At the June 16 meeting of the Mason I.S.D. Board of Trustees, an interesting discussion occurred between the members of the board. The original topic on the agenda had concerned the district's nepotism policy as explained and interpreted by the law firm of Powell & Leon. That discussion quickly evolved into something more.
The makeup of the student population of Mason I.S.D. closely matches the makeup of our county. We have a very small number of African-Americans and people of Asian ancestry, while we have a substantial number of Hispanics and Anglos. All one has to do is look at the photos from the school every week to know that the student population matches that ethnic makeup.
And, our community is blind to ethnic differences when it comes to our daily activities, our entertainment, our athletic activities. But, the question was raised wondering why the ethnic makeup of the faculty and administration does not reflect that same diversity. The school is the largest employer in the county; but, in the teaching and administration of our schools, we are sorely lacking any diversity.
It's interesting that our ESL and Spanish teachers are both Anglo. We do have Hispanics in some teachers' aide positions; but, not standing in front of the students as instructors.
An interesting hypothesis of the reason for this discrepancy was put forward by one of the trustees, and I find it compelling. There is an extremely high demand for teachers and administrators who are bilingual. School districts can receive additional stipends when they hire those skilled individuals, and the folks themselves can receive much higher salaries than are offered in Mason County. They go to the larger school systems, even if they would prefer to remain in Mason and raise their own children here.
Another of the trustees pointed out one glaring inconsistency in that argument by pointing out that Junction, a town in our UIL district, has numerous Hispanics on staff in high level positions. There was no explanation for this seeming anomaly.
Sexual equality has taken a long time to start making inroads into hiring. At our own Mason I.S.D., where the majority of staff are female, women have assumed administrative positions only in the last few years. There were female counselors; but, the principals and the superintendents were all male. Currently, Mason has a female superintendent, and two of our three principals are female.
A lot of people become very uncomfortable when they're discussing issues of racial or sexual equality and diversity. Yet, in a world in which our children exist in full diversity, it seems archaic and backwards for that same diversity to not exist in all aspects of life.
Our City Commission, in the dozen years I've covered their meetings, have only ever had two Hispanics representing the citizens of the city. They've been more progressive when it comes to the number of females that have served as Commissioners and Mayors; but, that seems the limit of the openness.
The School Board itself has been on similar footing with the City. They've had women as trustees for many years, and have actually had a number of Hispanics serving over the years.
The County Court seems to be the lone holdout in diversity. To my knowledge, there has never been a female Commissioner, nor have any Hispanics ever been elected to that governmental body.
It takes someone stepping up to the plate and deciding to run to office before those representative organizations running our community have faces that more closely match our entire community. We can't complain about the lack of color in the seats of power if someone of color, or of different chromosomes, does not first take the risk of running for those public positions.
Perhaps we also need to encourage our children to stay here in our community so that they can be role models to the students. That will mean giving up higher salaries; but, it will pay off in so many other ways. The fight for equality doesn't mean giving anything away, it means taking what is rightfully yours and proving that you deserve the equality you seek.
It’s all just my opinion.