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Schools at odds in racial division - Hearne ISD sues nearby Mumford for "white flight"
Houston Chronicle ^ | August 3, 2003 | JAMES KIMBERLY

Posted on 08/03/2003 12:44:26 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

MUMFORD -- A little more than a decade ago, the tiny school district in this community of cotton fields and drying feed corn was a candidate for extinction: just 80 students, kindergarten through eighth grade, attending class in a 1925 schoolhouse.

Today, it is the envy of Robertson County: three new campuses stocked with computer labs for all students, televisions and VCRs in every classroom, and consistently good scores on state standardized tests.

The school district has made the most of school transfer laws. Eighty percent of its student body -- which is now at 444 and includes a high school -- came from neighboring districts.

The vast majority transferred from the nearby Hearne Independent School District and officials there believe something sinister is luring families from Hearne.

In a recently filed federal lawsuit, Hearne officials complain that white families are fleeing the predominately black Hearne school district, depriving Hearne of much-needed state aid and turning back the clock to a time in Texas when the federal courts had to order public schools to integrate.

"This kind of white flight is just devastating to a school district like Hearne," said attorney Donald Henslee.

The lawsuit, filed July 25 in U.S. District Court in Tyler, accuses Mumford ISD of violating the federal desegregation order that has governed Texas schools since 1971.

The dispute threatens to devastate rural school districts and become another fissure in a community that has struggled with race relations. It has the potential to change the way Texas public school enrollments are managed.

For an agricultural county of just 16,000 people, Robertson has had more than its share of public scandals. Many have involved allegations of racism.

Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against the county district attorney and a local drug task force, accusing them of unjustly targeting blacks in a recent drug sting. The lawsuit is pending.

"There's a great deal of racial tension in the community of Hearne," said resident Jerry Henry, who is white.

The current dispute between the Mumford and Hearne school districts could heighten that tension.

Although two-thirds of Robertson County is white, Hearne, its largest community, and the Hearne Independent School District are predominately black.

Although students of all races and ethnicities have transferred from Hearne to Mumford, it is the flight of the white students that has raised the most ire.

Hearne school board members have complained that Mumford is stealing its most academically talented students, hurting Hearne's performance on state tests. More importantly, the district loses approximately $5,500 in state aid for every student that leaves, more if the student can be categorized as one deserving additional state aid such as special education.

In 10 years, Hearne has lost hundreds of students to Mumford, many of them white. In 1993, blacks made up 47 percent of the Hearne student body, whites 28 percent and Hispanics 26 percent. In 2002, just 12 percent of the students in Hearne schools were white, 58 percent were black and 30 percent were Hispanic.

During the same period, the racial makeup of the Mumford school district went from majority Hispanic to majority white.

Hearne's attorney said this is not by accident. Henslee accuses Mumford of actively soliciting transfers.

What's more, Henslee said, the practice violates the federal desegregation order that governs Texas. While the order allows students to transfer from one school district to another as long as the receiving school district can accommodate them, it expressly prohibits transfers that will alter the racial makeup of either school district by more than 1 percent.

Even Mumford's staunchest supporters agree the numbers can appear troubling.

"It does fit the symptoms (of white flight), I guess," said Henry, who sent two of his three children to Mumford schools while a member of the Hearne school board.

But supporters insist there is more to the story than just counts of race and ethnicity

"From the academic part of it, Mumford does a whole lot better than Hearne does," said Dennis Randle, a black man from Hearne who sends two children to Mumford schools and one to Hearne High School.

The accusations of racism sting, said Mumford Superintendent Pete Bienski Jr.

Mumford's growth has never been about race or money, but about educating children, he said. To prove it, Bienski has his own statistics.

Of the 342 students who transferred to Mumford last year, 268 came from Hearne. Of the Hearne transfers, 156 were black or Hispanic.

"This is not a white school. We take all kids," Bienski said. "People come to Mumford because they know they are getting a better education. We don't recruit kids. Parents do our recruiting for us by word of mouth."

Bienski doesn't deny that Mumford relies on the state aid it receives for the transfers, but he insists that has not been the secret to the school district's recent success. Mumford has been successful, Bienski says, because it does more with less.

There is some evidence of that.

Bienski serves not only as the school district superintendent, but also as the principal of all three campuses. When the district began its aggressive building campaign in 1997, Bienski served as the general contractor, saving the district millions of dollars. The district owns all three campuses outright.

The school district stocked its computer labs by taking advantage of grant programs. When it launched its high school a few years ago, it focused on academics and avoided costly athletic programs such as football.

There are many school districts that shun transfer students because the $5,500 state aid payment cannot cover the cost of an education, Bienski points out. And it is Hearne, not Mumford, that receives the property taxes paid by the transfer families.

"All parents -- regardless of race, whether it is Hispanic, black or white -- they want their kids to have the very best education," Bienski said. "The only thing we're guilty of in Mumford is educating children."

The Hearne school district has requested specific remedies in its lawsuit.

It wants the federal court to order Hearne students back to Hearne schools and to order Mumford to stop accepting transfers. It also asks the court to consolidate the Mumford school district with Hearne.

If Hearne is successful, the ruling would be devastating, not just to Mumford, but to many rural school districts in Texas, Bienski said. Although few go as far as Mumford, 262 Texas school districts accept transfer students.

Many are small and rural and would be bankrupt without them, Bienski said.

"If we were not able to take any transfers, then Mumford would not be able to exist, but Mumford would not be the only school district that would not be able to exist. There would be a lot of schools affected by that," he said.

A Mumford victory also would carry statewide ramifications.

Mumford's position is that the 33-year-old federal desegregation order is outdated and should be modified or removed. Bienski points out the order conflicts with the federal law known as No Child Left Behind, passed by Congress two years ago.

In addition to implementing nationwide a system of standardized tests similar to what already exists in Texas, the law also gives parents the right to transfer their children from a low-performing school district to a better neighboring district.

"This lawsuit will be a landmark case," Bienski predicted.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: education; oldconner
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This will be one to watch.
1 posted on 08/03/2003 12:44:26 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"All parents -- regardless of race, whether it is Hispanic, black or white -- they want their kids to have the very best education," Bienski said.

One small problemo, Bienski....'Hispanic' is not a 'race'.
2 posted on 08/03/2003 12:53:59 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Buckwheats
Bienski has his head on straight.
3 posted on 08/03/2003 12:56:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Non sequitur....no matter how straight his head is on.
4 posted on 08/03/2003 1:02:01 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Buckwheats
Read and comment on the contents - please.
5 posted on 08/03/2003 1:14:53 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
SUPPORT VOUCHERS! BREAK THE UNIONS! SAVE THE CHILDREN!
6 posted on 08/03/2003 1:16:58 AM PDT by jocon307
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
LOOK UP PEOPLE, these wackjobs are under the firm belief
that THEY own your childern and THEY call all the shots.
These people are entitled to indocturnate our kids as they see fit. We cant let them get away with this crap
7 posted on 08/03/2003 1:22:44 AM PDT by Cheapskate (you owe it to the people, we're so happy we can hardly count!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Two non sequiturs in a row. That's not easy.




8 posted on 08/03/2003 1:30:46 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Cheapskate
It's a business with nice LIBERAL indoctrination benefits.
9 posted on 08/03/2003 1:32:22 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Buckwheats
Nationality is not a race. However, I'm interested in your position on using race to push though an agenda, as described in this situation.
10 posted on 08/03/2003 1:35:09 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Notice that the lawsuit doesn't dispute the fact that Mumford offers a better education, nor does it spell out how Hearne could improve the quality of its education and, therefore, prevent a large part of these transfers. Instead, it focuses on race and the $5500 allowance from the state. Once again, the liberal agenda is about money and power.
11 posted on 08/03/2003 1:36:26 AM PDT by gsrinok
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To: gsrinok
Always the agenda. Always the lie.
12 posted on 08/03/2003 1:43:21 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"I'm interested in your position on using race to push though an agenda, as described in this situation."

Of course, I'm against it. I thought my point was obvious but, maybe only to me. My point was that (similar to the permanent twisting of the meaning of words like 'gay', 'liberal', etc.) 'Hispanic' has lately become a 'race'; which it isn't. I read or hear someone saying this almost daily. I imagine it will soon become true; which it isn't.
13 posted on 08/03/2003 1:49:48 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Buckwheats
It may have something to do with the fact that hispanics out number blacks, making it necessary for the black caucus and racists leaders to adopt another "race" to race bait for votes.
14 posted on 08/03/2003 2:00:39 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I'm certain there's an 'agenda' behind it and it's obvious what that agenda is. At the same time, I don't think that Bienski fellow is using it that way; I think he's just succumbing to racist brainwashing, and parroting what he reads/hears without critical thought.
15 posted on 08/03/2003 2:10:39 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: gsrinok
Neither district in this case seems able to afford to follow through to the last round of appeals, which town will be a proxy for the opposing educationalists' camps? Who will get free counsel to defray costs? If the ACLU moves in, Mumford will have to back down, just dollars and cents. Both sides are going to cry uncle, and the lawyers in the county are going to walk away with the children's education monies. This Jerry Henry, is in effect suing himself, sacrificing his children's education, and increasing the property taxes of his town (just wait til the lawyers bill for the appeals!). If that's not a winning reelection platform, I don't know what is. Add in giving the Houston Chronicle two racist quotes about your small rural township, and this guy's going to be reelected for life!
16 posted on 08/03/2003 2:18:03 AM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: Buckwheats
It sounds more like he is reacting to the garbage being thrown at him.
17 posted on 08/03/2003 2:19:04 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Yeah, well, only those of us whose employment isn't subject to termination by screaming leftist racists are free to publically mock political correctness. It's the old 'Emperor Has No Clothes' thing; that's how they win.
18 posted on 08/03/2003 2:39:14 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Buckwheats
The Left's grasp on the minds of our children and our pocket books is weakening. The Emperor has no clothes and people have begun pointing their fingers and raising their voices. The gag has been removed. Being politically correct is going out of fashion.
19 posted on 08/03/2003 2:54:04 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Hope you're right!
20 posted on 08/03/2003 3:07:45 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Here goes another good school system thrown down the toilet of desegregation. It isnt about education , its about diversity. Isnt diversity a great word for saying we are going to lower the scores of whites down to what the black kids are making?
21 posted on 08/03/2003 3:36:52 AM PDT by sgtbono2002
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; mhking
...last year, 268 came from Hearne. Of the Hearne transfers, 156 were black or Hispanic ... It wants the federal court to order Hearne students back to Hearne schools and to order Mumford to stop accepting transfers.

Bucket of crabs alert.

MHK, I thought you might be interested in this.

22 posted on 08/03/2003 3:38:01 AM PDT by Yeti (Evil Admins: slease stop inserting misspellings into my posts.)
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To: Buckwheats
One small problemo, Bienski....'Hispanic' is not a 'race'. ***

A lot of Mexicans think it is.

23 posted on 08/03/2003 3:52:07 AM PDT by Lion Den Dan
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The school district stocked its computer labs by taking advantage of grant programs. When it launched its high school a few years ago, it focused on academics and avoided costly athletic programs such as football.

This telling statement about putting the priorities on academics instead of sports says a lot. I would bet Hearne is loaded with kids who reluctantly show up for school so they can play hoops or football after school. Mumford is attracting kids who want to invest their energies and intellect in the hours before recreation starts. In rural Darlington county in S. Carolina, we have the same thing happening. A Math and Science magnet school has become the 3rd or 4th best high school in the entire state. Kids and parents are fighting to get into it. Guess what, no athletics at all, NONE. Aside from gym class.
24 posted on 08/03/2003 3:54:30 AM PDT by doosee
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
it is the flight of the white students

Ooooh, we can't have that, now, can we?

25 posted on 08/03/2003 3:55:11 AM PDT by neutrino (Oderint dum metuant: Let them hate us, so long as they fear us.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
necessary for the black caucus and racists leaders to adopt another "race" to race bait for votes.

This whole fight has the racist tones of a bunch of failed Negro socialists operating on the Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton principle.

26 posted on 08/03/2003 3:56:50 AM PDT by Lion Den Dan
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To: doosee
If they don't get high school jock training and experience playing inter high school conference competive sports, how will they ever be able to qualify to get the "compelling state interest" entry preferences at the University of Michigan Law School for race and athletics that Sandra Day O'Con recently said they can have?

Huh?
27 posted on 08/03/2003 4:07:42 AM PDT by autoresponder (PETA TERRORISTS .wav file: BRUCE FRIEDRICH: http://tinyurl.com/hjhd)
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To: Lion Den Dan
Latest CT prison stats:

#1 - black 10% of CT blacks

#2 - hispanic 2.4% CT hispanics

#1 - white 1.2% Ct whites

I see a "lack of diversity" here

CT Hispanics and whites neded to be forced to commit more serious crimes

It's just not "fair"

28 posted on 08/03/2003 4:14:13 AM PDT by autoresponder (PETA TERRORISTS .wav file: BRUCE FRIEDRICH: http://tinyurl.com/hjhd)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
...officials there believe something sinister is luring families from Hearne.

Those sinister bast#rds want an education. How dare they?

29 posted on 08/03/2003 4:19:25 AM PDT by raybbr
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To: sgtbono2002
It isnt about education , its about diversity.

It isn't about either, it's about "follow the money." Crying race is just so useful. We all need to ignore these poverty pimps and get on with the business at hand - an educated generation.

30 posted on 08/03/2003 4:20:35 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: raybbr
Yeah, imagine! They transferred knowing their property taxes would remain at the schools they left.
31 posted on 08/03/2003 4:22:50 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Lion Den Dan
Yes. A good example of a miserable school district is Dallas. A real beachhead for ignorance and the school board will hold it hostage forever.
32 posted on 08/03/2003 4:25:39 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: JerseyHighlander
Your scenario sounds like a perscription for private and/or home schooling.
33 posted on 08/03/2003 4:27:40 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Lion Den Dan
This whole fight has the racist tones of a bunch of failed Negro socialists operating on the Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton principle.


Maybe not. If the real players are exposed, my bet is that it is white do gooder school admin management, white teachers union leadership, and a handful of malleable blacks to make the power grab look legit. But, it makes these white liberals feel so good about themselves that they are the only ones speaking up for the mentally deficient plantation blacks who cannot think for themselves. At least that is how they perceive the black populace.
34 posted on 08/03/2003 4:28:22 AM PDT by doosee
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
In a recently filed federal lawsuit, Hearne officials complain that white families are fleeing the predominately black Hearne school district, depriving Hearne of much-needed state aid and turning back the clock to a time in Texas when the federal courts had to order public schools to integrate.

But if these were gay kids transferring, that would be okay.

35 posted on 08/03/2003 4:39:27 AM PDT by Dahoser
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To: Dahoser
How about that.
36 posted on 08/03/2003 4:42:22 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Hearne is like Calvert (10 mi. north) and Marlin (30 mi. further north). They are old, decaying towns without any economic basis for existence beyond agriculture, and the kind of people that give these towns any vitality have moved away. Their schools are old. If I, as a parent, have the resources to take my child to a newer school that appears to be better run, why wouldn't I do it? The article says blacks have transferred out of Hearne ISD as well as other ethnic groups. My child doesn't give up a better education for the sake of some ISD's budget. "White flight" as a basis for a lawsuit is discrimination against whites.
37 posted on 08/03/2003 6:10:56 AM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: doosee
If the real players are exposed, my bet is that it is white do gooder school admin management, white teachers union leadership, and a handful of malleable blacks to make the power grab look legit.
There's no white do-gooder here. If anything it's a desperate superintendent and his crew worried about their money and budgets, along with local blacks. There is no teachers union involved in this one. Teachers' unions aren't players in Texas-- especially not small-town Texas.
38 posted on 08/03/2003 6:15:34 AM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Oh boy!!! Hearne caught my eye because they're always looking for a Spanish teacher (year after year)...now I know why. Didn't know the situation. Never hear of Mumford looking for a Spanish teacher. The obvious answer to a lot of school problems is right before our eyes and we will NOT look at the solution---strict order and discipline, no matter what your race is. That means ALL students follow ALL rules All of the time. Period.

Thanks for posting this. Marvelous information.
39 posted on 08/03/2003 6:16:54 AM PDT by MeneMeneTekelUpharsin (De tal palo, tal astilla.)
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To: Buckwheats
Race is distinctive. So far as I know, there are still 4 - Mongolian, Caucasian, American Indian, and Negroid. All have distinctive characteristics. With interRACIAL marriages, some of those are blurring/blending. Nationality is cultural/linguistic. Many see hispanics as brown skinned, speaking Spanish. But there are others who are white skinned. That is not race, that is nationality.
40 posted on 08/03/2003 6:49:36 AM PDT by mathluv
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To: MeneMeneTekelUpharsin
When I was in junior high, I had a science teacher who was the worst. He could not explain a concept or a project clearly. It is the only class in which I can remember feeling regularly confused. This teacher was also incapabale of maintaining good order and proper respect in his classroom. Guess what? 20 years later, he was the superintendent of Hearne ISD schools. He held the position for a good number of years. I cannot imagine a school board hiring the man. From what I heard and read, the district suffered (apparently willingly) under his guidance.

Also, I currently teach (in a much larger town) with a teacher who formerly taught in Hearne ISD. She taught ESL (no specialization in that area), Spanish (no specialization in that area) and about 4 other subjects, including industrial technology and various computer courses. Does this help explain why people are taking their children out of Hearne schools? [In our district, she's currently teaching computer classes and industrial tech.]

41 posted on 08/03/2003 6:53:13 AM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
There is quite a bit that can be said about this article, but I'll just hit a few high points:

"This kind of white flight is just devastating to a school district like Hearne," said attorney Donald Henslee."

White people can't win for losing. If there are "too many" of us somewhere (like NASCAR, for instance), then the libs have a fit and demand that minorities be brought in for "diversity". If too many of us leave from somewhere...then that is a problem too....necessitating a lawsuit to drag us back. Has anyone ever noticed that the libs spend a heck of a lot of time trying to manipulate and control the white middle class?

"Although students of all races and ethnicities have transferred from Hearne to Mumford, it is the flight of the white students that has raised the most ire."

Why should this be? Isn't this racist itself? Why should the libs be any more concerned about the transfer of whites than blacks or hispanics?

"More importantly, the district loses approximately $5,500 in state aid for every student that leaves"

Well...it sounds like this may be the crux of the matter. The lousy school is PO'ed that the peasants are fleeing the fields for greener pastures. God forbid they'd actually attempt to attract more students back by improving the quality of the education they provide. They should just do what the E German commies did when confronted with the same problem...build a wall and shoot anyone who tries to escape. Its brutal, but more honest.

One final observation: Have you ever noticed that despite all of the complaining that blacks do about whites and about america....very few of them have ever left to live somewhere else? Very few have ever picked up and gone somewhere where they won't have to be around evil white people so much. They seem to get very nervous when there aren't many of us around. I wonder why that is?

42 posted on 08/03/2003 7:00:34 AM PDT by quebecois
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To: Clara Lou
Parents have every right to educate their children anywhere they want for any reason they have.

The liberals should realize by now that parents (both black and white) want a decent education for their children and don't care where they get it. They shouldn't assume that parents have the same social agenda as they do.
43 posted on 08/03/2003 8:06:45 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: mathluv
I don't know how many races there are (different numbers have been stated at different times) and don't care. Most people are at least somewhat homogenized by now anyway. The whole thing should be irrelevant but, the race pimps of various persuasions and their government partners-in-crime will never let it die as long as there's a dollar or advantage in perpetuating the needless mess. As far as I'm concerned, no intelligent, honest person would have much interest in the subject (with the exception of anthropologists and certain medical interests). There's no legitimate government interest. In the sense I'm talking about it here, it's absurd.

But, now we're getting an absurdity on top of an absurdity; i.e., 'Hispanic' is becoming a 'race' in the PC lexicon. This is doubly absurd because virtually every so-called 'race' I've ever heard of is included under the term 'Hispanic'. This is 'Alice-In-Wonderland' stuff. It would be humorous were it not so stupid.

And now, my real reason for all this...the rest of the story...if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...get in the game.

Low self-esteem got you down? Sick of not being an 'official' racial minority? Join the 'Buckwheats Gringos' race today. You'll definitely be in the minority then. For only $9.95 I'll send you one 'Buckwheats Gringos Consular Card', one 'Buckwheats Gringos Drivers License' (include your state of residence and a teeny little photo that readily accepts glue), one 'Buckwheats Gringos Universal Voter Card', and one 'Official Buckwheats Gringos Racial Identity Card' (which says 'Good For Nothing' in big faux-gold letters with chain-link edging, yet may get you admitted to many colleges). No one denied. Feel proud again. Don't delay!
44 posted on 08/03/2003 8:49:00 AM PDT by Buckwheats
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Hearne school board members have complained that Mumford is stealing its most academically talented students, hurting Hearne's performance on state tests. >>>>>>>

oh since those transferring are mostly white what the school board is saying is the black students aren't academically talented and they really need the other races to keep their scores up. (isn't that racist?)
45 posted on 08/03/2003 9:05:02 AM PDT by tickles
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Read and comment on the contents - please.

White students cannot get a decent education in a majority black classroom (and for that matter, neither can black students). In general, black classrooms are too disruptive, intimidating and often violent. Therefore, whites (and some blacks) flee these schools for the sake of their children.

It is nothing new. This has been going on for at least the last thirty years.

There, I've said it.

46 posted on 08/03/2003 9:19:02 AM PDT by Drew68
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To: quebecois
Well...it sounds like this may be the crux of the matter. The lousy school is PO'ed that the peasants are fleeing the fields for greener pastures. God forbid they'd actually attempt to attract more students back by improving the quality of the education they provide. They should just do what the E German commies did when confronted with the same problem...build a wall and shoot anyone who tries to escape. Its brutal, but more honest.

You've described public education in American today.

47 posted on 08/03/2003 1:41:59 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: MeneMeneTekelUpharsin; Clara Lou
Thanks for the insights and comments.
48 posted on 08/03/2003 1:42:56 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: tickles
They're saying it but it really is all about the money.
49 posted on 08/03/2003 1:44:47 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Drew68
You've described reality created by lousy education. Those remaining in the worst of the worst more than likely are offspring of students who were "educated" by the same system. Many see that it for the dead end it is for their children, too many don't care. But those who do want out, they're standing in line for vouchers and fighting LIBERALS who are standing in their way.
50 posted on 08/03/2003 1:49:24 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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