‘It is an insult to our community to treat us with such disdain and disrespect. Why can’t we have a meeting at Melrose Elementary or some other school site in our community that is accessible to parents and community members alike,’ asked Dr. Goliath Davis.
BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, Ph.D., Contributor
PINELLAS COUNTY — The Pinellas School District is currently involved in two lawsuits regarding the achievement gap. One is a federal suit (Bradley), and the other is a state suit (Crowley). The two organizations representing the plaintiffs (black children) are the NAACP and COQEBS (Concerned Organizations for the Quality Education of Black Students).
They worked with the district to develop the Bridging the Gap Plan to address the achievement gap by implementing strategies and programs designed to enhance the performance of Black scholars in ways that will close the gap between Black and white student performance. Needless to say, the data has not met expectations.
While the district boasts about increased Black graduation rates utilizing concordance scores, the truth, as I have indicated in previous writings, is that Black students are graduating with inferior diplomas, reading scores are horrific, and discipline and arrest rate disparities continue to alarm.
Superintendent Mike Grego’s tenure has been a mixed bag. He deserves credit for his ability to work collaboratively with the NAACP and COQEBS to develop the Bridging the Gap Plan, his creation of the Transformation Zone, and his accessibility. He recently announced his retirement, triggering a search for his replacement.
Ironically, the process outlined for the search is a slap in the face to the African-American community, the NAACP, COQEBS, and the elected African-American school board member.
Three meetings were held to allow community members and parents to voice their desires regarding Grego’s replacement’s qualities. Ironically, despite requests and recommendations, no meetings were held in the African-American community, despite the lawsuits and the proliferation of troubled schools in south St. Petersburg.
The elected African-American school board member has not been afforded an opportunity for her constituents to be treated equally to the north and mid-Pinellas County communities.
I would venture to say that Dr. Grego, who has demonstrated his political astuteness during his tenure, did not make the decision. The school board hires and fires superintendents, so this is undoubtedly their issue to resolve.
The placement of computers at school sites for our community is not the same as allowing us an opportunity for face-to-face interaction. Given the status of the achievement gap and disciplinary disparities, I can fully understand why some board members may not want to face the music.
However, it is an insult to our community to treat us with such disdain and disrespect. Why can’t we have a meeting at Melrose Elementary or some other school site in our community that is accessible to parents and community members alike?
The political landscape and environment are changing with the constant drumbeat of “Make America Great Again.” So much so that those in power don’t even pretend to care about what people of color think or want.
If the residents and parents in north county (Countryside High), mid-county (Pinellas Park High), and south county (St. Petersburg High) can have a meeting, why can’t Midtown? After all, we will present the new superintendent with a host of challenges.
Shouldn’t we have an opportunity to have equal input in the selection process? Hey board members, it’s time to schedule a fourth meeting.