Real Choice Wins: Two Views

Two views in today’s News & Record related to Real Choice.

First, today’s editorial:

The history of High Point schools over the past two decades is marked by an unsuccessful search for balance: Balanced enrollments. Balanced resources. Balanced use of facilities. Many steps have been taken forward and back. Tuesday night’s school board decision to punch a big escape clause through the latest student-assignment plan moves backward again, but in a way that prompts resignation rather than resistance. The problems of imbalance are too great to be fixed by the schools alone.

High Point school leaders began pushing for merger with the Greensboro and Guilford County systems 20 years ago for compelling reasons. High Point had an inner-city school system with declining enrollment and an insufficient tax base. The only growth was in the numbers of poor and minority children, many of whom lived in subsidized housing.

At the same time, nice residential neighborhoods were springing up across north High Point — outside the boundaries of the city school system. Schools there began to burst at the seams.

City leaders hoped merger would funnel children from suburban to urban schools with room for more, put more revenue behind the city schools and create opportunities to achieve more racial and economic balance at many schools.

Those were laudable aspirations but they couldn’t happen in a political or social vacuum. The leaders who wanted to increase racial and economic diversity at schools faced significant obstacles: Residential patterns kept people of different races and incomes largely separated, and parents didn’t want their children bused away from their “neighborhood schools.”

Redistricting, a “choice” plan that actually based many assignments on the outcome of a lottery, and more redistricting all failed to meet the goals of their supporters. Most High Point schools remain out of balance today, and the board’s action Tuesday night likely will tip the scales even more. Students in north High Point assigned to Andrews High and Welborn Middle in the inner city and students from the inner city assigned to Southwest High and Middle in north High Point will be allowed to attend the closer school next fall if they want.

It’s difficult to fault the concept of choice. Students and their parents can decide how to balance their own priorities. But something is lost for the city, and for students themselves, when diversity is abandoned as a consideration.

That’s how matters are likely to stand until affordable housing and residents of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are distributed more evenly throughout High Point. Societies out of balance can’t expect schools to do better.

And here’s a letter to the editor:

April 1957: After being told that Gillespie Golf Course was city owned and that blacks
should be allowed to play there, city officials appealed the decision to a higher court.

April 2007: Downtown business owners are concerned that a hip-hop club may open in their midst (of course, this will attract the wrong clientele–blacks maybe?).

April 1957: A little black girl (me) stands at the corner of Spring Garden and Warren Street in the dark, waiting for a bus to take her to a school on South Street passing two white schools along the way.

April 2007: White parents in High Point are upset that their children are on the bus for too long.

“What a world, what a world,” said the Wicked Witch as she melted into oblivion.

Raymiene Hobbs
Greensboro

Deena and Walt and Dot and Joe & Company talked a good game about dialogue and healing wounds. Now is the perfect opportunity to do just that. This issue was never about race, but rather about having the right to make a choice where to send your children to school and if it is a neighborhood school, then so be it. The above wanted to make it about race and that was wrong. There will come a day in this county when everything stops being about race and the above not giving their race (and mine) enough (or any) credit. As I said the other day, there is a black middle class in High Point and there are independent thinkers out there. The above do not speak for me, never have, never will.

E.C. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. I have just TWO words for ALL of this.

    DIVERSIFY DUDLEY

  2. Huey, that’s a big dream. Do you really think the day will come when everything is not about race? I fear it will NOT. Did you happen to catch “Trading Spouses” last night? Oh dear it was a race nightmare and the episode will be continued another night. Not sure but it’s a must see. I think the mentality shown on that show last night it what Deena and Joe and others must have grown up with. I feel so sorry for anyone that thinks like that.

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