Back to School Disappointment for the Black Students in Indian River County
by Merchon Green, Founder, Pioneering Change, Inc.
I am baffled and disappointed that the Indian River County School Board’s first response in 50 years to the county’s federal desegregation order is assisting the Indian River County School District with litigating away their obligation to the black students of the Indian River County School District. There was no attempting to meet the standards of providing our black students with a quality education. There was no communication with the black community on the desegregation order. Instead, the board chose to waste tax payers dollars on a high cost litigation firm in order to buy their way out of responsibility.
The School Board’s actions show a blatant disregard for the quality of education and well being of our black students. It is disheartening to think that our School Board, the officials elected to act in the best interest of the students and to be the checks and balance of the School District, are spearheading such actions.
Not Serving All our Students
Indian River County School District’s motto is “to serve ALL students with excellence.” Bargaining on the desegregation order, as opposed to meeting and exceeding the minimal standards currently in place, shows no intent to live up to their motto.
Indian River County School District’s vision is to “educate and inspire every student to be successful.” It is not enough to say that we value every student in our school district; the administration and the board’s actions must mirror what they speak. According to FSA scores, less than 37 percent of black students are reading on grade level in elementary school. A minuscule 20 percent of black students are reading on grade level in 6th grade and just 25 percent of black students are proficient in reading in the 10th grade. Our first responsibility is to our children—all of them, as the district’s new strategic plan emphasizes. Without them, there would be no education system and no jobs for those bargaining away responsibility.
Indian River County School District’s press release stated that legal counsel analyzed historical information for the School Board and they decided to go forward based on that information. Why wasn’t this information made available to the public? The entire black community has a stake in this desegregation order because it affects the quality of education and the future of our children. We would like the District and the Board to be more transparent with their actions pertaining to the desegregation order. We also hope that there will be less litigation and more actions taken to meet the court mandated standards.
Leave No Child Behind
The School District and the Board sees the desegregation as a hurdle, while the black community sees it as hope. No child should be left behind.