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CEO Eric Gordon Says Pandemic Allowed CMSD to Chart a New, Equitable Course

Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon gives State of the Schools address
Michaelangelo's Photography
"It's our vision in a post pandemic world that in pursuit of a more fair, just and good system of education, each of our learners, both each of our scholars and each of their educators, will be individually and collectively engaged with intellectually complex tasks that are worthy of their productive struggle," Gordon said.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordongave his annual State of the Schools address at a City Club of Cleveland forum Wednesday, where he focused mainly on the impacts of the pandemicon the district. But, he said, it also created opportunities for CMSD to “chart a course unlike any other in its history.”

Gordon called the pandemic a time “when the privileged few watched from their homes,” as CMSD and community organizationsworked to feed students and families in poverty and ensure they were connected to the supports they needed.

“I knew we needed to not only address the enormous impacts of the public health pandemic on the students we serve,” he said, “but also the massive added threat of continued economic and social injustice that was playing out in disadvantaged urban communities across our country, including right here in Cleveland.”

However, the pandemic also served as an opportunity to make long-term changes, according to Gordon, who boasted that the district is using “new tools to position ourselves for the future.” 

“New tools like competency-based learning any time, anywhere, learning that is more individualized and learning that focuses on the whole child, including his or her social, emotional, cultural and physical wellness,” Gordon said.

The district used American Rescue Plan funds to make some “big bets on our future,” Gordon said, including completing the district's one-to-one goal ofproviding a laptop for every student and teacher. 

“Ensuring every student and educator in CMSD has the appropriate modern iPad, Chromebook or laptop to meet their ‘any time, anywhere’ learning needs. And by replacing the devices each four years, CMSD seniors will now be able to keep their laptops after graduation,” Gordon said.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District students asks question
City Club of Cleveland
Students took turns asking the CEO questions during a Q&A session following Gordon's speech.

Beginning this year, every CMSD campus will have a full-time health professional on campus, and all Pre-K-eighth grade schools will have extended periods before and after school to give students expanded access to the arts, music and physical education.

During the address, Gordon took an opportunity to acknowledge Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and his “visionary leadership of the Cleveland Plan,” a decade ago. Jackson is retiring at the end of his term.

Gordon lauded the gains and record-making graduation rates CMSD has made over the years since the plan was implemented.

“Our 80.9% graduation rate for African American students and 82.6% percent graduation rate for Hispanic students means that our children of color in CMSD graduated at rates nearly six percentage points higher than their peers statewide,” Gordon boasted.

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