On Wednesday, Mississippi’s GOP-led Senate voted to reject the Board of Education’s pick for state superintendent of education.
Republicans voted against the confirmation of educator Robert P. Taylor, who was nominated by Mississippi’s Board of Education in November. The vote, which was largely among party lines, means the state will have to start its search for a new superintendent from the beginning.
Taylor, who previously worked in North Carolina for the past 30 years told AP that in the past senators have always confirmed previous nominees for state superintendent.
“This whole confirmation was a political process, and I knew that coming in,” said Taylor.
He also said he was disheartened by the Senate’s decision.
“The fact that they didn’t [confirm me], that is what I have to live with,” Taylor said. “I will always respect the process.”
Taylor served as the state’s superintendent in an interim role since January, which is not uncommon after the Board of Education nominates a candidate. He would have been Mississippi’s second Black state superintendent in the history of the state.
Some Dems point to race as the reason Robert P. Taylor wasn’t nominated and cite a 2020 undergraduate article he had written about racism in Mississippi that GOP senators used during his confirmation hearing.
Taylor grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1990 at the University of Southern Mississippi. As an undergraduate, he wrote for a newsletter called “The Unheard Word,” which he said gave Black students a voice that the campus newspaper often ignored.
A 2020 article on the university’s Center for Black Studies website focused on the short-lived newsletter.
“‘The Unheard Word,’ in my opinion, recognized that The University of Southern Mississippi was in the most racist state in the Union, and that while historical focus has always been on the University of Mississippi, Southern Miss had a past that was tainted as well,” Taylor told the Center for Black Studies.
Democratic Sen. David Jordan, who is Black, told AP, “because we reject him because of his race, we’re rejecting God because God made him that way.”
Democratic Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville pointed to Taylor’s experience to question why he wasn’t nominated.
“Dr. Taylor did everything that we tell people in the state of Mississippi to do — get a good education, try to use that good education, go out and get your experience and then come back to the state of Mississippi and give Mississippi all of your educational talents and all of your educational experience and give back to the community that gave to you,” Simmons told AP.
But Republican seniors pushed back on claims of racism, stating that Taylor’s performance was in question, not his race.
“I think what really hurt Dr. Taylor the most … is we have several low-performing schools in our state,” DeBar said. “We would like to see someone with a better resume on improving low-performing schools.”
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Mississippi GOP Rejects Prominent Black Educator For Superintendent, Dems Point To Race was originally published on newsone.com
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