Commission calls for bold steps

With a commitment to bold action, the 25 members of the Columbus Education Commission today agreed on recommendations to change the course of education in our community.

“We are onto something,” said co-chairman George S. Barrett.

Columbus Education Commission logoHe emphasized the sense of urgency and community effort reflected in the commission’s recommendations. “It will have to be sustained. It’s not a one-time event.”

The recommendations, which cover six areas and implementation, will be delivered to Mayor Michael B. Coleman and City Council President Andrew J. Ginther on Tuesday.

Taken together, the recommendations offer the Columbus plan for improving education.

All parts of the community will be asked to do their part, with community groups helping to expand pre-K education, parent groups mobilizing neighborhoods and businesses providing career pathways. A new innovation fund run by a public-private partnership will help expand the number of great schools in Columbus, and the mayor’s office will devote a cabinet-level official to education.

These proposals will be revised based on the commission’s directions today:

These topics were revised after the April 10 commission meeting.

Effective teachers and principals

Columbus needs a strong system that not only attracts talented educators, but also trains and rewards principals and teachers who best help kids learn.

Commissioners said the final recommendation should clearly call for that kind of strategic human-capital system — and to declare with urgency the need to attract great school leaders. Pat Losinski and others also sought a leadership academy that would create a home-grown pipeline of powerhouse principals.

The commission staff is using these and other comments to revise this proposal.

High-performing neighborhood schools and more school choices

Commissioners endorsed recommendations to give more authority to principals to run their buildings, but several questioned the right balance of freedom and responsibility.

Abdinur Mohamud said the final recommendation needs to be clear: Principals should be given the power to decide how best to serve their students, but they shouldn’t be burdened with more administrative responsibilities. Mary Jo Hudson said that a school district has a responsibility to foster a culture where all students are treated with respect. And Mary Lou Langenhop said the central office needs to act as a support system so that educators on the front line can focus their attention on teaching and learning.

These are other comments will be addressed in the final recommendations.


The final report calls for a new public-private partnership that would fund more great district and charter schools in Columbus.

For this partnership to succeed, it will need public trust, especially about how it uses public money. “Transparency is going to be key,” said school board President Carol Perkins, who was among several commissioners who raised the issue.

The discussion of the implementation recommendations also clarified several issues:

  • To create a $30 million to $50 million innovation fund from public and private money, Columbus would need a new state law allowing some levy money to be used for purposes such as attracting great charter schools. In addition, local voters would be asked to support that use of their tax dollars.
  • The city’s leadership, including the mayor, will be responsible for seeking any necessary changes to state law to implement these recommendations.
  • The independent auditor who would review Columbus City Schools finances won’t have veto power over school levies. But the auditor will advise the school board about millage amounts and other issues.

After the recommendations are delivered, the mayor and council president will lead the process to ensure the report is implemented.

Operations review

In other news, commission member Mary Jo Hudson updated the group today on the progress of the operations review of Columbus City Schools. Of a $1.3 billion budget, Columbus spends $412 million annually on non-instructional expenses.

The review won’t suggest cuts, but it might identify areas where efficiencies in non-teaching areas could generate more money for classrooms.

That work is not yet complete, so the mayor will appoint a working group from the commission to finish the review by July 1.

Keep watching 

The final recommendations will be posted to this site and announced on our Twitter feed: @ReimagineCbusEd.

5 thoughts on “Commission calls for bold steps

  1. I have a hard time understanding when the Columbus Public School (CPS)system is so corrupt and has faulted in so many areas, you, the Columbus Education Commisson have decided to keep those administrative people from CPS to serve on your commisson. If you keep the same people who are dishonest and have done nothing in the first place to help CPS then why are you chosing to place them on your board? If that isn’t the most stupidest thing I have seen but then again “Karma has a way of getting things done”!

  2. I am glad there are so many influential parties dedicated to improving education in Columbus. There is so much potential for positive change. I hope the newly created Public/Private partnership will look to communities that have already done this successfully. I hope that some of the people appointed to this partnership will have experience in the day-to-day business of education, like many of the people who came before the commission. I am glad to see the recommendations to return more autonomy to school buildings.

    Last weekend, I took my son and a friend to the Earth Day Celebration at Columbus Commons. While we were at the Bring the Farm to You exhibit (, a sweet young man (around 11 years old) joined us. He asked me to show him how to hold a chick, and which animal was a sheep because he wanted to feel real wool. He clearly hadn’t had much exposure to farms and he was just delighted to touch these animals. Just delighted. That was the highlight of my day, not my own son’s experience there.

    Recently, I also discovered a group called PlayWorks ( that seeks to improve students’ educational experience through play and physical activity. They are successful in improving student outcomes by reducing bullying, exclusionary behavior and discipline problems.

    My biggest hope for this partnership is that it could connect schools with community groups like these for the benefit of students.

  3. There are MANY things I would like to see change in CPS but the easiest thing I would like is also very simple….It’s a school supply list and notification of who my child is going to have PRIOR to school starting and offered via email/school website and/or letter home

    It is very helpful to parents when they can purchase school supplies a a discount/sale rate and it also get the kids VERY excited to go back to school. I don’t think it is too much to ask that the teachers determine a baseline of what supplies are going to be needed.

  4. Interesting read. I agreed with almost everything in the plan up to the point where it was suggested that we, the community tax payers, agree to support “charter schools”. I, personally, was called in in the 12th hour to one of these so called “Academy Math/Science” Charter Schools. It was a TOTAL disgrace that our tax dollars had been WASTED for most of the school year. The “superintendent” /principal/cafeteria (food-preparer)/custodian, and math teacher who told middle schoolers to take out a piece of paper and write the multiplication tables begining with the ones up through the 13′s. WOW!!!! That did it for me. I left the room and told the secretary that I was leaving. It was so sad for the students. Many of these students were good students who had been lured into the “CHARTER SCHOOL ACADEMY” under false promises. When the school was finally shut down, a parent called me in tears. Her daughter had wasted a whole year for nothing. The child had been selected to be a cheerleader at a suburban school, etc….. Bottom line: WE NEED TO HAVE COLS. CITY “ALTERNATIVE” SCHOOLS AND BRING BACK “VOCATIONAL PROGRAMS”. Special thanks to the Commission for volunteering your time and expertise in order to insure that students in the city schools obtain “quality educational experiences and will be able to graduate qualified for college and or ready to go into the job market. I and eight other siblings graduated from from Columbus Public Schools, went on to college and became successful professionals. Dr. Willie Dock Dade is a very successful audiologist, just name one. I LOVE COLUMBUS CITY SCHOOLS so much that I have established an Endowed Scholarship designated to be given to a CCS student. We need to be sure to produce students who can qualify to receive it.

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