Arlington NAACP officials, citing poor test scores and a paucity of black educators in county schools, yesterday accused county officials of systematically denying black students their educational rights and showing "open resentment" to them.
In a sharply worded statement, the 500-member NAACP branch also attacked the county board's Republican majority for refusing to name a black county school board member. The branch said the Republicans are pursuing a pathe closely aligned with practices prior to desgregation of public schools."
The group's attack on Arlington schools won surprising support from county board vice chairman Walter L. Frankland Jr., the only official the NAACP criticized by name in its three-page statement. Frankland said he agreed that black have suffered under the current school board but predicted that his school board appointee would chage that.
"Nobody on the school board for eight years has addressed that issue (of black academic performance)," Frankland said in an interview yesterday. Low test scores by black students who comprise 15 percent of the Arlington school enrollment, "are of deep concern to me," he said.
Test scores released last fall show that a hinger percentage of black ninth-grade students failed competency math and reading tests than students in any other ethnic group in the system.
Arlington School Superintendent Larry Cuban acknowledged yesterday the black acores illustrate "a descrepancy that must be dealt with." But he rejected NAACP charges that the county is attempting to shunt minority students into remedial and vocational programs.
He said a remedial program the county developed after the test scores were announced represents an effort to help black students. "On the one hand we being criticized for grouping children who need help and on the other hand, we are being criticized for doing nothing," Cuban said.
Cuban rejected allegations that blacks are underrepresented in the system's faculty, saying that approximately 12 percent of the school staff is black, about the same percentage as blacks in the school enrollment.
The NAACP charges came on the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision outlawing segregated public school systems, a point that Arlington Branch president William Cassell Bulter noted. "It is surprising and aomewhat discouraging to find that after 25 years localities are still dragging their feet," Bulter said. "It seems to be happening right here."
The @naacp officials urged Arlington to scrap a remedial program called "8-plus" in favor of increased tutoring "like the high-intensity language training so diligently provided (by the county) for foreign students."
At a school board meeting last night, seveal black parents criticized the remedial program.
"The 8-plus program will not prepare my child to get mainstreamed into high school or to pass comptency tests," said Lessie Hicks. "Instead, it will frustrate him, label him as a potential dropout and give him the ride of his life - bused four times a day to and from this program. We are tired of the political and racial games being played here."
Cuban said the program is "an alternative, an option. It is not mandatory. Students who fail one or two courses can make them up in summer school, but for those who fail, (the 8-plus program) is an option to repeating the entire. . . grade over again. This program is not worth an abortion; it is worth a try."
After the board meeting, Bulter said he would recommend that the NAACP chapter support the program. "I think there was some misunderstanding over this. Now it has been explained to us, I coud support this."
At the meeting, board member Torrill Floyd asserted: "The last thing this board means to do is to discriminate against black students. Perhaps we haven't explained enough about school competency tests. I know there may be traces of discrimination in the school system, as there are in the society. But we are trying to change this."
Earlier, at an NAACP press conference, Bulter attacked last week's controversial appointment of retired school administrator O. U. Johansen to replace Thomas L. Penn, the only black on the five-member school board.
"The (Republican-backed) majority on the Arlington County Board is not concerned with adequate representation of blacks on county boards," Bulter said, warning that NAACP will "carefully scrutinize" cadidates in commitment to equal representation and civil rights."
Frankland, who has criticized The Washington Post for its coverage of the school board appointment, said yesterday that he realized that the county board would be criticized for replacing the only black school board member with a white before the appointment was made.
Frankland continued his attack on the hewspaper at yesterday's Metro board meeting, where he represents Arlignton. In a prepared statement, he said the paper performed a "political and personal hatchet job" on him by publishing a story which quoted black leaders as saying the school board appointment was recist.
Frankland, who had said "with a black on the school board for eight years Arlington's school system has gone down," said he dicided to speak out on the issue to "correct the personal damage" done by the Post and the convey "the real Walker Frankland."
NAACP Branch president Bulter cited Frankland's statements yesterday, saying they raised "serious questions about" the Republican board members' attitude toward blacks.