This past Friday evening after a hard day’s work I barely had enough energy to even think about what I was going to have for dinner. Nevertheless, I gathered up enough strength to press on to a community conversation regarding a Tampa Bay Times investigation that traced the district’s role in re-segregating schools and then turning five elementary schools into the five worst schools in the state of Florida.
The forum was hosted by Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego and School Board member Rene Flowers. The meeting was very well attended; 150 or more people may have shown up to the Carter G Woodson museum. Out of all who were in attendance, only one was the parent of a student in these so-called five “Failure Factories.”
Can you believe that? Only one parent showed up! This saddens me. As a former paraprofessional in Pinellas County Schools I know firsthand the struggles that we face teaching students who are products of a failing system; for it is not the students who are failing, instead it is the racially biased, socio-economically disproportionate school system that is failing them.
The failure begins with communication. The individuals who showed up at the meeting were folks who are already engaged in the fight. The parents I spoke to about the community conversation said that they had no idea the meeting was taking place. I myself only saw it publicized through social media and by word-of-mouth. We have to create a more effective method of reaching out to the parents of students attending these struggling schools. The meeting was lots of talk, but no solutions.
It pained me to see so much discord in one place. Powerful and smart individuals who just couldn’t focus on the principle issue: saving our children’s future.
I said it once and I’ll say it again, when you fail to plan, you plan to FAIL. If the people organized peacefully to push for Brown v. Board in 1954, why can’t we put our differences aside and fix this disenfranchised educational system?
Yours in Christ,
Corey Givens, Jr.