“The re-entrenchment of resegregation” in CMS: Remembering HB 514, The Municipal Charter School Bill

From EdNC.org yesterday concerning the “The Future of School Integration in North Carolina” panel hosted by NC Policy Watch:

Rev. William Barber II, originally slated to speak at the event, gave introductory remarks via web chat:

“What do you have now in Charlotte?” he questioned. “Beneath the beautiful buildings and bountiful banking, you have the re-entrenchment of resegregation of public schools that is unlike anything else in the state of North Carolina.”

CMS, the second largest district statewide by student enrollment, is North Carolina’s most segregated school district, according to a 2018 report from the North Carolina Justice Center.

“As we stand here today, Charlotte is the most segregated school system in North Carolina, in a badly segregated state,” event moderator Billy Ball of NC Policy Watch stated, referencing the report. “CMS would have to reassign more than half of its students in order to achieve some kind of racial parity in its school system.”

Remember that CMS was the original testing ground for the Municipal Charter Bill, HB 514, that was championed by Rep. Bill Brawley of Mecklenberg County.

Nothing screams “segregation” more than that bill did.

When Rep. Brawley first championed HB 514, he promoted a bill that allowed for cities to use property tax money to fund local schools. It also allowed for some select cities and towns to establish their own charter schools with enrollment preference for their citizens using taxpayer money. And because it was a local bill, it did not require the governor’s approval; therefore, Gov. Cooper could not issue a veto at the time.

To many public school advocates, this “Municipal Charter School” bill was (and still is) beyond egregious and potentially set North Carolina back decades as far as treating all people equally. It exacerbated an already fractious situation that has endured gerrymandering, a Voter ID law, cowering to big industry instead of protecting the environment, and giving massive tax cuts to corporations that hurt public services.

There are a plethora of ill-fated consequences that could fully 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.
  4. But most importantly, it would be allowing for the systemic re-segregation of student populations in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School System under the auspicious call for “school choice.”

And on December 13, 2018, during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly to supposedly iron-out details for the new Voter ID amendment, a Technical Corrections Bill called SB 469 removed the provision for the original HB 514 that stipulated its “local bill” status. Now, it applies to the whole state.

Back to the recent EdNC.org post:

Speaking largely on how charter schools can hinder integration efforts, Mark Dorosin described House Bill 514 — the 2018 bill that granted four municipalities in Mecklenburg County the legal grounds to operate their own charter schools — as a “new front in the struggle for education.”

The bill allows “publicly funded charter schools [to] exclude students who don’t live in the town,” he said. By dictating who can and cannot attend such schools in predominantly white, affluent communities, Dorosin said, the bill has threatened to exacerbate the already profound effects of segregation at schools within CMS.

Now look at #4 above again.

It should be reworded.

4. But most importantly, it would be allowing for the CONTINUED systemic re-segregation of student populations in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School System under the auspicious call for “school choiceand potentially spread that influence all over the state.

Brawley lost his re-election bid in 2018.

Maybe a majority of the people he was supposedly representing didn’t really see him as representative of their views.