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Published: Friday, 5/19/2006

Forum to discuss black students' progress

BY KARAMAGI RUJUMBA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Urban Coalition, a group of parents and community organizers who have cultivated a reputation as a watchdog of the Toledo Public Schools administration, will hold the first of two town hall forums tomorrow to discuss African-American student performance in district schools.

The forum, titled "TPS's Impact on the State of Black Toledo: Why We Need Change," will start at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the University of Toledo's Nitschke Auditorium. The first session will deal with academic issues facing parents and students in Toledo's central-city schools, said Cheryl Catlin, a member of the Urban Coalition and one of the forum's coordinators.

"Our goal is to provide real data to parents and the public on how African-American students are performing in Toledo [Public] Schools," said Ms. Catlin.

She said that some of the issues the forum will address include the fact that of the 16 Toledo Public Schools on academic emergency, 15 of them have a 70 percent African-American student body.

"We also want to figure out a way to get solid information to parents and people in the community who might not understand some of the challenges in the school district responsible for their children," Ms. Catlin said. Other issues of concern, she said, include the fact that Robinson Junior High School and Scott High School are both on academic watch.

The achievement of students in both schools is significant, she said, because they are predominantly composed of African-American students.

A graduate of Scott High and a single mother, Ms. Catlin said it is important to have the forum "to inspire people in the community to respond in a way that will encourage innovation."

"We need to think of different ways of tackling issues like parent-teacher communication that will strengthen our school system," she said.

Twila Page, a member of the African-American Parents Association, stressed the same point.

"Many parents in the Toledo [Public] Schools already know some of these issues because they face them individually, but they might not know how deep they are or that other people in the same school district face these issues," Ms. Page said.

The second of the two town hall symposiums, which will be held on May 27, again in Nitschke Auditorium, will deal with administration, teacher, and parent issues in the school system.



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