Separate is still not equal

Dr. Greg Poole

I answered the only phone we had in 1971 and received a death threat regarding my father’s choice of who he played on the newly integrated varsity basketball team in Madisonville, Texas. Those were most difficult times as the “separate but equal” doctrine was shown to be grossly “unequal.” 

I can’t help but find parallels in the nation’s interest in the Barbers Hill ISD dress code. One of the finest school districts in the state is being wrongly condemned by outside influences because of our long-standing dress code, yet not a single media source has informed the public of the following: 

This issue isn’t an attempt to provide fair or “equal” treatment to all students which was the cornerstone of the Civil Rights movement in the last half-century. This is an attempt to force unfair or “unequal” treatment based on race or culture such that a child is given preferential treatment based on his ethnicity. 

Furthermore, we are not permitted by law to provide such unequal treatment and would and should be justifiably criticized if we allowed any exemption beyond what we are legally permitted to do. 

The courts have made it clear that African American culture is not given the same exemption from the dress code that, for example, Native American religion is regarding hair length. That’s not a Barbers Hill stance. It’s the law of the land. 

The student in question is a great kid, and I am proud of how well his 12 years of education at Barbers Hill are demonstrated in the manner he articulates and presents himself. I am likewise proud eight years ago to have given his ancestor, M.Q. Bradford, the highest award our district grants, the Honorary Alumni Award. M.Q. was a multi term Barbers Hill board member and yes, we had the same high expectation including dress code. Our district successes in all areas are directly attributed to the high standards our community has always expected. 

Our board of trustees, which has included African American representation, takes sacred the role of representing their constituents, and we will continue to take our cue from our community not Hollywood. 

Barbers Hill ISD is one of the fastest growing districts in the state chiefly because parents are seeking a child-centered district with the highest of expectations and proven results. We will continue to strive to be correct, rather than politically correct. 

Be it 1971 or 2020, our guiding principle continues to be that ALL students are treated equal and held to the same high expectations, allowing students of ALL ethnicities to achieve their full potential.

Dr. Greg Poole is Barbers Hill ISD superintendent of schools.


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