In 2008, LWV-LCF followed up on their statement of 2006, when the New Hanover County School System made plans to redistrict school attendance zones.
Serving Brunswick, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender Counties, NC
Statement for the New Hanover County Board of Education regarding School Redistricting, September 2008
The League of Women Voters is committed, nationally, statewide and locally to racial integration of schools as a necessary condition for equal access to education. The League of Lower Cape Fear came before you in May of 2006 to express serious concern about any plan which allowed some schools to be heavily populated with one race. We believed that the spirit of previous compliance with Civil Rights Laws and the Court Order under which New Hanover Schools operated, required that every effort be made to avoid a new segregation of schools.
We are well aware that the "popular" opinion is for so-called "neighborhood schools" just as the "popular" opinion at one point in this very community was for segregated schools. "Popular" in neither case was or is the best thing for education of children and equality of opportunity. We urge you to rise above the clamor for some idea of "neighborhood school."
Robert Lowe, Historian and author of "Rethinking Schools," has said, "A policy of returning education to local schools suggests historical amnesia about both neighborhood schools and busing, and threatens to increase racial inequality in education. . . . The current nationwide effort to restore neighborhood schools has little basis for promising excellent schools, but it can and will deliver racially separate ones."
Redistricting of schools is always painful, moving is difficult, and most do not want to change schools. Our system has been in serious need of balancing for more than ten years. Your response two years ago avoided the anger of vocal parents but intensified the problem.
Allowing unequal schools with different economic populations also allows for unequal funds, most importantly because the parents supporting the schools have such different amounts to contribute. Comparing relative PTA funds available to our elementary schools now, above and beyond tax money, shows striking differences. The difference in contributions does not mean that parents in the schools which serve lower economic groups care less, simply that they have less time and resources to give. All children, rich or poor, deserve a quality education.
Education should include exposure to as many different people as possible, even when differences are confusing. We have little chance of understanding if we are never exposed. The League supports diversity for quality education, and we urge you to adopt the plan that will provide diversity for the greatest number of our children. The public schools should do no less.
As our National League position states, "The kind of housing desegregation that would make school desegregation natural and easy STILL does not exist, and Federal enforcement has decreased." While you may enjoy the lack of Federal supervision, we ask that you now do the right thing.
Audrey Albrecht, For the Board,
League of Women Voters of The Lower Cape Fear