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

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on 2017-08-20T04:00:23+00:00
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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"

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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.