Parents in the Houston area are calling for a school board member to resign after he went on a racist rant blaming Black children’s lower graduation rates on the high number of Black teachers in the district.
Cypress Independent School District board member Scott Henry unleashed a racist rant during a January 10 meeting that left parents and educators in shock.
“I’m a big data guy, so I know data. Data can be skewed any way you want it to,” Henry said after Onika Mayers, director of the Millennium Learning Concepts group, delivered a presentation on the importance of diverse and equitable learning practices.
In the presentation, Mayers highlighted some of the district’s disparity among Black students, like how Black kids are suspended at higher rates but only make up 20% of the student population.
Mayers also pointed out that the district’s teachers and leadership don’t reflect the student body, citing a study that showed academic achievement improves when students share similar cultural backgrounds. The organization also suggested learning be more hands-on for students.
Henry accused Mayers of using “cherry picked” numbers in the presentation and downplayed the impact of the disproportionate suspension rate Black kids experience, calling it a “pile of rubbish.”
He described diversity initiatives as “frivolous” and dashed the idea of having equity discussions. He called for someone to be fired for inviting Mayers to talk about white privilege, before going on to blame Black students’ low graduation rates on the district’s higher number of Black teachers.
“Do you know what the statewide percent is for Black teachers? Ten percent,” Henry said. “Houston [Independent School District], which I’ll use to shine an example, you know what their average percentage of Black teachers is? Thirty-six percent. I looked that up. You know what their dropout rate is? Four percent. I don’t want to be 4 percent… I want to be the premium place where people go to be.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted following Henry’s remarks, joining others’ calls to resign.
In a statement Wednesday (January 12), Henry said his rant was taken out of context and that he was trying to defend the district