Council member: Troy has a problem

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Troy, Alabama we have a problem. As a matter of fact, we have quite a few problems. I am highly interested in the problems in our “so-called” non failing public schools. The problems must be addressed for the betterment of our children as well as our community as a whole. My family are products of the Troy City Schools along with most of my associates. However, my young granddaughter will not be.

The current student population in the Troy City School system is mostly African Americans sometimes referred to as being mostly black and brown (Hispanic) especially at the elementary level. Yes, I’m writing this just as you are reading this. These black and brown students participate in classrooms of mostly caucasian (white) female teachers. Some of these teachers have never been in the low income areas, projects or public housing, unless maybe forced to under certain circumstances, and they don’t intend to go. Some of them are openly against and really do not like black males, and are disrespectful to most people of color, like me. How do I know? I lived and breathed this racist environment for many years at Troy Elementary School. I was allowed to teach an all black and brown classroom of students, but the white parents didn’t make many requests for me so that affected the numbers.

I’m told that all parents are provided the opportunity to request a particular teacher for their specific child and/or children. All parents may also request that certain students be placed with their buddies in the same classrooms. Some claim these practices take place in a lot of places. The places (school systems) nearby don’t participate in these type practices because they want an effective, fair school system. Besides, what kind of message are you sending to the teachers? You are good enough to teach little black Jamari, but not enough to teach little qhite Gracie Mary along with all the other students!

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Our great local university boasts of being international, yet we lack diversity in the classrooms in the Troy City schools. Why are all students not getting the chance to learn in a racial, cultural and socio-economically diverse classroom in Troy, Alabama? The black and brown students at Troy Elementary School are targeted for all black and brown classrooms. If an African-American teacher happens to be on a particular grade level she usually gets these students. Not only are classes all black and brown, some are serious behavioral issues. Yes, some students and parents have serious behavioral issues. I believe it’s not really their fault. Some seem to think behavior issues are a black and brown thing. Not!

It’s very unfortunate that we still live in such a Rush Limbaugh mentality, anti- President Obama society in this City and State of Alabama that we refuse to let racism go. Maybe a little time should be spent observing the attitudes and actions some of our young people take when we try to keep our races separate. Furthermore, I never encouraged my son to date anyone that didn’t look like me while at CHHS. Since I grew up in segregated Pike County, Alabama during a period of history that will always have an imprint in my mind. Yet, I strive more often than not to clinch the God given differences we all possess. Perhaps it’s hard to believe after reading this, but I have had some good White friends.

We should stop allowing any parent to request teachers at Troy Elementary School since you say “All teachers can teach and all students can learn.” We should hire and keep as many African-American teachers that apply and a classroom is available to put them in. White students need African-American teachers as well as black and brown students. Several local African American teachers are teaching in other school systems outside Troy (Pike County), Alabama because they couldn’t get a teaching job at home. Why? Because a position had to be kept open for someone coming in with the University. Why are there three (3) pre-k positions and not one African-American teacher? My granddaughter will have more diversity being home schooled. Why do you have almost ten (10) kindergarten classroom teachers, only two African-American teachers and one of them usually has an all black and brown class? This particular scene is played throughout a student’s experience at the elementary school. We should want our students racially, culturally and socio-economically diverse, since we have an “international” University in our wonderful place to live.

I take my role and responsibilities as an elected public servant to heart. The time is now to address these issues and do something about them beyond just a few words. My goal is to help lead the charge to help rid our society of the negative racist attitude too often found at the coffee club meetings, private clubs and/or the golf course. Let’s work closer together to teach all our children to live as well as embrace our differences.

Right now, sadly in 2013 Troy, Alabama is only a wonderful place for most white people to live, not most of the black and brown residents. Troy, Alabama we have a problem!

Dejerilyn King Henderson

Troy City Council, District 5