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Racial Imbalance Within CCSD (Somebody Has Got To Speak Up)
3/12/2014 12:01:22 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I am saddened by the article that appeared in Sunday’s paper by Diette Courrégé Casey regarding racial imbalance within Charleston County School District after 50 years of integration.

It is disturbing to find out that after numerous community proposals, initiatives and interventions to equitably integrate the schools, we realize that we still have a racial divide. Integration can only be achieved if you have willing participants.

Folks have to change their mindsets. The Superintendent and Board need to stop playing games with minority students while appeasing elite white and middle class parents.

For those of you who may be too young to remember the integration of schools, there were a lot of unhappy folks. Unhappy folks were not just in Charleston County Schools, they were everywhere.

They refused to send their children to schools in their neighborhood where they were zoned to go. White parents began to purchase homes in areas where schools were rated high. They selected neighborhoods that were assured of exclusion by black parents could not afford the same homes.

And when blacks began to afford the same homes, whites moved out and into gated communities. For reasons beyond me, there are still white parents who fear having their children in class with black children. It’s really a mindset of superiority.

Although integration was an act of legislation, it was never given a fair chance to succeed because there is this unspoken fear of providing the same quality and equitable education to black students that is provided white students.

It has something to do with the ruling class and it started during slavery. Massa would never willingly relinquish power to those he considered to be subservient.

Massa has always made it a rule that slaves were not to be taught how to read and write and those that were found disobeying the law would be killed. Massa knew that education was a powerful tool. He knew that slaves would soon realize that the institution of slavery was not only wrong but unconstitutional and would unite to abolish it. Once educated, there would be no turning back.

As freedmen, former slaves could demand the same rights as those afforded other ethnicities under the Constitution of the United States and that is exactly what happened. During the sixties, although the schools were legally integrated on paper, they were never integrated in the context and intent of the law.

Ideal integration is not one or two students, black or white, sitting in a class and being ridiculed. Integration is not drawing district lines around black neighborhoods so white students would be spared from having to attend schools with black students. Integration was never intended to create such a fear in white parents that they felt they had to enroll their children in high price private schools.

Fast forwarding to the present, much of the ridiculed that were heaped upon black students to achieve integration was mostly for naught because we still have the same situation going on. I am not saying the sacrifice of those who paved the way to integration did not help. I am just saying it was a high price to pay for the results we find ourselves faced with today.

There are still a high percentage of white parents that feel their children’s education would be dumbed down if they attend classes with black students. Some white parents actually fear for their children’s safety. Most of the white parents’ fears are unfounded. Their fears have nothing to do with race but with background.

A bad black child is no different than a bad white child. Bad is bad. Bad is colorless. As a result, some superintendents and Boards have decided not to fully integrate the schools. They don’t want black children to learn at the same pace as whites.

Even the lottery system at some of CCSD’s magnet schools is slanted in favor of white influential families.

Buist Academy was created to keep CCSD out of courts because of the same racial imbalance they face today. Buist Academy was set up to be 60% white 40% minorities.

I am not sure that Buist Academy ever achieved its 60/40 ratio. Educators felt those numbers were ideal to achieve and maintain a comfortable level of diversity that white parents would accept.

Several factors impede integration—fear, safety and the idea that black students are inferior to white students. White parents will not send their children to a school that was/is a predominately black school or is located in a predominately black neighborhood. They will not send their children to a school that is failing.

The reality of it all is there are some black students that have spent their entire twelve years of schooling in failing schools.

In many instances, black students still do not have the same opportunities as their counterparts.

CCSD has schools that have been failing for decades and continue to send minority students to those failing schools?

I know of several instances where well intentioned white parents fought to achieve integration by improving their neighborhood schools.

They didn’t come before the Board begging for special favors for their children or to circumvent the law. They didn’t opt to attend school outside of their attendance zone or drive children out of their neighborhood schools. That’s how we integrate schools.

We must first come with the right attitude. If the neighborhood school is not good for your child, then it isn’t good for any child. All children deserve an equitable education and a fair chance to succeed in an integrated environment.

Charleston County Board and Superintendent need to get their heads out of the sand and stop educating some students one way and others another way. The world is integrated.

Either you do the right thing or the wrong thing is going to come back to haunt you. That is my take and somebody has to speak up for the children; consider that someone ME!

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