Charlotte Dem Jim Hussey addresses our School Board

Editor’s note:  Charlotte Dems associate member Jim Hussey addressed the School Board of Charlotte County at its regular public monthly meeting on June 6, 2022. He responded to negative comments made at the May meeting by a Port Charlotte resident, which led to the resignation of teacher Deven Seibert.

The School Board consists of five county-wide elected members. Each member serves a four-year term. Two of the five seats are up for election on November 8, 2022. The School Board is responsible for developing policy and appointing the Superintendent of Schools.

Good evening. My name is Jim Hussey.

I live in Babcock Ranch, but once was a tenured faculty member in the University of Alaska system, earned a doctorate in education and worked in educational measurement for 23 years in Iowa, where I also served 19 years on my local school board.

I sincerely appreciate the work you do.

At your April meeting, three students spoke. Good for them. As Iowa school board members, we were always THRILLED when kids shared their perspectives with us.

At your May meeting, the teacher who accompanied these students was criticized [from this podium which I’m speaking now]. One member of the public said the teacher should be terminated or reprimanded.

For helping these students’ government classes come alive.

Now that teacher is leaving our district. When teachers of color leave, that affects all our students, especially our students of color.

The research is clear. If Black students have just one teacher of color in elementary school, they are more likely to earn high grades in high school and graduate. We’ve just lost ground.

The Charlotte County Schools’ mission is “To promote character and competence in a positive learning culture that ensures success and inspires purpose for ALL.”

Straight students. Gay students. White teachers. Black teachers.

For ALL.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

When members of the public, or government leaders at any level, undermine our “positive learning culture” and we are silent, it gives them courage – and gives our faculty, staff and even school board members pause.

That is why I’m here tonight.

Because when people seek to intimidate others – on the playground, from this podium, or from ANY podium – they need to be challenged, not answered with silence.

Because in the end, that is what they – and our children – will remember.

Thank you, Jim Hussey, for speaking up.  Information about the School Board and its meetings can be found HERE

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