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Editorial

"Intestinal fortitude" is not all it is cracked up to be


web 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 the 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 worked.

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 leadership.

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 board.

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 leadership?









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