A Message From The Publisher
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
Over the last two weeks, I have focused on the reorganization of leadership in Broward County Public Schools. With 41 percent of Broward students identifying as Black, one would assume that Superintendent Cartwright would be actively looking for candidates to advocate for what is educationally sound for Black students. It is not enough to have Black teachers or even Black principals. While the work of Black teachers and principals is extremely valuable to the experience of Black children, there must be representation at the highest levels of the organization where policy decisions are being made and where decisions about how money to support schools and programs are spent.
Representation matters because Black students continue to be overrepresented in data like suspensions, arrests, and special education placements and underrepresented in gifted and advance placement opportunities. Black students continue to struggle to graduate at the same rate as their white peers. The majority of third grade retentions are Black students. For these reasons, Black representation at the highest levels of the district cannot be ignored.
Yes, the superintendent has to be held accountable, and we as voters and concerned citizens must do our part. There are opportunities for representation at the highest levels to be filled by qualified Black and culturally sensitive persons. With the departure of Dr. Rosalind Osgood to the State Senate, there are NO Blacks on the school board! Five of the nine school board seats are open this November including three Black males: Antonio Burgess, Jeff Holness and Jimmy Witherspoon and two Black females: Ruth Carter Lynch and Gloria Lewis. Both have thrown their hats into the race for District 5.
Current School Board Member Ann Murray is retiring and a Black, well qualified male, Paul Wiggins, has filed for the open District 1 seat. Wiggins has three opponents, one being the daughter of Ann Murray, Marie Murray Martin.
At large Board member, Donna Korn of District 8, is being challenged by the current student representative to the school board, Raymond Adderly III. Adderly is a young, Black male high school senior currently attending Fort Lauderdale High. Adderly is making his rounds on and showing that he can make a positive impact. One other candidate has declared in this race with Adderly and Korn.
The seats of Board Chair, Laurie Rich Levinson of District 6, Nora Rupert of District 7 and Lori Alhadeff of District 4 are also on the November ballot. Levinson has not yet declared and Rupert and Alhadeff have one opponent each who has declared.
But, please don’t get it twisted, as grandmama nim use to say, “All Black skin ain’t necessarily kin”. Black representation doesn’t rest with the color of skin or the box checked on the Census form or with those who photo opt with Black people. We cannot have just any Black person in these positions. Black representation cannot be compromised by the promise of a greater position or financial compensation or those who go along to get along. We must ensure that they are valiantly representing the interests of our children, understanding that those students with less need more. They must be willing to put Black student needs before their desires as well as to support the advancement of other Blacks in the organization. Cowards and sycophants are not welcomed in the field of education. We need strong sisters and brothers who do not operate with an attitude of fear or ones who put their needs above the needs of the community they hail from and the students and employees they serve. Please don’t get caught up in the sentiments of Brown vs Board of Education with the trapping language of, “all deliberate speed”. This lack of concrete and precise time continues to give those who want the status quo to remain allows ambiguity to live on in suppression and the opportunity to perpetuate organized resistance.
Black representation means that we have someone at the table who is fiercely advocating for the needs of Black children and employees. Black representation means being uncompromising in the pursuit of equity. We support Black representation that will dream like Martin, fight like Malcom, lead like Harriet, challenge like Rosa, inspire like Obama and record our history like Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm, co-founders of Freedom’s Journal .
The Westside Gazette is watching.