Frank Jackson's factory of sadness

The city of Cleveland has long had a sporting factory of sadness, now Mayor Frank Jackson wants to construct an education factory of sadness too. The Mayor and his education "CEO" have rolled out their new plan to "transform public schools", mostly by privatization, outsourcing to charters and installing corporate education reform policies.

Jackson's plan and approach have the two characteristic traits of all corporate education plans.

    Characteristic 1.
  • A desperate need to avoid collaboration with educators
  • Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke objected to his union not being included in creating the plan. He said his union has agreed to many changes the district wanted the last few years and is willing to work on others.

    "We are an instrument for change, not an obstacle to change," Quolke said after being briefed on the plan by Jackson and Gordon Monday evening.

    Quolke worried that the law changes Jackson is seeking from the legislature will mirror the controversial and overturned Senate Bill 5.

    "I've been in the district a lot of years, and for every superintendent, I've seen a reform plan come and go," he said. "Teachers will embrace change if they're a part of it."

    In contract negotiations this summer, the district had sought a merit pay system but CTU would agree only to discussing that option further.

    Mayor Jackson said he did not talk to the union before coming up with his latest plan because he wanted to avoid further delay.

    "We need to get something done," he said. "We've been in perpetual discussion about a lot of things. Our sense of urgency is such that something has to happen in a systemic way and it has to happen now."

    Indeed, who needs the help of those who are actually going to be implementing the policy?

    Jackson did consult with the city's business community and has its backing for the plan.

    Well of course he did. Where else would one find pedagogical experts, with over a million years of experience?

    Characteristic 2.

  • A pathological desire to fire teachers, preferably experienced ones
  • It also continues Jackson's push last year to develop a merit pay system for teachers and to wipe out rules that make seniority the deciding factor in teacher layoffs. Jackson said such "systemic changes" are needed to resolve the district's ongoing financial struggles and to give children a better education, something he considers key to the city's future.
    The mayor's plan comes as the district faces a budget deficit of from $55 to $65 million next year, which would force cuts on top of school closings and massive budget and staff cutbacks over the last few years.

    The desire to eliminate experience is clearly tied to budget cuts. But rather than try to defend the experience in his classrooms and ask the legislature for budget relief, instead Jackson simply plans to start firing the more costly teachers. This on-going approach in Washington DC has hollowed out their teaching profession experience pool, with most teachers heading for the door. Jackson's plan is going to make Cleveland public schools a far less attractive place for talented teachers to want to go. High stakes, low pay, lack of security will cause many to look elsewhere, in the same way charter school teachers spend their time trying to secure public school teaching positions.

Here's the plan released by the Mayor and his education "CEO"