When the Dayton Daily News wrote that the community must find a way to work together to help improve the perception and performance of Dayton Public Schools, you responded. And we are listening.
Stories that ran this week exploring the challenges facing Dayton Public Schools – and how the community can work together to address them – are part of our Path Forward initiative. We are looking at major challenges facing the Miami Valley – schools, addiction, wage stagnation—and creating a dialogue about fixing them.
Dialogue about our reporting on DPS included feedback by phone, email, social media and on the street from readers.
“It takes a Village to raise OUR CHILDREN!!!,” wrote reader Freddie Fields to the Daily News. Fields said he is a retired DPS teacher and the district’s biggest problem is a lack of engaged parents.
Lack of parental involvement was the most common issue raised by readers, including Patrick O’Christie, a DPS graduate who lives in Centerville. When asked what could be done about it, he said society needs to find some way to use money that is spent on kids who don’t take school seriously and help them when they get older, mature and realize how important that education is.
“Everybody in this country gets a free education from K-12, but so many young people waste it, they screw it up they just throw it away,” he said.
Another issue raised by readers is race.
“In addition to grinding poverty, at its heart (the problem) is racism, on a regional level. It’s always been there and it’s still there today; regional schools have never wanted to partner or regionalize with DPS,” said Dan Baker, a retired Dayton police officer and author of a book about the city’s racial strife.
Robyn Traywick, an attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, brought up another aspect of this. She noted that in the 2016-2017 school year and the prior four years, 100 percent of the kindergarteners who received out-of-school suspensions were black.
“You can literally see the school-to-prison pipeline in the data,” she said, noting ABLE provides education for professionals and parents on the educational legal rights of children.
A bill sponsored by State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, would prohibit out-of-school suspensions or expulsions for students pre-K through third grade who commit minor offenses. The bill is awaiting Gov. John Kasich’s signature.
Additional feedback came on the Path Forward: Dayton Schools Facebook group.
There, Anissa Lumpkin wrote that the district suffers from low teacher morale and hardships faced by families. She is a critic of statewide tests, and especially changing the standards and constantly creating new programs.
“Support the Dayton Public School system even if you don’t have children in the school,” she wrote. “Donate time, food, uniforms, schools supplies, money. Donate to the closest source: teachers, coaches. Sponsor a DPS students to go to Summer camp at Boonshoft or Dayton Art Institute. Everyone can play a part in creating change. Focus on eliminating the child’s hardships and expand their influence so they can focus on learning and having fun.”
Bruce Omer Baughman wrote in a lengthy post that the district needs to be more transparent, motivate kids to learn, develop a strategic plan and listen to the community.
“The community can no longer ignore DPS and its doings,” he wrote. “We need to take this opportunity to push DPS to exceed education standards and make Dayton Public Schools the schools of choice instead of the other way around as it is now.”
In a letter, Nancy Nerny, a former teacher and school board member and current chair of the DPS Foundation – which raises money for things like grants for teachers and band instruments — said her group is looking to expand its help for Dayton Public Schools. She noted that some companies said they are waiting for DPS to improve before donating.
“I herald you and those you quoted for bringing the discussion AND HOPEFULLY ACTION to the fore,” she wrote. “That must happen to move our community forward!!”