On June 11, 2019, I attended a school board meeting to discuss what I’ve been addressing prior to my op-ed going viral. The district held this meeting at a small location that prevented the general public and media from being privy to what was occurring inside.
The district strategically limited the time for public speakers to 90 seconds. This is not enough time to discuss the cores issues impacting our district and our children.
This is my letter I’ve prepared for the school board to provide the help that students and teachers deserve:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. My name is Bianca Goolsby and I am a former teacher at one of your Achievement Schools. Over the course of my career, I’ve highlighted conditions that are damaging to students and the teachers trying to serve them. Teachers didn’t feel safe, and as a team leader, I did what I could to address it. I was having meetings with my former administrative staff, sending emails asking for help, to no avail.
I recently wrote an op-ed highlighting the systemic issues that are plaguing my school and many others within the District. And I believe it hasn’t been received well because the truth is difficult for people in power to swallow. I believe that how a district spends its money, resources and how leaders allocate their time are direct reflections of what they value and prioritize. So it’s very disheartening that members of the school board have used the time that you could have used to address these critical issues to attack me in the press for telling the truth about what’s happening in our schools. So I am here to ask, what are you going to do to address these issues?
On December 19, 2018, I met with several district leaders and one of the members of this board. During the meeting, I provided receipts [OR documentation] in a folder with emails that I’ve been sending since September of 2018. I began sending these emails after the first month of the school year. I asked for help because students and teachers were not safe. I highlighted conditions that were adverse to teachers teaching and students learning. Students deserve safe and well-resourced educational environments, and teachers absolutely do not deserve to work in environments that are toxic. I can tell you as a teacher, seeing children who want to learn and grow hindered solely because of systemic inequalities in the school is one of the hardest things I have experienced.
District leaders have promised us that they would make this right and that things would improve. But they are getting worse. Without adequate resources and properly-trained, experienced staff, our schools will not improve and our students won’t thrive… I’ve witnessed weapons on campus, destruction of property and fights on a regular basis. And it’s easy to blame the children and attribute that to bad behavior and poor parenting, but we know that is not accurate. Not only is it inaccurate, but it’s negligent and lazy to shift blame. We have a responsibility to educate and support all children in our District, but especially those suffering under the weight of systemic oppression.
When you request a school visit, the principal already has the day planned. They keep you enclosed during certain transitions and show you the model classroom at the end. Many of you walk around with your suits so the kids know that you’re important. I challenge you to ditch the suit and come inside a classroom and tell the children that you are a sub.
You changed leadership during the worst time. We received a new principal and she is a star, but you just can’t leave her there in this position and expect her to work magic. The same resources we asked for are the same resources she will need to make necessary changes.
Everyone wants to talk about parents and what they are not doing. But have you considered the fact the same system their kids are in is the same one that failed many of them? We owe it to the kids of this district to try and break this cycle.
We have provided you suggestions and we are still requesting a seat at the table. Until we see change my question will continue to be, what are you all going to do about it? You have to stop operating this district as a private enterprise. I asked for help and transparency because our kids deserve at least that from you all. And from all of us.