Education ChampionsWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
One of last year’s more compelling continuing stories was the crisis facing Toledo Public Schools (TPS). After a failed May levy, many community forces joined to push for a November levy. On the frontlines and in the trenches was United Way of Greater Toledo, which in a rare move endorsed the levy and did its best to keep education in the spotlight. One of those efforts was a community showing of the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” which revealed the intrinsic challenges the American education system faces and showed examples of the triumphs taking place despite those issues.
The levy failed, but the issues remain.
At the end of 2010, Toledo Free Press met with United Way officials, led by President and CEO Bill Kitson. Our question was simple: “What can we do to help keep these issues in the headlines and keep education on the forefront of people’s minds?”
As a result of that first discussion, Toledo Free Press is partnering with United Way of Greater Toledo to spotlight a dozen successful education programs within the local education system. The series, “Education Champions,” will begin Jan. 16. Inspired by the “Waiting for ‘Superman’” approach, these will be initiatives taken by teachers and parents to overcome the resource limitations TPS faces. It will not be overtly critical of TPS, but it will show how grades and attendance can be demonstrably improved with cooperative outside-the-box thinking.
The programs we will highlight have been chosen in consultation with United Way, but if you know of any we should focus on, contact us.
At the end of the 12-week series, we will post all the stories in a special forum, like the Pepsi Challenge Grants, which will allow people to vote for their favorite success story. The winning program will receive a grant from United Way, and we are working on the details to provide a student in that program with a free college scholarship. The winner will be announced at an event at the United Way building in March, sponsored by Columbia Gas of Ohio.
In addition, Doni Miller’s 13abc “Bridges” program will feature interviews with some of the people from the education programs as the weekly series progresses.
We are hoping the effect of the series will be to encourage progressive thinking and to provide a stage for those whose voices are overwhelmed in the larger issues and debates.
Without immediate attention and change, TPS and education in our region will continue to struggle and suffer. No one will flourish and grow in an area that lacks the absolute best educational resources. We know Superman is not on his way. But there are plenty of local superheroes and champions with stories to tell, and we suspect our initial 12 are just the start.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.