Tuesday, February 09, 1999

Race effort in schools endorsed

Report praises CPS progress

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An Ohio Department of Education official found that Cincinnati Public Schools mostly complies with orders concerning a 25-year-old desegregation case.

        The district has complied with 13 provisions and substantially complied with nine others outlined in a 1993 agreement, Assistant State Superintendent Steven M. Puckett said. Provisions addressed such issues as student and staff racial balance, curriculum and promotion standards, preschool availability and discipline.

        But attorneys representing the civil rights leaders, students and parents who filed Bronson vs. the Board of Education in 1974 say they'll continue trying to convince a federal judge to reopen the case.

        “This fellow Puckett is basically saying that the operation is a success although the patient died,” said Bill Taylor, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing the plaintiffs. “It's a very disappointing report and does not show any serious effort to try to address the real issue in this case — the lack of results.”

        District Counsel John Concannon stressed that although both sides acknowledged in 1993 that the strategies outlined in the agreement would probably boost achievement, the contract did not guarantee results. Mr. Concannon presented the report's results to school board members Monday night.

        “Results are extremely important, but we did not contract to guarantee results,” he said.

        U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice will consider the report and could rule to reopen the case.

        In the Jan. 19 report, Mr. Puckett praised recent reform efforts instituted under CPS Superintendent Steven Adamowski, including a plan to redesign failing schools and give successful schools more autonomy.

        He also applauded the district's five-year strategic plan.

        “The district has embarked upon a strategic plan that puts students first; is standards-based; decentralizes authority and responsibility increasingly to schools; and attempts to genuinely involve parents in the education of their children,” Mr. Puckett wrote.

        In the report, Steven M. Puckett offered several recommendations for Cincinnati Public Schools, including:

        Convert all half-day preschools to full-day programs. If capacity or funding is a problem, the district should partner with governmental agencies or community groups such as YMCAs and Head Start.

        Train all kindergarten through fourth-grade teachers in reading development, and continually review and adjust reading instruction to ensure improved performance.

        Implement new programs in the district's most unsuccessful schools.

        Retrain or reassign staff who use suspensions and expulsions as their preferred or only behavior management method.


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