Commentary: Dr. Shawn Joseph

Taylor Gentry

By Taylor Gentry
Political Actions Committee Community Liaison
Urban Studies and Public Policy Major
Dillard University ‘22

As a Nashville native, I make it a point to keep myself aware of what goes on in my city. 

Currently, I am focused on the controversy involving the Metro Nashville Board of Education and Superintendent of schools, Dr. Shawn Joseph. I would like to start by saying that I am extremely disappointed at the blatant racism and selfishness of the board and the city of Nashville. 

As a student in the Metro Nashville Public School system when Dr. Joseph began serving as superintendent, I was able to see firsthand how he came in and took immediate action. From day one he has been for the students. With his frequent school visits, personal involvement with the progression of each school, and determination to change the racial demographics of employees not only within the schools, but within the central office as well, I knew he was the one we needed.

Even though it’s seemed like everyone has been against him from the start, he has continued to stay focused on the main reason that he’s here; for the betterment of the students and the system. Now that we are about to lose this great man, everyone is eager to rally in support. This is great, but the truth is that we should’ve been this supportive in the beginning. There was a point where even the African American community doubted him when we should’ve been the ones he could lean on the most. The mistreatment and pettiness of the board is beyond me. The more I listen and analyze the issues that they have with Dr. Joseph, it seems like some members are upset because he’s not letting them have their way. If you can’t put your desires to the side and put the students first, as he has done every day, then you have no business serving as a board member. We don’t deserve Dr. Joseph, and most definitely doesn’t deserve this treatment. As long as the board continues to act in this childish manner, we will never have a consistent leader for the school system.

So to the city of Nashville, I hope that we can one day learn to stop tearing each other down and begin supporting what’s best for the betterment of our city. 

To the black community, let’s start supporting our African American leaders fully and consistently. There should never be a time when they are able to question if we have their backs or not. 

To the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education, I hope that you all realize what you have lost. You have not only hurt yourselves, but the students as well. You all have damaged an opportunity to make MNPS thrive and be the best school system it can be. 

Last, but definitely not least, to Dr. Joseph, I need you to know that my peers and I appreciate everything you have done for us. When it is your time to move on, I hope that you are blessed with countless opportunities in places where you will be able to do your job for people that are fully supportive of you and your talents.

Thank you.

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