Anyone who is interested in education in the city of Cleveland, be it public, private, or charter, must read this publication. There are some periodicals I peruse quickly and others, like Catalyst Cleveland , I set aside time to read carefully.
This issue is one of the best. The cover story by Piet van Lier and Stephanie Klupinski discusses school violence in Cleveland.
This year, there has been a steady drumbeat of violence among youth. It began in January when a 16-year-old was gunned down near a city recreation center. In April, an 11-year-old was shot near the same area. In May, an alleged rape of a student at East Tech made headlinesThe report includes school specific statistics and interviews with the police department.
Another article by Jeff Lowenstien from Catalyst Chicago reports on a study done in Chicago that found mid-level district staffers ignored the expertise of principals and teachers, using the top-down approach in attempting to improve instruction. The conclusions from the report could easily have come from the Cleveland Municipal School District. Here is an excerpt from the article which I found particularity insightful.
[The report]recommends that teachers and principals be part of the planning process for any new school reform policy. The report also calls for redefining the role of mid-level district staff to focus more on supporting schools and less on monitoring them.
To understand the complexities involved in changing instruction, district staff needs to spend more time in schools...But Azcoitia of Spry adds that visits alone are insufficient to understand teachers' and principals' work lives. "You have to show up, roll up your sleeves and work in the office or substitute for a class,"
This aligns with my contention. In order to improve the schools, the decision makers must be aware of what is going on in the classrooms.
Finally, along those same lines, Catalyst editor Charlyse Lylse writes an interesting commentary about opening up the lines of communication between city leaders and residents.
Getting a levy passed comes down to this: Those who reap the tangible benefits of education and a middle class life must convince those who reap so little of Cleveland's limited prosperity that they cannot even fathom a future of upward social mobility for their children that schools are worth their hard-earned dollars.This could be an interesting challenge for Iopen, Ed Morrison's new Open Source Economic Development organization.
It's not likely that this space between can be closed in the month left before the Aug. 2nd levy vote. Still, much thought ought to be given as to how to create conversation amongst these two groups. It must be a dialogue absent of judgment but full of the understanding and mutual respect that leads to trust and restores powerful hope for the future. Perhaps Voices & Choices, the unprecedented $3-million, foundation-backed effort to conduct a regional civic dialogue, can help to achieve this.
Another move that can help close the space between is to include those with more intimate knowledge, insight and understanding of Cleveland and its diverse peoples in policy-making decisions. In the long run, that can be a major step toward policies, programs and practices that revive the vision and propel the action that is crucial to rebuilding our schools and fulfilling our children's potential.
What do you think Ed?