State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today responded to the release of Ohio’s School Report Cards, which gave East Cleveland City Schools its third consecutive “F,” setting the stage for a state takeover under the legislature’s hastily-passed, party-line amendment to House Bill 70 in 2016.


“Today's release of the state report card is further evidence that the biggest hindrance to student performance in Ohio's public schools is not the district leadership of East Cleveland but the politicians of Columbus who take campaign contributions from the charter school industry with one hand as they give public school dollars to charter school operators with the other hand,” said Smith, a member of the House Education Committee.


East Cleveland Schools have lost over $5 million to failing, for-profit charter schools like ECOT while the state has cut the schools by millions of dollars in previous state budgets.


The district is also considered to be the poorest community in the state and the fourth poorest in the nation, with 100 percent of students being considered economically disadvantaged according to ODE data. 


“In spite of these substantial challenges East Cleveland City Schools have made tremendous progress, due in part to the extremely talented core of teachers, most of whom have a master’s degree and average 15 years of classroom experience,” said Smith.


Smith said, according to the latest report card, East Cleveland saw improvement in 15 of 21 state performance measures. The five year graduation rate is 75 percent, which is only ten percentage points below the Ohio average. The district also earned a C on their K-3 literacy rate, which means they were successful in getting struggling readers back on track.


“Have they been successful on all fronts? No,” Smith said. “But considering the challenges they are taking on every day, they should be lauded for their heroic efforts – not subjected to an out-of-town bureaucrat who has zero knowledge of the community and no accountability to the East Cleveland voters.”


Smith said a mid-school year state takeover could have a drastic impact on student achievement, injecting more chaos and uncertainty into an already challenging classroom setting.


“Every Ohio child can change the world. Every East Cleveland child has infinite potential, but Columbus and the next Governor needs to get serious about investing in our future workforce,” added Smith. “Statehouse Republicans need to abandon their ‘Columbus-Knows-Best Education’ model, and they need to stop shortchanging kids as it continues to empower unsuccessful, unproven, unaccountable bureaucrats instead of local leaders who know their communities best.”


House Bill 626, legislation Smith introduced that would stop the state takeover of public schools, picked up bipartisan support and is awaiting a hearing in the Republican-controlled House Education and Career Readiness Committee.

 
 
 
  
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Cleveland-area Lawmakers Say Ohio Could "amp Up" Economic Growth Through Music Industry

 

State Reps. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge) today announced a bi-partisan effort to create jobs and drive economic growth by making Ohio a destination for the recording industry. The Ohio Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit, also known as OhioSounds, will work to attract more of the almost $7 billion in annual music industry revenue to the state. 

“Ohio is the birthplace of legendary musicians, unforgettable songs and ‘Rock N’ Roll’,” said Rep. Smith. “OhioSounds honors our proud legacy and works to cultivate a winning model moving forward. Ohio can become a destination for musicians, producers and industry leaders who will create jobs and strengthen our local economies. The OhioSounds tax credit will solidify our commitment to Ohio’s musical heritage and create new music that will provide the soundtrack to our lives.”

“Much like the Ohio film tax credit, this legislation seeks to incentivize investment in Ohio and create jobs in a dynamic industry,” Representative LaTourette stated. “Northeast Ohio has seen quite an investment in response to the film tax credit, with major motion pictures filmed on the streets of Cleveland and throughout our region. Given our history as the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, it just makes sense to extend that incentive to the music industry and embrace our heritage as musical innovators.”