Cleveland Proposed Alliance to Remain Hidden from Public Eyes?

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer today, one of the key components of Cleveland’s school transformation plan would not be subject to public scrutiny.

Proposals given to state legislators last Saturday call for the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, which would have the power to block new charter schools from opening if they did not meet standards, to be exempt from state open meetings or open records laws.

This Alliance would be non profit and would serve many functions that seem to logically fit with what school boards could do, like approving Charter Schools and rating the district’s schools.

To his credit, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who appoints the school board and would appoint members to this Alliance, has expressed an interest in creating more transparency with the Alliance.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to raise,” Jackson said, adding that transparency is important. “I agree that there shouldn’t be anything to hide.”

Ron Adler, who has been one of the strongest advocates for Charter Schools and one of the Traditional Schools’ toughest critics, told the Plain Dealer he wants to see the Alliance be transparent.

In Innovation Ohio’s report about the Cleveland Plan, we suggested that the Alliance be open to the public and either have more accountability to the public by having elected officials appoint its members (as the current draft of the legislation does), or make the panel advisory to the school board.

Again, as long as the Alliance is open and accountable to the public, it would appear to maintain the strong tradition of public accountability that has long been a hallmark of our state’s school system. Allowing the Alliance to do business in the dark would seem to countermand that tradition.

This post was written by Innovation Ohio’s Education Policy Fellow, Stephen Dyer, and originally appeared on his blog 10th Period.