On April 29, while Gaston was still teaching class, NBC reports that school security arrived and ushered her out of the building, telling her she’d been fired.
Parents at the school are speaking out.
One parent, Deanna Simon, told NBC News, “It was a huge shock, and then for a lot of parents … to witness this. Parents are talking about maybe moving their kids if they don't feel safe at the school.”
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Cheryl Green commented on the petition’s site, saying, “Dr. Gaston is a marvelous educator, and a cherished member of the Taylor community. APS [Arlington Public Schools] and Principal Gonzales owe Dr. Gaston and the school community transparency about [the] basis for these actions, and a willingness to reconsider whether they are in the best interest of the students.”
NAACP’s Symone Walker told NBC that there were just five Black elementary reading specialists in the Arlington public school system. “Her being African American brings cultural competency to the job as well, which is critically important," Walker said.
According to Arlington Public School data taken from 2020 to 2021, Black and brown students failed to meet instructional benchmarks compared with white students.
Parents rallied outside of the school Friday.
In an op-ed for ARL Now entitled “The Miseducation of Black Students in Arlington,” Walker discussed the Arlington school board’s policies around segregation. She writes that “Black students have been redlined out of education parity by neighborhood, by the school, and by classroom.”
Not surprisingly, the academic gap has not closed in decades. In fact, the literacy gap between Black and White students increased within the last decade. The fact is, we have Black students entering high school reading on a third-grade level, or below. The inability to master all five pillars of reading (phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) adversely impacts a student’s ability to access the curriculum in all other content areas, causing the gaps to widen as students ‘progress’ through school.
The irony is that Arlington Public Schools has been ranked as one of the best in the state. But, a group of Black parents told The Washington Post that the distinction only rings true for the white students.
Whytni Kernodle, a parent with two children in Arlington schools and vice president of Black Parents of Arlington, told the Post in 2019, “It’s clearly not excellent for Black kids.”
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