The Charlotte, North Carolina school board, in response to a grim financial outlook, has voted to close a number of schools. However, all the schools up for closure are predominantly filled with Latino and black students.
The Southern city’s board voted to close 10 schools last month, but with the board being predominantly white, in a district that is 33 percent white, but 95 percent of the students in the closing schools…are not white, which has parents and students rather perturbed.
The area already has a long history of racial discourse, and the school closings seem to have reignited that fire.
School board chairman, Eric C. Davis believes that all 10 schools voted to close have two issues. The first being low academic performance, and the second, empty classroom space. Davis adds that families in the suburbs were paying a price for the added attention at the inner-city schools, and says, given the predicted budget shortfall—estimated to reach $100 million next year – it makes more sense to save money for better, more successful teachers and to close down the underused campuses.
The school board claims the suburban schools were hurting due to the best teachers and principals being sent to help the struggling inner-city schools. More money was also being sent to the lower performing schools while the suburban schools were overcrowded.
Parents had taken issue with the board’s decision from day one, especially since they presented what they believed to be viable alternatives. It has been suggested to the board that they redraw the attendance boundaries in the area so that the unused classrooms in the inner-city could be filled with kids from the admittedly overcrowded suburban schools. What has also been hard for the parents to swallow is the fact that the majority of “white schools” originally on the closure list were taken off by the board.
Parent DeAndre Alex, the mother of high school freshman Deon—who would have to attend a school nine miles away next year, instead of the closing one just one mile away – said, “What this is doing is awakening a beast in hibernation. The civil rights movement.”