With considerable fanfare Governor John Kasich came to Cleveland today to sign a ground-breaking law that supporters say will transform Cleveland’s schools, and it could become a model for reform across the state.
The Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools is the culmination of a rare bit of cooperation from the unlikeliest of allies.
Mayor Frank Jackson got a lot of heat from some of his fellow Democrats at the beginning of the year, when he called on state lawmakers to give his city new power to change the way its schools are run. Governor Kasich had to nudge some of his fellow Republicans to act.
But in the end, enough arms were twisted, minds persuaded and compromises made that something really big happened in Ohio.Or, as Governor Kasich bragged, “they can talk about the school reform down in New Orleans, they can talk about it in Milwaukee in that one little city, but this is the industrial heartland. This has escaped the big cities in the industrial heartland – the ability to bring union and management and mayors and politicians together. And it is a model for the country.”
Under the plan, the district will be able to share tax dollars with local charter schools, but the city and voters will also have more control over who can open a charter in the first place. The plan also gives more weight to teacher performance during layoffs, a big shift from the formal tenure and seniority heavy layoff method.
Getting the law through is not the final step in the process. Jackson still has to pay for his plan somehow, which is why he’ll be asking voters to approve a school levy this November.