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Ohio falling behind in school funding

More and more people are starting to notice the troubling defunding of Ohio's public education system. Via
Two Washington, D.C., public policy groups say Ohio’s reductions in aid to public schools and the inequality among school districts have hampered efforts to boost graduation rates and cut in half the achievement gaps among low-income and minority students despite $204 million in additional federal funding.
Ohio lawmakers actually have allocated $165.6 million less in state aid this year than was set aside in 2008, according to a Beacon Journal analysis. Additional funding in the next two-year budget finally will surpass inflation-adjusted 2008 levels after six years of reduced aid.

Regardless, many schools have operated on less over the past five years.

Less funding equates to larger class sizes, less after-school and summer programming, and a stalled effort to implement national testing and teacher evaluations, Leachman said.
Efforts like the Straight A Fund are gimmicks designed to hide the true budget cuts schools are having to deal with.

Straight A Fund - Application Process

The Straight A Fund is on a pretty fast track. Individuals, districts and groups that are thinking about applying for the $100 million dollars available this year, should begin that process immediately.

Straight A Fund Timeline

9/18/13 - Informational Webinar
9/19/13 - Fiscal Sustainability Webinar
10/04/13 - Deadline for Intent to Apply
10/04/13 - Scorer Applications Due
10/14/13 - Grants Management System (CCIP) Open for Application Entry
10/25/13 - Application Deadline
10/29/13 - Fiscal Sustainability Review
11/05/13 - Scoring Analysis
11/06/13 - Grant Advisors Review of Scoring Results
11/12/13 - Governing Board Meeting - Fiscal Sustainability Results/Approval
11/13/13 - Programmatic Scoring
11/20/13 - Scoring Analysis
11/25/13 - Grant Advisors Review Scoring Results
12/03/13 - Governing Board Meeting - Programmatic Results/Approval
12/16/13 - Controlling Board Meeting
12/17/13 - Send Grant Award Letters

The application materials can be found here.

We remain skeptical that any lasting impact can come from one-time money, and would much rather see the legislature develop an adequate funding model for all schools, and not dog-eat-dog competitions. Districts and their personnel are already strained dealing with many new mandates from the state and the federal government, having to redirect even more resources towards dreaming up grant programs that fit the Straight A Funds very narrow scope is not going to be very beneficial towards the key mission - educating students.

Majority of Educators Support the Common Core

According to a new poll by the National Education Association, the Common Core State Standards are strongly supported by its members. Roughly two-thirds of educators are either wholeheartedly in favor of the standards (26 percent) or support them with “some reservations” (50 percent). Only 11 percent of those surveyed expressed opposition.
All respondents cited a number of ways the new standards will affect their teaching. Thirty-one percent believe they will lead to more time taken up by standardized testing and 30 percent said they will allow teacher to delve into subjects more deeply. Others cited more time to teach process and problem-solving and having more time for instruction on fewer topics.

Even among many Common Core supporters, the thorny issue over new assessments is feeding their reservations. Fifty-five percent said their schools plan to use Common Core assessments to evaluate their performance, but an overwhelming majority (81 percent) favor a moratorium or grace period on accountability provisions, with 2-5 years being the most popular.
There's more at the link.

State Board of Ed cites "communist agenda" with Common Core

It seems right wing extremism surrounding the Common Core has reached all the way to the top levels of Ohio education policy circles. According to a Hannah report, a member of the State Board of Education, Mark Smith, had this to say
"My concern is that the PARCC assessments, if they are tied to some of this curriculum, then I see an agenda that's far more in the Common Core than just a curriculum of teaching. I see an underlying socialist, communist agenda -- sorry to use the terminology -- on some of those that are anti what this nation is about," said Smith, president of Ohio Christian University.
Members of the State Board of Education have gone from calling the President of the United States a fascist dictator, to calling statewide standards a communist plot.

Why we should use 0% VAM on teacher evaluations

@ The Chalk Face lists a number of reasons why Value Added Measures (VAM) should not be used to evaluate educators
  • A fundamental premise in statistics is do not use a metric for some purpose other than the one for which it was designed. Student tests are not designed to measure teacher quality.
  • An ethical problem with VAM is holding one person (teacher) accountable for another person’s (student’s) performance.
  • Campbell’s Law.
  • What is tested is what is taught—the high-stakes accountability era has taught us that the more we focus on testing, the less we ask from teachers and students.
  • The only fair way to implement VAM is to pre- and post-test every student in every class throughout the U.S. This is not justifiable in its cost in either time or money for the outcomes.
  • Using VAM in any way incentivizes each teacher to use her/his students against the outcomes of other teachers’ students, possibly the most ethically damning aspect of VAM.
In Ohio, where available, VAM accounts for 50% of a teachers evaluation, even if students in their class are chronically truant.

Corporate reform is working for the billionaires

What you won't hear at a corporate education reform policy seminar
American families are becoming increasingly polarized along race, class and educational lines, according to a new report released Wednesday, a sign of growing economic inequality that was exacerbated by the Great Recession.

The report, “Divergent Paths of American Families,” found a widening gap in recent years between families that are white, educated or economically secure and minority families, those headed by someone with a high school degree or less, and poor families.

The concern, report authors say, is not that American families are becoming diverse. Advances in civil rights and women’s economic independence have opened up individual choice and transformed the American family in the past 50 years. The concern, they wrote, is that the divisions fall along race, class and educational lines and that they are accelerating.

“I was struck by how strong the divide has become in terms of education,” said report author Zhenchao Qian, a sociologist at Ohio State University. “The gap between the haves and the have-nots, and the children who excel and who lag behind, grew larger than ever in the 2000s.”
You won't hear it because the corporate reform movement is financially propped up by billionaire's and hedge fund managers, and they are making out quite nicely, thank you
The gulf between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it’s been since the Roaring ’20s.

The very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19 percent of the country’s household income last year — their biggest share since 1928, the year before the stock-market crash. And the top 10 percent captured a record 48.2 percent of total earnings last year.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. And it grew again last year, according to an analysis of Internal Revenue Service figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

In 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent.

Now, back to sorting and ranking teachers.
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