I knew there was a problem in Springfield schools but at Monday night’s Oct. 5 School Board meeting I learned how huge the problem was. With a vote of 3 to 2, the board voted down an opportunity to aid abused students who are crying out for help. Racism is rampant in our schools and is often ignored or marginalized. Last night, the vote was loud and clear – no Black Lives Matter flags would be flown from the flagpoles at any school in Springfield.
Over 100 people attended the video meeting to support the young adults who spoke about living with insults, bigotry, racist remarks, and cruel jokes thrown at them every single day. Their voices came through the pain and humiliation clearly. From day one in kindergarten in our schools, verbal abuse is the norm for colored or biracial students. Words used to demean, frighten, or control the students are whispered as they pass, said to their faces, or used to inflict pain as they tried to learn.
Teachers and parents confirmed the validity of their statements. In response, the board was as polite as a 1960s speech as they voted them down. “Your pain does not matter in our schools,” the vote proclaimed.
Teachers defended and applauded these young people and spoke the truth also. Yes, there is a huge problem in our schools, and the pain is there. Mr. Johnson, a new teacher in K-5 literacy program, recently resigned when he met the wall of discrimination. Also, rather than see a book he introduced banned because it highlighted the problem or be burned in effigy, he resigned and left. These students cannot resign.
Again and again the young people at Monday night’s meeting gave examples. They said BLM does not mean other lives matter less. They said there was no offense in that statement. It just met racism and supported the colored students. “Not in our town,” the three board members replied. Not this way. No BLM flags in our schools. This was another crushing defeat for these abused and marginalized students.
I urge you to fly the flag yourself in your own home. Or put bumper stickers or signs on your car. March with others on Main Street on Friday afternoon BLM protests. Call your school board members. Attend an AWARE student group meeting and ask how to help. Attend a Springfield Community For Change meeting. Your support would greatly help all students as well as our community.
Elizabeth A. Bailey