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Editorial agenda: In the areas of education and civic rebuilding, especially, 2012 witnessed notable accomplishments in Cleveland

At an April news conference, Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon and Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke announce an agreement that was reached on the mayor's school plans. Plain Dealer file  

Each year this editorial board offers an agenda for Greater Cleveland -- the issues we believe should be community priorities. Next Sunday, we'll publish our ideas for critical change in 2013.
But now, let's take a look back at 2012, a year of progress on several key fronts -- none more important than commitments to educating the children of Cleveland. Improving Cleveland's schools and educational outcomes is a key foundation for regional progress.

The year began with Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon offering an ambitious strategy to remake the system and its poorest-performing schools. The plan required both legislative changes -- to make it easier to remake schools and retain high-quality teachers -- and more resources from local taxpayers.

To achieve their goals, the mayor and the superintendent assembled a broad coalition that included business leaders, foundations and the best of the city's charter schools. The Cleveland Teachers Union signed on, not only agreeing to reforms beyond its usual comfort zone, but adding on its own innovative approach to evaluation and tenure.

In Columbus, this coalition -- aided from the outset by Gov. John Kasich -- won bipartisan support for change. Then it sold a 15-mill levy to the voters of Cleveland.

The schools coalition was broad and diverse. It brought in partners -- such as United Way -- that historically avoided political fights, but realized that this one was too important.

Such civic unity is how big things get done.

When we laid out our agenda last February, we included clusters of specific goals and put school reforms in a category called "rebuilding human capital."



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