People talking at a forum

On April 25, 2016 the NAACP Columbus Unit and Columbus City Schools (CCS) sponsored a Community Education Forum at The Neighborhood House, Inc.

At the start of the meeting the community was informed that the CCS district mission is to “Ensure that each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service and empowered for success as citizens in the global community.” To achieve this mission, the CCS focuses on three key principles: 1) That each student reaches their full potential to continue education, serve in the military, go to college, start a business, enter the workforce as lifelong learners. 2) That the district create a safe student centered, innovated learning that recruits, develops and retains world class talents. 3) That the district is accountable to our community and to our customers and that we’re confident in the district in maintaining itself through strategic, responsible, and transparent leadership.

Columbus residents and community leaders were then given the opportunity to ask questions.  Some voiced concerns with current government and state testing policies that the CCS are mandated to follow that, in some people’s opinion, cause educational harm to Black and minority students. One concerned male citizen who has children in the CCS district asked “when are you going to stop giving these tests?” Another passionate female educator expressed her frustration with the third graders who are failing these standard tests and being kept back from advancing to the next level, and as a result develop low self-esteem.

CCS answer was “that’s a state issue and not something we can change on our level.”  It was also made clear that the goal is not to stop giving the tests but to ensure the students are passing the tests. CCS also gave information on how students and parents could “go on line” and learn about the “many” programs they have to assist students with passing these tests. They also report over 90 percent of third graders passed the tests this year.

Some leaders were concerned with the one hundred and thirty thousand dollars allocated by former Mayor Coleman to, according to Superintendent Dr. Dan Good, “protect thirty-million dollars in revenue that comes to the district that has been threatened to be taken away from us, and that’s a thirty-year-old agreement that’s been in place… it’s the right thing to do to so we can ensure our boys and girls have access to that thirty million dollars in the future.” 

One Black male pointed out that the “face” of CCS doesn’t appear to represent the Black male student. The CCS panel consisted of two white males, two white females and four black females. Where was the black male leadership of CCS? Sitting in the audience. Dr. Dan Good’s reason for this “I gave him the evening off” which sounded ridiculous since the person was at the meeting from the time it started until it ended. However, since the black male in question didn’t feel it necessary to be presented to the community as a leader at CCS, a leader that sits at the front of the class and not the back, I’ll allow him to keep his indemnity.

CCS also reports they are recruiting minority males “from high school” to join their intern program to train and retain teachers. It seems they are looking at long term planning instead of short term planning of hiring qualified college educated minority males who are unemployed and looking for jobs today, not four years from now after high school graduation. Of course that’s four years of a paycheck for somebody at CCS. Oh, wait a minute, CCS says they can’t “find any male minorities looking to become teachers.” 

This reporter asked what CCS is doing to decrease the number of Black students being disciplined and suspended/expelled from school at the rate of three to five times higher than white students per the Kirwan Institute 2014 report on Ohio schools. Dr. Good agreed that the report “caused concern” and that the CCS is working to correct that “statistics” and that there has been a “decrease in this number” and “I’ll be glad to sit down with you and go over this information, but not now, in the summer.” 

It was pointed out several times to the panel that there are parents who can’t read, don’t have computers or even know how to use them and that there needs to be a better way for parents to be able to assist their children and the teachers with meeting their educational goals outside of “going to our web site.” The CCS panel was in agreement with this plan to develop other methods of communication including a “parent checklist” to assist parents and students with meeting deadlines, prepare for tests and graduation credits to help ensure seniors graduate on time and their mission doesn’t fail.

Appears in Issue: