Wake County is in the midst of a bitter fight over how best to educate its children. The new majority on the school board has promised to end what they would call “forced busing” in favor of “neighborhood schools,” while those in favor of the former policies argue that the new majority’s proposals amount to “resegregation.”
The move has sparked protest rallies, and school board meetings now regularly turn into heated confrontations. Recently, Chris Malone, a member of the school board majority, perfectly captured the tone of the debate in a statement to the News & Observer. Referring to Raleigh civil rights pioneer David Forbes, who spoke out against the new board’s policies, Malone said, “This guy has a right to his opinion, but he’s wrong and we’re right.”
Hmm, this all sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? It sounds like the immigration debate. People with seemingly irreconcilable differences of opinion shouting at each other over the fence, distilling a complex debate into black and white platitudes. “You’re wrong and we’re right.”
News & Observer editor John Drescher recently wrote a great column about Malone’s statement. In it, he offered to pick up the tab for Forbes and Malone to have lunch together. He wrote:
“In the debate about Wake schools, both sides would do well to listen to the other and acknowledge that each side has valid arguments… If both sides got to know the other, they might find they have more in common than they think. And they might find some common ground.”
Our thoughts exactly. We at Uniting NC want to do for the immigration debate what Drescher is suggesting for the Wake schools debate. We want to bring people together at the same table, to share meals and stories, and to recognize that we all want the same things — safety, opportunity, respect, happiness. Our common humanity unites us more than our opinions divide us.