Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Last week, Cleveland schools chief Eugene Sanders unveiled an ambitious proposal to transform the entire district. It calls for some sweeping measures, including closing 18 schools, incorporating successful charter schools into the district, and layoffs that will likely be numbered in the hundreds. Is this the right fix for our region's largest school district? On the Sound of Ideas, reaction from across the community about the plan to save Cleveland schools, Wednesday morning at 9 on 90.3.
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One of the most widely accepted and repeated mantras of the national education reform advocates is that the single most important factor in determining the success of a childs education is the quality of the child’s teacher. Yet when I read the Plain Dealer list of 12 biggest highlights of the plan the word teacher never even appears. I believe that there is much that could be done to improve working conditions for teachers without expenditures that would break the budget. These efforts would go a long way towards recruiting and retaining high quality teachers.
There has been no mention of efforts in Cleveland to submit a proposal for a President Obama’s Promise Neighborhood Initiative. Funding is a primary concern and a reason behind the school closings (along with depopulation) and yet little has been discussed with regard to how the Cleveland Public School system can raise funds, or plans to take advantage of innovative federal programs like the Promise Neighborhood Initiative.
It seems like the conversation around teacher quality is more focused on the specialty schools, like STEM, what about the neighborhood schools? Shouldn’t the focus be on them? Also, if Charter schools expand, will they accept special ed students with individualized education plans?
No matter your intentions, if you are asking the wrong questions, you are ALMOST certain to come away with the wrong answers.
Where/why do gangs come from & exist? What is the familial profile of the typical NON-GANG boy?
Same questions for the kids who are achieving in school...who are they (sociologically)? Find that out & then figure out how many ways you can ‘mimic’ them & their backgrounds.
Pardon the double use: As long as the foundational familial fundamentals of the situation is what it is, (and you all know what I’m talking about), the best this plan will do is play for time. This is not a Cleveland centric thing...It’s a nationwide human thing that is manifesting itself in urban centers everywhere.
Let’s face it; “Wrap around services” is a euphemism for, the longer we can keep these kids away from their parents (or whoever they live with), THE BETTER OFF THEY ARE. I get this, and if money didn’t matter it might work - in 20 years. This is expensive AND UNSUSTAINABLE. Whatever you think of this War on Poverty II, it is not doable...the money is not there & is not in the mail. So what good is a good idea that is not doable?
They just mentioned Public Boarding Schools...It’s a good thought, BUT you gotta see the numbers involved in making that scale up in a large enough way to make it work for a critical mass a kids...so far, Boarding Schools are a boutique sized operation. I will admit, if this idea can be scaled up & sustained, it is worth a try.
I wonder though...what is the long term sociological impact/message of this on failing parents? What is their obligation vis-a-vis taking care of the kids THEY PRODUCE? Might this (Boarding School option), have a similar impact to the expansion of welfare from widows & orphans to unmarried women with children?
Councilman T.J. said, ‘lets focus on the problem’. Well, 1st you have to I.D. that via NON-POLITICAL ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS…
I am STILL hearing the technocrats/politicians who KNOW the real issues but always carefully talk around them because THAT IS NOT part of the plan: to politically untenable. Governors, Mayors, Superintendents, Congressmen, Councilmen, have a lot of trouble endangering their careers via telling constituent/parents the truth about how sorry a job they are doing and how they MUST MUST do better. This is not happening in Cleveland or many other places. The big city mayors in NEO can always be heard lecturing crowds about ‘helping the least of us’. WITH NO CORRESPONDING - SOCIAL CONTRACT - RHETORIC AIMED AT the supposed recipients of this help. By the way, virtually all of the office holders involved here are Democrats.
Is it really the educators? Or the kids? Or the parents? If you say “all”, then HOW do you fix this without calling EVERYONE TO ACCOUNT? This is not happening here.
The 1st War on Poverty left out reality based considerations of HUMAN NATURE - missed it big! It also created an artificial, self serving, ineffective, anti-poverty industrial complex. The bones of which still exist today. Some pols want to put meat back on those same old bones; their friends still run them. There is no time to do this again.