At-risk funds need to be for at-risk kids

Published 6:02 pm Saturday, November 28, 2009

At-risk kids, at best, are a pain. I taught several groups of them years ago within the confines of the Hinds County, Miss., jail. They were pre-trial detainees, charged with rape, murder, armed robbery — you name it. They ranged in age from 12 to 17. Once the guys had an 18th birthday, they went to the grown-up side of the jail and to the adult GED classes.

Most of these kids had failed in traditional schools. The schools just didn’t speak to them because of the cookie-cutter way many schools and teachers function. This isn’t a criticism of education; the teachers can’t help it. Their hands are tied. Fortunately, some who study education now are examining ways to loosen the bonds of the classroom, so students may learn more from experiences and sharing them, than from that “fill-’em-up” with a bunch of facts and figures.

One of the problems we faced at the jail was money for equipment or books or workbooks. Many times they came out of the teacher’s pocket and that was graduate school time. Teacher didn’t have much money. Then, some of us put our heads together and discovered our school district could share money for at-risk kids. We had to work hard to get the pittance we received, but were able to get “virtual frogs” for biology classes, new texts for students and to start a library of Southern authors. Because most of the kids were African-American, we focused on Richard Wright and others.

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Currently, the FBI is examining what groups have received at-risk funds for programs here in Selma. I’ve been looking, too. Recently, under “Clearing the Cobwebs,” a blog of opinion at, I discovered some issues in 990s of S.C.O.P.E. that raised questions about the nonprofit organized and led by school board candidate Henry Hicks.

There are many of us who would like to observe Mr. Hicks’ nonprofit in action, especially because it recently received $20,000 from the Dallas County School Board. We’ll see what happens when the same consideration comes up in Selma.

But this is a man who wants you to trust him enough to elect him to lead the city school board.

Take a look at the 990s filed by his organization on the Web site. Take a look at the questions asked about the information given on those 990s, then ask yourself if Mr. Hicks should lead the school board.