Commentary: Changing times at the school board

English Bradshaw

Commentary: Changing times at the school board
December 20
03:25 2018

By English Bradshaw

Last week I boldly witnessed right before my diminishing eyesight, the vaporization of the shelf life of a privileged educational panel which has shepherded untold shameful years of low student success and achievement among minority students. The change we saw had a Taoist and Ecclesiastes coloration, which in the course of human events, seemingly nothing is done, yet nothing is left undone. Time reclaims its purpose and being human is no excuse. As I sat and listened to the shrill and veneer claims of success under the stewardship of “experienced” leadership, which rewarded an empty administrative leader with a two-year extension and pay raise while teachers scrambled for crumbs from the table tops for a one-time “bonus hit,” and parents in East Winston still facing the decision as to which is the best failing school to send their child. C’mon Y’all! It is long overdue for a change.

Although we had our moment of glee with the assumption of control of the School Board by “newcomers and females” – so what – it is encumbered upon us to embrace this change with clear eyes and understanding and be prepared for what real change looks like under bold leadership because if we really want fullness, we first must make emptiness.

Noticeably, our new board chair touts “equity and teachers” grand slam!  And so, I would recommend that we dig into the dust bins of our educational history and wipe away the cobwebs of a very key document penned by James S. Coleman, et al, at Johns Hopkins University, commonly known as the Coleman Report, 52 years ago in response to Section 402 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This report details the degree of segregation of minority students and teachers and the relationship between students’ achievement as achievement tests and the kinds of schools they attend. Educational quality is assessed in terms of curriculums offered, school facilities, textbooks, laboratories, and libraries. It also included academic practices such as testing for aptitude for the achievement and attitude for the personal. Most importantly, it addressed social and academic characteristics of the teachers and the student bodies in the schools.

Careful reading will disclose that the old ways of student measurements of success by states was the number and quality of the monuments of bricks and mortar emblazed in memoriam to esteemed citizens. Equality or access was ushered in to address this issue with monuments being constructed in less desired communities with a modicum of top down integration where sprinklings of whites were integrated into predominantly black schools and vice versa with a modicum of blacks into predominantly white schools.

The world of education had not given birth to the embryo of equity deeply rooted in the Coleman Report when it  gave  credence to the  quality of what takes place within those emblazoned monuments, like curriculum, teachers, texts, etc. And so, the mustard seed of equity is now being nurtured. It is crucial that there is a clear understanding of the difference between equality and equity. Gracefully illustrated: a greyhound crossing the finish line ahead of the Chihuahua in a dog race does not represent equity.

The new board must address this forthwith and rest in comfort with the knowledge that the community stands ready to provide all its resources and support to assist you.

English Bradshaw is a retired educator who lives in Winston-Salem.

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