LIMA – Jeffrey Kirkman is concerned about what he sees as a waning focus on the education of black families, as this weekend the nation celebrates the life and teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Kirkman, a black entrepreneur, runs nine consulting services in Lima, which provide cultural diversity and training services to educational institutions as well as businesses.
“There’s a problem and it’s all tied together,” Kirkman said. “Somewhere down the line, we as a black culture have moved away from the priority we had on education.”
Kirkman points to high school graduation rates, which he says have fallen for minorities, especially among black males. Not surprisingly, this comes at a time when more black males are serving prison sentences for various crimes, he said.
We know that the incarceration rate of black males has gone up. We show in our numbers that 75% to 83% of all black males who do not graduate, end up in prison. This is difficult when you consider that minority males only make up 9% to 10% of the total population, but we represent 35% to 40% of the prison population,” he said.
Kirkman said that societies like Lima could not let that happen if they wanted to advance black culture.
“Our families must understand that education still gives their children the best chance of success. It must be a priority. Payment must come from home.”
Kirkman said that minority fathers are no different from other fathers. They want the best for their children. However, many do not know how to navigate the educational system.
Not everyone agrees on the path to follow.
Kirkman is an advocate for the EdChoice Ohio scholarship program for those looking for an alternative to a public school. Often referred to as a voucher program, EdChoice scholarships allow tax dollars to be used for students to attend private schools.
However, the 25-year-old program is currently the subject of a lawsuit by a coalition of public school districts, which includes the schools of Lima, Elida and Calida. In the Lima case, the lawsuit states that the more than 600 students who live within the Lima school district are expected to receive $3.5 million in vouchers to attend private schools, with an average of $5,833.
Jill Ackerman, principal of Lima schools, told Lima News earlier this month that the money is being pulled from public schools and adds to difficulties in managing the programs required of them.
Kirkman believes that ending the voucher program would be a mistake.
“If I was a parent and had a child in a failing school, I wanted to have a chance to say ‘No, it’s not fair to my child because I live in a certain area where schools don’t perform the way they should be performing. Why should my children suffer being forced to go to a failing school just because I am poor? I should have the opportunity to send my children to some of the best schools like everyone else. “
He added, “If I’m preaching in my home the importance of education, I need to put my child in the best possible place. Some of these kids when they go to college, they realize they’re not even ready. They’re not even close to being ready and that’s why college retention is low.” For the blacks.”
It is a misconception that all students who seek a voucher will actually receive it, Ackermann says.
These schools screen these children and decide whether they want them or not. It is not a parent’s choice. She said.
college and craft
Kirkman said it is essential to resolve these differences without closing the door to better education for blacks.
According to statistics compiled by Thomas Fordham Institute in 2020, 56 percent of Ohio students attend two- or four-year colleges or universities after high school. The enrollment rate is highest among students from the suburbs (73%) and lowest in urban areas (42%).
“If we do not educate our youth, we cannot advance our culture,” Kirkman said. “The decisions that will guide this country in the future are being made in the boardrooms and on the political fronts by people with advanced degrees. If we weren’t there, we wouldn’t be able to help make decisions that might affect our society. As it is, we still are. We probably represent about 12% of the population that is on campus.”
Improving this number is a matter of “connecting the dots,” Kirkman said.
“If our young people are planning to go to college, how do we help them get there? We understand that a lot of young people don’t even know how to go to college. Maybe they don’t get proper advice from their school counselors, or maybe the counselor doesn’t think some of these people are good Enough even to get into college. When we talk to young people about going to college, it’s something they can’t even picture.”
Kirkman acknowledges that college is not for everyone. But he says it’s important for everyone to have a skill. In this light, he points out, professions – welders and pipe fitters, for example – train people for free.
“You can’t graduate from high school, and you say, ‘Okay, I graduated, now I’m looking for a job. “It’s very difficult this way.”
Kirkman said black residents don’t need to search more than 50 Town Square for an example of how parental mentoring combined with education can make a difference. Mayor is now Sharita Smith, a black woman who overcame many obstacles on her way to college to earn a law degree.
“Sharita is like our poster child. She is a young lady who came from a respectable family who preached the importance of education. She worked hard all her life. Without her education, she would not have had this chance to become a mayor.”
You can reach Jim Crommell, retired editor of Lima News, at firstname.lastname@example.org.