Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jackson, selling school plan, says he'll run for 3rd term

Check out 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.


Roldo Bartimole said...

I think that Dan Maulthrop should have stuck with his first impression about Mayor Jackson's failure to bring others into the school discussion - particularly the teachers, who will have to be the people who make progress happen or not.

I fear that Mayor Jackson's ultimatum "I'm calling the roll" is a bit of braggadocio that doesn't solve problems.

It's clear that Jackson will run for re-election. You can tell that by the inactivity of those who might challenge him. They are as quiet as that are because they know that the mayor is very popular in the black community and would easily defeat them.

That's the danger for Cleveland.

It's a city without what Maulthrop's organization want to advance - more than a single view but the views of many.

Things are much too quiet for real progress in Cleveland.

Roldo Bartimole said...

I believe that Dan Moulthrop should have stayed with his first impression on Mayor Frank Jackson's limited involvement of the community in the school reform plan, especially his icing out of the Teacher's Union. After all the teachers will really determine in the end whether any reform plan works or doesn't.

I'm not impressed with Mayor Jackson's reasoning on why he limited involvement and find his repetition that "I'm calling the roll" more braggadocio than sound management. He limited input on the plans, not a sensible move as the criticisms reveal, though his power in the mayoral setup of school system control made his word dominate.

It's clear that Mayor Jackson will seek re-election. That can be seen by the lack of visible groundwork by any politicians who might appear to be his competitor. It has been made clear to me that they see Mayor Jackson as very popular especially among African-Americans and fear challenging him.

Unfortunately, that is the state of condition in Cleveland - little debate, little discussion in the media - so that we continue on a path downward.

Roldo Bartimole