By Ronda Watson Barber
Man, the Columbus City Schools administration and elected board are getting on my last nerve. They do not value or support Black excellence. Student achievement is not a priority.
Linden McKinley’s band, The Unstoppable Mighty Marching Panthers, has been invited to participate in the battle of the high school bands at the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis. They are raising funds. They need to collect $50,000 to cover the costs of attending. Instead of fundraising, talented and dedicated musicians and dancers should focus on their band routines and studying.
Why must one of the poorest schools in Columbus raise money to appear at this prestigious event? Why hasn’t the district allocated funding for enrichment activities for students? They have the money. Last school year, the district spent 332 million dollars. The board allocated a quarter million dollars for the secret superintendent search. The board spent $1.5 million for a transportation software program that it isn’t using because it doesn’t work. The district wastes funds regularly for items that don’t impact students and their successes. The executive office suites and most administrative offices are expensive and modernly furnished, but poor kids must beg their neighbors to go on a field trip. Multiple couples and relatives of leadership are employed in the district, making six-figure salaries with benefits, and poor kids have to fundraise. Are students really the priority in Columbus City Schools? Poor Black children enrolled in Ohio’s largest public school system continue subsidizing suburban lifestyles.
Columbus City Schools and its leadership have no shame. The same people asking Columbus residents to scrape together extra dollars to fund a $100 million-dollar-a-year permanent tax levy aren’t funding an enrichment activity for deserving, economically disadvantaged students. The members of the Mighty Marching Panthers are a positive image coming out of the impoverished crime-ridden neighborhood. They are working hard. The community should support them, especially the public school district and its elected board. Their positive activities should be celebrated and financed.
The Columbus City School administration and district are not making student achievement a priority. This isn’t the first case I have heard where students must prove their worth to adults. A district high school athletic director said his athletes must earn a shade tent with the school name. He wasn’t providing one for their protection from the elements simply because they were a team member. They needed to earn it. Don’t you earn it by being on the team?
I will continue to remind the Columbus School Board of Education and the administration that Black students matter. If it weren’t for the poor Black students enrolled in the district, they wouldn’t live their fancy lives. They should work to eliminate the status quo.
Here’s the link to the March to Memphis Go Fund Me account: https://gofund.me/5ecd2804
Just my thought…rwb