Craig Walker, Oct 3 2014, Chamber 16

First I want to encourage everyone to agree to disagree . Neither side is going to convince the other of their position .

That being said in my heart I have to believe that no one really believes trying to rehabilitate a school built in 1938 is a good investment in our children’s future . I’m sorry I travel too many school districts , many of them in the poorest communities in our nation . I have yet to see anyone  trying to rehab a 75 year old building. It’s not practical and for a City that hosts a world class University it’s frankly embarrassing to hear people make that argument .

Now issues on sight , cost , are worthy of debate and discussion . But we must find some common ground and I hope agreement we have to replace Central would be a tenant of common ground.

I just want all parties to not fall into the win the argument at any cost trap. It’s natural there will be disagreement . It’s ok to agree to disagree . But lets all agree that a 75 year old high school on a small plot of land is not rehabilitative. Because when you do that then you truly lose the credibility necessary to be productive to the debate .

I grew up on Unit 4, I bleed Unit 4, I was blessed to be a part of the Deseg plan of Booker T in 1968 when as one of a few black families living south of Kirby east of Mayfair that I was bussed to Washington , I feel and desire a debate on the issues of a new high school for our community . Key word new. I know Champaign , and we are proud of our two high school system , and each school has matriculated outstanding students and athletes in both schools. That is special !

We cannot let this debate tear us apart as a community . I can tell you that there is a debate within the African American community on this very issue. But we recognize , particularly because Unit 4 is a majority minority District that personal feelings must be suppressed and a dialogue on the merits must be held. In fact we are hosting a October 15th meeting at Jericho Church to have an open discussion on this issue. All on this email is invited to attend .

Ill be honest , I know and respect people on both sides of the issue, what I really believe cannot occur in this debate is that we make it personal , we make it win at all costs. So lets maintain this dialogue on the facts and issues and leave the personal attacks at the door. Arthur Culver was a good Superintendent and Judy Weigand is a good Superintendent. The issues each face are different reflective of a different period for Unit 4.

Judy is doing what she feels is best , the board is doing what they feel best , David is doing what he feels is best , and while there may be disagreement it doesn’t have to degenerate to personal attacks.

Take it from a guy who articulates an opinion on behalf of the African American community and is constantly met with personal attacks … It does not solve the issues for a City we all care very much about.

So lets reset, continue the discussion, refrain from personal attacks and hopefully agree that replacing some how some where an antiquated old and frankly gross smelling build with a new high school.

We are too smart , and care too much to do anything differently .

Have a great weekend !

Craig Walker

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