Fort Bend ISD alumni seek greater ‘inclusivity and equity’ in the school district
A group of Fort Bend Independent School District alumni are asking for FBISD community members to share their experiences as the group calls for greater inclusivity and equity in the district.
The group, including psychology sophomore Chinelo Dike and management information systems sophomore Dua Iqbal, has created a Google form to collect testimonies they plan to include in their letter to FBISD.
The letter will include a list of demands and changes the district can take that are focused around inclusion.
“While Fort Bend ISD champions itself as a diverse school district, it falls short in inclusivity and equity,” the interest form asking for FBISD experiences says. “As a response, FBISD alumni are working together to hold the school district accountable and ensure tangible change.”
“We are demanding them to improve their policies and divest from exclusionary, racist systems that disproportionately harm Black and Brown students,” the form continues.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education found Black students in FBISD were six times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions compared to their white peers, according to the Houston Chronicle.
For Dike, discovering Black students were being disproportionately suspended was the tipping to call for action.
Both Dike and Iqbal shared microaggressions they experienced during their time at FBISD. Ranging from comments about skin color to less diverse organizations receiving greater recognition; both students want a more inclusive environment for current and future FBISD students, they said.
“I am an (alumna), I have a brother who is going to high school next year and a mother who is teaching in Fort Bend (ISD),” Iqbal said. “For me, it’s important that I speak up so my mom doesn’t have to face discrimination and my little brother doesn’t have to, or other students don’t have to.”
By writing the letter, the group hopes to begin the process of changing FBISD’s interpersonal environment.
A group member made an Instagram post with over 3,000 likes to begin the process of spreading awareness. The post includes statistics on racial disparities, the group’s mission and information on how to access the interest form.
“The short term goal is spreading awareness of the disparities in Fort Bend (ISD) and suggestions on how they can change things,” Dike said. “The long term goal is to see actual change.”
The group strives to see tangible action taken by the school district to combat and avoid negative experiences similar to those other students have shared. Their goal is for all students to feel more welcome in FBISD classrooms and events than they did.
“We don’t want to see a town hall meeting, we don’t want to see a basic statement saying we’ll get to it soon,” Dike said. “Kids can’t be going through this anymore. We want kids to have a better experience in Fort Bend (ISD) than we did when we were there.”
Both Dike and Iqbal compared the demographics at the University and FBISD, identifying them both as diverse environments. While diversity doesn’t always come with inclusion, according to Dike, Iqbal mentions that their efforts for inclusion in FBISD could be mirrored at the college level.
“I feel diversity is what makes UH as a whole,” Iqbal said. “While we’re working with Fort Bend (ISD) and the high school level, we’re hoping that university students can also up and feel the need to speak on what’s going on at campuses and the discrimination that’s placed there as well.”
Dike shared that despite attending high school in Sugar Land at an FBISD school, she was not fully educated about The Sugar Land 95, a term referring to the remains of 95 African Americans found at FBISD’s James Reese Career and Technical Center, until taking a history course at UH.
The remains have been speculated to have belonged to the convict-leasing system, according to the Houston Chronicle. This system ran on using prisoners for labor.
“I realized that Sugar Land was built on the backs of these people and we’re not acknowledging them in our history,” Dike said. “The fact that I had to learn about (the Sugar Land 95) outside of Sugar Land kind of blows my mind. People should know this.”
By collecting testimonies from community members across FBISD, the group hopes to accurately understand the perspectives of the different schools.
“The organizers, most of us come from … schools that are pretty privileged,” Dike said. “Our focus is looking for other students in other parts of the district that aren’t really represented. Especially Hightower, Marshall and Willowridge.”
The group strives to share stories from the less “represented” schools and give them similar recognition to the other schools they’re representing.
“We just never hear that much about them,” Dike said. “We want to change that so we’re helping amplify their voices as well.”
Moving forward, the group is optimistic in achieving its goals, crediting social media as one method to share their platform.
“So much has happened with the power of social media and I really do truly think that change can be implemented if we carry on and don’t let that drive die down.”