Friday, July 4, 2014

Remembering Kelley Williams-Bolar, Congresswoman Fudge introduces bill on achievement gap and in response to Ohio's unconstitutional public school funding formula that hurts Black, poor children, school funding issue in Ohio not soundly raised by mainstream media or the Black community in race for governor between Kasich and FitzGerald, Rev Al Sharpton comments, Sharpton had recommended that Governor Kasich push for the state legislature to comply with Ohio Supreme Court's order to revise unconstitutional school funding formula


Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), who
also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus of
Blacks in Congress
By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog, Tel: (216) 659-0473 Kathy Wray Coleman is  a community activist and 20 year investigative journalist who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.  (www.clevelandurbannews.com) / (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)
U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a  Rhode Island Democrat

Civil Rights activist and MSNBC Commentator The Reverend Al Sharpton, also president of the National Action Network
Incumbent Ohio Governor
John Kasich (R-OH)
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic nominee for Ohio governor
Kelley Williams -Bolar, a single Black and poor parent who resided in a housing project in Akron, Ohio, a city some 30 miles south of Cleveland. She was jailed for nine days in 2011 for sending her two daughters, one a third grader at the time, and the other in junior high,  to a neighboring and better school district. The case drew national attention and support from Civil Rights Activist The Rev. Al Sharpton. Ohio Gov John Kaisch subsequently reduced the mother's felony convictions for lying on school applications in the case to misdemeanors via a partial pardon, a case that highlights Ohio's unconstitutional public school funding system, one deemed by the Ohio Supreme Court in DeRolph vs. State of Ohio as just that, unconstitutional.  Then 42-years-old, Williams was an Akron public school teacher's aide and college student seeking to become a teacher at the time. 



By Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog, Tel: (216) 659-0473 Kathy Wray Coleman is  a community activist and 20 year investigative journalist who trained for 17 years at the Call and Post Newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.  (www.clevelandurbannews.com) / (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-11), a Warrensville Heights Democrat who also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus of Blacks in Congress,  has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives titled the Core Opportunity Resources for Equity and Excellence Act (CORE), proposed federal legislation designed to address persistent achievement gaps between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students by requiring states and local school districts to provide core resources, such as math, science, social studies and English, equitably. The legislation, says Fudge, is partly in response to unconstitutional public school funding formulas across the country, including in Ohio. See the text of the bill here.  Read more about the CORE Act here.

And though it is clear that respective state legislatures seemingly bear the larger burden of providing all children with equal access to a thorough and efficient public education under their respective state constitutions, Fudge said that Congress also has a responsibility to seek to eliminate the achievement gap between minority children and their White counterparts and to deal with educational inequities that serve to foster dual school systems throughout the nation based upon a child's zip code. 

“All of our nation’s students must be assured fair and equitable access to quality resources for core learning, yet the evidence is clear, we have failed millions of students,"
said Fudge in a press release to Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's leader in Black digital news. "

"The CORE Act is one step forward in righting that wrong,” the congresswoman said. 

United States Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a Rhode Island Democrat, and  Harvard University Law School graduate with a distinguished military background, introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

A report  published by a federal advisory commission to the U.S. Department of Education in 2013 illustrates the magnitude of achievement gaps in America's public schools. 

Black, Latino, American Indian, native Alaskan students and English language learners attend schools with higher concentrations of inexperienced teachers, according to the report. And one in five high schools nationwide lack a school counselor. The report also shows that roughly between 10 and 25 percent of high schools across the nation do not offer more than one of the core courses in the typical sequence for high school math and science, such as Algebra I and II, geometry, biology and chemistry. 

"Equal opportunity is at the center of America’s promise and potential," said Fudge, whose 11th congressional district includes parts of the cities of Cleveland, a majority Black major American city, and Akron, Ohio, a city some 30 miles south of Cleveland.

"We cannot maintain a competitive edge in the world when we forsake this principle in our public education system," said Fudge.

“Senator Reed’s introduction of the CORE Act in the Senate, which is identical to legislation I introduced in the House, seeks to address this shortcoming,"
the federal lawmaker said. 

The Ohio Supreme Court in DeRolph vs. The State of Ohio deemed Ohio's public school funding method unconstitutional in 1997  and on other occasions since the landmark ruling in which the court ordered the state legislature to revise its unconstitutional school funding formula that the court says relies too heavily on  property taxes, creating property rich and property poor school districts in violation of the thorough and efficient clause of the Ohio Constitution.

The DeRolph case includes a core of school districts from across Ohio, though Cleveland schools was not among them, that were fed up and successfully sued the state of Ohio.  But money talks and rich school districts have successfully lobbied the Ohio legislature to ignore the court order for a funding formula revision.   

The current school funding formula in Ohio allows school districts like the neighboring Cleveland Hts-University Hts. School District and Shaker Hts. schools to spend some $20 thousand annually per student while Cleveland spends about $16 thousand per kid. The affluent city of Beachwood spends even more per student. Yet, Ohio's poor students are judged, berated and penalized based upon the same yard stick on standardized test and other measures required by the Ohio State Board of Education.

Children in rural Ohio are affected too, some even more drastically in schools without running water. 

The nation's educational inequalities against its children can soundly be examined in  the popular book by Jonathan Kozol named Savage Inequalities, a study that draws its name from an investigation of the gross inadequacies of America's public school system in select and impoverished school districts across the country such as East St Louis and New York City. 

National Civil Rights activists such as the Rev Al Sharpton, a MSNBC political  commentator and president of the National Action Network, have also called for the state legislature to do right by poor children and revise its unconstitutional school funding formula.

"Yes I do, " said Sharpton, when asked by Cleveland Urban News.Com Editor Kathy Wray Coleman at a press conference in Akron, Ohio on whether he believes that Ohio Gov John Kasich should push the state legislature to comply with the state Supreme Court's order to revised its unconstitutional school funding formula . That press conference, held at a Black baptist church on Akron's largely Black west side in 2011 followed a fiery speech on Ohio's and the nation's discriminatory school funding system by the Civil Rights leader for Kelley Williams- Bolar.

A Black single parent, Williams-Bolar, then 42-years-old and an Akron public school teacher's aide and college student seeking to become a school teacher, made national news after she was jailed for nine days three years ago. A Summitt County Common Pleas Court jury convicted her of felony crimes for falsification for using her father's suburban address to send her two daughters, one a third grader at the time, and the other in junior high, to a neighboring affluent White school district away from the Akron city schools, and away from the housing project where she and her family live. 

Though Gov Kasich partly pardoned  Williams-Bolar, who appeared with Sharpton on the Dr Phil Show during the height of the controversy, by reducing the felonies for lying on school applications  to misdemeanors, the issue of unequal education for children in Ohio and elsewhere throughout the country 
 still lingers as a serious problem, research reveals. 

A Republican, Kasich faces Democratic nominee  and current Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in this year's race for governor. But neither candidate has been credibly called to task on the school funding issue by the mainstream media, Ohio teachers unions, policy makers, or by Black leaders, Black parents, and the Black community. 

Ohio's largely Republican seven-member Ohio Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, and by Thomas Moyer when the DeRolph decision came down some 17 years ago,  has since relinquished jurisdiction or authority over the school funding case but can revisit the issue if it so chooses.
  (www.clevelandurbannews.com) / (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)