Dan Moulthrop's blog post at the Civic Commons. Moulthrop, the Commons curator, former WCPN host, and sometime Cleveland Magazine commentator, interviewed Frank Jackson about school reform on Friday and drew out the newly aggressive mayor on why he's being so aggressive. He also got Jackson to acknowledge something I haven't seen him confirm before -- he's running for a third term as mayor in 2013.
A few weeks ago, Moulthrop was mad at the mayor for springing his school reform package on the city instead of putting it together after community forums, dialogue, etc. Moulthrop is "curator of the conversation" at the Civic Commons, a civic-journalism website that organizes public forums, so favoring consensus over conflict is practically part of the job description.
But, challenged on the collaboration question, Jackson expressed his tough view of what it takes to create change. "I'm trying to get something done," Jackson replied. "I'm not trying to be politically correct or soothe anyone's feathers. That's how we got in the predicament we're in now."
I hear a lot between the lines of Jackson's quote. I think he means that trying to please everyone often creates inertia that defeats reforms, because reform always threatens someone's interests. (For instance, we wouldn't have the new Cuyahoga County government we have now, with an executive and council, if the charter had been written to please the local Democratic Party.)
I also think the mayor knows he got more concessions out of the teacher's union by putting his plan before the legislature than if he'd given the union a veto over his ideas and negotiated on its timeline. (I think union president David Quolke knows that too.)
Moulthrop, a former teacher who supports reforms in how teachers are paid and evaluated, sounds mostly persuaded. He isn't endorsing Jackson's plan, but he says all Greater Clevelanders should have an opinion about it, because we all have a stake in how the reforms turn out. He says the Cleveland reforms could influence other struggling urban school districts across the country.
Finally, he notes a step in Jackson's evolution: "He is enjoying the opportunity to try to fix a Big Problem." Seeing the fix through, he reports, is why Jackson's running for re-election next year.