The Cleveland Schools Plan

Came across this article on Huffington Post recently, which details the bipartisan efforts to reform Cleveland schools. The sticking point on the plan — which has been in the works since February — seemed to be how much control Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson would have over charter school implementation in the city. Under the enacted plan, a newly-formed Cleveland Transformation Alliance will review sponsors of new schools and ultimately make recommendations to the Ohio Department of Education regarding which should be green-lit.

Stephen Dyer of Innovation Ohio wrote this post pointing out the fact that Cleveland now has the potential for nine different agencies to approve charters in the city; in contrast, cities like Baltimore (33 charters), Chicago (38) and Philadelphia (north of 80) had all their schools approved through the district alone. Additionally, the Transformation Alliance doesn’t seem to be accountable for electronic schools, which are a majorly emergent component of the Ohio education system.

Obviously, something needed to be done in Cleveland schools: in 2009, for example, they ranked near the bottom of 17 urban school districts as relates to STEM. In 2011, they were the district No. 13 (out of 15) among Ohio’s urban districts — despite being the district that serves the most students. As one member of the editorial board for The Cleveland Plain-Dealer laments, the gap between rich and poor in Cleveland is as stark as it was in Charles Dickens’ London.

What do you think: Is Cleveland onto something? Can this be a successful urban model? Or is the sheer amount of organizations involved in charter production going to be a problem?

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