Election Wrapup: CPS Levy Passes

The CPS levy finally passed, which is good.

Some people are not pleased. Such as this lady.

I am writing to voice my displeasure with the passage of the Cincinnati school levy. I estimate the levy will raise the property tax on my home by at least $800, which is an amount my middle class family, like many others in the area, simply cannot afford. The primary consequence Cincinnati will see as a result of this will not be better schools, but increased flight to the suburbs by middle class families where the schools are better and crime rates and taxes are lower. I love Cincinnati, and I don't want to move, but my family may be the next family to move to the burbs.

- Deborah Gates, Columbia Tusculum
So many themes spring to mind when I read that letter.
  1. First of all, the levy adds an estimated $240 in taxes on a $100,000 home. So Miss Gates of Columbia Tusculum owns a house in the mid $300's. Now, I hesitate to even bring this up, because I'm uncomfortable classifying people based on these things, and I know that $300,000 does not buy as much house as it used to, but it makes me wonder if Miss Gates is truly middle-class (and makes me wonder what truly is middle-class anymore anyway)? And I wonder where she sends her kids for school?
  2. Because it's true that the schools, crime, and taxes are all better in the suburbs, obviously. If her kids attend private schools, I understand why, and I understand why still paying property taxes is upsetting. (Which is why I believe that vouchers and charter schools are in the solution somewhere, but they must be held to the same standards as public schools - the government cannot afford to fund public education the same way it cannot afford to fund health care, but I digress.) But if she loves this city so much, then she should know that, as I've said in previous blogs, the future of this city long-term depends on having publicly-funded education that parents will not hesitate using. And the levy helps achieve that goal. If her kids do attend public schools, then Miss Gates should support the levy anyway.
  3. Not to mention that in all this CPS is doing a good job and is setting the trend. In the appendix of the book about teachers that I read, there was a list of around a half-dozen school districts around the country with forward-thinking teacher-payment systems. CPS was one of them. Additionally, in the last CityBeat before the election, there is a great article on the importance of CPS and the great progress it has made.
    "...one person in particular, Joe Nathan, suggests that CPS could serve as a model for other districts. He represented the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for seven of the years it was involved with local schools and was so impressed he wrote an opinion piece for the The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune praising the district.

    'Powerful progress in the Cincinnati Public Schools may help efforts to improve Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools,' Nathan wrote in 2007. 'Despite its problems, CPS grew from a four-year, 51 percent high school graduation rate in 2000 to a four-year, 79 percent graduation rate in 2007. It also eliminated the graduation gap between white and African-American students. Graduation rates for all students increased. Cincinnati appears to be among the first (if not the first) major urban districts to eliminate this gap.'"
    So CPS is improving. How is it improving? Why do you think they spend all that money?

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