Ed News

John Kasich's teacher problem

"Can I vote 'no' twice?"

That was Mary Hufford's response when asked if she would vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich as president. Hufford is an Ohio teacher. And, like many in her profession, she is mad.

On Wednesday, Kasich joins a cast of Republican presidential hopefuls – Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker and Chris Christie – in an education summit in early primary state New Hampshire.

Kasich says his record shows he championed increases in the overall state education budget; more money for charter schools and private-school vouchers; controversial takeovers of failing schools, most recently in Youngstown; and accountability measures for educating kids, such as the third-grade reading guarantee.

"I'm very happy to talk about my education policies, because they're really good," Kasich said Monday. As for educators speaking out against his policies, "I don't know who these people are, but it doesn't matter. We're doing better in Ohio."

Hufford teaches middle school language arts in Clermont County. She lays out her grievances: the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System; the botched roll-out – and subsequent scrapping – of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC tests; Kasich's $78.3 million cut to the education budget in July, a single line-item veto.

"Since Kasich took office, my teaching world has been falling apart," Hufford said. "The joy has been sucked out of the classroom, because everything is driven by the (state) test."

Would you vote for Kasich?

The Enquirer sent an email questionnaire to Southwest Ohio educators, and 96 percent of those who responded – 340 out of 355 people – said they would not vote for Kasich as president. Only 11 said yes, and four skipped the question.

It's not a scientific survey by any means. But 89 percent, 316 respondents, rated Kasich's impact on education in Ohio as "extremely negative." Six percent rated the governor's impact "slightly negative"; 3 percent said he has no impact; 2 percent rated him "positive, for the most part"; and about 0.25 percent, one person, rated him "extremely positive."

(Read more at the Cincinnati Enquirer)

State Senator Says Schools Are Missing Out on Millions in Casino Revenue

When Ohio voters gave the okay for casinos to hit the state more than five years ago, there was a catch.

Operators would have to pay a 33 percent tax on their revenue, calculated by subtracting “promotional credits” and payouts from their overall earnings.

A chunk of that money then would be funneled to local governments and schools.

But one state senator thinks the current equation means districts are losing big.

Promotional credits are things like “$10 in free gaming” or other methods aimed at bringing in customers. And right now, there’s no limit to how much casinos and racinos can say they gave in promotional credits.

That’s all money that could have been taxed to bring in revenue for schools and local governments, said Ohio Sen. Bill Coley.

He said over the past three years, the lost tax revenue amounts to roughly $165 million.

(Read more at NPR)

Opt-out movement in Ohio small but significant, say Miami researchers

Michael Evans and Andrew Saultz wanted to learn more about the national movement to opt out of standardized testing. They started with Ohio, discovering not widespread, but distinct pockets of dissent.

The scope of Ohio’s opt-out movement surprised the two researchers, both professors in Miami University’s College of Education, Health and Society. They found in preliminary data that the media portrait painted of the affluent suburbia parents leading the charge is not the case at all.

“Pockets of dissent are materializing in a wide range of districts — not only the affluent suburban or urban school districts as many believe,” Evans said.

Halfway into their research they discovered that 5 percent of the districts had a significant number of opt-outs. These districts represent typical Ohio communities. (See chart right.)

Evans and Saultz are now turning their attention to the rationale that informs a parent’s decision to opt out of having their children take the tests.

In Ohio there are two organizations that appear to be very influential: United Opt Out – Ohio, a progressive education group; and Ohioans Against the Common Core.

United Opt Out members believe testing is taking away time and resources from the arts and other forms of curriculum. They also are concerned about corporate influence on public education. Ohioans Against the Common Core dissenters hold the belief that the federal government wields too much control over local school districts.

”It’s a combination of strange bedfellows in terms of who is supporting the opt-out strategy,” Evans said.

(Read more at Miami University)

Lawmakers would kill innovative ed fund

Senate Republicans want to kill another Gov. John Kasich priority, one that has given $250 million to schools for innovative ideas such as teaching students to program robots.

Kasich pushed for the Straight-A Fund in 2013 to reward schools that educate students in inventive ways. For example, eight career-technical schools used nearly $15 million to purchase robots that students use to earn industry certifications and jobs in skilled trades, said Chuck Speelman, superintendent of the Tri-Rivers Career Center in Marion.

"We trained students on generic robotic systems before then hoped those skills would be transferable. We don't hope anymore," Speelman said.

But senators stripped money for the education fund from their version of the two-year budget, saying it wasn't a priority as lawmakers look for places to cut spending, said Senate Finance Chairman Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton.

Kasich, whose office declined to comment on specific budget changes, had allocated about $200 million for the innovative education fund for the next two years. House lawmakers cut that amount in half. Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said Monday that programs were eliminated throughout the budget to pay for an income tax cut for business owners.

(Read more at the Lancaster EAgle Gazette)

No school district would lose money under Ohio Senate's budget

Every school district in Ohio should receive at least as much money from the state for the next two years as they do now, Ohio Senate officials said today as they released their proposed state budget for the next two years.

Sen. Chris Widener, a Springfield Republican, said the new budget will "hold harmless" every district for the next two years, with none seeing a cut in money from the state compared to this school year's amount.

Along with many districts seeing increases, Widener said, at minimum "All schools essentially receive what they are receiving this year."

That's even including reductions in the complicated and much-debated reimbursements for the now-defunct tangible personal property tax, Widener and Senate President Keith Faber said.

That reimbursement is a hot-button issue for many districts, including Solon, who have urged the state to continue the reimbursements permanently. The state ended that tax that many districts relied on in 2005 to reduce the tax burden on some businesses.

The Senate budget proposal is the latest step in the two-year budgeting process that has already had proposals from the House and from Gov. John Kasich. If the Senate version passes, leaders of the House and Senate will meet in conference committee later this month to find a compromise.

The budget that both houses of the legislature agree on will then go to Kasich for approval.

(Read more at Cleveland.com)

Two Youngstown charter schools seek unionization

Education in Youngstown may once again face changes- but this time from two charter schools.

Summit Academy and Summit Academy Secondary Schools, in Youngstown, announced on Friday the decision to form their own teachers union.

The potential union, the Summit Academy Youngstown Education Association filed authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), vying for the opportunity to participate in the Valley's education as an exclusive bargaining representative.

An NLRB-supervised election to certify SAYEA should take place within a month, according to a news release.

According to the release, if a majority of educators and staff vote to form the Summit Academy Youngstown Education Association (SAYEA), it will be the first charter school union in Youngstown and will be affiliated with the 121,000 members of the Ohio Education Association.

The release says that the decision of educators and staff to seek representation was inspired by the mission of Summit Academy, namely the commitment "to providing an extraordinary, safe, and nurturing learning environment where students will reach their full potential."

According to the media release, teachers at Summit Academy feel that the unionization would help them advocate for their students, many of whom are disabled.