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Teachers push minority action

photo by Chuck 'Acquisto

Two women who once were prominent local minority educators in Racine were reunited Saturday to encourage young teachers to become more involved in minority affairs in the schools.

They have left the Racine Unified School District for other challenges, both in fields of education, but Ruby Jackson and Anita Herrera still return - one to stress the importance of minority involvement, and the other to recruit minority teachers for union activities.

They spoke Saturday at the 1990-91 Minority Affairs Committee Leadership Conference at Racine's Sheraton Inn and Conference Center.

Herrera still maintains a home in Racine, but she spends most of her time in Madison, where she has served as director of administration for the Wisconsin Education Association Council for almost five years. Before that, she was an instructional aide and director of career opportunities in the Racine district.

Jackson, a longtime Racine teacher and WEAC member, left the city five years ago with her husband Lloyd, former principal at Park High School. They both are working in education in Milledgeville, Ga., and Ruby also has an interior decorating business there.

Ruby Jackson was a teacher and one of the founders of the Bethune-Tubman Club, a group of black teachers who met at a Racine school every Saturday to teach African-American culture to students. Lloyd Jackson, in addition to his educational contributions, was also the first black alderman in the city in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

After their discussions with minority teachers Saturday, both women said they were optimistic about the enthusiasm of local educators.

Herrera said major progress is being made in promoting critical thinking skills that will help meet the challenges of teaching in an urban school district. She also noted a renewed interest in parental involvement in the schools, which she considers a key to quality education.

Herrera also said there has been a high level of interest in minority issues among minority teachers.

Jackson agreed, saying she sees a great commitment from the teachers she met Saturday.

"Many of the teachers here got an education through their parents at a great sacrifice. There is a great commitment to carry that through to the next generation and the generation after that," Jackson said.

It is easy to find that commitment because Wisconsin is a very progressive education state, Jackson said. She called the state's teachers and legislators "pathfinders in education" and said they are on "the cutting edge" of ideas.

The Jacksons are active in an effort to preserve the history and culture of African-Americans in Georgia. They are helping to restore the home of black teacher Sally Ellis Davis in Milledgeville as a museum and cultural center. Davis taught in the small town for more than 50 years, and Ruby Jackson was one of her students.

Jackson has written a play about Davis, which has been produced at the Georgia university where Jackson teaches.

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