Individuals at Wilcox County High School and the Georgia Department of Education are working together to remove the only African-American teacher at the high school. If they are successful, the school will not have a minority teaching in a core subject. The school has made the decision not to extend a contract for next year to the only other minority teacher teaching a core academic subject at the school. Historically, a dismal number of African-American teachers have been hired by the Wilcox County Board of Education. Wilcox County High School is located in Rochelle, Georgia, which is approximately 70 miles south of Macon, Georgia.
Wilcox County High School is such a low performing academic school that it qualified for a School Improvement Grant (SIG). Visit the following address for more information about a School Improvement Grant (SIG): http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html. The Black male teacher was hired by the Wilcox County Board of Education through a School Improvement Grant to teach in the Wilcox Academy for Varied Education (WAVE). WAVE is a performance learning center and a “school within a school” serving to increase the academic achievement of high school students who are not on grade level and who have been identified as needing to benefit from the advantages of a performance learning center.
Unfortunately, the Black male teacher was not provided with any instruction about meeting the expectations of the School Improvement Grant and how to meet the expectations of a standards-based classroom. Although the Black male teacher has served as a college instructor at two prestigious research universities, this is his first year of teaching at the K -12 level.
Through the School Improvement Grant, Wilcox County High School was able to hire an English Instructional Coach and Math Instructional Coach. The following is a list of some of the primary duties of Instructional Coaches: providing teachers with model lessons, co-teaching, working one-on-one with students to offer instructional support, and providing teachers with essential resources. Unfortunately, Louise Daffin, Wilcox County High School English Instructional Coach, has not done a single model lesson, has not done any co-teaching, and has only provided approximately a month of one-on-one assistance with students in the classroom, which was during the 1st 9 Weeks grading period, while at Wilcox County High School. She has not been in the Black male teacher’s classroom helping to facilitate instruction and working one-on-one with students since the 1st 9 Weeks grading period. Louise Daffin is a White woman.
Chad Davis, Wilcox County High School Principal, was informed by the African-American male teacher that Louise Daffin was not providing model lessons, was not co-teaching, and was not working one-on-one with students in his classroom. Chad Davis is a White man. Each time the Black male teacher would report that Louise Daffin was not in his room providing him with the assistance she is supposed to offer to him Chad Davis would say, “I know. They are going to be coming in doing model lessons.” He has stated this repeatedly. Unfortunately, only several weeks of school remain and she has not been made by Chad Davis to come in and do anything in his classroom.
The two new White female teachers in the WAVE who were hired at the same as the Black male teacher have been provided with serious instructional support. Chad Davis made it available for a veteran teacher to get her schedule changed so that she can come in one of the new White female teachers’ classroom each day. The new White female Math instructor was provided with serious support and resources by the Math Instructional Coach. Ostensibly, the fact that the Black male teacher is Black did not qualify him to receive any type of instructional support that comes anywhere close to the instructional support the two new White teachers have received.
The Black male teacher was informed by Chad Davis that “SIG has defunded” him for the next academic year, even though Chad Davis has recommended to the Superintendent that the Black male teacher be hired back for the next academic year. The Black male teacher requested that he receive the reasons why he was being “defunded by SIG,” and Chad Davis said that he did not know and that the Black male teacher would have to ask Dr. Darrel May, a White man who serves as the School Improvement Specialist and works for the Georgia Department of Education. The Black male teacher’s request to receive the reasons why he has been “defunded by SIG” was granted by Chad Davis. Chad Davis arranged a meeting between the Black male teacher and Dr. Darrel May.
During the meeting, Dr. Darrel May explained the reasons for the recommendation he made to his supervisor, Bari Geeslin, a White woman who works for the Georgia Department of Education and the person who primarily oversees the SIG Grant, why the Black male teacher should be defunded. Dr. May stated based on private conferences with Louise Daffin, based on observations, the level of instruction, the fact that the Black male teacher was “argumentative during feedback,” and the fact that the Black male teacher was the only teacher in the whole school who did not follow the recommendations of veteran teachers after observations.
Dr. Darrel May has never had a single conference with the Black male teacher after conducting observations in his classroom. He walks by the Black male teacher each day and does not even speak to him. He has only sent the Black male teacher an email about what he observed in his classroom, but did not meet with the Black male teacher to discuss the observation. Chad Davis told the Black male teacher that he receives a report from Dr. May each time he observes his classroom and that he would get those observations to him. Unfortunately, Chad Davis did not send those observation reports to the Black male teacher until after the recommendation to defund him was made. There were only two observations that Chad Davis sent him via email and Chad Davis stated that was all he had concerning observations conducted by Dr. May in the Black male teacher’s classroom.
Because the Black male teacher voiced his disagreement on various issues, especially on the teaching of persuasive writing, Dr. Darrel May and Bari Geeslin thought that this Black male teacher was out of his place by disagreeing with anything they were saying. They simply wanted him to be a rubber stamp and not exercise his right of free expression/speech. When a Black man voices his opinion, it can often be perceived by a White person as not an opinion but an act of defiance. For this to still be the case in the 21st century is quite ridiculous.
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If you support this Black male teacher and believe that he has been discriminated against and his right to free expression/speech has been violated, and that he should not be defunded by SIG, then email the following people and express your support for the Black male teacher at Wilcox County High School: Chad Davis, Principal of Wilcox County High School at firstname.lastname@example.org, Steve Smith, School Superintendent at email@example.com, Louise Daffin, English Instructional Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr. Darrel May, School Improvement Specialist and Georgia Department of Education employee at email@example.com, and Bari Geeslin, SIG supervisor for Wilcox County High School and Georgia Department of Education employee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are near Rochelle, Georgia, come to Wilcox County High School and voice your support for the Black male teacher in person to Chad Davis. Let’s not allow this serious injustice to go unpunished and unexposed!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison