|By City, then
North Carolina (Charlotte):
Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Karla scoon Reid: Color
[From "Education Week"]
-- "Something is different about the children gazing out the windows of the
yellow school buses lumbering up Selwyn Elementary School's driveway: Most of the black
faces are gone.
"White children have taken the places of many of the African-American students who
were bused to Selwyn, once an integrated school in the heart of one of this city's oldest
and wealthiest white neighborhoods.
"The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, free from a federal desegregation order,
adopted a colorblind plan for student assignment in 2002 that is producing more racially
isolated schools, like Selwyn, and more schools enrolling high concentrations of poor
"From the mid-1970s through the 1980s, the North Carolina school system made up of
Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County earned national acclaim as the "city
that made desegregation work." The key was a landmark 1971 ruling by the U.S. Supreme
Court, in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, that cleared the way for
Charlotteand districts nationwideto use mandatory busing and race-based
student assignment as tools to achieve integration.
"Now, many observers wonder whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg's school buses are headed
in the right direction.
" 'Charlotte is stumbling and it's falling,' laments Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, a
professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 'In a couple of
years, in terms of racial composition of the schools, the district is going to be back
where it was prior to Swann.'
"The 2-year-old plan gives parents a choice of schools and provides all families with
spots in the 'neighborhood schools' closest to their homes. Since parents overwhelmingly
choose their local schools, the district's 148 schools are becoming more racially and
socioeconomically imbalanced. Suburban classrooms are overcrowded, and seats are left
empty in inner-city schools.
"This inevitable demographic shift, some observers say, shouldn't rattle the resolve
of the 'New Charlotte,' a Southern city that rejected its segregated education practices
long ago to emerge as a beacon for integration. But others warn that the enrollment
changes are derailing the racial progress that led to the region's economic boom and laid
the foundation for its students' academic successes."
Last known link: Education Week (subscription
The Brief on Busing; Ashcroft's First Test (02/26/01 - no link)
Editor's Note: President George W. Bush's new Attorney
General, John Ashcroft, has an opportunity in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg case to pronounce
his support for color-blind justice free of racial quotas and goals. Will Ashcroft
do the right thing?
From "The Weekly Standard" 02/26/01 by
Edward Blum (Edward Blum is director of legal affairs at the American Civil Rights
"IN A TWIST OF FATE and legal protocol, the arguments made in an amicus brief in
defense of school busing and racial quotas by Clinton-era civil rights enforcer Bill Lan
Lee will soon go before the Fourth Circuit as the position of the Bush Justice Department.
The case is Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, and if Lee's brief is not
withdrawn, President Bush will have failed his first test in civil rights.
"The legal brief defends Charlotte, North Carolina's 30-year school-busing regime
from a 1997 lawsuit brought by the parents of then 6-year-old Cristina Capacchione. The
Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district refused Cristina's admission to a gifted program
because all of the slots reserved for "non-black" children had been filled. They
were under a 30-year-old court order, the school district argued, to implement just these
types of quotas. Additional parents joined the lawsuit because of their dissatisfaction
with having to bus their children to schools half an hour or more outside of their
"After an eight-week trial, district judge Robert Potter ruled in favor of the
children and declared the school district "unitary" -- this is,
free from any remaining effects of prior racial discrimination.
"Potter's ruling to end court supervision and busing in the district was especially
noteworthy because it was in Charlotte in 1969 that court-ordered busing came to life.
Within a few years, federal judges across the country imposed similar desegregation orders
on scores of cities.
"The school district had argued that it couldn't avoid practicing racial
discrimination against black children, even though the school board is split nearly evenly
between blacks and whites, and blacks hold many important administrative positions. This
self-incriminating argument, nicknamed the "Doofus Defense," is perhaps the best
illustration of the school system's deep desire to retain quotas.
"Nevertheless, Judge Potter found that the school system had complied in good faith
with the earlier desegregation orders. He further stated that there was no indication that
Charlotte schools "will return to a de jure segregated system in the future" and
that any lingering imbalance in the racial makeup of schools was due to "demography
and geography," not discrimination.
"A little over a year later, a three-judge panel reversed Potter's ruling. In a split
decision, it ruled that Charlotte-Mecklenburg hadn't fulfilled its desegregation mandate.
The majority on the appeals panel was persuaded by the Clinton Justice Department's brief,
authored by former acting assistant attorney general Bill Lan Lee. They found especially
compelling Lee's argument that even a unitary, i.e. unracist, school district has a
compelling interest in racially integrating schools by the use of quotas and forced
"Does this sound familiar? It should. In a handful of university admissions cases
from Michigan to Texas, Clinton Justice officials argued basically the same thing. In
these cases, they claimed that diversity itself was the "compelling interest"
that obliged schools to maintain racial preferences in selecting students. In the
Charlotte case, the Justice Department argued and the appeals court agreed that the
possibility that the school system's "diversity" would otherwise decline was
reason to continue busing and admissions quotas.
"Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted the parents a
full panel review of the case, portending to many observers the reinstatement of Potter's
ruling. Oral arguments will be made in Richmond on February 27.
"Generations after intentional discrimination and segregation have ended, busing
continues for the sake of diversity. This is a terrible moral and legal mistake. Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written that the Constitution does not give courts and
school systems the right to mandate and enforce integration for integration's sake.
"This misconception has drawn the courts away from the important goal in
desegregation," he wrote. "The point of the Equal Protection Clause is not
to enforce strict-mixing, but to ensure that blacks and whites are treated equally by the
state without regard to their skin color."
"But the argument for ending busing was probably best summed up by a Charlotte NAACP
board member and business executive, who stated, "My daughter does not need to sit
beside a white person to learn."
"The stakes in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg case are huge. Today, nearly 400 school
districts are operating under federal court decrees that mandate race-conscious policies
such as busing, bizarre school attendance zones, racial caps on magnet schools, and the
like. A reversal of the three-judge panel's ruling would return control of the school
system to the local school board and perhaps hasten the day when racial preferences and
classifications like these come to an end.
"Attorney General Ashcroft can put Bush's "compassionate conservatism" into
action by withdrawing the Justice Department brief. There is no reason to force another
generation of children to drive past neighborhood schools in the name of a failed social
policy and legal theory." -30-
© The Weekly Standard (no link)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
Schools Panic Over End of Racial Quotas
and Busing (11/08/99 - dead link)
[This Washington Post story portrays the end of forced school busing in this community as
if it were a negative thing. Rather than celebrating the long overdue arrival of
non-racial criteria in determining where grade schoolers can attend class, this Post story
gives the impression that the release from a court-ordered, race-based busing program is
somehow bad for the students of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.
Washington Post headline: Charlotte Schools Are Scrambling
-- Story: "A recent federal court ruling has thrown the old way of doing things
here into disarray, challenging school officials and the community to come up with some
smart, fast solutions. In September, U.S. District Judge Robert Potter ruled that the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg system, which is 40 percent black, had achieved desegregation
"quite some time ago" and had eliminated "the vestiges of past
"In effect, Potter freed the schools from nearly 30 years of court supervision
brought by the famed 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Board of Education that led to the busing of thousands of local schoolchildren from their
neighborhoods. He also decreed that any measure based on race, including the city's
pioneering busing program, could no longer be a factor in school assignments.
"A divided school board and a group of black leaders have appealed Potter's ruling,
but without a stay from the judge, new school assignments for as many as 60,000 of the
system's 100,000 students will have to be devised fast--for the next fall term.
"The lawsuit propelling this monumental shift was filed in 1997, when a white parent
sued the school board after his daughter was denied entry into an elementary-school magnet
program because she was classified as "nonblack." After the family moved from
the area, six other white parents continued the suit, reasoning that if school officials
would not ask the court to release the system, they would. (Washington Post 11/08/99, page
A03, by Sue Anne Pressley)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
Judge declares Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools
integrated (09/10/99 - dead link)
"A federal judge today ordered the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system to stop using
race as a factor in all of its programs and ended 30 years of race-based classroom
"The school system 'is enjoined from assigning children to schools or allocating
educational opportunities and benefits through race-based lotteries, preferences,
set-asides, or other means that deny students an equal footing based on race,' U.S.
District Judge Robert Potter said in his 115-page decision.
"Potter's ruling allows assignments for the 1999-2000 school year to remain in place
'in the interest of stability.'
"Seven white parents had asked Potter to declare the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
integrated. The Charlotte school system is the state's largest, with 100,000
students. (FoxNews 09/10/99, via Associated Press, by Paul Nowell)
|Related / Similar:
Court Orders End To Race-Based Busing In Charlotte
(09/10/99 - dead link)
"A federal judge Friday ordered an end to race-based busing in Charlotte, North
Carolina, where a landmark case cleared the way for busing to desegregate schools here and
across the country in the 1970s.
"The court ruled Charlotte school officials had done all they could to end vestiges
of unlawful segregation dating back to the days when so-called 'separate but equal''
school systems forced black children to attend woefully inadequate all-black schools
across the South.
"The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system 'has eliminated, to the extent practicable,
the vestiges of past discrimination in the traditional areas of school operations,' U.S.
District Court Judge Robert Potter said in an 115-page ruling." (FoxNews
09/10/99, via Reuters)
Judge Ends Forced Busing in
Charlotte-Mecklenberg (09/10/99 - dead link)
"A federal judge today released the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system from a
30-year-old order requiring busing to achieve racial balance in the classroom.
"The Charlotte school system 'is enjoined from assigning children to schools or
allocating educational opportunities and benefits through race-based lotteries,
preferences, set-asides, or other means that deny students an equal footing based on
race,' U.S. District Judge Robert Potter said in his 115-page decision.
"Seven white parents had asked Potter to declare the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
integrated. The Charlotte school system is the states largest, with 100,000
"The case was watched by legal experts and educators nationwide because the landmark
U.S. Supreme Court case, Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, led to busing
to achieve desegregation nationwide." (Associated Press, via ABC News.Com, by
By Court Order,
Busing Ends Where It Began (09/11/99)
"The school system that 30 years ago pioneered busing for desegregation was ordered
on Friday to halt the program by a Federal judge who ruled that forced integration was no
longer necessary because all vestiges of intentional discrimination had disappeared.
"The decision, which affects about 28,000 students who now ride buses past their
neighborhood schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, has enormous symbolic
significance for the lingering institution of court-ordered busing.
"It was in a 1971 ruling on Charlotte's plan that the United States Supreme Court
first approved busing for desegregation nationwide.
"When the busing plan was first imposed, the courts were trying to break up a pattern
of separate school systems for black and white students, and the Supreme Court said that
busing students away from their neighborhoods was an appropriate tool to achieve a racial
"In the last five years, however, many busing plans have been dismantled by the same
courts that imposed them, as judges ruled that the school districts had become
"unitary," ending their old dual systems.
"Although many black parents in Charlotte say their children's education remains
inferior to that of whites, the district now joins cities like Nashville, Oklahoma City,
Denver, Wilmington, Del., and Cleveland in having schools that have been officially
"Judge Robert D. Potter of Federal District Court said in his ruling today that the
Charlotte school district had 'eliminated, to the extent practicable, the vestiges of past
discrimination in the traditional areas of school operations.'" (New York Times
09/11/99 by Emily Yellin with David Firestone)
Ruling Ends Historic Forced
Busing Program (09/11/99)
"A court decision that helped launch the contentious era of forced school busing was
nullified Friday with a federal judge's ruling that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school
district in North Carolina had done all it could to end segregation.
"Although the ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Potter is not the first to declare
a district officially desegregated, the case has been closely watched around the country
because of what it symbolizes: the potential close of a chapter in American history.
"Friday's ruling came on behalf of seven white parents who had objected to the
district's use of race as a factor in assigning students to magnet schools. They had asked
(Judge) Potter to declare the schools in the 100,000-student district integrated.
"In doing so, (Judge) Potter ordered an end to the busing of students as a means of
reducing (alleged) segregation. The school system also must stop 'assigning
children to schools or allocating educational opportunities and benefits through
race-based lotteries, preferences, set-asides or other means that deny students an equal
footing based on race,' the judge's 115-page ruling said." (Los Angeles Times
09/11/99 by Richard Lee Colvin)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
End busing, seek quality education (08/12/99 - dead link)
"Charlotte became ground zero for a noble but failed social experiment forced upon
the country by the Supreme Court.
"In 1971, Charlotte became ground zero for a noble but failed social experiment
forced upon the country by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its historic Swann vs.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg school decision, the court permitted racially segregated school
districts to begin busing in order to achieve integration.
"What began as an effort to remedy the grave wrongs of state-sanctioned racial
segregation has turned American society -- black and white -- on its head. The
neighborhood school concept, with the pride and solidarity it engenders in a community,
has been badly damaged for the last three decades.
"Most observers of the recently concluded trial over busing and admissions to magnet
schools believe Charlotte-Mecklenburg stands on the verge of a ruling that will declare
its school system ``unitary'' and free it from court ordered desegregation plans.
"While some are predicting dire consequences if Federal District Judge Robert Potter
abolishes busing, the evidence throughout the country suggests that busing has not
accomplished its goals and, in fact, has had many negative consequences.
"Years after a Kansas City court implemented busing, black students in integrated
magnet schools performed no better than blacks in neighborhood schools. San Francisco
spent more than $200 million [on busing] following a 1982 court order to end school
segregation, but a 1992 study led by Harvard Professor Gary Orfield, who supports busing,
found black and Hispanic students lacked ``even modest overall improvement'' [as a result
of intrusive court-ordered busing.] A National Institute of Education report could
not even find a single study showing black kids fared appreciably better following a
switch to integrated schools.
"...In fact, it is patronizing to think that minority students need to sit next to a
white student in order to learn. Many black leaders, from Wisconsin State Rep. Annette
Polly Williams, a Milwaukee Democrat, to Cleveland Mayor Michael White have come to that
conclusion and led efforts to end busing.
"...Busing teaches our children a terrible lesson. Rather than eliminating racial
discrimination, busing promotes it by teaching children that the government should treat
them differently on the basis of their race." (Charlotte Observer 08/12/99 by
Marc Levin and Ed Blum)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
in Charlotte Ends -- City Awaits Ruling (07/13/99)
"Several Charlotte NC parents brought suit in federal court last year arguing that
the district unlawfully discriminates against students by the practice of race-based
school assignment to achieve racial balance. The district, still under a court
"desegregation" order, maintains the practice is still needed to
"desegregate" and end vestiges of discrimination. Federal District Judge Robert
Potter consolidated the parents' suit with the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg
desegregation case. Another group of parents wanting racial assignment to continue was
also made part of the case. The parents wanting to end racial assignment were in the
strange position of proving both that the practice was unconstitutional and harmful to
students and also that the district had done a good job at carrying out the court orders
that resulted in the harm and therefore deserving of release from the court
order." (Posted to Members AOL.COM)
[link - may expire soon - http://members.aol.com/RHaws/index6.html
North Carolina (Charlotte):
Parents seek to block race-based school
programs (07/01/99 - dead link)
[Readers are advised to please note this reporter's use of pro-quota phrases such as
"race conscious" in this story.]
"Parents suing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system will ask a judge Friday to
block school leaders from starting any new race-conscious programs,
[emphasis added; race-conscious means the same thing as reverse discrimination] their
attorney said Wednesday in a letter to the school system.
"The seven parents are suing the school system to end all practices that take
students' race into account. Testimony in the case ended last week, and U.S.
District Judge Robert Potter has said it would take him two to three months to review
evidence before ruling. In the meantime, attorney Lee Parks, who is
representing the parents, asked school officials in his letter to voluntarily drop plans
to begin new [discriminatory, race-based] initiatives. The school system's
plans include offering higher salaries to teachers in schools with high numbers of poor
children, and providing more resources to predominantly black schools to make them equal
to mostly white schools." (Based on the Charlotte Observer 07/01/99 by Celeste
North Carolina (Charlotte):
Trial in Charlotte Desegregation Lawsuit Winds Down (06/23/99)
"A months-long court battle seeking to close the books on 30 years of court
supervision of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools has left the North Carolina community
torn over whether traces of racial segregation linger.
"The trial, which is winding down this month in the U.S. District Court in Charlotte,
stems from a lawsuit filed by a white parent, William Capacchione, whose 6-year-old
daughter was denied admission to a magnet school in 1996 because of her race.
"He sued the district in 1997, claiming racial discrimination and civil rights
violations. Since then, six white families who are also seeking to end
Charlotte-Mecklenburg's race-based student-assignment policies, have joined the case as
"The trial reopens the historic case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of
Education, which led to the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave districts nationwide
the green light to employ an aggressive mix of methods, including mandatory busing and the
limited use of racial quotas, to integrate schools.
"... [T]he white plaintiffs argue that 30 years is more than enough time to integrate
schools. The 1969 federal district court mandate to integrate the system's schools, which
led to the 1971 high court ruling, has been achieved, they say. The gap in achievement
that the system has been decrying is proof, they argue, that desegregation has little
bearing on academic performance." Both sides in the dispute now have to wait
while U.S. District Judge Robert Potter will rule. School board officials have not
publicly stated if they plan to appeal a decision from Judge Potter ending race-based
admissions. (Education Week, 06/23/99, by Kerry A. White)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
School Racial Quotas Go to Trial
(04/28/99 - dead link)
Seven parents have sued this school district to end race-based quotas in student
admissions and practices such as forced busing. The trial is in its second week and
"could potentially determine how 100,000 students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg are
assigned to school. Some observers expect Charlotte's desegregation case to make its way
to the U.S. Supreme Court, as it did in 1971, when the court backed an order calling for
desegregation in Charlotte through busing. The case [helped to clear] the way for busing
Attorney Lee Parks is representing the parents seeking to end the systems use of racial
"Tension mounted in federal court Tuesday during the daylong testimony of school
system planning director Jonathan Wells, who frustrated attorneys by hedging on such
things as the location of Huntersville and the definition of the word ``area.''
Under intense questioning by the plaintiff's attorney, Wells was unable to answer
questions pertaining to the racial makeup of specific schools and neighborhoods, nor was
Wells able to define the geographic boundaries school districts which practice racial
quotas in admissions in order to "achieve balance". The core issue of the
suit is precisely that information.
"Wells was subpoenaed to testify by the seven parents suing to end racial-balance
practices such as busing. He has worked for the school system since 1994 and has helped
plan and oversee student assignment, boundary changes, student enrollment projections and
the selection of sites for new schools.
"Parks questioned Wells about practices such as holding seats open in magnet schools
to ensure racial balance. He also asked Wells about demographic changes that Parks charges
made it difficult for the school system to desegregate many schools.
"Parks also contended that the system's schools are much more desegregated than the
school board claims. (Charlotte Observer 04/28/99 by Debbie Cenziper)
School lawyers dispute damages for
student racial quotas (05/12/99 - dead)
"Attorneys fighting seven parents' efforts to end desegregation policies in
Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools renewed their argument Tuesday that the parents aren't
entitled to money for damages.
"The lawyers for the school system and black parents wanting to keep the
desegregation policies intact asked a federal judge to dismiss claims for damages.
"Attorneys raised the issue of damages before the trial began April 19, but Judge
Robert Potter said he would rule later. He didn't rule Tuesday, either.
"The attorneys renewed their request to throw out the damages claim on Tuesday
because the seven parents rested their case.
"The parents want the school system to drop its race-influenced student assignment
policies and replace them with neighborhood schools. Other sides in the case say the
desegregation policies are still needed because the system never fully carried out a court
order 30 years ago to offer equal opportunities to black and white children."
(Charlotte Observer 05/12/99 by Cleste Smith and Debbie Cenziper)
Ex-official testifies at
schools trial (posted 05/05/99 - dead)
"Testifying in federal court Monday, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg school
administrator refused to blame school officials and policies for lingering test score gaps
between black and white students. Ironically, former Assistant Superintendent Jeff
Schiller was testifying for a group suing the school system over many of those same
policies. ... Schiller described a system that constantly had to juggle racial-balance
goals with population changes. Demographic shifts -- particularly an influx of whites into
the southeast -- made achieving racial balances through pupil assignment changes
increasingly difficult, he said. That's why then-Superintendent John Murphy started magnet
schools in 1992. ... Schiller, who left the schools in 1996, said school officials made a
good-faith effort to comply as well as to reduce test-score gaps and fix other
problems." (Charlotte Observer by Jim Morrill)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
Race-Based School Plan is
"CHARLOTTE, N.C.--A lawsuit filed for a white first-grader threatens school
desegregation policies in Charlotte, N.C., where a landmark ruling 30 years ago cleared
the way for busing to integrate public schools nationwide. The federal trial, set to
open here today, is the latest attack on racial quotas and busing plans drawn up since the
late 1960s by local school boards to end segregation.
"Ultimately, it comes down to whether race can be used to decide which schools
students can attend," Charlotte schools spokesman John Deem said. In 1969,
Charlotte was at ground zero in the explosive desegregation debate after a federal judge
ruled in a landmark case--Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education--that schools
could bus students far from home to eliminate segregated neighborhood schools."
(LA Times 04/19/99 from Reuters)
North Carolina (Charlotte):
debate comes full circle (04/18/99 - 04/26/99)
Subhead: Charlotte system faces a federal trial. "Almost 30 years ago,
the Supreme Court turned Charlotte, N.C., into ground zero in the debate over school
busing. By affirming an effort to fix the city's history of racial segregation in its
public schools, the high court's decision set off a series of racially charged battles in
other school systems as they followed Charlotte's lead.
"Now, at a trial starting on April 19 in Charlotte, a federal judge will begin
hearing arguments from three sides about whether three decades of integration through
busing, quotas and magnet schools have created a desegregated, or unitary, school system,
or whether the 99,000-student system still has a ways to go.
"It is not the first such challenge, either in Charlotte or elsewhere. But the trial,
expected to last at least a month, is fraught with symbolism that is not lost on the
lawyers involved. "It will be over for those school systems still clinging to
busing as a means of desegregation," predicted Atlanta attorney A. Lee Parks, lead
lawyer for a group of white parents challenging integration policies that kept their
children out of certain magnet schools.
White plaintiffs: "The suit began in 1997 when Charlotte resident William Capacchione
filed a civil rights suit alleging that his Daughter, Cristina, had been denied admission
to a magnet school because she is white. In response, Charlotte lawyer James E.
Ferguson II, who represents the black students who were the original plaintiffs in the
1971 case, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, sought
reactivation of the landmark case. Capacchione, he argued, was a direct attack on its
"It was in Swann that a unanimous Supreme Court affirmed a U.S. district court's
power to fashion a remedy that would create a "unitary school system" in
Charlotte as a way of combatting de facto school segregation. Six other parents
joined Capacchione in April 1998. They allege that the Charlotte system achieved unitary
status 10 years ago but that the school board has avoided ending busing, magnet schools
and other race-based programs. The parents seek an injunction, damages and a race-neutral
system." (National Law Journal 04/19/99 - 04/26/99 by David E. Rovella)
North Carolina (Durham):
Duke Freshmen Threatened for
Praising Western Civilization (04/30/99)
A series of letters to the editor at Duke University's student newspaper has ignited a
controversy resulting in hate mail, physical confrontations, and death threats directed at
Their crime? Freshmen Berin Szoka and Jay Strader expressed a preference for Western
Civilization over Indian Civilization in an argument over whether Duke should institute a
major in the study of the Hindi language. Responses to Szoka and Strader ranged from the
obscene to the insulting to threats of physical violence. Duke University Police are now
involved, because the threats have gotten so out of hand.
"If we ever see you out of your room around East [Campus], WE WILL BEAT YOU WITHIN
ONE INCH OF YOUR LIFE and step on you like the little s--- that you are," said one
anonymous e-mail threat. "Don't be surprised if between now and the end of the year,
bad things start happening to you and your room...we will find you, and when we do, you
could only wish that you had never learned to write you little p----."
Szoka contacted the Duke University Police Department, and Detective Thessie Mitchell has
been assigned to the case. An investigation is underway.
The controversy began April 15, when Strader wrote a letter to the Chronicle, Duke's
student-run daily paper, in response to an article a few days earlier calling for the
creation of a Hindi major. Strader observed that there is little actual demand for Hindi
classes, as evidenced by the low enrollment in the few classes already offered (17 out of
60 class seats). Strader immediately began receiving hate mail via the Internet accusing
him of racism and "ethnocentrism." Early that afternoon while he was in
class, vandals broke into his room and left the message, "We're going to kick your
ass-Mother India," on his computer screen. That evening, Diya, Duke's Southeast-Asian
student group, convened an emergency meeting to plot a response to the "crisis."
The group organized a letter-writing campaign to the Chronicle and posted a message on
four Internet newsgroups asking readers to deluge Strader with hate mail.
On April 23, Berin Szoka's letter appeared in the Chronicle in Strader's defense.
Szoka echoed Strader's point that there was insufficient demand for a Hindi major.
He also addressed the question of whether cultures embody specific values and whether
those values can be judged. Szoka declared the values of Western civilization-- "the
power of reason, the sanctity of individual rights and the unfettered pursuit of
happiness"--to be morally superior to values of Indian culture.
That started a barrage of hate mail. That evening, three Indian students confronted Szoka
in his room, called him a "racist," threatened him with violence and refused to
leave until Szoka threatened to call the police. On April 25, Szoka received an anonymous
The Chronicle was ambivalent when asked to print a follow-up letter or story on the
subject. "We don't print that kind of thing," said University Life Assistant
Editor Jaime Levy. "Your letter wasn't exactly mainstream. What sort of response did
you expect when you wrote that kind of letter?"
When asked by Strader how she would respond to a death threat like those received by
Szoka, University President Nan Keohane replied, "My hunch is, it was just a scary
way of blowing off steam." Szoka is steadfast about the issue and somewhat
puzzled at the strident response. I would have enjoyed having a rational discussion
about the issue and merits of cultural relativism with my critics," Szoka said.
"Instead, I've been subjected to the type of threats one might find in an
uncivilized, Third World backwater. I understand their anger-- they've lost the argument,
so they lash out. My critics, in fact, are proving my point about the superiority of
Western Civilization and its tradition of rational discourse. What disturbs me most about
this is that, in the same week as a tragedy like the massacre of 15 students in Littleton,
Colorado, anyone could actually claim that a death threat is just an upset student's way
of 'blowing off steam'."
Strader and Szoka both lamented what they called the "sorry state" of the
intellectual environment at Duke, whose mission is "To promote a sincere spirit of
tolerance. and a commitment to learning, freedom and truth." Szoka said
"This irrational and strident response promotes an environment of hostility and
hate. This is unacceptable, and we plan to prosecute these thugs to the fullest
extent of the law."
Jay Strader, 919-613-2415, email@example.com
Berin Szoka, 919-613-3517, firstname.lastname@example.org
Duke University Police Department, 919-684-2444
John Burness, VP, Duke University public relations office: 919-684-2883
Nan Keohane, President, Duke University: 919-684-2424
The Chronicle, 919-264-2663
The Duke Review (Duke's conservative paper), Eric Forman, 919-613-0499
Two of the three students who confronted
Szoka in his room (the third is, as yet, unidentified):
Amit Patel, 919-613-2479
Vinay Kumar, 919-613-2298
Students that sent Szoka threatening
Douglas J. Brown, 919-613-1688
Helen Maria Zayac, 919-613-0021
Neal Dahiya, 919-613-2303
North Carolina (Wilmington)
"Teacher reprimanded for word choice" (from The Wilmington Star, Star-News Online,
09-04-02) -- "Niggardly"
[Wilmington, North Carolina] "A fourth-grade teacher at Williams Elementary
School has received a formal reprimand for teaching her students the word
"niggardly," the teacher's son said Tuesday.
"Last week, teacher Stephanie Bell said she used the word "niggardly,"
which means stingy or miserly, during a discussion about literary characters. But parent
Akwana Walker, who is black, protested the use of the word, saying it offended her because
it sounds similar to a racial slur.
"Ms. Bell said the N.C. Association of Educators has told her not to talk to anyone
about the situation. "I really wish I could," she said.
However, teacher Stephanie Bell's son, Tar Bell, 17, who is not restricted from
discussing the incident, according to the Wilmington Star "... said a letter from
Principal Susan Hahn stated that his mother used poor judgment. The letter, he said,
also instructed his mother to send an apology to her students' parents, a step she took
last week. The letter, which Mr. Bell said he has read, also admonished Ms. Bell,
who is white, for lacking sensitivity to the school's diverse population of students and
not being aware of cultural differences, he said."
The teacher's son, Tar Bell, reported to the Wilmington Star that the letter also required
his mother to attend sensitivity training and threatened that if she did not she could
face further action.
"In addition to the letter, Ms. Walker's [black] daughter was moved to another class,
and Ms. Bell agreed not to use the word again with her students.
"Deputy Superintendent Norm Shearin reiterated that Ms. Bell made a bad decision when
she taught her students the word "niggardly." It was an inappropriate word
to teach children at that grade level, he said.
"... [T]he Wilmington Star-News has received more than 100 e-mails from readers
across the country. In addition, more than 120 people commented in an online forum
and more than 1,200 have voted in an online poll. The response, although in no way a
scientific sampling, has been overwhelmingly supportive of Ms. Bell.
"... Tannis Nelson, president of the N.C. Parent-Teacher Association and a New
Hanover County resident, ... added that this incident shows the need for effective
diversity and sensitivity training throughout the school system. "Incidents
such as this can polarize the community," Mrs. Nelson said. "We can't allow that
to happen. This can be captured as a teachable moment, and we can learn from
From the Wilmington Star story
written by reporter Sherry Jones. You may email reporter Sherry Jones at:
Last Known Original Link (printer friendly):
Last Known Original Link (normal format):
Last Known Alternate Link:
Niggardly Controversy Main Page (Adversity.Net)
NAACP Urges Parents to Oppose
Race-Blind School Admissions (04/13/99
- dead link)
Charlotte Observer headline "Black community told to monitor schools
trial" -- "The pending case challenges the system's desegregation
strategies. The policies began almost 30 years ago with court-ordered busing. [Courts are
increasingly finding such race-based solutions to be not only unnecessary, but downright
discriminatory against Caucasians and European Americans.]
"In 1997, parent Bill Capacchione sued, challenging the consideration of race in
magnet school admissions. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Potter later broadened the case
to include a larger review of race-based policies. Six other parents also filed
their own suit, charging that the school system's desegregation policies are
unconstitutional and no longer needed.
"The [proposed race-neutral] plan seeks to improve schools across the county so all
are equal in such areas as resources and educational programs. Parents would select
schools for their children. The plan phases out taking race into account when assigning
children to schools, but does not guarantee that every child will attend the school
closest to home.
"[Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP President Dwayne Collins] and NAACP member Terry Belk
also joined the case on the side of attorneys seeking to keep [racial quotas and forced
busing] policies intact. But many see that as an unlikely outcome because federal courts
around the country are ending desegregation plans." (The Charlotte Observer
04/13/99 by Celeste Smith)
Board approves school choice plan
(04/01/99 - dead link)
Charlotte Observer Sub-Head: "Race would be dropped as factor in
assignments" -- "Facing a trial this month over its school
desegregation policies, a divided Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved a plan
Wednesday that would bring massive changes to the way students are assigned to schools.
"The 6-3 vote signals the end of 30 years of race-based assignment policies, such as
busing for integration. Supporters said the board needs the plan as it prepares for the
April 19 trial. Opponents argued that the plan is too sketchy. The plan, developed
by Superintendent Eric Smith, seeks to improve schools across the county so that all are
equal in such areas as resources and educational programs. Parents would select schools
for their children. But the plan does not guarantee that every child will attend the
school closest to home.
"U.S. District Court Judge Robert Potter, who will hear the case, could alter or even
do away with Smith's choice plan. The school system and various sides in the case haven't
been able to reach a settlement." (Charlotte Observer, 04/01/99, by Celeste
Smith and Jim Morrill)
School Has Spent $1.6 Million
Defending Racial Quotas (03/26/99 -
"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have spent more than $1.6 million so far answering a
lawsuit challenging the district's desegregation practices, and have diverted thousands of
dollars from other sources to cover the bill. The school board could also be forced
to pay the legal fees for the parents suing to end race-based practices in
Superintendent Eric Smith "is proposing a legal budget for next school year of $2.9
million, the highest budget for legal work in at least a dozen years. The school
board has been sued by seven parents who want to end race-based practices, such as busing
and admissions to magnets schools. A trial is set to begin April 19, though the case could
be settled before then.
Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to simply honor the Constitution's promise of equal
treatment under the law without regard to race? (Charlotte Observer, 03/26/99, by
School Plan to End Race-Based
Assignments (02/13/99 - dead link)
"All parents would choose their child's school -- and race-based assignments would
end -- under a plan pitched Friday that could bring historic change to
Charlotte-Mecklenburg's public schools. In response to a lawsuit challenging school
desegregation, Superintendent Eric Smith is recommending that in five years the school
board drop practices long used to achieve racial balance in schools. Thirty years of
forced busing for desegregation would end, and so would race-influenced admissions for
Charlotte's popular magnet schools.
"Smith wants instead to launch a program of parental choice and voluntary
desegregation, modeled in part after school systems in Florida and elsewhere. The school
board would divide the county into racially diverse zones, or clusters, possibly up to
five. Parents of all 99,000 public school students would choose from schools within their
cluster." (The Charlotte Observer, 02/13/99, by Debbie Cenziper)
Charter schools still tilt
"Despite hopes that North Carolina's charter schools would become more racially
diverse, the proportion of schools serving mainly one race remained entrenched in the
program's second year. According to new enrollment figures, about half of the state's
charter schools -- 27 of 57 -- are now made up primarily of students of a particular race.
In 18 schools, black students make up more than 85 percent of the student body.
In nine schools, enrollment is more than 85 percent white." (News-Observer,
01-03-99, by Tim Simmons)
[ link http://www.news-observer.com/daily/1999/01/03/nc03.html
Threaten North Carolina Charter Schools That Aid Blacks (12/23/98)
"When state legislators in North Carolina were debating charter schools two years
ago, some feared a re-emergence of the white-flight academies that had sprouted in the
South a generation earlier in response to school desegregation. So lawmakers threw in a
clause requiring the schools to "reasonably reflect" the demographics of the
school districts they serve." But the reality turns out to be that 21 of the
state's 60 charter schools are over 85% black, and thus violate the state law requiring
schools to reflect the ethnic makeup of the districts which they serve. Black
parents of children in these charter schools are reluctant to give up their children's
preferred positions in these schools which, in many cases, are superior to the local
public schools. (New York Times 12/23/98, by David J. Dent)
Whites Are Racially
Discriminated Against in NC School Admissions!
According to research by the Center for Equal Opportunity, a Washington, D.C. - based
think tank, North Carlina's "racial quota admission system" discriminates
against white students. (Triangle Business Journal 7/13/98)
END of North Carolina - Racial Quotas in Education