State lawmakers introduced legislation on behalf of Mayor Frank Jackson today that would allow major changes in the way Cleveland schools are run.
The action follows several more hours of negotiations between Mayor Jackson and the Cleveland Teachers Union.
The two sides, however, could not agree on significant parts of the plan.
One of the main stumbling blocks in the bill would allow the city to throw out previous contract provisions with the teachers and start the next round of bargaining with a clean slate.
Q: How different does the Cleveland Plan look today, as it was introduced compared to what you had initially introduced.
A: There is a difference. we had a provision in there that would eliminate seniority and tenure as the sole determiner of when teachers were laid off or brought back or assigned. It was just pretty general language. The teachers union came up with a methodology that really put in the forefront quality performance based on the evaluation and from that point tenure and seniority were only tie-brakers. So, you could have a high performing teacher who has minimum seniority and no tenure actually not get laid off or called back over someone who has much more tenure and seniority, so they put together a methodology that was actually more detailed and got us to the end we wanted. We still have some areas we’re going to have to work on, there’s still a financial consideration we’ll have to address which we will do when we go for a levy in the fall but there’s no way we’d be able to pass a levy if we do not demonstrate to people that they should expect a different outcome academically.
Q: I know the fresh start provision is one in particular that the union have opposed, and you seem to find very important. Why is that provision so important to you?
A: The more we can work out other areas the less it is necessary to have a blanket fresh start, so it’s open for discussion.
Q: As a Democratic Mayor with a long history in the city of Cleveland and a positive history with the unions, we’ve seen you recently butt heads with the unions first in parts of the Senate Bill 5 debate and now with this proposal. What made you decide to take on or oppose the teachers unions in this?
A: I don’t oppose anybody. I support kids. And I’m not going to sacrifice another year of kids on the alter of whether or not I’m a good union person or a good Democrat or whatever that is, and I’m not going to go home or look at children and smile at them and silently say to myself ‘I can’t help you because I’m scared politically.’ I can’t do that. Let the chips fall where they may.