In the Spring, Governor Kasich appeared before the State Board of Education and literally begged them to approve the education package known as the “Cleveland Plan” for its focus on implementing major changes to state law to provide exemptions to the Cleveland School system.
The State Board politely ignored him.
Instead, the legislation made its way through the Ohio House and Senate over a period of weeks, ultimately passing without any additional funding as the General Assembly rushed to head off for Summer Break.
But the funding wouldn’t matter with such a comprehensive, airtight plan that had been so thoroughly crafted by the Cleveland Mayor and School District CEO, right? Sure, Cleveland has a school levy on the ballot that will last four years, after which Mayor Frank Jackson virtually guaranteed success for “his” plan by telling residents they could let the levy expire if he hasn’t turned around the schools with his plan.
How odd is it, then, that this much-ballyhooed plan is requiring the school district to hire consultants, at the cost of over $200,000, to help the district actually figure out how to roll out this plan in the district? As the Plain Dealer puts it, these consultants were hired to “put some flesh on the Cleveland Plan’s bare bones.”
Cleveland School’s CEO Eric Gordon, who helped create this plan that merited Kasich’s begging, explained the $214,000 consulting bill as follows:
“It’s intended to be a complete roadmap of how we move from where we are today. It is my goal to have before the public a plan of how we’re going to do the work.”
So…when the plan was sold as a panacea for all of the ills of the Cleveland Schools by Governor Kasich, Mayor Frank Jackson, and State Senator Nina Turner, it didn’t actually include any sort of plan of how the work was actually going to be accomplished?
And along with the fact that this plan had no built-in direction, did the legislature know that the schools would be entering into a contract with an out-of-state consulting company, the same company who helped author the previous, and now-abandoned, Cleveland Plan $214,000?
What other major gaps in actual “reform” or expenses were hidden from the public as this not-quite-a-plan steamrolled through the Ohio legislature? And with surprises like these, how will the leadership gain the trust of the local voters in order to convince them that the levy is needed?
Transparency is not supposed to be this cloudy.