Katie Couric's 'Cities Rising' highlights Cleveland schools’ progress
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
The District’s momentum is highlighted in the latest episode of journalist Katie Couric’s Yahoo News program “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.” Couric hits the streets of Cleveland to showcase how far the town has come in shaking its reputation as a downtrodden Rust Belt city.
“It’s hard to believe looking at it today that this town was once known as ‘The Mistake By the Lake,’” Couric says. “But now, thanks to investments in infrastructure, technology and, yes, even tourist attractions, Cleveland has become a real gem -- no mistake about it.”
To get a feel for the city's biggest indicators of success, Couric interviews some of Cleveland's biggest names, including Cavs CEO Len Komoroski and Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove. She also sits down with District CEO Eric Gordon and other CMSD leaders to discuss recent improvements in school culture and academic achievement as an integral part of Cleveland's renaissance.
The segment that focuses on Cleveland schools begins around the 7:35 mark as Couric walks city streets with actor Matthew McConaughey. While he was in town to film a movie, McConaughey connected with John Adams High School Principal Terrance Menefee.
"Here at the high school is our last opportunity to touch kids, to shape kids, before they step out into the real world," Menefee says.
The principal opens up about the challenges many of his students face with regards to gun violence and the great need for more opportunities to keep kids safe and off the streets. McConaughey says he is collaborating with Menefee to bring his nonprofit youth opportunity initiative called Just Keep Livin to John Adams.
Couric also visits Robinson G. Jones School to give viewers a glimpse of a positive learning environment that is benefitting students in preschool through eighth grade.
In Gordon’s interview, he details the progress made since he took over five years ago, when the District was in academic emergency, using the education reform model in The Cleveland Plan.
“We created The Cleveland Plan, which is a portfolio model plan, which essentially says families choose what schools they wish to go to, schools educate the kids in those schools and the District supports schools in their mission,” Gordon says.
The video also features Chief Portfolio Officer Christine Fowler-Mack, who discusses the priorities at the heart of the plan: creating vibrant schools that are connected to the community and prepare children for college, careers and life in the 21st Century.
Gordon cites data that shows how far the District has come, including an increase of 17 percentage points in the graduation rate over five years, an 85 percent passage rate last year for the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee and enrollment growth for the first time in decades.
District leaders say better schools are essential to the rejuvenation of Cleveland.
“Our next level of leaders will be birthed out of this place," Menefee says. "Theres a lot of hope. I'm here and I'm dedicated to the cause."