Action pending in the U.S. House would take $14 million earmarked for helping needy CMSD students and spread the money to other districts across the state.
District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon is encouraging parents and others to call legislators and express opposition to House Resolution 5, which the House Education Committee approved Wednesday and sent to the House floor.
HR5 would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. If the resolution is approved as written, Gordon said, Ohio’s 12 poorest districts, including Cleveland, would lose a combined $44 million a year in Title I funding, while some more affluent communities gain $200,000 to $300,000 each.
CMSD receives $55 million a year from Title I and spends the money for a variety of purposes, including paying teachers' salaries and operating Project ACT, which aids homeless students.
“It is true that all of Ohio’s school districts serve children living in poverty. This is a problem facing our entire nation,” Gordon said.
“But Ohio’s large urban districts continue to serve the largest percentage of these young men and women, with a combined 86.5 percent of the children in The Ohio Eight (a coalition of Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown) qualifying for free or reduced lunch, compared with just 48.5 percent statewide."
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 54 percent of Cleveland’s school-age children live in poverty, second highest among the country’s largest cities.
The CEO noted that nation’s high school graduation rate has reached a record 81 percent, according to an announcement made Friday by the Department of Education.
CMSD’s graduation rate has increased 12 points in the last three years to 64.1 percent. That is a high for the District but remains far too low, Gordon said.
“If Americans really want to see a continued increase in graduation rates, the emphasis must continue to be to address the needs of the children in our nation’s poorest communities, like Cleveland,” he said. “Diverting significant resources to school districts and communities that are already able to educate their children well and with the resources they have available, is not the solution.”
Gordon praised Rep. Marcia Fudge, who proposed an amendment that would strip the “portability” of Title I money from HR5. The amendment failed.