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Diversity in Worthington

26 days ago

We know that 93% of Worthington is white.  We also know that adjacent communities like Dublin, Powell and Westerville are, on average, about 81% white.  We also know that Franklin County is about 67% white. Are we okay with having such a small minority population in Worthington? Why do we?  Our school district is relativity diverse with the Thomas Worthington High School's student body being about 64% White, 12% Black, 11% Hispanic, 7% blended and 6% Asian. Most of these students and their families do not live in the city limits. What are the challenges people of color see with living here? What can we do to make Worthington a more livable community for diverse famlies? 

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  • Cynthia 8 days ago
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  • Cynthia 8 days ago
    Why not ask the "diverse" families what they would need to make Worthington more livable for them? And why are people here not using their real names in this discussion?
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  • Dan_Edward_A 26 days ago
    Worthington is a city & community any family of color would want to call home. The problem is central Ohio is not attracting newer industries & businesses. We might see a much more diverse Worthington if we see more jobs that are not in banking, insurance or manufacturing.
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    • Admin Commented mattlees 25 days ago
      Thanks for sharing. Agree that tech jobs and other opportunities could help attract a more diverse population. I'm sure that is what Dublin has going for it.
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    • MegKane 25 days ago
      Racial slurs have been used against my Black children more than once, Dan, so be careful in making broad assumptions about the root of the problem here.
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    • Cynthia 8 days ago
      I'm sorry, but I really don't think this old answer that growth of jobs solves everything is acceptable. It is far from the solution, when we haven't addressed the roots of systemic racism. How do you change the hiring decisions of those companies? How do you change the patterns of who police target? How do you change the way residents think/feel/act when they see a black or brown person walking around in their neighborhood? Diversity isn't a "thing"; it isn't like a bird that can be attracted by putting out the right birdseed. It's mindset, the roots, underneath. If growth solved everything, I think we'd have seen a lot more results by now. We could start be examining the core attitudes of white (specifically American) culture...take a look at Janet Helms' work...her 1992 book (p.13) has a listing of aspects of white culture. Problem solving efforts from a white perspective without awareness of our own core biases is probably not effective, and likely to do harm. I'd really like to see us have a community wide effort to engage in increasing our awareness of privilege and bias, WHILE or PRIOR TO having this conversation. In lieu of any self awareness, we would really need to defer to people of color for their insight and feedback on what would make this community inviting and welcoming to them.
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  • HeardOnTheStreet 24 days ago
    Thank you for sharing. I've been concerned about Worthington's lack of diversity. I moved to Worthington in 2004 when I was 25 and didn't think much about it at the time. But from Indiana to college to Columbus (Dublin school district but it was still Columbus) to Worthington, the community around was less diverse.We moved from Colonial Hills to west of High into the Evening Street district a few years ago. We were reluctant to do so for this very reason. Colonial Hills, the neighborhood and school, had greater diversity and that's where wanted to raise our kids. We unfortunately couldn't find a home that fit the needs of our growing family and ended up here. And after a few years in our current home, I don't know a black person that lives near our house.There's a macro discussion going on right now about race, and it's uncomfortable but a positive direction. As for Worthington, there's little to no affordable housing and there's less accessibility for the black community and other minorities as well as elderly and empty nesters. That's why we see much of our diversity come from more affordable housing that's in Columbus but in the Worthington school district.I'm not aware of the issues in the past with Evening Street's district boundary but I hope our school board and administration takes all factors and people into consideration when making these decisions.
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    • carriek 16 days ago
      Similarly, we looked at the stats for the school district as a whole, and we didn't realize we had moved into an elementary school area that was so incredibly white. I get the sense that many of our neighbors (and our own family) prioritize having a school that is a walkable distance from home (although that isn't an option everywhere in the district). But Worthington's development through the decades is part of the same national picture of land use and housing that make our community--and by extension, many of our walkable schools--very segregated. It will take intention to housing and land use policy to undo that (under the city's control/influence), as well as action on the part of the schools (the district's responsibility), with vocal support from residents, because it won't happen on its own.
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  • Worthingtonian 25 days ago
    I think we could allow more diversity of housing throughout Worthington, and try to make sure all areas of Worthington are accessible without the use of a car. We could allow people to build accessory dwellings "granny flats" on current single family zoned lots and look to have more mixed use zoning on our main thoroughfares, similar to what is done in historic downtown.
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    • carriek 16 days ago
      I think the issue of housing is an important one when talking about increasing diversity. There are certainly families of color with high incomes that could purchase a home here, if they felt welcome and comfortable throughout the community and in the schools. But given the racial wealth gap that exists throughout America, we have to think about other types of housing in order to support diversity. We would need to protect existing multifamily through zoning updates, as well as allow for more creative development. Rent is abnormally high in this area (comparing cost to rent vs. own nationally), so any new housing would need to be accompanied by some kind of policy to support affordability. Transportation options are also important, since not all households have a car for each driving-age adult or have a car at all. Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and COTA are important for getting around. These types of improvements would also enhance Worthington's age friendliness.
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  • PicklePepper 25 days ago
    We are a family of color. I am not sure white families have the same kinds of conversations when deciding where to live, but our family had a discussion about whether we should choose Worthington or a more diverse area when we relocated here. We like Worthington but the city and the school district can not be separated in our family's experiences here.One of the challenges we have had living in Worthington is school segregation. We selected Worthington because we wanted a suburb with both walkable neighborhoods and diversity in the schools. Because the schools are so segregated here, that meant the Evening Street school zone is not somewhere we would consider living while our children were in elementary school. Unfortunately, that is also where most of the larger, more expensive homes we wanted to buy around Old Worthington were located. I have heard parents get very upset at the idea of moving school boundary lines and it feels like are fighting to keep their kids' schools wealthier and whiter. And even if that is not their intention, that is the impact of current school boundaries.There is a serious lack of diversity in the school administration, so addressing issues around race is difficult. This is not due to a lack of goodwill, but because there is no one in a position of authority that can personally relate to the challenges our children face has made it very frustrating to try to address issues when they come up. There are significant, visible disparities in access and achievement in our district which does not seem to be a focus of the administration, at least not that we have seen. It is frustrating that our lower performing schools are also our most diverse schools. It leave us wondering if this is because the district is not putting extra resources where they are most needed, focusing on equal resources instead of providing equitable educational opportunities where kids need them most.Our experience in the City itself has been fairly pleasant. Our neighbors have been welcoming. I can't say that I have ever seen any attempt by the city to acknowledge or increase diversity. With one exception (Everest!), even the restaurants are not ethnic. We like living here, but I am not sure if we would make the same decision knowing what we know now, if our family was choosing a place to live in the Columbus area. If we were to go back in time, we may have tried to find a community where the community is more mixed and the schools less segregated.
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    • Admin Commented mattlees 25 days ago
      Thank you for sharing. This is very important to to hear because we often hear that Worthington is just too expensive (taxes/housing) for many minority families. But you feel like you can't really live where you want to in Worthington because of the lack of diversity in some schools. And you're point about a lack of ethnic restaurants is a good one too. All things we want to hear and consider as we talk about Worthington's future.
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    • Elli 24 days ago
      It's a substantial problem that our very whitest schools seem unwelcoming to families of color, even as our district draws more families of color to the outer edge of the district. That's not okay. we have to figure out how to make the historic area welcoming to these families!
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    • rachlucko 17 days ago
      Totally agree about Evening St. and moving boundary lines. I thought it was very interesting that they re-zoned KMS to be Colonial Hills and Evening St. only.
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  • HeardOnTheStreet 23 days ago
    My guess is because I can’t think of a single black PoC owned business. There really aren’t many rental properties (in the city proper) for families that want to rent, not buy. And there were so many developments granted Columbus taxes and Worthington schools...these developments can be far enough away that the families that live there aren’t able to connect to school functions/are made to feel included.It’s a racially diverse school system that is reacting to what is going on instead of being ahead of responding. It almost feels like people want it to be 1959 again.One of the reasons we chose Colonial Hills elementary was because it WASNT homogeneous.I spent time in the school helping out and noticed the social and economic gap that existed in the students. I could see micro aggressions...enough that I would absolutely be ok with rewriting the wopo budget to be able to have diversity counselors on site...I might be mistaken but I don’t believe we have one teacher that is a black PoC at that school but we sure do have a lot of students that could benefit from it.
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  • Niki 23 days ago
    I have some thoughts as I read these posts. 1) Isn't it stereotyping to assume that people of color can't afford to live in Worthington and that's why there isn't much diversity? Aren't there a lot of black people with great incomes who can afford to live here as well as white folks (like my highly educated daughters) who can't afford to live here anymore. 2) I am very sorry but not all that surprised to hear that black and brown families in Worthington do not feel welcome. As a former teacher and resident, I have witnessed unfair treatment of non-white students (and teachers) in the high schools - some students, faculty and administrators just don't understand diversity issues and think they do (as in If I don't feel prejudiced, then there isn't really a problem here). 3) I think Trent Bowers would be open to a discussion about boundaries that encourage diversity in all schools. But there also needs to be much educating of the parents, especially of the central-Worthington schools. In my experience, if there is talk about rearranging who goes to which school, parents whose kids go to the "high achieving schools" (Evening Street, for instance) don't want their kids moved to a statistically "lower quality" school. Yet, it isn't valid to compare statistical achievement between elementary schools, when achievement is so closely linked to socio-economic status and available parents at home to "coach" (do work beside and sometimes for students). And education isn't just about test scores anyway! Yet, it's not unusual that when there's talk of changing school boundaries, blame is placed on schools whose achievement statistics are less than those of the schools in more "privileged" neighborhoods. That is when talk of changing boundaries gets hot. No one talks about equalling out the achievement by diversifying the populations, and here I'm mostly referring to economic status. I think there would need to be a committee of people of mixed races, backgrounds, and socio-economics to broach the idea of determining school boundaries as a way to balance diversity in the schools. 4) People tend to become more comfortable with others when they work or recreate side by side with them. I believe Worthington needs to create such opportunities by planning community events and get-togethers that specifically focus on bringing together the richness of the variety of folks in our city and its surroundings. 5) Any of you black folks interested in working with me to begin including Worthington's Black History into the work of the Worthington Historical Society? 6) I've lived here since 1957, and "have seen it all."
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    • RonSears 23 days ago
      Thank-you Niki for your excellent nuanced comment! I share many of your ideas and appreciate how well you expressed them. In my opinion it is highly disingenuous to conflate high density housing development with racial diversity when it is virtually guaranteed that any such new high density housing projects built in Worthington would be priced as high as possible at "market appropriate" levels. And virtually never mentioned, Worthington already has a significant percentage of apartments as part of its housing stock.
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  • Niki 26 days ago
    Helping to do "Third Grade Days" in the school district, I have witnessed the great diversity that is in our schools. There is a long and deep history of African Americans in Worthington. Many black families have been here for generations - much longer than most white residents and their families. Early African-America residents started the AME Church in the 1870's and built the church building on Plymouth Street in 1914. People of color are a significant part of Worthington History. I have taught at both high schools and worked with students from Asian, East Africa, West Africa, Eastern Europe, Hispanic countries, and Muslim countries, also from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds. I learned a great deal about the world - how people live in other places and situations - from my relationships with these young people. With regard to the statistics that are posted above, those of us who have spent ages here have never considered Worthington to be just within the boundaries of the city limits. Except for tax purposes, anyone within the school district boundaries has always been a part of the Worthington community. My focus is on how we can build bridges and get to know each other by encouraging all kinds of people to come together and participate in community activities. I'm researching the African-American families who once lived in the Orange Johnson House, some of whom are buried in Walnut Grove Cemetery. I am also thinking about how we could start some kind of diversity event on the Village Green where families could share their customs, family stories, artifacts, food, music, and/or art-forms. These are my thoughts. Thanks for listening.
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    • Admin Commented Cynthia Bent Findlay 24 days ago
      This is fascinating, I have been wondering myself where to find more history about African Americans - and all minorities! - in Worthington. Do you think there is, or should be, a central resource of some kind on the topic?
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      • Niki 23 days ago
        That's what I'm trying to find. out. There is/was an active Black parents association in Worthington, but I knew of those folks a long time ago. Don't know whom to ask now about Black History in Worthington.
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  • HeardOnTheStreet 24 days ago
    How can we be more welcoming for both residents and businesses? I'm not aware of any black-owned businesses in Old Worthington in the 16 years I've lived here. And there are neighborhoods that wouldn't allow non-white owners until the fair housing act passed. I don't know the answer because it's complexity is beyond my comprehension.
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  • HeardOnTheStreet 24 days ago
    Yes! I would love to talk about how community groups in Worthington embrace the renters in their communities. In Colonial Hills, for instance, our civic organization excludes folks who live in the apartments when they send out their newsletter "because of the high turnover"-- even when many residents have lived here for many, many years. There's a lot of diversity that resides in the apartment communities!
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  • HeardOnTheStreet 24 days ago
    I believe any discussion about diversity in Worthington should also include the fact that ES elementary is about 90% white and there is adamant and vocal push back on any changes to the school to the point where it is still left alone even though they are bursting at the seams.
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  • Elli 24 days ago
    I certainly consider the broader community (school district) to be Worthington, but that doesn't mean I'm okay with the core or city limits being only 7% non-white. It's great that we see "community" so broad, but why are they not living in the heart of the community? Are we okay with them only being in the fridges?
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  • Julia 25 days ago
    I am Worthington schools, but a Columbus resident. How do you view me? I view myself as part of Worthington, but do you consider me so? Do Dublin, Powell and Westerville have a similar situation where residents are Columbus, but part of their school district? Regardless, the difference between school makeup and city makeup demonstrates a significant opportunity. If the idea is to bring more diversity into city limits, you have to look at what affordable housing exists for the critical juncture when someone decides to buy and make a city home. Also, what are Worthington's major cultural flagships? Why would I be proud to be a resident?
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    • Admin Commented mattlees 25 days ago
      I consider people who live outside of Worthington proper but go to Worthington schools as part of our community- which is why we want to hear from both groups in on visioning process. I agree that affordable housing is an issue -we hear it over and over again for minorities, elderly, singles and young couples. I think we have to find better ways to connecting those who live in the city and those whose kids go to Worthington Schools. There is a large freeway that separates the city from most of the persons of color who make up its school diversity. I feel we have to find a way of bridging that gap while we find ways for people to migrate across it.
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  • rmsmith925 25 days ago
    My daughter is a student at Colonial Hills. While the student body is diverse, the teaching staff is not. This bothers me. Study after study shows the importance of Black students (particularly in the early elementary years) being taught by Black teachers. I am white, and did not have my first Black teacher until college. This now strikes me as very odd. We must have Black teachers and administrators in our schools. This seems to me an important step towards making Worthington an appealing choice for many families.
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