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Middletown superintendent to Ohio legislators: Stop discriminating against students living in poverty

Keith BieryGolick, Cincinnati Enquirer |

Styles said he’s lost sleep worrying about students whose main goal this year has been survival, not online learning. Those are the realities that come in a district with a median household income under $40,000. Realities that come when almost all students receive free and reduced lunch rates. Realities that meant during the pandemic Styles’ staff delivered 40,000 meals a week – and sometimes laundered clothes for students. 

It’s why Styles testified before Ohio lawmakers about overhauling education funding in November, something he’s done multiple times this year. After his testimony a few weeks ago, one representative almost yawned in his face. She believed in what he was saying, but she didn’t believe anything would change. 

Another lawmaker rebuked his testimony by mentioning the district’s “D” grade on the Ohio Department of Education report card last year. 

Styles said there were racist components to those rankings. Components that discriminate against students living in poverty. Components that don’t consider student growth, but instead focus on metrics such as ACT scores.

“It infuriates me,” he said.

The day after his testimony, different legislation was passed increasing the amount of money some public schools must pay to fund vouchers that parents can use to attend private school. The legislation is discriminatory and targets impoverished communities, Styles said. 

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