The Hypocrisy of Rep. Brawley and HB 514 – It’s More Than “School Choice”

When Rep. Bill Brawley championed HB 514, he championed a bill that allows for cities to use property tax money to fund local schools. It also allows for cities and towns to establish their own charter schools with enrollment preference for their citizens using taxpayer money.

There are a plethora of ill-fated consequences that can manifest themselves quickly because of this bill.

  1. It could raise everyone’s property taxes in the state. Whatever the state now mandates for public schools and does not choose to specifically fund can now be passed on to local school systems.
  2. It potentially weakens every public school system in the state whether or not it currently has a charter school. Now charter schools can ask the local district for funds to finance anything from custodians to benefits for charter school teachers.
  3. It will probably cause a rise in charter school applications and eventually lead to more charter schools in the state. And the more charter schools there are, the more it hurts traditional public schools which still service the overwhelming majority of students in the state.

But most importantly, it  would be allowing for the systemic re-segregation of student populations under the auspicious call for “school choice.”

Oddly enough, Rep. Brawley is a commercial real estate agent, at least according to his bio page on ncleg.net. If one is a real estate agent (commercial or residential), then one is probably very familiar with the Fair Housing Act. According to the Department of Justice (https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-act-1):

The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., prohibits discrimination by direct providers of housing, such as landlords and real estate companies as well as other entities, such as municipalities, banks or other lending institutions and homeowners insurance companies whose discriminatory practices make housing unavailable to persons because of:

When people look for housing in North Carolina and had school-aged children, they may have asked a real-estate agent, “What school services this area?” It is commonly known that a real-estate agent cannot answer this question because of the Fair Housing Act. Talking about the reputation of the schools can cast an unfair light on an area. That can affect real-estate values.

Schools and real-estate prices are very much connected. This excerpt form an NPR expose is rather telling:

It’s well known in the real estate industry that highly rated schools translate into higher housing values. Several studies confirm this and even put a dollar figure on it: an average premium of $50 a square foot, in a 2013 national study.

In Chappaqua, N.Y., an affluent bedroom community for New York City, the town supervisor recently went so far as to declare that, “The schools are our biggest industry — whether you have kids in the school or not, that’s what maintains our property values.”

But some advocates for fair housing see a potential problem with the close ties between school ratings and real estate. They say the common denominator, too often, is race. And they argue that the problem has intensified in the last decade with new web platforms bringing all kinds of information directly to homebuyers.

“A school rating map mirrors a racial dot map,” showing patterns of segregation and diversity, observes Sally Santangelo, the executive director of Central New York Fair Housing, a group that provides education and legal assistance to oppose housing discrimination (https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/10/10/495944682/race-school-ratings-and-real-estate-a-legal-gray-area). 

Look at the following graph:

charterschool

Someone who has been in real estate and has also been in the General Assembly for 4 terms witnessing how the charter school movement as well as other privatization efforts can work, then involvement in HB 514 in not just happenstance. It’s deliberate.

The mixture of charter district schools, real estate values, and secret backdoor lawmaking is a recipe. Not an accident. It signals a lot more intent than the “we are just giving people choices for schools close to home” excuse.

Charlotte was once a leader in desegregation movements in the 1970’s. Brawley would be cognizant of that as well as other civil rights endeavors. He was born in 1949 according to Wikipedia.

That also means that he grew up in the 1950’s when this poster circulated:

superman

Maybe someone should re-share it with him.

 

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