In this post on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet, North Carolina educators Justin Parmenter and Rodney D. Pierce report that a “white flight academy” is turning itself into a charter school so it can collect public funding. More than two-thirds of the state’s charter schools are more than 80% black or white.

Hobgood Academy opened in 1970 as an escape route for white children whose parents wanted to avoid sending them to integrated schools. Now Hobgood wants to convert to charter status so its parents don’t have to pay tuition. The North Carolina State Board of Education has approved the conversion, so the funding for the segregationist academy will come in large part from the funding now provided to the highly segregated public schools.

Please read the full article to understand the history of segregation and racism in Halifax County. If it is behind a paywall, let me know and I will post it in full.


Last month, the North Carolina State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the conversion of Halifax County’s private Hobgood Academy to a public charter school. Halifax County ranks 90th out of 100 North Carolina counties in terms of per capita income, and more than 28 percent of its residents live below the poverty line — nearly double the national average. Hobgood’s student population is 87 percent white, while only 4 percent of those attending Halifax County Schools are white.If you read the charter application that Hobgood submitted to state officials, you might be inclined to think that the very purpose for the school’s existence is to lift children out of poverty by offering them a better education.

The application notes the “low performing” status of the public schools in the area and the “vicious cycle of poverty” that contributes to that low performance. It lays out the applicants’ supposed view that “the potential exists to turn the tide of poverty in this community through excellence in education” and refers to Hobgood as “the perfect place to impact the most vulnerable of our children.”

The real reason Hobgood is converting to a charter school is something entirely different. In the application’s section about enrollment trends, applicants admit to a “significant decline in enrollment,” acknowledging that the private school’s $5,000 annual tuition could be a barrier for some families.

A Google Site called “Let’s Charter Hobgood,” set up to organize Hobgood parents to push for the charter conversion, shows the motivation has nothing to do with extending opportunity to people who don’t currently have it.

Rather, it is for parents of students who already attend the school to be able to keep going there without paying tuition. In addition, responses to recent questions that are posted on the parent site include the statement: “No current law forces any diversity whether it be by age, sex, race, creed.” The question isn’t posted, so you’ll have to infer what it was.

Hobgood’s conversion to a charter school means the school could see a windfall of more than $2 million from the state. Of course, that money is coming out of someone else’s pocket. Remember those impoverished students Hobgood’s charter application claimed to be so concerned about? They’ll be paying much of that tab via pass-through transfer funding from Halifax County Schools.

Halifax County’s entire education budget, including community college, is $11.2 million. In the Department of Public Instruction’s most recent facility needs survey, the district reported $13.3 million in capital needs, including more than $8 million in needed renovations to existing school buildings. Financially, Halifax County school district is most definitely not in a position to be bailing out private schools.

The history of racial segregation in Halifax County is crucial to understanding what is currently playing out….

Hobgood currently receives $69,300 a year from the state’s voucher program. Once it turns into a charter, it will receive an additional $2 million a year. The population in Halifax County is almost evenly divided between whites and blacks. Hobgood Academy is 88 percent white.  The public schools are more than 90% black. The families who send their children to Hobgood will no longer have to pay tuition. The children in the Halifax County public schools will have less money for their education.
We are reminded that school choice was first advocated in response to the Brown decision of 1954 by segregationist governors and senators. Sixty-five years later, their vision is being realized.



11 Comments Post your own or leave a trackback: Trackback URL

  1. LeftCoastTeacher says:

    This is the sort of dirty business where the federal government is supposed to step in and say, “Nope, you can’t do that. Separate is not equal.”

    • jcgrim says:

      This is what the Dept of Education Dept of Civil Rights is supposed to oversee & regulate. Charter schools were originally conceived by white segregationists after Brown v Board of Ed as a way for whites to ignore the Supreme Court ruling. Today, publicly admitting a preference for segregation is unacceptable. Thus, today’s “choice” branding.

      Now that all regulatory teeth are gone from the federal & state DoEd’s we’ll see segregation by race, disability, and whatever other “undesirable” the White Nationalists running the country deem undeserving of a public education.

  2. IRA SHOR says:

    This is exactly why teacher unions and the Democratic candidates must take a strong stand to de-fund charter schools and stop the looting by white supremacists and religionists who finally stole the key to the public treasury.

  3. yvonne says:

    This is truly sick.

  4. retired teacher says:

    Many of these “white flight” schools are also religious. This is happening in many parts of the country. Sending public money to private institutions is like opening Pandora’s box. It blurs the line between public and private. Allowing public money to underwrite discriminatory institutions is anti-democratic, and these schools should not be given public funds to promote segregation.

  5. Linda says:

    It would be no more surprising that charter schools had a goal of racial segregation than that the son of DINO, Warren Buffet, is allegedly all about the border wall, nor that Tucker Carlson’s hate propaganda is funded by the Koch’s, nor that the anti-AOC billboard is funded by the Koch’s, nor that ALEC keeps Steve King as a state chair, despite his rebuke by all decent people. (Center for Media and Democracy)

  6. If I may, I’d like to use Merriam-Webster’s word of the day for my comment on this: I cannot express my full animadversion at this, for to do so would involve profanity, which is inappropriate in this comment forum.

  7. Catherine King says:

    Diane FYI, to the north, in VIRGINIA, Prince Edward County has a similar history where one of the first boycotts occurred at the (now-a National landmark) Moton High School in Farmville, VA. This district was party to the Brown VS Board of Education lawsuit. An excellent book, written by one Bob Smith, documented that history: “They Closed Their Schools/1951-1964” (Publisher: Martha E. Forrester Council of Women, Farmville, VA, l996)

    A clip from the introduction:

    “When the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) went to work in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in 1959, it responded to the black parents who said,

    ‘We want our children to have some education–they just can’t sit here while the white children go to the academies.’

    AFSC conducted an emergency placement program that placed young black students from Prince Edward County with families in six states and ten communities. This was the AFSC’s human response. Our staff not only walked the roads of the South with Parents and fostered their exercise of power; they also walked the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and challenged power and policy there. …” (in 1996) “We are reminded of the 1950s and 1960s struggles against overt racism and segregation by today’s rash of arson attacks against black churches in the South. Once again the AFSC and its partners challenge public leaders to help change the climate in which these acts of violence, scapegoating, racism, and hostility flourish” (ix, my emphases). CBK

  8. The GOP-Trump era government supports freedom.

    The freedom to be a racist.

    The freedom to segregate the races.

    The freedom to end equality.

    The freedom to lie.

    The freedom to steal.

    The freedom to “stand your ground” and shoot anyone you want and get away with it.

    The freedom to deny workers due process rights and pay them whatever the boss wants to pay them and fire them at any time for any reason. “You’re fired because you went to the bathroom once during your sixteen-hour shift. Didn’t you read the memo to wear adult diapers?”

    The freedom to live without health care.

    The freedom to die early because you are a loser and failed to become wealthy.

    The freedom to create two sets of laws: one set of laws for approved whites and another set of laws for everyone else and that includes whites that support equality for all. If you are not a Trumpist, you do not get on the A-list of freedoms no matter what your skin color is.

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