Fear in the school district

Since last week’s cover story (“Race & the Classroom“) and my Outtakes (“Lily White Leadership“), my phone and Inbox have been flooded with messages from teachers wanting to share their stories of discrimination in the Escambia County Public School District. The teachers’ union apparently has little interest in helping the black teachers, classroom safety and the overall hiring practices of the district.

We are recording the stories for a follow-up article. If you are a teacher or have a friend who is a teacher that wants to share her story, please have them mail at rick@inweekly.net. They should use their personal email accounts so that the district can’t track it. I protect my sources and will not release any names without permission.

One teacher believed that it was wrong for me to characterize the African-American community as sleeping. “They’re not asleep, Mr. Outzen,” the teacher said. “They are afraid of retaliation and, believe me, the district will punish anyone who speaks out. I’ve experienced it and they are relentless.”

For the past two weeks, I’ve had conversations with Navy officers -active and retired- about the impact of Escambia County public education on NAS Pensacola. Several told me that officers have avoided living on the base because they don’t want their children to attend the public schools close to the base. Instead, they live in Pace, Gulf Breeze, Navarre or east Pensacola and drive 30 to 40 minutes to work every day.