State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to the release of Ohio’s School Report Cards, which gave East Cleveland City Schools its third consecutive “F,” setting the stage for a state takeover under the legislature’s hastily-passed, party-line amendment to House Bill 70 in 2016.
“Today's release of the state report card is further evidence that the biggest hindrance to student performance in Ohio's public schools is not the district leadership of East Cleveland but the politicians of Columbus who take campaign contributions from the charter school industry with one hand as they give public school dollars to charter school operators with the other hand,” said Smith, a member of the House Education Committee.
East Cleveland Schools have lost over $5 million to failing, for-profit charter schools like ECOT while the state has cut the schools by millions of dollars in previous state budgets.
The district is also considered to be the poorest community in the state and the fourth poorest in the nation, with 100 percent of students being considered economically disadvantaged according to ODE data.
“In spite of these substantial challenges East Cleveland City Schools have made tremendous progress, due in part to the extremely talented core of teachers, most of whom have a master’s degree and average 15 years of classroom experience,” said Smith.
Smith said, according to the latest report card, East Cleveland saw improvement in 15 of 21 state performance measures. The five year graduation rate is 75 percent, which is only ten percentage points below the Ohio average. The district also earned a C on their K-3 literacy rate, which means they were successful in getting struggling readers back on track.
“Have they been successful on all fronts? No,” Smith said. “But considering the challenges they are taking on every day, they should be lauded for their heroic efforts – not subjected to an out-of-town bureaucrat who has zero knowledge of the community and no accountability to the East Cleveland voters.”
Smith said a mid-school year state takeover could have a drastic impact on student achievement, injecting more chaos and uncertainty into an already challenging classroom setting.
“Every Ohio child can change the world. Every East Cleveland child has infinite potential, but Columbus and the next Governor needs to get serious about investing in our future workforce,” added Smith. “Statehouse Republicans need to abandon their ‘Columbus-Knows-Best Education’ model, and they need to stop shortchanging kids as it continues to empower unsuccessful, unproven, unaccountable bureaucrats instead of local leaders who know their communities best.”
House Bill 626, legislation Smith introduced that would stop the state takeover of public schools, picked up bipartisan support and is awaiting a hearing in the Republican-controlled House Education and Career Readiness Committee.