A Letter to the Community: The Ball is in Your Court

by Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

What are you going to do about Columbus City Schools? The state’s largest public school district is failing, and it is time for our community to take action. Columbus City Schools educates the largest group of Black children in Ohio, and these children deserve better. Last year’s academic record was abysmal, equating to 3 D’s and 4 F’s. Our children are being let down by a system that is supposed to educate and uplift them.

On the business end, Black vendors received only half of the contracts awarded under the LEDE program. Registration barriers are placed before Black businesses, while last year, white vendors—many of whom don’t reside in the district—received $18.3 million in contracts. Meanwhile, tax-paying Black vendors got just over $9 million. District officials tout the race-neutrality of the program while failing to buy local or within the district’s boundaries. It’s interesting how white officials cite Ohio’s revised code when explaining the overwhelming whiteness of some departments and their purchasing numbers but neglect their moral obligations to reinvest in the tax base.

The majority of teachers are white and don’t live in the district. They don’t opt-in to open enrollment and send their children to CCS. A majority of the staff in buildings and grounds are rural white men, perhaps this is why the district’s buildings are neglected. They don’t care about the conditions of the facilities utilized by Black and brown students. They wouldn’t accept unhealthy classrooms for their children.

The director of Capital Improvements called Columbus “a city of poverty,” in a room mostly comprises of Black people who live in the Capital City. With this sentiment, the best interests of poor Black children are not at the forefront. Who cares about poor Black kids? The professional staff in Capital Improvements is all white, and there are only two Black directors in Operations.

The Board of Education has operated under a veil of secrecy, including the hiring of the present inexperienced superintendent. They continue to vote on legislation that doesn’t include Black vendors. The massive tax levy is wreaking havoc in the community, as seniors struggle to pay accelerated property taxes. The Board operates with no integrity, claiming to work in the best interest of students. Their elected positions have been purchased by labor unions and the Franklin County Democratic Party. The leaked documents only put in writing their priorities, practices and stances.

Columbus City Schools need to go into receivership. The children and their parents need a union. If not for the poor Black children and the tax dollars allocated to each one, the highly paid administrators with made-up jobs—many of whom are husband and wife—wouldn’t be living high on the hog in the suburbs.

Our community cannot remain silent. The ball is in your court. What are you going to do?

just my thoughts…rwb