Susan Klonsky reports from Durham:
Tim is a historian with a long view of the current wave of retrograde legislation and its connection to the history of race in North Carolina. He is one of the organizers of Moral Monday and has been arrested numerous times in the sit-ins. His 83-year-old father, Rev. Vernon Tyson, was recently arrested, as have been pretty much all the members of the Tyson family.
|At yesterday's protest|
|Tim Tyson (arm raised) at Moral Monday|
As civil rights protections are rolled back, he explains, the main attacks are against the entire system of public education in the state. Multiple ways are being engineered to undermine the public schools and to incentivize parents to pull out. A voucher bill has just been passed, which will provide $4000 subsidy to any child who is pulled out of a public school and enrolled in a private school. Parents who opt to home-school their kids will receive a sizeable tax break per child. North Carolina, Tyson explains, was the last state to implement school desegregation--17 years after Brown. "They've been waiting all these years ever since for their chance to undo desegregation, and here it is." Last week's drastic education budget destroyed the jobs of 5000+ teacher's aides. The legislature also removed the limit on the number of charter schools that can be formed, "opening the sluice gates for charter operators to flood the state." And teacher due process, especially teacher tenure, has been wiped out altogether.
|Art Pope (New Yorker)|
I asked Tyson if this state of affairs has him down in the dumps. "Absolutely not! We haven't seen a movement like this since the 60s. We're growing a coalition, learning to work it together on all issues. It's true that the poverty is worse right now than it has been in decades. People are really hurting. The conservatives who control the state right now are more virulent than we've seen in years. There has even been a proposal put forth to legislate Christianity as the official state religion of North Carolina! But the point is the resistance. It's a movement. It's growing. It's spreading. It's far from over. We're kicking butt and we're going to win." But not without a fight.
PS: Be sure to read Diane Ravitch's blog post: A Tragic Day For Public Education in North Carolina, a succinct comment on the education situation by Yvonne Brannan of Public Schools First NC.