By: Roy Douglas Malonson
First they wanted to deny us, now they want to blame us. Since the dawn of time, white folks have been trying to oppress Black folks from obtaining any advancement in this country. And as usual, they twist the narrative to fit their agenda, no matter how ignorant it could be.
Case and point.
A newly-elected Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District school board member should have shut his mouth when he made the disparaging remarks about Black students and Black educators, particularly in the Houston area.
Last week, the Cy-Fair ISD board was reviewing a recently-released report from the district evaluating equity and diversity among teachers and administrators when board trustee Scott Henry made extremely and unmistakably racist allegations against Black educators, in essence, blaming them for low performance or drop-out rates among students.
“Do you know what the statewide average for Black teachers is? Ten percent. I looked it up. Houston ISD, which y’all used as a shining example, you know what their average number of percentages for Black teachers is? Thirty-six percent. I looked that up. You know what their drop-out rate is? Four percent. I don’t want to be four percent,” Henry said. “I don’t want to be HISD. I want to be a shining example, I want to be the district standard. I want to be the premium place where people go to be.”
And like most people with “privilege,” he said these words bold, outright and in a roomful of attendees, knowing the entire board session was being recorded for record.
After that recording was released to the public via Youtube, the backlash was severe and swift.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo sounded off immediately, calling for Henry to resign.
“As a product of Cy-Fair ISD, I’m appalled by Board Member Scott Henry’s insinuation that more Black teachers lead to more dropouts,” Hidalgo posted on Twitter. “Divisiveness and racism are what’s hurting our students. Not diversity. Resign.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner echoed her sentiments.
“I was deeply saddened and offended to hear the comments made by @CyFairISD School District Board Member Scott Henry. His comments are unacceptable, and I recommend that he resign immediately,” Turner tweeted. “Suggesting that having more Black teachers in a school district can create an increase in the dropout rate or a decline in classroom achievement is despicable. The rich diversity that resides in our city and region unites us more than ever. We should not tolerate those who seek to divide, but rather work with everyone to ensure equal opportunities of educational access for all.”
With such a hateful statement, NAACP Houston held a press conference, calling for immediate action to be taken against Henry.
“The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School Board must vote to condemn his views. Voters and parents should unite to call for his resignation,” NAACP Houston President Dr. James Dixon said.
Henry tried to clean things up, claiming his words were taken out of context and he was merely bringing up those statistics in order to defend the teachers from a political organization who made the negative claims, and he was trying to prove they were wrong. He also attempted to pull the sympathy card saying his family had become the target of threats.
“Any suggestion that I said more Black teachers leads to worse student outcomes is a lie, and those spreading it should be ashamed of themselves,” Henry said.
Nikki Cowart, president of the Cy-Fair American Federation of Teachers, said there was no mix-up and his words were out of line.
“Scott Henry’s statements at Monday’s School Board meeting are ignorant and appalling, and he should resign immediately. Henry falsely equated lower student performance with Black teachers—something unfounded and vile, but not unexpected since he ran his campaign for trustee on the notion that we shouldn’t ever be talking about racism in schools. And yet, he’s happy to exemplify racist opinions from the dais of a school board meeting,” Cowart said in a released statement.
Cowart further admonished, “It’s time for Scott Henry to go—to prevent another embarrassing and hurtful display of ignorance, racism, and incompetence. It’s time for him to resign, because he clearly can’t help inspire a diverse population of our kids in Cy-Fair schools after his pathetic rant against providing opportunities for all students.”
While Cy-Fair ISD board did not take swift action, Henry’s employer did. He was employed as a sales manager for an IT company, Splunk, but as part of the “cancel culture” of today, the company dropped him fast, distancing his words and thoughts from what they stand for.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to Splunk’s values and mission. We are deeply committed to DEI and take these concerns seriously,” Splunk posted on social media. “We viewed the employee’s conduct as inconsistent with who we are as Splunkers and the individual is no longer employed by our company.”
The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) called for Henry to issue an apology for his remarks.
“Mr. Henry chose to obfuscate the recommendations of a District-commissioned report,” said ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark B. Toubin. “Then he blamed an ‘out of state political organization,’ for his comments, claiming he was just defending the district against the organization’s ‘attack.’ Mr. Henry should apologize and work toward a better understanding of the value of diversity and its importance to the success of schools, businesses, and communities like the city of Houston.”
But do we really need his apology? The half-baked lie he told saying his words were taken out of context shows he is not a man of integrity. He “said what he said” and it is all on video, and he was clear with his words, position and thoughts about Black educators.
Now, it is up to you to ask yourself, ‘What are you going to do to ensure these types of people no longer sit on boards that govern your children’s education?’
VOTE in every election and FOR EVERY SCHOOL BOARD POSITION!
ATTEND school board meetings to see what they are really saying about your kids.
REMEMBER, sometimes a camera is not always running, and people like Henry are always maneuvering themselves in powerful positions so they can put a halt to the advancement of our Black youth. Don’t let them get away with it!