This blog is also posted in a shorter version with the Education Post.
Charter school advocates have recently expressed frustration in the final charter language in the Democratic party platform as well as a new NAACP resolutionconcerning charter schools and a platform produced from Black Lives Matters activists that raise concerns about charters “destabilizing” and “resegregating” traditional public schools. I can provide a well-documented example the legitimacy of these concerns in the district I have worked in for 16 years, Durham Public Schools in Durham, NC.
Though Faulkner’s words are misquoted, his sentiment is very true: in the South, the past isn’t history, in fact, it isn’t even the past yet. Like all Southern cities, Durham has its own unique and complex history of segregation and desegregation If you really want to understand the history of Durham, and by extension, of many of the challenges of race relations throughout the South, please watch this excellent documentary.
Durham’s two public school districts were fully desegregated by court order in 1970. White flight from the city to county schools was the result. The two districts coexisted for decades, the city district overwhelming black (including school board, administrators, and teachers as well as students) and the county district overwhelmingly white—though each individual district was technically “integrated.” Despite regular joint school board meetings and reoccurring productive conversations about merger starting in the 1970s, the two districts did not formally merge until 1992.
Through a variety of measures — magnet programs, equitable funding, new school construction and redistricting, urban planning and housing programs — the community successfully diversified most of its schools at that time. However, care was taken to honor and preserve the community’s beloved historically black high school, Hillside. Hillside is the oldest and one of only five historically black high schools that still survive in North Carolina (from 300 that existed prior to desegregation).
Throughout the early and mid-2000’s, DPS worked to maintain the delicate balance necessary in a diverse Southern school system. Using testing data and diverse community input, the district developed an ambitious 10-year plan starting in 1997 to attack various achievement gaps. Throughout the early and mid-2000’s, DPS worked to maintained the complex and delicate balance necessary in a diverse Southern school Choice and Segregation | The Patiently Impatient Teacher: