A little more than thirty years ago, the People’s Alliance stood in support of the merger of the City and County School systems. Those school board meetings to determine the district maps were also full of parents, speaking to their fears for their children’s education and well being. We knew that the merger was about making the public school system more equitable for ALL Durham students, and we see that today as well. We believe in the hard work of the DPS team to create the Growing Together plan. Thank you to Board Member Rogers for sharing her lived experience of this event in Durham history.
As the PA Education Action Team stated in a letter to the board in June, 2022 “We believe the regional model presented to the Board has many strengths, including a clear focus on equity and efficiency.” PA has stood in support of traditional, publicly funded schools that are overseen by elected officials for almost 50 years. We agree with author and research scientist, Heather McGhee, when she wrote:
“We must challenge ourselves to live our lives in solidarity across color, origin, and class. We must demand changes to the rules in order to disrupt the very notion that those who have more money are worth more in our democracy and our economy.”
We are DPS parents and teachers. We want what is best for our children. And we support this plan.
We understand that change is difficult and disappointment is painful. And we support this plan.
We recognize that community outreach and engagement efforts from the district around this initiative were not robust. And we support this plan.
We know that moving to a new school before traditional transition points may present a challenge for some young learners. And we support this plan.
We appreciate that the financial, medical, social, psychological, and emotional challenges of the global pandemic are not fully behind us for many families. And we support this plan.
We are parents and teachers of neurodivergent and disabled children and understand the unique challenge this presents during unexpected transitions. And we support this plan.
We acknowledge that altering existing programs at schools places an additional burden on teachers already at capacity. And we support this plan.
We hear the angry, fear-based rhetoric pathologizing under-resourced communities. We know this rhetoric is likely to get worse before it gets better. And we support this plan.
We hear families threatening to leave the public school system if the district does not make certain allowances or changes. And we support this plan.
There is never a perfect time for change. It is never effortless when those with privilege are asked to operate within a system based on equity. It is never convenient to reckon with white supremacy and the damage it has done to our public institutions.
Ultimately what matters is that every child in Durham has free access to a highly qualified, certified teacher loving on and guiding them in the classroom every day, with essential support services in place and a nurturing principal at the helm. Everything else – the titles and the specialties and the programming – is window dressing.
Our children are watching and listening. Are we modeling respect, resilience, and a spirit of collaborative problem-solving?
We are DPS parents and teachers. We want what is best for ALL children. And we support this plan.Read more
Position on the Durham Transit Plan
Adopted by the Coalition for Affordable Housing and Transit Coordinating Committee
April 4, 2022
The new Durham Transit Plan will allocate approximately one billion dollars in local transit funds over the next 20 years. We support and advocate for these funds, as well as other transit funds from local, state, and federal sources, to be used to achieve two specific and vital goals; namely a substantial increase in our bus services and passenger rail service providing links to and for all Durham neighborhoods, and to RTP and Raleigh.
1. In light of decades of transit underinvestment in some parts of Durham, particularly in heritage black and brown neighborhoods, we believe racial equity requires that substantial new bus service and facilities must be provided to these historically underserved areas. We specifically call for the Transit Plan to fund improved bus service and facilities including sheltered, ADA-compliant bus stops and adjacent sidewalks for historic black neighborhoods including Bragtown, Merrick Moore, Walltown, Old Farm, and North East Durham, as well as every other underserved community of color. Economic justice requires the same for economically transit-dependent neighborhoods that are currently underserved by our bus system. Addressing these neighborhoods long underserved by transit should be a first priority for the new Transit Plan.
We believe that new bus services can and must begin to be put in place as soon as 2022 and each year thereafter. We call for the needed new bus service to underserved neighborhoods to start this year, with a priority for 15-minute service for Route 9 serving the Bragtown neighborhood with shelters at the Bragtown Library on Dearborn, Bluefields/Club Blvd public and turnkey housing, and major intersections including East Club Blvd and Dearborn.
2. Because transit funding can only address the needs for sidewalk improvements within a very short distance of a bus stop, we call for the County and City governments to provide the funding needed for sidewalks, bus stops and bike lanes that will allow these underserved communities of color and economically transit-dependent neighborhoods to have safe, ADA-compliant sheltered bus stops in their neighborhoods. Diverse neighborhood groups should be established to advise and oversee development of this infrastructure.
3. We believe that Durham needs a transit system with frequent, reliable bus service that serves the whole Durham community well with connections to fast passenger rail transit to other major job and activity centers, starting with the Research Triangle Park and Wake County. Simply put, Durham will not meet its transportation challenges in the next two decades until it has both an excellent local bus system and regional passenger rail transit.
All Durham residents should have ready access to the estimated 65% or more of the new jobs created regionally in the coming 20 years. This is a key transit equity and economic justice concern, and all Durham residents should have access to our region’s economic opportunities. Also, today an estimated 30,000 Durham residents who do have cars sit in congested traffic many workdays while trying to reach their jobs in Wake County. Those who do not have cars are burdened by the time it takes with public transit to reach these job centers. These problems will only grow worse in coming years.
Durham can help our region begin to provide the rail transit that is needed here and elsewhere to address our climate change crisis. Finally, a failure to begin now to address the need for fast, safe rail connections in our region will mean at least another generation will pass before even a start can be made.
We understand that a passenger rail project will require at least four years of planning and then two years of construction, and we call for substantial new bus services to be implemented in the early years of the Transit Plan while also providing funding for the rail planning work needed. We can do both, and we should do both.