Hamilton County, OH November 2, 1999 Election
Smart Voter

Focus on Children

By John J. Gilligan

Candidate for Board Member; Cincinnati City School District

This information is provided by the candidate
In the discussion of the activities of the Cincinnati Public Schools, and of the proposed tax levy for their support, too much time and space are devoted to statistical accounts and Madison Avenue titles for new programs, with too little attention given to the needs and achievements of the students.
I have deplored the lack of a sense of urgency in the public discussion of the operations of Cincinnati Public Schools, and the critical problems, which confront the system. The people are told about millages, and how they relate to property taxes on the average home owner, or on truancy levels, or on proficiency test results, but we generally fail to translate those statistics, and that terminology into language which emphasizes that what we are really should be concerned about are the lives and prospects of 47,000 Children, whose hopes and dreams for a decent and rewarding fife are directly dependent on decisions which we, as citizens and taxpayers, must make.

These thousands of children, who will form a very significant segment of the population of this region throughout most of the 21st Century, are being thrust into a world which will demand more of them than has been required of any previous generation. If they are to win a place in the emerging economy and society they will have to have knowledge and sldff levels never before required of young people in their economic situation. If they cannot measure up to these new and higher standards, they will lack economic value, and sadly enough, too often that will mean that they will suffer diminished value as human beings in a society which reveres above all else the famous bottom line,

These youngsters did not choose their place and time of birth, did not choose their parents and other family members, did not choose the natural talents which they have or lack: they were bom into a society which honors success, but has no patience with faffure, no matter who is responsible for the failure. When we talk of the students in the Cmcmnati Public Schools, 64% of whom live in families below the poverty line, we are in large measure taffdng about children who grow up in circumstances of relative deprivation, which may range from absolute poverty to the level of the worldng poor, who live not just without all of the comforts which many of us enjoy, but who are without adequate health care, and counseling and all the Idnds of support which are so important to a child's development.

We have a relatively short time to try to provide these children, all these children, with the support and guidance they need to become usefid and productive members of society, and if we miss the opportunity we should not be surprised to see many of them in the years ahead, having been effectively excluded from the economy, become what are now regarded as burdens on the community.

It does not seem very sensible to me to go on believing, in the face of evident failure, that we can continue to operate an effective educational system, that has some real expectation of meeting the needs of these children by adhering to the patterns and formulas of a bygone era. We must redesign the system to respond to the demands of the age, and to provide the children with all that they will need for the years ahead. In short, I think we must begin to analyze the entire system, not with the aim of malting it less costly, or accommodating all of the interests of pundits, administrators, teachers, politicians, or even parents, but by focusing on the children, their needs and hopes and pote

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