FIXING THE SCHOOLS
May 24, 2010
Cleveland has never been a glamorous town, but it used to be lively and successful. Now it is a poster boy for Rust Belt decline. It does not have to be that way. One way to save Cleveland is to fix the schools, says Nick Gillespie, editor of reason.com and reason.tv.
- Cleveland's public schools face a $53 million budget deficit, an enrollment drop of about 40,000 students during the last decade, and a scandalously low 54 percent graduation rate.
- Close to three-quarters of the district's schools are either on "academic watch" or in an "academic emergency," the state's two worst categories.
To turn things around, Cleveland should rethink the way money moves within its school system, says Gillespie:
- Education funds should be attached to each student, allowing them to carry it directly to the public school of their choice.
- Special needs students can bring larger amounts of money, reflecting the extra help they need.
- Under such a system, administrators can use the money they attract for whatever they want, be it more instructors, more technology, or more supplies.
Cleveland should also promote charter school models and take a hard line with struggling institutions: Close failing schools. Open new schools. Replicate great schools. Repeat as needed.
The power of competition will drive success in education. The better the school system, the more people will want to move back into the city, and the more young parents will be willing to stay, says Gillespie.
Source: Nick Gillespie, "Ideas to save Cleveland," Reason Magazine, June 2010.
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