About four months after Cleveland Schools CEO Eric Gordon announced the end of his 11-year tenure, the search for his replacement officially begins this week.
As intended in the city’s request for proposal, the Board of Education will initiate a trio of listening sessions Tuesday through Thursday this week, with tonight at the East Professional Center. The other two will be held at Max Hayes High School on January 18 and at John F. Kennedy High School on January 19, all from 6 to 8 p.m.
The intent, according to Mayor Justin Beebe and board president Ann Bingham, is to extend the growth of public trust in the post-Gordon era.
for bib which was once portrayed as the reason for Gordon’s departure, the engagement seems to be another degree in his approach to the historical changes of the city. (Much like Beebe’s town hall-style approach to Cleveland’s perennial question: What to do with the Lakefront, you might say.)
“Selecting a leader to build on CEO Gordon’s legacy is a huge responsibility, and one we do not take lightly,” Beebe said in a statement. “We are fully committed to engaging the community in this important work.”
However, some ask how a lot engagement?
Shari Obrensky, head of the Cleveland Teachers Union, worries that while Beebe and board leaders are in the right place, they may exclude the views of some stakeholders after analyzing feedback behind closed doors.
“As far as we understand, the council hasn’t really said what they’re going to do after that part of the process is complete,” Obrensky told the Scene.
“VI want to make sure that before we make any final decisions, the board knows that we have some, I think, reasonable expectations for what this process looks like moving forward.”
According to the request for proposals, the CMSD board hired Alma Advisory Group to conduct a series of online surveys, focus groups and mass in-person interviews with residents to, according to a news release, “share their hopes and expectations for the district’s leadership “.
And it’s entirely plausible that Gordon’s 11 years will be hard work.
After four years as chief academic officer, Gordon inherited a school system in disarray when he took the helm in 2011. At the time, in March 2012, 38 percent of voters thought CMSD’s education was of poor quality. The threat of possible intervention by the Academic Disaster Commission, the state body that takes over failing schools, has shaken public confidence.
But as Gordon boasted in his final State of the Schools address on Sept. 21, the system averted a major crisis. From 2011 to 2019, Gordon, using the Cleveland Plan as a guiding star, helped increase CMSD’s graduation rate by nearly 30 percent. He oversaw the passage of three levies — the first in 16 years — and the issuance of bonds.
Despite the 12-hour workday, rising gun violence and teacher strikes, Gordon, in its final state of school speechcompletely positively looked at the past and the future.
“Good leadership is usually characterized as a marathon or a sprint,” he told the crowd. “Some say the best leaders stick around for a period of time, while others say it’s best to exit to move quickly toward your goals.
“I tried to do both.”
Whoever succeeds Gordon in April or May, Obrensky knows he or she will face a wide range of choices: how to deal with the system’s 5 percent teacher shortage, the difficulty of organizing a 550-strong reserve staff, treating injuries after deaths, related to the use of weapons. , and more.
The recent Jan. 11 killing of 18-year-old Pierre McCoy at a bus stop outside John Adams High School, Obrensky said, is a stark reminder that pandemic-era handguns won’t go away.
“I think we’re going to be very focused moving forward on having very targeted, effective ways to deal with trauma, understanding trauma, how to deal with trauma more effectively both on a personal level and with others,” Obrensky said.
“We’re at a tipping point where you see the level of stress and strain in our workforce has not improved significantly over the last couple of years.”
CMSD has a population of approximately 37,000 students, about a quarter of whom have disabilities. There are about 5,700 full-time employees, 3,600 of whom are teachers. Gordon’s successor, chosen this spring, will lead the state’s second-largest public school system.
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