Success stories in urban school districts need more exposure

Success stories in urban school districts need more exposure

It has been two years since I served as the chair of the National Council of Urban Board of Education. The question I asked CUBE members then can be asked today. Where are the advocates for public education, specifically urban education?

I do not have to tell anyone that public education is under tremendous pressure to improve. Unrelenting attacks, state requirements that cannot be met because they are measured differently from year to year, and claims from vocal reformers who offer up quick fixes from merit pay to charter schools portray public education as failing.

Yes, there is a need for improvement, but we cannot let these attacks define us. Our job in urban education is to overcome barriers of poverty and injustice, and to teach all our children to the highest standards. And, I know we are succeeding.

Urban students are achieving and overcoming the odds of their situation. A June Vindicator article featuring three YCS graduates demonstrate my point. Devonta lived with his mother until sixth grade until she went to prison. He played three sports in high school, excelled academically, graduated valedictorian and plans to major in physical therapy at Hiram College. Michaela became pregnant, was put on bed rest and home instructed until the baby was born during her junior year. She worked part time, graduated and plans to become a dental assistant. Shaniece was in a wheelchair during her sophomore year, but continued to work hard, graduated and plans to study chemistry and pre-pharmacy at Youngstown State University.

These stories of success defy the claims that urban education is failing. My fear is that those of us working in the trenches have grown weary and that we are not speaking up to tell our own stories.

We have to find our voice once again. You know students and families who have benefited greatly by urban education. You know students like Devonta, Michaela and Shaniece who despite all odds graduated from high school and have plans to go on to college or further their training.

Yes, public education needs to improve; but we also need advocates, supporters and believers. I urge you to get up, stand up, and speak out. Tell us what’s working, tell us about your successes, and let’s keep fighting for the future of our children. Together there is no limit to how much we can accomplish.

Lock P. Beachum, Sr., Youngstown

The writer is president of the board of education of Youngstown City School District.

Quick work busts burglars

My home was broken into July 2. Due to the rapid response and efficiency of the Vienna Police Department, those responsible were arrested within a few days.

I wish to commend both Chief Pecchio and the entire department for a degree of professionalism expected from a large city police department and a display of personal concern only a small town police department would offer.

Rich Baglier, Vienna