THE OHIO BOARD OF EDUCATION aka The State School Board a forum on Monday Sept 25


aka The State School Board
How can they help us? How can we help them?

NEW DATE: Monday, September 25, 2017 7–8:30 pm (formerly Aug 22)
Free & Open to the Public Shaker Heights Main Library
16500 Van Aken Blvd, Shaker Heights, OH 44120

The flyer is here   Library link is here

Video from forum is here:

Meryl Johnson, Member, Board of Education

Peggy Lehner, Ohio Senator (R-6) Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Education

Mary Rose Oakar, Former Member, Board of Education

The purpose of this program is to let parents and the entire community know what the State Board of Education does, its relationship to the Ohio legislature and most importantly, how the public can help our elected officials, on both the State School Board and the legislature be more effective.

Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland and Shaker Heights Public Library


From Desegregation to School Choice: How the Civil Rights Era Influenced the Cleveland Schools of Today Ideastream 11/15/2017

From Desegregation to School Choice: How the Civil Rights Era Influenced the Cleveland Schools of Today- Ideastream 11/15/2017

The link is here

For millions of children across the country, where they go to school is largely determined by where they live. Public school districts have historically assigned students to schools located in or near their neighborhoods.

Cleveland is trying a different approach by integrating school choice into its district model, but you could say the city’s school choice movement began in the 1960s, a time of racial tension that led to the Cleveland school system we see today.

Cleveland Leadership in the 1960s

George Forbes is one of the most prominent names in modern Cleveland history. Elected to city council in 1963, Forbes was one of several black politicians who led Cleveland through the nation’s Civil Rights Era, and through the fall out of desegregation in the city’s schools.

“I hadn’t been in office, but three or four months and we were confronted with this big issue of equality in schools,” Forbes said.

At the time, there were nearly 135,000 students in the district. Black schools throughout the city were overcrowded, but instead of integrating school populations, the district chose to build new ones – keeping black children isolated.

“The Board of Education had taken the position that they were going to build new schools and decided that Stephen E. Howe was one of the places they were going to build schools,” Forbes explained.

During its construction, Stephen E. Howe Elementary School, in the Glenville neighborhood that Forbes represented, became the site of protests led by civil rights activists.

On April 7, 1964, 27-year-old white protestor Rev. Bruce Klunder was killed as he and others laid themselves in front of and behind the tracks of a bulldozer at the construction site.

Klunder’s death slowed the school’s completion, but it didn’t stop it, and racial tensions grew, Forbes said, as African Americans protested and boycotted more black schools.

“It came from people, the groundswell,” he said. “We don’t want the school. We’re not going to go there.”

More than a decade later, a federal court ordered Cleveland to bus kids into other neighborhoods to achieve racial balance in the schools.

School Choice Comes to Cleveland

Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon said the decision resulted in the first instance of school choice in the city: white flight and wealth flight from the district into the surrounding suburbs.

“It was a tough form, right?” Gordon said. “I had to make a choice as a parent whether I would send my child to the assigned school across the city for integration purposes, or whether I would choose to pay for a parochial or private school, or whether I would choose to move out of the city.”

“It was absolutely a form of choice,” he added.

The exodus of white, middle income families led to a massive decline in enrollment in Cleveland schools. Between 1980 and 1990, CMSD went from 92,000 to 69,000 students. That decline strained resources and concentrated poverty in the district.

After years of mismanagement and financial turmoil, legislation in the mid-90s led to the introduction of school vouchers in Cleveland—one of the first cities in the country to incorporate the form of choice that give children public funds to attend a private school.

Then came charters, which Gordon said led to the departure of another 10,000 kids from the district.

“All while the school district was saying we will assign you to xyz school,” Gordon said. “You don’t have any choice inside the district.”

Then Comes ‘The Cleveland Plan’

Gordon’s tenure as CEO and the implementation of a new education reform plan—known as The Cleveland Plan—marked a change in that culture.

Implemented five years ago, The Cleveland Plan allowed parents to send their children to any school in the district, including CMSD-sponsored charters.

District enrollment is up for the first time in 40 years, Gordon said, to 39,000 students and achievement is starting to follow.

“Families were choosing. They had been choosing for decades. The only place they weren’t choosing was CMSD because we were saying you shouldn’t be allowed to choose and we were saying we will assign you where you will go to school, very much like traditional school districts across the country have always done,” Gordon said.

“Our notion was, if families are choosing, let’s get into the choice game, let’s compete, let’s be part of the choice,” he added.

Does Choice Lead to Academic Success?

In the majority minority district, CMSD’s scores on state report cards are up, but its overall grade is an F.

The four-year graduation rate has increased and so has the number of K through 3rd grade students reading at grade level, but when you break down the scores by race, the numbers tell a different story.

A quarter of African American students in the district are meeting English Language Arts learning goals compared to about half of their white peers. The rates are almost identical when it comes to math, and only marginally better for the district’s Hispanic population.

Dr. William Sampson of DePaul University does not believe choice leads to academic success for minority students. Nationwide, Sampson said vouchers, charters, and other forms of choice have resulted in a new surge of segregation in the education system that’s fueled poor academic outcomes.

White, middle-income parents have the means to take advantage of options, he added, leaving minority and low-income students behind, students who need more resources to succeed.

“It’s not that the presence of white kids has some sort of magic power over the quality of education,” Sampson explained. “Unfortunately, white folks aren’t that great.”

“It’s that the resources typically follow white kids, whether they be financial resources, [or] student support services.”

Choice and Competition in the Classroom

But it’s not just the loss of resources that Sampson said hurts minority students in this era of school choice. It’s the loss of opportunity for a child to compete, Sampson said, and overcome the racism and the inferiority they’re taught by society.

“When you grow up next door to a kid, or in the next classroom or the next row in a classroom, and you’re a black kid and you’re doing better in class than that white kid, then you start to question whether or not you are inherently inferior,” Sampson explained.

“You realize that you can do just as well as this white kid,” he said. “That dispels that self-hatred, and that’s critical in our society.”

That’s what black Clevelanders wanted in the 1960s, Forbes said, a mixing of races in schools that would help all children learn they were more alike than different.

But Forbes said the city’s first experience with school choice—the white flight of the Civil Rights era– is still evident in Cleveland public schools today.

Did Integration Work?

The current state of the district makes it difficult for Forbes to believe that minority students are any better off than they were when he attended a segregated Memphis school during his youth, either because of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown versus Board of Education decision that ended legal segregation in public schools, or the fight he helped lead for integration.

“It didn’t work,” Forbes said of Cleveland’s desegregation struggle. “If I had to do it again, I would not have done it.”

“But this was part of the times,” he went on. “It was happening all over the country. Education was at an apex and that was what black folks demanded, but we did not get…we got the Supreme Court decisions. We got those things, but when you look back at it, it is what it is.”

Gordon disagreed with both Sampson and Forbes. With Sampson on the outcomes Cleveland children are achieving, and with Forbes on the success of the city’s Civil Rights struggles.

“Have we achieved the outcome yet that we desire for every kid? No,” he said. “I would say that the system that I’m running is not yet what I want for every child, a black child, a white child, a Hispanic child.”

“But,” he added, “we are actively working on it because of the really tough decisions that George Forbes and his peers made decades ago.”

Gordon said choice works for Cleveland, but the legacy of segregation, of inequity in the school system is a battle the district could face for years to come.

How to Become an Education Activist in Northeast Ohio 8.19.15

How to Become an Education Activist in Northeast Ohio 8.19.15 

Lyman Millard, Breakthrough Schools
Michele Pomerantz, Cleveland Metropolitan School Dist. (CMSD)
Gregory Hutchings, Supt. of Shaker Heights Public Schools
Mary Rose Oakar, elected member State Board of Education
Moderator: Jill Miller Zimon

Parents and other concerned individuals can be some of the best advocates for education change. This forum covers local education topics and focuses on the ways you can advocate for education and education change. Questions addressed: how to develop and deploy strategies to benefit education, advice to give others on how to influence education policy and whom to influence in matters related to education in Ohio.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cosponsored by
City Club of Cleveland
Cleveland Jewish News Foundation
CWRU Lifelong Learning
League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland

Forum held at CWRU Siegal Facility

Primary and Secondary Education by Scott Stephens

Scott Stephens has been an award-winning journalist for 30 years. He is currently a senior writer with Catalyst-Ohio, a quarterly, nonprofit news magazine that documents, analyzes and supports school-improvement efforts in Ohio’s urban school districts, with special emphasis on Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. Previously, he worked at The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer for 18 years, the last 15 covering education. He has written extensively about issues such as testing, charter schools, school vouchers, desegregation and school funding.

Before coming to Cleveland, Stephens worked for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio, and served as a stringer for United Press International in Mexico City, D.F. To many Clevelanders, he was best known as The Plain Dealer’s beer critic, establishing the paper’s first beer column. Stephens was also a long-time leader and activist in The Newspaper Guild-CWA, and served for six years as regional vice president on the board of North America’s largest media workers union.

The link is here

Education – Historical Overview

From the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The link is here

EDUCATION. The early history of education in Cleveland paralleled developments in Ohio and America, since education was a state initiative and local efforts reflected those of the state. The immigration of the 1830s and 1840s aroused feelings of nationalism and patriotism. The Catholic population grew rapidly and provided for a separate system of education during the 19th century. Many reform movements sprang up, focusing on such causes asABOLITIONISM, women’s rights, temperance, prison reform, and education. Education provided the unifying, homogenizing element needed in the society to deal with this diversity. Reformers such as Horace Mann in Massachusetts, Henry Barnard in Connecticut, and Samuel Lewis in Ohio led a simultaneous movement to establish a common school–not a school only for the common man, but a school for all, publicly supported and controlled, to train people for citizenship and economic power and to provide suitable moral training. The first state education act was passed in 1821 (though there are records of schools as early as 1803); it provided for control and support of common schools in the state. The language of the law was permissive, not mandatory. In 1825 a second law became more specific, providing for taxation for the use of schools, a Board of County Examiners, and the employment of only certificated persons as teachers. In 1837 the state passed a law establishing the position of state superintendent, to which Samuel Lewis was appointed. In 1853 a stronger law provided an augmented school fund, established a state education office, and strengthened local control. School enrollments began to increase, from a total of 456,191 in 1854 to 817,490 in 1895. The length of the school year also increased.

The first school reported in Cleveland was opened in 1817 and charged tuition. The CLEVELAND ACADEMY, built upon subscription, followed in 1821. When Cleveland was chartered in 1836, the first school supported by public money was opened. Two sections of the law related to schools allowed taxation for their support and gave the council the authority to fix the school year and appoint a board of managers to administer the schools. These schools were to serve only white children at the elementary level. The first school for Negroes was opened in 1832 by JOHN MALVIN† and was supported by subscription. The Board of Education built its first 2 schoolhouses in 1839-40. The first high school, CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, was opened in 1845, with ANDREW FREESE† as principal. Superintendence of the schools began in 1841, and some of the notables included Freese, HARVEY RICE†, Luther M. Oviatt, Rev. ANSON SMYTHE†, and ANDREW J. RICKOFF†. The Board of Education was appointed by the council at first, but by 1859 it was elected, becoming fully autonomous in 1865 to levy and expend its own funds. Following the act of 1853, there were attempts to unify schools. A system of grades and classification of pupils was instituted, including a graded course of study, the adoption of methods of promotion, and the use of suitable graded textbooks. Students were often tested monthly, and records of their progress were kept. Even then many educators questioned this practice and whether it allowed for the individuality of the child. In 1877 the school board established a school for disruptive students. At this same time, the state passed a law compelling parents to send children ages 8-14 to school a minimum of 12 weeks a year.

At the turn of the 20th century, as the city grew and became more industrialized, the bureaucratic ethic and cult of efficiency prevailed and influenced school practice. The schools used a pediocentric approach to students. An interest in education as a science was precipitated by the work of G. Stanley Hall, Edward L. Thorndike, and Sigmund Freud on a national level. The fledgling science of psychology provided an understanding of child growth and development. John Dewey and his colleagues at Columbia Univ. wrote of the needs of individual students and the importance of experience as it relates to education. It was within this context of ferment that the education system in Cleveland grew. A program in manual training for high school students began in response to many of these events, and also to a growing pressure from the business community for more practical programs. This program later moved toCENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL and the Manual Training School in 1893. In 1887 a course in cooking was added, a first in the country. By 1909 the first technical and commercial high schools were established. The school system met the needs of many of the immigrants by providing a place where they could learn English and civics. The board hired its first truant officer to enforce the compulsory attendance law of 1889. After passage of a state law mandating the education of disabled persons, the board opened Cleveland Day School for the deaf, and provided for the gifted by establishing the major work classes in 1922.

Further response to outside forces moved education beyond the traditional classroom. The schools offered children’s concerts in cooperation with theCLEVELAND ORCHESTRA beginning in 1921 and used RADIO (WBOE) as a means of instruction in 1931. By 1947 all grades in public, parochial, and private schools used this service. As a result of the strong influence of the field of child psychology, Louis H. Jones, superintendent, established 6 kindergartens from 1896-97. Prior to this time, the YWCA had founded the CLEVELAND DAY NURSERY AND FREE KINDERGARTEN ASSN., INC. in 1882, with a free kindergarten in 1886. By 1903 the schools started vacation schools and playgrounds to keep children off the streets and involved in physical activity. They also opened a gardening program for both normal and problem children and added medical services to the system in 1908. By 1918 the schools enrolled over 100,000 students in their many specialized schools and programs to provide an education best suited to each child. Citizenship training was studied by the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in 1935, which recommended that public education be involved in training citizens about economic conditions. As a result, teachers toured industrial plants and attended lectures to see the application of business to their own classrooms.

Although the public school reforms of the Progressive Era, geared to the needs of the industrial commercial life of the times, were apparently beneficial to society and children, these efforts often were developed to limit the emerging political threat of the immigrants and the poor. These efforts continued, even though there were those such as Prof. Wm. Bagley of the Univ. of Illinois who warned early on of the social stratification created by separate vocational schools, and others who cautioned against the undue expansion of the public schools into areas that should be served by other institutions in society. Investigations of the schools were also part of the efficiency cult, with commissions studying student dropouts and new facilities. In 1905 SAMUEL ORTH†, head of the school board, appointed an education study commission. Its report recommended a differentiation in the functions of the high schools and the establishment of separate commercial high schools. A much more significant study followed between 1915-16. The Ayres School Survey, sponsored by the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, criticized the school system as inefficient and unprogressive and recommended a more centralized administration. In response, new superintendent FRANK E. SPAULDING† developed new junior high and vocational programs and instituted a department of mental testing and a double-shift plan to relieve overcrowding and differentiation among students. Many felt an educational revival had occurred, though others argued that these new systems only served better those they had always served well.

Following World War II, the launching of Sputnik affected the curriculum of the schools, emphasizing a turn to the study of languages and the hard sciences. Neoprogressivism then followed, where schools were asked to stop demanding the right answers from students, to stop being repressive, and to move to a reemphasis on the child as reflected in the informal classroom movement. This period was also one of growth, with many buildings being added to school districts, notably those in Cleveland led by Superintendent Paul Briggs, who was appointed in 1964. Focus was also placed on the inequitable features of American education and the racial caste system the schools had maintained. Opportunity for education was to be made available to all youngsters, without regard to race, creed, national origin, sex, or family background. The nation had been alerted, and it was necessary to act once again through the schools, even if that action took the form of court cases. Such was the situation in the Cleveland schools. The Cleveland School Desegregation Case (Reed v. Rhodes) was filed in the U.S. District Court on 12 Dec. 1973. The trial began before Chief Judge FRANK J. BATTISTI† on 24 Nov. 1975 and concluded on 19 Mar. 1976. An opinion was issued in which state and local defendants were held liable for policies that intentionally created and/or maintained a segregated system. In Dec. 1976, the court issued guidelines for desegregation planning, to begin by 8 Sept. 1977. The state and local boards appealed the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Battisti felt that the Cleveland school officials were resisting the court order, and several desegregation plans were mandated, rejected, and resubmitted. By Dec. 1977, the court ordered the establishment of a Dept. of Desegregation Implementation responsible only to the court; it was terminated in 1982. In May 1978, the court established an office of school monitoring and community relations to monitor the schools, an unprecedented action. In June 1978, a final desegregation plan necessitated the closing of 36 schools and the transportation of students. By 23 Aug. 1979, the 6th Circuit Court affirmed the district court’s decision of the board’s liability and the remedy, which included educational remedies such as special reading programs. Desegregation began and often met with resistance, but busing was implemented peacefully, and it appeared that the educational aspects of the remedial order were positive. The system continued under the court order, facing many challenges with a record number of superintendents by 1995 when Judge Robt. B. Krupansky ordered the state to take over management of the district.

Paralleling the events in public education were strong private, parochial, and alternative school initiatives. These movements evolved out of political idealism and the goals of parents who wanted more control over the governance of schooling for their children. Early 19th-century reformers saw the common school as a vehicle to mix nationality, socioeconomic, and immigrant groups. Their vision often did not coincide with the wishes of their constituency. Cleveland’s Catholic population followed the prescriptions of the bishops, who began as early as 1825 to question public education, which they deemed to be Protestant-oriented. By 1884 the 3rd Plenary Council of Baltimore required schools for Catholic children to be built next to each church. The first Catholic school in Cleveland opened in 1848, and by 1884 there were 123 PAROCHIAL EDUCATION (CATHOLIC) with 26,000 children enrolled. By 1909 several significant schools were added by Bp. JOHN P. FARRELLY†, including CATHEDRAL LATIN SCHOOL. Catholic education was organized under the Diocese of Cleveland; the first superintendent of schools was Rev. Wm. A. Kane, appointed in 1913, and the first school board was appointed by Bp.JOSEPH SCHREMBS† in 1922. Other religious groups followed. The first Lutheran school was established in 1848; by 1943 there were 16 more. Other nationality and religious groups also ran schools, often meeting after the public school day had finished or as Sunday schools.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS were an important part of Cleveland’s educational history, evolving from the academic movement of the 20th century. A Mission School for poor children became the Ragged School in 1853 and then the CLEVELAND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL, from which the CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY developed in 1858. One of the early private independent schools, UNIVERSITY SCHOOL, was started by Newton M. Anderson in 1890, as a result of a perceived overcrowding in public schools and a desire for new trends in education. LAUREL SCHOOL began as Wade Park School for Girls in 1896, and HATHAWAY BROWN was founded in 1886, its forerunner being MISS MITTLEBERGER’S SCHOOLHAWKEN SCHOOL was founded in 1915. Reflecting the 1960s political milieu, parents started the alternative-schools movement. These ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS ranged from theURBAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL, founded in 1968, which was neoprogressivist in philosophy and served a multicultural population, to the Cleveland Urban Learning Community (CULC), a school without walls whose classes occurred in the community, that appealed to nontraditional students. In addition, many public schools developed alternative programs on the model of a school within a school. These programs emphasized individualized approaches geared in nontraditional delivery formats. The alternative-schools movement was supported mainly through foundation funds which provided for initial costs; however the schools could not be sustained on this basis and began to experience financial difficulties, forcing several to close. Some, though, continued by garnering ongoing support or by affiliating with established institutions.

The Western Reserve area can also claim credit for efforts in TEACHER EDUCATION with the organization of the Ohio State Teachers Assn. and theNORTH EASTERN OHIO EDUCATION ASSN. (1869). The CLEVELAND TEACHERS’ UNION, an affiliate of the American Fed. of Teachers, was founded in 1933. Some of the early academies, such as Wadsworth, were institutions similar to high schools and prepared students for higher education and/or teaching. This area became known as a source of teachers for the state. In 1839 the Western Reserve Teachers Seminary opened at Kirtland, founded only 2 years after the first normal school in the U.S. Superintendent Andrew Rickoff inaugurated a week-long teacher-training institute in 1869 and a normal school in 1876 at Eagle Elementary School. He also proposed a merit pay system. Subsequently, the Cleveland School of Education, Western Reserve Univ., and the Board of Education offered courses for teacher in-service training. In 1928 the university established a School of Education, a merger of the Cleveland Kindergarten-Primary Training School, a private school founded in 1894, and the Senior Teachers College. Secondary teachers were prepared at WRU. Later, in 1945, the university established a division of education, responsible for providing the professional education courses required for state certification, and a graduate program, which was discontinued in the 1970s.

The first CLEVELAND UNIVERSITY had a brief rise in 1851 and a rapid decline in 1853. Cleveland had already established its first medical school in 1845 when 6 doctors seceded from Willoughby Medical College and reorganized in Cleveland as the medical school of Hudson’s Western Reserve College. Other institutions established were the Western Reserve College of Homeopathic Medicine in 1850, lasting for several decades, and a School of Commerce, also in the 1850s. In 1880 Case School of Applied Science was founded to offer an engineering curriculum, the first west of the Alleghenies. Western Reserve College, originally founded in Hudson, OH, moved to Cleveland. AMASA STONE† provided for endowment and buildings for the move, stipulating that the college be renamed for his son, Adelbert, and located close to Case School. In 1888 the trustees created a separate women’s college, eventually named Flora Stone Mather College. It was the first coordinate college in the country. At the end of the 19th century, WRU added a graduate school, law school, nursing and dental schools, school of library science, and school of applied social sciences. CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY resulted as a merger of the two institutions in 1967. BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE in BEREA was founded by Methodists in the mid-1850s. These private colleges were primarily Protestant-oriented. The growing number of Catholic immigrants at the end of the 19th century sought another environment. St. Ignatius College was established by the Jesuits on the near west side of Cleveland in 1886. It was later renamed JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY and moved to UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS in the 1920s. The first chartered women’s college in Ohio was founded by Ursuline sisters in 1871. The Sisters of Notre Dame established an academy in downtown Cleveland in the 1870s, and later NOTRE DAME ACADEMY. The YMCAsponsored evening college-level classes for working students. By 1923 they added day classes and a cooperative plan whereby students held jobs related to their business courses and engineers pursued courses at Fenn College. In the 1920s, Cleveland College of WRU was established in downtown Cleveland to serve the needs of the employed population. DYKE COLLEGE resulted in 1942 from a merger of one of the nation’s oldest private commercial schools, Spencerian, with Dyke School of Commerce, dating from 1894.

Colleges did not grow in any major way until the sudden increase in the number of young people of college age in the 1960s. Formerly the emphasis had been on private colleges, but after World War II, there was a steady increase in the percentage of students attending public institutions. The CLEVELAND COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION, a coalition of college presidents and business interests, completed a study in the 1950s recommending that some type of public higher education be offered in Cleveland. In 1958 the Ohio Commission on Education beyond the High School was established, making recommendations for the founding of 2-year colleges or technical institutes financed by the state, local funds, and student fees. That led to the founding ofCUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE in 1963, and later to its 3 campuses. In 1964 CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY was established to provide a public university education in the downtown Cleveland area. It included the old FENN COLLEGE, a law school, and science and health structures, among others. Higher education has experienced significant growth, but as it moves toward the end of the century, it will increasingly deal with the effects of a declining traditional student population and institute programs to attract nontraditional student groups, such as older students.

Sally H. Wertheim

John Carroll Univ.


Alternative Schools

From the Encyclopedia of Cleveland

The link is here

ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS. The alternative-schools movement began in the 1960s, when parents began to demand choices in the schooling of their children. Specifically, alternative schools were institutions, often not state-accredited, serving the traditional school population but privately controlled and supported because the traditional systems were not meeting the needs. Cleveland has had several alternative schools. In 1968 Rev. and Mrs. J. David Brostrom started the Calvary Neighborhood School in the Calvary Lutheran Church, using the Montessori approach, with 2 preschool classes serving 50 children. Tuition and funds from the AHS FOUNDATION and Hudson Montessori Ctr. provided financial support. In 1969 these 2 classes, along with an additional class in the Chambers area, incorporated to form United Independent Schools of E. Cleveland (UISEC). Its goals were to develop independent learners and social awareness. By the fall of 1972, there were 7 classes, ages 3-10. The 141 students were predominantly black but integrated economically, socially, and racially from the suburbs and inner city. The Urban Community School, located on the near west side of Cleveland, educated multiracial and multicultural inner city children growing up in a poor environment with substandard housing. It was founded in 1968 when St. Patrick’s and St. Malachi’s merged into an independent, nonprofit, interdenominational community school. In the public and parochial schools these children, some with learning and emotional problems, faced language barriers and overcrowded classes. In contrast, UCS provided a creative, experimental education, using the near west side community as a learning resource. UCS was nongraded, but primary, intermediate, and junior-high levels were maintained. Many children were Puerto Rican and Appalachian. Children were admitted on a first-come basis, with tuition on a sliding scale. Initially, UCS was operated by the P.M. Foundation, Inc., and supported mainly by a single benefactor. It was still in existence in 1993.

The Street Academy came about as a response to the high number of dropouts in Cleveland’s lower-income neighborhoods. The URBAN LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND decided to replicate the street academy program that was operating in New York City. The program had 3 stages: street-academy level, which emphasized basic skills; transition level, which presented a more formalized style of learning; and precollege level, which focused on college preparation. In Mar. 1970, with funding from 3 major foundations and community organizations, the first street academy was opened inGLENVILLE. By November, 2 street academies, a transition academy, and the Circle Prep Academy were in operation. Because of financial difficulty, the Street Academy consolidated in 1972 into 1 site at E. 83rd St. and Euclid Ave. Although the Street Academy lacked state accreditation, diplomas were granted through St. Joseph’s High School. The program was structured to provide maximum individual experience, enabling students to graduate in half the required time by eliminating study halls, by requiring only those courses necessary for graduation, and by offering a full summer program and counseling. The Street Academy was absorbed by the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS in 1975 and in 1978 was merged into the work-study program at the Woodland Job Ctr.

The Cleveland Urban Learning Community (CULC) was an alternative school approved through St. Ignatius High School. CULC was known as a “school without walls” because of its philosophy that learning should take place in the community. Fr. Thos. Shea, SJ, was its first director. The main objectives of CULC were to develop more self-direction, responsibility, and an increasing ability to make independent decisions. Working with a resource person, students designed their own courses around real interests, needs, and state requirements. CULC was located on E. 4th St., central to the library, transportation, and other resources. Students were chosen on a lottery basis and did not pay tuition. The school closed in 1982 because of lack of funds and interest. In 1970 a group of Cleveland Hts. professional parents, in the belief that the public schools were inflexible, founded the Friends’ School on Cornell Rd. The school developed to serve nonconforming students who were ill served by the existing public schools. There was an individualized approach, with small classes of about 8 students. Later the school moved to Magnolia Dr. and became known as the School on Magnolia. In 1982 it became part of Child Guidance Services, and in 1984 it was renamed the Eleanor Gerson School in a new downtown location at 2055 E. 22nd St. It served emotionally disturbed youth and worked with parents to develop student responsibility for learning. In addition to these schools, there were others that were less successful. The Sunrise Community School opened in 1971, serving 25-40 children with a focus on open classroom, individualized instruction, and an interdisciplinary approach. The Learning Community school also opened in 1971, with a focus on open classroom and individualized instruction, serving about 35-40 students.

Alternative schools gained initial support from foundations and tuitions. Sustaining this financial support became a problem. Furthermore, interest in alternative schools waned as the country became more conservative, causing many to close, though some programs were adopted by public schools. As an offshoot of the alternative-schools movement, some public schools developed alternative programs, or schools within a school. Examples of these were the Concept I program at Beachwood High School, the Roaring 100s at Berea High, Education through Inquiry at Parma High, the New School at Heights High, and Catalyst at Shaker Hts. High. These programs provided alternative choices where students and teachers worked as communities and took more responsibility for learning, and where out-of-school experiences and interdisciplinary programming were encouraged. They also provided excellent models.


Cleveland Urban Learning Community (CULC) Records, WRHS.