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Voucher expanding Bills

School Choice Ohio provides a decent run down of pending legislation that would expand voucher programs in Ohio

Rep. Matt Huffman’s proposal to create an income-based voucher and a special education voucher; The proposal has bipartisan support and dozens of cosponsors

(Also see related proposal: Senate Bill 128)

  • Expanded Eligibility: Income-based and special education
  • Incorporates the EdChoice and Cleveland Scholarships
  • Voucher amount: $2,300-$4,600, depending on family income; $6,000-$26,000 for special education scholarships
  • Number of vouchers: Unlimited
  • Private school students eligible? Yes, incremental phase-in
  • Timeline: Unknown, hearings have begun in House Education committee.

House Bill 153

State biennium budget; Proposal from Gov. John Kasich includes EdChoice expansion

  • Expanded Eligibility: Additional low-rated public schools
  • Voucher amount: $4,250 for K-8; $5,000 for high school
  • Number of vouchers: 30,000 for 2011-12 school year, 60,000 for the 2012-13 school year
  • Private school students eligible? No
  • Timeline: By state law, budget must be finalized by June 30

Senate Bill 88

Proposal from Sen. Kris Jordan to create a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for individuals and businesses who donate to scholarship organizations like the Children’s Scholarship Fund

  • Expanded Eligibility: Income-based
  • Voucher amount: $4,250 for K-8; $7,000 for high school
  • Number of vouchers: roughly 4,000-5,000
  • Private school students eligible? Yes
  • Timeline: Unknown, hearings have begun in the Senate Ways and Means and Economic Development committee

Senate Bill 65

Proposal to increase the number of EdChoice Scholarships by Sen. Gary Cates

(Also see related proposal House Bill 115)

  • Expanded Eligibility: No
  • Voucher amount: $4,250 for K-8, $5,000 for high school
  • Number of vouchers: Unlimited
  • Private school students eligible: No
  • Timeline: Unknown, hearings have begun in the Senate Education committee
Needless to say, these bills would suck money away from the majority of students who attend a public school.

A pernicious argument

There's a pernicious argument being made by supporters of S.B.5. It's quite vile in its attempts to pit middle class against middle class. It was on full display in the Plain Dealer over the weekend in an op-ed article written by Brent Larkin
Supporters of Senate Bill 5 own a convincing argument in the staggering cost borne by taxpayers for sweetheart health care and pension benefits now enjoyed by public-sector employees. That's especially true when those perks are contrasted with sacrifices made by private-sector employees.
Lest you think this is an isolated case, the Buckeye Institute leads with the same nasty rhetoric
government workers continue to prosper at the expense of their private sector neighbors. As our State of the State report details, the average government salary (not even to mention the entire compensation package) increased at all levels. Local government increased by nearly $1,000, state government by over $1,500, and federal government by almost $800.
You would think they had talked to each other before writing these screeds.

But these are the same failed tactics to divide that were made by people who opposed increasing the minimum wage, which Ohioans recently voted in favor of overwhelmingly. The same failed tactics used by the chamber of commerce pushing union busting "right to work", that in 1958 went down to massive defeat 2,001,512 to 1,106,324.

These forces against progress have always had the same prescription - the middle class boat should not be raised for everyone, it should be lowered in persuit of lower taxes for the wealthy, only then can everyone prosper. It used to be an insultaing argument, that has since been proven to be demonstrably false, now it's just craven and damaging to the fabric of our communities.

The Washington Post has an article today which reveals the true effects of this kind of rhetoric
It had never occurred to the Embrees that firefighters and nurses could be unnecessary. They thought of themselves as linchpins of the community — and one of the biggest rewards of their jobs was knowing that the rest of the world thought so, too.

“Kids go trick or treating in firemen’s costumes,” Jim Embree, 48, said. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts come and take tours and sit in the truck and blow the horn. People talk to you in the grocery store. I’m used to positive interactions with people. So it shocked me. To hear people speak in a public venue like I’m a Rockefeller . . . it shocked me.”
One of those was Heather Baugess, 44, a librarian married to a firefighter. Baugess said she was less upset about proposals that would require her to work longer and receive less when she retires than she is about how people view her and her husband.

“It’s not the money,” said Baugess, who earns about $60,000 and whose husband, Larry, earns a bit more. “We’re comfortable. It’s the teacher-bashing. It’s the negativity. I guess I live in my own perfect would where everybody supports teachers and everybody supports firefighters. I don’t want that to change.”
The whole WaPo article is worth a read. We need to stand together, to oppose these forces that seek to divide, we need to stand together and defeat S.B.5 to send yet another reminder that Ohioans will not be divided and pitted against each other.

Students are not widgets

We wrote the other day about the bi-annual teacher observation provision in S.B.5 that if implemented, would cause a serious administrative strain on schools. Today, promoted by a Dispatch article, we want to expand our look at the other proposed teacher evaluation policies being pushed by the governor and his education Czar
Gov. John Kasich wants teachers to be paid based on performance: They should earn more if they can prove that their students are learning.

But the tool at the heart of Kasich's merit-pay proposals is reliable with only 68 percent confidence. That's why the state plans an upgrade to make "value-added" results 95 percent reliable.
With 146,000 teachers in Ohio, even at 95% accuracy, if that can be believed, 7,300 teacher evaluations would be based on inaccurate data. That's bad enough, if only that were the problem.

But let's just take a step back for a second. What is value added assessment?

Value added assessment assumes that changes in test scores from one year to the next accurately reflect student progress in learning. It evaluates teachers by tracking progress and linking it to schools and teachers. These estimates can be used as indicators of teachers’ and schools’ effectiveness. Sounds good, right ?

In theory. In practice many teachers do not teach classes that are tested, and in many schools, as is pointed out by this terrific article, who is responsible isn't so cut and dried either
In the school where I work teachers are expected to teach reading “across the curriculum” meaning that all teachers are supposed to teach reading. Also, all teachers are supposed to teach writing “across the curriculum.” So, students would have to be tested in those areas as well. But if it taught across the curriculum, how would we know to which teacher to attribute the child’s performance?
Indeed, how would we know?

When you get beyond these obvious problems with value added assessments, there are also serious methodological problems too, as is brought to light by this paper from the Economic Policy institute
there is broad agreement among statisticians, psychometricians, and economists that student test scores alone are not sufficiently reliable and valid indicators of teacher effectiveness to be used in high-stakes personnel decisions, even when the most sophisticated statistical applications such as value-added modeling are employed.

For a variety of reasons, analyses of VAM results have led researchers to doubt whether the methodology can accurately identify more and less effective teachers.

Back to that Dispatch article
Robert Sommers, Kasich's top education adviser, said he thinks Ohio's accountability system is ready for merit pay. Value-added has been used in Ohio only to rate schools, not teachers.

"As far as I'm concerned, it is a very, very solid system," he said. "It has had lots of years of maturation."
The Governors education Czar is simply not correct. The system as it pertains to teacher evaluation is not accurate enough, has demonstrably problematic statistical issues, and requires deeper study.

Students are not widgets being processed on a production line by a single teacher. Modern education is a team effort, and attempts to isolate individual contributions to that team effort are going to require approaches far more robust.

Petition training at JTF world HQ

Now that we are just about ready to hit the streets and collect signatures to repeal S.B.5, we need to make sure everyone who is going to help is fully trained. Our adversaries are waiting to pounce on the smallest irregularity, and we're determined to not only win by a huge margin, but fair and square.

To that end, you are cordially invited to the JTF world HQ for petition training.

When: April 18th
There are two sessions to choose from:
Session 1: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Session 2: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Where: 947 Goodale Blvd., Columbus, OH. 43212

Parking is available at the rear of the building, and the training will be on the second floor.

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Charter Schools and Our Tax Dollars

Guest column, submitted by Jim Bauer.

Letter to the Editor:

Charter Schools and Our Tax Dollars

Charter schools must be monitored with scrutiny because of their use of public tax dollars. Since 2008, Ohio-based White Hat Management has used 230 million Ohio tax dollars in the creation of charter schools. They are funded by the State of Ohio based on the numbers of students they enroll. There is a growing role of the private management companies in publicly funded charter schools. These private charter management companies collect the money from the state and then distribute them to their affiliated charter schools. White Hat is the largest for-profit charter in Ohio with 15 affiliated charter schools, despite the fact that only 2 percent of its students are achieving the expected level as determined under federal education law. At the present time 10 of its own schools are suing, complaining that White Hat students are failing, and the company is refusing to account for how it has spent the money. They refuse to account for how much money they make as a profit.

Governor Kasich has been quoted time and time again that schools need to be run like a business. Akron businessman David L. Brennan (with his wife, Ann) established White Hat in 1998. A Columbus Dispatch article in December stated that David Brennan was one of the biggest contributors to Ohio political campaigns in the last 10 years. He was a contributor to Kasich’s campaign as well, certainly a strategic investment to ensure that more tax dollars are funneled his way. White Hat and Mr. Brennan now stand to make millions more as a result of Gov. Kasich’s announcement to remove the cap on the number of charter schools and his “parent trigger” plan where parents can choose to convert their failing public school into a charter school. To me this is nothing more than a corporate payback through our governor’s new policy.

I would assume members of the Tea Party would be upset that their tax dollars are given to “for-profit” schools that are performing at a level well below most public schools. After reading about White Hat --- is this a type of charter school that our governor has in mind? Charter schools must be evaluated and be responsible for every dollar spent. With millions of public tax dollars at stake, our governor and state legislature should demand that these operators be accountable for every expenditure, release a public record of their profits, and produce students performing at the expected level of success.

Jim Bauer

Referendum is Go for Launch

The Secretary of State, John Husted, has certified that enough valid signatures have been collected to allow the full repeal effort of SB5 to begin. The Dispatch via Twitter informs us that "SoS Husted says 2,506 of 2,835 valid (88 percent)".

Furthermore the Attorney General, Mike DeWine, has certified the short referendum language. The long referendum language was rejected as being too long.

The effort to collect signatures to place the SB5 repeal on the ballot is now clear to take place.

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