How to talk to cops, or not

Flying largely under the radar is the Ohio Department of Education’s call for public input on curriculum that would teach students how to interact with police officers. The department is asking people to comment on a proposed police curriculum that state law now requires be taught in public high schools. Some social justice advocates say it needs refinement to better recognize that experiences of Black students can be very different than those of white students. 

Elaine Schleiffer, who heads REACH, a nonprofit that encourages police departments to respond to certain calls with social workers and health professionals, said her biggest concern is that the curriculum requires role-playing in the classroom. 

“How many of Ohio’s classrooms are led by white people with no lived experience with actual law enforcement encounters?” she asked.  

Schleiffer also told Signal Cleveland she believes the curriculum is “stilted” and doesn’t discuss enough about what rights youths have “to call their mom or walk away.” 

The legislation does include a section on a person’s right when interacting with police and says school districts can localize the course. The proposal encourages schools to partner with local police, legal rights organizations, bar associations, prosecutors’ offices and public defenders’ offices. 

Public comment runs through April 24. 

Who are you calling The Land?

Cleveland marketers, T-shirt companies, local news organizations, politicians, musicians such as Machine Gun Kelly, and residents all refer to our hardscrabble town as The Land. 

But who knew that Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwest Germany bordering France and Switzerland, has launched a campaign also referring to itself as The Länd, though its logo includes the two dots – known as the umlaut – above the “A.” 

Baden-Württemberg, which is 4,100 miles from the North Coast, claims it’s a place “for all dreamers who want to build a future.”  

It boasts: “The Länd is the biggest industrial location in Germany, and also one of the most important industrial areas in Europe.” 

The campaign’s theme is Bigger. Better. Baden-Württemberg.

But until Nike names a Lebron James shoe after that land (as it did here in 2015), we all know the true Land sits right here on the shores of Lake Erie. 

West Side (Market) Story

West Side Market historical marker
The historical marker outside an under-construction West Side Market. (Credit: Erin Woisnet for Signal Cleveland) Credit: Erin Woisnet / Signal Cleveland

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb announced this week his spending proposal for the final round of federal COVID relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). It caught Cleveland City Council, which has the ultimate say on how the money is spent, a bit by surprise since the two sides of City Hall were supposed to be working together before going public. Soon after, Cleveland City Council weighed in with its proposal and a compromise was struck. The centerpiece, which did not change from Bibb’s initial proposal, is a plan to spend $50 million to acquire and prepare land in the city for development. 

But a sticking point was Bibb’s desire to invest $20 million in the West Side Market. Council President Blaine Griffin and other members balked, noting that figure was more than the mayor was spending on entire neighborhoods. Bibb reduced his request to $15 million.

Griffin insists that number is still too high. 

“We can’t spend that much money on a building when we have entire neighborhoods in need,” Griffin told Signal Cleveland. 

In other words, the end to the West Side story has yet to be written. 

Spending MacKenzie Scott’s money

Cleveland school students vetted ideas this week on how to spend a portion of the $20 million philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave the Cleveland Metropolitan School District last year.

About 40 students broke into small groups and ranked the 93 proposals. To make their final decision, students held a “Shark Tank” style meeting to pick 22 winning proposals.  

Winning proposals included a refresh of the Bard High School auditorium, a professional development program for teachers that focuses on social emotional learning (SEL) strategies, and funding for student travel opportunities. 

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, CEO Eric Gordon said district staff first reviewed the proposals to ensure they met the basic criteria of the spending goals but the students had the “decision-making power.” 

CMSD is allowing students to dictate how $4 million of the gift is spent, with groups approving $400,000 at a time. 

For more information on the Scott grant and CMSD’s spending plan, see CMSD’s website on the topic.

TAKE NOTE

Documenter Kathryn Johnson flagged some interesting information at the most recent Cleveland City Council Health, Human Services and the Arts Committee. Among the notable tidbits: Mental health crises and suicide rates among youth are down from peak COVID years; Black people made up 38% of fentanyl deaths in March and 40% of deaths on the year so far, which represents an uptick from 36% at the end of 2022. During the meeting Council Member Kevin Conwell, who is a musician, suggested the city re-examine its laws to allow for performances by street musicians and artists. You can find the meeting notes here.

Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com. Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.

K-12 Education Reporter (he/him)
Paul, a former City Year Cleveland AmeriCorps member based in a charter school, covered K-12 education for Signal Cleveland until August, 2023. Paul joined us from Cleveland Documenters, where he focused on creating infographics and civic tech to make public information more accessible. Paul is also a musician, photographer and graphic designer.