We welcome the usual rejoinders that all public schools are awful and that Cincinnati Public Schools are especially awful. But the numbers are in again, and despite working with a massively disproportionate number of poor kids, Cincinnati Public Schools continues to improve its outcomes.
Where this goes next will largely be determined in the upcoming board meeting and then in November. The CPS school board will decide whether to seek a tax levy and how much to seek if seek they do. Then voters will decide.
COAST, the perennial opponents of all local taxes, already says that CPS doesn't need more money because (a) more money doesn't improve education; and (b) private (Catholic) schools operate on a lot less.
CPS will say that a failure to invest that leads to layoffs will stymie improvements.
We will SWNIDishly offer some observations.
First, both COAST and CPS are at this stage of discussion offering generalizations that only offer possibilities and may not apply directly to the present situation.
To COAST, granted that spending more money has not been shown in itself to improve educational outcomes, we ask whether CPS has shown itself to be a better than average steward of fiscal resources as compared to other urban school districts teaching a disproportionate number of poor children. If so, might they be able to spend a few more dollars wisely? Is it time to move beyond your knee-jerk rationalizations for opposing taxes and consider the merits of particular levies with regard to their particularity?
To CPS, we ask for more than the generalization that layoffs will hurt. Granted that you're doing well, granted that the comparison to parochial schools is not apples to apples, if your ambition is to be the best urban district in the country, you're going to have to move beyond the level of trite generalizations that appeal to public sympathy for hard-up kids and dedicated "public servants."
What's the plan CPS? What's wrong with the plan, COAST?
To voters, we say this. The business environment in Our Fair City is extremely affected by what's at stake here. On the one hand, lower taxes are attractive to businesses. On the other hand, effective schools are attractive to businesses. "Strike the balance" is a truism that can be articulated here and then set aside. The real question is whether there's a better plan to improve public education with some specific, targeted spending or to improve it without that spending.
So when the plan is offered and critiqued, listen well and think hard, OK?