Demand change by voting down the TPS levy renewalWritten by Steven Flagg | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Another TPS levy: Another plea for the children. How hollow does this perennial statement ring from an institution that has failed our children and community for years? It’s not difficult to see that this levy is really about the employees and our children are just dollar signs representing a paycheck.
Of course we need and want good schools. Of course we understand how important they are to this community. Of course we understand that our future depends on our children. We’re not stupid. Yet TPS officials have consistently failed our children while asking again and again for our unconditional support.
At times, the only good love is tough love, and it is time to say no. Let’s not enable this behavior any longer until TPS officials can demonstrate, at a minimum, good faith in meeting community-based benchmarks.
Superintendent Foley, in “selling” the levy, will “cherry pick” the facts. He will tell you that TPS is improving in third-grade math, fifth-grade reading, eighth-grade reading and other test indicators.
What he won’t tell you is that schools across Ohio and TPS’ suburban counterparts have also been improving at rates equaling or exceeding TPS. More must be done than just raise test scores. TPS has to catch up and what they have been doing won’t accomplish the mission.
Foley also won’t tell you that TPS has 28 schools that are failing with grades of “D” and “F,” and the number of failing schools has consistently been in this range for years. One-third of TPS’ 29,000 students attend these failing schools with low income students, mostly African American and Hispanic, taking the brunt of these failures.
TPS officials now claim they see the light and are addressing the underperforming central city schools. Can this be believed? Where have they been for the last eight years for Pickett and six years for Chase? These schools have been in academic emergency for years, and now TPS officials claim they are taking action. More empty promises as history suggests that once they get the money, it will be business as usual.
Some say defeating the levy will hurt the children, looking at the results one can conclude that our children have already been hurt, badly hurt! Staying the course has just not worked!
Foley will tell you how fiscally responsible TPS has been because they have closed 10 schools and cut 932 jobs.
What he won’t tell you is TPS has lost more than 8,000 students over eight years, requiring fewer employees; that attrition, not layoff, was the primary tool used to reduce the number of employees, and that several of the schools were closed because they were being rebuilt. When these schools re-open, which other schools will be closed? This is not how an open, transparent government entity should operate. It’s more akin to fraud!
TPS has not acted decisively in paring back the budget, aligning its infrastructure with enrollment and looking for cost efficiencies! The political will has not been there to take action that would preserve dollars that could be spent on educational reforms to transform the learning experience for our children.
Then we have the budget surpluses. As little as two years ago, the district was projecting a deficit in this year’s budget. Now we find that TPS had an $18 million surplus last year and it is projecting a $21 million surplus at the end of this year. In addition, it appears that TPS has overfunded its health care account to the tune of more than $10 million. So TPS has at least $31 million in the bank.
Given these facts, does TPS really need the levy renewed? The numbers from their own reports show a better situation than TPS officials are telling you.
If space permitted, we could discuss the troubled construction program, the need for TPS to redraw attendance zones, the impact of public service unions through contract language in stifling education reform efforts, the lack of effective goals and long-term strategic planning, a record of inaction on cost efficiencies, the abysmal record of transparency and more. If you would like additional information, visit tpsinfo.com.
If you want more of the same old, same old, as in failure, by all means vote yes on Issue 7.
If you want TPS officials to get off their duffs, tell us the truth, engage in real community-based problem solving, efficiently allocate and spend your tax dollars while keeping tax rates as low as possible and take corrective action, then the most effective way you have to communicate this is with a vote of no confidence on Issue 7.
The color green should get their attention. This is your chance to give TPS officials the failing grade they deserve.
Vote No on Issue 7: Demand change.
Steven Flagg is a member of the Urban Coalition.