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An Open Letter to Romules Durant

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq

Dear Dr. Durant:

     Giant kudos to you and your organization for getting a fat plum dropped in your school basket. You know, the giant monetary gift that billionaire Peter Kadens blessed the Toledo Public Schools these past two weeks.

     Wowsa! Talk about a Mama Mia Gift! Wouldn’t you say?

Now, after all the hoopla has died down and the cameras have left the building, what is left to discern from the glitter and tinsel left on the celebratory floor?

Lafe Tolliver, Esq

     Allow me to share with you some observations, if I may.

The gift was good, no doubt about it but…what would have happened if Mr. Kadens met with you and said, “You know, Romules, let’s put this gift on ice for four years so that I can announce it to the incoming freshman class at Scott. That way, they will have four years to prep themselves and really educationally ‘muscle up’ for the rigors of a college education.”

    What would you have said to that proposal? I hope your answer would have been, “Great, that will give me and my staff a head start to beef up our support systems for the kids and to make sure that each incoming freshman can start running out of the gate, knowing that there is a humungous prize awaiting them at the finish line.”

    Now, I say that to say this. As you are acutely aware, the report cards on the TPS in the last many years as to scholastic achievement and graduation rates have not been impressive but quite the opposite.

    For when I constantly see evaluations of D’s and F’s on the state report card on the quality of the education given to the students in the Toledo Public schools, I hope that you and your administration will not be caught flatfooted when it comes to real programming that gives the students and their parents real confidence that they are adequately being prepped for a two-year or a four-year degree.

     I mean, why give hope, false hope to any student if in fact the infrastructure is not in place so that each student can master college-related materials with the confidence that going to college is not something to dread or fear because he or she feels inadequately prepared?

     Am I making sense?

     Also, as part and parcel of the need to revamp what is not working at TPS, the “do-over” will necessarily include working with the teachers’ union so that nonproductive teachers are spotted and are either retrained or shown the door. No ifs, ands or buts on this one.

     My late law colleague, David Taylor, III used to quip that, “There are no students that cannot learn but only teachers that cannot teach!”

     One of the tell-tale markers of the success of this endeavor instituted by Mr. Kadens will be the evaluations of the students who go on to college under this gift; and how did they fare at their chosen college or trade school in the next two to five years.

     If there is great success, there is the likelihood that this generous program could be extended to additional graduating Scott High School seniors.

     But, if it shows that the college bound students missed the mark and failed to make the cut after the first year (which is the hardest year for incoming students) or failed to graduate,

things will look bleak for the program and for your future as head of TPS.

     One piece of advice is to contact those urban educational leaders across the country who have done marvelous jobs in their cities with kids coming from single parent homes or who are labelled as socio-economic disadvantaged and find out how they got stellar results in their school environments.

     If you do not reach out and bring in those tried and true urban leaders and teachers you are doing yourself a grave dis-service and are cheapening the generosity of Mr. Kadens.

     I think Mr. Kadens has unwittingly thrown you a lifeline as to helping you turn around a public school system that is punch drunk with low achievement scores and lower expectations from the business community and the white community in general regarding the quality of the Toledo Public Schools’ end product.

     I know…. I know, it is still unfair to have to perform to the expectations of white folks when they have had the perpetual advantage of money, opportunity, access and political power to situate themselves and their kids in the right lanes of achievement due to white skin privileges.

     That is just a given of this American system. You know it and I know it.

     But you can rain on their parade if you do less cheer leading and be more demanding on the TFT (school union) and on your staff and on yourself to realize that when all is said and done, what matters and what’s left is: Did I get the job done?

    Just imagine, not having to run full page ads touting the record of TPS the day or two before the report card comes out from Columbus giving TPS another D or F, because this time, the report card could read: Well done and keep on doing it!


Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/13/20 09:06:47 -0500.

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