A principal of an Elementary school in Florida is the target of a recent racial outrage for understandable reasons. The new principal of Bunnell Elementary School, Donelle Evensen, faces major backlash and accusations of racial insensitivity.
Principal Evensen organized a “special” assembly exclusively for fourth and fifth-grade black students, addressing academic concerns, but the approach backfired dramatically.
During the assembly, she gathered the black students, irrespective of their individual test scores, and they received a troubling message. She warned them that lower grades could increase their chances of incarceration, getting shot, or being killed.
In a very questionable incentive, they offered the kids a chance to win “a meal from McDonald’s” if their academic performance improved. It is pretty clear to understand why this received a lot of backlash. First, she gathered only black kids in this assembly. Second, she did not do the same for the white kids, who make up about 75% of the school’s population.
In addition, she used profiling words like incarceration, which most racist people believe is the future for blank kids. Furthermore, as the black kids at the school do not make up the majority of the population, there was no logical reason not to gather the white students instead.
The racial turn of the incident raised significant concerns among parents. One parent expressed worry, stating, “It became racial for me when they included and boxed all of the black children together, no matter if they were below average, average, or above average.”
This “talk” also has an emotional impact on the children, causing further concern for their parents. Jacinda Arrington, a concerned parent, expressed her shock, saying, “Now when my daughter has to go take a test, that’s in the back of her mind.”
The controversy caught the attention of school district officials, including interim superintendent LaShakia Moore. In a statement, Moore acknowledged that while there was no malicious intent, the approach had clearly gone wrong. She said, “In speaking with Mrs. Evensen, it is clear there was no malice intended in planning this student outreach. However, sometimes, when you try to think ‘outside the box,’ you forget why the box is there.”
The incident occurred within the broader context of Florida’s contentious education landscape. Governor Ron DeSantis had introduced the “Stop Woke Act,” a controversial measure to limit discussions about race in schools. While adding a layer of complexity to the Bunnell Elementary School controversy, county officials stated that this specific incident had nothing to do with political initiatives.
Cheryl Massaro, County School Board Chair, acknowledged the inappropriateness of the approach as well. In addition, she emphasized that it was a localized mistake rather than a reflection of more significant policy shifts.
However, the general public is not taking the issue this way. Commenters criticized the automatic association of low scores with black students and questioned whether such incidents revealed deeper problems within the state.
One said, “Such a Florida thing nowadays – or was it always a racist state, and no one noticed? Shame on that school. They should all be fired.” In hindsight, this should be a lesson to the public and schools to be more sensitive about these matters.
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