City of Cleveland
Frank G. Jackson,
Office of the Mayor
Cleveland City Hall
Mr. Terrance C.Z.
Egger President & Publisher The Plain Dealer
1801 Superior Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44114
I hope that you are doing well and want to acknowledge that The
Plain Dealer has covered an issue over the past week that is key to
the future of Cleveland: education. Based on your coverage, I felt
compelled to write you this letter so that I can address statements
made in your paper regarding the Cleveland Scholarships for
Education and Training (CSET) program.
First, let me say that these are children, not “drop-outs” as stated
in How to reach those who reject our help. It was also stated that
our children “squanderlife and chance.” That statement is applicable
to many, including adults. It is particularly applicable to those
who have no excuse because life and society have been good to them.
Finally, today’s editorial states, “Mayor Jackson’s heart was in the
right place…but his head was not.” Let me assure you that my heart
and head are in the same place and that is to create an environment
for success for all our children and to serve all our children, no
matter who they belong to.
I have said many times that the key to our success and future is the
education of our young people. Traditional educational systems are
focused on educating children from Kindergarten to the 12th grade. I
am focused on pre-Kindergarten to a bachelor’s degree, or at
minimum, to an associate’s degree.
All post-12th grade education, including community college courses,
should be treated as college, which means that a young person can be
successful, fail or choose to stay or leave. In either case, young
people deserve the opportunity. I have several scholarship programs
because I recognize a cookie cutter approach will not work. Through
money raised by employee contributions to the United Negro College
Fund, the Mayor Frank G. Jackson Scholarship Fund gives out
scholarships to CMSD seniors, City of Cleveland employees and City
of Cleveland employees’ children who are high school seniors or
undergraduates. This scholarship is competitive, including a minimum
GPA of2.5, an essay, and community service.
In addition, CMSD has an arrangement with the University of Toledo
that allows CMSD graduates that meet certain criteria, including a
minimum GPAof 3.0, to attend that university tuition-free. The
school district is currently in conversations with Bowling Green
State University, Cleveland State University and The Ohio State
University to see if we can replicate the University of Toledo
On the other hand, the CSET program is designed specifically for
CMSD graduates and Cuyahoga Community College. This program has two
requirements: graduate from CMSD and apply for financial aid. Its
purpose is to provide a college education opportunity for all CMSD
Much has been said in your paper about the fact that under the CSET
program there is not a minimum GPA requirement and that 54% of the
students did not return to Tri-C for the second year of the program.
Your paper has said the program is “rife with dropouts”, implying
that their lack of enrolling in Tri-C for the second year is only
negative. This and similar
statements largely ignore the fact that some of the students who did
not return to Tri-C likely moved on to other colleges, the military
or vocational training programs. While we don’t have the tracking
data to prove this, I am relying on common sense to know that not
all of those who didn’t return simply dropped out of college.
Your paper has suggested that I set a minimum GPA as a criterion to
ensure what your paper defines as success. I will not do so. It
reminds me of the times that I’ve been asked “why are we spending
this money on these children.” I will not set a minimum GPA for the
CSET program because I do not have any throwaway children. I will
not say to any child that you are unworthy of an opportunity for
I do recognize that there are some changes that have to be made.
Since beginning the program in 2008, we have identified that there
are some needs that CMSD students have to address. We recognize that
many CMSD graduates were unaware of the options available to them in
terms of financial aid and in applying for college. We know that
many of our students need help in transitioning from high school to
college and how to take advantage of the opportunities that are
available to them. That is why last year, Dr. Sanders, the school
board and I began developing a course for all CMSD juniors and
seniors to help address these issues.
Starting with this school year, all 11th and 12th graders must take
the two-year “Colleges and Careers” course in order to graduate.
This course includes a strong financial literacy component and
instruction on how to apply for financial aid. It provides knowledge
to all CMSD juniors and seniors to help prepare them for college and
understand what they have to do to be successful.
What they do when they get there is a choice they must make – that
is part of the learning curve of college. The “Colleges and Careers”
course is designed to help them make good choices for their own
futures. CSET is designed to get them in the door. Only the students
can decide what happens next. This is also true for those who are
part of other scholarship programs that require a minimum GPA.
Finally, what about the 46% of the 2008 CSET recipients who are
enrolled in their second year at Tri-C? The coverage in your paper
has mostly dismissed this accomplishment. More than 200 young people
– who might not have had the GPA or the money to go to other
colleges – are in their second year ofcollege. I am proud of them.
Their families are proud of them. And we as a community should be
proud of them.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and your
commitment to making Cleveland a better place.
Frank G. Jackson,
City of Cleveland