Barbara Danforth on Public Education
I am an advocate of public education. I know that public schools are critical to the growth of a city. When young families find a house in Cleveland Heights that they love, their next question is about the school district. I know that great education happens in the CH-UH School District.
My daughter attended Heights High School and the administration was attentive and supportive of her needs. My husband and I hosted 2 foreign exchange students in the 2018/2019 school year and they too attended Heights High. Our “daughters” had an amazing educational experience, they played sports and they participated in the music department productions.
They learned science with hands-on experiments, and American sign language. They traveled to New York City and to Washington D.C.; they played soccer, lacrosse and ran track. They were exposed to career choices that they had never before considered. Our “daughter” from Ghana completed her first year of college in computer technology and is interested in IT applications to forensic science. Our “daughter” from Kenya has been accepted into an undergraduate program that will lead to medical school. New opportunities opened up to them because of their experiences at Heights High.
You may wonder how my advocacy for public education can be reconciled with my executive leadership of the largest brick-and-mortar charter school in Ohio. The charter school served children with learning disabilities including children on the autism spectrum, with ADHD and ADD. The 24 schools were primarily located in southern Ohio in smaller and rural communities that did not have the capacity to serve the children. The children often came to us because they had not been successful in public schools. Our 1:9 teacher to student ratio provided individualized attention to each student. Our specially trained staff, of over 1,000 employees, provided other needed support services. With a budget of $62M, the school was able to leverage the economy of scale to provide specialized educational resources and accommodations. The question for every parent is what is the best academic environment for their child; the charter school provided an option.
In the Danforth administration, I envision the role of the mayor to be a supportive of public education and an advocate for the CH-UH District locally and in Columbus. I will collaborate with the District to enhance communication to all residents, not only those who have children in our schools. But I also will recognize the value of every school in the city that provides an excellent for our children. All children in our city are entitled to the educational environment that best serves their needs.