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Cleveland Board Adopts Plan for Reducing Busing

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The Cleveland school board has approved a reform plan that drastically reduces crosstown busing for desegregation in favor of improving the quality of neighborhood schools, opening more magnet programs, and enhancing the curriculum.

The board voted 5 to 0 in favor of the "Vision 21'' plan on July 22, one day after U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti gave his approval.

The Cleveland district, where some percent of the 73,000 students are African-American, has been carrying out court-supervised busing since 1979. About one-quarter of the district's students have been bused fordesegregation purposes each day.

The Vision 21 plan calls for replacing the current student-assignment plan with four attendance regions. The number of magnet programs would increase from 27 to 37 to promote voluntary integration. (See Education Week, May 12, 1993.)

Elementary schools that did not get magnet programs would become "community model'' schools, offering programs based on current educational research.

"This is a promise and a bright light for Cleveland,'' said Patricia Moore Harbour, a district spokeswoman. "It is a comprehensive education plan that is about quality education for all students.''

One-Race Schools

The Vision 21 plan was developed by some 400 educators, parents, and community leaders, guided by Superintendent Sammie Campbell Parrish.

The local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which represents the plaintiffs in the desegregation suit against the district, and the plaintiffs agreed to the plan last month.

District officials acknowledge that the plan may result in some one-race schools. To win the approval of Judge Battisti, the district promised to bring one-race schools in line with court-mandated integration guidelines within two years.

The Vision 21 plan will take seven years to implement completely, but parents in the district will see some changes beginning this fall, including the new attendance regions and magnet programs, some of the community model schools, and new core-curriculum standards.

Other elements of the plan include reading enhancement programs for early elementary grades, new foreign-language offerings for elementary schools, Afro-centric- and multicultural-education programs, and experimental programs in 40 schools for reducing violence.-M.W.

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