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State superintendent disappointed with Youngstown schools’ lack of progress

Published: Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 12:10 a.m.

Youngstown district ‘hasn’t gotten done what needs to get done,’ official says

RELATED: State reviewers recommend training for Youngstown school board, staff

By Denise Dick



Ohio’s state superintendent isn’t happy with the progress of Youngstown City Schools, and he is asking the community to step forward and help.

“I’m disappointed with the lack of progress,” Richard Ross, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a telephone interview Thursday with The Vindicator. “Whether it be the school board, the administration or staff or the academic distress commission, the bottom line is they haven’t gotten done what needs to get done.”

The Youngstown School District Academic Distress Commission was appointed four years ago after the city school district failed to meet adequate yearly progress for four consecutive years on the state report card.

It was the first district in the state to operate under an ADC. Lorain schools now also has one.

Ross briefly served as chairman of the Youngstown ADC before leaving to work as Gov. John Kasich’s director of 21st Century Education. Kasich later appointed Ross state superintendent after the resignation of Stan Heffner.

“The community at large, the faith-based community, the business community has to say, ‘Enough. We have to make dramatic change, whether that’s open enrollment or community schools, we have to make dramatic improvement,’” he said. “My call to action to the broad community is we need your help. We’re asking them to step forward.”

He said he has no date in mind.

Connie Hathorn, Youngs-town schools superintendent, said he would support such an effort.

“The schools belong to the community,” he said. “As long as what they want is what’s best for the kids, I would support it.”

Ross called it a “philosophical predisposition” he has that formulas for lasting change are more effective when they come from a community that’s bonded together than from a prescription written by another entity.

“I’m not pleased with the progress in Youngstown,” he said.

The closest model in the state for the type of action he’s talking about is the Cleveland Plan, Ross said.

Although he’s said he’s not looking for a copy of that city’s plan, community groups in that city got together because they weren’t happy with what was happening with the schools and made changes.

That city’s plan, which required state legislation, involves a system of district and charter schools under the leadership of a chief executive officer and nine school board members who are appointed by the Cleveland mayor. At least four of those members must have expertise in education, finance or business.

The board members hire the CEO.

“The bottom line is this has to be for the boys and girls,” Ross said. “There’s got to be a change and improvement for the opportunities for these young people. If they’re limited by what their opportunities are in education, then shame on us.”


1handymandave(566 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

If you think the school system is a failure just wait. They'll be even more disappointing once the school year starts.

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2glbtactivist(313 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

This goes to show everyone how uneducated and unprofessional are the people that Gov. Kasich has put in charge in Columbus. Everyone in the State except this guy knows what is wrong with all inner city schools. It is the parents and community. Nothing to do with the schools. Struthers and Boardman schools are almost identical to the Youngstown schools in terms of what they teach and how educated and experienced the staff is. The difference in the schools is the kids. The difference in the kids is the parents. Stop waisting everyone's time pretending that the schools can perform miracles. Stop blaming the wrong people for political points. The only inner city program that ever worked was the one in New York City that took the kids away from the parents and community and put them in boarding schools. Then they did as well in school as kids in the suburbs.

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3DwightK(1520 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Parents need to step up. It's their responsibility to make sure kids arrive at school on time, fed, clean, well rested and ready to start the day. If your kid is failing, especially young kids, you better look in the mirror and ask yourself what your problem is.

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4republicanRick(1670 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

The only people left within Youngstown are the lower class. There is no lower-middle or middle or upper class.

The lower class is this way because of lack of education, motivation, or poor health. They cannot lead themselves, they must be pushed or prodded into a better life. The government must step in and fix the problem.

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5Maggie_Pentz(88 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't really know where to start to address these comments. Let me just say that it's not "poverty" alone that necessarily affects achievement, rather the risk factors that accompany living in poverty in modern society.

Today's poverty is different in many ways from poverty experienced by previous generations. As is the student population - in previous generations, poor kids often dropped out or never attended school and thus were not included in any assessments of "school quality".

Some links to research you should consider while pondering this topic:





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6steivo(540 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

The web-site is nothing more than Teacher Union propaganda. There is nothing wrong with the tests. Until you admit what the problem is, you will never solve it.

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7Education_Voter(1112 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

These comments are just ridiculous because the speaker, Superintendent Ross, is criticizing the schools that he HIMSELF IS IN CHARGE OF! What kind of CEO tells patrons that his organization is failng and that they should go to the competitor??!!
ANSWER: a corrupt CEO who works for the competitor.
This man is in charge of ALL Ohio schools, particularly in Youngstown and Lorain where the state removed local control.
All the state has done so far is insist on outrageous spending paid out to consultants in Columbus.

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8Education_Voter(1112 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Why is Superintendent Ross afraid to tell the parents to step up? For example, be at school on the first day, instead of creating your own "first day" a week or a month later with an excuse like "We didn't have a chance to get new shoes yet."

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