Beyond Rhetoric

While the "Cleveland plan" legislation is yet to be finished in Columbus, with some thinking it might not get done at all, the real "Cleveland Plan" is moving beyond lofty rhetoric, and it has nothing to do with students or their success, and certainly nothing to do with creating a world class environment meant to retain and attract the best teaching talent that would lead to that success. In order to close the budget deficit the district faces, the board voted to accept the following cuts

  • Elimination of three voluntary professional days, saving the district about $2.85 million.
  • Reduction of proposed bonuses for teachers handling extra-large classes, saving the district about $368,000.
  • Elimination of three mandatory professional development days, saving the district about $3.45 million.

Despite the calls for merit based pay to incentivize teachers, gone are bonuses for even attempting to deal with massive class sizes caused by previous lay-offs. Despite the historic agreement made with the teachers union over teacher evaluations, gone are professional development opportunities to improve pedagogical skills.

This news is on top of what was already a troubling and telling sign that the rhetoric around the so called "Cleveland plan" was shaping up to be just that, rhetoric.

The Cleveland school district plans to cut about 600 teachers from its payroll by fall to trim a budget deficit, leading to shortened school days and cuts in music, art and gym classes.
The plan calls for school days for kindergarten through eighth grade to be shortened by 50 minutes, that time being shaved from art, music, gym and media classes.
The shorter day contradicts Gordon's long-term goal of having longer days or longer school years in some schools.

You can plainly see that the rhetoric used to sell the Cleveland plan simply doesn't add up to the actions being proposed. The real crisis is Cleveland has always been obvious, with it's roots firmly embedded in an unconstitutional school funding system.

One group of people do seem to have a real plan to help all of Ohio's public schools - parents, rallying for school funding

public school advocates pushing for a new funding formula are taking their voices straight to lawmakers. They march on to Capitol Square, carrying signs and chanting…..hoping to make their voices heard.
the public school funding activists say they don’t like what they’ve seen from the Governor and lawmakers during the past year and a half. And the advocates say they will keep the heat on to try to convince lawmakers to reduce reliance on property taxes and change the system so that all schools have what they need.

It's time to really put students at the center of reform, and that means funding to provide an excellent education, in safe, welcoming schools. Without that, reform is just empty rhetoric.