To the editor:
In 1859, the namesake of Cordley School, Richard Cordley, was asked by neighbors to help a woman traveling along the Underground Railroad. Aware that U.S marshals were set on recapturing her, Cordley knew he would put his family in great danger if he decided to do what he felt was right and help her. In his autobiography, Cordley wrote, “It is easy to be brave a thousand miles away. But now I must face the issue at short range. … Theory and practice affect one very differently in a case like this. But I felt there was only one thing to do.” With the brave help of the Cordleys, this woman made her way north to Canada and freedom.
Today, Lawrence is faced with another difficult problem — how to deal with a serious school funding shortfall. In theory, this problem might appear like an immediate budget crisis, maintenance of buildings, and relative enrollments. But in practice, if we move closer and face these issues “at close range,” we see not only the dispassionate analysis but also the potential impact decisions might have on the long-term sustainability of our neighborhoods. At close range, the buildings reveal themselves to be neighborhood sanctuaries of memory and community, and relative enrollments become individual young people with names like Nicholai, Beatrice, and once, Langston Hughes.
I urge our elected school board members to face this issue “at close range” and partner with those fighting for our core neighborhoods and the schools at their heart.