The Arlington powers that be probably hoped their burg would drop out of the negative national headlines for a while, after local schools superintendent Jerry McCullough issued an apology for refusing to show President Barack Obama’s speech on education to kids in his schools. As part of that “oops,” he also cancelled plans for about 500 fifth-graders to be bused to Cowboys Stadium for an event that included an address by George W. Bush, the former White House resident whose torture-condoning, fat-cat-feeding, warmongering policies never once incited conservatives to pull their kids out of school or cover their ears.
If so, city leaders may be doomed to disappointment in that regard. True, the newly formed Fort Worth chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has called off a vigil planned for Monday at Cowboys Stadium in protest of the district’s decision on the Obama speech. But chapter president the Rev. Kyev Tatum says the vigil’s only been cancelled because the chapter has bigger plans.
“I got a call from some pastors, wanting to see what the next step is,” Tatum said. His answer: single-member districts for the Arlington school board.
Uh-oh. Arlington, which might as well write “poor people not wanted here” on its city limits signs, may have inadvertently bitten off a lump that is going to take it a while to swallow. Tatum said his SCLC chapter and the local LULAC chapter have already decided to join forces to “begin the debate” about how to get better representation in the school system for Arlington’s poor and minority citizens.
The two groups are planning a press conference for Thursday.
Tatum said that in the Arlington school district, 71 percent of the kids are minority (and 63 percent are economically disadvantaged), but only one school board member is non-white. If leadership were more diverse, he said, the superintendent might not have made the decision, in such a heavily minority district, to deny kids the chance “to see the first African-American president, who appointed the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court,” saying controversial things like urging kids to stay in school.
Tatum said some folks might not think single-member districts for the school board are the answer. “If others disagree, we want them to come forward,” Tatum said. “But that discussion has to begin.”