State Board passes on Cleveland school plan… for now

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio’s State Board of Education decided yesterday not to take a position on the Cleveland Plan, holding off until April’s board meeting at the earliest. Gov. John Kasich had personally asked the board to endorse the plan on Monday.

Traditionally, the board has not waded into political and legislative debates, but on Monday the governor pleaded with members to pass a resolution or provide some sort of backing to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s plan.

“I’m begging you as human beings to not let this go down the drain,” Kasich told the board in his first public address to the panel since he took office last year.

It is not unprecedented for the State School Board to endorse education reform plans. For instance, in 2009, they endorsed the wide-ranging reforms contained in House Bill 1, including the Evidence Based Model. It will be interesting, though, if they choose to endorse a locally driven reform agenda rather than a statewide effort, since their jurisdiction is over statewide education concerns.

What is clear, given Gov. Kasich’s Monday plea to the Board, is that he is counting on the Cleveland Plan serving as a template for his larger reform agenda to be unveiled next year. So we’ll see if the group responsible for all the state’s education efforts will endorse this district-specific plan, given its potentially wide-ranging state impact.

If they do, it’s one more indication that what happens in Cleveland will resonate throughout the state. That’s why the Cleveland Plan must receive a thorough and thoughtful vetting.

Don’t forget that it wasn’t that long ago that Vouchers were billed as Cleveland-specific. Now, up to 60,000 kids can be receiving them statewide next year, potentially removing more than $300 million from school districts. And that’s just in one of the state’s voucher programs.

So keep an eye on the State School Board’s actions on this matter. It will provide an indication of the momentum this plan has statewide.

Steve Dyer, IO Education Fellow