Lehigh Valley

Easton needs more black educators, pastor says

EASTON, Pa. - Easton needs more black educators, the pastor of a city church told the Easton Area School Board Tuesday night.

Pastor Phillip Davis of the Greater Shiloh Church said the district has a significant "imbalance" when it comes to race and income. For example, its best performing schools are in the wealthier suburban townships.

African American students often test lower than their white counterparts.

And while the district says on its website that diversity is its strength, Davis argues that doesn't apply to its employees, with African Americans making up just 2 percent of the Easton Area teaching staff and three percent of overall employees.

"African Americans pay taxes to the district, but cannot benefit from employment," Davis said.

He told the board the district needs to begin addressing this as soon as possible.

"Where is the agenda item that talks about the gap?" he asked.

Superintendent John Reinhart said the district had hosted two well-attended community meetings dealing with racial matters in the district.

"We realize these are issues we have to look at, and we can't wait any longer," he said.

Davis' remarks came nearly a month after the board voted to deny the Strong Foundations Charter School's request to open in Easton.

Supporters of the school had argued it would help correct the imbalance in test scores Davis had spoken of.

In a related matter, Shiloh will host a community meeting Wednesday evening to discuss class and race issues in the city.

"It's not a black or white thing, it's more of a community initiative we all need to be a part of," organizer Brandon Sardik said.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the church's main building, at 403 Pastor Fred Davis St. on Easton's South Side. 

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