Members Of Cleveland NAACP Support Mayoral Control Of Schools

CLEVELAND (AP) - Members of the local NAACP branch went against the national organization's position and announced their endorsement of mayoral control of the city's schools Friday.

Local NAACP President George Forbes and other members of the Cleveland chapter formed a group called Friends of the NAACP, which met in the Cleveland schools administration building Friday morning. They believe that Mayor Jane Campbell should continue to appoint the school board.

The NAACP's national leadership strongly opposes appointed school boards.

Forbes said he is impressed with the work of schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the changes that have come with the appointed board.

"We've found that what you lose in electing a board, you gain in education," Forbes said.

The full Cleveland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People did not take a position on the mayoral control issue, but did pass a resolution praising Byrd-Bennett's work with the schools, chapter spokesman Charles Lucas said. Lucas said the resolution does not conflict with the national group's stance.

Voters will decide Nov. 5 whether they want to keep a mayor-appointed school board or return to an elected school board.

Former Mayor Michael R. White began mayoral control of the troubled urban school system in 1998. It has an enrollment of about 77,000 students.

The Cleveland Development Fund, which also includes local NAACP members, donated $10,000 at Friday's meeting with the Friends of the NAACP and the Committee for Cleveland's Children to support the mayoral control issue.

The pro-mayoral control campaign is trying to convince voters that the welfare of students is more important than the right to elect a school board.

Annaliesa Henley, an opposition leader and the wife of former board member Gerald Henley, said she doesn't buy that argument.

"That's something people say to make you feel sad," she said. "I've attended a lot of school board meetings, and they talk about appointed and elected boards, and I don't hear them talking about children."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)