We need a newspaper: Editorial response to CASD text messages

I feel as though it’d be wrong of me to ignore one of the most embarrassing/devastating things to happen during my lifetime as a resident of Coatesville, Pa. I grew up in Coatesville, went to CASD high schools and was an active member of my community throughout my childhood and teenage years. My family has owned businesses in Coatesville for multiple generations and multiple decades.

I knew about the resignation of Superintendent Como almost a week before he formally resigned “suddenly” and knew there would be an investigation of the school board as well as athletic department. Rumors were swirling and Coatesville has those small town qualities. As a journalist, I wanted to break the story and knew I had the connections to do so, however, I knew that releasing information I was told in confidence was nothing more than hearsay as far as journalism goes, and I did not want to speculate and be incorrect. In hindsight, I probably should have gone for it but I have too much integrity and love for my community as a whole to exploit it to local newspapers, whom our community has great disdain for already.

Como was a highly regarded member of the district, but unfortunately none of his previous work will matter to our community now. How can you work for a district/community that is 46 percent African American (the largest demographic group according to 2010 Census reports) and speak so illfully of those you claim to be helping?

Athletic director, Jim Donato, should maybe ask himself the same question. The high school places a heavy emphasis on athletics. It’s often been known among fellow Chester County public schools as a “jock” school, producing kids that pine for athletic scholarships and some that even go on to professional leagues. While it’s considered a great accomplishment for a young person to “get out of Coatesville,” the jock reputation has a negative connotation to it as well. What about all the kids that won’t get the scholarships or aren’t good enough to go further? There’s plenty of high school heroes that are still in Coatesville struggling to find an answer to that question.

Coatesville had notoriously poor academic programs that have suffered constant curriculum adjustments in the wake of No Child Left Behind. I graduated high school with algebra II as my highest form of math — think about that for a second. Our history curriculum was so messed up, we learned about the same time period repeatedly, but rarely went in depth with other time periods or world history.

I have always been a proud alumnus of CASH and firmly believe in remembering where you came from. But I’m honest with myself as I believe our community needs to be. It’s not surprising there is serious corruption or that it was racially charged. While Coatesville is a fairly diverse community, it’s constantly been a city divided since its inception. There’s four churches in the city, each of which served its own unique ethnic group for the better part of the early 1900s. There was a lynching in 1911 that led to Coatesville being taken off maps of Pennsylvania. A history of gangs, including the Young Guns, arsons and thriving drug trade all seem to come to a head in our little city.

Coatesville finds itself in the middle of unflattering news more often than not. In 2007-08 one of my classmates created a petition to local papers to stop focusing so much negative attention on Coatesville. While it’s been too long for me to remember the exact phrasing of the petition, I know this was the basic idea. It was a bold effort, but highly unlikely and slightly unconstitutional.

Growing up in an underserved/underrepresented community is what fueled my passion for truth and good journalism. It’s not fun to have your neighborhood known as an infamous place in an otherwise “perfect” little slice of the suburbs. I think that the investigation into the school board is great work. However, the speculative articles leading up to this point and editorial pieces following the events by people who not from our community are the complete opposite.

Here it is — the perfect little city, the perfect case study of America today. A micro-city if you will, with low-income, working class, middle class, white collar, black, white, hispanic, mixed race individuals all in one condensed area with competing resources. There is so much affecting this community that can be tied to international and national issues, yet all that is emphasized is the scandal aspect of a story. And just as quickly as it’s covered, it’s over and left to decay a little more.

Maybe it’s time Coatesville. Maybe we need to put it back on the Record.

 

Text transcripts released.

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