Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today in "Shit State Legislators Say" (Extreme Local Edition): Wake County School Board

Update: via a commenter, it turns out that in response to investigations from accrediting agencies, the Wake County school board is considering dropping accreditation. Good times!

Via digby, Tea Partiers take over Raleigh, NC area school board, attempt to eliminate modestly successful integration policy, claim that concentrating poor &underperforming students in one school is a good thing:
If we had a school that was, like, 80 percent high-poverty, the public would see the challenges, the need to make it successful," [school board member John Tedesco] said. "Right now, we have diluted the problem, so we can ignore it".

For one, this flies in the face of the long history of high-poverty schools quickly become basket cases, unable to retain quality teachers, and unable to provide the level of support needed to bring students up to par. In the same way that high-crime areas often pass a "tipping point" where police resources are unable to keep up with demand, schools can suffer in the same fashion.

For two, the No Child Left Behind Act specifically demands that schools demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress across a variety of demographic subcategories to force administrators to pay attention to historically low-performing groups even when their presence is diluted.

For three, you're on the damn school board. It's your job not to ignore the problem.

For four, remember, folks, it's slander to suggests that racial prejudice is a motivator behind any part of the Tea Party agenda. But I'll let you draw your own conclusion.

The likely outcome of this will be a long and protracted lawsuit. Considering the districts current integration plan is actually race-neutral, and the district stands a substantial risk of re-segregation, the new move will most likely withstand the scrutiny of the current Supreme Court.

If this sort of thing drives you crazy, consider this a plea to run for school board or city council (especially if you're female! Women are significantly less likely to receive encouragement from party operatives to run, which is a major source of underrepresentation. But don't let this discourage you!). Especially in suburban districts and small/medium-sized town districts, these positions are not always held by professional politicians. But the Right has built up a significant infrastructure devoted to winning these small offices and implementing rather pernicious parts of the far-right agenda. The country is in desperate need of non-crazy folks to run for office at all levels, but especially at the state & local level to act as a counterweight to this sort of nonsense. Even if you're a moderate Republican who disagrees with me on a whole host of issues, holding down a school board or city council seat is a valuable contribution to your community if it's preventing this sort of train wreck.
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