Benefitting education Featured

9:34am EDT October 31, 2002
This month, Cleveland voters go to the polls to decide whether to retain the current form of mayoral control over the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Despite the outcome on Nov. 5, mayoral control has been -- and should continue to be -- an effective system that benefits our children's education and the district's long-term ability to succeed.

It's a system that's been gaining ground nationwide. Residents are beginning to recognize that, rather than relying on a board of professional politicians, many of whom are elected based on popularity, not ability, mayoral appointments offer the opportunity to ensure a more businesslike structure of the school district and greater accountability.

There are detractors who say that running schools like a business is bad for education, but the fact remains that it allows for better fiscal decision-making and stronger leadership. Under this structure, educators can concentrate on preparing students for higher education and sharpening work force skills rather than worrying about a sudden change in the board makeup because of voter whim or a well-organized political machine.

Locally, there have been numerous improvements under Cleveland Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, including a report from the state auditor that says money management has vastly improved. Test scores and the quality of education have also significantly improved under this system.

By applying traditional business management skills to the business of education, the Cleveland Municipal School District is moving in the right direction, and its future is brighter than it has been in decades.