The Future of Cleveland Schools: Transformation...

The Future of Cleveland Schools: Transformation and Response

Dan Moulthrop
on May 20, 2012

There is a minor revolution happening in the second largest school district in Ohio. In early 2012, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson released a new plan for transforming the city’s public schools, representing a major shift in thinking and practice. The proposal is so dramatic it requires legislative approval.

From May 21st to the 23rd, we hosted a three-day online forum featuring some of the plan’s designers and some administrators and teachers who will be responsible for implementing it. There were open invitations to everyone in the community to participate.

More information and resources can be found by clicking explore the whole project above. This forum was the product of a collaboration with Sound of Ideas on 90.3 FM WCPN.

Participants (35) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-07-31T19:34:06+00:00
Login or Register to contribute to this conversation

Recent Activity

Stephanie Wahome
on Sep 19, 2012
"CEO Eric Gordon Makes a Case for CMSD ..."
Jabreel M Chisley
on Sep 05, 2012
"For this history of Cleveland and the way we act as Clevelanders I think the Cleveland Plan is..."
Mike Shafarenko
on Jul 02, 2012
shared a link: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs Cleveland schools plan into law"

Will you support the levy in November?

Ann Mullin has participated in this Vote

on Jun 30, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Daryl Rowland has participated in this Vote

on Jun 29, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Sara Kidner has participated in this Vote

on Jun 29, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

David J. Quolke has participated in this Vote

on Jun 29, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Jill Miller Zimon has participated in this Vote

on Jun 28, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Piet van Lier has participated in this Vote

on Jun 28, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

David Hovis has participated in this Vote

on Jun 27, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Mike Shafarenko has participated in this Vote

on Jun 27, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Emily Cole has participated in this Vote

on Jun 27, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Jason Russell has participated in this Vote

on Jun 27, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Dan Moulthrop has participated in this Vote

on Jun 27, 2012

Will you support the levy in November?

Dan Moulthrop wrote this Vote
on Jun 27, 2012
Daryl Rowland
on May 30, 2012
"Nice observations about the plan from the Akron Beacon Journal."
Nancy Reeves
on May 27, 2012
"If you read the second paragraph in my first post in this subthread, I acknowledged that that..."
Anne Caruso
on May 26, 2012
"Nancy, I feel that public money should only go to public schools, but we lost that battle and now..."
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012
"Thanks to all who participated with your comments, questions, contributions, ratings and just..."
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012
"Wow, Eric--that social impact bond idea is very intriguing. In our book, we crafted a chapter we..."
Sara Kidner
on May 23, 2012
"I agred that parent don't always make the best choices in a school choice situation.  As the..."
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012
"I love the idea in the second paragraph.  As a former high school teacher (who often inherited..."
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012
"All - this has been a great dialogue and I know it will continue for the remainder of the day.  I..."
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012
"Just a quick note to remind our discussants that transportation to charter schools (and parochial..."
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012
"I realize it would require a change in the law, which is my point.  Some charters do offer preK,..."
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012
"Nancy, Great question.  In last night's presentation on finances, I mentioned both an operating..."
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012
"I found where I ran across it.  In the current draft, the Transformation Alliance not covered by..."
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012
"Dan - I just touched on this with another thread, but PreK education is not part of the Ohio K-12..."
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012
"David, PreK is not actually governed by K-12 statutes.  Charter schools cannot use their state..."
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012
"If you haven't read the budget presentation, you should.  It is not long on specifics, but it..."
Jabreel M Chisley
on Sep 05, 2012 - 1:18 pm

For this history of Cleveland and the way we act as Clevelanders I think the Cleveland Plan is one that will bring about more social regression.

 
Mike Shafarenko
on Jul 02, 2012 - 10:14 pm
 
Daryl Rowland
on May 30, 2012 - 1:17 pm

Nice observations about the plan from the Akron Beacon Journal.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012 - 10:23 pm

Thanks to all who participated with your comments, questions, contributions, ratings and just time spent reading and learning. Please continue to share this conversation with friends and others who might want to understand more about the Cleveland Schools Transformation Plan. 

The forum is officially over, but everyone should feel free to continue to converse here and explore the issues.

Also, if anyone is inspired to take action, some folks have listed ways above, mostly involving emailing your elected representatives. Also, you can click on Take Action above, and then maybe launch a petition, if you're so inclined. (The question about Ohio's unconstitutional school funding system is still out there, after all...).

 

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012 - 3:21 pm

All - this has been a great dialogue and I know it will continue for the remainder of the day.  I have to disconnect as I will be traveling to San Diego this evening to accept two National Excellence In Urban Education Awards (out of 14 awarded nationally) on behalf of the District.  I don't share this to brag, although I am quite proud of our two schools, but to point out that we know we can be successful in Cleveland!  Every example that we have used in creating The Cleveland Plan, great charter partnerships, flexible work rules in a portfolio model strategy, flexible calendar, etc. is already evident within our footprint. 

The question we have to challenge ourselves with is, how do we bring what we know works in Cleveland to scale, and how do we do it quickly!  I'll remind us all once again that in 1983, the report A Nation At Risk warned us that we would lose our footing on international comparisons if we didn't really tackle the issues facing our education systems.  And yet, in my opinion, no city in America has taken this head on as a united community issue.  Agree or disagree, everyone in Cleveland is talking about education.  No bad will come of that!  And the beauty of Cleveland is that we are a small enough city that we can get this work done at scale, but a big enough city to matter when we do!

Thank you all for advocating for my 43,000 kids!

 
Taryn Gress
on May 23, 2012 - 11:39 am

This morning Mike McIntyre hosted Eric Gordon, CEO, Cleveland Metropolitan School District Tracy Radich, Sergeant-at-Arms, Cleveland Teachers Union and Ann Mullin, Senior Program Officer for Education, The George Gund Foundation on the Sound of Ideas. Please find attached notes from the conversation. There was terrific discussion that just scratched the surface on the discussed here so far. Callers had great questions and comments with thoughtful responses from the guests. Check it out here

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012 - 11:23 am

On the Sound of Ideas this morning, CMSD CEO Eric Gordon, Ann Mullin (Gund) and CTU's Tracy Radich all joined in conversation with host Mike McIntyre about the plan, where it is right now, and some of the threads that have surfaced in this conversation. Teacher evaluation was one of the issues issues that got a lot of attention, and we've addressed that above (and, I should say, the answers about the evaluation system that is currently being used in a quarter of the schools and will be used by others starting in the fall--that program gives cause for optimism).

The levy was also discussed, and the district and others have given us some reason to be confident that the planning on that will move forward in a transparent manner. (There is still some confusion above in a comment by Nancy Reeves about levy money and bond revenue--any clarity that could be brought to that would be appreciated.)

A very important point that a caller to the program raised had to do with funding preschool programs, which have been suffering funding cuts. Pre-school is very much in the plan, but as far as I can tell, there isn't anything in the legislative proposal about it. So, should we assume that the levy--should it pass--would help to provide funding to preschools and early childhood centers?

 

Responses(5)

David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

I have a similar question.  Currently charter schools cannot offer pre-K.  They get no funding for it, and even if they offer a pre-K program on-site, it cannot be used to guarantee admission to Kindergarden. This is a state law.

If the extension of levy dollars were to allow our high performing charters to offer pre-K, it would also be helpful if enrolling a child at the pre-K level represented admission to the school.  It would make such a program a much easier sell and get more people into the public system, which is good across the board.  

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

Two addtional thoughts:  The same should apply for all the district schools, including the new and innovative schools.  

Second, I've also seen first hand the great variation in readiness coming into kindergarden.  Midway through this school year, I noticed a student working with a wooden puzzle with the letters.  I asked my son later if that was used for students who didn't know their letters.  He told me that it was, and he also volunteered that there were three students who didn't know their letters "in their head" yet.   That is three out of eight kindergardeners in the class (the class is multi-age).  The availability of pre-K would help bring these kids up to level sooner.  

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

David,

PreK is not actually governed by K-12 statutes.  Charter schools cannot use their state generated tax dollars for PreK because it's not part of K-12 education.  I cannot do so either; all of the dollars used for the district's PreK are local tax dollars.  There are charters who do offer day care and preK in the city of Cleveland.  I believe they do so through agency contracts.  I think it's a good question as to whether charter schools could offer PreK using the local tax dollars they would receive as a partner of CMSD.  Certainly, more PreK education is goof for all of us!

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

I realize it would require a change in the law, which is my point.  Some charters do offer preK, but a child attending a particular charter's preK gets no preferance for kindergarden admission.  That makes it a hard sell to parents. For the popular charters, it becomes "You can send your child here for preK, but you may get crowded out when it comes time for Kindergarden". 

I also think we should consider allowing the charging of a sliding scale for pre-K access. (Chicago does this, I believe)  I know a lot of parents that have committed to private schools for preK and the absence of available preK at the public schools pushes some familes away when they would be most receptive to the public school option.

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

Dan - I just touched on this with another thread, but PreK education is not part of the Ohio K-12 education system.  Therefore there is no legislation as part of our education bill.  However, the district already uses local dollars to support 50 PreK classrooms in 45 schools and a future levy would also need to raise local revenue for the expansion of PreK.

 
Expand This Thread
Anne Caruso
on May 23, 2012 - 10:23 am

I read on this conversation reference to the good charter schools having less children in severe poverty than other charter schools or than in the public schools. A main reason for this is that there is no busing to the Breakthrough Academies or to the Intergenerational schools. This means they are  self selecting students who have access to bus fare or to cars and parents or others to drive them. Also these schools require a committment from parents to sign homework and otherwise work with their child. There are parents who work the 3pm to 11pm shift for whom this would not be possible. THere are children whose guardians are grandparents and great grandparents who are working hard to feed and cloth them but who cannot see themselves able to help with schoolwork.

We are fortunate to have some excellent charter schools in Cleveland. Now we need to be sure the poor performing charter schools who move into neighborhoods where a public school has been closed and year after year rake in public money without improving the education of the children in the neighborhood, are made to do better or are closed. Poor performing charters become the neighborhood schools because there is often no close public school to attend (buses only take chldren who live just under 2 miles away from a school) or quality charter to attend. If the  Cleveland Plan addresses these existing poor performing charters we would see much improvement in our kids education.

 

 

Responses(7)

Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

This is, again, the resource issue I raise whenever the question of charter schools comes up.  If parents want to select private schools they pay for out of their own pocket, I can't really argue with them givng their own children the best they can afford.  I have obections, on principle, to perpetuating the cycle of people who have more resources pulling their children out of public schools, leaving the public schools with fewer people who care about them, or have the resources to try to fix them.  But from a practical perspective I can't argue with wanting to make sure my own child doesn't suffer.

My concern about using public money to fund charter schools is that it allows parents with greater resources (some of which you have mentioned) to make that choice on the public dollar.  If public money is used to fund charter schools, I want all parents (regardless of resources) to the equal ability to choose to send their children there.  This is traditionally looked at in connection with the out of pocket costs - but, as you note, there are a lot of costs that cannot be reflected in dollars.

Making sure high quality schools (charter or public) are available within easy reach of all families is a start, but it is only a start in addressing the inequities in school choice that I am not comfortable perpetuating with public money.

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

Nancy, Ultimately we have to get to the point where there is a great public school in every neighborhood, but we aren't going to get there in one giant step.  It will be one school at a time.  That will always provide advantage to those with more resources, but for many of those people, moving out of the city is an option, reducing tax revenues to support the existing schools.  

We can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

I am not as concerned about getting there instantly, as I am about public money being used to take those small steps in a way which perpetuates the inequities that already exist.  In other words, I don't want the kids with fewer resources to have to wait longer for their turn at the better educational options merely because they have less access to the resources (money, transportation, ability to navigate the application process, ability to understand school report cards, available after school child care, etc.) which will get them into (and allow them to succeed at) the higher performing schools.

The college I went to chose the students it wanted to admit, and then found a way to offer the financial resources it took to make it possible for the students to accept the offer.  It is that kind of balance that seems to me is crucial - identifying a student body that reflects the population of the CMSD, and finding the resources which make it possible for each of those students to attend (after school care, transportation, parent mentoring, etc.).

That may mean that the improvement is slower because finding the resources is not cost free - but to do otherwise seems to me a misuse of public funds.  I have never been a fan of diverting public money to private schools.  I do think that this attempt to look at things in a different and creative way is worth a shot as long as all children have an equal chance at grabbing the brass ring - and that means addressing the resource gap which gives the children of young professionals moving back to the city a significant advantage, in ways that extend well beyond financial, over the residents of CMHA to enter and succeed in high performing schools.

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

Just a quick note to remind our discussants that transportation to charter schools (and parochial schools for that matter) is provided by the CMSD as a matter of law using the same transportation requirements that our own students are governed by.  We use transportation by way of yellow bus, RTA bus tickets (which the District provides), "in lieu of transportation payments" when transportation is not practical (to take 1 kid to a school for example).  What this really points out is that the transportation for children in our city is poor.  K-8 students do not qualify unless they live further than 1.5 miles; high school students do not qualify unless they live further than 3.0 miles.  Fortunately, next year we will be reducing these limits to 1 mile for K-8 students and 1.5 miles for high school students (using a cluster strategy) which will increase access for all public, charter, and parochial students.

To David's point above, it is very common for some families to choose schools based upon convenience factors.  The schools David is referencing above are literally a few blocks apart.  It would not be an inconvenient walk, even without transportation, to walk past the poor performing school to the better performing school, at least in this case.  To me, this points out why it's important to ensure that the convenient schools are of high quality, instead of expecting parents to find increasingly less convenient options if they want a great experience for their children.

 
Anne Caruso
on May 26, 2012

Nancy, I feel that public money should only go to public schools, but we lost that battle and now have to fix the problem of many  poor quality charter schools that have set up as de facto neighborhood schools.

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 27, 2012

If you read the second paragraph in my first post in this subthread, I acknowledged that that battle (public funding for private schools) has been lost.  What I am talking about is ensuring that when public money is allowed to go to private schools it is done in a way that does not further perpetuate the disparity between those who have resouces (who would previously have been more likely to pay for private school out of their own pockets) and those who do not (those who previously would have been left in often failing public schools).

That means addressing access these private schools in a way which takes into account all of the barriers to attending any school which receives public money - such as complexity of application prosess, support for students, transportation- including to and from pre and after school activities (and relevant to Eric Gordon's point - money in lieu of transportation is a barrier to access when there is no public transportation  and the family has no car).

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

Anne, What you say has some truth, but not totally.  The transportation issue is big, I agree, but the funding for charter schools is so thin as to require cuts to academics in order to provide.  Convenience plays a big role too.  I spent a lot of time trying to recruit students to NWIS from Lakeview Estates, a large CMHA property in our neighborhood.  Many students from there go to a F-rated, for-profit charter school that is seven blocks closer than NWIS.  I don't know that I successfully shifted any kids.  The other school offers on-site aftercare, which we cannot.

I also wish that I felt our parents were quite as universally engaged as you think.  Many of the kids we have live in pretty tough circumstances.  I went into my son's class one day to make ice cream sundaes for all the kids as a reward.  I remember one student in particular who didn't know if he wanted chocolate sauce on his ice cream, he'd clearly never been given the option before. 

And yet, I believe these kids will do well at NWIS, because of the developmental/mastery-based educational model. I also am confident that my kids won't be "held back" because other students in their classroom.  Don't discount what alternative educational models can provide.

Incidently, The Intergenerational School is the lowest poverty Breakthrough school at 65%.  Citizen's Acadamy is about %80 and E-prep is about 85%.  Those are still high numbers. 

 
Expand This Thread
Eric Wobser
on May 23, 2012 - 10:02 am

As both a board member, a new parent and a neighborhood development advocate it has been inspiring to witness in Ohio City a group of parents and the neighborhood come together to advocate for better schools and for creating a more family friendly environment.  They have worked together to attract a strong school to the neighborhood that is serving majority low-income students, to do park programming geared toward families and are partnering with Ohio City Inc. this year to start a new tee-ball league that will serve 90 children this year (at capacity).  We are looking to expand that into full-fledged year-round recreational programming over the next few years.  This will help provide exercise and also serve as a tool for engaging parents and children in relationships that will lead to opportunities to talk to them about the quality of their schools.  It will also serve a mixed-income neighborhood and provide opportunities for economic integration.

It is critical in rebuilding our schools that there is meaningful neighborhood and parent engagement.  The Cleveland Plan is taking important steps in providing flexibility in hiring teachers, moving more students into effective schools and providing needed accountability for every school in Cleveland.  However, for the Cleveland Plan to be successful the budding of community that is taking place in Ohio City must be expanded into more neighborhoods so that every student has access to a high quality school and a supportive community in their neighborhood.  Too often schools exist in neighborhoods but are not part of the day to day fabric of neighborhood life.   I am interested in learning more about how neighborhoods can provide the amenities and needed engagement both in and outside of the classroom to build the kind of diverse and integrated communities that embrace their kids and their schools as a critical part of their everday life and long-term sustainability.  

 

Responses(2)

David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

To follow on the talk of community engangement, one thing that I think would help would be if school buildings could be made more available for community events after the traditional school day.  I think most people in Ohio City have never seen the inside of Garrett Morgan, and I myself have never seen the inside of Kentucky.  

We have lots of community events in Ohio City and sometimes finding a space is challenging.  even so, I've never heard "Garrett Morgan Auditorium" as a suggestion for a site. 

 
Sara Kidner
on May 23, 2012

Eric, I agree the school and community have to work together in order to be successful. It is great what you have been able to accomplish on the west side.  I currently work in the Saint Clair Superior neighborhood and serve on the core committee for MyCom which focuses on youth development.

There have been some great organizations come in to the neighborhood to do programming, but it is underutilized.  The schools are a great asset to provide support and information to families.  If schools, non-profits- and neighborhood development groups have a more symbiotic relationship students can receive the services and programming they need. 

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012 - 5:52 am

I think we all have a sense of why this plan matters beyond Cleveland's borders, but I saw this piece from the Columbus Dispatch this morning that makes a strong case for why the private sector in the state capital is paying attention. 

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 22, 2012 - 12:04 pm

A question for CEO Gordon, representatives of philanthropy, current principals and others: The plan calls for a strong talent pipeline, for both teachers and administrators. What's the state of our existing pipeline and what's the strategy for improving it?

 

Responses(4)

John Zitzner
on May 22, 2012

At Breakthrough, we'll likely hire about 15 Teach for America corps members. In addition, with Ursuline College, we've created the Cleveland Urban Teacher Residency Program.  CUTR will fast track folks with bachelor's degrees who want to teach... we'll get them a masters in a year, with a teaching certificate, and they'll spend 80% of their time teaching in one of our schools under a master teacher.  Those are 2 ideas... we're hiring 70 teachers this coming year.  www.breakthroughschools.org to apply.

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 22, 2012

John, that's interesting. Considered the number of young people coming out of school wanting to be teachers who cannot find jobs, why hire 15 Teach for America members? I have talked to people from the urban education program at Cleveland State who desperately want to stay in their home city and settle down and become part of their community, but they can't find jobs. Meanwhile, the Teach for America members overwhelmingly do not stay. Are there no quality graduates of teaching programs here who could become a committed part of school faculties on a longterm basis and a permanent part of their communities? Is the program at CSU so inferior that even undertrained temp teachers are a better choice? If so, what can be done to upgrade it so that it can provide the quality, permanent teachers needed to help stabilize schools and communities?  Or should it just be scrapped in favor of these "fast track" programs? And what is the hurry, with so many teachers laid off and potential teachers unable to find work? Is there really such a shortage of good teachers? I'm just really confused by this, and by the approach to the teaching profession in general. I have never been so glad that it's been clear to me since the age of about six that I had no interest in or aptitude whatsoever for teaching!

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

Great question Dan.

The reality is that we have been in "downsizing mode" for so long that we not only haven't been investing in a talent pipe but have been losing young talent as well.  At last night's Board meeting we renewed 2,757 teacher contracts for the 2012-13 school year.  Of those, only 454 are "limited" contracts.  The rest are all veteran enough to have a "continuing contract" or tenure.  That isn't a condemnation of tenure.  With CTU's help, we've made certain in the Plan that tenure is respected but not treated as the holy grail.  But it does point out just how veteran the CMSD staff has become!  (25% of CMSD employees could retire today, without even finishing the school year, if they wanted to!).

Also important here is that we can't simply hire those who apply.  When I was a high school principal in an affluent suburban school district, I had 1000 applications for 1 social studies position!  Every one of the people I interviewed thought they deserved to work in that district because they were "good".  The urban district near me did NOT have 1000 applications for their social studies position.  Many of those same people who thought they deserved to work in a "good" district wouldn't have deined to work in the urban school.  We can't afford to have teachers and leaders who only deign to work with our children.  We must go find those who are inspired to do so.  And they exist!

We've begun some recruitment work for principals and are working with CTU to use Race to the Top dollars to create pipeline for high need areas like special education.  But we have a long way to go which is why it is considered an Investment in The Cleveland Plan.

 
Eric Wobser
on May 23, 2012

Hi Everyone--this is Eric Wobser, I am a member of the CMSD Board since July of 2011 and could not agree more with our Chief Eric Gordon in that we need to find teachers and administrators who are passionate about working in our urban schools and working with Cleveland children.  There are a growing number of individuals coming out of college who are passionate about cities and public service.  It is critical that we get the message across to those individuals that teaching our children is the single best way they can improve Cleveland and serve the public.  At the end of the day, teachers teach the kids and we need an inspired and committed group of teachers who feel respected and inspired to succeed.

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 22, 2012 - 12:01 pm

Open question for everyone:

If there's one thing you'd encourage community members to do right now regarding this plan, what would that be? 

 

Responses(7)

Joe  Roman
on May 22, 2012

Call your state legislator.  Tell him/her you support the Cleveland Plan.  Find your legislator at: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/ 

 
Michele Miner Pomerantz
on May 22, 2012

Contact your staterepresentative and ask them to support this  plan. Visit one of our schools and see the difference our educators are making eachday in the lives of our students and their families.

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

Educate yourself.  Read the plan summary.  It includes a good overview, as well as a comparison to current law.

Then - whether you agree or not - contact your state legislator and let him or her know how you would like them to vote.

 
John Zitzner
on May 22, 2012

Go to this link and in 90 seconds you will send 10 emails to legislators that need to know about the plan. 

http://votervoice.net/core.aspx?AID=1388&Screen=alert&IssueId=28851&APP=GAC&SiteID=-1&VV_CULTURE=en-us

 

Please do it now. thanks!

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

Putting pressure on state legislators would be a big help.  The charter school accountability provisons (The Transformation Alliance part) seems to be getting pushback.  

http://bit.ly/JPVRJS

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012

Here's the full link to the coverage David referenced.

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

Use all of the links below to make sure your voice is heard in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.  And help your legislators know that this is urgent!  Make sure that the legislature understands that we need everyone to be accountable in this plan and that it must be a plan for our entire public education system, not just for a subset of our traditional public schools. 

 
Expand This Thread
Ann Mullin
on May 22, 2012 - 11:00 am

This is changing the subject a bit, but an aspect of the plan that I find most inspiring is the call to create very different school models. A few existing schools were mentioned above: Near West Intergenerational School, which uses a mastery-based curriculum, multi-age developmental groupings, and pairs younger students with older adults (not to mention the teens at Garrett Morgan's School of Science) as co-learners; and Campus International, which is seeking internationally-recognized accreditation as an International Baccalaureate school. Another, MC2STEM, moves students out of the traditional school building and into the world of work...its freshmen attend school at the Great Lakes Science Center, sophomores at GE's Nela Park, and juniors and seniors downtown and in internship and college placements. If you haven’t seen this great story about one of its many talented students, check this out: http://www.cleveland.com/seniorstandouts/index.ssf/2012/05/david_boone_persevered_to_go_f.html

But there is more opportunity to create and imagine schools that are a more dramatic departure from the past. Any ideas out there? Here is one that I love: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/opinion/brooks-the-relationship-school.html

 

Responses(6)

Dan Moulthrop
on May 22, 2012

Ann, that piece by David Brooks is by inspiring. What he describes reminds me a bit of the depth of innovation and commitment at The Equity Project, another exciting innovative model in NYC.

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

Ann, 

I agree that there is room for more types of innovative educational models. I usually refer to the standard american educational model as "One size fits nobody".  I was the "smart kid" growing up, and as miserable as that was, I can only imagnine how miserable the kids were that got labelled the "dumb kids"

I'm a big fan of Intergenerational's mastery-based approach, but it doesn't appeal to everyone.  I know some families in the area that would love to see a Waldorf school opened in Cleveland, for instance.  

One of the problems that I know CMSD schools have to deal with is a high degree of transience of the student body.  I recall reading that as many as 30-40% of students will change schools in a given year.  That makes it very hard for teachers to know what to do when a new student suddenly shows up mid-year.   I wonder if maybe we could look to the medical field, where eletronic medical records now allow physicians to more easily pull up your medical history and make judgements regarding treatment plans.  If there were similar electronic educational records, it might be easier for teachers to get up to speed when a new student arrives in the classroom. 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

David, you've hit on one of the biggest challenges.  It was one of the reasons my applied math classes in East Cleveland had such a high failure rate - by the end of the year it was not unusual to have only a half of the students who had been with me all year.  Families would often cobble together first and last month's rent, move into a new place, then wait for the eviction - which typically didn't take a full school year (or if it took that long it didn't align with the school calendar).

An electronic record would help on the administrative end, but the real challenge is really far less about records following the student, than about the disruption for both the individual student - and the rest of the class each time someone new came in or left.  Some thoughts:  Additional teachers or classroom aids who are dedicated to individual or small group work for anyone who is off track for any reason might be one way to address it (at a cost, of course);  older students serving as aids might be another option; or  groups of students in each class  that are responsible on a rotating basis for integrating any new students who join the class during the week.

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

Nancy, 

I think the sort of record keeping I'm thinking of would be easier with a mastery-based system like Intergenrational uses. Intergenerational has a series of benchmarks that students have to meet before they progress, regardless of their age.  If they haven't mastered addition, they don't move on to multiplication, for instance.  

An electronic educational record could chart each student's learning progress and learning objectives.  That would seem to be more helpful than "This student got a C in math", which can vary a lot based on a given school's standards.

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

That probably would be useful information - but would also require some creativity to exploit.  As an example, At the high school level, there are competing math tracks - track 1:  Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry or track 2:  Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 (Just using track labels for reference - the distinction is real, but the names are not).  When a student in Geometry transfers from a track 2 school partway through the year into a track 1 school, it is sometimes challenging because Geometry in a Track 1 school is taught with the assumption that the student has already completed two full years of algebra - and a  student who is transferring from a track 2 school has not.  So it is theoretically useful to know that Algebra 2 skills are missing, but challenging to work from a practical perspective because some of what is expected to be mastered in a track 1 school depends on the Algebra 2 skills.

Similarly, on a skill mastery level - disconnected from a particular class - knowing which math skills have been mastered and which have not is useful information in theory - but challenging to address from a practical perspective in the standard academic setting (particularly one in which there is a hgh rate of turnover in the student population).

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

In my opinion, learning has changed so much that we can now make a "school" out of anything!  The key isn't just that kids know facts (especially since they can quickly and easily access the most difficult mathematical formulas online - try wolframalpha.com for a really cool tutorial on the "mathematical google").  Now more than ever, learners have to be able to use the information that is available to them in thousands of different contexts.  So context becomes the key. 

* An outdoor environmental school located on Dike 14 (that piece of land jutting into the lake North of MLK Blvd off the Shoreway)?

* A convention logistics school at the Medical Mart?

* A construction rehab school located in an abandoned house reclaimed from the city landbank?

* A theater of school where young artistic students have to demonstrate their understanding of cell structure by producing and performing a play demonstrating their knowledge - anyone remember constructing the cardboard cell?  This would be better!

Wow!  Then the possibilities are endless!

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 22, 2012 - 12:17 am

On Day 2, I'd also like to push the conversation toward the implementation of a new teacher evaluation system. The legislative proposal (attached below) indicates that "multiple measures" may be used, which is great. It would be useful to iterate here what the multiple measures will be.

I've heard from most of the poeple involved that test scores will likely only be included as part of "value-added" metrics, so to the extent that they count at all, progress will be measured, not just raw achievement (I hope that's the right way to make that distinction). That seems to make sense and has become a widely accepted best practice in districts across the nation. 

So, what will the other measures be? In Washington DC, every teacher is evaluated multiple times by administrators and colleagues, which has the added benefit of encouraging collegiality in the labor force. Is that something we will see in the CMSD? What will evaluators be looking for? Will there be a self-evaluation? 

I guess the question is what elements of the current system are working well now and what would be added to them in this new system? 

 

Responses(9)

Eric Gordon
on May 22, 2012

Dan,

CMSD and the CTU have been working over the last year to implement a very strong new Teacher Development and Evaluation System.  It is based on national research by Dr. Charlotte Danielson and evaluates teachers on a rubric of 22 resaarched criteria defining effective teaching.  Teachers are evaluated through multiple formal observations (some announced, some unannounced) brief walk-through observations (both of their planning process and of their actual work), and evaluation of work products.  Teachers and evaluators together examine evidence against the rubrics, giving teachers ownership in their own professional growth and evaluation.  This has been implemented in 25% of CMSD schools already this year and just last week school teams from our other schools began training for implementation in their schools in the fall.

We are also continuing to work on the multiple measures which will make up the other 50% of the evaluation.  Using data is important but we have to be careful to use it responsibly.  Keep in mind that the achievement tests we currently use in Ohio were not developed for the purpose of measuring teacher performance and that those tests are all expected to change in 2014.  There are many emerging models around the country to examine.  One, for example, looks at eight different data points (each worth about 6% of the evaluation) which when combined provide a robust picture of a teacher's performance.  These measures include academic test data, student growth or teacher "value-added" data, parent perception data, student perception data, etc.  Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida has done a great deal with the use of data as well and can also serve as a model. 

CMSD is also implementing the Ohio Principal Evaluation System, which is a similar evaluation system to the one described above.  Again, our administrators association is taking the lead in developing the tools collaboratively so that they, like our teachers, have ownership in their own professional growth and evaluation.

Finally, the District is working on a performance metrics strategy for the central office which will more clearly define the performance expectations of central office employees for their own evaluations.

Effective evaluations are critical to The Cleveland Plan.  Without a comprehensive, fair, thorough evaluation system, the other elements of the plan (reduction in force based upon performance, differentiated compensation systems, etc.) cannot be effective.

 
Mark Baumgartner
on May 22, 2012

In responding to Eric, it is critical that our teaching staff trust the new evaluation system to paint a fair picture of them as teachers.  Getting it right is more important than getting it done.  That is why we have a Phase I this year and a Phase II next school year.  Teachers have to trust the system and learning over a couple of years is doing it right.  

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

As a former teacher in an academically and financially challenged school district, I hope that linking performance evaulations based on student achievement to retention and pay can be done in a manner that does not discourage the best and brightest teachers from accepting positions teaching in the most challenging classrooms or schools.

I taught computer programming (which attracted the brightest children in the school) and applied math (the second of two below algebra classes then requried for graduation - which was the landing place for students who were truly academically challenged as well as for 21 year old, often very bright, seniors who were typically absent (or suspended) enough days they failed by virtue of never having accumulated enough points to pass (but not enough days to have been removed from the school system).  If my pay or job retention had been linked to student achievement, I would have been tempted to opt to move out of teaching the latter classes in favor of the former where, by pretty much any student achievement scale, my performance was far superior.  That kind of bias needs to be eliminated if there is any hope of encouraging idealistic, energetic, and talented individuals to take a risk teaching the children who need them most.

In my mind, that would require a relative evaluation scale of some sort - which perhaps scales student achievement based performance evaulations based on the classes and perhaps schools which were the setting of those evaluations.

 
David J. Quolke
on May 22, 2012

To follow up on what Eric said, the new Evaluation system and the work CTU and CMSD has already done in creating the new system has focused on building level teacher and principal buy-in.   Our initial agreement would have piloted this system in 10 schools this year.  As Eric indicated, roughly 25% or 23 schools volunteered to be part of the pilot.   Clearly, our educators want a say in building the new system and have stepped up to meet that challenge. 

Likewise, I think the work we do around multiple measure, while challenging, is going to be a very robust discussion and we will have a fair and thorough system.  While there is no "silver bullet" evaluation systme out there, the work that is being done in Hillsborough and others have given us a good roadmap to follow or look at. 

This is clearly the biggest concern of educators.  Since elements of the plan are tied to the evaluation system getting this right is going to be critical. 

 
Sara Kidner
on May 22, 2012

It seems to me as though the evaluation plan has been thoroughly considered.  I agree with Nancy that you do have to make sure there is an advantage or at least fairness when it comes to teaching special populations.  With the at risk population you described there is an opportunity to make much greater strides in progress in the right environment.  Students in the special education program have to especially be considered since their progress can not be monitored on a typical scale. 

I appreciate the blend of data and observation.  Below is an article that details what happens when data is relied on too heavily at the detriment of teacher dignity and professionalism. It takes trained insightful leadership in order to do highly detailed observations.  The amount of documentation required is likely to have them spending a lot more time on this aspect of the job.  I am wondering how many administrators on site will be trained to perform this job function?

 
Michele Miner Pomerantz
on May 22, 2012

The evaluation system is currently implemented in 29 schools, next year all CMSD schools will be implementing this research based evaluation system.  The program takes into account special needs students and the experience level of the educator.  It gives educators an ooprtunity to reflect, self evaluate and collaborate with  their instructional  leader to improve their professional practice.  The evaluation system is crucial in our continued efforts to improve educational outcomes and ensure a quality educator in every classroom. 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

Although you may be using a broader definition, my concern does not arise out of anything I would classify as special needs.  My concern is for the classes in the standard academic curriclum which are filled with children who don't (for the most part) qualify for special education, but who struggle academically (for a variety of both academic and non-academic reasons).  My experience is that that mixture is very challenging to teach, and student performance is often abysmal.  My pass rate in those classes was 50-60%%, similar to others teaching the same classes.   If I had been evaluated based on student achievement in those classes against a theoretically separate me teaching my computer programming classes, I would fire the applied math teacher, and give a raise the programming teacher.

The applied math students students desperately need excellent teachers but, to be blunt, if my job or pay depended in any significant part on their achievement - even on their growth during the year, and I had any choice in the matter, I would run from the applied math classes.  So I would build something into the achievement portion of the evaluation which takes into account the achievement growth during the year for other similarly situated classes, so that stronger teachers are encouraged, rather than discouraged, from accepting challenging assignments in order to avoid the potential impact on their continued employment and paycheck.

 

 
Joe  Roman
on May 22, 2012

Thanks Dan.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been advocating for years that we must develop a better way to measure teachers/principals and that if done properly it could inform district decision making.

Recent changes in state law (HB153) are a good first step to make sure we are considering "value-added" data when evaluating teachers.  Clearly this is a work in progress for Cleveland, Ohio and the nation.  I understand Eric's point that the tests currently in use were not developed to measure teachers, but to paraphrase a Brooking Institute report from late 2010, there are consequences to students if we don't incorporate value-added data.  We applaud the district for their work on evaluations. 

An occasionally overlooked provision of HB525 moves the annual deadline from April 1 to June 1 for the district to have completed their teacher evaluations.  Giving the district more time ensures they get it right and include all the relevant information.  This is an important provision of the bill. 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

I wonder how this delay in teacher evaluation fits with the aspirational hope expressed here by Eric Gordon that  "We can't afford to have teachers and leaders who only deign to work with our children.  We must go find those who are inspired to do so."

When I talk with people in connection with their children graduating from college, many of them are incredulous that students graduating with degrees in education don't yet know if they have a job waiting for them, in large part because of the later hiring cycle in this field.  Students in some of the fields which draw individuals talented in math and science (who I would love to see in the high school classrooms) often have jobs up to a year in advance.

This delayed decision about retention will presumably shift the hiring time for Cleveland teachers even later - after the initial drain into non-academic fields, and after the competing (more traditionally desirable) shools have skimmed off the pick of the crop, perhaps (it seems to me) exascerbating the challenges faced in attracting teachers who are inspired to teach in the Cleveland school district.

Any thoughts?

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 21, 2012 - 11:41 pm

It's been a great first day of the forum! Thanks to all of you for being a part of this. As CEO Eric Gordon says, this is arguably the most important set of issues we can all be focused on right now. 

There are a few threads I don't want us to lose sight of.

Firstly, the Transformation Plan would seem to end some of the funding challenges the CMSD and Cleveland charters currently experience, but there are some unanswered questions. Eric Gordon, I'm hoping you can help us out here.

Specifically, how much is the current shortfall and how did it arise? (This was Piet van Lier's question).

What size levy should the community expect on the November ballot? How much would that raise? Would that be enough to properly fund the schools and the district?

A few people have voiced support for the Piet van Lier's suggestion that this cross-sector, bi-partisan coalition push for the governor and general assembly to actually fix the state's unconstitutional school funding formula. Do the members of this coalition have the appetite for that?

I recognize these are somewhat sensitive questions, and your candid responses would be welcome.   

 

 

Responses(5)

Eric Gordon
on May 22, 2012

Dan and all,

I've tried to respond to a few of these items above, but here are a couple other quick thoughts.

State Foundation Revenue from Ohi0 (excluding the portion that is passed through to charter schools) is $31.6 million dollars less this year than last, and is projected to decrease another $12.3 next year (that's $43.9 million in two years alone).  A large part of this loss is the result of Federal Stimulus Funds expiring.   In addition, the state phase out of a utility tax reimbursement ( a revenue decrease of $4.4 million this year) and the accelerated phase out of the CAT tax reimbursement (a revenue decrease of $12.9 million this year and an additional decrease of $13 million next year) have also negatively impacted the district.  Total revenue (again, excluding the portion that is passed through to charter schools) for the District is anticipated to decline $74.4 million in a two year period (July 2011-June 2013).  Even by carefully controlling expenditures, which have remained flat over the same period of time, we faced a $66 million deficit challenge.  Our full budget report is available on our website for those who would like more information: 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

I was reading through the budget presentation last night, skimming the proposed legislation.  I noticed the language around new revenue had shifted from levy to bond (and above you referred to it as an operating issue).  Aside from the flexibility to move funds from the sale of buildings into the general fund, and the ability to share bond and levy revenues with community schools, are there other creative funding gems in the proposed legislation that might allow the use of a bond (easier to pass, I believe) rather than a levy to address operating expense shortfalls?

 
Eric Gordon
on May 23, 2012

Nancy,

Great question.  In last night's presentation on finances, I mentioned both an operating levy and a bond issue.  The district needs operating dollars as well know.  We also need to consider a bond issue to complete the school construction program.  There are very few things that can be placed on bonds, but there is more that we could do and we are looking at this as a part of a long term financial stability solution.  For example, there are many kinds of maintenance that can be placed onto bond funding and off of daily operating funding and we need to look at that as a part of a longer term solution for both caring for facilities and reducing daily operating dollars.  There are other districts that already do which is how they hold their "cost per pupil down". 

On a side note, I have been intrigued by Social Impact Bonds.  This is the idea of passing a bond issue to make social investments in promotion and prevention (for example funding high quality pre-schools) with the bet that we can repay the bonds using the money saved on interventions and treatments (reduced welfare costs, reduced prison expenses, etc.).  This is a simple explanation to a complex strategy, but you get the point.  I think this is an interesting way of shifting a culture that has long spent its money on the interventions (dropout recovery, incarceration costs, etc.) instead of the preventions (investments in education, social services for children, etc.).

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

I love the idea in the second paragraph.  As a former high school teacher (who often inherited math students who were performing around the 4th-5th grade level), I know all too well that the cost of early losses compounds in the same way interest on a loan does - and is far higher than the cost of prevention.

I'll have to do some research, since I'm not familiar with Social Impact Bonds.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 23, 2012

Wow, Eric--that social impact bond idea is very intriguing. In our book, we crafted a chapter we titled "Pay Now or Pay Later," in which we laid out that argument--that the right interventions (in our case, the right teachers) would reduce the long term costs. Pay a great teacher now so you're not paying a huge prison bill later. I love that that is now being used with bond issues.

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 21, 2012 - 3:04 pm

Let's get practical about the levy. What size levy are we talking about? If it's approved, how much would it generate, and would that be enough? Some cities have found success with levies for particular purposes--will this one be earmarked for particular transformation programs or would it go to the district (and high performing charters) generally?

Also, what do we know about the current level of support for a potential levy--has anyone polled voters on this yet? (I would assume so, but I haven't heard anything public.) Also, if the polls have been done, what do they tell us about why people might not support it? (or, to put it another way, what do polls suggest about a necessary marketing strategy?)

 

Responses(20)

Piet van Lier
on May 21, 2012

In Cleveland, each levy brings in about $6 million. So 10 mills (which is a pretty big lift) would bring in roughly $60 million a year, starting January 2013 if it passes in November 2012.

I've heard through unofficial channels that the district is considering a levy that large.

 
Eric Gordon
on May 22, 2012

Here are some facts to help with this conversation.

1 mill in our district generates $5,588,741, but at the current county collection rate of 78.87% would really only produce $4,407,840.  The additional tax on a house worth $50,000 is $15.31.

Also, there is often a suggestion that this means we have to raise 15 mills just to close the $66 million deficit.  That is not correct however because the district is required to balance our budget without the levy. 

There has been a lot of speculation about what millage the district is planning.  At this point, it is simply speculation as we are carefully working through a number of scenarios.  For example, should we seek only operating dollars and if so should they be targeted for specific purposes?  What millage is necessary to promise the voters stability over a period of time (over the next 5 years, for example)?  Should we also seek a bond renewal to complete the construction project?  If we do, should they be two issues or only one? 

As these decisions are made, and we are working on them, they will be shared publicly through the Board of Education meetings and through media communications.

 
Piet van Lier
on May 22, 2012

Thanks Eric, this information is very helpful.

 
Jillian Fout-Gregory
on May 22, 2012

Let us not forget the 15 yr tax abatement (that is transferable) on new home construction.  There has been many new townhomes, condos, etc built in my area.  Most of these start in the low 100,000s.  I am wondering how the levy will fare, especially since a lot of the people voting for it may not actually be included in funding it.

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 22, 2012

Jillian, this is a huge issue of mine, and why I have voted against both of the last two Cleveland Heights levies. All of the new luxury townhouses — including ones just coming online now when we have had a glut of empty housing for years — are tax-abated. That puts the burden on people with older homes. Cleveland has the added problem of all those tax-abated and downwardly assessed downtown properties that were hyped by how much they were going to contribute in taxes. It seems to me that the burden is heaped primarily on the less affluent. What it would take for me to vote for a levy up here in the Heights is the elimination of tax abatements for high-end housing. Education is the best possible use of money, but the imbalance and unfairness of taxes at all levels of government has reached a breaking point.

 
Jillian Fout-Gregory
on May 23, 2012

We also should not forget all the back taxes owed.  I did a survey of only the open, vacant, and vandalized (ovv) properties in my area, and there was close to 150,000$ in uncollected taxes.  I always wonder how much is really owed not only in ovv houses but also in occupied homes.

 
Worldstock Entertainment
on May 21, 2012

Why can't we consider earmarking a nickel of every $ gambled in the new Casino to help fund education ? I'm sure that  it would take some work , but I'm betting it would generate a great deal of funds !

 
Worldstock Entertainment
on May 21, 2012

Call the Initiative "Betting On Our Children's Future" !

 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

That is a constitutional issue - so it wouldn't be simple to add another $.05 in taxes.

As required by the constitutional amendment that created the casions, they pay $.33 in taxes for every dollar in gross revenue.  Once all the casinos are fully operationa, the estimate for Cleveland City Schools is a little over $6 million annually - time will tell how accurate that estimate is.

 
Worldstock Entertainment
on May 22, 2012

Thanks for clarifying Nancy !

 

 
Monyka S. Price N/A
on May 21, 2012

Hello Dan and thank you for  providing the venue to speak to what we are most energized by relative to the education plan.

Positive results for a number of studentshave gleaned some promise in theClevelandMetropolitanSchool District; Schools within the City ofClevelandhave sound Union leadership, diligent teachers, school leaders and other staff members who continue to work painstakingly to achieve, and thus, some successes have been realized. However, the academic successes do not proliferate throughout the school district and given the academic plans that are currently in place,the pace of change has not occurred rapidly or profoundly enough to overcome the challenges within the district.  Real systemic and sustainable change cannot occur without forging a fundamentally different course of action. 

Recent years and much research have yielded the concept of school reform in the forefront for educators, government officials, families, students and other stakeholders in the community. Outside of our traditional public education system, parents are interested in the concept of choice.  The notion of a school district that encompasses a Portfolio Strategy affords families the ability to choose high quality schools-traditional, new, innovative, charter-that foster caring environments, provide technologically advanced curriculum, differentiate instruction, require high expectations for students, parents, and all staff, promote effective collaboration, and offer a variety of learning options that meet children’s academic, social and emotional needs.

These reform efforts are the cornerstone of Cleveland’s child-centered, comprehensive education plan for reinventing public education and a strategy to implement the Transformation Plan introduced in 2010.  To accomplish this lofty goal, Cleveland resolves to transition from a traditional single source school district, where currently new and innovative schools serve as a microcosm of the larger district, to a portfolio district of familial choice and options.

Mayor Jackson has held that improving educational attainment is the key to our City’s continued resurgence. Thus, we are most energized by the Cleveland Education Plan as we contend it will create conditions for success by seeking necessary changes in state policy, creating a sustainable financial strategy and a new approach to how management and labor collaborate and work together. The Plan offers the opportunity to promote continued transformation of Cleveland schools and it purports to provide a high quality education that is equitable and just for children and fair to adults. Further, having more educated students who will become productive citizens is a strong predictor of economic strength and prosperity for our city and region.

 

 

 

 
John Zitzner
on May 21, 2012

Dan and Piet... my sources say one mill brings in about $4 million in actual collected revenue.  Perhaps experts have the exact number.

 
Piet van Lier
on May 22, 2012

Thanks John, Eric weighed in with some precise numbers above.

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

The information I am finding talks about a bond in November (page 37), which seems to have replaced the discussion of a levy from the February plan.  In addition, savings are anticipated from selling six administration buildings (and consolidating into one downtown leased facility) (page 28), roughly $5.2 million/year.  The revenue generated by the sales is not specifically mentioned, so it isn't clear whether that revenue is captured in the "savings" or would be in addition to it.  At least as of the date of the budget presentation (back in April), a vote related to the sales is set for today.

Proposed SB 335 does modify funding somewhat, but I haven't read through it closely enough to tell whether it might include some creativity around bonds (which cannot currently be used for operating expenses), or just permits an allocation of revenue generated by levies and bonds to community (charter) schools.

 

 
Lyman Millard
on May 22, 2012

The Cleveland Plan is integral to passing a levy in this town.  If voters are going to support and  increase in their property taxes, they need to be convinced that it will make a real difference. 

I give the mayor a ton of credit; he's really sticking his neck out.  But, at the same time, I think he's being very practical.  Mayor Jackson has seen the demographic shift over the past several decades: families are leaving Cleveland for better edcuational options fortheir children.  His plan is our best shot at retaining population today as we prepare a more educated and skilled workforce of tomorrow.

 
Joe  Roman
on May 22, 2012

We did a poll on the Cleveland Plan a couple months ago.  We only had one or two questions on the levy.  Of note, 70% of the Cleveland voting public support the concept of sharing local levy dollars with high performing charters that are sponsored by or partner with the district.

  

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 22, 2012

What was the overall level of support for a levy? 

 
Joe  Roman
on May 23, 2012

That question was not asked in our poll. 

 
Piet van Lier
on May 22, 2012

Joe, I find your comment on the poll you did interesting -- when I go out and talk to people about schools, most of them have little or no idea what a charter school is.

How did the levy question on the poll describe charter schools?

 
Monyka S. Price N/A
on May 22, 2012

The Cleveland Education Plan focuses on three main components: academics, financial sustainability and accountability. At this juncture, I will briefly outline the rationale of financial sustainability or the notion of a levy.

The CMSD has a 66 million dollar budget deficit. CEO Gordon and others are working to balance the budget by the end of the fiscal school year, June 30, 2012 as prescribed by law. Employee layoffs and other cost reduction efforts will not sustain the CMSD in the long term. Thus, the Cleveland Plan, with legislative modifications, will position the CMSD to put a levy on the ballot in November 2012.

We intend to demonstrate to the citizens what they can expect different and enhanced with respect to results from the CMSD. The proposed levy would conceivably be renewed by voters after five to seven years (A specific timeframe will be determined before the levy is put on the ballot.) thereby holding us accountable for implementing the necessary changes that positively impact our children.

 
Expand This Thread
Chris O'Brien
on May 21, 2012 - 12:57 pm

Due to the efforts of collaboration from the Mayor, to Eric Gordon, CTU, legislators, and the charter schools, I am extremely excited to be just a small part in the transformation plan.  To think that we are involving ourselves in unprecented collaboration is inspiring and motivation.  We are moving past the district vs. charter mentality that is wide-spread throughout our country to a progressive quality vs non-quality paradigm. 

I think that with the shared resources, research, and sheer will power, Cleveland will soon become a hub of urban charter reform.  Although there will always be bumps along the way, the vision is clear.  Soon, the students of Cleveland will be able to attend a high quality school regardless of what their zip code is.  Across the city, our students will be able to sit in seats of schools that are getting in done in new and imaginative ways. 

Our job is a difficult one - but it is a JUST and NECESSARY one!  Thank you to all who have taken the leadership to make this happen, and I look forward to blazing a new trail in urban education.

 
Sara Kidner
on May 21, 2012 - 11:58 am

I  have always been a strong advocate for public schools and teaching where students needed me the most.  I am excited that this plan addresses the policy issues that caused me to leave the public system. 

As a school leader it is vital to have a stable work force and be able to retain your most talented and passionate employees.  It will also be much easier to recruit talent if they know they will be able to stay in the same building, and grade level.  The shifting and uncertainty is one reason we lose urban educators so quickly.   

I am also excited by the focus on work force development in schools.  There are so many students graduating with the academic knowledge but not ready to enter the work force.  To be able to combine these skills with core curriculum gives students a purpose for learning. 

 

Responses(1)

Sam Bell
on May 21, 2012

I’m just an interested citizen of the metropolitan area.  I wish I could say “of the Greater Cleveland Community,”  but I think that might be stretching the term community a bit.  In any event, my questions relate more to the purpose and goals of public education than to the specifics of this particular plan.  I know many recent college graduates, including several with advanced degrees, who have been unable to find jobs.  If all we’re trying to do is prepare our kids for college, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot.Here’s a link http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2113794,00.html?goback=.gde_1882649_member_116987841 to an article about education that works, that prepares students both for gainful employment, and for further, higher education.  Let me be clear: I am myself a college graduate with a fair amount of post-grad education as well.  I wouldn’t trade my rigorous classical education for anything, but I do know that it’s not for everyone.  I also know as an automobile service technician that my industry is in need of well-educated young technicians to take over from us old fogeys who are getting close to retirement.  Most of the skills (mechanical, electrical, electronic, and programming) these new technicians will need are not currently taught, or taught well enough, in the public schools.  I hope that your plans include vocational technical training for the next generation of folks needed to keep America running.

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 21, 2012 - 11:26 am

Some quick housekeeping: John Zitzner and Lyman Millard are both with Breakthrough Schools, a collaborative enterprise providing support to a network of local high performing charter schools. John Zitzner and Breakthrough had a hand in crafting the Transformation Plan.

State Rep. Foley, CTU Pres Quolke, CEO Gordon and others alluded above to the work of intervention on low performing schools. I'd like to hear more about that. Who will be responsible for leading that work? How you're imagine that might unfold? And who could be involved?

I agree with all of you thatsit sounds exciting, and perhaps a real opportunity for the community to get involved with this process beyond taking a stand on the proposed levy.

 

Responses(19)

Piet van Lier
on May 21, 2012

I think this is a great question, Dan. There's evidence locally that some of the higher-performing schools in Cleveland, both charter and district, are doing well, but as a whole they educate a different population of students -- generally lower percentages of low-income and special ed.

The question you're asking -- what's going to be done differently at low-performing schools, and who's going to do it -- is key.

One thing that's not being talked about enough in Cleveland is creating more community-oriented schools, along the lines of the community learning centers that have achieved some success in Cincinnati. These schools do a better job of taking a more holistic approach, providing services needed in that community, educating not just school children, becoming resources for the surrounding neighborhoods.

 
David Hovis
on May 21, 2012

I don't think the fact the the New and Innovative schools (district and charter) have lower poverty rates is a bad thing, really.  It says we can attract people back to the city with great schools.  I think the lowest poverty level at a Breakthrough school is 65% (TIS), which is still higher than it should be.  If we create schools that are attractive to families with the means to move elsewhere or opt out and go private, everyone benefits.  

 
Piet van Lier
on May 21, 2012

I agree, David, that it's not a bad thing that the innovative schools are reaching a different population and are bringing in new families and retaining families who otherwise might have left.

The point I'm trying to make is that creating new innovative schools isn't necessarily the solution to improving the low-performing schools. Dan's question goes to what to do about schools that, on the whole, have higher poverty rates and higher special ed rates. We have to be able to serve the children and families who depend on those schools because right now we risk creating a multi-tiered district, essentially segregating by race, class/income level and ability/disability.

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 21, 2012

You are saying several things i think are really important, Piet. First of all, the better charter schools and the magnet schools are attracted children whose families are motivated — and able – to do research into the best education options for their children. What do we do about the population of children whose parents can't or don't? Among other things, they are being preyed on by the proliferation of sub-standard for-profit charter schools. I will believe this is being addressed when i see it happening.

The idea of a holistic approach — providing support for struggling families and their children — is great and has been shown elsewhere to work. How do we fund it? We constantly hear about "doing more with less" but when you cut support staff to the bone, how do you execute this? It seems like there's a point when the only thing you can do with less is less. How do we convince recalcitrant lawmakers that this is worth funding?

 
Piet van Lier
on May 21, 2012

There is potential good in the Cleveland plan in that it creates more flexibility and autonomy. I say potential because it all depends on implementation, as even Mayor Jackson has acknowledged.

Overall, though, Anastasia, I think you're right on point. Doing more with less is pretty much impossible, as nice as it sounds. What is happening in Ohio is that state policymakers have created a revenue problem. The tax changes implemented in 2005 have blown a $2.5 billion annual hole in the state budget. The Kasich administration and leaders of the Ohio House and Senate, rather than look at ways to raise more of the revenue we need to properly fund schools, local government (think fire and police, street repairs, garbage collection), and health and human services, have chosen to pull funding from the local level to the state to "balance" the state budget.

It's irresponsible and is hurting Ohioans today and will undermine our future.

 

Here's a link to a recent report we did at Policy Matters about the state income tax.

http://www.policymattersohio.org/bolster-income-tax-feb2012

 
Sara Kidner
on May 21, 2012

School funding is a major issue, and it is important that we continue to work for policy changes.  In the mean time we need to find ways to make our current funding work.  We need to look to the community for partners in the non profit sector.  Building partnerships with non profit organizations will help provide more services to the schools.  The schools can help by educating families and referring them to high quality programs. 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

This touches on one of my major concerns.  When special schools are created (whether charter or public), even with the best of intentions, they tend to draw away, and provide a better education to, those students who already have more resources.  Resources include a lot more than just money.  Resources include parents who are articulate and better able to navigate the application/admission process; better than average support systems which make it possible to make  the additional investment of time, transportation, supplemental education, etc. to attend a school other than the default one; financial resources (or the ability to access scholarships) to pay tuition; and so on.  This drain often leaves those children with fewer resources stuck in the poorer performing school, children from the families who are least likely to be able to identify problems, to figure out how to bring them attention to people who can resolve them, or to advocate for the education their children deserve.

I would address this from two perspectives:

  • Require demographics in any school receiving public money to mirror the Cleveland population.  I would probably include matching at least the following:  race, parental education level, famliy income, stability of housing, and family composition. 
  • Provide support at the family level for children in populations which would otherwise be underrepresented, in order to ensure that these children can not only get into the school, but can be successful.
 
Piet van Lier
on May 22, 2012

Nancy,

Your points on the special schools, charter or district, are borne out by research.

It gets tricky, though, when you talk about matching demographics. One of the strengths of a place like Campus International, the International Baccalaureate school the Cleveland district started in partnership with Cleveland State, is precisely that it does attract a different population. Research also shows that creating schools that are less segregated (by race, income, parental education levels, ability/disability) can provide a better education environment for children who might otherwise be in a school serving 90 to 100 percent low-income children.

In Wake County, North Carolina, for example, they have used a policy that tries to make sure no school is above 40 percent low-income and that no more than 25 percent of students are academically challenged. Of course, that's only been possible because it's a county-wide school district, and that's a whole different conversation.

Back to Cleveland -- while we have to recognize the relative "advantage" many of Cleveland's higher-performing schools do have today, and act accordingly, I don't think  the answer is to require the continuation of current levels of segregation that exist in many schools.

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 22, 2012

What I am concerned about is perpetuating the system in which children who have more resources are advantaged over children who have fewer.  Currently, those children go to private schoos with funds obtained via their parents' resourcefulness (whether personal funds, or scholarship funds obtained by their parents ability to navigate the scholarship application process).  While I would wish those parents would invest their resources in making the public schoos better, rather than pulling their children out of what is perceived as a failing school system, I understand their motivations.  My own daughter went to public schools because (much to her chagrin) I strongly believe in public schools - but before I moved into the Manchester district our home was in the Cleveland School district, and I don't know that I would have sacrificed my daughter's real life education on the altar of my lofty principles.

But now we are talking about using public money to perpetuate the move by those with resources (broadly speaking) to better and/or private schools.  While I agree that children are better served in less segregated (in a variety of ways) schools are better served, in order to achieve that lower level of segregation, a higher proportion of the population of children with resources will have to be admitted to them, meaning a higher proportion of children whose parents do not have similar resources are left in the schools which do not serve their population as well.

If we are using public money to fund these higher performing schools, we have to ensure they are equally available to all children in the Cleveland school system - and if the these schools don't ultimately look like the population in the district, they most likely aren't equally available.

What suggestions do you have to ensure that we are not just publicly funding access to better schools primarily for the very children whose parents could likely have managed to move them away from lower performing schools on their own?

 
Cleveland Teachers Union
on May 21, 2012

We should look at other Community Wrap-Around Models that have been successful in other district's similar to Cleveland.  The work being done in Cincinnati in the areas of Community Learning Centers and perhaps the turn-around model should be looked at more closely to see if Cleveland can incorporate some of the practices that are working. They seem to have really strong partnerships with community organizations and businesses that are aimed at helping schools to help children be more successful.  Each of their building designs were done with input from teachers, parents, and the community and they try to focus on ensuring that teachers have what they need to  be successful.

Wendi Kral

 
Sara Kidner
on May 21, 2012

With enough high performing options low performing schools become obsolete.  I think instead of focusing on low performing schools we need to take a student focus.  How do we reach students that are not living up to their potential? There was a study just published that reported Ohio has the second highest state  increase of students who dropped out between 2002-2009.  

Early intervention is a great focus but we also have to look at students who are already over age and under credit.  The NYC schools has an office of multiple pathways to address these at risk students.  Transfer schools are one option that give students work skills, high standards, and focus not only on getting the student to graduate but also to higher education. We need to study high performing school models and replicate success. 

 

 

 
Piet van Lier
on May 22, 2012

Unfortunately, just creating new, innovative and potentially high-performing schools does not make low-performing schools obsolete. It's not that simple. There are plenty examples of higher-performing schools in Cleveland with empty seats while nearby lower-performing schools remain full.

Research pretty clearly shows that the families making choices bring different skills and experiences to the table, often an inability to navigate the system and make a choice. So we have to focus attention on those schools that struggle, particularly when they are serving entire populations living in concentrated poverty.

There will always be exceptional schools and exceptional students. What no one has yet figured out is how to create schools that can be replicated reliably and reach the hardest-to-reach populations.

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 22, 2012

Piet, I had heard too about the excellent magnet schools with empty seats. What accounts for that and how can parents take advantage of those unfilled options?

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

I don't know the full reasons, but when we started the project to open Near West Intergenerational, I had someone tell me the following:

In order to get parents to send their kids to your school, you need to convince them that

  1. The school is safe
  2. You care about their child

You'll notice that academic rigor isn't on the list.  The next factor is usually convenience.   Many parents are either unable to understand the school report card, or they don't care. I'm not sure.  I will say that I have a Ph.D. in engineering and I find the state report card data challenging to sort out.  I've gotten good at it now, but when you have a large fraction of people in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County that cannot read a bus schedule (http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/03/awful_literacy_stats_make_the.html), it is not unreasonable to expect that they can't interpret the academic data.

That said, when I started out trying to recruit kids to NWIS, I didn't want to believe that 1) and 2) were the primary criteria for choosing schools.  I got a hard dose of reality, I can tell you that they really do apply. Anyone who tries to tell you that parents will hold bad charter schools accountable by voting with their feet are either lying or delusional.  Which is a roundabout way to say how important the Transformation Alliance is to this whole process.

 
Sara Kidner
on May 23, 2012

I agred that parent don't always make the best choices in a school choice situation.  As the students enter high school parents are often letting 14 year olds help make the decision.  

I've spoken to students who choose schools based on dress code or end time, they aren't mature enough to make these decisions on their own.  We do have an obligation to regulate schools that are harmful to children's progress.  

 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

This is a very interesting sub-thread.

In another part of this conversation, I expressed the concern that families with resources have greater access to the better schools.  This is perfect example of how intangible resources play into school access.  Safety and caring for children in their care are characteristics are easily identifiable to any parent.  The ability to evaluate academic rigor requires some expertise which many parents in academically struggling school districts don't have. The situation is akin to how a lot of even well educated individuals interact with the medical care system.  We often make decisions about doctors more on bedside manner than we do on medical ability because that medical ability is (or we feel it is) beyond our expertise to evaluate.  When a doctor gives us a diagnosis and plan for treatment many of us just accept it, because we don't have the expertise to sort out whether the wonderful and caring doctor also has an appropriate level of medical ability - we trust that the licensing system took care of that part of our decision.

So, for similar reasons, if Johnny's report card says he has earned an A in math, many parents whose own academic expertise is limited tend to believe he has mastered math.  I think it is less that parents wouldn't vote with their feet if the schools were not serving their children well academically - but that many parents don't have (or don't feel they have) the expertise to evaluate that factor, so they choose schools based on things which are important to them and which they can evaluate (safety and caring), and rely on the expertise of the school to tell them about the academics.

I think the answer to this challenge requires two approaches.  The Transformation Alliance is an essential part of it, akin to licensing for doctors - denying licenses to schools that do not meet minimum academic standards.  But I also think we need to figure out how to provide support to parents whose own academic experiences may have been less than ideal so they can learn how make the academic assessments necessary to make appropriate choices for their family from the range of schools that the Transformation Alliance plan has already assured are capable of providing an adequate education.

As a side note, I do have some concerns about details of the Transformation Alliance (a major one is that the current draft legislation exempts its meetings from the open meeting laws) - but I believe the concept is an essential element to ensuring that the schools that available to the children of Cleveland are academically appropriate.

 
David Hovis
on May 23, 2012

They already changed the Transformation Alliance rules to make it subject to open meetings, I believe.  That was an earlier draft.

You mention that parents feel that if Johnny gets an "A" in math he's doing well. When I was doing recruiting for NWIS, I ran into a parent who had moved her daughter from a "D" rated district school to an "F" rated charter school.  Her daughter now was getting better grades in math.  It isn't clear to me, though, that those higher grades might be the result of lower expectations.

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

That is possible that the status of open meetings has changed - I thought I read it in the version of the legislation pinned to the intro page for this conversation, but I'm not immediately finding the list of statutory provisions they were exempt from.  I know there was discussion of changing it - so that may have happened.

As to the grades - it is hard to tell what is going on.

There is the issue of what the grade really reflects.  Even in math, where grades ought to be relatively objective, they often aren't.  Some of my fellow teachers passed anyone who showed up every day, turned in most of the assignments, and didn't make trouble.  And at every level, there is the pressure to inflate grades so the teacher or school looks better in comparison to other teachers and/or  schools.

There is also the isse of what is being taught.  The label on a class doesn't necessarily tell you much about the content.  An Algebra I (pretty much a class that is taught everywhere) can cover vastly different breadths and depths from one school to another.  If what is being taught is relatively superficial at the "F" school, and more content, or more depth (even if the content is the same) is taught at the "D" school it is likely that her grades will be better at the "F" school because less is being demanded.

Parents like good grades - good grades make it looks as if their child is mastering what is being taught, even though the grade may reflect something very different that skill mastery - or it may reflect mastery of a much smaller subset of the material that should be mastered.  My experience, even with families who know that education is the path for their children out of the poverty that has permeated their own lives, is that the analysis about what is being learned stops at receiving good grades.  If the grade is high, then their child must be learning what they are supposed to be learning in the class in which they received that grade. 

 

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

I found where I ran across it.  In the current draft, the Transformation Alliance not covered by the Open Meetings Act, Public Records Law, and Public Ethics Law.  There are substitute, less comprehensive provisions drafted specifically for the Transformation Alliance (P38-39 here).

As of a month ago, the ACLU was not apparently not satisfied with the substitute provisions - I haven't found anything more recent than that (and have not done a direct comparison between the three acts, and the substitutes in the bill to know how close they are.

 
Expand This Thread
Piet van Lier
on May 21, 2012 - 10:11 am

I'm a native Clevelander -- actually a boomerang before they invented the term. I've lived in Ohio City for 20 years and my daughter attends Near West Intergenerational School, sister school of the highly successful Intergenerational School on the east side. These two schools are part of the Breakthrough network, which John Zitzner (who weighed in above) helped create.

First as an education journalist and more recently as an education researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, I've been closely following education in Cleveland, and more broadly in Ohio, for a dozen years.

One of my big unanswered questions about the Cleveland plan is how it works financially. The district faces a shortfall of $65 million this year and $40 million next year. 500 layoffs have already been announced, along with shorter school days, cuts to gym, music, arts, etc.

If the Cleveland plan passes the state legislature, as seems likely (although key charter school related aspects are in doubt), the district plans to go for a levy in November. Even a high-end levy of some 10 or 11 mills would barely erase the first-year's shortfall.

How does this plan help create a sustainable district? Advocates suggest it will save the district money and keep it solvent, yet the plan calls for investments in pre-k, technology, and other areas. Since some 85 percent of the district's budget goes to salary and compensation, is cutting pay for teachers, letting more senior teachers go and hiring lower-paid rookes the only way this is going to "work" financially?

How does this all fit together financially? Why aren't we pushing the state on funding?

 

 

 

 

Responses(9)

Cleveland Teachers Union
on May 21, 2012

Piet is correct. The school funding is such a key component. It would seem to me that the time is perfect for making a push to the Legislators. The coalition of groups that came together (a little later for some) to work on the Mayor's plan proves that with the right kind of collaboration the redsigning of school funding can be acheived. - Michael Kulcsar

 
Robert Kilo
on May 21, 2012

I like the idea of speaking as one broad coalition to the legislators as to the best solution for school funding. Both the Governor's office and House Finance Chair Amstutz are working dilligently on the new school funding formula. Imagine if Cleveland cracked the code as to how to best fund schools in an equitable and constitutional manner. Cleveland could be the city that leads the state and nation as to innovation around school funding. That would be a huge boost in many ways and would likely draw state and national thought leaders to Cleveland as they find out how we did it. I believe the answers lie within the collective minds of this community and the legislators would hear from ONE Cleveland voice of diverse stakeholders.

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 22, 2012

Ron, I'd like to know more about a few things you've mentioned. Since no one in Columbus has addressed unconsitutional school funding since the first (of several) state supreme court decision, it's a major game-changer that the governor and House Finance Chair Amstutz are actually tackling it. What have they been doing and when? Obviously, this is a huge news story which I managed to miss. The only stories I've seen have dealt with how the money is spent, not how it's raised. Can you provide details and links? 

As for Cleveland "cracking the code," since the formula is set by the state, I'm confused about how Cleveland could change this on its own. How can the city get past the mandates of the state? In what areas would the city be able to act independently? Would it be legal for the city — on its own — to use a different funding method than reliance on property taxes?

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 21, 2012

This is my concern too, Piet. Cleveland can pass a levy but with all the school funding cuts in the pipeline, that will barely help tread water. There's a whole list of wonderful things in this "transformation" plan, but how will they be funded? I did not see the governor and leadership in the legislature, when they embraced this plan, eagerly rush to assure the Cleveland schools that state funding would be restored so all these things could happen. Are we going to go through the same thing every year that we went through last fall where we'll hear "The sky is falling - we have to eliminate Pre-K" and then the teachers will be vilified if they don't accept more cuts each year?

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 23, 2012

If you haven't read the budget presentation, you should.  It is not long on specifics, but it does generally address a combination of cuts (mostly) and some increase in revenue to fund the schools moving forward.

The most innovative piece that I see is converting capital to operating revenue, on a one time basis.  The proposed legislation permits the transfer of funds from the sale of buildings held more than 5 years on which no debts are owed to be put into the general fund.  (P 42 in the summary linked to.)  Without the proposed legislation, this kind of conversion from capital to operating funds is prohibited by statute.

 
David Hovis
on May 21, 2012

To be honest Piet, I'm still not sure where all of the shortfall is coming from.  Some of it is due to loss of students (and therefore the state per-pupil dollars), some due to reductions in property values, and some due to other reductions in state aid.  Some of it is increased costs.  The loss of students alone doesn't come close to explaining it, though.

The second question that needs to be answered more clearly is where the money is going now.  The district spends ~$15,000 per student per year.  For a classroom of 20 students, that is $300,000/yr.  For a classroom of 40 students (which is permitted in CMSD), that is $600,000/yr.  Certainly CMSD has more expenses than some districts, but I'd still like to know better where that money is being spent.  

 
Piet van Lier
on May 21, 2012

The state cut $59 million in funding from Cleveland in this biennial budget. That's a good place to start understanding where the shortfall is coming from.

Otherwise, your question about where the money is going is a good one. Certainly, high special ed rates have something to do with it -- staffing often required by IEPs can be pretty intensive.

Also, unlike many charter schools, for example, school districts generally provide services -- psychologists, nurses, librarians, gym, music, art, language, transportation, extracurriculars -- that are labor intensive.

And high school tends to be significantly more expensive than k-8, and there are very few examples of charter high schools that are recognized as doing a good job in Ohio. Horizon Science is perhaps one exception.

 
David Hovis
on May 21, 2012

I've heard references to state aid cuts, but this is the first time I've heard a clear number. I presume that is $59M over two years, otherwise it would represent the entire shortfall.

So that explains $30M.  There also the outflux of students from CMSD, which I think was around 2000 students.  At $8-10k/student (I'm not sure of the exact number), that is in the $15-20M neighborhood.  

That leaves $10-15M unaccounted for.  Is that all lost local property tax dollars, due to declining property values?  Or are there other costs that are rising significantly?

 
Eric Gordon
on May 22, 2012

Piet,

The funding issue is critical and I agree with CTU and Mr. Kilo that we have demonstrated the power of a coalition which can be an advantage on future funding issues too.  In addition to this work on The Cleveland Plan, CMSD and CTU are members of the Ohio Eight urban school districts and we, collectively, are working hard in Columbus on other education issues and are prepared to work hard to ensure a fair funding system for urban centers when the state does take up the funding of schools again next year.

The plan itself is not a funding plan, but is a critical element in a couple of key ways.  First, we are seeking some flexibilities that allow us to use our limited resources more effectively.  This is primarily in the use of dollars generated from the sale of properties.  These are obviously one time funds and certainly don't solve long term problems, but do give the Board and community more authority about how our resources are used.  Also, the plan does depend upon a November operating issue passing.  School districts across the state are seeking support from their communities and CMSD will need to do so also.  However, it was very important to us that we demonstrate an ability to do our work much more effectively before asking voters to support it.

Certainly not the whole answer - there are many other factors at work.  For example, Cuyahoga County's current collection rate for school taxes in the CMSD is only 78.87%.  As our new county government works to increase tax collection, that can help the district as well. 

There is still a great deal to be done on the funding front.

 
Expand This Thread
David Hovis
on May 21, 2012 - 9:56 am

Thanks for starting this conversation, Dan.

I am a parent who helped start the Near West Intergenrational School (NWIS) this year in the Ohio City neighborhood.  NWIS is the first replication of the very sucessful The Intergenerational School (TIS) in Clevelands Larchmere-Shaker neighborhood.  My older son is just completing his kindergarden year at NWIS. 

I'm excited to see that this plan will grow the number of outstanding schools in Cleveland.  Contrary to popular opinion, there are outstanding public schools in Cleveland.  Some are charter, some are district.  I believe that this plan will help both create new great schools while also stabilizing the schools we already have. 

I think the Tranformation Alliance is an important part of this process, as I've seen firsthand how many crummy charter schools we have here in Cleveland.  Families often choose these lousy schools out of convenience, ignoring the poor academic performance.  Like Senator Turner, I beleive we have a moral obligation to ensure all of the children in Cleveland get a quality education.  

 
Nina Turner
on May 21, 2012 - 7:31 am

Good morning Dan and everyone who will engage in this most important and timely discussion.

As one of the sponsors of the bill, a resident of the city of Cleveland and a product of CMSD, I am most energized by several of the goals of the plan...school-level autonomy, year-round calendar, college and work force readiness, but the goal of expanding existing high-performing district and charter schools in Cleveland is pivital to the sucess of our children. Right now about 55% of Cleveland's children attend a school that is in academic watch or academic emergency. This  is totally unacceptable on many levels. It is especially troubling because the knowledge-based economy demands a highly-skilled/highly educated workforce for which many of our children are not prepared to compete in.

I believe we have a moral obligation to educated all of our children. I do not make a distinction based on what school they happen to attend. The students of Cleveland deserve to live out their greatest-greatness and as a community we can contribute to their destiny by providing them with an excellent education.

 

Responses(7)

Ann Mullin
on May 21, 2012

Senator Turner, one of the most energizing aspects of this plan is the support it has garnered across unlikely allies: Democrats and Republicans, district and charter school leaders, the Cleveland Teachers Union, foundations, businesses, community organizations and many, many teachers, principals, students and families across the city. One of the comments I keep hearing is how perplexed folks are about this plan. Why? Because it doesn’t fit neatly into anyone’s rigid ideology. It demands compromise; it demands trust; it demands movement from long-held positions. And the result? Rather than a take-no-prisoners “win” for one side or the other, the plan is defensible and eminently fair, with a focus squarely and unapologetically on getting our children into the best schools we have and that we can create. This kind of work is rare in this political climate, and a remarkable achievement for Cleveland and Ohio.

 
Anastasia Pantsios
on May 21, 2012

Ann, I think it's unfair to demonize people who have serious reservations about this plan. You say it demands "trust." Given the track record we've seen, there's little that inspires trust. Why shouldn't people be perplexed? I see proposals for a lot of great things, but I don't see the funding even if a levy passes. I also see things proposed that have not been proved to impact education or have been proved not to, and have generally been used (though not always) to diminish teachers. That also doesn't inspire trust.

Personally, I don't have a "rigid ideology" (which isn't a very polite way to characterize people who don't see things as you do), nor do i have a horse in this race — I have no school-age children and am not nor have even been a teacher. I am merely a taxpayer (though in a suburb, not in Cleveland) who wants to know that education dollars are being used effectively, since I think it's the most important use of our tax dollars. And right now, i have a lot of problems with how education is being funded, how education policy is being developed and imposed on the schools, and who is paying for this and who is not. I think those are reasonable reservations. I would have more "trust" if i saw our governor and legislature as eager to work on hammering out a constitutional state school funding system (after what? 15 years?) as they are to experiment with Cleveland's school children, some of the most vulnerable in Ohio.

 
Ann Mullin
on May 21, 2012

Anastasia, I don't mean to demonize people who have reservations about the plan. A plan this far-reaching ought to be met with some reservation, particularly around how various aspects get implemented. My point was that we're in an era of either/or, whether it's about education or health care or many other issues. In Cleveland, I think we've demonstrated that middle ground can be found--even if we're still cautious about (or downright disagree with) individual components of the plan. To me, the arguments have been around substance, not form, which I don't always see. That's refreshing.

I think you do have a horse in this race...no matter the suburb in which you live, the quality of life there is influenced by the performance of the center city, and that is deeply tied into the performance of its schools.

 

 
Becky Gaylord
on May 21, 2012

Hello Senator, and all participants in this forum, 

I am the parent of a child in the Cleveland Public Schools. My second grader attends the public elementary school that CMSD created two years ago in partnership with Cleveland State University. It is unique, being the only school in the Cleveland district established as an International Baccalaureate school. Renowned globally, IB schools are often private because of the quality of the curriculum.

While I strongly support public schools and public education, if we hadn't had the choice of Campus International School, we might have considered another option. We have been overjoyed at the teaching instruction and many other aspects.

I agree with the several commenters who want quality education for all students in Cleveland, regardless of the label (public, charter, etc.)

And I completely support the Mayor's Transformation Plan because I have seen what giving the school's principal and teachers more autonomy yields: sensible, child-centered decisions and instruction. I will continue to advocate for the plan, and truly applaud all of the diverse partners pulling together to make this happen.

However, my concern is what happens in the meantime -- before legislation gets a chance to pass and before voters get an opportunity to support a levy that would help support the changes.

At CIS -- a stellar example of the innovation schools created in Cleveland -- the drastic cuts already scheduled to take affect, as part of the district's budget plan, will seriously jeopardize this school.

Here's why: Because this school was created to be an International Baccalaureate school, it must comply with many rules to keep that designation. And it must continue to offer the rigorous, internationally recognized curriculum that characterizes an IB school. This includes language instruction and other elements, such as special teacher training. If those are missing, the school cannot get, or will lose, that certification. Under the cuts, as scheduled, several aspects crucial to the IB curriculum, such as language, arts, among others, will not exist.

As such, the cuts this school will face next year imperil its IB designation -- the very reason it was created.

Partners, including the foundations and CSU and the District have invested millions of dollars into this school. Parents have transferred their children from outside the district to support it (and with their children’s enrollment, state funds flowed into Cleveland that the district wouldn’t have otherwise received.)

We must not allow to fail this amazing example of the same nimble, smart innovation the Mayor's plan would usher in, district wide. Spare it the cuts so it remains IB.

Yes, we need to press for better funding from the state and to make the Mayor’s reform plan reality. But as that work unfolds, CIS cannot become an expendable sacrifice. As of today, that is likely.

Thank you.

  
Nina Turner
on May 22, 2012

Ann I agree with your observation of the bi-partisan support. From the beginning, the four dual sponsors worked hard to create a "true" bipartisan foot print. As everyone knows this is quite challenging in Columbus, unfortunately. So, yes, I too am very proud of that.

It is my hope (and I am continuing the work necessary to push my hope) that the GA will respect the hard work and alliances we have built on this Plan and pass it this week without amendments that do not keep with the spirit of the plan. 

 
Nina Turner
on May 22, 2012

Becky,

Thank you for your advocacy on this issue. You are correct we have to work to ensure that IB keeps its designation. It is a great school, and an example of the types of schools we can create in Cleveland with collaboration, vision and hope.  As a parent, your voice is important.

I believe if we keep our eyes on the goal,which is to create high quality education options for all of Cleveland's children, we can ensure that parents have these type of options for their children.

 

 
Becky Gaylord
on May 22, 2012

Yes, the medium- and long-term goals are crucial. My point is that the immediate-term is also critical for CIS. It must not be sacrificed, and policy makers and other leaders must make sure that doesn't happen. (By the way, we were notified yesterday that my child qualifies to attend a CMSD "gifted school." Out of curiousity, I looked up the data about it, and -- based on state and other stats -- it substantially under performs CIS.   

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on May 20, 2012 - 9:45 pm

First of all, welcome to the forum. We're pleased all of you are able to join us. Over the next three days, we'll hear from city and school leaders, philanthropic leaders who have helped shape the plan, private sector leaders, legislators, parents, teachers and students. Because there are so many different kinds of stakeholders involved, it will help if we each introduce ourselves in terms of our stake in this plan or our perspective or point of view.

With the need for introductions in mind, let me say that I'm a former public high school teacher, a journalist, co-author of a book on education and teacher accountability and compensation, the husband of an educator and the father of three school age children.

So, on to the first question:

The mayor's transformation plan will affect virtually every aspect of Cleveland's public education system--district central office workings, charter school operations and funding, teacher accountability, teacher layoffs, administrative flexibility for principals, to name just a few. Assuming the legislation passes and voters approve a levy in November (a big assumption, I know, and one we'll come back to), what part of implementation are you either most energized by or most concerned about?

 

Responses(14)

Eric Gordon
on May 21, 2012

Good morning Dan and colleagues.  Thank you for joining the conversation!  I am energized by so many components of this plan and will list a few briefly.

First, I am excited by the formation of the Transformation Alliance, which if constructed carefully, will create a city-wide ownership of education for all!  So often we think of "schooling" as one person's or one organization's job.  The Alliance, instead, connects traditional public schools, community or charter schools, business, philanthropy, citizens and activists, parents and students in a single mission of educating all children in our community.  This group can attact national philanthropy dollars in support of Cleveland, can better help families identify the right choices for their children, and can help drive the conversation about schools around quality!  Very exciting!

I'm also excited about the great work of the CTU in leading reforms to work rules that will focus on quality as well.  The District and Teachers Union is already doing tremendous work on a new Teacher Development and Evaluation System, and I'm excited that this rigorous evaluation will begin to inform how teachers are assigned, paid, and, when necessary, released from service.  I'm particularly excited that school based teams will be able to interview staff members to ensure we have great fits in our schools and that we will be able to keep teachers with specialized skills (like bilingual teachers, teachers trained in Montessori methodology, etc.) and who are highest performers, even in times when we must reduce our workforce.

Finally, I'm excited about efforts to build collaborations with charter schools.  While I suspect there will always be a level of competition, and that the competition may help push all of us, I would argue that 15 years of debating about who "owns" schools and children have distracted us from the real question of whether those schools are really meeting our kids' needs.  We have a great opportunity to reinvent the conversation about district and charter schools in Cleveland.

I look forward to the dialogue.  More to come!

Eric

 
David J. Quolke
on May 21, 2012

Good Morning Dan and everyone.  Thanks for hosting this important conversation. 

The Mayors Transformation Plan while presenting challenges for the Cleveland Teachers Union also presents an incredible opportunity.  An opportunity, that for one of the first times in my career, is pulling all of the stakeholders together around improving the quality of public education in Cleveland.

Eric highlighted some of the work the CTU and the District are currently engaged in but I am very anxious to begin work on intervention on low performing schools.  I think a collaborative effort that involves the entrie community will really have an impact on our neighborhood schools and allow our communities to reconnect with their public schools as the center of the community.  Through the AFT, we have  great resources and support to see this suceed.

Once again, thanks for sponsoring this conversation and I hope to be engaged throughout the next few days. 

 
Cassie Gaffney
on May 21, 2012

 

Good morning,

 

As a native Clevelander, and a young professional in the City I am incredibly excited about all aspects of the transformation plan, most notably that it has been proposed.  I love Cleveland and am dedicated to building my life and future here, however, the current state of the Cleveland public schools presents a challenge for me when thinking of raising a family sometime down the road. 

 

I agree with David, this is an incredibly opportunity for so many stakeholders within our community to come together to improve the quality of public education in Cleveland.  I would take this one step further and say that it’s also an opportunity for us to improve the quality of Cleveland through creative, and expansive collaboration.  I hope that having a new and unique platform to inspire change will serve as a challenge for all of us- students, parents, teachers, administration, and all community members to embrace opportunities for positive growth through the Mayor’s Transformation Plan.

 

Dan, thank you for providing an exciting platform for this dialogue!

 

 
Dan Moulthrop
on May 21, 2012

David--are there any aspects of the work rules changes that still have to be worked out? Has it changed much since the proposal went to committee? 

 
John Zitzner
on May 21, 2012

What's exciting to me is that the number of students in high performing schools throughout Cleveland will TRIPLE by 2020.  In addition, more emphasis will be placed on phasing out low quality schools and increasing high quality schools.  I'm delighted that a small portion of the new levy, if passed, will be shared with high performing charters like Breakthrough.  Since schools like ours receive only 2/3 of the funding that district schools receive, this is a necessary move to ensure our future sustainability and growth. 

 

Thanks for doing this Dan!

JZ

 
Nancy Reeves
on May 21, 2012

I take it you are connected with a charter school (intros, being important!)

And along those lines, I was a teacher in the East Cleveland Schools (Shaw High School) for 11 years, subbed in a number of schools in Southern Summit County for a year, and have taught in various settings including for H&R Block, as an adjunct professor for the University of Akron School of Law, and at various CLE seminars since then - and am still interacting (as a volunteer) with the Manchester schools system even though my daughter graduated from high school four years ago.

 
Gladys B Reilly
on May 23, 2012

John:  Thank you for all of your work to improve education for Cleveland children.  You have been so integral in all of the effort toward this transformaion.  I have some ideas for fundraising that I would like to share with you.  Please contact me at your convenience.

 
Mike Foley
on May 21, 2012

Hi all, in terms of educational outcomes, I agree with David that the low-performing school elements are the most interesting and exciting.  The plan envisions local teams of administrators, teachers and community coming together and brainstorming creative and local approaches to figuring out how best to raise standards and outcomes in specific schools. It seems like common sense that this should occur, but I don't think there has ever been an organized vehicle for something like this to happen. The legislationcreates this vehicle.

I signed on as a co-sponsor to the legislation in the House. I have concerns about levy money going to charter schools, and the non-profit transformation alliance making decisions that I believe should be reserved for the school board in terms of vetting new charter schools, but I can live with the trade off that there will now be at least some filtering and accountability for bad charter schools in Cleveland as opposed to the wild, wild west that currently exists. And ultimately, we need to make an argument for a successful levy campaign this fall. My big worry is that absent a sea change in the politics at the state level, Cleveland is going to have to make up for the $59 million in cuts from state funding locally, and we have to pass a levy. If we don't pass a levy, I have serious concerns for the future of the district.

Despite its great flaws, I have tremendous affection for the CMSD. All four of my children attended school in the district. About half of the kids in my immediate neighborhood attend CMSD schools. Almost every street in my neighborhood has a teacher or retired teacher from CMSD.  It has somehow survived white flight, busing, deindustrialization, property tax abatements, vouchers and some incredibly bad Charter schools stealing kids from it. I am worried however, that it is at the end of its rope, absent some dramatic changes.

Mike Foley, State Representative, 14th HD, Cleveland

 

 

 
Lyman Millard
on May 21, 2012

This is one of the most critical issues to the future of our city and our region.

I'm very excited about the focus on providing Cleveland's families with high-quality options.  For decades, if you didn't live in a neighborhood served by one of the district's high-performing schools, or couldn’t get into one of their excellent magnet schools, the only option for a free, high-quality education was to leave the city for the suburbs.  And families have been, in droves.

High-performing charter schools like Citizens Academy, The Intergenerational School, E Prep, Menlo Park Academy, and some of the Constellation Schools and Horizon Science Academies have helped provide more options, as have the districts New and Innovative Schools.  Since 2007, the number of children in high-performing schools has nearly tripled.  But while 11,400 children are in good schools, 31,000 children in the city are attending failing schools, district and charter.

The mayor rightly recognizes that the future is pretty bleak for a city with a majority of its children in failing schools.  Cleveland won’t be able to attract and retain talented professionals today, without providing great schools for their children, and it will not develop the workforce of tomorrow.  The mayor’s plan employs a simple, but powerful strategy: do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.  By replicating the proven, successful, urban education models -- district and charter -- the mayor’s plan goes beyond the divisive and unproductive district versus charter debate and focuses on the core issue: how do we build more great schools.

 
Joe Baur
on May 21, 2012

As a downtown resident 5-10 years away from having a kid, I'm simply excited to see something being done. Friends and family in the suburbs have finally accepted my car-free lifestyle downtown, but still fail to see how I can stay in a city with such a struggling school system. Needless to say, I have zero intention of moving further than Ohio City from the city-center in my lifetime, so the strength of Cleveland's schools ranks highly with me. While I don't know the specifics by heart, I do get a sense that a "happy medium" is being fought for - that is, legislation that will benefit both charter and public schools.

Cleveland has already seen its fair share of boomerangs return and I suspect they'll continue to return. But the success of our school system will assist in ensuring those boomerangs stick around to raise a family within the city-limits, instead of retreating to the suburbs.

Kudos to all involved.

 
David Hovis
on May 21, 2012

Joe, 

The good news is that the conversation has already started to change.  I live in Ohio City.  Five years ago it was "Which suburb?".  Now it is "Near West Intergenerational or Campus International?". It is progress for sure.

 
Eric Gordon
on May 21, 2012

David,

Thanks for your comments.  One thing that has been important to me about The Cleveland Plan is that, unlike in most cities in America, nearly everyone in Cleveland is talking about education.  We may not all agree, but we're having a community-wide conversation about arguably the most important issue in our city.  Whether we are talking about what school choices to make, as you shared, or whether this plan is the right strategy for our schools, the conversation alone has been important for Cleveland!

 
Jeff Kipp
on May 22, 2012

I love to see/hear the community engaging in dialogue about education for Cleveland's children. As the director of LiveCLEVELAND!, an org dedicated to attracting residents into the city's neighborhoods, I can tell you that public education is often mentioned as the #1 reason that keeps people from living in the city of Cleveland. And this is true even from young professionals who have no children yet. An effective plan moving forward - coupled with input and support from the community - will certainly assist in re-shaping people's opinions (and optimism) for viewing Cleveland as a viable residential option.

 
Robert Kilo
on May 21, 2012

Dan,

Hello to all Cleveland education enthusiasts. Dan, thank you for setting up this online conversation and for your question. I am most excited about the implementation of the portfolio district model of education. I believe this innovative approach to education can and will put Cleveland on the map as a city that has demonstrated collaboration around quality education for all of its children. I like the fact that district and charter schools will become stronger allies for the long term.

My concern is that education remains the focal point for Cleveland's continued renaissance after the legislative and levy seasons. The success of this plan, in my opinion, depends on the consistent and zealous commitment to quality education for the long term. There are so many exciting things happening in Cleveland yet education is, and has to be, the driving force to Cleveland being a Championship City.

 
Expand This Thread