Hearings on the education MBR, in the Ohio House and Senate, took place yesterday. The hope for some relief from the draconian budget cuts enacted last year faded, according to a report from Gongwer
Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), chair of the House Finance & Appropriations Committee and the sponsor of the bill "by request," kicked off the debate by stating that the measure is in keeping with the restrained spending in the biennium budget passed last spring (HB 153).
"Clearly, we are steady as she goes, which is a good thing," he said. "Because we are on track, we are able to deal with a bill here today that doesn't make further difficult decisions."
It's a strange world we live in where thousands of teachers, support professionals, cops and firefighters are losing their jobs, weakening communities is considered "a good thing", but the Governor's reaction was even more shocking, Mr. Kasich bursts out laughing when asked about the push for more spending and what he thinks is an appropriate level for the Budget Stabilization Fund. He also suggested that any attempt to add significant appropriations to the measure would be vetoed.
It's no laughing matter. The rhetoric is about improving educational achievement, the means appears to be by slashing budgets. Headlines from just this week include
- Mason Schools to cut 39.5 staff positions next school year
- YEA chief to teachers: Expect layoffs
- 32 teachers to be laid off as retirements and departures snowball
- Akron schools must make deeper cuts to avoid deficit
- The real Cleveland crisis
We're in a funding crisis. The legislature needs to step up and fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.
In other news, the proposed A-F grading system came in for a lot of questions
- The value-added component should carry more weight than others in the final grade.
- The scale of grades for the student progress component is unfair given a grade of "C" is assigned for districts that have "met" value-added expectations for two consecutive years.
- The threshold for "A" grades should be lowered and traditional rounding rules should be applied.
- Pluses and minuses should be applied to the grades.
Sen. Sawyer said that because many districts will go to the ballot seeking a levy this fall, the new scores, which are expected to be lower than previous ones, could be difficult for the districts to deal with as they ask voters to support their work to improve student performance.
Mr. Cohen said the current scores, which show a large portion of districts as "excellent" or better, will lose their meaning for the public. The simulation of what schools' grades would look like under the new scoring was merely that, and it is unclear how the public will react to the actual grades.
Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Canfield) asked if there is a score for things such as extracurricular activities offered and the like, which some people would attribute to whether a school system is a good one.
Mr. Cohen said ODE has considered looking at other measures, such as remediation rates; but the report card largely reflects assessment-based metrics.
Sen. Lehner asked if a report card could be developed for charter school authorizers in the same way school districts have report cards based on the performance of students in all the district's school buildings. Mr. Cohen said that would be possible.
If we had to guess, we expect that the technicals of the grade will see some minor modifications, and the implementation date will be pushed back a year to coincide with the introduction of common core.