I’ve only been at Kent for a short time, but I get excited everyday I arrive. I encourage students to learn and work hard academically. Currently, there are over 200 students attending Kent Elementary School. They have a daily routine, which gives them a sense of security and belonging. It’s been a difficult adjustment for them, since the proposed closure of Kent Elementary School to them. Many of them are saddened and angry about the decision to make them leave their school, so other students can attend Kent. They don’t understand why they should be treated unfairly. I don’t have answers that they can understand, because I don’t understand it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I know about the missing 20.8 Million Dollars that no one is being prosecuted for. I know about Governor Taft’s plan to cut education funding and how the Ohio House and Senate Bills affect the funding for local school districts. The parents and students also know that Governor Taft and his wife adopted Kent Elementary. They want to know where are they now? Governor Taft, your adopted school needs your support.

Politicians are hiding from the Driving Park Community. Ohio’s Governor is not the only elected politician that is not supporting Kent’s Students in this fight. The elected Columbus School Board Members, Columbus Mayor, State Representatives, State Senators, and City Council Members are also silent on this issue. Many of the self appointed Black leaders such as pastors, preachers and agencies, who provide services to the parents and students of that community are silent as well. Additionally, missing from the fight, are Black Business Associations, Fraternities, Sororities, Civic Associations and Black Organizations. Absent are those who want to run for elected office, but refuse to stand up on this important issue. They all refuse to take a stand against the closure of Kent Elementary School. Driving Park Area Commission and Hope Lutheran Church are standing strong with Kent’s Parents, Students and Staff. That’s real leadership and we appreciate it.

By now you are asking, why I am challenging Black leaders to get a backbone and support Kent. Here is the answer: Kent Elementary School has a population that consist of 99% Black Afrikan-American Students. If Black leaders will not fight for a school that is almost 100% Black, then their leadership is weak. The parents in the Driving Park and other community should remember all of them when they run for election, re-election or promote candidates for election. Kent’s Parents are doing what white parents do when their children’s schools are threatened with closure or consolidation. They fight! Why would anyone expect any less from Black Afrikan-American Parents?

This fight is about the children of Kent, who deserve the opportunity to stay at their school. The Kent PTO is demanding that the Board of Education consider another alternative. Their proposed alternative is to keep Kent Elementary School open. Have Ohio Avenue Elementary Students, split between Kent, Fairwood Avenue and Main Street Elementary Schools until their school is renovated. This makes sense, especially since Kent was never identified as a school scheduled for closure.

Parents and the Driving Park Area Commission have the courage to fight for their children’s school. We must support Kent Students and Parents in this fight. Students work hard everyday and with smaller class sizes their academic scores are improving.

This is not all about the stolen millions or the enrollment numbers, it’s about little human beings and how adults in power treat them. There is a reason that elementary students should not be consolidated like middle and high school students. They are still developing and teachers need smaller classes to teach and nurture them. The teachers at Kent understand this, which is why the students love them. Parents have great relationships with teachers, counselors and the administrator at Kent.

As a Black Social Worker at Kent, I understand the history that created the neighborhood, where many of our students live. We work in partnership with parents to support our students. My goal at Kent’s is to help students succeed academically, emotionally, socially and behaviorally. I am proud of the parents, students and community who are standing together to fight for this school. It takes courage to do what is right, even when you may have to pay the price professionally and economically. To win a fight, you must first know that you are in a fight and behave accordingly, or you will lose the fight. Kent Students need your support. We are a family at Kent and some of us will continue this fight, regardless of the School Board’s decision. Kent Students are more than numbers. There is an investment of time, love, knowledge and patience in our students everyday. The return on that investment will be determined years from now, when students make a positive contribution to their family and community. Everyday Kent students are asked, who is the best? They unified response is, “I am the best”! If you believe they are, write, call or email elected board members and attend school board meetings to let them know that Kent Elementary School should not be closed to Kent Students. Let them know that you support Kent’s PTO Alternative Plan.

Charles E. Campbell, Social Worker
Kent Elementary School