In Ohio, at least 15 charter schools have abruptly closed this year – most don’t even bother to list a reason.
In Detroit, a city wracked by debt and bankruptcy, officials scrambled to close a failed charter school by Oct. 31 this year, due to the school’s debts, which exceeded $400,000.
According to The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., spent over $1 million on closing failed charter schools from 2008-2012.
More cities are following the lead of districts like Chicago, where the largest shutdown of public schools in the nation’s history occurred at the very same time that new private charter schools were being expanded by the district.
Abruptly opening and closing schools – leaving school children, parents and communities in the lurch and taxpayers holding the bag – is not a matter of happenstance. It’s by design.
The design in mind, of course, is being called a “market.” Parents and taxpayers who used to rely on having public schools as anchor institutions in their communities – much like they rely on fire and police stations, parks and rec centers, and the town hall – are being told that the education of children is now subject to the whims of “the market.”
The supposed benefit to all this is that parents get a “choice” about where they send their children to school. But while parents are pushed to pick their schools on the increasingly turbulent bazaar of “choice,” the game resembles much less a level playing field and much more a game of chance in which the house rules determine the odds. And too many of the nation’s families – and their communities – are getting caught up in a crapshoot with our children’s education at stake.
Whether from charters or voucher-funded private schools, the explosive growth of crapshoot schools is fast becoming the norm. And too few are asking, “At what risks?”
The US Department of Education released the latest NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) results a short while ago. Despite all the corporate education reforms that have been pushed in Ohio, Ohio’s students continued to score marginally highher than the national average, but haven’t shown any significant improvement over previous results. In other words, for all the additional workload, stress and controversy, corporate reforms are not producing increased performance results.
What we are seeing though is the utter perfoermance disaster of Charter schools in the state. The Fordham Foundation crunched the numbers to compare traditonal pblic schools with tier low performing charter school counterparts
The figures below display the charter versus non-charter comparison of students who are eligible for the Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) program, the most-utilized poverty metric available. This provides a fair comparison of similar students, since Ohio’s charters enroll a relatively high number of impoverished students.
Here's Fordhams findings in graphiocal format
The results from this snapshot in time are not favorable to charter schools. In all four grade-subject combinations, charter school NAEP scores fall short of the non-charter school scores. And in all cases, I would consider the margin fairly wide—more so in 4th than 8th grade. In 4th grade reading, for example, non-charter students’ average score was 211, while charter students’ average score was 191, a 20 point difference.
The only question that remains is, what is to be done about this performance disaster?
We were reading through the latest issue of Ohio Schools Magainze, and came upon this terrific article by a retired teacher, on her experiences working in a right to work state. Here’s that article.
OEA-Retired Member Dawn Wojcik Offers Insight About Why These Laws Are Harmful And What To Expect If They Are Enacted In Ohio.
In 1981, when Dawn wojcik began her teaching career, Ohio’s economy was faltering. As a recent graduate from the University of Dayton with a Masters degree and teaching credentials, she applied for every English teacher opening in the state. She was the Avis candidate—trying harder, yet coming in second place in the 10 positions for which she interviewed.
As the school year started, she found herself living at home with her parents and looking forward to subbing until something better turned up.
A week into the school year, Wojcik received a phone call from the personnel director for the Franklin Parish Schools in Louisiana. The parish (county) needed a ninth-grade English teacher at Morgan City High School. Wojcik was hired over the phone based solely on her resume and transcripts.
She was excited at the prospect of her first teaching position, but unprepared for the realities of working as an educator in a so-called Right to Work state.
Wojcik soon learned that despite the name, Right to Work laws limit rights, meaning that educators have less power to advocate for student learning conditions and educator working conditions.
Public education takes a hit in SCRTW states as teachers move to other states with lower class sizes, better salaries and benefits, and more job security. School funding suffers, too. States with Right to Work laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education. And without the ability to bargain for better teaching and learning conditions, academic achievement declines. The majority of states with SCRTW laws are among the lowest performing in the nation.
“There was a shortage of teachers in Louisiana’s “oil parishes.” I was thrilled to have a job, especially one with a beginning salary of $15,100 a year $400 more a year than the best paying position I had applied for in Ohio. These higher salaries were possible because of taxes on the oil drilled
in the parish. Teachers had not bargained these salaries. It was the luck of being in an “oil parish” that provided the resources for these salaries. Salaries throughout the rest of the state were much lower.
My first day on the job, I received grammar and literature textbooks. I asked my department chair where I should start. She thumped her arthritic finger into her desk and, in a southern drawl, said, “I always start with the verb” as she glared at me from her desk. I never received any additional direction from her.
There was no effort to mentor new teachers. We were our own to do the best we could without guidance or support. After a few months in the classroom, I received some instruction on how to write lesson plans. I learned that I was to identify Pupil Performance Objectives in my lesson plans. All teachers were to be teaching to these same standardized objectives. These objectives were to be on my desk and available for administrators to see at all times.
I didn’t realize how important being a part of the education association was until I worked as a professional at Northmont.
In Louisiana, the limited role I had in the education profession was directly related to legal limitations on bargaining and educators’ ability to organize. My first three years as a teacher, I was left to sink or swim as an employee. because of collective bargaining in ohio, I was actively involved as an education professional for 27 years.
Here was no support for teachers, no mentors, no professional development. And there was no mechanism for teachers to have input for our profession.
As money tightened up, there was talk that franklin Parish would increase class sizes and close some of its schools. My colleagues were upset. Talk in the workrooms encouraged us all to go to the school board meeting. enough teachers showed up to pack the boardroom. But no one spoke up with our concerns.
After listening at the school board meeting, the self-appointed leaders determined that there was nothing we could do short of a statewide strike. They concluded that even that action would be fruitless. As we faced this financial crisis, we had no avenue to communicate our students’ needs to those who made the decisions about the learning conditions for our students. It was discouraging to not have a voice. Working in a No Rights at Work state made us powerlessness in this situation.
My $15,100 Louisiana starting salary had impressed me until I had some time to study the salary schedule.
It was then that I saw a different story. While my starting salary was higher in Louisiana than in Ohio, even with a Ph.D. and 30 plus years of experience, the top of the salary schedule would be no more than $22,000.
During my second year in Louisiana, I began applying for jobs in Ohio. I was fortunate that by the end of my third year, Northmont City Schools hired me, and I returned home to Ohio in 1984 to teach at Northmont high School.
At the time I was hired, the Northmont District education Association (NDeA) was preparing to take a strike vote. The local leader- ship took time to meet new teachers, patiently answering our questions about the bargaining crisis. I joined in order to have a vote. We voted to give a 10-day strike notice, an action that brought the parties back to the table and resulted in significant improvements in the contract.
With the new Northmont contract, I would be making nearly $4,000 more a year than I had been after three years in Louisiana. I had better medical insurance and vision and dental coverage. Not only were the financial rewards of returning to my home state significantly better but also, because of the leadership of my local, I was welcomed as a new teacher. Other teachers shared their lesson plans and materials. The school district offered professional development throughout the year. Our collective bargaining agreement called for a labor management team that met regularly to share concerns through- out the district. Our NDeA held a district-wide Monte Carlo event to raise money for student scholarships to summer enrichment programs and college.
I worked for 27 years at Northmont high School and was always treated like a professional. This was a huge contrast to the experience I had at Morgan City high School in Louisiana, a so-called Right to Work (or as I say, a No Rights at Work) state.
Recently, I checked to see what I would have earned at the end of my career in Louisiana and what that would have meant for my retirement income. had I stayed in Louisiana, my retirement would be about one third less than what it is now.
It seems the Rube Goldberg system of teacher evaluations in Ohio might be getting some improvements. We have written extensively about the unfairness of basing so much of a teachers evaluation on Value-add, when it is subject to so much statistical variation, inaccuracies, and student demographics. In the recent budget, educators pressed the legislature to reduce the Value-add component form its current 50% to 35%. The Senate included language to do just that, but the House, under direction from the Governor stripped it out.
Now Senator Gardner, along wth 3 cosponsors, Manning, Lehner, and Hite has introduced SB 229 which once again seeks to make OTES fairer. Along with making OTES a little fairer, it also seeks to reduce the administratvie burden on distrcits by reducing the amount of observation required for "skilled" and "accomplished" teachers. We wrote about this massive burden over 2 years ago.
Dawn Wojcik, Retired Teacher
HEre's what SB229 contains
Educators should contact their representatives and urge them to support SB229, otherwsie it is possible that the Governor will once again kill these needed changes. You can read the bill for yourself, here.
A new report by Innovation Ohio shows that the $400 million in Medicaid expansion savings could have a dramatic impact on schools.
- Lowers the academic growth factor percentage required on teacher evaluations to 35% from the current 50%. A school district may attribute an additional percentage to the academic growth factor not to exceed fifteen percent of an evaluation. The academic growth factor under the OTES is based on value-added and/or other student growth measures, depending on the subjects and grades in a teacher’s course load.
- Authorizes local school boards to reduce the frequency of evaluations required for teachers who receive an evaluation rating of “Skilled” to once every 2 years and “Accomplished” once every 3 years.
An analysis by Innovation Ohio shows Sen. Widener’s claim to be demonstrably false. To the contrary, the impact of an extra $400 million on Ohio schools would be dramatic and profound.
What could the state do if it spent the $400 million on our schools?
- $400 million exceeds the total amount spent by the state on economically disadvantaged aid ($369 million)
$400 million is over 6 times more than what the state spends on K-3 literacy ($64 million)
$400 million is more than what the state spends on the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, Gifted Education, Career Tech Education, Limited English Proficiency Education and half of the state's six Special Education categories ($399.7 million).
$400 million exceeds the entire amount spent by the state on school transportation ($357 million).
Indeed, the only education line items on which the state spends more than $400 million are Charter Schools, the state’s basic aid amount, targeted assistance (parity aid) and Special Education. Everything else gets less money.
- Double funding for Gifted, ELL, Career Tech and K-3 literacy funding.
Double funding for Transportation – while also nearly doubling funding for the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.
Double the amount of economically disadvantaged funding.
Pay for All-Day Kindergarten or universal preschool in our most economically distressed areas
Triple the funding for the most profoundly challenged special needs children in the state
The report goes on to also note that rather than a measly $28 a year in income tax savings that a typical tax payer might receive, distributing an extra $400 million to Ohio school districts could also result in dramatic property tax reductions. The average district would receive the equivalent of 2.29 mills in property taxes – or about $80 per $100,000 home – if $400 million in new state money were distributed among districts.
Read the entire report below
THE IMPACT OF $400 MILLION ON OHIO SCHOOLS
From the Economic Policy Institute
Over the past two years, state legislators across the country have launched an unprecedented series of initiatives aimed at lowering labor standards, weakening unions, and eroding workplace protections for both union and non-union workers. This policy agenda undercuts the ability of low- and middle-wage workers, both union and non-union, to earn a decent wage.
Click here to read the whole report.
This report provides a broad overview of the attack on wages, labor standards, and workplace protections as it has been advanced in state legislatures across the country. Specifically, the report seeks to illuminate the agenda to undermine wages and labor standards being advanced for non-union Americans in order to understand how this fits with the far better-publicized assaults on the rights of unionized employees. By documenting the similarities in how analogous bills have been advanced in multiple states, the report establishes the extent to which legislation emanates not from state officials responding to local economic conditions, but from an economic and policy agenda fueled by national corporate lobbies that aim to lower wages and labor standards across the country.
In 2011 and 2012, state legislatures undertook numerous efforts to undermine wages and labor standards:
These efforts provide important context for the much-better-publicized moves to undermine public employee unions. By far the most galvanizing and most widely reported legislative battle of the past two years was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget repair bill” that, in early 2011, largely eliminated collective bargaining rights for the state’s 175,000 public employees.1 Following this, in 2011 and 2012:
- Four states passed laws restricting the minimum wage, four lifted restrictions on child labor, and 16 imposed new limits on benefits for the unemployed.
- States also passed laws stripping workers of overtime rights, repealing or restricting rights to sick leave, undermining workplace safety protections, and making it harder to sue one’s employer for race or sex discrimination.
- Legislation has been pursued making it harder for employees to recover unpaid wages (i.e., wage theft) and banning local cities and counties from establishing minimum wages or rights to sick leave.
- For the 93 percent of private-sector employees who have no union contract, laws on matters such as wages and sick time define employment standards and rights on the job. Thus, this agenda to undermine wages and working conditions is aimed primarily at non-union, private-sector employees.
The champions of anti-union legislation often portrayed themselves as the defenders of non-union workers—whom they characterized as hard-working private-sector taxpayers being forced to pick up the tab for public employees’ lavish pay and pensions. Two years later, however, it is clear that the attack on public employee unions has been part of a broader agenda aiming to cut wages and benefits and erode working conditions and legal protections for all workers—whether union or non-union, in the public and private sectors alike.
- Fifteen states passed laws restricting public employees’ collective bargaining rights or ability to collect “fair share” dues through payroll deductions.
- Nineteen states introduced “right-to-work” bills, and “right-to-work” laws affecting private-sector collective bargaining agreements were enacted in Michigan and Indiana.
This push to erode labor standards, undercut wages, and undermine unions has been advanced by policymakers pursuing a misguided economic agenda working in tandem with the major corporate lobbies. The report highlights legislation authored or supported by major corporate lobbies such as the Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, and National Association of Manufacturers—and by corporate-funded lobbying organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity—in order to draw the clearest possible picture of the legislative and economic policy agenda of the country’s most powerful economic actors. To make the most clear-eyed decisions in charting future policy directions, it is critical to understand how the various parts of these organizations’ agenda fit together, and where they ultimately lead.
This report begins by examining the recent offensive aimed at public-sector unions in order to point out the tactics commonly employed by corporate lobbies such as ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce; it establishes that their agenda is driven by political strategies rather than fiscal necessities. The paper then examines the details of this agenda with respect to unionized public employees, non-unionized public employees, and unionized private-sector workers. Finally, the bulk of the report details the corporate-backed agenda for non-union, private-sector workers as concerns the minimum wage, wage theft, child labor, overtime, misclassification of employees as independent contractors, sick leave, workplace safety standards, meal breaks, employment discrimination, and unemployment insurance.