In response to “Lawmaker wants CMS boundary delay” (May 16):
N.C. Rep. Scott Stone issued a veiled threat last week against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials should they proceed with the pupil assignment plan. His and others’ call for delay is simply a tactic to undermine the entire pupil assignment plan. Rep. Stone admits that incoming CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox’s approval of the plan would not ensure his own support.
Despite decades of academic, peer-reviewed research showing the benefits of socioeconomically diverse schools, Stone invokes “social engineering” in objecting to the modest plan.
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Let’s be clear, the long legacy of “social engineering” makes implementation of this plan essential.
Our sorted out, segregated community did not happen by accident. We live in enclaves defined by socioeconomic status and race because of active decisions by government and business interests made over decades. For example:
▪ Beginning in 1938, it was the “social engineering” of red-lining that deprived African-Americans of capital for purchasing homes.
▪ In the post-World War II housing boom, “social engineering” by the Federal Housing Administration and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs supported home ownership in new, whites-only suburbs.
▪ In the 1960’s, “social engineering” in the form of urban renewal used federal money to demolish African-American neighborhoods, churches and businesses.
▪ In the years leading up to the 2008 recession, subprime lenders “socially engineered” their predatory loans targeting minorities.
The cumulative result of this “social engineering” is disproportionate home ownership among whites. Lest you think that these policies are irrelevant today, consider how the mortgage interest tax credit perpetuates the advantages to whites whose homeownership rates got a boost from the “social engineering” of the previous decades.
So, to those who believe that affluent neighborhoods exist solely because of the work ethic of their neighbors, consider how social engineering has and continues to bestow advantage.
We have an opportunity, as a community, to embrace a CMS policy that takes a small step in offering more equitable educational opportunities to a small number of children. In the interest of moving toward a future that offers a real opportunity at economic mobility for all, we encourage the Board of Education to heed the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force and be courageous in decreasing the numbers of schools with high concentrations of children living in poverty.
As the Observer has pointed out, the proposed plan is a conservative approach to a complex and volatile challenge, not the radical transformation Mr. Stone’s rhetoric would suggest. Such incendiary language and threats of repercussions are misleading and unhelpful.
Bob Simmons is executive director of Council for Children’s Rights. Carol Sawyer is a member of the OneMECK Steering Committee.