Education News for 02-26-2013

State Education News

  • Head Start could see cuts (Canton Repository)
  • If a budget compromise among lawmakers in Washington D.C. remains elusive, spending cuts totaling $85 billion will begin Friday…Read more...

  • Attendance 'scrubbing' study continues (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • The Ohio Department of Education has officially opened its investigation into the nine school districts, including Cincinnati and Winton Woods, cited this month by the Ohio auditor for evidence of “scrubbing…Read more...

  • High-school dropouts costly, report says (Columbus Dispatch)
  • High-school dropouts are costing about $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue every year, education advocates said in a report released yesterday…Read more...

  • Panel selects 4 state superintendent finalists (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A State Board of Education subcommittee yesterday named four finalists for state school superintendent…Read more...

  • Bills seek to remove stigma from workforce development centers (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • Workforce One Butler County provided job assistance to nearly 20,600 last year and could probably have helped thousands more, officials said. But the Fairfield agency’s services…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Chillicothe board approves $640,000 in cuts, closure of sixth-grade building (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Chillicothe’s current crop of fifth-graders will be staying put this fall. The Board of Education on Monday approved more than $640,000 in budget reductions that include the closure of the Western…Read more...

  • Clear Fork schools ponder drug test policy (Mansfield News Journal)
  • The Clear Fork Board of Education plans to consider drug testing of student-athletes and drivers at its next meeting…Read more...

  • Licking Valley High School teen creates anti-bullying blog (Newark Advocate)
  • Haley Smith knows what it feels like to be bullied. When she was in elementary school, kids used to tease her about her red hair and freckles and even stole her glasse…Read more...

  • Some districts on ballot show spending hikes (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Eighteen area school districts have levies on the ballot May 7, and all of them have made budget cuts of some type in the past few years…Read more...

  • Latest round of negotiations ends with no settlement as Strongsville teachers prepare for strike (Sun Newspapers)
  • With a potential teacher strike less than a week away, a four-and-a-half -our negotiation session between the Strongsville teachers union and the school district…Read more...

  • Sylvania council votes to terminate director of food service (Toledo Blade)
  • The Sylvania City Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to terminate the district's director of food service for allegedly misreporting the number of free or reduced meals…Read more...

  • Austintown teachers reach tentative deal with board (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • A tentative deal was reached late Monday between a teachers union and the Austintown school administration…Read more...


  • Adequacy gap (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • When John Kasich met with superintendents the day he unveiled his new funding plan for public schools, he hardly could have been more emphatic. He declared: “If you’re poor, you’re going to get more. If you are richer, you’re going to get less…Read more...

  • Youngstown schools cannot afford to lose superintendent (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • When the restructuring plan for the Youngstown City School District is unveiled to the public March 6, the community will realize how important it is to have the right person in charge to ensure a successful transformation…Read more...

The Higher the StudentsFirst grade, the lower the academic performance

StudentsFirst released their "education policy report card" which they describe thusly

StudentsFirst created the State Policy Report Card to evaluate the education laws and policies in place in each state. We hope this helps reveal more about what states are doing to improve the nation’s public education system so that it serves all students well and puts each and every one of them on a path toward success.

They give each state a GPA based upon how much of StudentsFirst policy prescriptions have been implemented. We thought it would be interesting to look at the correlation between StudentsFirst "GPA" and the NAEP scores to see how well the policies StudentsFirst wants legislators to pursue stacks up against actually academic results.

The results are quite clear and unambiguous - following the policy prescriptions of StudentsFirst is bad for academic performance.

As you can see, in both 4th and 8th grade reading and math, the higher the StudentsFirst grade the lower the students performance. Yet more proof that StudentsFirst is not an education reform organization, but instead an extreme right wing anti-tax group funded by billionaires.

Where the polls stand - 22 days to go

With just over 3 weeks remaining until the November 6th election, Presidential polling has gotten a lot tighter, with the Presidents large lead having been eroded since the first debate.

Real Clear Politics now has the President ahead by just 10 Electoral College votes, with 146 up for grabs.

The NYT pollster has the President projected to win in the narrowest of fashions to date, too

Meanwhile, in Ohio, the race has tightened too, but remains a crucial firewall for the President

As you can see from the graph below, Mitt Romney has never led in Ohio

These polling leads in Ohio are confirmed by actual votes currently being cast early

A new poll shows President Obama with a commanding 59-31 percent lead among those who have already voted, with seven percent of those surveyed saying they have already cast their ballot.

A second poll, from PPP, showed similar results

The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they've already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven't voted yet, but the numbers make it clear that he already has a lot of ground to make up in the final three weeks before the election.

The President is being projected to win Ohio by the NYT polling analyst, but by the smallest probability we have seen to date

Where the polls stand - Post convention

With the RNC and DNC conventions over, the clear winner, based on current polling, appears to be President Obama.

”Mr. Obama had another strong day in the polls on Saturday, making further gains in each of four national tracking polls. The question now is not whether Mr. Obama will get a bounce in the polls, but how substantial it will be.Some of the data, in fact, suggests that the conventions may have changed the composition of the race, making Mr. Obama a reasonably clear favorite as we enter the stretch run of the campaign.” Nate Silver in The New York Times.

Let's take a look at the state of play. First, Real Clear Politics has the race essentially unchanged from last week, with President Obama having 221 electoral college votes to Mitt Romney's 191, 126 are listed as toss-ups

In Ohio, RCP has Obama's lead increasing from an average of 1.4% to 2.2%

538, whom we quoted up top, has the President's advantage increasing by 10 electoral college votes, and now stands at landslide levels of 318.8

In Ohio his chances of victory have also increased and now stand at 74.6%, up from 71.5 last week.

Crazy polling result of the day perhaps comes from a PPP poll of Ohio, where 15% of Ohio Republicans said Mitt Romney deserved more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Vouchers have no clear positive impact on student achievement

Voucher proponents have shifted their advocacy efforts from extolling the academic achievement of voucher participants to focusing on the value of school choice as a virtue in itself, according to a report from the Center on Education Policy, in Washington.

The education research and advocacy group reviewed and synthesized a selection of a decade’s worth of research and policy moves in vouchers and school choice for the report, released today. In it, the researchers note that studies generally have shown that vouchers have “no clear positive impact” on student academic achievement and mixed results overall. In response to those studies, the CEP suggests, voucher advocates have started talking more about other perceived benefits of vouchers, including more parental choice and satisfaction, and higher graduation rates.

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Keeping Informed about School Vouchers

In a short time, a big mess

It took former Governor Ted Strickland almost his entire first term to implement his evidenced based model for education (EMB) in Ohio. Lengthy collaboration between multiple stakeholders produced the first real attempts at education reform in Ohio since its funding mechanisms had been judged to be unconstitutional.

Governor Kasich made it clear he would scrap this approach before it had time to be implemented. What he proposed to replace it with wasn’t clear, and still isn’t.

In less than six months we have a partisan state board of education in disarray and unable to find a suitable candidate to lead any reform effort. A promoted interim superintendent whose first task is to lay off members of his organization in order to cope with budget cuts. New teacher evaluation and merit pay framework provisions, with few real details, that were cooked up over a weekend by non-education expert legislators, and another law designed to curb the Ohio teacher professions association heading for likely repeal.

Did we mention the biggest mess of all? Almost $3 billion in cuts to public education while simultaneously sending more money to charter schools and for-profits and no funding formula for schools to plan around going forward.

Just how was this mess created

After making it clear that the EBM was dead, Governor Kasich’s first step wasn’t to collaborate to develop his own education reform plan and find a constitutional funding mechanism, but instead to attack his parties political foes via SB5’s union busting measures. SB5 was a direct assault on public employees, but especially teachers. SB5 curtailed collective bargaining, instituted an ill-thought out merit pay rubric that had only minimal support primarily from corporate education reformers, and relied heavily on discredit value add measures using high stakes testing of students.

Concurrent with this, the Governor sought to remake the independent state board of education. The first step was to ensure the votes were his by appointing tea party members to the board. Even going to the extent of replacing one of his own, board president and Republican Robin C. Hovis with Debe Terhar, described by the Dispatch as a "Cincinnati Tea Party conservative"

What followed next was unexpected and unprecedented – the State Superintendent was threatened, and then forced out.

Empowered by a new presence on the state school board, backers of Gov. John Kasich have forced out Ohio's state superintendent of education.

A tearful Deborah Delisle resigned yesterday.

"Last Friday, it was made known to me by two members of the governor's staff that my tenure was limited," Delisle said during the board's monthly meeting in Columbus. "They said they have the votes to replace me."

Her resignation takes effect April 30.

Delisle said she was asked "to support the governor's budget and remain ambivalent about it. I said I hadn't seen it. ... I perceived (the comments) as bribery or a threat."

She said she was told that "if I did good, there would be a nice exit strategy."

Several board members reacted with anger and tears of their own.

"This is disgusting," said member Robin C. Hovis, a Republican who was replaced as board president earlier in the meeting by a tea party proponent. "I denounce it."

He predicted that Kasich will pick a "puppet superintendent" and replace Ohio Department of Education staff members.

That “puppet” was to come in the form of the Governor’s education czar, Bob Sommers. Sommers, a former charter school executive from Detroit subsequently withdrew from contention claiming somewhat bizarrely that lawyers advised him that his ability to do the job would be limited because state ethics laws would keep him from having contact with the governor's office for a year.

While it’s not known the true reason for his withdrawal, it is suspected that he did not have enough votes from the state board of education to be appointed. The rancor and bad press from the Delisle ouster having caused some board members to rethink their independence.

That lack of independence early on was now causing a serious problem for the board in the search for a replacement. Having initially made sure the pool of candidates to choose from were only drawn from the ranks of corporate education reformers and believers, their list of candidates was getting smaller and smaller.

Reynoldsburg Superintendent Dackin withdrew after his board made him a financial offer he couldn’t refuse

Reynoldsburg schools spokeswoman Tricia Moore said the board will vote today to raise Dackin's base pay by $25,000. If that is approved, he will make $145,156. He would also be eligible for up to $24,000 a year in merit pay if he meets specific goals outlined by the board.

In a surprise last minute effort by the board to save face interim Superintendent Stan Heffner was appointed.

It was becoming clear that the Governor's other assault on public education and teachers was failing too.

Public sector workers had come together in a manner not seen in over 30 years to oppose SB5’s assault on the middle class, culminating in a record breaking 1.3 million signatures being collected to place a repeal initiative on the November ballot.

The Governor himself seemed confused about SB5, claiming wrongly that "Senate Bill 5 doesn't require merit pay for teachers.

The vacuum caused by these missteps was filled by all manner of ill-conceived policies being inserted into the state’s biennium budget. From huge giveaways to for-profit charter schools, to SB5 like provisions, the crazy was turned up to 11.

Recognized by many, the new Republican majority in their rush to exert their political force were on the verge of destroying education in Ohio. Denounced from all angles, including the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute who said the budget released by House Republicans "risks making the Buckeye State the nation’s laughing stock when it comes to charter school programs." The legislature was forced to backtrack from the most extreme policy measures, but what passed was still a radical assault on public education.

Where we are now

We now face almost $3 billion in education cuts over the next 2 years, and no funding formula going forward to replace the EBM with. Districts are having to make massive budget cuts to budgets already stretched thin.

A discredited State Board of Education, and a State Superintndent with less resources to implement a much larger mission. That mission now includes the Department of Education getting back into the Charter School Sponsorship business - an effort it failed so spectacularly at the first time around it had its authority stripped. Simultaneously the department needs to develop, in short order, merit pay and teacher evaluation systems - where the only collaboration with teachers to date has been an insulting web form. Soliciting ideas form teachers - ideas for a system that already has its framework in place via a budget bill.

Whatever the motives of the Governor, and it does become hard to ascribe genuine values to them, there can be no doubt that his bullrush approach to "reform" has left an environment of mistrust, anger and confusion in its wake. Governor Kasich has a lot of damage to repair, yet there are few signs he intends to do so.

Indeed, by placing himself at the head of the pro-SB5 campaign, a campaign that will undoubtedly cast further aspersions upon teachers, is unlikely to prove beneficial anytime soon.