Cleveland plan to fix failing schools may depend on union support

Apr 27, 2013 by

CLEVELAND – Cleveland school officials have identified 13 of the city’s worst public schools they plan to revamp next year, and will work with the community over the next month to finalize the details.

District leaders divided the schools into several categories based on “key stresses” impacting academic performance – such as high suspension and student absence rates, or the need for better teaching strategies – and spelled out some of the action necessary to correct the problems, reports.

The targeted schools, called “investment schools” in the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools, were all rated in the Academic Emergency category by the state, “and 10 of which failed to pass even one of the measures the state uses to grade schools,” the news site reports.

General plans for several of the schools call for replacing the principal and teachers, or retraining teachers with a focus on current weaknesses. District officials plan to present their plans at each school through a series of community meetings next month, when they will solicit advice on the specific elements of the turnaround plans. School leaders want to finalize the plans by the end of this school year.

But then there’s the other thing.

While school leaders plan on implementing the reforms next year, “Many changes are … dependent on the district’s ongoing negotiations with the Cleveland Teachers Union, which would allow more flexibility in hiring and teacher pay and which would let the district better plan its budget over the next few years,” reports.

In other words, district negotiators must convince the teachers union to give up many of its cherished contract provisions for the sake of improving education for Cleveland students. That has proven to be an insurmountable challenge for many school districts.

In our experience, most teachers unions don’t give up anything without a serious and often nasty fight, regardless of the reason. Parents and taxpayers in the Strongsville, Ohio school district are currently learning that lesson the hard way with an eight-week teachers strike.

Our hope is the Cleveland Teachers Union focuses on the needs of students during negotiations, and sets an example of sacrifice and stewardship.

If the union opts to fight these long overdue changes, there’s virtually no way school leaders will garner the support they need to make their plan a success.

via Cleveland plan to fix failing schools may depend on union support – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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