Romules Durant…Where Art Thou?

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Tick…tock…tick…tock…the clock is signaling for Romules Durant to stand up and be counted.

Exactly where is Romules Durant, EdD, the chief cheerleader for Toledo Public Schools? Where is he regarding making a public statement regarding the dismal reading scores of kids in K-4th grade?

According to the recent state report card on TPS, only one in four kids in K-4 grades are reading at their grade level. The other three?…Lost In Space…unless there is a revolution as to how TPS creates, attacks and sustains a reading and comprehension plan that will produce tangible results for those youngsters who are depending upon a public school to give them a fighting chance in life.

Let’s not kid ourselves. It is at age six (or even younger) that if the reading bug has not bitten you, there is a strong correlation between poor reading skills and negative social consequences.

Yeah, reading is that fundamental to acquiring any success in your later years of life including successful job retention, college admissions and just knowing

“stuff” that will allow you to properly negotiate the hills and valleys of simply just living.

When I first read that report card on TPS regarding all those kids failing in basic reading skills, you can only wonder why TPS parents and concerned educators are not demanding better results…or else, as a condition for the continued employment of Romules Durant at TPS.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It appears that Romules Durant is a swell guy who loves wearing his TPS letters on the collars of his shirts. Fine and dandy!

It also appears that Romules Durant is a great Rah! Rah! guy for TPS. Fine and dandy!

But what is not cool or fine and dandy is that TPS has for many years being woefully deficient in preparing young kids to read and without that basic skill  being ‘nailed’ by those kids, I see nothing but frustration and failure in their lives.

Sure, some kids by stint of mere effort and a positive family environment or a positive reading mentor can overcome obstacles, but where is the hard driving school system which has made reading to your grade level, or better, a number one priority?

When failing kids are passed on to the next grade due to a ‘social’ promotion, no one benefits from such a farcical approach to education.

Alarm bells should be blasting at full measure when a K-1 teacher or even a Junior high school teacher notices that LaShonda or DeMarcus are fumbling to read, “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”

Is there any complicity with an underwhelmed teacher’s union that sees failure but looks the other way because it is easier to opt out and let LaShonda or DeMarcus fail rather than to take the time to intervene and demand better?

So, in the spirit of helping the clueless TPS school board, who is ultimately responsible to their client, the public, for making sure that their employee, Romules Durant, tows the line and is driven by educational excellence, I propose the following to Romules Durant for immediate implementation so the image of TPS being in the dredges regarding improving reading skills for K-4, can be improved.

(1) The development of a job title for a Reading Czar for TPS. This no-nonsense person is empowered to review all classroom performances of teachers in grades K-4 and make mandatory policy changes so that kids on the edge are recognized and are salvaged before it is too late.  This Czar needs to come from outside of the TPS teaching corps.

If the teacher or the reading curriculum is not up to par, that teacher is so noted and is give remedial instructions as to how to teach reading and comprehension for those affected grade levels. All parents must buy into this revolution if it is to succeed.

(2) If it is discovered that the reading materials and attendant helps are not sufficient for the task at hand, they are to be discarded and new approaches are to be implemented forthwith. Thinking outside of the box is required.

(3) Romules Durant is to run “interference” with any overbearing TPS union so that they are not in the driver’s seat on this mandate. We cannot afford to have a union that is hostile to change when it involves the education of kids and especially so of those who are already considered marginal by this society.

(4) In the event that the TPS union was to take umbrage or offense at such a radical position, the school board must lock horns with the school union and remind the school union that the mission of TPS is to educate and not to procrastinate and to kowtow to union reps. If they do not like it, let them strike!

(5) Structural changes must be implemented at the seemingly hidebound TPS and the union so that the parent is seen as an equal and valuable partner in the education of their children. Yes, lazy parents must be challenged to do better.

(6) if the above recommendations or something radically similar is not instituted within 120 days, parents need to “pack out” TPS meetings and not ask but demand change, for if not, the same status quo will be perpetuated; and ten years from now, TPS will be “crowing” about getting C’s and D’s on their state report card and the reading fundamentals for K-4 will remain static and in the dumpster.

Contact Lafe Tolliver at