Larkin even suggests that the federal Race to the Top grant that Ohio got last year is nice, but not the answer to this most pressing need.
Only 14 percent of the eligible children from families below 200 percent of the federal poverty level now attend quality preschool or Head Start programs. A significant increase in third-grade reading skills can't be achieved until more children under age 5 have access to those programs.It was also good to hear one of the Cleveland Plan's chief architects -- Greater Cleveland Partnership President Joe Roman -- say, "There are five or six critical components to the mayor's plan, but early childhood education is probably the most important."
As I have said here and in the report I developed for Innovation Ohio on the Cleveland Plan, Mayor Frank Jackson's commitment to have every three and four-year-old in Cleveland attend pre-school is the strongest part of the entire plan. However, as I pointed out many times, it is questionable whether that great goal can be achieved without additional state support. It is difficult to see that entire burden being thrust upon residents in a district whose median income is about $22,000.
And Larkin agreed.
But that won't happen unless Cleveland voters pass a school levy and the state resumes paying its fair share...The legislature's ongoing deliberation of a budget correction bill makes this a perfect time for the governor to push for a correction of this funding shortfall.And while I (not to mention the Ohio Supreme Court four different times) would disagree with Larkin that the state has paid its fair share recently to which it could return as he suggests, I welcome Larkin's call for additional state support of pre-school education and the Cleveland Plan.
Perhaps this will motivate the folks in Columbus to address the fact that they have cut per pupil funding to Cleveland by about 12% in constant dollars since 2000. Cleveland's budget shortfall is of the state's making, which Cleveland CEO Eric Gordon admitted in a recent public forum.
It is time for the state to right this wrong. Let's hope more join Larkin's call.