By Alan Bean
To the surprise of no one, the students of Arlington were once again denied a May holiday honoring civil rights legend Cesar Chavez.
Last night’s meeting of the Arlington ISD school board reminded me of the climactic scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. An all-white jury convicts the black defendant even though the case against him has crumbled to dust. As the article below suggests, last night’s decision was a foregone conclusion.
Last year, the statements of support for a Chavez holiday, mine included, were polite and deferential. This year was different.
I used my five minutes to address the elephant in the room. The school board trustees are both politicians and public servants, I said. There is no political upside to voting to rename a generic “May holiday” in honor of Chavez. The majority of voters in Arlington have little interest in honoring a Latino icon, and many would staunchly oppose the move. This is, after all, one of the most conservative demographics in America.
On the other hand, 65% of the students (and therefore a solid majority of the parents) are people of color who would love to see Chavez honored. There is a disconnect between the political imperative to please the voters and the moral imperative to do what’s best for the children. The heart sides with the kids; the head craves political security. (more…)