Ohio Department of Ed Makes U-Turn Under Pressure From Educators

The Ohio Department of Education announced in a press release that they intend to delay their submission of Ohio's ESSA plan until the September deadline. They had originally planned to submit the plan at the earlier April deadline. 

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now have the flexibility to make choices that best suit their needs. States can submit their ESSA templates to the U.S. Department of Education in either April or September. To allow this work to advance and drive needed change, the Department will delay the ESSA template submission to the U.S. Department of Education to September. This also will allow more time to ensure that feedback received on the draft template can be considered carefully.

This change of heart has come about because of withering pressure from parents and educators. When ODE released their original plan, stakeholders were shocked by the lack of substance included in the plan on reduced testing and an evaluations overhaul that they had given as part of their feedback.

In response to this outrage, the press release went on to say

To address one of the key concerns heard pertaining to reduction in testing, Superintendent DeMaria is convening a Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Assessments to focus on the full range of testing issues — including state-required tests, as well as district-level tests. This work will allow for a more thorough and complete review, and recommendations for adjustments to these assessments – both state and local. More details on this committee will be developed in the coming days and weeks.

The days of not listening to educators and parents and instead pressing forward with failed corporate education reform policies is over.

US Dept of Ed Being Staffed by Know-nothings

Ed week is reporting that few people with a good policy grasp of education want to work for Betsy DeVos

Some Republican education policy experts including those who have worked in past GOP administrations, for GOP education leaders on Capitol Hill, or in states are reticent to jump into jobs in President Donald Trump's Education Department.

Why could that be?

These observers, who declined to speak for attribution given the sensitivity of the subject, worry that the administration has yet to find its organizational footing, citing reports of a chaotic governing process at the White House. Others aren't sure they want to put in long hours for a secretary with a narrow area of focus who is already facing serious backlash among educators. And a few fear DeVos may not stick around long.

One person who the Trump team had reached out to said of DeVos. "She doesn't have a vision" beyond vouchers, the Republican said. "I don't want to go in not knowing what the full vision is."

Not having a clear vision beyond dismantling public education isn't the only concern potential hires have

"There's a lot of anxiety around what this administration is going to bring, and some people may think it's pretty risky to go into these roles ... There's a lot of speculation about how long DeVos is going to last. Potential staff may question whether it's worth the risk, whether taking a job for this secretary could cause collateral damage to reputations and future opportunities in education."

That seems pretty clear. Anyone who went to work for someone as unqualified as DeVos, and with an agenda as toxic as hers is looking at career suicide.

So who is getting hired? No one particulate qualified to deal with education policy it would seem.

the initial group of policy staffers—that has been circulated to civil servants at the department is heavy on folks whose background is primarily in politics or communications, including more than a half-dozen Trump campaign staffers, state GOP party staffers, and Washington, D.C.-based communications professionals. 

Is there a collective noun for a large group of bumbling know-nothings?

Kasich Budget Calls for Teachers To Intern with Local Businesses As License Renewal Criteria

Buried 1056 pages deep in the Governor's budget (HB-49) is this eye popping provision

Sec. 3319.236. Beginning September 1, 2018, the state board of education's rules for the renewal of educator licenses shall require each applicant for renewal of a license to complete an on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce as a condition of renewal. Work experience obtained pursuant to this section shall count toward any required continuing education. Each local professional development committee established under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code shall work with its teachers to identify local work experience opportunities that meet the requirements of this section. 

Does the governor seriously think that having tens of thousands of teachers intern with the local plumbers, pizza shops, car dealership, or chambers of commerce will make them better intervention specialists? Math teachers? Spanish teachers? Band directors?

This buried provision comes on top of the provision proposed by the governor to stack board of education with "business people".  That the governor thinks local business people are bigger experts than career trained and qualified educators is downright offensive, and for students, dangerous.

It is local business people would benefit from seeing professional educators in action in their local schools. That's the internship that should be happening.

Budget Update #5 - When the GOP Budget Chair Calls Your Budget "Asinine"

When the Republican Chair of the budget committee calls aspects of the governor's school funding budget provisions "asinine" you know things are not going to go well.

Initial reports, based simply on comments from the governor, indicated schools could expect a $200 million in crease in funding. This has happened repeatedly, and we've always cautioned a wait and see.

The proposed cuts are bad.

Nearly half of Ohio’s 610 school districts will lose funding under the budget proposed this week by Gov. John Kasich, and 73 won’t get any more money than they got this fiscal year. <br/>
The highest percentage loss for any school district is 5.6%. The state has also reduced what it will pay for school transportation.

Analysis by Steve Dyer, shows the budget hammers poor and rural schools the most - those least able to absorb at hits.

Further analysis by Innovation Ohio shows the massive shift in tax burden during the governors two terms, from state funding to local funding - in effect making our school funding mechanisms even more unconstitutional!

Budget Update #4 - The Governors Robin Hood Budget Revealed!

The Governor released his long anticipated budget on January 30th. As expected it included more income tax cuts, with increases to sales taxes to pay for it. It also included increases in tax on alcohol, smoking and a range of services. The next result of this tax plan will be the continued reduction in taxes for wealthier Ohioans, while the rest of us pay more.

On the K-12 front, the news is decidedly mixed. According to budget documents:

Primary and Secondary Education recommended all funds appropriations total $11.2 billion (1.2% above FY 2017 spending levels) and $11.4 billion in FY 2019 (1.4% above FY 2018). Recommended GRF appropriations total $8.1 billion in FY 2018 and $8.2 billion in FY 2019. 

As we noted in our budget update #3, this means a cut in real terms due to inflation being around 2.1 percent. The budget also includes an erosion to the guarantee, with Districts that have lost students facing cuts. According to the Dispatch 1 in 2 districts might see these cuts

Under the plan, a district's funds would be cut by an amount equal to its population loss over 5 percent. So if enrollment dropped 6.5 percent over five years, it would lose 1.5 percent in 2018 and then get the same amount in 2019. Cuts would be capped at 5 percent.

It's not yet clear exactly how enrollment is calculated - specific district numbers are not ready yet - but based on state data, 351 of Ohio's 610 districts lost more than 5 percent of their students from 2011-16.

Budget Update #3 - Kasich Promises Tough Fiscal Conditions For Schools

Gov. John Kasich said yesterday that school funding will see an annual 1% state funding increase in the administration's biennial budget. Given that the current rate of inflation is 2.1 percent, this will amount to a cut in funding in real terms. 

"We don't have any more money...but we have had a consistent increase in education over the last six years and we're going to have a second biennium and what we call a mid-biennium review and, if we get more revenue, then education will obviously be one of our priorities," he told reporters during a Statehouse event.

The governor told the school leaders he wished he could give them money to recognize their accomplishments, but joked that they'd have to settle for plaques while the budget is tight.

These are funding choices that the Governor and his legislature have made. They chose to cut taxes, leading to school tough fiscal conditions for schools. They could easily choose to do otherwise.

We want to raise standards and hold teachers accountable, when the legislature and Governor are lowering funding standards and not being held accountable for it. Something is broken.