This past Friday we attended a community meeting in Charlotte organized by Charlotte NAACP President Minister Corine Mack, where co-director Mark Dorosin spoke to parents of students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, as well as concerned community members, about the background of and history of HB 514 (a new bill that would allow several affluent Charlotte area suburbs to establish charter schools that favor their own residents), as well as its potential impacts, concerns about existing charters within the district, and some of the various issues the legislatures actions have raised.
On the panel alongside Mark were parents and teachers who have been affected by the already stark inequality and segregation in CMS schools, which are likely to be exacerbated by HB 514.
Earlier this month, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation announced that it has awarded a grant to the Julius L. Chambers Center for Civil Rights to support its legal advocacy, public outreach and education, and research in support of North Carolina communities working to challenge the impacts of racial exclusion. This is the second grant the Foundation has made to the Chambers Center, and this support has been critical in helping provide stability and sustainability as the Center continues to represent clients in matters regarding education equity, environmental justice, civic engagement, and access to basic public services.
Chandra Taylor, Chairperson of the Center’s Board of Directors, said “We are deeply appreciative of this support and the confidence in the impact of our work that it represents. This funding will assist in our on-going efforts to raise resources, to keep training the next generation of civil rights advocates, and to continue representing those that are directly affected by systemic and institutional racism.”
“Without the Center’s legal support, our community members would not be able to even be heard by a court of justice,” said Naeema Muhammad, Co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, “and the quality of that legal representation gives us the ability to actually achieve some justice. We are grateful to ZSR for understanding that fact and supporting our communities in this important way.”
Mo Green, Executive Director of the Foundation, said “The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation deeply appreciates the Chambers Center’s commitment to continuing Julius Chambers’ legacy by bringing an important approach and skill set to its clients and to the field of civil rights work. The Center is focused on important issues for the people of NC, and ZSR is proud to be a partner.”
House Bill 514 would allow the Mecklenburg County towns of Matthews and Mint Hill to secede from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district and set up town-run charter schools. A recent report identifies a host of financial problems with the proposal; even more troubling however, is the fact that the bill will allow these towns to create racially segregated, white enclave schools for their residents, subsidized by all taxpayers.
HB514 is part of an ongoing campaign by the General Assembly to undermine public education in general and racially diversity in schools in particular. And while that campaign includes recently developed proposals for turning over public schools to private charter operators, taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, and expansion of charter schools with minimal oversight or regulation, the tactic of legislatively creating white enclave districts to avoid integration goes back over 50 years. Read More
Chambers Center clients the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH), and Waterkeeper Alliance announced today that they reached a settlement agreement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) of a 2014 Title VI complaint filed with the Environmental Protection Agency. The complaint alleged that DEQ allowed industrial swine facilities to operate with “grossly inadequate and outdated systems of controlling animal waste” resulting in an “unjustified disproportionate impact on the basis of race and national origin against African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.” Read more