A two hour frank discussion about raceAlthough WHMP was not snarky enough to set up up empty chairs at the "Reading, Writing & Racism?" community forum this morning on the Amherst Town Common to represent Amherst town officials last minute cancellation, they did manage to mention it a few times during the two hour broadcast. To the applause of the studio audience of 35 or so.
Crowd on the town common watching live radio broadcast
Town Manger John Musante (whose brother Dave is WHMP general manger), School Superintendent Maria Geryk and new "Media & Climate Communications Specialist" Carol Ross had originally accepted the offer from WHMP (not exactly a Fox News) to discuss the new "Amherst Together" initiative, a direct response to the racial turmoil over the past year.
Town Manger Musante already caught criticism on Monday night at the Select Board meeting, which consisted entirely of his "evaluation," where SB member Alisa Brewer bristled at his entering into an agreement with the schools without first checking with his bosses, the Select Board.
The schools lack of transparency was repeatedly cited as a problem. And not just from parents, activists or the media.
Recent ARHS graduate Catia Correia, who worries about her brothers in the aftermath of #Ferguson, talked about the racial incidents surrounding teacher of color Carolyn Gardner:
Other panelists brought up all the usual criticisms of our public schools -- the achievement gap between students of color and white students, low percentage of minority teachers and just the perception that the administration takes an us against them stance with community members who are trying to help.
By failing to show up for this important unscripted event, town and school officials sent a message that they are uncomfortable having a frank discussion about race when they are not in control of the microphone.
Makes you wonder what they are (still) trying to hide?
Sonji Johnson-Anderson tells panel they did not need a question mark after the title "Reading, Writing & Racism?"
Stephen Armstrong, Ph.D. and owner of Kumon in South Amherst asks panel "Specifically what are you going to do over the next 12 months to level the playing field?"