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CCS Superintendent Calls For "Cradle-to-Career" Education In District

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Former Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris is expected to plead no contest today to a misdemeanor charge of dereliction of duty in the district's data rigging scandal. 

Under the terms of a plea deal, Harris does not admit to any wrong doing, but agrees to cooperate with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien in the investigation into subordinates who have been accused of manipulating student test 
  scores and attendance data in order to give the appearance of improving performance for individual schools and the district as a whole.  Her successor in the district, superintendent Dan Good, faced a much different reception last night, as he told a supportive crowd at COSI about some of the accomplishments in the district under his tenure.  Alison Holm has more.

In an atmosphere reminiscent of a Vegas trade show the Columbus City Schools administration welcomed some 700 staff, parents and community members to the State of the District extravaganza.  The first floor of COSI was filled with school choirs and jazz bands.  Students from robotics teams and mechanical trades classes showed off their work, and black-clad waiters from the Metro High School culinary programs circulated with trays of appetizers.  And in a packed exhibition hall, Superintendent Dan Good listed some of the districts accomplishments of the past 18 months.

 
Good: We set a new standard of achievement for third-grade reading.  We restored integrity to our student data-gathering and reporting protocols.  We streamlined the registration processes for our community's new families. We enrolled 23% more pre-kindergarteners in the high quality early learning programs.  We sustained systemic improvements in primary literacy instruction.  We modeled that, even in chronically poor performing high schools, double digit gains can be realized in every tested discipline.  We made measurable progress in closing the achievement gaps between non-Caucasian and Caucasian students, something that is not being done in any other urban system in the nation.
 
But Good spent most of his address encouraging the audience to dream bigger, and to re-imagine what the district could become for students, their parents and the community.
 
Good: Imagine a Columbus City Schools education dedicated to solving the important community needs.  Picture family clinics, food pantires, and recreation opportunities in the school closest to your home.  Could the school library and the computer lab also be safely available before and after school is in session?  Could we have homework help centers like the Columbus Metropolitan Library has, and what about access to online training for different industry credentials and college degree programs like Columbus State Coomunity College has?
 
Good's speech was more about dreams than actual blueprints, but he says one of the key tools to creating "cradle-to-career" education, is tapping into some of the cities best known institutions.
 
Good: After all, we are the nations leader in libraries, in museums, in science centers, and in zoos.  Let's re-imagine our curricula focused on problems that have a global application:  water purification, affordable housing, race relations, infant mortaillity, ethics and so on.  and why not buildin on those existing partnerships with higher education, so that students can earn credits in the related studies, like health care, and engineering, and logistics, and manufacturing.
 
Good also called for a committment to continue improving school buildings, a process that began over a decade ago with an ambitious plans to renovate or replace every building in the district.  And he says the district plans to look at overhauling how the district provides education for gifted students and those with disabilities.  It looks like Good will get time to make good on some of these ambitious plans; although negotiations have not yet begun, school board president Gary Baker says the district wants to extend Good's contract, which currently expires in June.

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