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Cleveland's Corporate Reform Bill Signed by Kasich

Ohio Tea-Party Gov. John Kasich and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson hug after Jackson talked about the agreement that was reached on the Cleveland reform plan. (Plain Dealer)

Privatizers' dream, union goes along

Two things are predictable when states pass school reform laws that only apply to one city. First, that city has a largely poor, black and brown school population and second, the reform is more about privatization, charter schools and "turnaronds" than it is about anything affecting teaching and learning. 

Such is the case in Ohio where T-Party Gov. Kasich just signed the Cleveland Plan For Transforming Schools into law. "Cleveland is now leading the way in school reform," Kasich said to cheers from reform supporters and groups that helped create the plan.

After much lobbying and negotiation, the plan -- which applies only to Cleveland as the state's sole district under mayoral control -- was approved by the state legislature last month. --Plain Dealer

The new law overrides the union's contract and discards previous board-union agreements governing teacher pay and layoffs, does away with tenure, lengthens the school day and year without accompanying compensation, evaluates and pays teachers based largely on student test scores, and pushes the biggest move yet towards privately managed charter schools along the lines of the Philadelphia model. The new law is also an affront to parents, requiring them to attend meetings under penalty of law. It will take badly-needed funds away from neighborhood public schools and line the pockets ofpolitically connected consultants. 

 Calling the shots will be corporate reformers based at the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Cleveland and George Gund foundations, Breakthrough Charter Schools and others.

The worst part of this mess is that it was supported by the Democrats and by the AFT and the Cleveland Teacher Union --not only supported, but hailed as "a model of collaboration" for the entire nation. The last time we heard that kind of talk from state union bureaucrats was here in Illinois after the passage of the anti-union SB-7 bill.

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Mike Klonsky

Mike Klonsky is an educator, writer, school reform activist, and director of the Small Schools Workshop ( ...