Resistance To Corporate Education Reform Drives the Opt-Out Movement

Columbia University Teachers College have performed a survey of the Opt-Out movement. The first of its kind. The goal was to determine what was driving the sentiments and actions of those engaging in what has been a growing movement.

The survey notes that the results:

"reveals that supporters oppose the use of test scores to evaluate teachers and believe that high-stakes tests force teachers to “teach to the test” rather than employ strategies that promote deeper learning. The new survey also reports concern among supporters about the growing role of corporations and privatization of schools."

Those conducting the survey also went on to say that the Opt-Out movement encompasses a broad range of issues, issues those who follow JTF will be familiar with

“For activists, the concerns are about more than the tests,” said Oren Pizmony-Levy, TC Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Education, who co-authored the study with Nancy Green Saraisky, Research Associate and TC alumna. “We were surprised that the survey reveals a broader concern about corporate education reform relying on standardized test-based accountability, and the increased role of ‘edu-businesses’ and corporations in schools.”

Results within the survey appear to confirm these conclusions

Here's the full survey report

Report By Charter School Lobby Association Finds eSchools Are Disaster

A new report published by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, find that Charter eSchools are a disaster for students. The report specifically looked at eSchools in Ohio. Here's what they found

  • Compared to traditional public school students, full-time virtual charter school students have much weaker academic growth overall. Full-time virtual charter school students experience 180 fewer days of learning in math and 72 fewer days of learning in reading in comparison to traditional public school students.viii Put another way, these data show that in a given year full-time virtual charter school students overall make no gains in math and less than half the gains in reading realized by their peers in traditional public schools.
  • Full-time virtual charter schools perform worse than traditional public schools in most states. Of the 17 states included in the state level results in the “Online Charter School Study” by CREDO, full-time virtual charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools in 13 states in reading, performed better in only two states, and the differences were not significant in two states. In math, full-time virtual charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools in 14 states, while the differences were not significant in three states.
  • All subgroups of students have weaker academic growth in full-time virtual charter schools than in traditional public schools. All subgroups of students – white, black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, multi-racial, those in poverty, English-language learners, and special education students – perform worse in full-time virtual charter schools than in traditional public schools.
  • The vast majority of full-time virtual charter schools perform worse than traditional public schools. In reading, 67 percent of full-time virtual charter schools have weaker growth than their comparison schools. Only 2 percent outperform their comparison schools, while 32 percent perform no differently.
  • In math, a full 88 percent of full-time virtual charter schools had significantly weaker growth than their comparison schools, with the remaining 12 percent performing no differently.
  • The average full-time virtual charter school student stays for a short time. On average, students spend two years in full-time virtual charter schools.
  • The mobility rates for students after they leave full-time virtual charter schools are extremely high. Full-time virtual charter school students have a mobility rate of 36 percent, meaning that students who leave full-time virtual charter schools have a more chaotic school experience after they leave full-time virtual charter schools than they did before they enrolled in such schools.

When the organization whose main focus is to defend charter schools beings producing devastating reports like this one, the writing simply must be on the wall for ECOT, OVA and their ilk. Too many students are being harmed each year.

Here's the full report

August 2016 Levy Results

Here are the school levy and issues results from the August, 2016 special election. Levies placed on the ballot during low turnout special elections tend to fair poorly, these results were no different.

N/R Failed Passed Total Pass Rate
New 7 2 9 22.2%
Renewal 3 2 5 40.0%
Total 10 4 14 28.6%

The full district by district results are as follows:

County District N/R Result
Ottawa Benton Carroll Salem Local New Failed
Geauga Cardinal Local New Failed
Fulton Fayette Local New Passed
Lorain Firelands Local New Failed
Summit Manchester Local New Failed
Darke Mississinawa Valley Local Renewal Failed
Coshocton River View Local New Failed
Mahoning Sebring Local Renewal Failed
Shelby Sidney City New Failed
Hamilton Southwest Local New Failed
Summit Springfield Local Renewal Passed
Mercer Tri-Star Career Compact New Passed
Fairfield Walnut Township Local Renewal Passed
Sandusky Woodmore Local Renewal Failed

School Levies On the August Ballot

The following school districts have levies and issues on the August 2nd, 2016 ballot.

County District Type Description
Coshocton River View Local School District Combo Additional
Darke Mississinawa Valley Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Fairfield Walnut Township Local School District Levy Renewal
Fulton Fayette Local School District Combo Additional
Geauga Cardinal Local School District Levy Additional
Hamilton Southwest Local School District Combo Additional
Lorain Firelands Local School District Combo Additional
Mahoning Sebring Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Mercer Tri-Star Career Compact Participating School Districts Bond Issue N/A
Ottawa Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District Bond Issue N/A
Sandusky Woodmore Local School District Levy Renewal
Shelby Sidney City School District Levy Additional
Summit Manchester Local School District Combo Additional
Summit Springfield Local School District Levy Renewal

What the ECOT Lawsuit Means

The Dispatch reports that ECOT, the largest failing online charter school in the state, is suing the Department of education.

Facing the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, Ohio's largest online charter school sued the state Friday in an attempt to block an upcoming attendance audit.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow filed the lawsuit in an attempt to stop the Ohio Department of Education from requiring that the school provide records of daily student log-in times, which the lawsuit calls "a bait and switch." The state's preliminary attendance review of ECOT in May raised questions, noting that “most log-in times from these files did not substantiate 5 hours per day of log-in time for the students reviewed.”

The accuracy of attendance figures is crucial because they are the key factor in determining how much state money a school receives. ECOT gets about $107 million per year for more than 15,000 students.

Steve Dyer dissects the news to discover the true reason for the lawsuit

Instead of having to have kids log on to their computers for 920 hours in a school year, ECOT just had to provide them with 920 hours worth of course material. Whether the kid EVER logged on didn't matter. What mattered was whether ECOT made the material available.

And all they had to do to earn nearly $1 billion is provide kids with 920 hours of learning, not make sure they did it??

And, according to documents released by ECOT, ODE was cool with this?

I don't know what's more offensive, that ECOT can do this or that ODE signed off on it.

What does this mean? It means:

  1. ECOT doesn't care about its students, if it did, it would care how long and how often they are actually studying the provided material, not that it was simply provided to them.
  2. ECOT knows its students aren't spending the requisite amount of time studying, otherwise it would welcome an audit of its electronic attendance records.
  3. ODE is rotten to the core. If the alleged agreement between ECOT and ODE to allow this ridiculous arrangement is proven, ODE abandoned ECOTs students. It's the biggest scandal in ODE history.

The simple truth is this. Online only education does not work for K-12. Children require adult supervision and personal assistance in their learning journey, something online only schools are not providing.

Even with this high barrier to learning, Ohio's online charter schools are not even ensuring that their students are spending the time consuming the material necessary to learn. Instead they are cashing checks for work not performed, setting back their students years, all while draining scarce resources from the actual brick and mortar traditional schools that are inevitably picking up the pieces.

Can Ohio's politicians pull themselves away from the fat campaign checks being written by ECOT long enough to put an end to this ongoing tragedy before more students are irreparably harmed?

Study Shows Ohio Vouchers are Disaster for Students

The Fordham Foundation, a Corporate Education reform organization, performed a study of Ohio's EdChoice voucher program. It looks like they didn't get the result they were expecting.

Those eligible students (coming from these relatively high-performing public schools) who attend private schools appear to fare considerably worse than we predict that they would have performed had they remained in the public schools.

In order to preserve the figment that vouchers are a net positive, the report spins that the existence of vouchers causes competition which is why traditional public schools are so much better. Why competition isn't working in the other direction is left a mystery, until you dig into the poorly written report (its poorly written we suspect in order to hide the damaging findings) and realize their excuse of "competition" isn't actually supported by their own study

Taken together, the results of this report present a mixed bag of findings regarding the EdChoice voucher program. Although the evidence is not completely unambiguous, the weight of the evidence indicates that EdChoice eligibility improved reading and mathematics outcomes for the students affected. We suspect that this is coming through increased competition for lower-ranked public schools as well as a desire for these schools to improve to avoid losing students to the voucher program; we suspect that the competition is a leading explanation rather than merely avoidance of grading stigma because the regression-discontinuity approaches focusing on the second-best PI are designed to concentrate particularly on the voucher-eligibility component of the system, rather than on the school ratings themselves. 

Translation:

  • The evidence is overwhelming that traditional schools are better than private voucher schools.
  • The only students positively affected by vouchers are students who don't use them
  • Studies should not "suspect" reasons for their results, but that's all we have

Here's a more leading explanation of why voucher schools perform worse than traditional public schools - THEY CARE MORE ABOUT PROFIT THAN STUDENTS, SO THAT'S WHERE THE RESOURCES ARE SPENT.

Another Corporate Education reform think tank, The74million, reads the report and tries to come up with 7 other excuses.

1. Blame standardized tests. Only now these tests, which corporate education reformers pushed, are a bad measure of school quality. Laughable.

2. It's the specific test. Apparently voucher schools don't hold their students accountable enough. Where's their "grit"?

3. It's early. We hearing this over and over. We just need more time. Sadly, much of the data in the Fordham study comes from 2008 - almost a decade of failure now. Time isn't the problem.

4. Over-regulation. If over-regulation of voucher schools is what is holding them back, how do traditional schools, which have far more regulation keep beating them handily?

5. Public schools have gotten better. Nice of them to say so, but perhaps public schools were never causing a national crisis to begin with, but it's hard to privatize something that's consistently good.

6. Under-regulation. Hard to argue here. Parents should know they are getting a bad deal for their child when the apply for an EdChoice voucher. More transparency would be great.

7. The concept itself. Ding, ding, ding. 

Vouchers, much like most charters in Ohio are not designed to help the students, they are designed to help people make money. We suspect a study of that would be very demonstrable.