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Changing school takeover system

Some school districts in Ohio, including several in larger cities, are failing students badly. It is difficult to imagine how parents would react to a local school system with a 67.7 percent four-year high school graduation rate — but that is the number state officials report for the East Cleveland City School District.

A few years ago, state legislators proclaimed they’d had enough of failing schools. They approved a system whereby the state could take over and run a district where performance fell under certain levels.

Under the takeover law, a failing local school district’s board of education can have its power limited severely. Special five-member commissions take over, hiring “CEOs” who control the district. Their power is enormous, extending to canceling contracts with union employees.

But it has not worked, according to The Columbus Dispatch, which cited a lack of improvement in several taken-over districts including, you guessed it, East Cleveland.

Now, legislators are considering changes to make the takeover law more effective or, perhaps, to scrap it and try something different. The Dispatch reports lawmakers hope to have something in place by June 30.

Clearly, a new approach is needed, but it should not be crafted in haste. Tens of thousands of Ohio children are not being served adequately by their schools — and that must change.

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