Is there a democratic crisis in Cleveland? Three issues suggest there might be.
Just over 4 months ago, 2,202,404 voters in Ohio voted to repeal Senate Bill 5 (SB5). SB5 being the draconian assault on working people and their ability to collectively bargain for fair and safe working conditions and pay. In Cuyahoga county the repeal vote was even more overwhelming - 69.2%. Yet the Mayor of Cleveland continued to introduce a plan that has widely been criticized for containing significant provisions of SB5
Introducing a plan that contains provisions that voters have overwhelmingly rejected is an incredibly undemocratic move. No matter how strongly one might believe that certain policy goals are needed, in a functioning democracy the will of the voters should be seen as sacrosanct, not something that can be conveniently ignored, as appears to be the case with Mayor Frank Jackson and his "Cleveland plan".
The "Cleveland Plan" seeks to undermine democratically elected school boards by creating a Cleveland Transformation Alliance, that
Why is such an entity required? The vast majority of Ohio's school districts are highly rated while being governed by elected school boards. It's a model that works. Why does Cleveland need to create an unelected non-profit body that would lack the same level of accountability voters demand, while simultaneously adding another expensive layer of bureaucracy? Education leadership and decision making is already byzantine in Cleveland, being the only school district in Ohio that is controlled by a Mayor. Observers might ask why it was ever a good idea to place Mayors, who typically have no educational expertise, in charge of education to begin with.
Creating an unelected body to manage the "Cleveland Plan" is bad enough, but the plan also seeks to make that body secretive and have its deliberations not be subject to public records.
But unlike school boards for both traditional public and charter schools, that new group would not be subject to state public records and open meetings laws. That means that residents would not have the right to attend the new group’s board meetings, for example, or to see records about the new group’s financial operations or decision-making process.
It appears that the whole purpose of this proposed entity is so that it can be obscured from public view, unaccountable to tax payers and voters alike.
Reading many of the central aspects to this "Cleveland Plan", one gets the impression that its architects believe one of the major problems with Cleveland schools is too much democracy, when the opposite is clearly true.