1st Annual Community Education Forum Report

Today I attended the 1st Annual Community Education Forum at Mt. Pilgrim Church on Hoag off of Dorr St. A big congratulation goes out the Ajibola Green who put the whole event together and paid to get the word out. The turnout was phenomenal. There were around 150-200 people in the audience to hear Jawanza Kunjufu (keynote speaker) and others. Speakers included Steve Gunter, Brooke Campbell, Keyiara Sallie sang a great song, Sean Mack did a phenomenal rendition of Martin Luther King's, "I have a dream" speech, Cheryl Catlin and Keiron Richardson. There was also an education panel consisting of Dr. Kunjufu, Darlene Fisher, Maurice Allen, Sharon Gaines, Carter Wilson, Earl Murry, Martino Harmon, and Frances Dumbuya. Jim Gaines moderated the panel.

Mr. Green said the purpose of the event was to see what was going on with the district then plan to make things better. Mr. Green said he did this because he was tired about talking to people year-after-year regarding the problems the district has as well as the African-American community. He said as naive as he was in putting it together, he did not realize how political it was. He said he had people agree then pull out after getting cold feet. The message was a positive one, being we have some problems but we want to deal with them to make things better.

Dr. Kunjufu talked about the challenges that African-American students have, especially boys in schools. He questioned the ability for teachers to relate with them. He also said that parents need to take a better interest in their children's education and that African-American parents in particular need to work harder. He said that African-American men in particular need to do a better job at being there for their children. Dr. Kunjufu also advocated for more single gender schools as well as starting boys a year behind girls. He also advocated for longer school years so that students do not have academic regression. Dr. Kunjufu attended Morgan State University and Illinois Sate. He founded Unity, a black cultural organization. He earned his doctorate from Union Graduate School in 1984.

Mr. Green is a mentor in the Toledo Public Schools. He moved here from Arkansas 5 years ago. His wife is a teacher. He has a degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. He earned a second bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Toledo and is now attending the University of Toledo law school. He says his goal is to advocate for the betterment of African Americans in every facet of their lives.

I want to congratulate Mr. Green on putting such a wonderful program together. He truly put the rubber to the road in getting this put together. He funded the event himself. It was also refreshing that he wanted an honest look at the Toledo Public Schools in order to set a plan for the future. Too many times you hear the slick marketing spin and it is refreshing to hear someone who wants to deal with the issues in a positive way. He is young, well spoken, and wants action. I bet this is not the last time we hear from Ajibola Green.

The only elected official there was Darlene Fisher and candidate Michael Goulding stopped by too. It is strange that such a positive event was not attended by more leaders in the community. You can listen to most of the event by listening to the audio file below. For copyright reasons, I could not record the keynote speaker.

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I wanted to add, that many people were shocked at the numbers Cheryl Catlin showed regarding performance of many central city schools. Many people there were surprised, even some people who follow what is going on. Sometimes the truth can be sobering. But like Mr. Green said, let's see what is going on and plan for it. Hopefully I will be able to post this presentation here or link to it.

Did you know over 6k of the students in TPS are suspended? That ends up being a little over 20% of the students. This means 1 out of 5 kids are suspended for a total of 50k days. That is amazing and disturbing. Hopefully I will get the presentation and you can see for yourself.

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