Columbia High Students Hold Forum on ‘Fixing’ Racial Disparities, Discord

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Columbia High School students are holding a forum today to discuss how to address issues of racial disparity and discord that students had identified in earlier forums last fall.

In December, senior Mia Goldstein — one of the events’ organizers — reported, “What we found is something I’m deeming ‘academic mobility.’ It’s nearly impossible for students in lower-level classes (who are predominantly black) to move up a level, and on the same coin, it’s nearly impossible for an honors student to move down. There is a clear difference in expectation in this school when it comes to the treatment of black students versus white students. The overall consensus of those in attendance is that CHS is a tale of two schools—two separate institutions, sharing a building.” (Read Goldstein’s full report here.)

Maggie Kritzberg, student liaison to the South Orange Board of Education, wrote, “One of the questions asked was how diverse are we? Are we an inclusive community? Are we liberal as some might suggest? Many people came forward with differing opinions on this. Race isn’t the only thing that makes us diverse, students said; Diversity is seen in so many different aspects of our school.” (Read Kritzberg’s full report here.)

A flyer promoting today’s event proclaimed, “What do we want CHS to look like in 10 years? Last time we addressed the problems. This time, we start fixing them.” The flyer invited students to “come discuss your ideas on how we can improve as a school community with regards to race and student life. All are welcome.”

The flyer also explained that the forum was being held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and quoted Dr. King: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

The forum was organized by Sofia Petros and Mia Goldstein and will be held during periods 5, 6, and 7 on Friday, Jan. 16, in the black box theater at the school. The Village Green will post updates from the students when they are available.

CHS Forum on Race

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