Late on Friday afternoon of a 3-day holiday weekend (long considered a prime slot for important news…), the Governor held a news conference with the usual cast of Cleveland Plan characters to announce that compromises has been reached (again).  And this time it’s for real (again — on Friday afternoon in Cleveland, not the Statehouse).

Cleveland’s NewsChannel5 states the Governor “is promising that the legislation will pass” while the Cleveland Plain Dealer says “Kasich guaranteed on Friday that the legislation would pass.”

From our vantage point, nothing could be further from the truth.  This bill could have passed weeks ago if it had any merit and any authentic support from the legislators.  The reality here is that this plan has reached compromises on multiple occasions previously, each time supposedly clearing the way for easy adoption.  Instead, the bill never even came up for vote in the House Education Committee this spring and won’t be reconsidered until the committee meets again on June 12.  As we peel back the story and timeline of this bill, we reveal missed opportunities for the legislature to pick up momentum, most notably by the Senate co-sponsors, Peggy Lehner and Nina Turner.

The Cleveland Plan was originally published by Mayor Jackson nearly four months ago on February 2.  It was delivered to the Governor and the leaders of both parties in the House and the Senate, but did not immediately pick up any sponsors until….

…a full two months later on April 4, when it was revealed that companion bills would be introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly after, according to co-sponsor Nina Turner said “the bill reflects a number of compromises reached through talks between Jackson, who runs the school district, and the union.” (Columbus Dispatch, 4/4/12)

And given the apparent sense of urgency by those involved in this process, you would think this bill would have gotten fast-tracked.

  • “I’m begging you as human beings to not let this go down the drain.” – Governor Kasich
  • “Doing nothing is unacceptable, and this plan is a bold step towards creating the conditions for success for our children, our city, and our future.” – Nina Turner

Yet that did not happen.  Instead of taking up the bills in both chambers concurrently to hasten the process, the Senate Education Committee never scheduled a hearing for their version of the plan, SB335.  Originally introduced as SB325, a modified version of the Cleveland Plan, SB335, was introduced three weeks later after more compromises took place outside of the legislature’s control.  HB525 was also introduced on that same date, April 24, now 2 1/2 months after the original plan was published.

Then, on May 1, House Bill 525 was finally introduced in the House Education Committee.  That afforded them 4 full weeks until the Memorial Day weekend to get it passed and to the floor for a vote.  A slam dunk for the Cleveland Plan seemed obvious.  But then a strange thing happened — the committee only met once during that week.  And then only once (May 9) during the following week.  And when the next week rolled around, the Governor’s education reform bill (SB316) had taken center stage in the committee and the news, relegating the Cleveland Plan to second fiddle in the committee’s discussions.

And even stranger for a bill that is supposedly vital to the survival of Cleveland, the Senate Education Committee made even less progress on SB335 over the same span of time as they also focused on SB316 and a one-day-a-week schedule that was mostly a result of the packed slate of legislation that was creating major scheduling conflicts for all of the Senate committees.

In the end, Memorial Day weekend arrived without either committee arriving at a vote on the Cleveland Plan, delaying it for at least two more weeks until the General Assembly returns (much to their dismay).  But when they return, we shouldn’t expect to see this Cleveland Plan wrap up any time soon, if it ever does.

By comparison, in March of last year the Teach for America legislation was heard in both chambers’ education committees as HB21 and SB81.  They both passed floor votes on March 22, permitting a turnaround of three weeks until concurrence on the final language.  That was also a busy time at the Statehouse as both SB5 and the Governor’s budget were being actively discussed.

But that’s not what has happened with the Cleveland Plan.  Instead, HB525 has been held up in the House Education Committee because they don’t like it, plain and simple.  The committee wants to institute massive changes to the legislation but is receiving pushback by the leadership in the House and the Senate, and now the Governor’s office.  So instead of kowtowing to the supposed authorities at the Statehouse and passing a bill they don’t agree with, committee Chair Gerald Stebelton isn’t bringing the bill up for a vote.

And who can blame him?  Check the footage and photographs of all of the news conferences and Cleveland Plan announcements that star Mayor Jackson, Governor Kasich, Senators Lehner & Turner, House Speaker Batchelder, Representatives Ron Amstutz, Armond Budish, and Sandra Williams.  House Education Committee Chair Stebelton is nowhere to be found.  In fact, not a single one of the 23 members of the committee seen or heard, most notably finding themselves excluded from the most recent announcement during which Governor Kasich “promised” and “guaranteed” their votes of support for the bill as he hugged outspoken Senator Nina Turner in a premature celebration of the bill’s passage.

Unless Kasich, Turner, and Jackson have somehow changed the process for how a bill becomes a law (found here on the House and Senate websites), the elected members of the separate committees and chambers still actually get to cast individual votes.  Chair Stebelton and his committee have every right to be insulted by Kasich’s guarantee of passage as it is demeaning to their work over the past month as they’ve done exactly what we would want them to do — take their time to consider whether a piece of legislation is in the best interest of all Ohioans.  Four weeks and 7 hearings later, the committee has yet to reach consensus, and it’s not Kasich’s place to direct them how to vote, regardless of the power he believes he wields in his party.

And lest we cast the blame solely on the House Education Committee, shouldn’t we also be asking why co-sponsors Lehner and Turner have been dragging their feet in the Senate?  Chairperson Lehner is the unquestioned leader of the Senate Education Committee and Turner is one of only 3 Democrats who share the dais with her (along with Sawyer and Schiavoni).  Without a hint of resistance, those two could have pushed to have the Cleveland Plan heard and passed out of committee with two weeks.  The fact that they have been reticent to do so is indicative of their own lack of faith in the plan as it currently exists.  If they truly backed this plan that they had sponsored they would have passed it and put greater pressure on the House to do likewise.  Instead, they have played the game of politics and made all of the right statements of undying support for this Cleveland Plan — most recently late on a Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend, when few people were watching.

Look, I think the plan is crap, but I’ve been very consistent in that viewpoint from the outset.  But what I’m really wondering is when the legislators began to realize it, too.  It’s not politically correct to appear to put down the struggling Cleveland school district and that’s what the Cleveland Plan sponsors were hooked into believing they would be doing if they opposed this plan in the beginning.  But now as they have been manhandled by Mayor Frank Jackson who appears to have replaced Mary Taylor (Lt. Governor – remember her?) on the state’s hierarchy of leadership, I believe that they are now working to find a way to exit this process, and the key is Stebelton and the House Education Committee.

Their absence from the media spotlight is no accident.  By remaining in the shadows while meticulously dissecting the bill in committee, Stebelton provides the political “out” for his fellow legislators.  He can delay the bill long enough to expose its general irrelevancy in the first place.  As Jackson continues to tweak the Plan and engage in compromises with the teachers and community schools, the over-reaching HB525 becomes less and less important.  And within the next month the key sponsors, most notably Nina Turner, will work to back out of the process and point to local collaboration as being the reason the bill is no longer needed and supporting the local effort as supporting evidence for a request for a Cleveland schools levy.

And that will be the final nail in the coffin of the Cleveland Plan.


  • Jamie

    I hope it dies an agonizing death, and that  voters will remember who sponsored it come November!

  • Eftelt

    Plunderbund rejoices! The failing Cleveland schools get no reform and the union overlords are fat and happy. Take the rest ofthe week off. There’s nothing like failing kids to make unions feel so satisfied.

  • anastasjoy

    Greg, can you explain to me what you think it is that Stebelton and his committee don’t like about the plan and what “massive changes” they would like to see? Can you shed any light on what you think the actual motives are of various parties involved? I still believe that the governor’s goal is to weaken unions, and that Jackson kind of bullied the Cleveland Teachers Union into going along by offering them a pretend after-the-fact seat at the table with a handful of changes to make it look legit, and they went along out of fear of being demonized as “not caring about the kids,” never mind that they may be the only party involved that really does.

    I simply am not seeing WHY most of the changes in the plan need to be made except for that laundry list of Nice Things that will never happen because no one’s going to fund them. This isn’t a bold plan in my mind; it’s more of the same ol’ same ol’. A bold plan would be tackling the poverty issues that kids bring to school with them, increasing funding for support services and teacher support. Oh yeah, and abolishing for-profit charter schools. Like THAT will happen.

  • gregmild

    Yeah, so much rejoicing expressed throughout this post…..

    Perhaps you should read it.  Just telling it like it is.

  • gregmild

    One of the reps described it to me as a “mess” that has too many people trying to influence it from outside of the Statehouse (and that’s saying a lot these days).  The most significant problem is their ability to keep track of what the bill is “supposed” to be given these ongoing negotiations in Cleveland that do not involve the legislators.

    Another major impediment is the authority that would be granted to the Mayor in addition to his current role as city and school district leader.  There are members who are not convinced that he should have the dual role already let alone granting him power over local charter schools.  That concept of his failure to turnaround the city and the subsequent impact that has on the schools undermines the notion that he should be trusted with additional authority.  Add in the fact that some of the items removed through these negotiations are actually components that some in the House would like to see adopted and we end up with a dangerous situation. 

    The major motive on the part of those involved in trying to pass this bill is to be the one(s) who saved the Cleveland Schools.  In truth, this bill has no shot at doing so given its lack of research-driven ideas.  The only thing this bill really does in the end is shift some decision-making power and authority to individuals who will be long gone before the plan is found to have failed the schools.

    I agree about Kasich’s goal, and as far as Jackson, don’t you think he just wants more power?  He was unable to negotiate the changes HE wanted to make, so he enlisted the help of Kasich and his other Cuyahoga cronies to push this negotiation public and threatened to have the legislature adopt undesirable anti-worker changes.  With those extreme proposals and a legislature inclined to adopt them, CTU had little choice but to cede many of their bargained items to the Mayor in order to avoid even steeper losses.  Now that the Mayor has essentially won most of what he wanted, however, the role of the bill has become less important, but they can’t just say “forget it” now, can they?  And now Jackson will have some level of indebtedness to Kasich that will have to be repaid in the next two years.

    As I have stated here and before, there is some level of respect that has not been given by Jackson to the GA throughout this process as he has assumed a role of telling them what to do with this bill, a sore point among the seasoned legislators that will ultimately undo this bill.  Jackson is more dictatorial in his style instead of a team builder and has simply assumed that he can tell the legislators what to do (instead of engaging in a collaborative process and deferring to their positional authority).

    Finally, I don’t believe we should discount the fact that Mayor Jackson is a Democrat and the legislature is majority Republican.  The distrust at that level still exists.

  • guest

    I am saying again that every time Kasich opens his mouth  s–t falls out of it.  He thinks that he has the voice of everyone and what he says goes.   NOT

  • FireTeachercop

     oh for Gods sake blow it out your ass! Everyone knows that the last think our Gov wants is an educated Cleveland. Its all about his ability to wield power and destroy the people doing the teaching, or haven’t you seen the hundreds of thousands of dollars withheld from our cities. Even when there is money to spend.

  • becca

    Greg – referring to Jackson as dictatorial and not a team builder made me laugh – sounds just like Kasich…

    Personally, I hope this is dead in the water, too.  As an educator in another urban district, this plan scares the living daylights out of me.  It does nothing to address the issues that face our urban districts.

  • becca

    Ooops – it should have stated: “dictatorial in style”…….

  • Reggie

    As usual Greg…You nailed it.  If they had the votes this would done and done.  They  don’t have it because the plan has a little something for everyone to hate.  

  •  Now what “they” need to realize is that none of their ideas where all that good and they need to do the same thing to the rest of the shit they are trying to push through.

  •  Give me a real break if you want to talk about improving student learning then talk about student learning. As a teacher in an inner city school I can tell you what would make the most difference in the students learning but teachers cannot make those changes.  Our children in inner city are students that need different supports systems. Not that all of the parents don’t support their student. Many do not know how to properly support them and what to do to instil the knowledge that their education should COME 1ST, before anything else. But parents of students who live in poverty have so many problems that they are overwhelmed. They need support and help themselves. They are doing the best they know how which often is not near enough. There is a cycle in poverty that needs to be broken.The  school is a micro-culture that mimicking the culture surrounding it. Inner city schools are sick because the inner city is sick. If we never really address this and never work towards fixing this problem we will continue to have problems in our schools in the inner city. But that would mean we would be doing the right thing. Spending our tax moneys where they really need to be spent instead of on Large corporations and saving money for the top 1%. All you bible thumping religious Republicans here is a thought for you. What would Jesus do? Not help those in need to break this cycle? I guess getting rid of the unions would help break the poverty cycle.

  • anastasjoy

    The whole thing about giving the mayor more power makes no sense to me either. We have had mayoral oversight of the schools since Jackson took office more than six years ago. Why now does he need MORE authority? What has he done so far to warrant that? Also, I am bothered by how little I have heard about the fate of the 2010 “transformation plan” which was unveiled with so much fanfare two years ago. How much of it was implemented? Did it fail? Was it given a chance? Is this a substitute plan or a supplementary plan or just distractionary bullshit to make us forget that a mere two years ago the mayor offered ANOTHER plan that was going to fix everything?

    What components were removed in negotiation that you think the legislature would have liked to see kept?

    I guess what bothers me the most on this plan is that I don’t see how any plan is going to “transform” education unless and until you bring ALL stakeholder together to have an honest and very public and transparent discussion about what the real problems are and how to solve them without falling back on the same list of tired non-solutions. This plan was cooked up in secret with primary input coming from people who do not wish public education well. It was tainted from the start. Then they used bullying to try to smear anyone who didn’t get behind it. All of that to me suggests a bad and ineffective plan. They love to talk about this being an emergency and “we can’t wait.” It is not an emergency but a slow-motion wreck, and I think waiting to get it right is the best thing we could possibly do.

    I think they should scrap it and start over.

  • anastasjoy

    There are no “union overlords.” The members of the teachers union are really the only people doing anything in Cleveland to help educate kids.

  • CherMoeLin

     I don’t think the unions caused the kids to “fail”.  I’ve known teachers in numerous school systems and have two teachers in the family.  I’ve known several who worked for the Cleveland schools.  Believe me, it’s not for lack of intelligence or trying on their part.  Just take a look at the stupid “No child left behind” law.   Somebody gets the bright idea (especially someone with lower intelligence) who puts a plan in place and puts all kinds of demands, restrictions, “grading” of schools, etc., but never FUNDED it as promised.  Now we’ve got kids who are taught how to take tests all year long, while the “well-rounded” education went out the window. 

    And THIS is from the same party who wants to bust unions, abolish the department of education and privatize schools and make everyone attend religious schools.  And the Republicans and their cronies get richer. 

  • Mcc

     When having failing schools you have failing parents.

  • rybuzz

    The Cleveland Teachers Union absolutely was bullied into “supporting”this plan and should never have caved to the pressure.  The original bill had a “fresh start” clause that would have eliminated the entire CTU contract and required both parties to start from scratch. Another horrific item in the original proposal included being able to “suspend the teaching contract” of any teacher at a poor performing school or a school closed for any reason. 

    You are absolutely correct to say that this plan does nothing to address the underlying issues facing public education in Cleveland and we should all be ashamed that it has even made it this far. We should have waged an all-out SB5 war on this bill.

    I think that the actual motive of the district is to create a charter-based system in which all teachers work for deeply reduced pay and the administration secures it’s own future by simply “managing” schools, in other words, opening new charters and closing “poor performing” schools on a continuous basis, and avoiding any direct accountability to students, parents, teachers or community members.

    The Cleveland Teacher’s Union was motivated by fear and perhaps a vague hope that charter schools would actually face deeper scrutiny, but it seemed pretty clear to me from the start that if anything would be eliminated from this bill it would be the suggestion that Cleveland should be able to have some quality control over the charters in the district (the ONLY postive item in this legislation).

    This probably did not shed any light on anything, but it always feels better to talk about this issue with people equally outraged. Thanks for your post!

  • I SO HOPE  your right…if Nina Turner  ,  “will work to back out of the process and point to local collaboration as being the reason the bill is no longer needed and supporting the local effort as supporting evidence for a request for a Cleveland schools levy.I will PERSONALLY  THANK HER..AS LONG AS THIS PLAN IS KILLED…n buried WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE!

  • The video, tv..was Fox news who aired this..the people DID NOT  look happy..especially the women, if you watch. When Kasich cried tears of joy, and they stated through “Solidarity,” they reached a compromise ..made me sick to my stomach…this bill shouldve been dead from the beginning..and if this is true..and 
     Nina Turner, will work to back out of the process and point to local collaboration as being the reason the bill is no longer needed and supporting the local effort as supporting evidence for a request for a Cleveland schools levy. I will PERSONALLY go to Cleveland, Ohio n knock on doors for her…

  • I agree w/u in regards to kasich STILL tryn to weaken unions and sell out our childrens quality education for his profit charter schools buddies..This bill sends chills down my spine…and what races through my mind is…”KILL THE BILL!” Im so tired of all the wasted energy he’s spendn on dismantling our schools for profit charters with weak /4-6 week trained teachers, claiming..”what’s best for our children”, and” it’s all about the  kids”. What really grinds my gears is that , It is all about the kids…and we are fightn for whats right, and I believe he;s intentionally tryn to confuse the voters..How dare Fox news state..”In Solidarity..” Watchn that news cast, n watchn Kasich gloatn, and the expressions n reactions of most people ..especially, the women..If what Plunderbund is reportn is true, then it all makes sense..the expressions on womens faces, the small applause….

  • happy to read your response b/c I WAS OUTRAGED..and continued to make my voice be heard..It is SB 5 language and SB 5 in small pieces b n introduced in different bills..I AM SO RELEVED to read that other people are wise and on to “the Plan…” Thanku for your post..and thanku..for lettn me vent!

  • I could not agree with you more..”The Plan…” Visions of SB 5, the ramming down our people dont have time to evaluate, analyze and see exactly what the plan/agenda really is…In other recent bills, they r tryn to sneak in parts of SB well…hoping no one will see..definately sneek attacks…what bothers me is using 2 of SB 5s strong passionate legislators..1 completely disappearred after Plunderbunds article regarding “biting our tongues.” People contacted these elected officials, and expressed their outrage n disappointment, possibly exposing a “sneaky” plan..thinkn w/2 of our passionate SB 5 legislators , 1 cosponsoring it, we would go long w/it..I STILL  say , we are powerful in numbers, when we stick together, n whatever the reason is or combination of…as long as “The Cleveland Plan,” dies..and stays dead..I’ll b thankful..Things may slow down here for a bit, all EYES ARE ON WISCONSIN, for the Scot Walker recall.” WHEN” Wisconsin citizens win on June 5th, it’s over for these constant attacks on teachers n weakening unions. People are waking up n realize all the attacks on women, educators, education, teachers, etc..are ALL coming from the SAME common ATTACKER. We are ALL CONNECTED…time to unite, stand as one and come November, fire n replace EVERY legislator who are affiliated n support these attacks on hard working middle class citizens, selling off of our states assets, etc..I’m tired of these legislators spendn taxpayer dollars on ways to hurt Ohioans, etc…Oh n let us not forget…”WHERE R THE JOBS?”.ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

  • Seriously? Shame on you! Do the research n get your facts before you embarass yourself like this…Oh, and stop watchn Fox news…

  • hit the nail on the head! WELL SAID!

  • Facts are facts…thank you..thank you..thank you…

  • whew…that’s a relief…lol…

  • I think you hit it on the head..sums it all up…”shit…” n thats exactly what they are shovelling..n shoving through..

  • Greg..I so hope you are right, and you Are RIGHT…let’s far…99.9percent…thank you Greg..I may actually “sleep” a little better tonight..but am looking forward to Cleveland Plans burial at sea…THAT night..I will sleep soundly…thanks Greg!

  • lol..well said…people ask me all the time, how do I know that Kasichs lying? They conclude, he sounds like he knows what hes doing…I respond..”HIS LIPS ARE MOVING!” enuf said..good night

  • Dmoore2222

    Kasich is politically dead. He just doesn’t know it. That’s what the legislature is trying to tell him but can’t actually saying it.  Imagine having to come to the realization that your own party’s governor is your biggest political liability. You control both houses and the governorship yet you’re impotent. The SB5 beatdown was so severe they’re not going to follow him over any other cliff. Look how they’re running scared by wanting to repeal their own voter legistation (Sorry,  I can’t remember the name of the law). Republicans are on life support and it’s by their own doing which makes it that much sweeter to watch.

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