Some of Kent's Remarks Viewed as Racially Offensive

By: Tametria Conner Email
By: Tametria Conner Email

Some teachers in Meridian Public Schools say they are upset over remarks made by school superintendent Charlie Kent during an interview for WTOK's "On the Record" that aired Sunday.

"It's human nature that sometimes students migrate to people who look like them from time to time," said Kent, who is black.

The majority of the student population is black. Obviously, there are both black and white teachers in the schools.

The comment prompted criticism of Kent on WTOK's Web channel from people who said they are MPS teachers.

Ann Brown, who is white, came forward Monday to speak with Newscenter 11 about it. She was also the first teacher to publicly speak up during the community forums that were started by Wesley House executive director Ginger Stevens, to open dialog and allow residents to voice their concerns about problems in the Meridian Public School district.

"And I felt like we were free to talk," said Brown.

Brown says it was a very bold move, but she had to stand up for herself and other teachers who felt voiceless.

Brown says Kent's remark offended her.

"I feel like that was a divisive statement," said Brown. "We don't see our students as black or white, blue or brown."

And now with no more community forums scheduled, Brown said she is let down because she feels there was progress. Now she said she doesn't see how it will continue.

"There are still problems. There are still hurt feelings. There is still divisiveness that's been brought about it and needs to be healed, and we've sort of stopped midstream," Brown said.

Brown said she's concerned that the dialog will end.

Stevens says her mission is complete and now she must redirect her focus to the needs of The Wesley House.

"We have done our place at Wesley House," said Stevens.

She said she felt led to start the forums as an avenue for the community to be heard. That happened, and four forums later, a laundry list of concerns were aired. Stevens says now it's up to administrators and the school board to take action.

"We need specifics now, and the only ones that can do that now, that's not my place," Stevens said.

"Ginger started this for us and we appreciate it, and I hope we continue it," said Brown.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by You know it!! on Aug 24, 2009 at 07:15 PM
    To Anonymous...I second that!! Thank the good Lord above I chose to leave!! Let's pray for those left behind.
  • by Anonymous Location: Meridian on Aug 21, 2009 at 07:24 PM
    All I can say is THANK GOD I am outta there.
  • by to Educator on Aug 19, 2009 at 07:13 AM
    It isn't hard to understand why teachers and other staff need a positive comment or two from their boss. People DO need others to compliment them from time to time. It can take the joy out of a job when an employee is browbeaten by his superior. Pity all you want. It is human nature for us to need each other to lift us up. That's the way the Lord made us, and goodness knows, teachers are told EVERY DAY to lift up their students with kindness and praise. To be honest, I sense that the MPSD teachers are suffering from something very much like BATTERED WIFE SYNDROME. They are beneath an authority figure who holds their future in his hands and intimidates them into submission. Believe me, there are people (MDE, MAE, School Board, etc) watching how Kent sets the tone for MPSD this year. Maybe he can undo all the ill will from last year by just being silent.
  • by Educator Location: Meridian on Aug 18, 2009 at 06:47 PM
    Mastadon, come out of Sherwood Forest. Why would you let Mr. Kent or anyone else prevent you from having a positive start to your school year? Are you letting him take away your joy of teaching? I pity the person who is waiting for compliments from others to lift him up. Remember, you hold the key to your own success.
  • by Mastadon Location: Sherwood Forest on Aug 17, 2009 at 06:53 PM
    Much of our future depends on Charlie Kent's Attitude. It would be helpful if at the opening meeting he would say something positive to his teachers. Nothing about busses or elephants or if you dont like the way I do it, quit. He holds the key to a positive start.
  • by Educator Location: Meridian on Aug 16, 2009 at 06:56 PM
    When I decided to become a teacher, several advisers informed me of the positives and negatives of being an educator. The educators that are blogging were informed or have since become aware of the positives and negatives of being an educator. Yes, we need more involvement, but we (educators) must come with a positive attitude about what more can I do. Your least motivated student will put forth more effort with your positive attitude. So I say to all MPSD educators, pray for our students, parents, community, and stay positive so that we will have a successful 2009-2010 school year. And by the way, Mr. Kent isn't going anywhere until it's time. So let's educate. Our future depends on our attitudes.
  • by townie Location: meridian on Aug 16, 2009 at 06:20 PM
    the problem is not race. it is socio-economic. it is not the schools responsibility to "civilize" people. if students can not behave appropriately, then they should be dismissed. but administrators will not do this because it will cut their funding.
  • by Time for Change II Location: Mdn on Aug 16, 2009 at 10:49 AM
    A suggestion: Considering the impact of drugs and alcohol have on behavior, the rate of drug and alcohol abuse among children as young as elementary school a policy such as the following might be used to improve the school environment. Policy: "All major student disruptions or repetive minor student disruptions will require a drug and alcohol screening within 2 hrs of the event. Students who have suspicious test results or are positive must complete a treatment or educaton program, and their parent(s) attend a support group as part of the individual being allowed to continue in the school program. The student would also submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing for the next 12 months. This would be in addition to other interventions deemed appropriate by the school system."
  • by Time for change Location: Mdn on Aug 16, 2009 at 10:37 AM
    Dear Marie, Your posting reveals a central issue in the education problem. School was designed to help individuals who are motivated to learn. It was never intended to force learning. From the foundation of our country it has been the responsibility of the parents and community to motivate individuals to seek out training so they can have a better life. I agree teachers should teach. However, students who do not wish to take part in the process should be returned to the manufacturer "the parent(s)" to be reworked so the teachers have a functional product with which to work. Some parents and caregivers need to be returned to the manufacturer because they fail to meet minimum specifications.
  • by Teacher Location: Meridian on Aug 16, 2009 at 06:00 AM
    The biggest difference between my students who grow anywhere from 1-2 grade levels and those who don't--is directly proportional to 1)parent's insistance on good behavior, and 2)parent's showing ACTIVE INTEREST in the child's academic progress. Teachers--especially in upper grades where they have students for only about 55 minutes, don't have time to deliver quality instruction while continually trying to coax 3 or 4 disruptive students so that everyone in class can achieve all the teacher needs for them to. That's not complaining, that's the simple FACT. Only when parents care enough to teach and require children to behave properly, and care enough to be active in the educational process--will MPSD become a top of the line district again.
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