"Education Reform" process must change

William Phillis, Via the mailbag

The recently adopted "education reform" process seems to follow these steps:

· State officials assume that any deficiencies in student test scores, behavior, work force readiness, college readiness, etc. are due to the lack of competence and dedication of boards of education, administrators, educators and staff in the public common school. (Of course, some of them believe poverty and home environment do not influence test scores, behaviors, etc.)

· State officials are provided model reform legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and seek advice from corporate leaders and others not working in the public common school system. A token representation of public education personnel may also be consulted.

· "Reforms" such as the parent trigger, vouchers, charter schools, mayoral control of schools, appointed commissions to assume part of the functions of boards of education, tuition tax credits, third grade guarantee, high stakes testing, replacement of teachers and administrators in "failing schools", A-F report cards, etc. are enacted with the expectation that these quick fixes will work wonders.

· In all cases the local education community typically attempts to comply with the state's reforms.

· When local educators and administrators don't fully embrace these untested "reforms", they are considered to be stuck in their old ways, resistant to change and not fit for the position they hold.

· Some state officials attempt to intimidate those who don't "buy-in" to the ever changing "reform" ideas. Then local education personnel are told that they would buy-in if they really would take the time to understand the "reform." · When the "reform" measures don't produce extraordinary results, the local education personnel are to blame and thus the system should be farmed out to the private sector.

We'd just add that by the time corporate reform ideas are proven to be failures (such as NCLB) the politiciand responsible for them are long gone and educators are left to pick up the pieces.

What Administrators Are Really Saying About Kasich’s School Plan

From our mailbag.

The Governor’s office deceptively highlighted the minority of Administrators across the state that are actually pleased with Kasich’s plan to make permanent his historic education cuts. What are school administrators among the 60% of districts receiving no additional state funding actually saying about Kasich’s plan?

  • “The statements the governor made are a damn lie.” – Arnol Elam, Superintendent of Franklin City Schools
  • “[We were] duped by Kasich. We got told all the right things, but he didn’t follow through. This is not what we were told.” – Bob Caldwell, Superintendent of Wolf Creek Local School District
  • “Everyone in the room when he [Kasich] announced his budget was misled.” – Roger Mace, Superintendent of Gallipolis City Schools
  • “This is really going to hurt us.” – Becki Peden, Huntington Local Schools Treasurer
  • “It just seems like the rich get richer, and the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.” – Larry Hook, Superintendent of Carlisle Schools
  • “What the governor and his staff told us in Columbus just was not true… Five of the seven districts will not receive any more money [in fiscal year 2014].” – John Rubesich, Superintendent of the Ashtabula County Educational Services Center
  • “Instead of closing the gap between poor and wealthy districts, it appears to be exacerbated.” – Tom Perkins, Superintendent of Northern Local Schools of Perry County
  • Aurora Schools Treasurer Bill Volsin said his district will receive the exact same amount from the state as it did last year. While state government officials say Aurora will receive almost half a million more in 2014, Volsin and Superintendent Russ Bennett claim that isn’t true. – Auora Advocate, 2/13/13

Education News for 01-20-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Parents, Schools Work Around Growing Food Allergies (ONN)
  • MARENGO - Doug Eckelbarger is a Social Studies teacher who has a daughter with a potential fatal peanut allergy. "It was pretty scary, hives from head down to the torso," said Eckelbarger. Eckelbarger's daughter has had close calls before which is why it is so important to monitor what she eats at home and school, ONN's Stephanie Mennecke reported. At Highland Local Schools, they do the best they can to watch 2,000 students. Food allergies and medical conditions for each student are kept electronically. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Westerville Schools Discuss Services That Could Return If Levy Is Passed (WBNS 10 CBS)
  • WESTERVILLE - The Westerville City School Board met Wednesday to discuss the possibility of reviving programs if its proposed levy passes. Superintendent Dr. J. Daniel Good, warned students and parents that while programs could come back they may not be the same as before, 10TV's Jason Frazer reported. The district is proposing a levy in March. Administrators said approval of that levy could bring back non-athletic after-school programs, gift intervention services and reading intervention teachers. Read More…

  • Monroe schools to cut 19 employees (Middletown Journal)
  • MONROE — Monroe Local Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said Thursday 19 positions will be eliminated next school year as a part of the district’s plan to cut $2.2 million from its budget. Among the cuts will be three art and three music teaching positions as a result of general music classes in grades K-6 being eliminated along with art classes in grades K-8. Those subjects will be taught by regular classroom teachers, Lolli said. Thirteen teachers, three classified staff and three administrators are expected to be eliminated. Read More…

  • School, Student Responded Right Way To Alleged Luring (WBNS 10 CBS)
  • CIRCLEVILLE - Sheriff's officials said on Thursday that both the Logan Elm Local School District and a boy who allegedly was approached by a stranger responded the right way in a difficult situation. Police said that John Guisinger, 62, approached a 12-year-old boy at a bus stop on Wednesday and attempted to lure the boy to his car. According to investigators, the boy ran and told his family. "He was very smart. Very smart kid. Took off running, got a hold of his mom and his grandma right away, and they called the proper authorizes," said Pickaway County sheriff's Detective John Strawser. Read More…


  • Drawing the line: What happens at home is not school business (Post-Gazette)
  • It's one thing for Pink Floyd to sing: "Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!" It's another that the U.S. Supreme Court should implicitly endorse that sentiment by not agreeing to take two cases from Pennsylvania and one from West Virginia concerning free speech and school discipline. Juvenile parodies and criticism were at issue in the cases. One was about a then-Hickory High School senior in Mercer County suspended for creating a mocking Web profile of his principal. Another involved an eighth-grader suspended in the Blue Mountain School for producing a profanity-laced profile of her principal that suggested he was a pedophile. The West Virginia case was about a teen who disparaged a fellow student online. Read More…

$3.1 billion in education cuts will force levies, larger classes

Gov. John Kasich recently stated he thinks Ohio public schools can adjust to the loss of $3.1 billion in state and federal stimulus funds this budget cycle without putting local levies on the ballot. He further stated that school boards and administrators need to make tough decisions.

The truth is that publicly elected school boards have been making difficult decisions for years. In many cases, public school districts have nothing left to cut. Districts across Ohio have made drastic reductions. They have laid off administrators, teachers and other staff. They've cut programs, transportation and extracurricular activities. They've even been forced to close schools. Local leaders have little left to cut, and the reductions in state funding will require them to go back to their communities' taxpayers for more money.

Many districts that are on the ballot this May have cut all they are legally allowed to cut and still do not have enough money to keep their schools open. We have seen districts across the state announce teacher layoffs and cuts in programs the same night they discuss the need for a levy. Unfortunately, levies will not bring back programs and teachers but merely allow districts to meet the state minimum requirements.

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We're gonna need a bigger boat

Bigger BoatThere's a line in the movie Jaws, where it dawns upon Martin Brody that they are up against a serious shark and need a bigger boat. Well there's an article in the Dayton Daily News today that suggests school districts might need a bigger boat too, if they are to comply with some of the crazy provisions of S.B.5

The new merit pay system mandated in Senate Bill 5 will be applied to Ohio’s 146,000 K-12 teachers and indirectly impact 1.78 million students in 613 school districts.
Senate Bill 5 calls for teachers to be evaluated each year by April 1. The reviews would be based on: licensure level; whether teachers attain ‘highly qualified’ status; student test scores; at least two observations of at least 30 minutes each; and other criteria picked by the local school board.

Pay, firings and layoffs will be based on these evaluations.

Let's stop there just for one second. We won't dwell on licensure level, status or even student test scores. We'll get to those for sure another time.

Let's just think for a minute about these observations.

There must be 2 per year per teacher of at least 30 minutes each. 30 minutes + 30 minutes = 1 hour. 1 hour x 146,000 teachers = 146,000 hours of observation per year.

But these observers aren't just going to magically appear. They will need time to organize the observations, to get to the classes, to record their findings and to issue a report. Conservatively this adds another hour per year per teacher to the effort.

Now we are at 292,000 hours per year just for this provision alone.

If someone were to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year it would take them over 140 years to complete this task. Since these observations have to be completed annualy that means we're going to need at least 140 more administrators just for this provision alone!

Is this what was meant by providing school districts the tools they need to save money?

Ohio School Boards Association lobbyist Damon Asbury, a former school district superintendent who has assessed evaluation systems, said the best ones boil down to using multiple data points, including observations made by different observers. Asbury said high quality, annual evaluations of every teacher will put heavy pressure on administrators.

“That is not to say it can’t be done but it’ll require more time and effort,” he said. “We may find ourselves in need of more administrators.”

We're going to need a bigger boat, or at least one that doesn't have so many holes in it.