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.