Urban League position on Issue 3

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Voters of Toledo clearly expressed their will as it relates to Toledo Public Schools and Issue 3.  With the failure of this levy an opportunity has been created to really begin a dialogue between Toledo Public Schools, rx its Board, Administration, Administration and Teacher Unions, parents, community and most importantly the students.

The Greater Toledo Urban League, while expressing opposition to the levy, take no pleasure in its failure.  We rather view this as a potential watershed moment from which we can choose to either continue the same confrontational and “pass the blame” rhetoric or we can forge a “new way forward” that will address the varied issues we now face.  A plan to effectively address the inequities in the offering of a quality education for all students and the creation of a culture that supports community-based schools is paramount to the success of this district.

We further understand that the responsibility is not solely on TPS, but it is a collective responsibility that must be borne by all beginning with parents, citizens, the religious leaders, and business professionals.  NOW is the time for leadership! It is the desire of the Greater Toledo Urban League to work with TPS and this community to ensure that each child in Toledo receives a quality education that prepares them for college, careers and productive citizenship.  We ask that you join us in this effort!

[download_box]Issue 3 Follow up statement[/download_box]


[info_box]A press conference was held on Friday April, 23, 2010 to address the Greater Toledo Urban League’s official Toledo Public School’s issue 3. Read the official statement by the Greater Toledo Urban League president John Jones below.[/info_box]

GTUL’s Position Statement on Issue 3 – Toledo Public Schools Levy

We face a crucial time in the life and history of our city.  Job growth in some sectors remains dismal, unemployment continues to hover around 12% for the City, and overall the economic rebound we desire to see is slow at best.  The City of Toledo in order to close a $48 million deficit has had to call on employees to take cuts in pay and do more with less, Unions to agree to concessions and everyday citizens to bear a larger percentage of the load.

At the same time, within the City our school system is facing an enormous budget crisis as well.  As it attempts to close a $30 million deficit, there has been much discussion about where to generate revenue and make cuts.  Unfortunately the Board and Administration of our District has engaged in little dialogue to collectively come up with a solution that creates the needed change and reform to provide ALL students with a quality, first-class education.

Over the past ten years we have seen a sharp decline in the number of students in the district (per Ohio Department of Education enrollment declined 27%, from approximately 35,000 to approximately 26,000).  While the enrollment has declined, revenues and expenditures per pupil not only have increased disproportionately, but have also seen an increase that has far outpaced inflationary rates.  This rough analysis supports our belief that this community has supported levies almost without question and in some instances blindly.  More specifically, the precincts that comprise the Central City (which is primarily minority) has staunchly supported each levy while receiving the majority of school cuts and the lowest amount of resources necessary to prepare students for college, work and life.  Additionally, through the “Building for Success” program we have seen a disproportionate share of contracts being awarded to minority contractors and new or renovated schools have seen a very apparent delay of and even exclusion from the plan altogether.  The levy, if passed on the backs of the community, will have a devastating impact on poor and working families, as many of them have little disposable income to bear an additional tax at this time.

The Greater Toledo Urban League, as an affiliate of the National Urban League, has adopted as one of its long range goals, “ensuring each child receives a quality education that prepares them for college, work and life by 2025”.  We are 100% committed to this goal, however locally we find it difficult to achieve within a District that is begging for reform and lacking in transparency and accountability.  It is disingenuous at best and blatantly hypocritical at its worst for Toledo Public Schools to ask the community to support a levy and trust their judgment when resources have been squandered and decisions made that will have a negative impact on success and progress in the future.

We support our students wholeheartedly and we support quality teachers within our District.   However we recognize that to continue providing funds without a clear strategic focus and vision; without a massive reform of administration; without a review and revision of union contracts; and without a concentrated effort to work collaboratively with the entire community, will be the greatest disservice we could do to our community’s most precious assets – OUR YOUTH.  Therefore the Greater Toledo Urban League, at this time cannot support Issue 3.

Now is the time for this community to step up and hold our elected officials and public institutions accountable!

Now is the time for this community to step up and volunteer to assist students in their quest to not only secure a quality education, but also to become productive contributors to our community!

Now is the time for this community to step up and contribute to the success of each youth in a way that is commensurate with one’s ability!

GTUL’s Recommendations
  1. Develop a Strategic Plan: There is a “plan” that is more than five years old.  This could be revisited, but the landscape is different and our students, teachers and community should know that there is a plan and that it is being followed and implemented
  2. Review and “right-size” the administration: Based on what is present today within the District are the levels and layers of administration still applicable and more importantly appropriate.
  3. Review and revise union contracts: This must be done in collective and collaborative so as to make student education and learning the best it can be.  We must be “ahead of the curve” on many issues and realize that what worked even five years ago is different today given our current situation.
  4. Develop and foster an environment that welcomes continuous collaboration and innovation, while valuing human capital: This is critical in bringing about transformational change to this community.  TPS cannot be seen as “the problem” alone, as it will take an entire village to ensure that children are prepared for post-secondary education, work and life

[note_box]NOTE:  Some of this discussion and corresponding support for focusing on these areas can be found in the report entitled, “Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing Ohio’s Core Communities” prepared by the Brookings Institution in conjunction with Greater Ohio.  The link to this document is below.



[download_box]Official Greater Toledo Urban League Statement on Issue 3[/download_box]

[download_box]TPS Issue 3 recomendations[/download_box]


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