At the Council for Children’s Rights we appreciate our volunteers and our contributors.  Jeremy Stephenson, an at-large candidate for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education has been both a volunteer and a contributor, and we are grateful to him.

But Mr. Stephenson has mentioned his volunteer work with the Council in a number of his campaign communications, most recently an October 26 e-mail entitled “Busing,” and we understand this has created the mis-impression that we support him as a candidate or agree with his analysis and conclusions.  To clarify: the Council does not support Mr. Stephenson or any candidate, and we do not agree with him on this issue.

While the Council is glad Mr. Stephenson believes his work with our Custody Advocacy Program has opened his eyes to the trauma and stress faced by children of color who live in poverty, and while we agree with him that high-poverty, high-minority schools are not succeeding in our community, the Council does not agree with Mr. Stephenson’s dismissal of student assignment as a tool for improving academic attainment by reducing socioeconomic and racial isolation.

The Council for Children’s Rights identifies gaps in our community’s child-serving systems that threaten our children’s rights and create obstacles to their success.  One obstacle in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the high and increasing number of high-poverty, high-minority schools.  From the 2001-2002 school year to the 2012-2013 school year, the number of high-poverty, high-minority schools increased from 12 to 54, and the most recent data indicates that the current number is 61.

The performance data from these schools has proved over an entire K-12 generation that socioeconomically and racially separate schools are no more equal for poor and minority students in 2015 than they were in 1954 when the US Supreme Court outlawed segregation in Brown v. Board of Education or in 1974 when CMS first implemented the court-approved desegregation plan under Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.  13 years of data has also proved that there is no amount of money and no set of programs that can make separate schools equal for poor and minority children on the scale required to avoid what Judge Howard Manning has called “academic genocide.”

High-poverty, high-minority schools are depriving our community’s poor and minority children of their civil rights under the United States Constitution and their educational rights under the North Carolina Constitution, and our community has an obligation to protect them.  At the Council for Children’s Rights, we do not agree with Mr. Stephenson that our community can afford to dismiss any tool for providing our children the protection they deserve: including the use by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education of student assignment as part of a structure to solve the education, health, and economic mobility problems imposed on poor and minority students by high-poverty, high-minority schools.

Bob Simmons is the executive director of Council for Children’s Rights

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