Taken directly from Mayor Frank Jackson's "Cleveland Plan" document
: This is a bold, child‐focused plan prepared to address chronic and structural challenges – both academic and financial ‐ for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. It is designed with one over‐arching mission: Do what is best for Cleveland’s children. At the same time, it will help improve the future and vitality of the City.
Goal: Create educational excellence for every child in Cleveland. Within six years after implementation, The Plan is anticipated to triple the number of Cleveland students enrolled in high‐performing district and charter schools.
Worthy goals to coalesce behind, most people would agree. But how do those goals square with the Mayor's actual plans?
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.
It doesn't just contradict plans for a longer school day, it contradicts the entire plan to provide "educational excellence for every child in Cleveland". How does one do that by cutting music, art, gym?
We can begin to see the real purpose behind the "Cleveland plan", one which the Mayor let slip in front of City Council
"...this is about whether or not we can pass a levy in November and to be perfectly honest with you I don't know if any of you would support a levy with the same old stuff you're not going to do it and neither would the citizens of the city of Cleveland."
This hasn't been some great secret, but we should stop pretending this is for the students, if it was, collaboration with stakeholders who actually do the educating would have happened from day one. Instead, the Mayor has spent a lot of time obfuscating the real crisis in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Municipal School District currently faces a large deficit of approximately $65 million, according to the Mayor.
The bulk of the deficit faced by Cleveland public schools is a direct result then, of the draconian budget enacted by columbus politicians and supported by Governor Kasich. Why Mayor Jackson has not called upon the Governor to restore funding to his schools, instead of seeking his help in denying teachers basic collective bargaining rights, remains a deep mystery.
Cleveland has only been able to pass 1 levy in 39 years, and with businesses, alleged by the Governor to be making threats, you can see why the Mayor feels like he had to engage in some old fashioned union busting.
Passing a bipartisan education reform bill is only the beginning of solving Cleveland's crisis.
The Cleveland teachers Union have moved a long way, and presented what should be viewed as an historic compromise, it's now time for Cleveland businesses to step up and support their schools, and for the state to step up and meet its constitutional obligations in helping Cleveland close its budget gap that the state helped create.
Maybe then we can really begin to talk about delivering "educational excellence for every child in Cleveland".