Reinstate Principal Aaron Now
This petition had 1,794 supporters
We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the removal of Principal Aaron from Columbia High School and demand that she be reinstated immediately.
Principal Aaron has had a significant positive impact at CHS over the past four years. She has had a tremendous influence on the culture of the building and the overall responsiveness, professionalism, and accountability of everyone who works there. Her presence throughout the school and at extracurricular events has created a welcoming environment for all families, and she has developed a strong sense of community in a very large high school, that did not exist prior to her tenure.
Ms. Aaron's combination of skills, energy and warmth make her uniquely qualified to succeed in a complex and challenging high school environment. She is at once an excellent administrator, a visionary and leader, a tremendous communicator and outstanding mentor. She stands in the doorway every morning and greets students by name. She proudly attends an unending series of events, whether sport, academic or club-related. She has creatively stretched insufficient funds and resources in ways that have bettered the lives of our children and of students who are yet to walk through CHS's doors.
Principal Aaron has instituted many changes that have had a profound and lasting effect, including:
● Regaining the support and trust of the community after a very public staff scandal in her first months as principal
● Expanding 9th grade preparation to include coordination with middle school staff, improved preview nights, parent nights and student led tours for rising 9th grade students and families, and redesigning summer Cougar Prep
● Coordinating grade specific parent nights with information about all academic options
● Improving the scheduling process, completing student schedules before September
● Creating an August graduation ceremony for students who weren’t able to complete their credits by June (in the past these students had not been acknowledged publicly at all)
● Establishing AP Forums for students and families including evening programs at CHS and weekend hours in the community
● Providing increased student support through such programs as academic labs, lunch period peer tutoring and extended school library hours
● Supporting the addition of many new initiatives including a Black Student Union, iGems Lab, National Honor Society, Open Gym Nights, Take Your Child To Work Day, Social Work Interns and Student Leadership Committee of Athletes
● Supporting the expansion of MSAN/MAC (Minority Achievement Committee) Scholars Program, assigning space at CHS for the program location, and facilitating scheduling to develop MAC student tutorials during the day
● Establishing African History, Literature of the African Diaspora, Mandarin and Science Research classes and increased Psychology offerings
● Introducing a variety of school spirit events such as the homecoming parade, Pops on Parker, Red & Black Breakfast and elementary school processionals for graduating seniors
● Providing opportunities for safe and supportive student walkouts and protests
● Hiring 15+ teachers and 3 assistant principals of color, and maintaining a strong retention rate of new teachers
● Directing staff development in race and equity including faculty reading groups on topics of cultural competency, confronting bias and racism in schooling and whiteness and white privilege
● Supervising successful Middle States accreditation process for the first time in 21 years after CHS failed the previous 3 attempts
● Hosting the Super Essex Conference, US Department of Education Site Visit and representing the district and CHS with former US Secretary of Education John King
● Decreasing suspension rate (from 7% in 2013-14 to 3.5% in 2016-17)
● Decreasing enrollment in Level 2 classes (for example from the years 2015-16 to 2017-18 the numbers of Black students went from 52 to 23 in 10th Grade Geometry and 53 to 11 in 11th Grade Algebra II)
● Beginning implementation of the Access & Equity policy leading to greatly increased AP Course & Exam Enrollment (see below)
AP COURSE AND EXAM ENROLLMENT FROM 2013/14 to 2016/17
Percentage of students taking one or more AP classes 58 % -> 73.4 %
Percentage of students taking one or more AP exams 45.9 % -> 57.2%
Number of students taking AP US History class 224 -> 286
Number of students taking AP US History exam 112 ->133
INCREASE IN BLACK STUDENT ENROLLMENT IN AP CLASSES BY SUBJECT FROM 2013/14 to 2016/17
AP Biology 13 -> 22
AP Chemistry 0 -> 10
AP Environmental Science 6 -> 13
AP History 10th grade 20 -> 30
AP History 12th grade 30 -> 65
All of this was accomplished under extremely challenging conditions, including three different Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents of Curriculum & Instruction, and Directors of Guidance and Special Services in just four years and under a constantly decreasing annual district budget. In addition, during this time CHS enrollment increased by 200 students while 20 staff positions were cut, including deans and supervisors.
We are at a pivotal juncture and continuity of leadership is crucial. We have witnessed Principal Aaron work tirelessly for all students. Her steady leadership has been exemplary and has made Columbia High School a far better educational institution than it was before she arrived. This decision will have extremely negative ramifications for our students and our community.
We call for the reinstatement of Elizabeth Aaron as Principal of Columbia High School immediately.
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