Saturday, August 07, 2004

Collateral Damage

Yesterday, my contract finally came in the mail. Usually we sign our contracts in May, but with the crisis caused by state budget cuts, and money siphoned off by charter schools, negotiations became very complex, leaving many of us fearing a teachers strike. Thank God rational heads prevailed, and now we can begin the school year in crisis mode rather than catastrophe.

Today's Plain Dealer ran two little articles that caused me concern.

The first was an editorial that ended: "...the leader who brought stability and academic progress to the system, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, has a contract that expires in December. The agreement allows for an extension of up to two years, but it's unlikely that she will seek to stay that long. In short the system is likely to enter the superintendent hiring market sooner rather than later"

The second discusses the CPPA's efforts to get an income tax increase on the ballot to rehire police officers laid off in January. The petition was thrown out by city officials citing errors. The CPPA argues the errors were minor. Channel 19's news clip was more informative than the PD article, as it showed Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association president, Bob Beck, blasting the city for purposely trying to keep the tax issue off the ballot, since it would compete with the school levy, forcing voters to make a choice, police or schools. (Or both or neither).

This November's election will be crucial for the Cleveland Schools on two major levels.
If we lose the levy we will probably lose our Superintendent. She would be required to do the impossible task of trying to rescue a school system that has less than no money, overwhelming societal issues, and no community support. She's had many other job offers, her roots are not here, why should she stay?

We are struggling and we are broke. There are plenty of people who have written off Cleveland's children as the collateral damage of our region's economy. Classism, racism, and selfishness are major contributing factors to this attitude. There are many people who would be happy to let the public schools continue their downward spiral. Those aren't their kids, but it is their money. Their short sightedness does not allow them to see the future consequences for the region being caused by the damage done to Cleveland's kids today.

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