Text The Times.

Text The Times.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. I want to take the time out to show appreciation for one of the best teacher’s in the West Memphis school district. This lady goes out and beyond her duties. Mrs. C. Irby, 3rd grade teacher at Wonder Elementary. Thank you so much for being that teacher my baby can never forget. You have been so loving and kind, and you take all your students under your wings. A lot of teachers that teach just teach. Not you. You teach and you take the time out to make sure they understand. Thank you again for the best school year. You are #1 in our book. [ Editor’s Note: I’m married to a teacher, my Dad was a school teacher, my sister- in- law is a school teacher, and I have aunts and uncles and such in the teaching profession, along with a number of friends who are teachers, and I myselfs taught school, so I am all about appreciating teachers for everything they do. I’m also happy to pass along the shout out to Mrs. Irby and everyone else out there shaping young minds to build a better tomorrow]

*** There are plans underway to implement a massive gentrification of Hughes, Arkansas. Unfortunately people are blind to what is going on. (1) white flight to West Memphis and Marion School Districts went unchecked and unmonitored for years. ADE refused to put its foot down when those Districts took more than the % cap permitted (11 students). Just in 2015 from the previous 3 years before the consolidation West Memphis probably had at least 73 of Hughes students (majority bypassing school choice) yet the ADE turned a blind eye and said it was a local issue. (2) ACT 60 forces Hughes District to close and the Mayor support the closing of the school campus, and objects to WMSD keeping a school open in Hughes. Also for point of clarity HSD although it was noted by the state to be in fiscal distress it was not closed for that reason, nor was HSD in Academic Distress at the time of its closure.

HSD was closed due to declining enrollment as mandated by ACT 60. (3) the Mayor and his buddies (Parents and Grandparents of students pulled from Hughes School District) attempt an unsuccessful bid on the school property as a so called City Chamber of Commerce (which has no real standing or affiliation with the City, except for it being an all white alternative to the Hughes City Council for the Mayor). (4) Mayor’s original plan to privately take control of the school property doesn’t work so he request that it be given to the City of Hughes (an offer he first refused without the City Council’s approval because he had his own person conflict of interest). (5) In the meantime the tap water in A.Am. homes and neighborhoods smells like fecal matter (6) late city trash pick ups. (7) the majority of abandoned store fronts and dilapidated housing within the predominantly Black neighborhoods are owned by rich White property owner (including the Mayor) who don’t live on that side of town. (8) the current Mayor refuses to seek grant opportunities to help improve the town. (9) The Mayor refuses to make good use of the $40,000 city park grant that was designed for the old playground area of the original Mildred Jackson School which was obtained by the former Mayor. (10) the police department is wiped out with no explanation; which ultimately results in a civil rights employment discrimination lawsuit being filed against the city of Hughes and the Mayor. To which the mayor has now rehired some of the former cops in an effort to prevent a class action lawsuit. Honestly the list could go on and on. The plan was to close the school in an effort to get rid of the young black population of Hughes. Kudos for Crawfordsville’s bounce back as a small town. Go take a look at their city date. The Black population decreased in Crawfordsville, why because they moved to where their children attend schools. Hughes must find some other way to survive without the forced grenrification of African Americans to West Memphis and without the White suburbanization of Hughes. We are all God’s Children and we must find some ways to survive and coexist positively together. “I shall not, I shall not be moved” nor should anyone else, it is time to step into reality (not the 1950s) reconcile our differences and work together for a better Hughes. [ Editor’s Note: Clearly this is something you feel very strongly about, and I honestly can’t confirm or refute what you’re saying, so I’ll just let your statements stand on their own, save providing a brief explanation of “ gentrifi-cation,” for the uninitiated.

Gentrification is a trend which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower- income families and small businesses, with a goal of bringing wealthier residents and/ or businesses to an area and increasing property values. Parts of the process include increased investments in a community and the related infrastructure by real estate development businesses, local government, or community activists and resulting economic development, increased attraction of business and lower crime rates, which are designed to population migration. In a community undergoing gentrification, the average income increases, and poorer residents, unable to pay increased rent or property find it necessary to relocate. A good example of this close by is the revitalization effort in downtown Memphis over the past 20 years or so. Is that happening in Hughes? I couldn’t say. Is it possible? Yes, but I’m not sure who’s pulling the strings or how attractive a rural community a half hour from Walmart is going to be to Hipster and Bohemian types. Maybe if they put in a Whole Foods…]

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