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Learning at its Best

The Cleveland Plan Is the Wrong Plan

As a native Clevelander, when I see “The Cleveland Plan” I see a plan built to help a district that has been constantly abandoned, financially embattled, and constantly reimaged without a long term approach to 1) Keeping students in CMSD schools, 2) attracting grassroots choice schools into the city. However, the plan allows for continue inhibition and promotes an over-reliance on the city’s charter school network, Breakthrough Schools.

One of the most inhibiting things of the plan is that it pays too much respect to geopolitical and racial boundaries that exist in the Greater Cleveland area. In Cuyahoga County alone, there are 31 other school districts, seven of which are struggling either to remain solvent or to support students. For example, Garfield Heights City Schools recently cut out lunch for its students not supported by the free/reduced lunch program and made drastic changes to its school hours, Parma City Schools recently closed some of its schools,made changes to its bussing system, and is working out a way to become complaint with Special Education requirements again and Warrensville Heights and East Cleveland City schools have yet to make comebacks. However, the plan only focuses on Cleveland Metro Schools while leaving these surrounding communities to struggle. This failure to widen the focus allows for underperforming charters to fly under the radar and promotes a continued weakening of Greater Cleveland’s public education network.

The plan, while it promotes a move in a positive direction for some of Cleveland students, fails other students and makes district-to-district collaboration something unlikely to happen. The plan should create a consortium of Cuyahoga’s 31 districts and districts from bordering counties to use Ohio’s Open Enrollment Program for Public School Districts that allow students to move throughout districts regardless of  their physical address. This would reduce the amount of money Cleveland Metro schools pay out to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in school transportation costs to charter schools, reduce the number of students waiting on enrollment to charter schools, and allow charters to remain small schools of choice. It would also allow students from neighboring communities to attend Cleveland’s flagship schools at its John Hay campus and the temporary Cleveland School of Arts campus. It would further allow districts to reduce the number of school facilities, like in the cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland where schools literally sit around the corner from each other, and allow students to attend schools that are better prepared for them.

However, in Greater Cleveland such a plan is far from even being imagined. The area’s school district map acceptance map is clearly indicative of that and because its the case it pushes students who are fed up with their home district to be pushed into charters or onto the states voucher choice program.



6 thoughts on “The Cleveland Plan Is the Wrong Plan

  1. If I’m reading you correctly, and I like to think that I am, the de Rolfe decisions…1 thru 4 (Ohio Supreme court case on the constitutionality of linking property taxes with homes in specific school districts) pretty knock down the possibility of your proposal ever becoming a reality. The transient nature of the students attending CMSD buildings, the crashing real estate market, and the re-evaluation of property taxes in Cuyahoga County also favor keeping things as they are. The more wealthy districts in the county, like Independence and Cuyahoga Heights, will never agree to revenue share with the likes of Maple Heights or Richmond Heights.

    Further, there would need to be some kind of database infrastructure in place to house all student data for the districts of Cuyahoga to allow for state funding to be allocated correctly. And the costs, as well as the logistics, just don’t allow for that right now. There are plans in place for a state-wide data storage system or IIS, but even that is a ways off.

    Posted by Tom Domzalski | August 24, 2012, 3:49 pm
    • The state manages a student database known as the EMIS that allows student funding to follow students. The Open Enrollment Program for Public Districts is a program used in neighboring counties such as Summit (Greene schools receive the most funding via the program from Akron residents in Summit) and Portage and it works for the most part. The problem with Cuyahoga Co is its problem with diversity which is why the plan would never work but it’s nice to hope that it could work. The state actually allows through the ORC for the creation of comprehensive highschool districts and multiple city school districts but in Cuyahoga the only districts that use the multiple city districts are surrounded by affluent communities.

      Posted by Jabreel Chisley | August 24, 2012, 10:18 pm
  2. “Public Education” has never been truly open to the entire public, nor has it been equal by way of access and/or opportunity. Critical Race Theory, the perspective that inequalities and injustices are built into the very structure of society was a driving force behind Brown v Topeka. While that case was important, most individuals miss the fact that desegregation was not fully implemented.

    As John Spencer recently noted, “We’ve just changed our verbiage from “Mexican” to ‘language.’” ( ) A rose is a rose by any other name – what I smell here is not as sweet…

    Redlining in “public education” and other arenas follows clear color/race/ethnic/class/wealth lines drawn on geographic and socio-political-economic bases. Those lines, having been drawn and with sufficient numbers of individuals being acclimated to them as the “normal” state of affairs, assure continued “us-vs-them” thinking that results in the same old same old.

    I do not believe the key issue to be the economic “cost”. Although financial matters are of concern, “cost” is an excuse that has been used time-and-again to avoid change. “When more money is available”, “it is in the plan”, “it is not a priority right now — we have an emergency over here/there”, etc., and with such excuses, delays become permanent.

    The key may come down to whether “we really give a ****” about the principles ostensibly held by the people of these United States.

    I do not believe we do — we neither hold those principles, nor do we care…

    Posted by Brent Snavely | August 26, 2012, 8:16 am
    • Given how myopically those of us in power sort one another, we could be living in a post-scarcity society before anyone realized it.

      We need to make our classrooms – in whatever form they take wherever – places where permission to learn is abundant, and those places are different than classrooms in which kids have to limit themselves to mimicry and cultural replication.

      Teachers of all sorts need to stop hiding behind the curtain.


      Posted by Chad Sansing | August 26, 2012, 9:36 am
  3. Excellent piece of writing with much to consider.

    Posted by Sandra | August 27, 2012, 10:59 am

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