e-book Reading, Writing and Race: The Desegregation of the Charlotte Schools

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A first-generation college student, Ferguson was able to attend college with the help of scholarships, work study, and financial loans. Account Options Connexion. Version papier du livre. Susan J. Busing is a temporary evil with a decidedly teleological aim: the day that racial equality can be marked "mission accomplished," allowing districts to return to "freedom of choice" plans based on neighborhood schools. Busing, viewed from the lens of such decisions, might thus be compared to a pair of crutches.

While the crutches may be useful for a time, it is the elimination of the crutches that marks progression. It is with this logic that a return to the status quo can be hailed as a step forward. When William Cappacchione filed suit against CMS because his daughter had been denied admission to her first choice elementary school, presumably because of racial quotas, he thus framed his complaint as a cry for progress. Assuming an equal playing field across racial lines, Cappacchione claimed that his daughter Cristina had been denied admission because of her race, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of and the 14 th Amendment.

Cappacchione secured legal support from an organization that fittingly invoked Cappacchione's own progressive rhetoric, the Houston-based Campaign for a Color-Blind America, which claimed that its mission was "to challenge race-based public policies and educate the public about the injustices of racial preferences. Two African-American parents then joined the case on the side of Ferguson Stein. While the firm was pleased in their success at attaching the Cappacchione litigation to Swann, they were less optimistic about Judge Robert Potter, to whom the litigation had been assigned.

Potter was not only a conservative Republican, but had been active in Charlotte's anti-busing movement in the 's, and was a Reagan appointee, all compounded by the fact that one of the white plaintiffs had served as Potter's law clerk. Because the white plaintiffs' mandate to end busing was contingent on a declaration of successful desegregation, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board ironically had to persuade the courts of its failure at progress in order to save its integration plan.

In legal terms, CMS had to declare itself not unitary.

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  • The movement to do so was initially proposed by African-American board member Wilhemenia Rembert, who said of her decision: "I introduced the motion because Those schools with African-American students still did not have up to date facilities, and [African-American students] were always placed in older schools. There were special programs at suburban schools that were not at schools with African-American students.

    The teachers with the best qualifications were at suburban schools. The result was the revelation that the desegregation plan in "the city that made it work" had a number of components that didn't seem to be working at all, calling into question the extent to which CMS desegregation policies had led to any more than a superficial re-ordering of the pre- Swann status quo. A prevailing argument made by Franklin Stein and CMS was that the busing system itself, while purported to intend equality between the races, privileged white students in wealthy suburban neighborhoods over African-American students concentrated in high-poverty areas of the city.

    In , a total of 2, African-American elementary school students—approximately 15 percent—were bused outside of their neighborhoods throughout grades K, while only white students—less than one percent—were bused outside of their neighborhoods for elementary school.

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    In the school pairings system, a high-minority urban elementary school would typically be paired with a mostly white elementary suburban school. In almost all cases, African-American students would be bused to the suburban school for grades K-3, while white students were bused in grades Thus, the burden of long bus rides was consistently placed on the younger black children. Such inequities are exemplified in the case of Crestdale Middle School in Matthews, a wealthy suburb of the Charlotte metropolitan area.

    The land intended for Crestdale was bought at a particularly high price by the school board in the early 's, primarily because it was next to a major thoroughfare, which would make it easier to bus African-American students to the school from a "satellite" attendance area.

    However, when Superintendent Eric Smith opened the official plan for the school, all attendance zones were in predominately white neighborhoods. Instead of the planned satellite, Smith set aside seats for a voluntary transfer program for students of color residing elsewhere in the county. As a result, Crestdale opened in with an African-American population of only 16 percent, a blatant violation of CMS's own guidelines for racial balance.

    In fact, Galliard insists that throughout the year history of Charlotte busing, "never, or almost never" were the students of the "affluent southeast" reassigned. The most blatant violations of desegregation policies, however, involved the construction of new schools. As CMS officials and the black plaintiffs noted, twenty-seven of the twenty-nine schools opened in district in the past twenty years were located in predominately white areas, most of which were also outlying suburbs In doing so, CMS had ignored "its own policies, the recommendations of planners, McMillan's orders and the fact that African American students accounted for approximately 55 percent of the increase in CMS' total enrollment during these years [xxvi] " Often times, CMS' willingness to violate its own standards was connected to the influence of local developers who hoped to raise property values by locating new schools in recently constructed neighborhoods in Charlotte suburbs.

    The influential Harris Group proposed such an arrangement by offering to donate a large tract of land in Ballantyne, a wealthy new residential development, to the school board. Many desegregation advocates suggested that the school board use the offer as leverage to require developers to build more mixed-income housing that would encourage desegregation. School board member Louise Woods meanwhile recommended that the school board postpone voting on whether to accept the donation until they had the chance to meet with developers to negotiate such mixed-income housing.

    School Segregation in America is as Bad Today as it Was in the s

    Instead, the schoolboard voted to accept the land, and opened a school in with a scanty 2 percent African-American population. According to Political Scientist Stephen Samuel Smith, "the board's willingness to violate [its own rules] exacerbated sentiments that special treatment was still accorded southeast Charlotte, especially when the issue concerned a developer While CMS and the black plaintiffs cited the above examples as causes of the steadily increasing racial imbalance in district schools, the white plaintiffs, joined by school board members Kakadelis, Lassiter and Puckett, claimed that such changes were the result of demographic change over which CMS had no control.

    Thus, such imbalances could not be vestiges of a dual system, leaving CMS free from legal responsibility as per Freeman v. Citing the influx throughout the 's of businesspeople and developers to Charlotte, the white plaintiffs, supported by hired demographers, claimed that the disproportionate outcropping of predominately white suburban schools was simply a result of the sudden droves of white suburbanites. CMS and the black plaintiffs, however, disagreed.

    According to trend, most districts that experience desegregation in schools also experience residential desegregation over the same time period. Indeed, the index of dissimilarity in Charlotte, a number representing the fraction of residents that would have to be reassigned to achieve perfect integration, demonstrates increased residential integration post- Swann. In , Charlotte's index of dissimilarity was 0.

    A Lesson in Equality: Desegregating the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District

    When the white plaintiffs addressed the issues raised by CMS about the exceptionalism applied to white southeast Charlotte, inequities were represented not as evidence of discrimination, but as wise precautions against white flight and loss of the support of the wealthy white community.

    Busing students from North and West Charlotte, then, was also wise, as working class white families were less willing to pay extra money for private schools.

    Urban on Douglas, 'Reading, Writing & Race: The Desegregation of the Charlotte Schools'

    In fact, claimed the plaintiffs, desegregation plans could actually exacerbate residential segregation, and are thus often self-defeating. In Forced Justice, Public Policy expert David Armor—who was incidentally called as an expert witness for the white plaintiffs—enumerates this position: "In claiming that racial balance formulas and cross-district busing were reasonable and feasible remedies, [school officials] clearly did not examine the possibility that opposition to such policies could The white plaintiffs also generally dismissed the outpouring of discouraging evidence from CMS and the black plaintiffs as a pitiful defense based on an assertion of failure, a striking contrast to their own claimed ambitions of progress, equality and race-neutrality.

    School board member Jim Puckett, a dissenter in the board's decision to declare itself not unitary, called the defense "asinine," and "an affront to a progressive city [xxxiii] " in a June 28, Boston Globe article on the case. Puckett's other statements in the article, in true form, invoked the language of progress.

    Puckett insisted that the reversal of Swann would confirm, not undermine, Charlotte's status as a progressive city, and that the elimination of racial guidelines for school assignment was not a step backward toward resegregation, but rather a step forward toward a race-neutral utopia: "Charlotte was very proud, and rightly so, that we were the one place in the country that could desegregate its schools peacefully But we're the first place in America today that can take the next step We can now go and close the educational gap in a colorblind way.

    The reckless optimist who claims to look to the future can easily portray a defense like the one presented by CMS as backward-looking and cynical. In both the public arena and in the media, even the most potent and convincing claims made by CMS were undermined by their oft-repeated tag as a "doofus defense. They thus pegged those who invoked race in their discussions as paranoid whistle-blowers. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer , board member Lindalyn Kakadelis, who dissented in the declaration of non unitary status, claimed that nobody wanted unequal schools but that "psychologically, people feel that could be a possibility.

    To Kakadelis, the racism that Rembert perceived was purely "psychological. In September , Judge Robert Potter affirmed almost every claim made by the white plaintiffs.

    Urban on Douglas, 'Reading, Writing & Race: The Desegregation of the Charlotte Schools'

    Deeming the standards used by CMS to measure racial imbalance "somewhat hazy, [xxxvii] " Potter declared CMS unitary, and prohibited the school system from taking race into account in student assignments or in the allocation of educational opportunities and benefits. As the school board filed an appeal on Judge Potter's decision, Superintendent Eric Smith and board members alike struggled to develop a viable reassignment plan for the fall.

    Smith's final plan divided CMS into five zones, within which students could enter lotteries for their first choice schools. Meanwhile, each student would be guaranteed a spot at a "home" school nearby.

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    However, the geographic division of the district would mean that some students would not be able to choose schools that did not have high-poverty rates, while others were surrounded overwhelmingly by predominately-white schools. Since the s and s, however, there has been a profound reordering of the legal and social order in this country around issues of race. Indeed, the civil rights movement of the s and s constituted one of the most significant social and political readjustments in this nation's history. Scholars have differed over the primary impetus for these changes. An unknown error has occurred.

    Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read preview. Synopsis Using Charlotte, North Carolina, as a case study of the dynamics of racial change in the 'moderate' South, Davison Douglas analyzes the desegregation of the city's public schools from the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision through the early s, when the city embarked upon the most ambitious school busing plan in the nation. In charting the path of racial change, Douglas considers the relative efficacy of the black community's use of public demonstrations and litigation to force desegregation.