Testimony of Julia Allwein, Columbus Alternative High School
Dec. 4, 2018
My name is Julia Allwein, and last September I graduated from Columbus Alternative High School. On behalf of CAHS students past, present and future, I’m pleading with you not to pass this proposal.
I’ll always remember the daily challenges of being a student at CAHS. On hot summer days classrooms would reach 106 degrees or more. My classmates fainted and I could barely focus on my teachers. There were rats and mice in our cafeteria and auditorium. In many rooms, the ceilings were mold-filled and caving.
For those of you with loved ones who have graduated or are currently attending CAHS, this won’t come as a surprise.
Day after day, I’d ask myself: How can this be normal? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? Where are the people in charge — why aren’t they here seeing this?
The lack of leadership from city officials impacted my and my classmates ability to thrive, and I wanted answers.
After a year at CAHS, I got my answers: overheated and rat-infested classrooms were just ‘business as usual.’ My teachers (and generations of classmates before me) had struggled under horrific conditions for decades. Year after year, we were told that there “just weren’t enough resources” to fix our crumbling, rodent-infested building.
And year after year, I watched city officials take massive checks from extremely wealthy donors. In return, these wealthy donors got whatever they wanted. Cover My Meds got a new campus in Franklinton. Developers in Easton don’t have to pay their taxes.
Meanwhile, you tell my classmates and I that there “aren’t enough resources” to get the rats out of our school.
The students know what’s going on, Councilmembers. We know there are enough resources, and that the wealthy donors are the ones deciding where that money goes. And we know that if you pass this proposal, this will be our city’s legacy.
I’m saying all of this to make one thing clear: There are real life consequences to the proposal you’re considering.
I can’t afford to write a $12,707.79 check to you or your colleagues. My parents can’t, my teachers can’t, and the staff of CAHS can’t. Wealthy donors will always have a louder voice than working families in Columbus, and our schools will continue to pay the price.
I want a new future for Columbus City Schools: Where students to feel safe and secure in their classrooms. I want teachers to have the resources they need to help their classes thrive. I want public school families to have a voice in the decisions that affect their children’s lives.
That future won’t happen if this proposal passes, Councilmembers. If you decide to enact this limit, there will never be enough resources for Columbus City Schools, or to build enough affordable homes for everyone in Columbus, or to fix any of the other major issues there “just aren’t enough resources” for.
If you enact this limit next week, wealthy donors will have the loudest voices out of any of us.
On behalf of CAHS students past, future and present, I’m calling on you to exert real leadership on this issue. Don’t rush this proposal through. Have more than just one public hearing. Listen to what regular people want.
Please, give Columbus students, families and schools a chance to make our voices heard.