More than one hundred concerned Chapel Hill and Carrboro community members gathered at the United Church of Chapel Hill Saturday to discuss racial equity in public schools.
“There are cultural differences and as a result, you have to teach differently,” Latarndra Strong said.
The event, led by The Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools, focused on the achievement gap in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools between white students and students of color, either black or Latino.
The campaign strives to close that gap by producing an environment that gives all students access to the tools they need to reach their learning potential.
The report said that in the 2014-15 school year, 85 percent of white students were on track to be college ready, while only 32 percent of black students and 38 percent of Latino students were college ready.
“Less than a third of African American students are on track for college and career ready,” Greg McElveen, a spokesperson for the campaign, said. “Again, it’s systemic. It is not an isolated issue.”
More than two dozen parents attended the event to participate in the small group discussions and share their experiences with racism and discrimination in the school system.
“When I walked into that school, I felt dumb. I felt inferior,” Betty Curry, grandmother of seven CHCCS students, said. “And that’s what I experienced as a grandparent.”
Curry said she thinks racial literacy in schools begins with spreading knowledge about the history of blacks in America.
The report from the campaign emphasized providing all students access to the same curriculum, such as advanced placement and honors classes. In the 2012-13 school year, 52 percent of students in these classes were white.
Strong shared her daughter’s story of enrolling in high school courses. She was denied enrollment to AP Chemistry for her junior year because she had not taken a prerequisite course that she was never told she needed.
“Even if you become an engaged parent late in the game, then your children are not going to be allowed to do well,” Strong said.
During the event, attendants spoke about cultural awareness in the community and strategies to create a better learning environment for their students of color.
Wanda Hunter, a spokesperson for the campaign, said culture is the unexamined factor that needs to be addressed to move closer to racial equity.
“There’s no institution in this country where race is not the most important predictor of outcome,” Hunter said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.