Suffering schools should learn to do more with less

Founder and executive director of Columbus Collegiate Academy
Andrew Boy

Guest blogger Andrew Boy is the founder and executive director of Columbus Collegiate Academy (CCA), a Fordham-authorized middle school serving students in grades six through eight.

As school levies fail across central Ohio, I am concerned and
disappointed to see so many school districts quickly threaten to reduce
the quality of our children’s education. Providing an excellent
education for our children may be the single most important thing we
can do as responsible citizens.

To
give hope to our children in tough economic times, we must learn to do
more with less. When I read the statement made by Westerville’s
school-board president, “We’ll be looking at state-minimum
requirements,” I lost confidence in the leadership of the district in
which I live. As the operator of the Columbus Collegiate Academy, a
charter school on the Near East Side, I run a school on a shoestring
budget. Unlike traditional district schools, we don’t have access to
local property-tax dollars.

When I see levies on the ballot, I can only dream about what we
could do for our students, 94 percent of whom are minorities and 88
percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, with additional
revenue. Although it is unlikely we ever will receive public revenue at
the same level as others, we would never settle for providing our
students with “state-minimum requirements.”

Instead of slighting our students with the bare minimum, we ask our
teachers and administrators to do more with less. Our staff has stepped
up and has been honored with a national EPIC award, placing us among
the elite middle schools in the country. We also solicit the help of
others.

We rally volunteers to help with landscaping, painting, cleaning and
other tasks to save on costs. We reach out to foundations,
corporations and individuals and have been fortunate enough to partner
with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Columbus Foundation, Commerce
National Bank, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (our authorizer),
hundreds of individuals and many others. Perhaps districts could learn
from their charter-school counterparts.

JPMorgan Chase compassionately and generously supports our
enrichment programs. The Columbus Foundation graciously invested in the
future of our students by funding our high-school placement program.

Before we give our children the state-minimum requirements, let’s find every way to rally our community around education.

The real funding disparity in Ohio occurs in charter schools.
Charter schools in Ohio serve a population of which 68 percent are
minorities (districts statewide: 25 percent) and 67 percent are
economically disadvantaged (districts statewide: 45 percent) because
the majority of charter schools are located in the eight urban
districts.

Despite serving a population of students that have been
traditionally underserved in our country, we do it with a third less
funding than traditional districts. The real outcry in school funding
should be this often untold, separate and certainly unequal story that
continues almost 60 years after Brown vs. Board of Education.

This post first appeared as a letter to the editor in the Columbus Dispatch.

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