Knox County Schools, like many across the country, is currently considering what to do with their money. Budgeting. In budgeting, priorities are revealed. What we in Knox County are learning (again) is that for the school board, the education of students of color is not high on the priority list. Equity is not their principal interest. Desegregation is not at the top of their list.
The decision that reveals the priorities is a proposal to cut funding for magnet programs at two schools in Knoxville located in majority-people-of-color neighborhoods.
There is a $2.3 million budget shortfall. But new schools in majority-white neighborhoods are slated to be built. A charter school expansion is slated to receive another $1 million. Programs like International Baccalaureate, which serve a tiny fraction of the students of Knox County (mostly white), are not on the chopping block.
Such priorities reveal the logic of structural racism. Excuses are made by the school board regarding the community-desired magnet programs along with a program called Project GRAD. Their numbers aren’t good enough. If you want Project GRAD, raise the money yourself. No such requests to raise money yourself is issued to the neighborhoods where the new middle schools are to be built.
Fortunately, the budget is not a done deal. After record-breaking parental and student turnout to a school budgeting meeting, the school board agreed to delay their vote. Time for more organizing. Time for folks that care about equity to call school board members.
For those in Knox County, this link can tell you which district you are in and who your school board member. Call them and urge the preservation of the magnet school programs.