Well, it was a great day for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District in the pages of the trusty Sun Press.  There were eleven well written and passionate letters to the editor in support of the school levy (including two by the mother-daughter team of Nancy and Krissy) and two tired, repetitive letters against. Now if only we could guarantee those same odds on Election Day!

You would think that in the year 2011, it would be easy to access these letters online but I don’t seem able to.  So I’m copying mine below, which was (shockingly) printed in its entirety without one word of editing, despite being 55 words over their limit.  Please please please, if you live in these fine communities, PLEASE vote yes for Issue 6 on November 8.

Dear Editor,

Rita O’Connor’s attack on the Heights Schools is sadly misguided.  She seems to place blame for criminal activity and irresponsible behavior on the shoulders of the school district. It is true that both exist in our communities, as they exist in all inner-ring suburbs. But it is not true, nor even sensible, to think that such problems are the fault of the schools. 

Our district is doing an excellent job educating all of its students, including those whose parents may not meet O’Connor’s approval. The new programs at the Delisle Educational Options Center are helping to ease the transition of students from other districts, notably Cleveland and East Cleveland, so they are better prepared both academically and behaviorally for the high standards of CH-UH.

CH-UH also partners closely with Family Connections to engage parents of “at-risk” kindergarteners, both in the school and in their homes.  Such programs give parents specific skills and opportunities to interact with their young children in ways that promote early literacy.

But even with the district’s carefully planned interventions, there are and will continue to be students from families who, in O’Connor’s words, have “no idea how to support a child and no idea how to live responsible lives.” Many of these children, despite facing enormous obstacles, are excellent students. Sadly, O’Connor’s solution is to cut them off: We don’t like their parents’ behavior and therefore we shouldn’t offer them a high quality education   .

Nothing could be more short-sighted, or more reprehensible. Children from troubled backgrounds are punished for the mistakes of their parents every single day. A just and caring society would wrap their arms around these kids and give them the very best opportunities, even when it’s expensive, both to prevent the cycle of poverty from spiraling forward and because it is simply the right thing to do.

One of the best things about CH-UH is its commitment to every student who walks through its doors. This is not a “bad” district because it pours money and energy into educating children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Quite the opposite, in fact. That is one of the things that makes it great.