Speaking for the staff
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some comments I made to Josh Adams, editor of the Forest Park Review. I spoke with Mr. Adams last Friday about an article he was writing in regard to the Developmental Center proposal and AYP. He published this article in the Review, entitled “Simple as Black and White?”
First of all, many times during our conversation I told Mr. Adams that I could not and would not speak on behalf of the Garfield parents. I would only feel comfortable making comments from my point of view and as the leader of this building for my staff. If he wanted parent comments, he needed to contact the parents directly.
In regards to:
“Garfield Heights” and “the ugly step-child” – The term Garfield Heights has been around for as long as I have worked (19 years) in this district. In fact each school has been dubbed with a name by certain district staff members. My response to Mr. Adams’ question about Grant-White was it was “the forgotten child or step-child of the district.” Again, this is a district staff term, not one given by parents. Because of the good things happening at Grant-White, this “name” is no longer true. The school community and staff have worked hard to raise expectations and meet those expectations over the last few years.
“Racial prejudice” – While we did speak of race, those exact terms were never used. What I did say to Mr. Adams, was that I wanted him (Mr. Adams) and the community to know that Garfield School is made up of 30 percent to 40 percent Caucasian students and 30 percent to 40 percent African-American students and never once have we had a racial issue. We teach diversity and tolerance to all students from an early age with our Character Counts! program.
“Tension” – When speaking of race, I did say that I feel there are certain times when there is an underlying current in the questions or comments people make. This primarily happens when notifying families that the student(s) enrolled will need to attend Grant-White. Comments such as, “my child’s not going to that school,” or “my child’s not going to school with those kids,” tend to send a message of fear in sending their child(ren) to school with majority African-American students.
“Phenomenal idea” – I do think this is a good idea, educationally, for all students. As a primary teacher, I think there are great benefits to working with a larger pool of students. As a parent, too, I understand your frustration with logistics, sense of community, and change. I think that together, we as a school community and district community can make great things happen if this proposal is passed by the School Board.
I truly believe that one’s perception is their reality. I think it is so important to take those perceptions and find the facts within to determine if it is a true reality. This is why attending the Town Hall meetings is so important for each parent to get the facts so we can move forward with whatever decision the School Board makes.
I have worked in this school community for a very long time. I truly love Garfield School and the sense of community and home we have all worked so hard to create. I hope the clarifications I have shared will ease the anger I am sure many of you felt when you either read or heard about Mr. Adams’ article.
If you would like to speak further, please feel free to call or email me at the school.
Principal, Garfield Elementary