The Cleveland school district is Ohio’s second-largest school district. More than 44,000 students attend its 112 schools. The majority of students, 69 percent, are African-American and most are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. (The exact percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, often used as a proxy for family income level, isn’t available because the district offers the meals to all of its students.) Looking at graduation rates, 54 percent of the students who entered twelfth grade in the fall of 2008 graduated from high school by spring 2009.
In the 2009-10 school year, 40 percent of fifth graders could demonstrate basic, grade-level reading skills and 29 percent could demonstrate basic, grade-level math skills, according to the district’s state report card. For eighth graders, those figures were 61 percent for reading and 41 percent for math.
The district’s current CEO is Eric Gordon, whose term started on July 1st, 2011. He was previously the Chief Academic Officer for the Cleveland school district, and in that role one of the primary creators of the district’s “Transformation Plan.”
The plan aims to turn around the district’s low-performing schools and poor graduation rates as well as adjusting to a fairly steady population, and therefore financial, decrease. The early stages of the plan included closing several schools and laying off hundreds of teachers. According to the plan, failing schools will also be “repurposed” through a variety of efforts which include switching out the school leadership, having all teachers reapply for their jobs, redesigning the academic program, or turning it into a charter school.
The union that represents Cleveland teachers is the American Federation of Teachers Local 279, commonly known as the Cleveland Teachers Union. It’s headed by David Quolke.