The Plain Dealer
Ginn as principal? Sounds good
Saturday, July 23, 2005
No one can doubt Ted Ginn's ability to inspire excellence in young people.
Glenville High School's football and track coach has achieved remarkable results with his athletes, including a series of state championships. It's too soon to say whether Ginn's impressive skills can yield similar excellence in the classroom, but this much is certain: It's good that he's going to try.
Ginn is in preliminary conversations with Cleveland officials about opening a charter school in the city next year. So far, Ohio's charter schools have fallen well short of expectations, posting abysmal results even as their number has increased almost exponentially. At the same time, for-profit entities have dominated Ohio's charter market, commanding roughly half of the allocated dollars.
One entity, Akron industrialist David Brennan's White Hat Management, collected more than $100 million, or about a quarter of the state's charter-school spending. Brennan now is under investigation by the state legislative inspector general regarding his contacts with lawmakers - specifically whether he must comply with disclosure rules that apply to lobbyists.
For-profit companies have as much right to participate in the charter-school movement as anyone, but their dominance in Ohio raises serious concerns. Charters exist to provide alternatives to students and to encourage innovation. But concentrating so much money in the hands of a few can't help but stifle variety. The need for more independent efforts such as Ginn's becomes even more obvious.
Lawmakers this year capped the number of new charter schools over the next two years at 60. Unfortunately, the law included no provision for staggering the approval process to ensure that schools opening in 2006 - rather than this fall - have a few guaranteed slots.
We urge officials to address this issue, and encourage Ginn to pursue his idea. Cleveland desperately needs examples of academic quality.
CMSD will also be sponsoring another charter school, Entrepreneurship Academy, an extended day, eleven month 7-12th grade program, founded by local entrepreneur and E-City director, John Zitzner.
I will reserve my opinion of district sponsored charter schools until I can actually observe one up and running in Cleveland.
The proposed Entrpreneurs Academy as explained to me by John Zitzner would provide a very structured alternative learning environment for kids who might normally be lacking supervision at home due to family circumstances.
The potential for teacher burn-out however, is high, given the hours (8 AM - 8 PM) and school schedule (Mon. - Sat. 11 months/year). These folks would essentially be married to the school, and have no time for a personal life. I can see all kinds of problems with that, the obvious one being; what kind of person would want a job with those hours unless the pay was REALLY good? I would definitely want to run psychological profiles on these job applicants.
I spoke with John and his E-City staff about the new school, and was bothered somewhat by the administrative model as it was explained to me.
We can only wait and see.
A union sponsored charter would hopefully be structured in a way that would provide teachers with optimum flexibility. I'm looking forward to watching the UFT sponsored elementary school in New York, and hope that the model designed by the folks on the frontlines of education is a great success.