Thursday, May 25, 2000

Dinner set to collect for school

Funds to aid institution in its growth

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        More than 400 people were scheduled to attend a tribute dinner and fund-raising event benefitting the Marva Collins Preparatory School of Cincinnati Wednesday evening.

        The event, “Celebration of Champions,” featured actor and activist Danny Glover and a host of other notables, including syndicated columnist Walter H. Williams and pro-football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.

        Last year's event raised about $50,000 toward operation of the school, which was founded in 1990 by Cleaster Mims, a former Cincinnati public school teacher and current Xavier University professor.

        Mr. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., said the school is an example of what a successful alternative to public education can do to elevate black youth.

        The school proves that “black academic excellence is possible. It isn't rocket science,” he said. “All parents both black and white should have an alternative” to the public school system.

        Mr. Glover, who serves as spokesman for the Coors Literacy Program and the VISA “Read Me A Story” campaign, objected to Mr. Williams' opinions, saying: “No one has the answers. ... To debate public vs. private schools here would be a fruitless discussion.”

        He said he is a staunch supporter of public education because he is a product of the public school system and has witnessed the dedication and expertise of public school teachers who wish to help students.

        Nevertheless, he said, he admires the successes Mrs. Mims has achieved at the school, which has mainly African-American students.

        “We need to provide kids with the analytical skills in life and teach them the values of trust and individuality coupled with a strong sense of belonging to a larger unit,” Mr. Glover said.

        Organizers were hoping Wednesday's event donations would surpass last year's amount because of pending expansions set to take place this year with the independent, private school.

        Mrs. Mims said the school, named for a Chicago teacher known for her strict academic practices and belief that every child can succeed, will occupy its new home in Silverton Sept. 5.


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