By Nick Nunn
A dozen Morgan County citizens expressed concern about the performance of African-American students at Morgan County schools during a Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) District 1 town hall meeting held at Calvary Baptist Church on Friday, July 26.
Erica Veasley, the representative for District 1 on the BOE, began the meeting by describing some of the training sessions that she has attended since being voted into her seat on the BOE last November, including the required 15 hours of training for all new board members.
Talk turned quickly, however, to how the Morgan County School System is able to meet the needs of African-American students.
“Are our children getting enough time studying?” asked Veasley. “I’m worried that our children aren’t studying enough.”
Veasley recommended that parents use the tools at hand, including agendas and Parent Portal, an electronic service available to parents of Morgan County students that allows the parents to monitor their children’s attendance records and grades, but she acknowledged that sometimes isn’t enough.
“I don’t think we had a single African-American student in advanced… classes,” said Veasley about the advanced classes at Morgan County High School last year.
Kate Jackson, who stated during the meeting that she was a teacher for 35 years, said that the problem lies with the teachers not understanding the needs of African-American students.
“You’re got to throw the love out to them that they want,” Jackson said. “Any child can learn if they get the right amount of attention.”
“Some of the black children don’t know how to deal with the other race,” continued Jackson. “Somebody’s got to reach out to them.”
Minnie Peek, who held a position on the Board of Education for 12 years, turned the finger back to the students, claiming that the students often do not give the teacher the attention they deserve.
“The teacher can do but so much,” said Peek.
Jackson stated again that the education of the child is chiefly the teacher’s responsibility.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to do more,” said Jackson. “You should understand why the child is not learning.
Sylvia Jordan, a grandmother with six grandchildren in the school system currently, brought in the role of the community in education.
“The statistical data is there,” said Jordan, referring to perceived below-average testing scores by African-American students. “We need to make a change.”
Sylvia Gilbert jumped in to assure those present that the community can and has been able to assist struggling African-American students perform better on tests.
“It can be done,” said Gilbert.
Avery Jackson, member of the Morgan County Board of Elections, asked Veasley if the BOE had any plans in place to increase the number of African-American teachers and administrators working for the Morgan County School System.
Veasley stated that she was not aware of any such plan.
“You’ve given me food for thought,” said Veasley.