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"Intestinal fortitude" is not all it is cracked up to be
posted September 13, 2007
OPINION – The hiring of Dr. Mary Rice
Crenshaw as the new superintendent of schools for Edgefield County on a
racial line vote has drawn the ire of a majority of Edgefield County
parents and educators. School Board member James Bibbs stated that Dr.
David Mathis did not have the “intestinal fortitude” to implement the
changes the black school board members seek for the school district.
Changes? With Strom Thurmond reaching record high SAT scores above
National average and PACT scores also
gaining ground, what possible
changes could the school board want to make?
Former Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Mathis, who along with former
Superintendent Sharon Keesley, worked tirelessly to raise standards and
encourage students to reach higher goals than the year before, and it
That, evidently, is not the direction School Board members James Bibbs,
Mary Alice Jackson, Viola Jackson, and Chairwoman Sallie Cooks want to
take our schools in the future. If that is true then Dr. Mary Rice
Crenshaw is just the person for the job. Her track record shows she can
lower test scores and performance levels in districts under her
In the past few years the school board has filled leadership positions
with minority applicants over better-qualified white applicants. Though
they consistently refute the accusations, including the hiring of
Myrtis Brightharp (Chairwoman Sallie Cooks sister-in-law), the most
recent vote erases any doubt in the minds of Edgefield County residents.
With the report of the hiring of Dr. Crenshaw over Edgefield County’s
own 25-year veteran Dr. David Mathis on Wednesday EdgefieldDaily.com
received a record number of emails and Wandering Minds comments and
only one seemingly supported the actions of the
four black members of the school
More telling is those that identified themselves as being a minority
took the greatest efforts to distance themselves from the minority
board members. These included educators, taxpayers, and parents. One
wrote, “Since Sallie Cooks was elected she has done more to eviscerate
the great strides Edgefield County has made over the years in race
relations in our schools. It is shameful and repulsive.”
Others have suggested walk-outs, strikes, sick-outs, and even lawsuits
to rectify the situation. Sadly, none are viable options as school
board members are elected to office and the only available alternative
is to remove them from office at the ballot box.
It is true that a sick-out by teachers in the district could bring
national attention to the discourse and disconnect the black school
board members have with the majority of educators, administrators, and
parents in the county, both black and white. However, it would have
little effect. Such a drastic action would only cause a change in
course by shaming those responsible into revoking the offer to Dr.
Crenshaw. However, you can only shame those who have dignity and a
conscious – something the four black members of the Edgefield County
School seem to lack.
We just have to ask School Board member James Bibbs: how much
"intestinal fortitude" does it take to hire someone based on race
rather than leadership abilities and academic achievement under their
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