Education News for 05-07-2013

Local Education News

  • Urban League might lose Head Start grant (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Two nonprofit groups have been offered federal Head Start grants to serve needy preschool children in central Ohio, but not the Columbus Urban League…Read more...

  • Argument over access (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Parents who are unhappy with the Champion School District's refusal to provide access for their special-needs son to attend Central Elementary School have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice…Read more...


  • Bus money (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Since 2005, Ohioans have enjoyed a 21 percent reduction in individual income tax rates. The Ohio House has proposed an additional 7 percent…Read more...

  • Hospital study is timely for parents (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Probably every parent wishes at some point that he or she could just bubble-wrap their little one. But guarding kids so closely for fear of injury…Read more...

  • Another blow to city schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Thursday’s records seizures at 20 Columbus high schools by the state auditor ought to prove convincing to those who have blindly defended…Read more...

Politics and Education Don't Mix

Governors and presidents are no better suited to run schools than they are to run construction sites, and it's time our education system reflected that fact.

A central flaw of corporate paradigms, as is often noted in popular culture, is the mind-numbing and dehumanizing effect of bureaucracy. Sometimes we are horrified and sometimes we laugh, but arguments for or against the free market may be misguided if we fail to address bureaucracy's corrosive role in the business model.

Current claims about private, public, or charter schools in the education reform movement, which has its roots in the mid-nineteenth century, may also be masking a much more important call to confront and even dismantle the bureaucracy that currently cripples universal public education in the U.S. "Successful teaching and good school cultures don't have a formula," argued legal reformer Philip K. Howard earlier in this series, "but they have a necessary condition: teachers and principals must feel free to act on their best instincts....This is why we must bulldoze school bureaucracy."

Bureaucracy, however, remains an abstraction and serves as little more than a convenient and popular target for ridicule -- unless we unpack what actions within bureaucracy are the sources for many of the persistent failures we associate erroneously with public education as an institution. Bureaucracy fails, in part, because it honors leadership as a primary quality over expertise, commits to ideological solutions without identifying and clarifying problems first, and repeats the same reforms over and over while expecting different results: our standards/testing model is more than a century old.

Public education is by necessity an extension of our political system, resulting in schools being reduced to vehicles for implementing political mandates. For example, during the past thirty years, education has become federalized through dynamics both indirect ("A Nation at Risk" spurring state-based accountability systems) and direct (No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top).

As government policy and practice, bureaucracy is unavoidable, of course. But the central flaw in the need for structure and hierarchy is that politics prefers leadership characteristics above expertise. No politician can possibly have the expertise and experience needed in all the many areas a leader must address (notably in roles such as governor and president). But during the "accountability era" in education of the past three decades, the direct role of governors and presidents as related to education has increased dramatically--often with education as a central plank in their campaigns.

One distinct flaw in that development has been a trickle-down effect reaching from presidents and governors to state superintendents of education and school board chairs and members: people who have no or very little experience or expertise as educators or scholars attain leadership positions responsible for forming and implementing education policy.

The faces and voices currently leading the education reform movement in the U.S. are appointees and self-proclaimed reformers who, while often well-meaning, lack significant expertise or experience in education: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, billionaire Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee (whose entrance to education includes the alternative route of Teach for America and only a few years in the classroom), and Sal Khan, for example.

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Education News for 04-25-2012

Statewide Education News

  • At-risk students hard to grade (Dispatch)
  • Advocates for charter schools serving students at risk of dropping out say they shouldn’t be held to the same standards as traditional schools. Lawmakers studying a plan to impose a tougher rating system on schools and school districts agree, but they aren’t sure how best to judge dropout-recovery schools. “You just can’t lump them in with every other school,” Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, said yesterday after hearing testimony from supporters of the schools. Read More…

  • Ohio schools: Achievement tests can bring on stress (WKYC)
  • This time of year, teachers and students often get stressed out over testing. So what advice are schools and doctors giving families to make sure students are at their best for the testing that started this week? Here are some tips from Dr. Ellen Rome, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Breathalyzer Now In Use In Central Ohio School District (NBC-4)
  • One central Ohio school district is taking a unique approach to better identify students who drink before school or school functions. Thanks to a grant, Pickerington Local Schools has an alcohol testing device, or a breathalyzer that can be used at anytime. “There's always been rumors, 'Oh, they've got a breathalyzer,’” said Pickerington High School North Principal Cindi Goldhaber. Read More…

  • School district says privacy cloaks seclusion-room data (Dispatch)
  • The Columbus school district denied yesterday that it is blocking a state agency’s attempts to investigate the district’s use of seclusion rooms for special-needs students. In an answer to a federal lawsuit filed in early March, the district said it turned over documents that were pertinent to a mother’s allegation that her autistic son was so terrified when placed in a cell-like room that he stripped naked and urinated. Read More…

  • YEA chief to teachers: Expect layoffs (Vindicator)
  • The president of the city teachers’ union cautioned members to prepare for layoffs and advised some to begin looking for new jobs. “The board will be changing the posting dates and the method of posting” for positions, Will Bagnola, president of the Youngstown Education Association, wrote in an email last week to the membership. “The board will not be honoring seniority in filling vacancies and assigning YEA members; board-action on a RIF [reduction in force] will not be done by April 30th; and, our class sizes will be increasing.” Read More…

  • Superintendent roundtable discussion (13 ABC WTVG)
  • Three northwest Ohio superintendents sit down with 13 ABC regarding the new state ranking system. Read More…

  • Hamilton charter school finds new campus (Hamilton Journal News)
  • The Richard Allen Academy, a private charter school located on the city’s East Side, has found a new home in the former St. Julie Billiart School on Shuler Avenue. Academy officials hope the move will help attract more students. The charter school needed to find a new home after its current campus at 299 Knightsbridge Drive was purchased last fall by Miami University Hamilton. Read More…

Editorial & Opinion

  • Another glimpse into Ohio’s lax oversight of charter schools (Vindicator)
  • The Liberty Board of Education’s experience with two “conversion schools,” essentially charter schools that were operated by a public school district, provide an insight into an inherent lack of oversight that has plagued far too many of Ohio’s experiments in alternative education. This week, the first good news about what had been the Liberty Early Academic Resource Nest and Liberty Exemplary Academic Design schools came from the Portage County Educational Services Center, the current sponsor of the schools. Read More…

Rallys around the State on Tuesday

This week marks a critical turning point in the fight to protect not only our collective bargaining rights, but public education itself. On Tuesday, Governor Kasich will unveil details of his first two-year budget. Given a looming $8 billion deficit, cuts to K-12 public education and higher education are expected to be steep and painful. Furthermore, the governor has said that it include many "reforms," not the least of which will involve diverting taxpayer dollars to unproven charter schools and voucher programs that support private schools.

Against this backdrop, it is critically important that we have a huge turnout of members at Tuesday's "Stand Up for Ohio" rallies. Twelve such rallies will be held across the state, and the only one in Central will be held at Westerville Central High School (7118 Mount Royal Ave., Westerville) from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. (This marks a change in location from what had originally been planned for the Westerville Public Library.)

Please spread the word and encourage all of your fellow members, along with their families, friends, and supporters to be there with you. This rally will take place just blocks from Governor Kasich's home and will be a great message to send a loud and clear message, right in his backyard, that policies are wrong for the middle class, wrong for children, and wrong for the future of our state.

For those of you who live a distance away from Columbus, there are similar rallies taking place in the Dayton area (at the corner of Maple St. and E. National Rd. in Vandalia), in Portsmouth (at Shawnee State University), and in Mansfield (in the Main St. Town Square), all beginning at 5:00.

There is also a rally scheduled for next Saturday, March 19, on the square in downtown Newark at noon. (Arrive at 11:00.)

Also, please continue to contact your representatives by email and telephone.

Call 1-888-907-7309 or the Direct line listed below to let your representative in the House hear from you on why SB 5 needs to be stopped.