposed that
we drastically reduce class size but I have since learned that there is no
research confirming that small class size makes a difference at the high
school level.  I asked staff to come back with a package of research-based
interventions for these students. I told the board that I am passionate about
setting aside dollars for that initiative even if it means cutting somewhere
else.  Citizens such as OP readers/writers are right to make sure the Board remains
accountable to our promises.  My promise is to be much more vigilant
about the supports for struggling students at our high schools.  Those
supports have been supposed to happen for several years and I am extremely
disappointed to find out that they are minimal.  I think this Board is
united in our commitment to take a much more proactive role in what is
happening especially at our high schools. On a personal note, I have to mention that elected office is not for the feint of heart. I'm not whining, I'm just pointing it out to those who might consider a run in the future because it is best to be forewarned. I had the good fortune of reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book "The Lacuna" which looks explicitly at the gap(lacuna) between the real thoughts and intentions of public figures compared to their portrayal in the press and in public discussion.  Worth a read.  

Thanks for your considered response. I'm so glad board members are looking for evidenced-based choices. BTW, I agree that research does not support the conclusion that smaller class sizes are necessarily better, but I was thinking that there is evidence in support of smaller school communities. I could be wrong about that. 

Mia, thank you for your service, and your careful consideration of the data. Sorry you all are getting beaten up!

I have a couple of questions for the school board and the institutional research folks in the district.1. When does the achievement gap first appear? 1st grade, 3rd grade, high school? The last time I checked, it started to appear between 3rd and 5th grades. If that's true, then discussions about what happens in high school are relatively moot in discussing solutions to the gap.2. How does the performance of African-American and Hispanic students look when you filter by socioeconomic status? In other words, is race really the defining characteristic or is it socioconomic status and it just so happens that the largest group of low SES students happen to be black or Hispanic? 3. What about low-income white students? Does their performance profile look more like the white/Asian students or that of the African-American/Hispanic students?

In CHCCS, we dont' do any EOG tests prior to third grade, so we may not see a gap until then, but I believe it starts before kids even enter school, and is most closely tied to parents' level of education. In CH, a lot of our low SES white students re children of graduate students, etc, so, although they are poor, the parents' level of education is high. 

EOGs are not the only way to define the achievement gap.If the only low SES white students we have in the district are the children of grad students, that right there describes one of the problems the entire community needs to be aware of.

While I disagree with the NAACP's position that the academic needs of honors students should not be met before the needs of struggling students are met, I am hopeful that this issue will lead to a unified demand by parents that the school district implement policies that result in student growth.  Parents of all types of students (average, gifted, struggling, disabled, twice exceptional, etc.) need to come together and realize that we all want the same thing -- our children treated as individuals, all with strengths and weaknesses, all with potential, all deserving of personal attention.In particular, I strongly support the call for paying attention to individual students' growth.  Parents of gifted students have been calling for this for years.  Every student deserves a minimum of 1 year's growth for 1 year's attendance.

Excellent questions, Terry. I'm interested in hearing answers on all three.

Apart from correcting my typo, I can say a bit about the three questions.1. When does the achievement gap first appear? 1st grade, 3rd grade,
high school? The last time I checked, it started to appear between 3rd
and 5th grades. If that's true, then discussions about what happens in
high school are relatively moot in discussing solutions to the gap.Some research I have seen (but don't have handy) indicates that the gap starts well before school entrance for low-income children.  I have heard others say that is not the case so I would be open to seeing other research cited from any experts out there.  Until quite recently, I also felt that interventions should be frontloaded. Now I think early intervention is important but that a good percentage of our students will need particular supports throughout their time in the K-12 system.    2. How does the performance of African-American and Hispanic
students look when you filter by socioeconomic status? In other words,
is race really the defining characteristic or is it socioconomic status
and it just so happens that the largest group of low SES students
happen to be black or Hispanic? 3. What about low-income white students? Does their performance
profile look more like the white/Asian students or that of the
African-American/Hispanic students? These questions really are part of a debate that is far from finished:  what has the biggest impact on minority student achievement: racism or the challenges of disproportionate poverty?  A key limitation for studying this locally is that, by federal law, schools cannot "know" (in a researchable way) who their low SES children are. The only income information that students give the school system is included in applications for free and reduced-price  lunch.  We know overall numbers but we are not allowed by law to use the information in any other way.   Hence that information can't be filtered by race or any other factor. Lacking that data, this is what I believe: racism still exists in some instances and the deprivations of poverty take their toll as well.     

I'll add a little complexity to Mia's accurate answers. 1) Early childhood education can prepare a student to enter school with little or no gap when compared to their peers.  But in many instances, the gaps develop and widen over time. So you can't just frontload interventions and expect that there will be no gap later.  Education is far to complex to just pick one place or way to intervene.2 & 3) It's true that we have very few low-income white students in CHCCS.  To tackle this topic, we have to also tackle residential housing patterns.  As Wake and Mecklenburg counties are discovering, schooling issues can't be separated from housing issues.  As for race and SES, we shouldn't think of those things in an either/or/vs. paradigm.  Both impact academic achievement.  We have school district, NC, and national data that show the impact of both.  For all races, student achievement goes up with income level.  However, in much of that data, you can see that low income white students outperform higher income students of color. 

"A key limitation for studying this locally is that, by federal
schools cannot "know" (in a researchable way) who their low SES children
are. The only income information that students give the school system
is included in applications for free and reduced-price  lunch.  We know
overall numbers but we are not allowed by law to use the information in
any other way."
How is Wake handling their school assignments? It's my understanding
that they are using SES for their districting policy.


Terri,I asked a very similar question about school assignment based on SES when I was involved in the discussion around a proposal to merge two Orange County elementary schools for socio-economic diversity.Here is how it was explained to me by Mary Alice Yarborough, who used to be the OCS Director of Elementary Instruction and the resident expert on federal Title 1 and FRL regulations.The only information available on a child's family income is what they self-report when filling out an application for Free & Reduced Lunch. The district administration is not allowed to know which specific children are on FRL. That information is quarantined within the Child Nutrition department in the interest of protecting the child's privacy.When I asked about how school assignment would work, Ms. Yarborough said that people would be asked to self-report their income on a separate form and that would serve as a proxy for FRL information.I specifically asked about Wake County's SES-based redistricting polices and she said that Wake County does not reassign specific students based on SES, they redistrict entire neighborhoods that fit a specific family income profile. She said that average community or neighborhood income information is available from different publicly-available sources and the district is free to use this information in making larger-scale reassignment decisions. 

These big systems seem designed to be unwieldy.

Today in school, unfortunately, we have to fight for our children. If parents, for whatever reason, aren't willing or able to fight, their children easily can become or remain part of the "underachievers." Some parents feel like school staff are like doctors and will not dare question them. They may be too intimidated  to contact Central Office, or fear retribution. Plus often schools are not parent friendly, wanting to meet mid-day, with no consideration for working parents. Once you get to a meeting you are often outnumbered with so-called experts to put you at a further disadvantage. Educational terms and acronym are thrown around like its common conversational English - AG, ADD, AP, EOC, EOG, IEP, PT, OT, etc. And don't you dare try to talk to them on a "teacher workday" when parking lots are mainly empty. As a parent, the schools "games" and strategies wear you down as if that is their intention. (along with schools high priority to protect their own backsides)      


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