Tuesday, October 31, 2006
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER CALLED RACIST
By Barri Bronston
An overflow crowd of mostly African-American parents, clergy, politicians and teachers packed a town hall meeting in Kenner Monday night to voice outrage and suspicions about a proposal by a Jefferson Parish School Board member to end forced busing and return to neighborhood schools.
Protesters said the proposal by board member Ellen Kovach is nothing more than a veiled, racist attempt to separate black students from white students. They vowed to fight it with as many people and resources as they can muster.
"I distrust your motives, and I distrust the motives of the board," said Martha Jean Williams, one of more than a dozen speakers who blasted Kovach and her attempt to free the board of 1971 desegregation order. "And I will not sit here and let you get away with this. It is not in the best interest of our children for them to be segregated."
The Rev. Joseph Walker of Second Highway Baptist Church of Marrero described Kovach as "David Duke with a dress" and called on the board "not to put this mess to sleep but to kill it."
Kovach, a first-year board member, proposed her plan for a neighborhood-based school system in August, saying it is not racially motivated but an attempt to send students to schools closest to their homes. The plan, she said, would shorten the time students spend on buses and improve parents' access to their children's schools.
"I know this is a sensitive issue with a painful past," she said, "but I hope you will open your minds to the facts because if you do, you will see that this is in no way, shape or form an attempt to resegregate our schools and there is no racist intent driving this motion."