By Commissioner Judith Davis, Rochester City School Board
Not so jokingly, I was told when I joined the Rochester City School Board this year, as the newest Commissioner, to watch out for the fairy dust. Fairy dust is supposed to make things magically happen to one’s benefit but in the District, to the detriment of our children, fairy dust magically makes new Board members drop the pursuit of racial justice and equity.
Fairy dust does exist but it’s not glittery powder. It’s statements like, “My gosh, we’re not Bull Connor!” “It’s not THAT bad!” “The system was broken before we got here!” “Not everything is bad…concentrate on the bright spots!” “YOU talking negative is THE problem!” “Things have changed! Look at the graduation rate.” “No, we’re not where we need to be but my gosh we’re not where we were!”
These statements are generated at a pathological speed and are psychological weapons of “mind” destruction meant to minimize, rationalize, deflect, and outright deny the District is a political, economic and social order that is racist and hard to change. To be pathological means the decision to spew these statements is caused by disease or, more correctly, “dis-ease.”
The use of fairy dust is triggered by the “dis-ease,” the uncomfortability that would be caused if racial justice and equity in the District were truly realized. Go back and listen to previous School Board meetings where these statements are continually made and press conferences where recommendations from the Distinguished Education Report are downplayed.
Dr. Jaime Aquino, appointed by the New York State Commissioner of Education to provide support in improving the District’s systems, structures, and operations, as well as to address significant gaps in student services and academic performance, made it clear. The District’s prevailing political, economic or social order outputs: 1) a culture of fear and intimidation, starting at the top with the School Board and Superintendent, and spreading down through all layers of the organization, 2) a community with low expectations for its students, rooted in a deep history of institutional racism, 3) an environment where no adults are held accountable for poor performance and students held accountable for the slightest infraction and 4) an agenda whose entire focus is catering to the interests of adults.
In 2020, we need School Board members who don’t make such statements and who aren’t anesthetized into inaction believing It’s Not That Bad.
This is why, I, Judith Davis, and Andria Bryant are launching a Write-In Campaign for me to retain the seat I have on the School Board and for Ms. Bryant to gain a seat on the School Board. We know such a victory would be historic and are running by faith. We thank those who supported us in the primary and hope you will write our names in this November. We’re making a call to action to the 86% of eligible voters who did not vote in the primary to write our names in, November 5, 2019. We’re making a call to action to the 28,000 people who do not fill in anyone for School Board and are asking you to write our names in at the bottom of the ballot. We’re making a call to action to faith communities, racial equity initiatives, parents, grandparents, students and whomsoever will to assist us with spreading the word about our campaign.
Please contact us on Facebook at Andria Bryant or Judith Davis for School Board. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call us at (585) 967-2071 (Andria) or (585) 261-1180 (Judy).
I, Judith Davis, and Andria Bryant will NOT succumb to the fairy dust or be intimidated into inaction by the felt dis-ease coming from various components of the District who see transformation as a threat to the interests of adults. Dr. Aquino reported, “The foundation of creating equity within the District must begin with addressing racism.” Racism in the District IS that bad!
Judith Davis is an ordained minister. She joined the Rochester Board of Education in January, 2019. Davis is the Founder and Executive Director of At Liberty Ministries, Inc. She served as facilitator of Black and White Churches Addressing Institutional Racism which is now known as the Movement for Anti-racist Ministry and Action (MAMA)
(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)