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Youngstown schools focus of meetings

Bipartisan effort looks to end many HB 70 provisions

YOUNGSTOWN — The future of education for Youngstown City School District students will be the topic of two separate virtual events today.

A virtual town hall meeting will focus on the bipartisan effort by legislators and school officials in East Cleveland, Lorain and Youngstown to convince the Ohio Senate Education committee to push forward its version of a bill that, if successful, will eliminate many of the provisions of House Bill 70, which created academic distress commissions and chief executive officers in the three school districts.

Registration for the town hall can be done by going to https://ohea.zoom.us/meeting/register/tjckc

O-gqT8jHtOajm2NFg1CaKLBcJo2yy69. This virtual town hall will be 6 to 7:30 p.m.

An earlier news conference will continue an effort by Jimma McWilson of the African Education Party to focus on getting local leaders — in particular those in the Youngstown black community — to take some responsibility for the 22 years that the district has earned “F” and “D” grades on the state report card.

McWilson’s press event is expected to take place at 9 a.m. at https:// us02web.zoom.us/j/ 82910894758.

While the Youngstown district has had the financial resources to turn around the mostly “F” grades, its leaders and those in the community had not identified the specific problem, or exhibited the will to stay focused on solutions, according to McWilson.

McWilson, a longtime Youngstown schools critic, is expected to state the failure to turn the district around lies not only with those who have worked in it, but the community at large for not doing what it could to help struggling students succeed. McWilson is particularly critical of black leaders for doing too little in giving students the foundation they needed to thrive.

McWilson is expected to discuss a multi-year study he conducted that convinced him that while there have been systemic impediments to learning in Youngstown Schools, academic results did not change when black educators became leaders.

“I’ve spoken to many pastors and leaders in black churches, members of fraternities and sororities, as well as those that work in area schools and too often the response to the academic failure and poor report card grades has been to blame the students,” McWilson said. “We all are part of problem, and we all can be part of the solution.”

McWilson said the district could significantly improve the performance of its students — and thus, the state report card grade — by placing more emphasis on improving reading.

“Report card grades would improve,” he said. “Reading should be emphasized in churches, in after school programs sponsored by fraternal organizations and in our homes. We can solve this problem if every person takes some responsibility to do what they can to help students.”

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, Sen. Michael Ruli, R-Salem, Rep. Joe Miller, D-Lorain, Sen. Nathan Manning, R-Lorain, Rep. Kent Smith, D-East Cleveland, and Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-East Cleveland, are expected to speak at the event. Also speaking will be school board members Mary Rice from East Cleveland, Mark Ballard of Lorain City Schools and Ronald Shadd of Youngstown schools.

“We are bringing forward voices for change,” Shadd said. “We want people to know the experiment known as HB-70 has been a failure not only in Youngstown schools, but also in these other districts.”

“It would have spread to other Ohio school districts, if there had not been a moratorium placed on its expansion,” Shadd said.

Educators, community leaders and parent representatives also will speak at the program.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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