The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday May 26th

Residents Speak Against Schools' Minority Gap

About 40 residents attended the meeting to vocalize their frustrations with the board for the school system's failure to close the achievement gap between minority and white students.

"Why should we pay the education tax?" said Mark Royster, a Chapel Hill resident. "Why should we approve a bond referendum if our students are failing?"

The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported in October 2000 that minority students in grades three through eight in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools performed an average of 31 points less on state end-of-year reading and math proficiency exams than white students.

Michelle Cotton, president of the Chapel Hill chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the system does not implement recommendations.

"They haven't acted," Cotton said. "It's been more talk than action. It's been 12 years since the Blue Ribbon campaign, and that was supposed to address the achievement gap. The gap has now widened."

Cotton said the changes the NAACP wants are the creation of an oversight committee to reach out to minority parents, reinstatement of truancy officers who deal with school dropouts and stronger efforts from the board to close the achievement gap.

Royster said the large minority achievement gap exists because the schools do not wish to address the problem. "The system doesn't want to change from the way it is," Royster said. "There really has to be a change in mind."

He added that teacher's minority achievement training is ineffective.

Edwin Caldwell, a former school board member, said the problem exists at the classroom level rather than on the board.

"It's a school-level problem," Caldwell said. "I really do think the board would like to solve the problems. We're dealing with classism. I went to a separate-but-equal school and there was one class. Now we're dealing with multiple classes."

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