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Schools Awareness Campaign - 2003

The League of Women Voters, CH-UH Chapter of the newly reorganized League of the Cuyahoga Regional Area, has prepared this program to help the people of Cleveland Hts. and University Hts. to understand the issues that are affecting their school system, and to begin to rebuild the connection between the schools and the general community.

We are not trying to tell you what to think. This is not a pep rally for the schools, nor is it a critique of the schools. This is not a pro-levy, nor an anti-levy campaign. Our program is offered in an attempt to stop the fear, the anger, and the rumors, and replace them with knowledge of the facts, the issues, and the opportunities.

You may not have noticed – the evolution has been so gradual – but the people of the communities of Cleveland Hts. and University Hts. have been losing touch with our schools. The simple fact is that fewer people in the community have school-aged children. The more complex facts are that the schools have become more closed to the community (because of security concerns that all schools face post-Columbine, and because their full attention is needed to deal with the increasing complexity of education today), and the community members have become so busy within their own lives that they aren’t seeking out any more places to put their time or attention.

The cost of this disconnect is that when we hear things that concern us, such as the fact that our schools are on academic watch, we have very little personal knowledge with which to understand why. It’s time to stop the fear, stop the rumors, and rebuild the bridges of understanding and connection. Anyone who owns property in the community is a taxpayer who is helping provide the primary source of support to our schools. The schools are essential to the community, and the community is essential to the schools.

We will be looking at two sets of comparisons to give you a basis for understanding the facts of the situation – comparing statistics to show changes in our community over time, and comparing facts from four school districts – Heights, Shaker, Beachwood, and Solon. Schools aren’t just buildings and numbers though. Schools are people! We have also produced a videotape, called “A Reflection of our Community” in which people talk about their experiences with the CH-UH Schools. If you don’t have a copy of the video, they are available at the 4 public libraries. We strongly encourage you to not only look at the data, but also the video – to meet the people.

First – let’s look at the demographics. We’re comparing 1970 and 2000

There are two differences in the base data that must be noted. The data for 1970 is based on census tracts for the communities themselves, as opposed to the school districts. CH-UH data, therefore, includes the little block that attends East Cleveland Schools but not the section of South Euclid that attends our school (probably a wash); the 1970 data for Shaker, more significantly, does not include the portion of their district that is in Cleveland. I know that some students from Solon attend Orange, and there may be other variances for Solon. The data for 2000 is by school district, and so more accurate for our purposes.

The second change in the census data is that 1970 defines school-age as 5-18, and 2000 defines it as 5-17. We could have added the 18-year-olds to the numbers for 2000, but because of the large number of college students in our district, that really altered our numbers for 2000 so it was at age 17. These differences will be noted when they are significant.

Turn now to the graphs. These numbers are from census data for 1970 and 2000, obtained from NODIS of the Levin College at Cleveland State University. The numbers are combined for Cleveland Hts. and University Hts.

* Total population1970 and 2000 – [Total Population 1970 & 2000] Shaker for 1970 should be a larger because of the Cleveland tracts. Note that in 2000 Beachwood’s population has increased, Solon shows a large increase, but both CH-UH and Shaker’s populations have decreased. Since housing is not standing empty in these communities, this indicates that there are smaller households now than 30 years ago.
* Adults by Age 1970 and 2000. – [Adults by Age, 1970] [Adults by Age, 2000] Note that 1970 data stops at age 75, but 2000 data goes to 85. The CH-UH dip in 1970 is the same dip in 2000 if you move forward 30 years in age. The large number of young adults for CH-UH in 2000 includes students at CWRU and JCU. Note the growth in Solon, predominantly in the 30-50 year span (The symbol was inadvertently changed for Solon between the 2 sets of data). The growth in Beachwood is in the senior age range.

* Median Family Income
[Median Incomes in 1970 and 2000, unadjusted] [Same Median Incomes adjusted to 2000 Dollars] These two charts, the first comparing 1970 and 2000 in actual dollars, and the 2nd chart with 1970 adjusted to 2000 dollars, show visually the impact of inflation. Note that for 1970 Shaker is missing the Cleveland tracts. The median income was actually lower for Shaker in 1970. This same inflationary impact is present in the price increases in our school budgets.

* School Age to Total Population – 1970 and 2000. [1970 School Age to Total Population] [2000 School Age to Total Population] Note that all four communities have shown a decrease in percentage of school-aged children, due in part to the decreasing birthrate in the white population. (Please note that 1970 includes 18-year-olds in school-age.) The number of school-aged children in CH-UH has declined by some 8500 (allowing for people aged 18), accounting for more than half of our community’s population decline. Beachwood’s percentage decline is artificially larger due to the increased population of senior citizens, probably from the number of nursing homes that have opened in that community.

* Ratio of children to public school enrollment
– 2000. [Public School to Non-Public Enrollment] Note that in 1970 CH-UH was 34% NOT in the public schools (including people aged 18). This includes children who are being home-schooled as well as those in private/ parochial schools. There are 10 private/ parochial schools in our community, compared to 3 in Shaker Hts. and 2 in Beachwood according to the Ohio Dept. of Education Directory of Schools.

* Racial make-up of population as a whole
– 2000. [Racial make-up of population] Note that “white_alone” and “black_alone” is the census term for people who identify themselves as only one race. Anyone who indicated they were of more than one race are listed as “other.” CH-UH is 60% white, but our schools are 77% black. A very large segment of our white households are not affiliated with our schools – a source of some of the community’s disconnect with the schools.

* Racial breakout of school age
– 2000. [Racial make-up of School-Age Children] This chart compares census data for the community as a whole to data from the Ohio Department of Education for the schools.

* Female head of Household
– 2000. [Female Heads-of-Households] FHH-NonFam % of HH is households headed by single women without family, as a percentage of all households (primarily senior citizens, but also unmarried women without children.) Note that in Beachwood this 26% of households, compared to 11% in Solon. The second category is single mothers – 12-13% in Beachwood and Solon compared to 20-21% in CH-UH and Shaker. This is a primary source of poverty in our District.

* Cuyahoga County – Proficiency vs. Socio-Economics
– 1999-2000. [Poverty Impact on Proficiency Scores] This chart clearly shows the impact of poverty on proficiency test scores. The higher the percentage of disadvantaged students (as measured by the number of students qualifying for the free lunch program, and the number of families in the Ohio Works Program), the lower the scores on the proficiency tests. The schools at the bottom right of the chart are Cleveland and East Cleveland. CH-UH is indicated in the middle of the chart.

Why is poverty such an issue for the students and our schools? After all, haven’t these families moved to the Heights now? They’re here so they must be doing alright, right? First of all, they are here because one of the qualities that we value in the Heights District is that we have a broad range of housing, including affordable housing. We have a rather large number of apartments, and of duplexes and triplexes, which enable people to begin to move up – to try to better their lives, but some of those people still struggle, and some will fall back. We are also seeing the negative impact of Predatory Lending and the clustering of Section 8 Housing

What does this mean to the schools?
Children who are growing up in poverty are impacted by many factors. They are frequently being raised by a single mother, or a grandmother, whose primary goal is to keep a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs. They move frequently – the parent getting a job and renting a place to live, falling behind on the rent as they hit another setback, moving from relative to relative, saving up enough money to meet another down payment. The parents, often under-educated themselves, may not put education as a priority for their children. They move from district to district instead of making an effort to remain in one school district. When the bad weather hits, the children may not have sufficient winter clothing to get to school. They tend to be malnourished which can lead to learning disabilities and developmental delays. There are rarely books in the home, much less a computer.

Compare this to a child in a home that is not in poverty, where the children are read to as infants, and are often enrolled in preschool or daycare programs that teach them skills, and they have been playing on computers since they were toddlers.

Again – we must keep perspective. Yes, poverty is an issue that our schools must deal with – it is an issue that impacts our proficiency test scores and therefore is of concern, but 2/3-3/4 of our children are NOT living in poverty.

Go back now to the chart about Proficiency Scores vs. Socio-Economics. [Poverty Impact on Proficiency Scores] Bedford and Garfield Hts. are directly below us, Lakewood is directly above us. They all have similar measures of poverty, but Lakewood is predominantly white. This is a picture of the Minority Student Achievement Gap. Perhaps you have heard mention of it. The hard, cold fact of the matter is that black students score lower on the proficiency tests than do white students. This is true across all states, different tests, and all economic classes. Ohio began breaking out test pass-rates by race a few years ago, and the Federal No Child Left Behind Act requires all states to begin separating scores by race and by socioeconomic status, in order to clearly show the impact, and also to more readily measure progress against these factors.

* Look now at the 2002 Proficiency Test Scores, broken out by race, for Solon, Beachwood, Shaker, and CH-UH. [Solon] [Beachwood] [Shaker Heights] [Cleve. Hts.- Univ. Hts.]You will note that the gap exists in all four schools. (The gap is wider in CH-UH than in Solon largely because of the added impact of poverty.) On the final chart, which compares proficiency results by longevity, you will note that the students who stay in the district – who stop moving from district to district – do, in fact, score higher on the tests. They do receive an education in our District. [Impact of Family Stability on Scores]

The good news is that this issue is finally being addressed. Our school district is one of the founding districts of the Minority Student Achievement Network – a group of fifteen urban-suburban school districts across the country that have come together to do intensive research about, and implement the means to ensure high academic achievement of minority students. Their website includes some interesting articles on the issue. You might also be interested in reading John Ogbu’s book, which is based on research that he conducted at Shaker Heights. [Minority Student Achievement Network] [Suggested Readings]

Since the start of proficiency tests, schools are being judged for their quality of teaching solely on the outcome of a single test – the proficiency test. There is no college that bases their admission decisions solely on a test score. According to Harold Hodgkinson, who spoke at Reaching Heights’ PS21 series about changing demographics, there is no correlation between SAT scores and success in college.

Clear and consistent correlations have been shown between socioeconomic status and test scores, and race and test scores. The government, in an effort to have a clear means for assessing school performance, has managed to reduce education to a score, and not just a single score but a score based on a constantly moving target. Yes, the schools that are in a high socioeconomic group, with virtually all white students, will pass the test every time. This doesn’t mean that every student is passing nor that they are getting 100% on the tests, but simply that enough students are scoring high enough, to pass the test. For the schools that are dealing with the Minority Student Achievement Gap, and with the impact of poverty though, the continuous changes in the design of the proficiency test, and in what gets counted, just adds to the challenge of raising the scores.

* Look now at The District Profile. [District (CUPP) Reports]
Please note – several lines have been deleted from the report – some that were 0 for all districts, and some that we have more recent numbers for. Also note that some of the numbers are from different years, and state numbers tend to differ from school numbers for the districts. Some interesting lines to compare are:
3) TOTAL AVERAGE DAILY MEMBERSHIP – the average number of students in school on the first full week in October. This method of determining enrollment is about to change to an average throughout the year. The payment from the state is calculated on a per-pupil basis.
10 & 11) Ohio Works First AND Disadvantaged Pupil Income Aid – these are state rankings. The added line for the Free Lunch Program is a percentage of students who qualify.
13 & 14) AVERAGE & MINIMUM TEACHER SALARY – remember that a decision was made ten or more years ago that teachers’ pay had to be increased, commensurate with their profess-sional training and responsibilities.
15) AVERAGE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE – this is for teachers. CH-UH recently had a large “bubble” of retirees, which was expected. It is assumed that our tenure will increase again.
51) TOTAL SF3 AID PER PUPIL – this is the total money received from the state per pupil, based on a complicated formula that includes factors for disabilities, average daily membership, class size, experience of teachers, transportation, and cost based on locale.

We are attempting to compare apples to apples here, and have been careful to try to present the information without doing any fancy statistical manipulations. These numbers are straight comparisons. However, having said that, we must also say that we can never actually compare apples to apples. If you’ve ever done data collection with another person, you will know that there are many break points in which you have to decide whether to record something in column A or column B. Graduation rates are an example of this – something that would seem to be very straightforward, but isn’t.

The state formula for calculating graduation is to divide the total number of graduates in a year by the number of graduates + the number who dropped out in ninth grade, + the number who dropped out in 10th grade, + the 11th and 12th grade dropouts. There are three factors in the way Heights calculates their graduation rate that brings down their total. First, we have required 21 credits for graduation. Shaker requires 20. Solon required 18 credits until last year. Second – if a child drops out in 10th grade but returns in 11th grade – we still count them as a dropout. If they drop out again – that one student gets counted twice as a dropout. Third – when students leave and say they are going to home-schooling or to take the GED test, we continue to track them and only count them as graduating if they pass the GED, because they are still considered to be part of our district. Our district follows the formula very literally.

Look now at the COMPARISON OF REVENUES & EXPENDITURES - 1987 to 2002. [Cost Comparison 1987-2002] These are figures from the CH-UH School’s financial reports for 1987 and 2002. Some points of interest to note:
As a side note, one of the state’s unfunded administrative mandates can be shown clearly by a comparison of the two financial reports. The report for 1987 is 20 pages long and the various accounts are summarized. Note that in the comparison there are only totals for each category, e.g. Total Instruction. The report for 2002 is over 200 pages long and includes detailed breakouts of every sub-category of spending. The State of Ohio now requires every district to produce a CAFR, or a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. In addition to the increased printing cost for this publication, there is the increased accounting staff required to track this more complex accounting system. This is just one example of the increased administrative requirements.

Cost of Education

After adjusting for inflation, the cost of our schools has gone up 18% since 1987, the earliest year for which we could obtain budget data (due to water leaks in the barn at Millikin where the older school records were being maintained.) That equals 1.2% per year increase beyond inflation. What accounts for these increases? After all, enrollment in our schools has gone down rather steadily since 1970, but the cost has gone up. Where are the savings from having fewer students?

There are several factors here. One fact about the per-pupil average cost is that efficiencies can only be achieved at certain break points. There are some costs that are a given, regardless of how many students are in a building (such as the salary of the Superintendent, and the cost of heating a building), and so their cost on a “per pupil” basis increases as enrollment decreases. Closing buildings is an option, but school systems are slow to do that because there are other costs then – loss of a neighborhood school, and increased busing costs as students travel farther to get to their school, and if the building is sold and then enrollment increases again, the school system has a bigger problem. The public school system must be able to take in any and all students in the district, including the children who are currently in private schools or home-schooling. If all of the private schools were to close this summer, our schools would have to incorporate those students into our schools. Remember from the demographics that there are some 3000 children in the community who are not currently in the public schools.

The second factor, and it is huge, is the cost of unfunded and underfunded mandates.

The largest single mandated cost is special education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was first passed by the Federal Government in 1975, and requires that ALL children receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible. If the child is able to benefit from being in the public school, then they must be educated in the public school. If they require a more sheltered environment, then the public school is responsible for the cost of that education. Although the Federal law included a commitment to pay 40% of the average per-student cost for every special education student, the federal government currently pays only about 14% of the cost – the highest percentage to date. The national average per-student cost is $7,320.00. (N.E.A.) The national average cost for educating a special education student is $16,689.00. These costs are included in the per-pupil average calculation.

How big of a factor is special education in our schools? In 2001, 12.4% of our students were diagnosed as having a disability. Over the past 10 years, the number of students enrolled in special education classes has increased 30% nationally. Why? Some of the factors are better diagnosis, especially of learning disabilities; increased incidence of ADD and ADHD; and better medical care for children who might not have survived previously.

In 1997 when the I.D.E.A. was reauthorized, it was expanded to include the requirements that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum and appropriate general education classes, and that schools assure the accurate and appropriate assessment of the academic achievement of students with disabilities. These two changes carry with them the need for training for the regular classroom teachers on how to incorporate the children with disabilities into their classroom, and the need to develop new assessment tools

There are some 65 Special Education teachers, and 70 Special Education classroom aides and a dozen tutors – a part of the support staff number, providing services to over 1,000 children. We have children diagnosed with mental retardation, learning disabilities, autism, severe behavior disorders, and multiple handicaps – in total, children representing all 14 federally-defined categories of disabilities. Some of the children require a personal aide through most of the day; some require special adaptive equipment to enable them to participate within the classroom. Special funding was made available to pay for this equipment, but it had to be applied for – more administration. Some of our children go to other school districts that provide programs for their specific needs, for which we pay that district. Some children from other districts come to our schools for our programs, for which their districts pay us. Tracking this requires more administration. Special Education must be provided from birth through age 21 if needed, and so we have preschool programs. We also have home tutors on staff for the children who are unable to come in to school for various reasons. This is all federally mandated and upheld by the courts.

Where did these children come from? Where were they before 1975? They existed, although the incidence of some disabilities has increased. Some of the children – especially those with learning disabilities – went through public schools but were generally not very successful. They were often thought to be stupid, or just not trying hard enough, working below their potential. Children with physical disabilities went to the school for crippled children. Children with more severe disabilities often just stayed at home, or were sent away to state institutions. They existed, and their cost to society was being paid for in various ways – both through governmental costs of providing care, and through the negative cost to society of the loss of these people’s participation in society.

Today, many of these children – children who were previously put into institutions or just stayed at home with Mom – are now being educated and are able to be independent and self-supporting as adults, or at least able to live semi-independently at far less cost than was required for institutional care in 1975. They are able to be contributing members of society. Furthermore, the other students in the school have the opportunity to interact with these students with disabilities, and to gain a greater understanding of the broad spectrum of life.

Another government mandate cost factor of some significance here is private schools. The Heights area has always had an exceptionally large percentage of students attending private schools – both the elite schools, and also the Catholic and Jewish schools. Remarkably, there are 10 private schools in Cleveland Hts. and University Hts. There are only 3 in Shaker and 2 in Beachwood.

During the 1990’s, State legislation was passed providing significant government benefits to private schools – we are the most generous state in the country for providing public support to private schools. You may recall that we are required to bus students in the district to their private schools, within the same distances as for the public school children. We provide busing for distances greater than 1 mile for elementary students and 2 miles for middle and high school.

The private schools receive what is called auxiliary funding. This is funding that they can use to meet their special needs. This funding is paid to the Heights schools system and we manage it on behalf of the private schools, creating additional administrative work. One of the uses of this funding by schools is special staffing needs – frequently for learning disabilities, gifted & talented programs, school nurses, and psychologist services. A scan of the staff roster shows 8 employees who are assigned to St. Ann’s, Beaumont, Gesu, Ruffing Montessori, and Mosdos Ohr Hatorah. These people are on the Heights roster, but are then assigned to the private schools and are paid for by this auxiliary funding. Assuming that the payment is sufficient to cover the cost, this is not an expense to our schools beyond the administrative cost of managing the money, but if you only look at the bottom expenditures line, this is an additional cost.

A third, and significant factor that the Heights schools must deal with, is the growing percentage of children who qualify for Title I assistance, or Disadvantaged Pupil Impact Aid. (Another caution, I’m afraid. When we look at percentages, such as the number of students qualifying for free lunch, we need to note that if the total number of students decreases, the percentage will increase even if the actual number doesn’t increase.) These funds, and other restricted government funding streams, pay for, or at least help to pay for, preschool programming, the 2nd half of the full-day kindergarten, the breakfast program, subsidized lunch, and enrichment programming in the form of after-school and Saturday programs. These programs do help the children who are from low-income homes have a greater chance to succeed in school, and our schools are required to do everything they can to help our children succeed.

These programs are another source of the increased number of Pupil and Instructional Support Staff. Although funding is available to help defray these costs, that funding is obtained by filing copious paperwork to prove eligibility and regulatory compliance, and filing government grant applications for special funding programs. We currently have 33 Special Revenue Funds – moneys that can only be used for the very specific purpose for which they were established, requiring increased record-keeping to track the funds.

The per-pupil cost is not the cost to educate one of the average kids, but rather the average cost of educating all of the children in the school, including all of the children who are receiving “Disadvantaged Pupil” Services, and students receiving Special Education Services.

In fact, though, the cost of educating all of the children has increased because the breadth of knowledge, and the complexity of what the children need to learn, is growing at a breathtaking rate. A clear indicator of the increasing complexity is the size of the high-school course descriptions book. Most schools, including CH-UH, now print books listing all of the courses available in the High School, plus the various requirements of the school. Some schools even include flow charts to help show the order for taking various science and math courses.

The schools have gone to a full-day kindergarten which, again, costs more than the government reimbursement, but the number of things that children need to know by the end of kindergarten is greater than can be taught with just a half-day program. It used to be that the requirement for admission to kindergarten was to be toilet trained, able to tie one’s own shoes (which indicated a level of fine-motor coordination and the ability to sequence a series of steps to complete a task), and to follow simple directions.

Today, a child entering kindergarten may not be toilet trained because of a physical disability, may not be able to tie their own shoes for the same reason, or because they have never worn shoes with laces thanks to the advent of Velcro and elastic. On the other hand, the experiences of children entering kindergarten cover the range from having played on a computer since they were two and being taught lessons in a day care or preschool since infancy, to children who have grown up malnourished, with no books in the house, where the main objective of the parent is to keep a roof over their head and just make it to the next day.

Did you know that children now have homework in kindergarten? My office-mate’s child was expected to display the concept of 100 by January of his kindergarten year. A CH-UH kindergarten teacher recently received a grant for a math program that includes teaching the concept of probability. Another co-worker watched in amazement as her daughter and her classmates read out loud from a big-print book on the first day of kindergarten. When I was in kindergarten I learned to play nicely with others, to color in the lines, and to handle scissors safely. For a child growing up in a household that is not focused on education, the set-back starts on the first day of kindergarten.

Thirty years ago people could finish high school, or even drop out before 12th grade, enter a trade as an apprentice, and become a skilled craftsman with a good income. Today, those students who would not have finished high school are now being required to not only finish high school, but to go to college in hope of making a sufficient income to support a family.

In fact, in Ohio hourly wages for people with anything less than a college diploma are decreasing. From 1979 to 2000, wages for people with no high school diploma have gone down 33%, wages with a high school diploma have gone down 14%, and for those with 1-3 years of post-High School education, wages have gone down almost 9%. People in lower-skilled professions are having a harder and harder time maintaining a living wage.

Public education – a quality public education – is the cornerstone of our country, and essential for maintaining a country based on democracy and capitalism. We really must educate the children of today, because they are the workers, and the leaders, of our future.

As John Adams said – “The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the world.”

(If you do not have a copy of the video, “A Reflection of Our Community”, they are available at our public libraries.)

And now – as mentioned earlier – it’s time for the people of the schools. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the numbers, but the schools are really all about people. The video is truly a project of the community, paid for by the community. The people you will see are some of the students, parents, teachers, and graduates of our schools, talking to you – the community – about what the schools are really like. Let’s hear what they have to say.


Our purpose is not to tell you what to think, it is to stop the rumor and misinformation, and replace it with knowledge and understanding. We hope we have made the first step toward that goal. The next step is to restore the connection between the community and the schools. We urge someone – perhaps the cities or the Arts Consortium – to develop signs that let people who are driving past at least know what school they are driving past. Fairfax has a beautiful sign, and I love the informational signs that Monticello and Oxford have – signs that tell the people going past little success stories and announcing events. We strongly urge the schools to find a way to put information into the hands of the public – perhaps through the Focus magazine and the University Hts. newsletter – about concerts, plays, and sporting events that are open to the public, complete with information about where, how to access, and if there is a fee.

As for you, the public – check out the list of ways to get involved. [Ways to reconnect] They range from simply joining a listserv if you have an e-mail address, to picking up a copy of the Black and Gold – you’ll find them at the libraries, and in many stores, restaurants and offices around town. Then pick one event – check out the CHUH.Net site for a list of scheduled events – and attend it. Go see who the students are, and who their parents are. You’ll find out that they’re your neighbors. Begin to rebuild the bridge. Remember – the schools are essential to the community, and the community is essential to the schools.

Thanks to the Committee that worked on this project for the last 8 months:
Nancy Ballou
MaryAnn Barnes
Adele Cohn
Lois Gross
and Allen Wilkinson
to Mark McCue, our videographer, parent, and resident of University Hts.,
to The Church of the Saviour for allowing us to tape in their library
and to the many people in the schools, in the community, and in the greater education community, who helped to provide information, resources, and understanding to us, so that we could pass it along to you.

Presented by Wendy S. Deuring, League of Women Voters