CLEVELAND — Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon gave his annual "State of the Schools" address Tuesday at noon.
The speech comes at a crucial time for the district, which is currently conducting classes remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gordon decided to keep the buildings closed for the first nine weeks of the school year at the recommendation of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
"Ask any teacher in the district and he or she will tell you how much we all wish we could be back in our classrooms with all of our kids every day. But we can't. I'm not saying we shouldn't, I'm saying we can't," Gordon stated.
He did share some positive news as it relates to the digital divide.
"In CMSD today, every student now has a tablet or laptop computer and their families and caregivers have hotspots for other access to the internet. A large number of them for the first time in their lives,” says Gordon.
Now that the district knows all kids have the connectivity and technology to learn online, leaders are assuring parents that aspect will stay, even when students go back to school in-person.
“Hotspots are fine and they’re getting the job done for now, but I’m not knocking on doors and telling people that we finally connected to give back that connectivity. I’m going to stay on this issue until we as a community figure out a long-term solution,” says Gordon.
The Ohio Department of Education also released the annual state report cards last week, although there was "significantly less data" due to the pandemic, resulting in a lack of overall grades. CMSD was found to have a four-year graduation rate of 80.1% and a third-grade reading guarantee of 94.6%.
Gordon also touched on racial injustice during his remarks, calling for a renewed emphasis on equality for all in the district.
"We will emerge with the opportunity to rethink longstanding conventions. The very conventions that have for generations perpetuated the enormous inequities that COVID-19 and George Floyd put on full display for everyone to see," Gordon added.
Gordon also addressed the elephant in the room, this November’s Issue 68 levy vote. The levy accounts for 12% of CMSD’s overall operating budget. Gordon is confident the community will support public education, but also says there are dire consequences if it fails.
“We have nowhere else to cut but kids and classrooms. We will have no choice but to layoff teachers and other educators from every layer of the organization. We will have to cut programming like we did way back 10 years ago we will have to face more school closures,” says Gordon.
Gordon delivered his remarks virtually at the City Club of Cleveland. You can watch the entire speech live in the player below: