This isn’t us
After reading the latest edition of the newspaper, I feel compelled to make sure the community is aware that the term “low-performing schools” is not synonymous with Smithfield-Selma schools. Each time the newspaper reports complaints lodged by the Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools, the term “low-performing schools” soon follows, which creates the perception that the list is one and the same.
They are not.
In fact, in terms of growing students relative to where individual students ended the previous year, three of the top five elementary schools in the county are in the Smithfield-Selma area. While McGee’s Crossroads Elementary holds the top spot with a growth score of 92 and Polenta Elementary is at 91, Selma Elementary trails Polenta by a mere 0.8 points with a growth score of 90.2, and Wilson Mills ranks fifth with a growth score of 85.
Among the county’s 12 middle schools, Smithfield Middle holds the top position with a growth score of 92.9.
The feeder schools are growing students relative to where students performed the prior year, and it is just a matter of time for proficiency to catch up. Citizens of Smithfield and Selma should be outraged by the assumption that “low performing” means Smithfield-Selma schools.
As the principal of Selma Elementary, I am obviously biased. However, the fact that we have exceeded growth expectations for the past two years is a statement of fact, not opinion. Did you know that math scores in our dual-language classroom have consistently matched or exceeded county and state proficiency levels? Did you know that out of 24 North Carolina schools where at least 92 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, Selma had the second-highest highest growth?
Without regard to economic disadvantages, 62 public schools in North Carolina have a limited-English population similar to Selma Elementary’s. Compared to those schools, Selma ranked fifth among all public schools and fourth among elementary schools in terms of growth.
I am grateful each and every day that I get to be the principal of Selma Elementary School. I work alongside the best teachers in the county, and I fed up with seeing them demoralized and dismissed because they are Selma teachers. The progress they have made with our students over the past three years is remarkable. The joy and love with which they serve our children is immeasurable. Their dedication is profoundly admirable. And why anyone would take our children from us is inconceivable. The poor will always be with us. And Selma teachers will joyfully receive them.
Principal, Selma Elementary School
The wrong message
“Smithfield-Selma schools cannot succeed without white students.” This is essentially the message from Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools.
The group’s chairwoman, Susan Lassiter, has stated that socioeconomic segregation and racial segregation in the Smithfield-Selma Schools exist because not enough white students attend those schools. Test scores in the Smithfield-Selma Schools are lower than in other Johnston County schools because Smithfield-Selma schools don’t have enough white students taking those tests. The group also blames a lack of white students for discipline problems, sub-par teachers and crumbling buildings.
Give me a break.
Forget the fact that student success starts at home; 100 percent of a student’s attitude comes from the family’s attitude. If the family focus is school success, it doesn’t much matter where they live or the percentage of white people in the classroom. But according to Mrs. Lassiter and her group, white students being present in a school somehow miraculously make the other races behave. Amazing.
Forget the fact that the housing available in the Smithfield-Selma school district is conjunctive to income made. Mrs. Lassiter wants to say that higher-income families should want to live in the Smithfield-Selma area. Is it the landlord’s fault that the family renting the trailer is not white? According to her, it is. Maybe if that same landlord were to charge three times as much for rent, then the white person would move there? Is she serious?
Students transferring out of Smithfield-Selma schools are white, according to Mrs. Lassiter’s group. Our students live in a world where their parents have a choice for their child to attend a school known for its football program, and that child has a better chance of college recruitment if he attends and plays for a school where recruiters are known to go. Or the drama program at one school is better than another. That isn’t suppressing anyone; on the contrary, it is freeing them to better possibilities. But again, if the white student athlete or drama student were attending Smithfield-Selma High School, then better opportunities would come to the 45.04 percent of Hispanics and 29.19 percent of blacks in that same school?
It’s ridiculous, and it’s racist.
But I’m sure that is the exact message Mrs. Lassiter and her group were trying to convey in the first place when they sued the school district for these statistics: that the Smithfield-Selma schools need the white person in order to succeed.