Blog Posts: Education

A Sound Basic Education—Exhibit 1: Student Access to Certified, Well-Trained Teachers in Wayne County Public Schools

The above graph tracks educational outcomes and the use of substitute teachers in Wayne County Public Schools
The above graph tracks educational outcomes and the use of substitute teachers in Wayne County Public Schools' nine middle schools during the 2015-16 school year.

Almost 20 years ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court held in the landmark case of Leandro v. State that every child in our state has a constitutional right to “the opportunity for a sound basic education.” In defining a sound basic education, the Court looked at the educational resources that school districts make available to their students, including access to effective teachers. In the follow-up Leandro II decision, the Court re-emphasized the importance of quality teachers, holding that a sound basic education calls for “every classroom [to] be staffed with a competent, certified, well-trained teacher.”

Student access to certified, well-trained teachers often differs dramatically from school to school however—and far too often depends upon a school’s racial composition. In concluding that racially segregated schools “may fail to provide the full panoply of benefits that K-12 schools can offer,” the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools specifically highlighted that segregated schools struggle to attract effective teachers and often have higher teacher turnover rates.

In the Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) Central (Goldsboro High) attendance area, the connection between segregation and access to certified, well-trained teachers, is readily apparent. Wayne County serves an overall student population that is 34.9% African American. However, African American students represent between 87.5% and 92.6% of students in all Goldsboro area schools. During the 2014-15 school year, teachers with three years or less of experience accounted for 33.3% of teachers at Goldsboro High and 42.5% of teachers at Dillard Middle, the second- and third-highest percentages of such inexperienced teachers across WCPS. That same year, Central Attendance area schools accounted for three of the four highest teacher turnover rates in the district.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. November 17, 2016 1:32 PM
Categories: Education, Leandro, Segregation

VIDEO: Silver v. Halifax County NC Court of Appeals Argument


On September 19, 2016, the NC Court of Appeals heard oral argument in the Center’s groundbreaking education case, Silver v. Halifax County Bd. of Commissioners.

Watch the argument

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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Mon. October 31, 2016 2:22 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Race Discrimination, Segregation

Charters, Segregation, and Social Justice- A Response to Dr. Danielsen

Relying on research from Vermont and Santa Ana, Dr. Bartley Danielsen’s Point of View column “More school choice will ease social ills,” exhorts North Carolinians to “embrace charter schools” and private school vouchers to address the continuing impacts of residential segregation. But Dr. Danielsen ignores two critical elements: first, the responsibility of school boards that promote and defend so-called “neighborhood schools” assignment plans that replicate and reinforce segregation in public schools; and second, in North Carolina, the charter schools he urges us to embrace are almost twice as segregated as traditional public schools.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Wed. October 26, 2016 9:17 AM
Categories: Education, Segregation

UNC Center for Civil Rights Inclusion Project: Education Advocacy in New Hanover County

The above map shows clusters of Census blocks in Wilmington where 75% or more of residents are non-white.  A statewide map is available at http://www.uncinclusionproject.org/.

The above map shows clusters of Census blocks in Wilmington where 75% or more of residents are non-white. A statewide map is available at http://www.uncinclusionproject.org/.

In New Hanover County, public school officials continue to grapple with the tension between promoting racial and socio-economic diversity in schools and the political pressure of suburban parents who favor an assignment plan that emphasizes proximity, often referred to as a “neighborhood school” plan. That term can be misleading when only certain neighborhoods are prioritized, and ignores the reality that such assignment plans reinforce patterns of residential segregation and sacrifice the educational benefits of racially and socio-economically diverse schools. In its new Inclusion Project report, the UNC Center for Civil Rights describes direct community-based, education advocacy in New Hanover County. The Inclusion Project grew out of the Center’s community-based advocacy focused on addressing structural inequities and promoting racial equity and inclusion. The project began in 2013 with the release of “The State of Exclusion” report, and includes a series of county profiles analyzing the continuing impacts of the legacy of racial segregation.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Tue. September 6, 2016 12:03 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Education

Remembering Harry Briggs Jr. and Continuing His Legacy

Harry Briggs Jr. (far right) with classmates. ©NAACP LDF.
Harry Briggs Jr. (far right) with classmates. ©NAACP LDF.

On August 9, 2016, Harry Briggs Jr. passed away at his home in the Bronx, New York. In 1947, at the age of 12, Briggs Jr. was the first to sign a petition in Clarendon County, South Carolina demanding equal access in education for black students. The court case that followed that petition, Briggs v. Elliot, was one of five consolidated cases in Brown v. Board of Education. Although Brown became the recognizable name in ruling “separate but equal” education unconstitutional, Briggs was the first of the five cases to challenge racial segregation, and its plaintiffs suffered mightily for it.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. August 22, 2016 2:16 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation

Halifax County School Adequacy Appeal Briefing Completed; Oral Argument to be Scheduled

On Monday, July 18, 2016, the Center for Civil Rights filed its reply brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners, reasserting its fundamental argument that a board of county commissioners—like any government actor or agency—has a constitutional obligation to ensure schoolchildren have the opportunity to secure a sound basic education.

The case was filed by the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren in Halifax. The plaintiffs assert that the county commissioners’ inequitable and inefficient allocation of education resources among, and maintenance of, three racially segregated and low performing school districts in the county violates the right of students to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution (and affirmed by the North Carolina Supreme Court in the Leandro cases). Incredibly, the commissioners insist that while they admittedly have constitutional and statutory obligations to provide critical educational resources, those obligations have no relation to or bearing upon the right to or provision of a constitutionally-complaint education in Halifax County.


Read More... (Halifax County School Adequacy Appeal Briefing Completed; Oral Argument to be Scheduled)
Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. July 20, 2016 4:22 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Plaintiffs File Brief to NC Court of Appeals in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

On Wednesday, May 4, the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren filed their brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners. The Plaintiffs brought suit against the County last August, seeking to vindicate the constitutional right of all Halifax County schoolchildren to the opportunity for a sound basic education established under the Leandro decision. The Plaintiffs’ appeal comes after the trial court dismissed the lawsuit in early February, holding that the County has no constitutional obligations under Leandro.

In their brief to the Court of Appeals, CEES and the NAACP argue they must be afforded the opportunity to present evidence at trial and prove that the County’s maintenance of its three racially segregated school districts blocks all students’ opportunity to receive a Leandro-compliant education. Leandro II provides that local governments must allocate resources in a manner that provides children the opportunity for a sound basic education.

Legal Aid of North Carolina and the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, on behalf of Public Schools First NC, filed an amicus brief in support of the Appellants’ Leandro claim. The amicus brief highlights Legal Aid of North Carolina’s work with students in Halifax County, and the lack of educational opportunity these students face because of the misallocation of educational resources among the county’s three school districts. Amici note that at-risk students in Halifax’s racially isolated districts suffer inadequate educational programs, poor academic outcomes, and disproportionately high rates of student discipline.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. May 6, 2016 12:20 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

CCDC and NAACP File Accreditation Complaint, as Duplin County Schools Move Forward With Facilities Plan

On April 15, the Concerned Citizens of Duplin County (CCDC) and the Duplin County Branch of the North Carolina NAACP filed an accreditation complaint against the Duplin County Board of Education.  The complaint alleges the Board has failed to comply with a number of standards set by AdvancED, a school accrediting agency that accredited Duplin County Schools in September 2014.

The CCDC and NAACP filed the complaint less than two weeks after the Duplin County Board of Education voted to begin construction to retrofit existing school facilities, turning them into K-8 schools as part of a $65 million dollar facilities plan.  In December 2014, the CCDC filed a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging the Board’s facilities plan illegally discriminates against non-white students by denying them access to quality facilities and concentrating them in racially segregated schools.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. April 18, 2016 4:47 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation

Increasing Segregation and Achievement Disparities Persist in Wake County Schools, as Title VI Investigation Continues

On Tuesday, April 12, investigators from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights met with parents, students, and concerned community members from Wake County, as part of their ongoing investigation of a Title VI complaint filed against Wake County Schools (WCS) in 2010.  During the meeting, the Center for Civil Rights provided OCR investigators with updated student demographic and testing data for schools in the Wake County district. 

The NAACP, community organizations, and local parents filed the Title VI complaint after Wake County Schools abandoned its socioeconomic-conscious student assignment plan in the summer of 2010.  The complaint alleges the district’s abandonment of its former assignment plan—as well as its student discipline practices—illegally discriminate against non-white students by denying them equal access to educational resources.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. April 13, 2016 4:52 PM
Categories: Education, Race Discrimination, Segregation, Wake County

Plaintiffs Appeal in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

CEES banner

On February 22, the plaintiffs in Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners announced they are appealing the dismissal of their education equity lawsuit filed last August.  The suit, based on the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantee that every child be provided the opportunity to secure a sound basic education, argued that the county commissioners’ maintenance of three inefficiently funded, racially segregated school districts in Halifax County undermines educational opportunities guaranteed by the constitution and the state supreme court’s landmark Leandro decisions.  Read about the dismissal.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. February 24, 2016 11:14 AM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation
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