COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Thursday episode of NBC4’s award-winning series “The Conversation,” focused on education and what is being done to address the impact of racial inequality on students in central Ohio.

The half-hour special, hosted by NBC4 anchors Jennifer Bullock and Matt Barnes, aired on April 13, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. Watch in the player above.

The program examined the issue of Black and brown children being left behind in education for various reasons — such as funding, lack of representation in the classroom, the COVID-19 pandemic, and mental health.

Dr. Angela Chapman, the interim superintendent of Columbus City Schools and Chris Baker, the district’s director of safety and security, discussed the importance of safety inside the classroom as a social and emotional issue.

From investments in metal detectors and security cameras to understanding the effects the pandemic had on students’ mental well-being, the pair gave insight into current challenges.

Plus, a study reports that from 2011 to 2019 there has been a 29% drop nationally in enrollment for Black learners in college, which amounts to roughly 600,000 students disappearing from the education system.

A group of college executives and academics have come together to look at these numbers and figure out why — and how it can be addressed. They published their findings in what’s being called the LEVEL UP report.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, 17% of Ohio students are Black, but only 4.5% of Ohio teachers are Black, and only 1% are Black men.

A new program at Ohio University is taking on this issue in an innovative way. Professor Dr. Jason Rawls, is leading the HOPE Program which brings together his passions for hip-hop and education. Rawls also spearheaded an initiative called Brothers RISE which stands for “Rallying to Inspire and Shape Education.” The group works to recruit, retain and graduate Black men to be teachers.

For more links and resources, visit ‘The Conversation’ resources page.

“The Conversation” is an Emmy Award-winning series that began in the summer of 2020. The series won the category of Community Service in 2021 from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Ohio Valley Chapter. NBC4 has released 14 episodes of “The Conversation.” To see more episodes of “The Conversation” head here.