Education commentator Diane Ravitch is calling Yevonne Brannon "one of the heroes of public education in North Carolina" for fighting taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools and for her efforts to support busing for diversity in Wake County.
In a post today on her blog, Ravitch wrtes that "public education is under siege" in North Carolina" as the state "has enacted radical privatization measures, including charters and vouchers." Ravitch writes that "North Carolinians are not standing still," pointing to the Moral Monday rallies.
"One of the stalwarts of the effort to stop the destruction of public education is Dr. Yevonne Brannon," Ravitch writes. "She is one of the leaders of Public Schools First NC, which has encouraged resistance to the extremists. She has lived in Wake County for 40 years, and has been a steadfast supporter of racial integration and quality education for all."
On Wake County, Ravitch writes that Brannon "was one of those who pushed back against efforts to resegregate the schools in 2009." Brannon is chairwoman of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, which formed after the 2009 school board elections brought in a Republican board majority.
Ravitch links to an August article from Women AdvaNCe, an institute funded by NARAL Pro-Choice NC NARAL Pro-Choice NC Foundation.
AdvaNCe quotes Brannon as saying the new conservative majority on the school board was causing the school system to "flip from one using a balanced and integrated approach to serving all children to one that was moving toward being segregated by income and race.”
"Brannon and other education advocates started a coalition, Great Schools in Wake, to push back against re-segregation efforts," writes AdvaNCe. "In partnership with social justice organizations like the North Carolina NAACP, they made sure the negative changes happening in Wake County regularly made the front-page news. Those efforts helped to create the environment for the 2011 election, in which the school board’s chairman was defeated and control of the board returned to Democrats.
Brannon says in the AdvaNCe article that her work with Great Schools opened her eyes to how "re-segregation of our school system was happening all over the state and had already happened in Charlotte and Greenville and Winston-Salem and Greensboro, with negative consequence…. It was appalling to me.”
Ravitch quotes from the section in the AdvaNCe article where Brannon says vouchers are "for the public school system as a whole, probably the worst thing that could have happened."
Brannon says voucher programs are the result of a “perfect storm” of those who are anti-government, those who want to make money off of public education, those who want religion in schools, and those who “don’t want their kids going to school with children who are not like them."
Ravitch has become a favorite with liberal groups for her criticism of school choice, standardized testing and education reform efforts backed by Eli Broad, Bill Gates and other businessmen. But liberal groups also note that Ravitch was a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush and opposes Common Core.
Ravitch is an author, historian, political commentator and research professor of education at New York University.