The NAACP reorganization chapter met at Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church Monday evening to discuss education — black education, to be exact.
Kenneth Simmons, a retired educator of 30 years and NAACP member, showed a PowerPoint presentation titled “The Civil Rights Issue of the 21st Century.”
Black children in America are facing an education crisis, he told the handful of people in attendance.
“I didn’t come here with any solutions,” he said. “I just want to share with you some information, because lack of information has just ruined outcomes.”
Simmons noted that black students now outnumber whites in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Thirty years ago, he said, whites made up 70 percent of CMS.
“A major shift in 30 years has taken place,” he said, “and nobody’s talking about it, and that’s my point.”
Simmons’ remarks came just two days after the Rev. Al Sharpton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich led a rally near the White House to draw attention to the so-called achievement gap between black, Latino and white students. Supporters arrived on 70 buses from 22 cities, the Washington Post reported.
“I know it’s possible to educate every child from every background,” Gingrich was quoted as saying to loud applause from the largely African American crowd. “We’re not telling you what the answer is. But we’re telling you to keep changing until you find a solution.”
Despite their political differences, Gingrich and Sharpton recently met with President Obama to discuss their shared concerns about educational disparities.
Both are members of the Education Equality Project, a bipartisan group formed to call attention to – and eventually change — some bleak statistics. The group’s research shows that by fourth grade, black and Latino students are, on average, three years behind their white and Asian counterparts. And barely half of all black and Latino students graduate from high school, versus nearly 80 percent for white students.
At Monday’s NAACP meeting, Simmons said racial segregation remains prevalent within CMS. He pointed to areas such as Ballantyne that have schools that are majority white, versus inner-city schools that are majority black.
“Integration must and should be authentic,” he said. “Authenticity of integration can only occur when boys and girls live together and play together. Integration is a socioeconomic thing.”
Simmons said the percentage of black teachers has declined since the 1960s, when teaching was the No. 1 profession for college-educated blacks. He called it a form of “black flight.”
He encouraged his audience to monitor their children’s education and to make their concerns known to CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman.
The Charlotte branch of the NAACP has been virtually defunct for nearly a year. When asked about efforts to revive the chapter, Joyce Waddell, who is leading the effort, said reorganization leaders are finding new members. A nominating committee will be elected June 27 and new officers elected Sept. 12, she said.
For more information about the NAACP or to join, visit http://www.naacp.org.
Editor’s note: Click the “comment” button below to share your thoughts with other Qcitymetro.com readers. We’ve made commenting easier.