CPC Superintendent Reports to Minority Men’s Network

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Brian Yearwood held the position for approximately five months.

Yearwood attended a virtual meetup with the nonprofit Columbia Minority Men’s Network on Friday. Her education foundation offers scholarships to black seniors in each of the district’s high schools.

The network wants to ensure that “ethnic minorities have the right to participate equitably in all aspects of the community”.

Previously: Brian Yearwood takes over as new principal of Columbia Public Schools

CPS Achievements and Challenges

Yearwood shared remarks on the district’s accomplishments and challenges before answering questions from meeting attendees.

He considers all students in the district to be academics, he said.

“As learning evolves, we must be able to motivate, to continue to capture the minds of our young academics so that they can point us to the future with their innovations, their kindness, their homework. civics and their contributions to our society, ”he said. .

Yearwood came to CPS to put students first, not for politics or anything, he added.

While celebrating the academic achievements of the district’s students, he also noted the budget constraints the district faces due to a decision of the Eastern District of Missouri Court of Appeals in Blankenship v. Franklin County Collector.

The court ruling changed the way the district can apply its tax levy, resulting in a net budget deficit of nearly $ 6.5 million, he said.

Even with the shortfall, the district infrastructure improvement bond issues are not expected to include a tax increase until at least 2028.

Mask mandate and student safety

The questions for Yearwood concerned a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt against the CPS mask tenure, plans for parenting and community interactions, and the lack of diversity in the gifted education program of the district.

Following: Backlash divided as Columbia Board of Education renews COVID-19 mask mandate

Yearwood said he was unable to speak to the details of the lawsuit, but said he will always focus on student safety and positive academic outcomes.

“The decisions we make are not just for adults,” he said. “We need to make the best decisions to make sure our (students) are safe and have the best possible educational experience in this safe environment.

“On this point, I am unwavering. I will not back down on this belief.”

Yearwood wants to open the door to greater representation of minorities on staff and look for ways to retain existing staff, he said.

“It is important that all academics are represented in our faculty. It is important that they see the director and the leaders who are like them. This will be addressed,” he said.

Engage with parents

How is Yearwood crossing the bridge to get more participation from parents of minority students? asked Keith McIver, president of the network.

A first step is to contact parents through school organizations, Yearwood said. This will allow him to meet groups of students to learn what they are going through. He attends faculty meetings at every school in the district to get their input.

Yearwood is open to the idea of ​​a parent advisory council and hopes to reach out to parent organizations in every school in the district.

Universal gifted curriculum?

Meeting participant Sr. David Mitchell wanted to know how the district could leverage its gifted curriculum and make it consistent and universal for all students, an idea that was reinforced by a question from Traci Wilson- Kleekamp.

Program access questions need to be answered, Yearwood said.

If a student shows interest in joining the program, they should not be banned from doing so, he said.

“We shouldn’t aim to stifle our academics, but to develop them,” Yearwood said, adding in his previous experience that he was used to all teachers being trained in the gifted curriculum and methodology, while acknowledging that there is a limited number of professional development days. available to teachers for such training here.

When Yearwood first became a school administrator as an elementary school principal, he was in charge of a school where the student body was 80% black, with many below the poverty line and staff in a revolving door, he said.

“When I got there the expectations changed,” Yearwood said, noting that teachers who disagreed with his “all students are academics” philosophy were fired.

He spent 13 years at this school, and in the last five years of his tenure the school has become an exemplary recognition of the state of Texas, he said.

“I’m cut from the fabric that says scientific work exists among all of them,” Yearwood said. “We’ll raise the bar and we’ll get there with all the academics, whether you’re African American or not, in poverty, it doesn’t matter.

“Schoolwork is possible and will be possible regardless of your ethnicity.

“I lived it and I did it.”

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