The N&O's Steve Ford pens a great editorial on Northern influence over Southern education trends:
If you moved here from the Northeast, you might have brought your own set of progressive values. But you would have seen racial tensions in your former home that were a corrosive force many communities were ill-equipped to deal with.
The tendency back there was for municipalities to wall themselves off, typically on the basis of income. Inner-city riots, crime and general social dysfunction made the cities and their residents seem threatening. With school systems tied to municipalities, not counties, residents of affluent towns didn't (and still don't) need to think about having poor kids in their children's classrooms.
It's not surprising that folks moving to Wake County from such places would bring with them a certain set of attitudes and expectations. And that when they got here, many would settle in the newer suburbs of Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Wake Forest, if not the sprawling stretches of North Raleigh.
During my second hitch in the Army, I came up on orders assigning me to recruiting duty. Leaving my beloved Ft. Bragg, I was trained and then assigned to a post in a near-West suburb of Chicago. A suburb that turned out to be one of the most racist I'd ever encountered, and I've encountered quite a few in my time.
If anyone reading this is familiar with military recruiting, you know that high schools are considered the primary source for recruitment. Recent graduates and high school seniors are your target market, and school annuals are one of the tools of the trade. So when I got myself situated at my desk and flipped through the most recent annual for the high school I'd been assigned, I soon noticed something missing: brown faces. Not a single one in the entire school.
I would come to find out later that race was a city-wide issue, with landlords and police and city council members all acting in concert to keep blacks and hispanics out, and merely driving through the city was enough to get a minority pulled over by the cops. It was, in a word, unsettling. And because I was a white male Southerner, they thought I was the greatest thing since sliced (white)bread, until I told them just how backwards they were. Then I just "didn't understand" the situation, because I came from a different background.
You know, I really do wish racism was limited to the South, because it would be much easier to deal with. But it's not.