WAYNE, NJ – During Thursday night’s Wayne BOE meeting, Wayne Education Association Officer, Dennis Carroll read a statement on behalf of the WEA Representative Council. In the statement he called out members of the BOE who were “disregarding speakers,” specifically naming Michael Bubba for not listening, and “visibly” laughing while students were sharing their experience with racism in school.
Several Wayne Public School students, and former students have spoken up during many of the past BOE meetings to comment on the racism they feel is still prevalent in the schools and their desire for change.
Carroll’s statement began with a short history of African-Americans from the time of slavery to today. “We have a race problem and it permeates every community – in ways that we see and ways that we don’t,” he then said. “Wayne is certainly no different.”
He then talked about how the statements made by the students. “Over the past several Board meetings, many of our students and former students shared their first-hand accounts of the many racial divides that our district still needs to overcome.”
Carroll then admonished the BOE. “At last month’s meeting, there were those on the Board disregarding the speakers and instead focused on their devices or other matters,” he said. “The kids spoke of their experiences being marginalized. Your lack of attention towards our students and their experiences was, in fact, an act of marginalization.”
“While Board members displayed various levels of attention, last month’s meeting gave a name and a face to that indifference. We are speaking of you, Mr. Bubba,” he said. “They shared their heart-breaking stories of racial prejudice, and their day after day burden of studying while being non-white in Wayne. While this was going on, it was clear you weren’t listening. While some spoke, you were visible laughing.”
“Please understand that when people see Board members acting in such an apathetic fashion, it naturally gives rise to questions about how seriously they are about addressing the issue,” he added.
After commending the Wayne School District for “developing a program to deal with the problem,” Carroll said: “Mr. Bubba, we would invite you to join this this effort so that you can better understand the problems - and participate in the conversations and solutions.”
“Our kids are smart – they can see through insincere efforts,” added Carroll. “They want to know that the district cares and that they will do something about it – something meaningful- something real.”
Carroll stated that the members of the WEA is listening to these students and are “committed to working to fix these problems.”
“To that end, the WEA has formed a social justice team in conjunction with social justice advocates from around the state,” said Carroll in conclusion. “Our goal is honest conversation and real action. We will work in concert with the district leaders if they are earnest. We can work without them if not. But your teachers are here to listen, to learn, and to help make our schools welcoming to all.”
Bubba was asked to comment on Carroll’s remarks. "It's good to see that the WEA wants to join the administration and the board to help foster change," he said.