Earthquake in Wake

Gadfly has generally been skeptical of Wake County, North Carolina’s busing plan, overturned this year by a new school board majority, focused as it was on making schools socioeconomically diverse more than on ensuring that their pupils learn plenty. But we’re not blind to the painful scenario unfolding in and around Raleigh as the community prepares for a return to more racially and economically isolated schools. Gerald Grant, author of Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There are No Bad Schools in Raleigh, explains that an influx of newcomers had thrown the community for a loop: “You had folks moving down there from Lexington, Mass., and buying a $275,000 house, and they thought a white school came with it.” Turns out the house came with an hour-long bus ride instead. So the bus rides are going away, or at least getting a lot shorter, but not without cost. "We're not going to sit idly by while they turn the clock back on the blood, sweat and tears and wipe their feet on the sacrifices of so many that have enabled us to get to the place we are today," pledged the state NAACP chapter head, who recently got arrested for civil disobedience at a school board meeting. Gadfly insists that academic achievement should be job number-one of any school system in America—and every school needs to focus on that, whatever it’s demographics—but it’s also impossible not to notice the pernicious effects of segregated neighborhood schools even in an era when such segregation is de facto rather than de jure.

Fear of ‘resegregation’ fuels unrest in NC,” by Allen G. Breed, Associated Press, July 19, 2010