Cleveland Mayor Jackson Cites Progress, Work To Be Done On Crime, Education

Frank Jackson flanked by two giant screens delivers his State of the City address on stage at Public Auditorium
Frank Jackson gave the first State of the City address of his fourth term as mayor Wednesday night at Public Auditorium. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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Four-term Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson worked the stage at Public Auditorium for an hour, reciting numbers of sidewalks fixed, buildings demolished, police officers hired, and development projects funded.

As with last year's State of the City, Jackson celebrated the benefits of Issue 32, a 2016 voter-approved income tax increase.

But during this year's speech, two issues animated him more than the others: crime and public education. 

“To address crime, particularly violent crime, we cannot depend on law enforcement alone, we cannot do that. A broader, holistic approach has to be used,” said Jackson.

He said his ongoing youth violence prevention initiative, along with hiring more officers in the Cleveland police department and the changes brought to the department by the federal consent decree, were the answers to that problem.

And on education, Jackson said the city needs new ways to fix its schools.

In its most recent report card, Cleveland schools received an overall F grade, while the state did find some areas of improvement.

“The district has been successful in some areas, but as a system, as a system we are failing and not closing disparity fast enough," said Jackson.

One solution, said Jackson, is the Say Yes to Education program that provides support services and college scholarships, which the city has applied to join.

Jackson also suggested the use of virtual reality in the city’s classrooms. 

After visiting the Lerner College of Medicine, he said he’d like to bring the virtual reality learning programs used there to Cleveland schools.

“No tests, no lectures are given, neither are there class rankings of students,” said Jackson.

Instead, said Jackson, students use virtual reality to solve problems. He didn’t offer any details on how the program might work in public schools.

In closing, just like in last year’s speech, the mayor said the city has seen some successes and is recovering from the 2008 Great Recession.

“The question always is: Do we have the will?” asked Jackson. “Do we have the will to transform our economic and social models in a way that guarantee that all share in quality of life and prosperity?”

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