State Senator Seth Harp’s School Merger Plan Gets National Attention

    Republican Georgia State Senator Seth Harp of Midland, a Columbus, Georgia suburb, may not get anywhere with his proposal, but he is getting a lot of attention in the big national newspapers in the country.  His plan to merge two historically black colleges with two historically white ones in Albany and  Savannah to save  a  lot of money, and further reduce racial segregation in state-run colleges and universities,  raises some interesting questions. 

State of Georgia)

Georgia State Senator Seth Harp, Republican, Georgia Senate District 29 (Courtesy: State of Georgia)

   Harp, who is chair of the State Senate Higher Education Committee, wants to merge historically black Albany State University with historically white  Darton College, and historically black Savannah State with Armstrong Atlantic, which is predominantly white.  He says it will go a long way toward cutting expenses, which is going to have to be done because the state faces a $2 billion deficit.  

  He is getting a lot of flack from supporters of the predominantly black  state institutions of higher learning who complain merging the schools would end their historic identity. Harp told me he doesn’t understand the complaint because  Albany State University and Savannah State University would be the names of the new universities.  It will simply mean that the student bodies would be merged. 

    This story is getting attention in big papers like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others.  It does raise an interesting question. If racial integration America’s public schools, something supported by black civil rights leaders for a very long time, is the ideal, why hold on to the racial identities of state-supported predominantly black universities?

  Senator Harp says, “It would be a big step in ending racial segregation in state-run schools.  Not only that, we want to improve academic performance in the schools, because I want all of Georgia’s young people, of all races and creeds, to be properly prepared to have productive,  successful lives.”

  It appears that the State Board of Regents is not interested in Harp’s plan and does not have it on its agenda. But, that hasn’t stopped Harp. He plans to keep pressing his point.  He says he is getting a lot of support for the idea from blacks and whites alike, and points out that Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Pulitzer Prisze winning editorial page winner Cyhthia Tucker, who is black, supports his plan.   She wrote, “Institutions supported by taxpayers should be diverse, educating men and women of all colors and creeds.  There is no longer good reason for public colleges that are all-white or all-black.”

   That makes sense to me.   As far as the economic element in this delima,  saving money by such things as mergers that possibly improve the shools…well, that makes sense to me, also.   The big cuts are coming.  Sen. Harp told me that when the legislature goes into session in three weeks, “It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

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2 Responses to “State Senator Seth Harp’s School Merger Plan Gets National Attention”

  1. Julie Says:

    Hello! My name is Julie Storing, and I work for the Oxford American magazine. I am currently verifying facts and quotes in an article for our upcoming issue about the financial and educational troubles of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The article has the Seth Harp quote “It would be a big step in ending racial segregation in state-run schools. Not only that, we want to improve academic performance in the schools, because I want all of Georgia’s young people, of all races and creeds, to be properly prepared to have productive, successful lives.” I have been unable to locate this quote in any other publication, and I was wondering where you got it from. Was it said at a press conference? Did you interview Seth Harp yourself? If you could let me know, it would help me tremendously.

    Thank you!

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