EDUCATION, PUBLIC SAFETY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, December 2017) In a post-election press conference with neighborhood and community newspapers, Mayor Frank Jackson said he hoped that everyone in Cleveland would be able to participate in improvements in the quality of life and the progress of the city.
To that end, Mayor Jackson outlined three areas of focus: education, public safety and economic development.
In education, Jackson mentioned the importance of improving the investment schools, addressing the needs of students with individual educational plans (IEPs) and quality education as a means of wealth creation by preparing young people for future jobs and careers.
Jackson said the Cleveland Plan has resulted in quality school choices such as Campus International and John Hay that have caused people with school age children to stay in Cleveland rather than move to the suburbs. He noted the Cleveland Metropolitan School District was applying to be a “Say Yes to Education” school system, which he said would create an infrastructure around the child.
When asked about providing more dollars to investment schools, Mayor Jackson said he didn’t feel more funding would necessarily improve performance in the Investment Schools. He tied school performance to “something going on within the school.” He said you could have two schools drawing from the same population, with one school performing well and the other not. He said improving the performance of a school was a matter of programming and staffing.
Jackson talked about the “Say Yes to Education” grant that he hoped would help with more than just low performing schools. He said the additional wrap around services should help to identify children that are displaying certain behavior. He said quite a few children in Cleveland have Individual Education Plans (IEPs), some of the children have learning disabilities. He said most those children are so far behind because of behavioral issues. He said their capacity to learn “is quite good.“
Jackson said he hopes prevention and intervention with troubled youth can lead them on a good path rather than on a criminal path. Jackson called on all nonprofits and social service agencies to follow their missions and identify resources to help children with IEPs and children in Investment Schools with the various mental health or social service needs.
Jackson called for a holistic approach to public safety that not only includes law enforcement but also addresses the underlying causes of violent crime. He indicated some upcoming decisions would be made regarding the relationships between African Americans and police, centralized booking, and reforming education to help increase opportunity and reduce the probability of youth turning to a life of crime.
Jackson called for an Economic Development policy that is not focused on bringing in new people, but focused on taking care of people that are already here. He said he hopes to “create an environment where Cleveland is the place to be.” Jackson says he hopes all Clevelanders can participate in quality of life improvements and increased prosperity in an equitable way across the city.
Jackson talked about the difference in developing neighborhoods like Ohio City, Tremont and Detroit Shoreway where the basic infrastructure is still in place–where the community has design review committees and a desire to preserve the neighborhood dynamic. He contrasted those neighborhoods with neighborhood’s like Central where the basic infrastructure is gone and needs to be rebuilt with new construction.
Mayor Jackson also talked about a new phenomenon in Cleveland: neighborhoods such as Little Italy and Ohio City where the land has become so valuable that developers are building up to fit more people on the same spot. They are creating income property that they are leasing out. He noted this is creating problems with residents already there “who don’t want to live with this.” He mentioned issues such as high rises blocking sunlight and scenic views.
Jackson talked about “wealth creation among those who have no wealth today.” Jackson noted the challenge of “having a system that has built itself on not allowing for equity in building its wealth.” He noted these social and economic conditions are prevalent in all urban America. Jackson said, “we have to take the challenge head on and do it in a way to have impact and sustainability.”
Editor’s Note: The press conference with Mayor Frank Jackson was organized by Neighborhood Media. The nonprofit organization works to form partnerships between independent neighborhood and community newspapers in Cleveland.