Rick Hood: Amherst commitment to school equity real, growing

Last modified: Thursday, July 17, 2014
AMHERST — The Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee did the right thing by meeting this week. Dr. Amilcar Shabazz did the right thing by apologizing at that meeting. But there is more to be said about this.

This situation was not a failure of the chairs of the committees; it was a failure of the entire committee. What we were objecting to is the fact that the regional school committee did not review the July 3 memo that was sent out to the task force by the chairs.

But it needs to be stated that we had been told (on June 26) that the task force would be notified about what occurred at the June 18 meeting. In that email to the school committee, it was said that we would discuss it in executive session that night.

We did not do so, as it was determined that was not something we could meet in executive session about. Thus, we never discussed it. On July 3 the memo went out. While many of us believe that the memo should not have gone out without our review, we did not follow up to ask how the task force was going to be notified.

Thus, we all bear some responsibility for the way this was handled.

This situation had nothing to do with Superintendent Maria Geryk or her administration. In fact, just the opposite is true. What is so disappointing about this past year is that during the same period that we have seen a number of high-profile racial incidents occur, more work is going on within the school system to try to work on issues of equity and racism than ever before.

I have been on the school committee a little over four years now. Not a long time, but it makes me the member who has been on the committee the longest.

There is a clear difference from four years ago. There are more people within the school system who really understand the problem than ever before and there are more people working on it than ever before.

I know that people who have wanted to see change in this area for a long time — much longer than four years — are very, very tired of waiting. I understand that — or as best as I can, since I do not stand in their shoes.

But to finally get there, we must stand together to support and augment efforts already underway.

Rick Hood lives in Amherst and is a member of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee. Hood said the views he expresses are his own and do not speak for the committees.