CISD

Hubert Owens speaks about a lack of Black teachers within the Carthage ISD school district during a board meeting Monday.

Former Carthage ISD trustee and local Pastor Hubert Owens is prodding Carthage ISD to do more to hire Black teachers — and promised to keep discussing the issue.

Owens spoke at Monday’s school board meeting, as well as the special meeting last Thursday, to call attention to a dwindling number of Black teachers in the district, saying more needed to be done to hire diverse educators. When Carthage ISD integrated in 1970, the district had 90 white teachers and 32 Black teachers.

“In 2007-08, we had 206 teachers, 184 of them were white and only 18 of them were Black,” Owens said. “That seems like we’re going in the wrong direction, and it don’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Today we have 207 teachers, 198 of them are white and only nine of them are Black. Now that’s a disgrace.”

Owens said the lack of Black teachers, especially at Carthage Primary School and Carthage Junior High School, are detrimental to students — noting Black and other minority students benefit from seeing teachers who look like them.

“When we started this movement back in the 80s, you could graduate Primary all through the high school and never be taught by a Black teacher,” Owens noted Thursday. “That’s not fair to the Black students, minority students.”

Between 1970 and 2009, Carthage ISD was under a federal court order as it addressed desegregation mandates. The district’s consent decree included compliance guidelines for the district to increase its number of minority employees, among other things. The consent decree was dismissed in 2009 after a federal report detailed Carthage ISD’s efforts to recruit and retain minority teachers.

But Owens said Monday the district had failed to keep up that part of the bargain to ensure teacher diversity.

“If you all are not going to do it, then maybe the federal government will have to come in here and see if they can put it in perspective,” Owens said Monday.

Reporter

Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.