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