Anger and Despair

This bleak gray morning is fitting for the residual anger and despair I’m feeling after sitting through the nearly seven hour open portion of the Wake County School Board meeting last night.

Anger that the majority—the Gang of Five—jammed through their yet-to-be-seen resolution to begin dismantling Wake County’s diversity policy in favor of “community zones” that will likely result in a slew of more school reassignments and an increase in high poverty schools.

Anger that the majority did so in the most flagrant display of arrogance and disregard for transparency and due process that I have ever witnessed in my years of observing policy-making.

Anger that the majority passed a sweeping resolution without any fiscal analysis of their community zones plan yet suddenly became fiscal hawks in the same meeting, quibbling over approving construction for a new elementary school that was already delayed three years and had gone through a lengthy approval and budgeting process.

Despair that even with pro-diversity speakers at the public meeting outnumbering opponents by nearly eight to one, it didn’t make a difference.

Despair that even with 94.8% of Wake County parents expressing satisfaction with their children’s’ schools in a recent parent survey, that’s apparently not enough satisfaction.

Despair that a “majority” actually only represents, based on the number of votes that won them their seats:

–18% of the Wake County student population
–4% of the total number of Wake County registered voters
–2% of the total Wake County population.

Despair that we have to wait until 2011 to even begin changing the School Board’s makeup as Chair Margiotta is the only member of the majority up for re-election before 2013.

And I could go on. But I do have a glimmer of hope in the fact that I know I’m not the only one heavy with anger and despair this morning. There are thousands of us across Wake County, who’ve been through these schools and have children in these schools. And if we were sleeping before, we’re awake now.

9 Comments

  1. AdamL

    March 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Well said.

  2. Chase

    March 3, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Thank you, Louisa, for so eloquently summarizing the tenor of the evening and the desperation and disappointment felt by so many Wake County residents. Let’s hope that your prediction of mobilization is right: that as more people become politicized by the actions of this ideologically-driven Board, this movement for justice and equality in education will become louder and stronger.

  3. Jeff

    March 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Wow…. I hope the Democrats in DC don’t get a look at this and decide to use the same tactic with health care.

  4. IBXer

    March 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    The voters have spoken. The majority of parents do not want their children bused to someone else’s neighborhood.

    I don’t get the “diversocrats” argument with busing. It seems extremely racist. All I hear when I hear these speakers is “Our kids can’t learn unless they have white folks around them.” That is such a horrible worldview.

  5. parent of 2

    March 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    While I have issues with the way the school board is operating, I was also not happy with the way some speakers conducted themselves during the public comment period. I could not be at the board meeting, so watched chunks of it off and on via WRAL’s live feed. I feel those who commented, from whatever position they supported, and used supporting information surely made a better case for their argument than some others.

    Yes, be angry or be supportive, but do so in a way that others – supportive, against, or on the fence – will want to listen to what you have to say.

  6. Rob B

    March 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Oh, how appalling and stuck-up it is to want your white children to go to school with non-white children so they might actually learn about people (more important than math, really) and possibly accept that black kids are worthy classmates, friends, and colleagues! The ghetto has crappy schools because the parents there cannot afford time off their crap jobs to go to these meetings and complain about year-round schedules and argue for more funding. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the richest counties in North Carolina (or anywhere) have the nicest, newest, and all-around best schools in their respective regions? Better pull out a “you’re actually the racist ones here” card!

    Without busing, a lot of white kids would never know a black kid outside of the news and cable TV, where black guys are just sportsmen, entertainers, and drug dealers while black women are mostly loud-mouthed sassy sidekicks. It’s worth the drive.

  7. Joe Ciulla

    March 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    FWIW, District 8 (Margiotta’s) was the most sorely abused district in the county under the old school board. I can’t realistically imagine a pro-busing, pro-MYR candidate competing. IMHO, if Kevin Hill were up for election today against an anti-busing, anti-MYR candidate, I think he would lose as well. He sold out some of his own constituents last night when he refused to put Wakefield up for consideration of conversion to traditional.

    We will have a pro- neighborhood schools board for at least the next four years.

    As a former school policy dissenter, I respect everyone’s right to express their disagreement, I’ve been there. I do think it is a shame to play with numbers and discredit the democratic election process.

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  9. Jack

    March 4, 2010 at 9:53 am

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