Source: Editorial Board
Earlier this month, the Nash County Board of Education passed a resolution by an 8-3 vote condemning a state Senate bill that would take away the voices of Black members of the board, according to the Rocky Mount Telegram.
Senate Bill 248, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Lisa Barnes, a white woman, would redistrict the Nash County Board of Education following the demerger of the Edgecombe and Nash county school districts so that they mirror the seven districts of the Nash County Board of Commissioners. If the bill, which is currently before a state Senate committee, becomes law, Black members would likely lose their 6-5 majority on the school board.
Former state Sen. Angela Bryant spoke at the meeting to express her displeasure about the lack of community input and the unfairness of SB 248. The legislation would likely result in three Black members of the board losing their seats.
“To use a time like this to take a heavy-handed approach and superimpose these districts on us is basically pouring salt on age-old wounds of unfairness and mistreatment. We are asking you to stand up for yourselves and us,” Bryant said, according to the Rocky Mount Telegram.
Bryant also pointed out the fact that the seven-member plan proposed by the bill, instead of the current 11-member board, would result in districts that would be too big for some candidates to even be able to run an election campaign.
“The districts are too large and expensive to run in for average people to run in, for people who are qualified, to even have a chance to serve on this board,” Bryant said.
According to the Rocky Mount Telegram, aside from Bryant, three other community members also spoke out against the legislation with each providing more reasons for why SB 248 is unnecessary.
Loretta Hankerson, a grandmother of two Nash County students, said that going from 11 districts to seven would prevent the board from effectively governing and being able to see that board policies were being followed.
Katherine McKeithen said there is no compelling evidence for why the state needs to take control of redistricting from the school board because the board members are far more aware of the needs of the district than Barnes or the state.
Bronson Williams blasted the three school board members who voted against the measure calling for a resolution to be drafted that calls for the bill to be rescinded. Williams pointed out what is probably the biggest issue with the bill – not only does it take redistricting power from the school board members, SB 248 would set a precedent for the legislature to redistrict any school district they want to, or all of them, in North Carolina.
This legislation is a great example of the hypocrisy of Republicans. The “party of small government” is once again pushing a bill that calls for government overreach. Senate Bill 248 would require that the state government come into a local community and tell its residents how best to run their schools and who should be allowed to represent them on the school board.
This is yet another part of NCGOP’s never-ending quest for power. Just as it’s the case when Republicans want to control a person’s bodily autonomy, tell trans children which sports teams they can play on or which bathroom they can use, tell schools that books about “controversial” topics must be taken off the shelves, deny life-saving care for transgender youth, or try to make it illegal to have a drag queen read a book to kids. If we are to believe the NCGOP, it’s only “big government” when North Carolinians are given the freedom to make their own decisions.