Once again we are presented with the tragic reality of gun violence in our Nation’s schools. Yesterday’s Valentine’s Day Massacre of students at Stoneman Douglas High School was just 7 miles from our own Andrews High School in Ft. Lauderdale.
While we applaud the selfless heroism of the teachers, we have been here before.
Indeed a 3-year study of school-related gun violence “identified 160 school shootings across 38 states. Nearly 53 percent of the identified shootings took place at K-12 schools, and 47 percent took place on college or university campuses.”https://everytownresearch.org/reports/analysis-of-school-shootings/
The increasing frequency of these shootings appears to be making us numb to our most important responsibility — to protect our children.
Whether it is Columbine, Sandy Hook, Chicago or, now, Ft. Lauderdale -- our children deserve our courage, not our complacency.
As educators and as parents, we must be sufficiently outraged to act.
As one surviving student from yesterday’s massacre said, “There’s something seriously wrong with our country, even I can see that. We need more than ideas. Ideas without action are costing lives!”
Students, parents and supporters of the Roosevelt College and Career Academy rallied Tuesday against the possible closing of the historic school.
Parent Gladys Davis credited the school for inspiring her son, Kevin, to go to college. She said he received a musical scholarship and plays the flute at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.
"Whoever thought he'd go to college playing the flute and leading his section because of Roosevelt?" she said. "When I hear you're trying to close Roosevelt, stop right there."
She said her other son, Keith, a Roosevelt student, is now considering college, as well.
"There are so many working parents, if you close doors to Roosevelt it's like we're being defeated," she said. "You're not continuing to build the pillars, you're breaking them down... stop right there."
To shore up finances, the Gary Community School Corp.'s emergency manager, Peggy Hinckley, is considering closing Roosevelt and relocating students into another Gary school. That possibility triggered Tuesday's forum.
Hinckley said last week the district must maintain the school that has expenses of about $600,000 annually. "Now, we pay all the maintenance and receive none of the revenue," she said. The students should be in a better, more modern building, she said.
About $4.1 million in state money goes to Roosevelt's private education manager, EdisonLearning Inc. It just inked a five-year contract to run the school last year.
Hinckley included Roosevelt's relocation in a deficit reduction plan submitted to the state Distressed Unit Appeal Board.
While Roosevelt's academic struggles prompted the state to take it over in 2011, staff members point to the school's rise from an F to a D grade this year.
Principal Donna Henry said students were reading three years behind their grade level in 2012 when EdisonLearning began its first year under a state contract.
"It's constantly repeated that Roosevelt is a failing school... we moved that grade to a D. The staff should be proud. Put that myth to rest. Our students are not failures," she said.
Roosevelt alumnus MaryAnn Canty-Reedus said the state has labeled Roosevelt a failing school. "We still have to go on what the state is saying and realize Hinckley and her group wants to close Roosevelt.
"We have to work hard… this school is not going to go, but Gary schools are not fixing it up."
Mary Cossey, another alumnus, said her Class of 1984 would lead fundraising or assist in tutoring to keep the school open.
Several students voiced support.
Senior Robert Barnes said he's been at Roosevelt since eighth grade. "This is my heart and soul. As many times as I've messed up, they've been there, one step away… this is home and all I have left to be honest with you. This school helped me be a man."
Thom Jackson, president and chief executive officer of EdisonLearning, said he opposes relocating the students.
"We want what's right for the kids and at the end of the day, that's here," he said. "It has to be more than a matter of convenience," he said of the relocation. Jackson said there needs to be a well-thought out plan.
He said EdisonLearning has put $1.5 million into school renovations. "There's an assumption and narrative that EdisonLearning made all this money, so why can't they put it back in." Jackson said the company has been losing money consistently.
Jackson, who said he grew up in public housing, said education made the difference for him. "Go to the schools everybody gave up on and we could solve a lot of ills in this country. Roosevelt is an opportunity to create a model of success."
Recently, eight students at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, who are active in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) students participated in this year’s district career development conference. The students compete in career areas including marketing, business management, finance, and entrepreneurship. All eight students placed in the district competition, and will now advance to state-level competition in Indianapolis, next month.
The students are: Shania Lankston - 2nd Place (Principles of Marketing); Ramon Gordon - 3rd Place (Quick Serve Restaurant Management); Saraphina Deer - 5th Place (Principles of Marketing); Robert Barnes - 5th Place (Business Communications); Shanell Robinson - 6th Place (Entrepreneurship); Montaz Oliver - 6th Place (Personal Financial Literacy); Keila Williams - 6th Place (Business Services Marketing); and, DeSharme Warren - 7th Place (Entrepreneurship).
Darnell Harris, Tyre Sanders, and Brianna Townsel will also compete at the state level by presenting their business plans.
Distributive Education Clubs of America) is an international association of high school and college students and teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service. The organization prepares leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality, management, and other business areas. It is one of ten organizations being led by a parent organization known as "CTSO" Career and Technical Student Organizations.
Chloe Coleman, a sophomore at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, came in 1st Place for her career goal presentation on becoming a neurosurgeon at this year’s Northwest Indiana Jobs for America Career Development Conference. Chloe now advances on to the state-wide Career Development Finals in March.
The Jobs for America effort is part of the Center for Workplace Innovations “READY NWI” initiative to accelerate year-by-year progress in engaging students and their parents with a wide array of educational and occupational choices that lead directly to success in employment and with post-high school degree and credential attainment.
Their goal is by 2025, to have a talent pool available for Northwest Indiana employers where 60 percent or more of the labor force has a college degree or high-value post-high school credential aligned with employers’ specific needs.
Congratulations to Chloe, and to all of the Roosevelt College and Career Academy JAG students.
To many who remember the long and stressful process of applying to college and waiting for a response, the thought of being accepted to college on the spot is a wonderful concept. Last Thursday, four seniors at Chambers High School in Homestead, Florida, experienced the benefits of such a program first hand, as they were accepted “on the spot” as incoming freshman at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens. In addition to their acceptance to the college, the four Chambers seniors were also offered scholarships.
St. Thomas University is internationally recognized for its unique academic specializations in justice, international business, ministry, sports administration, and the sciences. Areas of study range from global entrepreneurship and undergraduate scientific research to divinity studies, intercultural human rights, and liberal arts. St. Thomas University recognizes the importance of personalized attention for every student, ensuring the mission of developing leaders for life.