Groups Rally in Support of Huntsville School Board, Superintendent

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Community groups held a rally Tuesday to speak in support of education in Huntsville.  They received additional backing from a powerful group, too - the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County.

Tuesday's rally at the Annie Merts Center followed several very public disagreements between the Huntsville Board of Education, Huntsville City Councilman Richard Showers and Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison.

Community leaders spoke on behalf of Huntsville City Schools about the progress that’s been made over the past three years.  Protesters also attended, holding signs saying their concerns have been ignored.

Tuesday afternoon, the Chamber of Commerce said it backs the local supporters, and several Chamber staff members and board members attended the rally.

The Chamber's Board of Directors also approved a position statement saying it supports the Huntsville City School system's endeavors to seek unitary status.

Part of the statement reads:

“By attaining unitary status, the (school) System seeks to demonstrate to the local community, businesses, potential residents and the military services that it no longer operates two separate systems - one for African-American students and one for White students - and that it does not discriminate against any students based on their race.

“Unitary status will give the system the autonomy and agility to make education decisions locally in this age of accelerating change. This ensures that our school board is accountable to the citizens of Huntsville. Operating Huntsville as a unitary system will ensure our city is globally competitive and our economy will provide high wage jobs for our graduates and a strong tax base to support quality education for all students.”

Read the Chamber's full position statement.

At the school board meeting later in the evening, board members called for unity in the community, saying disagreement doesn't necessarily mean they aren't listening.

Board members Jennie Robinson and Laurie McCaulley specifically addressed threats made against the superintendent and school board.

"Bullying and browbeating may have been the way we did business years ago, but it's not the way business is done now," said Robinson. "If we really want to meet the needs of our children in this school system we will have to work together."

But at least one woman found the calls for unity disingenuous.

"The public grandstanding, rallying of the hoards, and mass email notifications sent by a Huntsville City school employee to other employees and other organizations are a prime example of the manipulation and the extremes that this board will go through to create a facade to hide the actual problems of the school board," said community member Michelle Watkins.

The board did respond to questions about the legal battle between the system and the DOJ.


  • jamison jones

    They should come with their heads mostly. All the ‘progress’ they are talking about is to basically ‘take out’ black kids out of the system or push them down farther. They are alot of well meaning people today in various jobs who’ve benefited from programs like affirmative action. The story is long.

  • truth speaker

    I went to Johnson in 2010 and as you know it is a majority black school I have seen many kids who go to school there who simply do not care about school work I however worked my butt off went to community college for 2 years and got into Auburn. Its not all the teachers to blame but more of the lack of discipline of the parents. I grew up in the ghetto but my parents worked very hard and eventually got out in 2011.

    Putting a kid who is black or minority in a all white school will not magically make them change and get better grades it all relies on the dedication you put in to your work and that you’re mom and dad taught you right.

    • Teacher

      I commend you on your honesty. I’ve often wondered from the students’ point of view if they saw it as a lack of discipline, etc. I taught at Johnson and I have to agree with you. What the superintendent and school board, and even the state department fail to realize at times is, if a student does not want to learn, you cannot simply MAKE them learn. All the differentiated instruction, BBSST, RTI, or whatever new twist on what we all know to be true won’t make someone unwilling to do the work, WORK. By the way, I congratulate you on graduating, going to community college, and then graduating from a 4-year college!

  • Nuclear Mike

    Well now…seems the Mayor has yet to tell the whole story as the Chamber sides with his distractors….

  • Bandet

    Did anyone count the number of teachers that showed up for this? They were sent and email telling them to come and show support for the board and Dr. W. Just asking.

    • Teacher

      Funny you should ask…clearly someone taught you some critical thinking skills. I know I did not show up!

  • Sam

    The public pep rally, the manipulation, and other tactics by the Superintendent and the School Board are not going to win unity within this city’s school system. Also, I am so ashamed that our City’s Chamber of Commerce are backing this School Board and their terrible plan. For example, to merge two failing high schools into one big high school is complete failure. Just because you build them a new building doesn’t mean success. It doesn’t take an Einstein to see this is failure from the start. This school board’s plan really insults the intelligent citizens of this city. It is so sad. It makes me ashamed to live here. I will be paying for my children to go to private school next year.

  • Will Harris

    The statement from the Chamber of ” This ensures that our school board is accountable to the citizens of Huntsville”, has to be referring to Huntsville’s white citizens. I think the City and the School Board has written off its black citizens and children. Evidence is that nothing is happening in North Huntsville. There is no new development and the schools are in shambles.

    • Linda

      Will, there will never be development in N. Huntsville. You know why, don’t you. No investor in their right mind would touch N. Huntsville, ever.

  • Truth

    The only reason Wardynski is merging the failing schools together is because it will look good on paper and make himself look good. If someone comes in and sees that the failing schools are gone on paper they think he will have achieved something-which is not true. Wardynski thinks he does not have to answer to anyone which is definitely not true here. You’re not in Colorado anymore.

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