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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Groups meet with KISD Superintendent to discuss possibility of ethnic studies class

Groups meet with KISD Superintendent to discuss possibility of ethnic studies class

By Lindsay Starr Platt
Correspondent

Saturday morning at Harker Heights Community Church 25 people showed up for a brunch with Killeen Independent School District’s (ISD) superintendent John Craft. Craft joined a community discussion with Central Texas Think Tank (CT3), Central Texas Parent Advocacy Group and concerned staff and parents about what it will take to get an Ethnic Studies program into Killeen ISD.
“Our goal is to foster an education support system that works in tandem with Killeen ISD to ensure our children and parents needs are addressed in an equitable manner and students are ready for the higher education journey upon graduation,” said Philemon Brown, Pastor, Harker Heights Community Church, and Founder, Central Texas Parent Advocacy Group.
Brown had a slide show and topics to be discussed by attendees. A question on one slide read,
“We are looking forward to a partnership to achieve the following: Incorporate a comprehensive history of Africa and African Americans in the Middle School curriculum; Develop an Ethnic Studies curriculum for High School students; Develop and sustain an African-American parent’s liaison group that will research and offer recommendations about processes that impact African American Students and Pilot a Culturally Relevant Curriculum.”
“The Central Texas Think Tank and the Central Texas Parents Advocacy are two organizations that have significant relevance to our community,” said Brown. “During the meetings and other activities hosted by these organizations; we have learned that there are significant challenges for our school aged children. There is also the challenge for some parents to effectively engage teachers and administrators and the disparate difference in how some students of color are directed to the alternative school process and the Special Needs Program.”
Central Texas Think Tank’s website states: Central Texas Think Tank is a social action initiative composed of conscientious community members dedicated to researching and understanding issues that are negatively impacting people’s lives and the community. To be highly visible.
Increase public participation as it relates to community improvement.
Promote opportunities for relevant, open, and honest dialogue. Provide workable community solutions.
Central Texas Think Tank meets each second Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at Harker Heights Community Church located at 202 E. Beeline Lane, Harker Heights, TX.
“Central Texas Parent’s Advocacy Group is to provide information and resources that will empower parents and guardians to effectively advocate for their school aged children. To achieve this goal, programs and seminars will be made available that will provide awareness, skill building, and other critical skills that are needed to empower participants to engage school administrators and teachers,” stated Brown.
Attendees agreed that parental involvement is the key factor in making sure your child is on the right path.
“Parents plant the seed and teachers nurture that seed,” said Aya Eneli, parent. “You cannot teach a child you do not love. I quit going to those PTA meetings a long time ago, I found them cliquish and nothing gets done. It is so easy to label and say it is not my kid.”
Tina Capito, Owner, My Tutor and Me, said “The district has events for parents, but we need to go. They had Daddy Day this past year and there were only about 11 participants.”
“Embracing cultural diversity is something often talked about. Seeing and experiencing cultural diversity has to encompass more than opening the building and providing a seat. It has to be seen. The demographics of the administration and board need to reflect the demographics of the population it serves. The request for a curriculum that includes Ethnic Studies is how students of all ethnicities know they are in a welcoming environment that nurturing. When students are able to connect their backgrounds, their heritage, historically and culturally to a place geographically, they know for sure, they belong. By providing a curriculum, elective, or allocating time to learning about ethnicities, the results will gain positive results, said Wanda Gunter, attendee. “For Ethnic Studies to be successful, addressing individual biases, misinformation, and lack of understanding will require a willingness and intrinsic desire to educate, learn, and teach in a constantly changing world.”
“Our curriculum is very stringent, with the STAAR Test we don’t write our own curriculum,” said Craft. What I am interested in , is what a culturrly relevant course of study would look like. I wish I could tell this group I have a solution. I cannot stress enough how important parental involvement and engagemet is. A large majority of students have no support. If we want things to turn into results we need an action plan. We are cognizant of the campus demographics, and no biased approach of recruiting or hiring takes place in our 7,000 employees.”
“I believe that the Killeen ISD libraries should carry books that represent the rich culturally diverse population of our region here in central Texas,” said Dr. Claudia Brown, attendee. “The KISD Daddy Day initiative has failed to attract a significant number of fathers because it is not tied to any relevant motivation. The student, the teacher, and the parents are the critical trio necessary for a successful school experience. In Killeen ISD, the parent does not have an authentically prominent and visible role within each KISD school,” said Brown. “Evaluations should reflect how teachers have contributed to improved attendance, achievement, and school climate. If a teacher has developed a fiduciary relationship with each student and parents, student academic success is facilitated.”
“I found it informative to hear the concerns of other community members, however, I will say that I found it disturbing to put the issues of one race over the others. I am speaking as an individual who was born of parents of different races (Black and Asian). In any profession that I have been in, classroom, workshop, or et cetera I have been a minority. I am one of the few biracial individuals at any organization that I have been employed doesn’t or hasn’t changed my work ethic or deterred me in any way. My ethnicity hasn’t determined who I am or will be in the future simply because it’ a non-issue to me,” said Lan Carter, attendee. “With Ft. Hood nearby, our students and educational staff are cognizant of ethnicity and perhaps rather than focusing on our differences, we focus on our similarities. I grew up in many military communities with diverse student populations and at no time did I feel that my race was an issue. You have had special teachers that touched your lives, so have I. One happened to be a black man and one happened to be a white woman, race never played a factor in how they inspired me. He taught me a love for technology by teaching me computer programming after school. She taught me about the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe. I don’t need to be the same ethnicity to inspire my students.”
“Parents and community need to be engagged to make this work. Hopefully, this will be one of many forums. The school board needs to be listening, not just speaking,” said Eneli. “Who does not want to see a kid succeed?”

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