The rise, fall, and rise of an enduring Columbia leader
COLUMBIA, 2/13/12 (Beat Byte) --
A former Columbia School Board vice president and president of the Minority Men's Network
, Steve Calloway
has been a public advocate for racial equity in Ward reapportionment, police review, school achievement policy, and community planning.
Calloway entered the ranks of Columbia's leadership as a founding board member of Columbia Parents for Public Schools
(CPPS) a local booster group that raises money and awareness for CPS. He frequently appeared before the School Board with news of the group's activities, including a mentoring program to help lower the achievement gap
Butting heads with then-School Board member Russell Still
over transparency in the search for a new superintendent, Calloway politely insisted that CPPS and other community stakeholders be allowed to meet finalists or submit written questions
. Still -- whose wife Mary is a State Representative -- at first objected, saying he was from the "old school." But when other Board members supported the idea, Calloway won the day.
In one of many attempts over the years to get a handle on the achievement gap between black and white students, Calloway co-chaired a CPS achievement gap task force in 2003
. The group worked on and off
for years to get ahead of the achievement gap
, but it stubbornly remains.
In 2006, Calloway ran for a seat
on the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education. Alongside firebrand and fellow candidate Michelle Gadbois, he found himself amidst the achievement gap debate numerous times, confronting a headwind Gadbois identified with candor. The achievement gap was really no one's priority
, despite all the lip service.
"If Columbia Public Schools put as much energy and effort into closing the achievement gap as in buying artificial turf, the community would be better off," Gadbois said at a candidate forum
Race entered the debate when Calloway was confronted with another ugly truth
: "I think there is racism in this community," a forum audience member said. "Calloway reiterated his platform of parental involvement, but one father claimed that black parents are afraid to show up
at schools for fear a teacher or administrator would call for police backup."
But in recent years, he's come roaring back, most notably to support creation of the Columbia Police Review Board and Ward Reapportionment plans that don't gerrymander minority voters.