Saturday, May 10, 2008

My letter to the Judge

Light lines = % White Students/district
Darker lines = % Black Students/district

We have been asked to write letters to the Judged before the Fairness Hearing scheduled for May 15th, 2008. This is my short address:

Dear Honorable Judge Englehardt,

This is Marion “John Wayne” Carroll. I welcome the opportunity to briefly address you again. My colleagues and I have discussed and agreed that in the name of desegregation the issue of separating the parish by the river as well as aggregating data based on a duel educational system is unfair to many of the residents of Jefferson Parish with school aged children. Having the issue with Magnet Schools somewhat tempered now, we have been able to see that schools other than Magnet or specialty schools may also suffer ill effects by encouraging the longstanding belief that the Westbank is inferior to the Eastbank. My colleagues have presented data regarding the academic performance of students, the racial demographics and economic disparity that persists between Eastbank and Westbank education often as a result of school board decisions. A separate system would serve only to “unfairly” perpetuate this disparity by increasing the disregard for educational issues that are important to Westbank citizens, i.e., secured campuses, extracurricular activities, dedicated and committed faculty and staff. The recent decision by the board to spend over 10 times more money improving Eastbank facilities proves to many parents on the Westbank that creating a duel system is STILL segregation at work.

Regarding the issue of segregation, I present the graph above to illustrate the proposed divisions of the districts in answer to the desegregation order. You questioned at the last fairness hearing the reasons for targeting all schools rather than racially identifiable ones. The answer was unclear. In their proposed sweeping redistribution and division of the parish there is little difference evident after the changes in any district between the number of White and Black students. What does this mean? Why spend all this energy moving students when real change is needed in improving facilities, supporting teachers and securing our campuses.

What is the solution? It is undeniable that people feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings. Forced desegregation does not help students nor their parents overcome this feeling nor comply with the order as history has shown. But giving people the CHOICE, working with the board and within the communities and being honest with intentions will ultimately bring us together for the common good of our children’s education and future success.

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