Plain Dealer editorial writer Sharon Broussard was treading on familiar ground when she offered this piece of advice to Cleveland Public Schools Eugene Sanders Sunday:
“Don’t be afraid to blow up the current system and come up with really radical ways to create new schools that work and that can gain community support.”
Did you hear that? That was me groaning.
Plain Dealer writers frequently offer this kind of advice, always directed at Mr. Sanders personally. Because if only he would “come up with really radical new ways to create news schools that work,” Cleveland Public Schools would be fixed. Presto. Chango.
Perhaps you could tell, I find this kind of commentary pretty worthless. Plain Dealer editorial board writers don’t tell the CEO of the Eaton Corporation how to do his job. Nor do they make similar demands of Gov. Strickland. Always, when they’ve got a bright idea, they write an editorial and address it to Eugene Sanders.
To me, the subtext seems to be: this is your problem, buddy, not ours. The Cleveland Public Schools have been in crisis mode for 30 years, and if you in your singular authority can’t find a way to change it, we are going to call it a failure on your part, ignoring the larger trends for which we are all responsible.
Just once, I’d like to open up the Plain Dealer and see an editorial that lays the blame where it clearly belongs: on society as a whole. I would like to see them say, the failures of Cleveland Public Schools are community failures, including but not limited to, the abandonment of the city by the middle class; the failure to fix a school funding system that has four times been ruled unconstitutional; the fragmentation of our education system and broken and inequitable tax system that incentivises sprawl over land conservation.
I would like the Plain Dealer to admit, that Cleveland Public Schools will never be healthy again until they can claim some middle class children on their rolls. Until some people with resources have a stake in Cleveland Public Schools, they will continue to suffer, no matter what Eugene Sanders does.
I guess it’s safer to make demands of the superintendent of one of Ohio’s worst school districts like he has some kind of magical power to beat the odds which no other big city superintendent has managed. Because, of course, it’s his problem, and if he were a competent leader, Cleveland Public Schools would surely rise again.