Waxahachie Hail to thee,
We will ever loyal be
As we loud thy praises tell
Noble school we love so well
Green and white our banners fly
Raise them proudly to the sky,
Glorious memories never die Hail to thee,
Hail to thee Waxahachie High.
These are the lyrics to our beloved Waxahachie High School fight song. I must admit that it is becoming increasingly harder to fight for and speak well of a school district who allow many persons of color to leave the district to obtain jobs that they are clearly qualified to hold within our district. I grew up hearing unifying terms like “Waxahachie First” and “One Waxahachie;” however, when I see what’s happening today it sounds like false advertisement, at least for persons of color.
Do you think they want to wear maroon, red, blue, or yellow school colors? Please re-read the fight song. Where is the fight within our district so they can wear green forever? Let me be frank: Is the school district truly fighting to retain persons of color? Over the past several years, we have watched several talented, gifted, and qualified persons of color leave our city for advancement and recognition.
In the words of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, “I am a native son.” I am not a novice to the inner workings of the school system. I worked six years as a math teacher at my beloved alma mater. At the time of my employment, the HR director, who was also my former building principal, said to me, “We need to grow our own.” My wife was also employed by the district as a coveted English teacher at the high school level. Say what you want to say about Mike Turner, however one thing is true: He didn’t simply talk “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” This was the 1990s! What has happened, Hachie?
After my recent visit home, it was glaringly apparent to me that certain city “leaders” demonize those who tried to humanize the birth, growth, development and retention of Black, Hispanic, and LatinX teachers and professionals. I often wonder if my family stayed in Waxahachie would we have to leave the district to become an education professional, head coach, principal, or superintendent somewhere else. I thought the lyrics of the fight song, “We will ever loyal be,” would hold true both ways.
This migration of persons of color out of WISD affects the entire community. There already seems to be a contentious and sometimes divisive journey toward equity in education. Many of us have seen the data indicating that an opportunity gap persists between students of color and white students at every grade level and in every content area. And this was all before the pandemic. The gap could be even worse now.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take that position because conscience tells him it is right.”
I am calling on Waxahachie Independent School District to do what’s right. We are in a moment when what is right must be accomplished in the life of WISD.
Doing what is right means upholding the highest level of accountability in leadership.
Doing what is right means strengthening policies that enable equitable access, opportunity, and protection for all students.
Doing what is right means initiating and continuing equity training for the board, staff and community.
Doing what is right is implementing culturally responsive pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning at all grade levels.
Doing what is right means recruiting, hiring and retaining a diverse WISD staff to reflect the student population. And please don’t fluff the numbers by adding bus drivers, cafeteria workers, support staff, and paraprofessionals to minority percentages.
My reference book, the Bible, reminds me that there is a time for every season. Now is the time and this is the season to do what’s right for this city and district.
We can pivot from this narrative and begin to progress toward collective community and change.
I stand ready and willing to partner with you.
Pastor Darron LaMonte Edwards is a native son of Waxahachie. He serves United Believers Community Church in Kansas City, Missouri.