A first-year Houston-area school board member is backpedaling bigly after comments he made at a meeting Monday insinuating that the more Black teachers a school district has, the worse student outcomes and dropout rates are. Way to support Black educators—or any teachers for that matter—when retaining them is at an all-time low.
Scott Henry, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD school board member, made his racist comments during a session on equity, of all things. The board was meeting to review a report commissioned by the district to evaluate equity and diversity among teachers and administrators.
During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Henry, a sales engineering manager at the data insight company Splunk, called the audit “a pile of rubbish” and challenged the integrity of the report. “I’m a big data guy. I know data,” Henry proclaimed. “Data can be skewed any way you want to. It looks like the way [MLC] skewed this data … It makes it look like they cherry-picked this data very poorly.”
Then Henry questioned the need for increasing the number of Black teachers in the district, appearing to imply that more Black teachers would equal higher dropout rates.
“Cy-Fair has, what, 13% Black teachers?” Henry asked. “Do you know what the statewide average for Black teachers is? 10%. I looked it up. Houston ISD, which y’all used as a shining example, you know what their average number of percentages for Black teachers is? 36%. I looked that up,” Henry said.
“You know what their dropout rate is? 4%. I don’t want to be 4%. I don’t want to be HISD. I want to be a shining example, I want to be the district standard. I want to be the premium place where people go to be,” Henry said. “And quite frankly, we have a limited budget, with limited resources and we have a great place, and let’s don’t mess it up for everyone else.”
Henry’s remarks have outraged the community. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and State Rep. Jon Rosenthal are now calling for him to resign.
“Beyond unacceptable. I’ve not personally met any of the new @CyFairISD Trustees, but this man’s blatant racism is cause for immediate dismissal as far as I’m concerned,” Rosenthal said in a tweet.
“Divisiveness and racism are what’s hurting our students. Not diversity. Resign,” tweeted Hidal.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also feels that Henry should step down.
“I was deeply saddened and offended to hear the comments made by @CyFairISD School District Board Member Scott Henry. His comments are unacceptable, and I recommend that he resign immediately,” Turner tweeted. “Suggesting that having more Black teachers in a school district can create an increase in the dropout rate or a decline in classroom achievement is despicable. The rich diversity that resides in our city and region unites us more than ever. We should not tolerate those who seek to divide, but rather work with everyone to ensure equal opportunities of educational access for all.”
In an effort to save himself, Henry claimed his “words are getting twisted” for political gain.
“I was defending our school district against attacks from an out-of-state political organization that claimed our schools were failing our students because we did not one pre-determined diversity metric,” wrote Henry. “This political organization claimed that one metric – the percent of black teachers in our schools – determined the quality of education our students receive. I was simply refuting that by pointing out the fact there is no one metric that determines education quality – there are a number of important metrics that should also be taken into account.”
Below is his full statement:
According to the Houston Chronicle, Henry, along with fellow board members Natalie Blasingame and Lucas Scanlon, were all elected in the fall of 2021 and all received endorsement from the Harris County Republican Party in the wake of Texas’ laws forbidding the teaching of critical race theory in schools K-12—which is bullshit, because it has never been taught in K-12 classrooms. Ever.