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Could Frank Jackson's Cleveland Schools Plan Become Michael Coleman's Columbus Schools Plan?

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Friday, December 14, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Michael Coleman is the mayor of Columbus.

Earlier this year, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson approached Gov. John Kasich and state legislators about changing state laws that govern the city's schools.

Jackson got lawmakers to allow the Cleveland schools to do things like pay teachers based on performance and share local tax dollars with charter schools.

Now it appears that Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman may want something similar for his city's schools. Unlike Jackson, Coleman does not control his city's schools.

Coleman, while injecting himself into the school leadership debate, has downplayed a mayoral takeover. Such a move would require a change in state law and is complicated by Central Ohio's unusual school jurisdictions.   Many Columbus residents are in suburban  school districts.

Coleman told WOSU about what his newly created 25-member Columbus Education Commission will do:

We will be talking about leadership. We’re talking about efficiencies and accountability, and those kinds of issues. This commission will be talking about that and other things.

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And the Columbus Dispatch has reported that Kasich has pledged to help Coleman by ushering related legislation through the Statehouse.

The move to possibly expand the Cleveland schools plan to Columbus comes after some of the people who pushed the Cleveland plan through the statehouse assured everyone that the Cleveland plan was a one-time, one-place thing.

March 12, Cleveland Plain Dealer:

[State Sen. Nina Turner] rejects critics who say Jackson's plan is a repackaged SB5. "This is really a comprehensive plan for what the mayor of Cleveland thinks he needs for just the Cleveland schools," Turner said.

March 22, Columbus Dispatch

...In an interview with The Dispatch, Jackson said that [making the Cleveland plan a model for other districts] was never his intent, and he doesn't know whether the attempt to revamp Ohio's only district controlled by a mayor would work in other school systems.

And Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon said it would be a "real danger" to just pick up the plan and plop it into another district.

May 2, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Turner - sensing that some lawmakers might fear the bill would affect school districts they represent - stressed that the proposal would affect only Cleveland"This is for Cleveland," she said. "No one in this state should hold Cleveland hostage."

On the other hand, Kasich hasn't been shy about suggesting that the Cleveland Plan could be replicated statewide:

March 12, Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Kasich said Jackson's plan is so important that he hopes that if it is approved by the legislature, it would be duplicated across the state.

"There is no question there are benefits beyond Cleveland," Kasich said. "Urban education has had so many issues, and the people who pay the biggest price are the children."

March 13, Columbus Dispatch:

Gov. John Kasich is praying and begging for support for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's plan to overhaul the city's schools, saying it's a model that could be used in urban districts across Ohio.


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