Quolke's Corner 3/18/12

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This past week was an interesting week to read the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Over the course of the week the editorial board and opinion columnists weighed in on Mayor Jackson’s Cleveland Plan. Each of these articles touts and praises the Plan for what it will do to improve education in Cleveland. I also read an interesting article in the Columbus Dispatch regarding Governor Kasich’s support of the Jackson Plan. The Dispatch reports:
“Governor John Kasich is praying and begging for support for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s plan to overhaul the city’s schools, saying it is a model that could be used in urban districts across Ohio.”
The article further quotes the Governor as saying:
“In my church (Sunday), I asked everyone to pray that people would find the courage to support Mayor Frank Jackson and what he is trying to do out of Cleveland. Because it’s about kids, and it’s about urban education, and it’s about the country.”
All of these articles focus on one part of the Jackson Plan and that is the proposed legislative changes. On March 10 over 200 pages of draft legislation was released.   As of today, the Mayor and his chief advocate, John Kasich, are shopping for someone to sponsor this legislation. 
All of these articles bring one huge question to mind… has anyone actually read any of the legislation??? There is nothing in the draft legislation that improves learning for students. The Plain Dealer wants to vilify Democrats for not sponsoring the legislation because of the Union, when in reality it is just bad legislation. Democrats are not the only members of the Ohio legislature that are questioning this legislation – Republicans are also. Republicans, as well as Democrats question, where are the purported educational changes in the draft legislation? We all agree that we want the best education possible for all children of Cleveland, yet the Plain Dealer editorial board can only cheerlead for a purported Education Plan that more closely resembles Senate Bill 5 than any real education reform plan.
Strengthening college and career readiness programs, expanding pre-school education for all children of Cleveland, providing schools with greater autonomy, and expanding successful programs in neighborhood schools are all called for in the original draft of the Mayor’s Plan, but NOT ONE of these changes is featured in the draft legislation. 
What the draft legislation actually features is a plan to blame educators. The draft legislation would give the CEO the right to terminate teachers who are assigned to low performing schools, regardless of their effectiveness, and without due process. The draft legislation would eliminate everything that is in the current CBA and trigger a new agreement created from scratch (while the Board unilaterally determines conditions for employment while the new agreement was negotiated). The draft legislation would create a new layer of bureaucracy called the Transformation Alliance that would have a bully pulpit while not subject to public records requests, sunshine laws, or open meeting laws. These and other provisions are destructive to public education and in many cases are significantly worse than provisions that were in Senate Bill 5.
There is a way to work together to improve education for all children in the city of Cleveland. The Mayor and the business community chose this route. They chose to exclude educators, blame those that work in the schools for test scores, and restart Senate Bill 5. We can still come together to do something critical and immediate for all children of Cleveland. It is not too late, and the students of Cleveland are worth it.
In Union,