NAACP speaker: Work with state on city schools
By Amanda Tonoli
The academic plight of Youngstown City Schools was the primary focus of the NAACP Youngstown Chapter’s annual Freedom Fund banquet.
Keynote speaker at East High School on Friday night was Tom Roberts, former Ohio state senator and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Ohio State Conference president.
He said his focus is on education and the game changers within it. “[There is an] importance of quality in education happening,” he said.
The city school district is under the auspices of House Bill 70.
HB 70, commonly referred to as the Youngstown Plan, was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in July 2015. It enabled a state-appointed academic distress commission to hire CEO Krish Mohip to lead the district.
The bill gives Mohip complete operational, managerial and instructional control of the district.
“Even though we [NAACP] oppose the academic distress commission, I am of the persuasion that as long as the state has taken over the schools ... that we should work with them because it’s all about children,” Roberts said. “We need to concentrate on their education.”
Getting a quality education is important for students to obtain necessary skills, he added.
“It’s important ... so they employ the skills – their citizenship – because that is the lifeblood of our communities’ educated workforce,” Roberts said. “If we have an uneducated workforce, businesses are not going to come to our cities. And so, for me, I think that’s the real critical issue of having those students here to go into the workforce with those necessary skills that they need to be productive citizens.”
In addition it’s quality primary education that leads to preparedness for higher education, he added.
“We want to make sure those students who leave their high schools and come to colleges are prepared for the rigorous demands of higher education, so once again, they can feel their dreams, whatever their passion might be,” he said.
Roberts added the NAACP needs to do whatever it can do to remove the ADC, or modify it.
“I’d like to keep the school boards intact and have the state superintendent of public education work with them to give them what they need to do the right things as far as academics as far as teacher training, so we don’t have any more schools coming under control of the state of Ohio.”
Also at the local chapter’s 99th annual banquet, the organization awarded four students scholarships. They are Terrence White, attending Lake Erie College, and Summer Abuhashim, Abigail Sudano and Lorenzo Flowers, who are all attending Youngstown State University.