Ted Ginn Sr., father of NFL wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., has coached some of the best college and professional talent in the NFL and NCAA. But he is doing something even more impressive off the field in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Ginn presented a plan to establish the Ginn Academy to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in 2006. The district accepted his blueprint, and Ginn opened a school for at-risk male students whom he felt could benefit from his unique style of leadership.
The Ginn Academy, a privately run, publicly funded charter school, operates under an open admission policy, where any family who makes a good case and demonstrates commitment to the program can have their son admitted. Giving these students a chance to succeed is a what drove Ginn to start the academy, and he requires a similar drive from the teachers he employs. “If you come here for a job, you’re in the wrong place,” Ginn said. “This is not a job, it’s a calling. It’s somewhere everyone can make a difference in the world.”
Enthusiasm and support continues to grow for the Ginn Academy in the Cleveland Area. In a 2009 New York Times article, the district’s chief executive, Eugene Sanders said this of the success of the Ginn Academy:
Through a personal relationship, individualizing the school experience, a students having a personal desire to be here, the parents choosing the school, and teachers being selected on the basis of skill and competence and not seniority are all variables that are part of the new wave of teaching and learning.
Surprisingly, even the Cleveland Teacher’s Union has thrown its support behind Ginn and his academy, as Union President David Quolke joined local school district executive Sanders in endorsing the school.
Ginn avoided the mistakes of the district’s flawed tenure system and in just a few short years has seen positive results. Thirty-two out of 37 members of the Ginn Academy’s first graduating class have passed the state’s graduation exam, and none of the students that have stepped through the halls thus far have dropped out. These early results are a vast improvement from the local city schools in Cleveland which have a graduation rate of 54%.
Like the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in the District of Columbia, the Ginn Academy is another shining example of the positive impact school choice can have on students and families. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has decided to phase-out the successful D.C. scholarship program, severely limiting choice for low-income children in the nation’s capital.
For the young men who attend the Ginn Academy, their zipcodes are no longer defining their education destiny. It’s yet another endorsement of policies that ultimately put power back into the hands of parents.
Nick Taddeo is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm