Refusing to listen to the community they represent, endorsing dummy diplomas for students, and ending 53 years of federal protection is just the short list for these board members.
Monroe’s four black city school board members should all step aside and not seek re-election this year; they have failed our community miserably.
The City school board is the policy-making body for the Monroe City School District, but this board has turned a deaf ear to the Black community during its tenure so each of the four Black members should bow out because they are to blame for failing our community in several areas.
The board members: Rodney McFarland, Brenda Shelling, B.J. Johnson, and Daryl Berry have worked in concert to cripple our community educationally for decades to come.
ALL FOUR OF THEM have supported, without question, and even praised the Diploma for Dummies program that began under their tenure. The Diploma for Dummies program is a scheme that began under former Governor Bobby Jindal to channel poor students into a career path that results in a high school diploma that has less value than a GED. It gives the state a chance to brag that it has increased graduation rates by passing out watered down “career” diplomas that provide low wage job possibilities but are academically worthless.
This year, the first set of graduates marched across Monroe City School stages to receive the Career Diplomas that cannot be used to enter any four-year college anywhere in the United States. Students who receive the career path diplomas cannot take college prep courses but are allowed to march at graduation as if their diplomas were the “Real McCoy.”
The program is offered by the state, but local school boards can opt out of the program. This year scores of students received the worthless diplomas that believed are designed for our people “everybody doesn’t go to college.” Giving them a worthless diploma robs them of a chance to change their minds in the future.
ALL FOUR OF THEM voted to ask the federal courts to stop overseeing desegregation efforts in the district. As a result, the Federal Courts ruled the district “unitary” meaning the district can shift teachers, students, staff, and funds, anyway it pleases without the court looking over the board’s shoulder to guarantee fair play. Their action ended 53 years of federal protection that has been our community’s insurance against racism. It’s important to us because in 53 years the city school board made no attempts at fair play that were not ordered by the court.
The court was our big stick that insured that our children would be treated fairly by giving us a way to legally redress discrimination. Although over a thousand people signed petitions and wrote letters opposing the action, ALL FOUR black board members ignored them, ridiculed the NAACP, and refused to hold any public meetings to gather input. White members of the board praised McFarland for single-handedly pushing the measure through. In essence, they praised him and the other black board members for stabbing their own community in the back. History will remember this sellout vote which was not supported by a single Black community organization, Alumni or teacher’s group.
ALL FOUR REFUSED TO SEEK COMMUNITY INPUT ON IMPORTANT ISSUES: The board ignored the pleas of the community to be heard on several important issues. The Black members ignored the East Parkview residents who complained that building a new MLK School in their neighborhood would contribute to flooding and destroy their homes. Despite unanimous objection from every homeowner in the area, the board chose to proceed with the project anyway.
Former Board President Rodney McFarland went as far as to publicly humiliate members of the NAACP who came to address the board concerning the Unitary issue and refused to hear them. Not a single Black board member took action to respect the NAACP; a predominately white board would have at least listened. Similarly, Black board members voted to close Excellence Academy (Except Berry), it’s second best middle school, without seeking input from its parents, faculty or the general public. It only listened to school officials themselves because of a Federal Court order.
This is the short list; it is much longer.
Black Board members should step down. Why just the Black members? Well, the white board members represent their districts and got everything they wanted in spite of having a black majority. They gave the Negroes dummy diplomas and got the Federal Courts off their back
They pulled it off; cudos.
The black board members ignored their districts, passed out watered down high school diplomas, and gave away the community’s big stick.
They shouldn’t even think about running for re-election, or for any other position. Ever.
They sold us out…big time!!