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New Teacher Recruitment is Collapsing

According to the latest Federal Title 2 data, enrollment into teacher prep programs has collapsed by 9.12% in Ohio. We're not the first to notice this trend, nor is it isolated to Ohio.

The Washington Post reports that Teacher for America may miss their recruitment goals by as much as 25%. Here's part of the memo sent out by the TFA CEO to partners
Dear Colleagues, With a few months to go in our recruitment season, we’d like to share an update on our work, including the patterns we’re seeing among the college seniors, graduate students, and professionals we’re working to recruit. As always, we’d welcome your advice and collaboration.

At this point, we’re tracking toward an incoming corps that may be smaller than the current one, and because demand for corps members has grown in recent years, we could fall short of our partners’ overall needs by more than 25 percent. We understand that this has very real implications for you and your students, and though we’ve still got nearly half our recruitment season to go, we wanted to keep you in the loop.

Today’s education climate is tough—fewer Americans rate education as a “top 2” national issue today, and teacher satisfaction has dipped precipitously in recent years—down from 62% in 2008 to 39% in 2012. Additionally, an increasingly polarized public conversation around education, coupled with shaky district budgets, is challenging the perception of teaching as a stable, fulfilling profession; in turn, we’re seeing decreased interest in entering the field nationwide. (You can read analysis of this trend here in Education Week.) We’ve felt some of this same polarization around TFA. At the same time, the broader economy is improving and young people have more job options than in recent years. Having experienced the national recession through much of their adolescence, college graduates today are placing a greater premium on what they see as financially sustainable professions. Teaching and public service have receded as primary options.

The same pattern of apathy towards teaching was highlighted by Ed Week in a recent article titled Steep Drops Seen in Teacher-Prep Enrollment Numbers
Massive changes to the profession, coupled with budget woes, appear to be shaking the image of teaching as a stable, engaging career. Nationwide, enrollments in university teacher-preparation programs have fallen by about 10 percent from 2004 to 2012, according to federal estimates from the U.S. Department of Education's postsecondary data collection.
[...]
"It is an alarming trend," said Mary Vixie Sandy, the executive director of the California Commission on Teaching Credentials, which enforces the state's teacher-preparation standards. "We are going to see it play out in this year and in the coming year with an increase in demand, and a not very deep pool of teachers to fulfill that demand."
[...]
If an uncertain economy is one likely explanation for the drop, analysts also point to other, less tangible causes: lots of press around changes to teachers' evaluations, more rigorous academic-content standards, and the perception in some quarters that teachers are being blamed for schools' problems.
Ed Week produced the graph below to show some of the trends

Corporate education reformers set about creating a climate of "accountability" to drive out "bad teachers" and replace them with "superstars". All they appear to have accomplished is creating a byzantine accountability system that doesn't work, isn't fair and is actively driving away tens of thousands of potential new teachers.

Are Failing Ohio Charters Entering the 3rd Act?

A new study of Ohio's charter schools, paid for by the corporate education boosters at the Fordham Foundation, performed by CREDO which is funded by the Walton Family, and performed by the wife of a conservative economist found that:
Overall, kids in [Ohio] charters lose 36 days of math and 14 days of reading to their traditional public school counterparts.

Of the 68 statistically significant differences CREDO found between charters and public schools, 56 showed a negative charter school impact, and 12 showed a positive one
It's a catastrophe for Ohio's charter industry, in fact it is so bad, the conservative author of the study had this to say:
I actually am kind of a pro-market kinda girl. But it doesn’t seem to work in a choice environment for education. I’ve studied competitive markets for much of my career. That’s my academic focus for my work. And (education) is the only industry/sector where the market mechanism just doesn’t work. I think it’s not helpful to expect parents to be the agents of quality assurance throughout the state. I think there are other supports that are needed… The policy environment really needs to focus on creating much more information and transparency about performance than we’ve had for the 20 years of the charter school movement. We need to have a greater degree of oversight of charter schools. But I also think we have to have some oversight of the overseers.
When conservatives are saying Free market don't work in education, it seems everyone but Ohio's lawmakers are coming to the consensus that the charter school quality crisis must be dealt with, and dealt with now.

National Charter School Study 2013

6 Reasons Why Parent Triggers Are A Waste of Time

Anti-Tax group, StudentsFirst Ohio's lobbyist is upset that not a single parent expressed any interest in pulling a parent trigger in any of the 20 Columbus City Schools that were eligible.
Not a single Columbus City Schools parent has inquired about using Ohio’s “parent trigger” law to force changes at 20 low-performing schools, according to the facilitator appointed to oversee the process.

“No one has contacted us,” said Greg Harris, director of StudentsFirst Ohio, a pro-charter-school organization chosen by the state Department of Education to aid parents on the trigger. “I really assumed there would be some inquiries.”

While some feared a disruptive storm of building takeovers could ensue, 10 weeks after the law went into effect, the result amounts to not even a drizzle: No one is aware of any move by parents to submit petitions to the district treasurer by the Dec. 31 deadline. The response was so anemic that Harris said he fears it will be used to try to repeal the law, which makes Columbus a test site for the trigger.

Any Columbus district school ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the state is eligible to be reinvented — including being transformed into a charter school — using the trigger.
Nationwide, parent triggers are rarely pulled, except for where outside agitators looking to profiteer get involved to try to turn a local school into a profit making charter school enterprise. Why is this? Greg Harris thinks it's because parents of students who attended these schools didn't get a letter
While StudentsFirst vowed to remain neutral and not attempt to motivate parents in one direction or another, Harris said he now regrets that his group didn’t mail notices to the thousands of affected parents, which he estimates might have cost up to $8,000.

“Now in hindsight, I wish I had done that,” Harris said. “Not that I wanted to organize the parents, but I wish they were made aware of the option.”
Let's examine the real reasons these parent triggers are rarely pulled.

1. Student Mobility

Low performing urban schools has massive numbers of transitory students. The Fordham Foundation did a massive study on this in 2012, and found
Analysis of the mobility history and test scores of students in the Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Dayton districts who took the 3rd and 8th grade achievement tests in spring 2011 found that the number of school changes over two years is an independent predictor of test scores, with more moves generally indicating a likelihood of lower scores. “The fact that one in six urban K-8 students and one in five urban high school students switched schools during the school year has a negative effect on student performance,” said Mark Real from KidsOhio.org. “It is hopeful that twelve organizations are banding together to understand and discuss these issues.” -
Parents of these students, if they indeed have parents, are simply moving through and are are unlikely to get involved in protracted efforts to "turn-around" or "take-over" a school their child might only attend for 3 months.

2. Maslow's hierarchy of needs

A simple look at the economic demographics of the schools eligible for the student trigger reveals that nearly all the students are coming from disadvantaged background - ie poverty. This shouldn't surprise anyone - we know that academic performance is highly correlated to poverty. Parents working 2 or 3 jobs are unlikely to have the time or energy to engage in some corporate education reformers political fantasy of taking over a school. Their hands are full trying to house and feed their children.

3. Quality Profile of the Schools

It is well understood that parents choose which schools to send their children to based on a wide range of criteria, and not just academic performance. In fact when parents of urban charter schools are asked why they choose that school, safety and convenience are the top answers. Performance index scores are simply not their only concern.

4. Who can read your letter?

StudentsFirst may want to send out $8,000 worth of letters, but in what language will they be written? Non english speaking and ESL parents and students are highly prevalent in these school environments. It's another predictor of challenging academic performance.

5. Students with Disabilities

These schools all have large populations of students with disabilities. Parents of these students barely have the time between work and caring for their child to begin some political school take over process - even if they believed it was needed, which they very well may not. Again, performance index scores are not their only concern.

6. Maybe these schools aren't so bad

A quick look at the performance data for these schools shows they are struggling, but many of the mitigating circumstances have been discussed above. But beyond those mitigating circumstances, many of these schools are showing adequate growth, even if that growth is not enough to propel them to the top of the A-list performance index charts.

In conclusion

Given all these factors laid out, does anyone but the most naive believe that not sending parents a letter is the main reason why not a single one felt the need to engage in the political stunt of taking over a school, whose struggles have very little to do with the administration or teachers of that school?

These parent trigger laws are simply a waste of time. They fail to address the real challenges students from these schools face on a daily basis. Hunger, homelessness, over worked parents, lack of healthcare, English as a second language, disabilities, lack of a safe environment and on and on. They are not struggling because their school is populated with incompetent teachers and administrators who don't know or care about what they are doing. In many cases, those teachers might be the only people who care.

Greg Harris should spend less time on the hall of power in Columbus and more time in the halls of these troubled schools talking to people, maybe then he would understand sending a letter isn;t the solution, and neither are these trigger laws.

State Board of Education Set to Eliminate Music, Art, Librarians, Counselors, Nurses and Phys Ed

The State Board of Education is poised to allow the elimination of library media specialists, school nurses, visiting teachers, social workers and elementary art, music and physical education specialist by redlining out the following section ("5 of 8" rule) of the Ohio Administrative Code
(4) A minimum of five full-time equivalent educational service personnel shall be employed district-wide for each one thousand students in the regular student population as defined in section 3317.023 of the Revised Code. Educational service personnel shall be assigned to at least five of the eight following areas: counselor, library media specialist, school nurse, visiting teacher, social worker and elementary art, music and physical education. Educational service personnel assigned to elementary art, music and physical education shall hold the special teaching certificate or multi-age license in the subject to which they are assigned. School districts receiving the school nurse wellness coordinator factor and school district health professional factor funds pursuant to section 3306.06 of the Revised Code shall give preference to hiring licensed school nurses.
Tom Gunlock, the board's vice chairman, had this to say to the Plain Dealer this morning
the proposed change isn't to eliminate those positions, as some are charging, but to let districts make their own choices. I'm sure they'll do what's right for their kids.
For wealthy districts who already operate above these comically low standards the rule change will have little impact, but for districts struggling financially, or looking for ways to meet other mandates such as the 3rd grade reading guarantee within existing tight budgets, elimination of these state minimums will have disastrous effects on students. Gunlock is acting very coy and surely knows full well what eliminating these standards will mean.

There are some conflicting reports that the Board vote will take place either tomorrow at their meeting, or at the December meeting. Either way we urge educators and concerned parents to contact the board and tell them to abandon this terrible plan. Email the school board or call (614) 728-2754. Do it sooner rather than later.

Here's a good, short, slide show highlighting some of the details.

#5of8 Row draws strange bedfellows

We reported yesterday on the Ohio State Board of Education's plans to eliminate the 5 of 8 rule. The Boards' Operating Standards Committee met yesterday to discuss the rule and vote it out of committee. It passed 4-3, but those supporting and opposing the measure were not who you would expect.
According to the Plain Dealer
"I've been receiving a lot of feedback," said committee member Kathleen McGervey of Avon, who voted no after she started receiving calls with objections this weekend. "I just wanted a little more time to hear them out."

Board member Sarah Fowler, the vice chair of the Operating Standards Committee from Ashtabula County, also voted against sending the change to the full board. She said emails from constituents Sunday and Monday convinced her to consider the issue further. Fowler also represents Geauga and Portage counties.

Her biggest concern: "Making sure we're not incentivizing districts to not provide certain things for their students."

Also voting no was Stephanie Dodd, of Hebron.
Sarah Fowler is the home-schooler on the board and typically has not been friendly towards public education. The volume of complaints she and other board members have been receiving have clearly been having an effect. Back the the Plain Dealer
Committee chairman Ron Rudduck, Board President Debe Terhar, and members Tess Elshoff and Brad Lamb, of Westlake, voted to approve the changes for full board consideration.
It should be no surprise that Debe Terhar continues to act against the best interests of students, and Brad Lamb was just voted out of office only 7 days ago to be replaced by a veteran teacher, Roslyn Painter-Goffi. The disappointing yes vote was that of Ron Rudduck.

Rudduck received strong backing from educators in the November elections, believing he was a moderate Republican voice with strong pro-public education beliefs guiding his decisions. Educators and concerned parents should call Ron Ruddick and tell him to oppose the elimination of the 5 of 8 rule. You can phone him: (937) 302-8035, or Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Today, the State board of Education will hear public comments, one of the groups testifying will be the Ohio Education Association - the organization that represents 121,000 teacher in Ohio. Here's why they believe it is critical to keep the 5 of 8 rule.
When the Board votes on the recommendations of the Operating Standards Committee, we ask that you restore this language in Rule 5 for the following reasons:
• Removing the Current Rule 5 language would have the immediate effect of further reducing the educational opportunities that are available to boys and girls in Ohio’s schools.

• Current Rule 5 language already provides significant flexibility to local school districts; there is no compelling reason to change it.

• Without rules requiring Ohio’s schools to provide specific services that meet the needs of the whole child (including school counseling, nursing, library media support, social work, and elementary art, music and physical education instruction), school districts will have the incentive to focus personnel and other resources only on tested subjects.

• Maintaining the “5 of 8” rule demonstrates that the State Board of Education is committed to equal educational opportunity for all of Ohio’s students. If the 5 of 8 rule were eliminated from the Operating Standards, children from low-wealth communities—those who need these services the most—would be the most likely to be deprived of the support they need for a well-rounded education.

Corporate Ed proposal suffers crushing defeat

Corporate Education Reformers were dealt a massive blow by voters in Missouri, by rejecting a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would have linked teacher evaluations to student performance, limited tenure, and restricted collective bargaining rights. The effort to undermine public education was funded by a far right billionaire, Rex Sinquefield under the guise of a comically named group "Teach Great".

Here's the cockamamie plan he had cooked up
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
  • require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
  • require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and
  • prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

Sounds a lot like SB5 - and like SB5 it was massively defeated 77% - 23%.

In Illinois, voters struck back at millionaires voting to approve an income tax surcharge to pay for schools. That measure passed 63%-37%.
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