Supporters Sought Change, Advocate for Black Educators

By Ina Joseph
BU News Service

As an African-American worker in the Boston Public Schools, Schiller Diny pinned his hopes for improving the schools on mayoral candidate Tito Jackson.

“One thing that was really frustrating [over the past four years] was that there’s this whole dialogue about black men in public schools, and under (Mayor Marty) Walsh’s administration, it seemed like there was literally a sweeping out of black men in public schools,” said the 38-year-old Diny who voted at the Boys and Girls Club of America in Roxbury on Tuesday.

He flashed a thumbs up to people outside to show his support for Jackson.

During his six years living in Boston, Diny said he has witnessed what seems like a “systematic” aggression towards black educators, placing teachers of color at a significant disadvantage in Boston’s public school system.

“The rhetoric still remains, ‘We need black men, we need black men,’ ’’ he said.

But he said he believed black men and women were five times more likely to receive bad evaluations than their white counterparts, mimicking the unequal treatment of blacks in America’s prison system.

The Roxbury resident said he thought Jackson, a City Councilor hoping to become the city’s first African-American mayor, had the perspective necessary to reverse the Walsh administration’s inaction and prioritize representation and inclusivity in a way Walsh had not.

At the end of the day, for Diny, it’s about consistent advocacy for “all folks,” especially “the folks who are the most disenfranchised.”

Regina McClay, a Roxbury resident for 25 years, said she, too, was concerned about education, though she thought the biggest problem was hiring qualified teachers.

“I don’t think that the system places enough emphasis on hiring the right people, especially the right people to teach African American students,” said the 66-year-old McClay. “The business community and corporate America … are looking for a strong emphasis on problem-solving skills and a lot of skills that our school system is not preparing our [black] kids for.”

McClay said she did not agree with Walsh’s continuation of his predecessor’s education initiatives, specifically the formation of in-district charter schools. According to McClay, Jackson would help turn around the schools and fix other issues for the city’s minority communities.

“People really think that a vote for Tito Jackson is a lost vote. I don’t think it’s a wasted vote at all. I think he may be laying the groundwork to bring the American community together [under a] new type of leadership,” she said.

McClay’s disappointment stemmed from what she saw as inaction by Walsh’s administration on minority issues in Roxbury.

“My question I ask people all the time: ‘Has your life improved since Marty Walsh has been in office?’ And the answer is always a resounding ‘no’. You have poor school systems, high rates of gentrification, when daylight comes you’ve got ants and roaches coming out of the houses. It’s just ridiculous,” she said.

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