- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A group of concerned parents and religious leaders gathered in Central California on Monday to protest a new middle school for hiring a white man to teach cultural studies.

A small group of concerned citizens led by the Rev. Karen Crozier met in southwest Fresno in front of Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School, which is set to open for students this August, The Fresno Bee reported.

People at the gathering said they were disturbed to learn that Peter Beck, a former teacher at Hoover High School, who happens to be white, had been hired to teach African-American, Latino and Southeast Asian studies at the school.

“We’re just saying what the community wants. We didn’t fight for a white male or female teacher to educate our babies,” Ms. Crozier said during the event, The Fresno Bee reported. “We still are at these racial fault lines, and we want someone who will be able to think critically about those racial fault lines and how do we help heal, to restore the problems that have existed.”

District spokeswoman Micheline Golden said Mr. Beck was the best choice for the school and is only one of four teachers in the district qualified to teach those subjects.

“We are always looking at the best, most experienced, most qualified who can provide the best education for our young people,” she told The Fresno Bee.

The Rev. Paul McCoy of New Light for New Life Church of God said his concern has nothing to do with Mr. Beck as a person. Hiring teachers representative of the student body helps ensure sensitivity about topics related to race, he said.

“We’re all faced today with so much dysfunction and violence from young people, and that violence is simply because they don’t know who they are, they don’t know where they come from,” he said at the event, The Fresno Bee reported. “They don’t know the responsibility and accountability it takes to become a vital citizen in this country.”