Begin caring about the future of our children, as they are the future of this region

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 03/27/2005 - 16:47.

With Barbara Byrd Bennett's recent "State of the Schools" presentation at the Cleveland City Club it became clear NEO is ramping up for a community-wide activation of all leaders to support Cleveland public schools, now showing significant success rising from the ashes, while facing daunting financial prospects resulting from diminishing state funding and city property tax revenues. Between now and the voting of the public on a levy to increase city taxes for schools, likely in November, 2005, we will be inundated with efforts to raise citizen awareness of the importance of education to the future wherewithal of the regional economy - and it is absolutely essential area schools are successful. As the levy will likely coincide with the Cleveland mayoral election, expect passionate debate on this issue.

It is the responsibility of all area citizens to become informed and proactive working to help the children of NEO secure great educations. Make this a subject of daily conversation and debate - before sports, arts, news and weather - make the next six months a celebration of the value of our children and innovation in learning - become vocal in support of public education and what that means to NEO. The Plain Dealer is coming out early in support of passing a levy for the schools, and so should every caring person in this region - along with heated debate about excellence and innovation in all aspects of education here - see the PD's 03.27.05 editorial pronouncement on this important issue below.

Get focused now on future levy Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial - Sunday, March 27,

Barbara Byrd-Bennett asked Clevelanders last week to continue their support for the city's children.

This city's residents cannot abandon children in a school district
devastated by hundreds of layoffs and more than $150 million worth of
cuts in recent years. The system must slash another $25 million from
its budget for the next academic year - reductions expected to be
achieved through building closings and the elimination of still more

The more modest cuts suffered in 2003-04 already saw a distinct
slowdown in student achievement. Chances are good that this year's
oversized classes and reduced security staff will witness even more
discouraging results.

School and city officials tried to reverse this trend with a levy
request last November, but voters rejected it by a significant margin.
Mayor Jane Campbell canceled plans for a May levy, but said in her
State of the City address that the district should have at least two
chances in October and in November to pass something. Meanwhile, City
Council President Frank Jackson, who is seeking to unseat Campbell in
November, has called for a levy in August.

Although it is only March, the sheer size of the task makes
establishing clarity a necessity. The entire community should know now
exactly when the next vote will be, so that the process of education
and persuasion can begin.

Because of the traditionally low turnout seen in August levies,
coupled with the difficulty of rallying school-based constituencies in
the summer, we favor a fall vote. That said, we do not believe this
spring and summer are too early to start making the case for new taxes.

The first step toward rallying the people targeted in
Byrd-Bennett's appeal is establishing a certain date. Because the task
ahead is so difficult, it is incumbent upon the adults in the community
to make sure every decision increases the chances of success.

© 2005 The Plain Dealer