Answers to your questions

Thanks to everyone who has been sharing their ideas for improving education in Columbus.

As the Columbus Education Commission moves toward making final recommendations, we wanted to respond to some questions we’ve seen online about the first batch of proposals.

Where’s the bold call to action on the core issues affecting students in Columbus?

We believe there are some bold plans in the first proposals, but we also recognize that there are some big topics coming up for the April 26 meeting, including teachers and principals, neighborhood schools, schools of choice, and implementation/governance. So we’re asking for a little patience as we finish those proposals. We’ll share them publicly  when they’ve been sent to the commission for their review. We hope you’ll agree that the final package, taken as a whole, will offer a bold call for action on a variety of issues. One solution won’t solve every need, but together, these changes will improve the lives of our kids. As the first four proposals showed, the commission wants to pursue goals by tapping everyone in the community to help — parents, nonprofits, businesses and educators.

One note about the strategies that the commission addressed yesterday: They were on  subjects that matter. It matters for every kid to start kindergarten on track. It matters that Columbus teachers and students have consistent, reliable access to technology that will allow them to customize what they learn. Community programs and a clear path after graduation matter, too.

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Proposals move forward

The Columbus Education Commission today called for a more aggressive timeline for improving options for our kids, a school breakfast program that’s available to all students in our community and a single group that would help coordinate early childhood education.

Columbus Education Commission logoThose revisions were among the points made by commission members after reviewing draft recommendations in four areas: early childhood; technology; career and college readiness; and serving the whole child through community, health and arts initiatives. The commission will consider two other areas, plus implementation plans, at its April 26 meeting.

There was consensus on the commission that the proposals broadly reflected the lessons from three months of meetings with experts, educators and the public. Commissioners  supported the direction of each proposal with revisions or additions. These were three of the changes:

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Details on today’s meeting

This morning, the Columbus Education will hear from two experts. Then in the afternoon, the commission will discuss the four proposals for recommendations. Here are the highlights of today’s agenda:


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How to tune in

Today’s meeting at the King Arts Complex is open to the public and will be live-streamed on this website.

  • When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10
  • Where: King Arts Complex (see map)
  • The agendaRead it here
  • Background materials: Click here
  • How to follow on Twitter: We will be live-tweeting the conversation from the @ReimagineCbusEd Twitter account, using the #cbusedu hashtag
  • What about lunchThe commission will work through lunch, so you might consider bringing something to eat

What the proposals say

Every student should graduate high school with some college credits and industry credentials in hand, providing a pathway that will lead toward a good job.

All students should have access to technology that expands learning opportunities in school, at home and in the community.

High-quality prekindergarten options should be available for every 4-year-old through a blend of Columbus City Schools and community-based programs.

More arts-focused schools should be created, providing twice as many spots for interested students.

QUOTE progressThese are some of the proposals that the Columbus Education Commission will consider Wednesday, all of which are designed to improve the lives of every child in our community within a generation.

The proposals call for work on each goal to begin immediately, with full implementation by 2025-26 — the school year when the next class of kindergarteners will graduate from high school. The mantra is “measurable progress each year, for each goal, each child and each school.”

Four proposals and a community vision document — which connects the community’s ideas, the research and the draft recommendations — have been sent tonight to the commission. As the commission reviews these drafts, we invite our community to do the same.

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How to help kids learn

The Columbus Education Commission has spent the past three months asking tough questions about how to improve the lives our children.

Next week, commissioners will begin refining their answers.

Columbus Education Commission logoThey will focus on four strategies to improve education in Columbus at the April 10 meeting, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the King Arts Complex. Commissioners will also hear from experts on school climate issues and charter school leadership and accountability. (Read the agenda)

The April 26 agenda will consider two more strategies and the commission’s implemention plan.

  • April 10 agenda
    • State of the art teaching tools and methods
    • Students with a purpose: career pathways
    • A quality early childhood education for every Columbus child
    • Community ownership and engagement: serving the whole child
  • April 26 agenda
    • Effective teachers and principals
    • High-performing neighborhood schools and more school choices

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Looking back

The commission will discuss some of recommendations next week so we’re taking a look back at a few key points. What would you add?

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Those are just a few of the powerful points covered by commission. Continue reading

Mayor Coleman: Let us help

This editorial from Mayor Michael Coleman was originally published in the Columbus Dispatch on March 24. 

Over the past several months, we’ve seen our community come together like never before behind the cause of educating our children.


Mayor Michael B. Coleman

Late last year, City Council President Andy Ginther and I appointed the Columbus Education Commission, a diverse, talented group of people from all walks of life.

The commission has been engaged in months of intense deliberation and an unprecedented community outreach process in our neighborhoods. Next month, we expect the commission to produce comprehensive recommendations for how Columbus City Schools, the city of Columbus and the entire community should create new policies and new investments toward the goal of making Columbus the best big city in America for educating kids.

I have no doubt these recommendations will be bold, thoughtful and consequential, reflecting our community priorities. But the commission’s work will be undermined if we don’t have an outstanding Columbus City Schools superintendent working arm in arm with the rest of the community to re-imagine education in Columbus.

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What we learned: March 21

The best plan to improve Columbus schools won’t mean a thing if it sits on a shelf.

Director Eric Fingerhut made that argument this morning as he described decades-old reports  that raised similar themes about education in Columbus. He posed a stark question to the Columbus Education: “Will we matter?”

QUOTE gilyardMost of the day was dedicated to the questions that underlie that question: What kind of leaders should be responsible for implementing any plan? Several commissioners said any solution will require a new commitment by the entire Columbus community to improve our schools.

“We’re here. We can’t stay here,” said the Rev. Otha GIlyard. “I don’t want to be part of a group that’s not going to do anything.”

Member Janet Jackson agreed. “It is our responsibility to do whatever is necessary to ensure every child will succeed,” said Jackson, who is president and CEO of the United Way of Central Ohio.

Lois Carson, who is president of Local 150 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, asked fellow members of the commission to read a report titled ”Corporate America and takeovers of public school districts” to inform their thinking on governance. She added that “we need everyone” in the community to remain involved in education to improve teaching and learning for students.

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The focus today

The Columbus Education Commission meets today to discuss the last two topics on its agenda before developing recommendations.Columbus Education Commission logo

  • Morning session: leadership and accountability (read our preview).
  • Noon to 1 p.m.: lunch and small group discussion.
  • Afternoon: Presentation on the future of education by Mark David Milliron, chancellor of Western Governors University Texas, and panel on private sector engagement.


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Meeting details

Leading schools to success

What kind of leadership do we need to make sure Columbus kids are succeeding in school and life?

Since December, the Columbus Education Commission has discussed a range of issues that affect how well kids learn, from quality teachers and principals to technology. Next, the  Commission will ask what kind of governance structure is best suited to address all of those issues, from the classroom up to the school board. (The agenda for Thursday’s meeting is here. Read the background materials here.)

The Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association studied this issue and found eight characteristics of effective school boards. They:

  1. Commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and define clear goals to meet that vision. Continue reading