Columbus Mayor Announces Education Commission

Mayor Michael Coleman has called on 25 community and business leaders to form an education commission to address issues within Columbus City Schools.
Mayor Michael Coleman has called on 25 community and business leaders to form an education commission to address issues within Columbus City Schools.

As the Columbus City Schools look for a new superintendent, Mayor Coleman continues to help improve the district. The mayor has called on 25 community and business leaders to form an education commission. WOSU reports one question remains unclear- just exactly what the committee will do.

One thing is for sure, this new Education Commission is going to have its hands full during the next few months. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman has asked committee members to examine the district’s issues and essentially find a way to make its students thrive.

“Among the issues they will consider, and there will be many, how do we measure academic success? Actually that’s a very difficult question. Kindergarten readiness; getting young people ready for kindergarten,” Coleman said.

And there are a host of other issues the commission will consider, including after-school opportunities and career preparation.

The committee itself could present its own issues; with 25 people from various sectors including public, private and non-profit, a consensus on how to fix the city schools could be difficult to reach. But there’s at least one thing on which most members will likely agree: “The challenge of education in Columbus, the challenges are significant.”

That’s Columbus Attorney Kathy Ransier, a commission co-chair.

Another co-chair, U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, echoed her. “The most difficult challenge facing Columbus.”

It’s a challenge for Columbus for various reasons. The district is losing students choosing charter schools and using private school vouchers. Some families are moving to the suburbs in search of better schools.

School administrators are in the middle of an attendance data rigging investigation. And its superintendent retires at the end of the school year.

Coleman is adamant the committee will not be involved or affected by the investigation or the search for a new superintendent.

But when asked whether the committee will recommend changing the district’s management structure, Coleman said, “We will be talking about leadership. We’re talking about efficiencies and accountability, and those kinds of issues. This commission will be talking about that and other things. They have limited time to do it. They’ve got to focus.”

Judge Marbley said nothing is off the table in finding a way to improve the school district.

“I think that we would be cheating ourselves if we, if there were issues we agreed not to examine. So we agree to examine all of the issues.”

This committee has no legal authority over the schools. And whatever recommendations it makes are just that, recommendations. But Columbus City School Board president Carol Perkins, also a member of the committee, said the school board is open to its input.

“What the mayor has suggested in terms of topics of discussion align perfectly with the work we are currently doing. I see this a win-win in regards to being able to get more information from the community,” she said.

The mayor hopes the commission will complete its work and make recommendations in the spring.

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