Schools dispute charge that rezoning plan has 'racial pretext'

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 1:29pm
NNACP-race-lawsuit.jpg

Lawyers gave a spirited defense of Nashville’s new student assignment plan Wednesday in federal court, saying it gives poor children from predominantly black sections of the city the opportunity to succeed in neighborhood schools.

U.S. District Judge John Nixon heard brief arguments from both sides in an NAACP-backed lawsuit that seeks to toss out the rezoning plan, which ended the busing of black children from north Nashville to Hillwood and Hillsboro this school year.

“This case isn’t about race,” Metro lawyer Kevin Klein said. “This case is about opportunity and it’s about choice. It’s about giving children the opportunity to succeed. It’s about giving parents the choice of whether they want their children to go to school close to home or put them on a bus to go elsewhere.”

Nixon did not rule, but abruptly ended the hearing after only about an hour and told the lawyers to get ready for trial. He scheduled the case to resume on Nov. 3.

The NAACP contends the rezoning plan is racially motivated. Under pressure from white parents and the Chamber of Commerce, black leaders say, the school board acted to remove black children from white suburban schools.

“This rezoning plan is a pretext,” the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Larry Woods, told the judge. “It’s a concealed plan to resegregate the schools in Nashville.”

Klein called those claims “a conspiracy theory” that’s “frankly unsupported.”

He pointed out that, under certain conditions, parents could choose to continue to send their children to Hillwood and Hillsboro schools. Also, the school board voted to spend an additional $5 million a year to improve schools in north Nashville for parents who sent their children to schools there.

“This is Metro Nashville’s chance to take at-risk students and give them an opportunity to succeed,” Klein said, “but we’ve got to give it time, and we’ve got to stop pretending that busing students is the solution.”

9 Comments on this post:

By: sidneyames on 9/17/09 at 6:22

There is an American Express commercial on tv right now that is showing a prominent black tv actress lauding the praises of "getting offf work and going to her 'neighborhood' in Harlem to frequent a business owned and operated by someone from the 'neighborhood' and how it's good to support the 'neighborhood' and the actors in the commercial are black. And I hear all kinds of ads and shouts about supporting black business, the BET (Black entertainment television) and the black civic groups such as Black Chamber of Commerce and so on. My question is this: What is wrong with children of every race doing to school in their neighborhoods? Doesn't that make it EASIER for parents to participate? Doesn't that encourage parents to PARTICIPATE? And isn't it cheaper on the parents to NOT have to drive their kid to extra curricular activities? And didn't the school board say that if parents wanted to take their kids out of their zoned district, they could? I rode the bus a l-o-n-g way to school. It was aweful. I wish I could have walked to school. And I thought that is what the new movement was supposed to be -- neighborhoods that are walkable. I think the NAACP just wants to stir up trouble. If the schools are not good enough, IMPROVE THEM.

By: artsmart on 9/17/09 at 7:44

One of the reasons for neighborhood schools is the fact that kids do not participate in extra curricular activities because they need to ride the bus to get home. There were several kids at my daughters school that would have loved to participate in sports but could not because no one could pick them up. In their own neighborhood that would not have been an issue.

By: Kosh III on 9/17/09 at 8:39

sid

They may say that kids can go to another school besides the neighborhood school, but in this instance, a child had been going to another school, was forced to go to neighborhood school, and was DENIED the request to continue going to the school of choice, which was not the neighborhood.

They say there will be extra money to improve certain schools but have yet to produce it. Plus, why is this necessary unless the schools were already inferior to other schools? Doesn't that say something?
Separate but equal is never equal, just separate.

By: sidneyames on 9/17/09 at 9:01

artsmart said "One of the reasons for neighborhood schools is the fact that kids do not participate in extra curricular activities because they need to ride the bus to get home. There were several kids at my daughters school that would have loved to participate in sports but could not because no one could pick them up. In their own neighborhood that would not have been an issue". And I rest my case. Children can participate if it's made more convenient for their parents. I had both; had busing and hated it. When I could walk to school, I loved it. And as an adult I have always hated to drive more than 10 miles to work or church or to shop. I love to be able to walk. Too bad Antioch ain't got no moola for sidewalks. Hmmmm. We can afford a billion for a convention center, but no sidewalks.

By: Kosh III on 9/17/09 at 9:49

sid
Madison can't afford sidewalks either, maybe if we renamed Madison to "Downtown" and Antioch to "Green Hills" we could get the stuff we want.
Sidewalks, or lack thereof is my pet peeve.
Are you a bigtime walker? Sounds like it.

By: Schuss on 9/17/09 at 9:51

The article says, "The NAACP contends the rezoning plan is racially motivated."

The NAACP is, most definitely, racially motivated! In fact, that is their entire reason for being.

I moved to a certain neighborhood so that my children can go to those neighborhood schools. But, due to the open enrollment and bussing, my children have been harassed and influenced buy those children from other neighborhoods.

If you don't like the neighborhood you live in, MOVE!

By: Kosh III on 9/17/09 at 11:01

The NAACP is, most definitely, racially motivated! In fact, that is their entire reason for being.

Exactly. The extreme hatred and racism shown towards black people makes this group necessary, even today. If there was no white hatred towards blacks and other non-WASP's, we would not need the NAACP. Jim Crowe is alive if not well in Tennessee.

By: sidneyames on 9/17/09 at 11:17

Kosh "sid
Madison can't afford sidewalks either, maybe if we renamed Madison to "Downtown" and Antioch to "Green Hills" we could get the stuff we want.
Sidewalks, or lack thereof is my pet peeve.
Are you a bigtime walker? Sounds like it." Well said. Did you notice that the "widening of Hillsboro Road" was finished in a couple of week-ends? If that were Madison or Antioch, it'd be a couple of years. And yes, I love to walk. BUT on my street, cars go 45 to 55 and it's scarey. I see families walking and runners, but it's too scarey for me. I don't like hitting the ditch every time a car flies by.

By: Kosh III on 9/17/09 at 12:16

Yeah, I only walk at Greenways/Parks, usually at Peeler Greenway at the bottom of Neelys Bend, hitting others on the weekend for variety.

check out nashvillehiking.com
It's a younger/faster group for the most part but still good.