Why Join the Future exists

This piece provides as good a rationale as we have read for why Join the Future exists

"The public common school is the greatest discovery made by man," said Horace Mann. There is a direct link between public education and this nation's civility among citizens, its standard of living and its pivotal position in the world community. Multiple forces, such as the greed associated with for-profit education ventures, the philosophy that education is primarily a private benefit instead of a common good and that sectarian and other private purposes, should be supported from the public largess are unraveling the public common school system. A massive focused, committed offensive is required to preserve the public common school.

During the common school movement in the early and middle 19th century, there were strong forces that opposed the implementation of a tax-supported education system, free to all the children of all the people. Some of the opponents wanted tax money for their sectarian and private purposes. Others opposed tax funds used for the education of the children of others but tolerated public education so long as the public cost was minimal.

The common school movement was successful in spite of strong opposition because the proponents were united and totally committed to the concept that quality educational opportunities should be provided for all children via the public common school system. Thus, the constitutional provision for a thorough and efficient system of common schools was adopted by Ohioans in the mid-19th century. This provision prodded state officials in every generation to enhance educational opportunities within the state system.

The priority for improving the public system changed in Ohio in the early 1990s when the governor joined forces with a current for-profit charter school kingpin to start the voucher and charter school programs. These programs began as "pilots" and thus most local public school personnel and advocates tended to ignore these public policy changes. "This isn't my problem since it doesn't affect me" seemed to be the view. Now that charters and vouchers have grown to the point of extracting about $1 billion from school districts this year, some are becoming concerned that the public common school is unraveling; however, many within the public school community have withdrawn by indicating, "This isn't my problem. 'They' will have to fix it."

HB 59 is a prime exhibit that it is not being fixed. The entire public K-12 common school community must become involved in fixing the problem. "They" are not going to rid the mischief in HB 59 but "we", if, united in the cause of the public common school, determine to do so.

The expansion of choice and short-changing of public K-12 school districts, inherent in HB 59, demand a collective response, immediately.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Public schools neglected in favor of private choice expansion

From William Phillis, Ohio E & A

"The public common school," Horace Mann said, "is the Greatest Discovery made by man." It constitutes a social compact established for the benefit of all the children of all the people, community by community, across Ohio and across America. It has been the primary force for the common good in America.

Although a state system in Ohio, required to be thorough and efficient by constitutional decree, it is operated at the community level by elected boards of education-the fourth branch of government. In spite of inadequate levels of state funding through the decades, the public common school in Ohio and throughout the nation has nurtured this country to which millions and millions in every generation have migrated.

The public common school, typically, on a modest and constrained budget, has attempted to meet the individual needs of students. Programs for vocational/technical training, programs for those with disabilities and special needs, have been a part of the common school fabric. Typically, education options have been limited by the fiscal resources available to school districts.

In the past two decades, the political will to maintain and strengthen the public common school, and thus the social compact, the common good, has dwindled in a frenzied untested "quick fix" strategy that is fueled by many who want to take public money to the altar of the god of school choice.

The public common school system, due to the transfer of resources from the system to private choices, is less able to provide for choice; hence, students within the public common school system are being denied choices due to choice expansion outside the system.

The school funding measures in HB 59 (school funding level and non-formula school funding formula) are detrimental to most school districts while favoring the school choice movement. The state has the constitutional responsibility to maintain and nurture the common school system, not give it away.

The 130th General Assembly should put a moratorium on the expansion of school choice and establish a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research committee to study the current choice program.

Education News for 04-09-2013

Local Education News

  • Watching over Lorain's schools; Academic Distress Commission appointed to help district recover (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • The Academic Distress Commission that will oversee Lorain City Schools education improvements includes three Lorain County Community College employees, the former director of REACHigher in Lorain County and a former associate state superintendent…Read more…

  • Cleveland school district avoids state control based on Cleveland plan already in place (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The Cleveland schools will not fall under the control of a state academic distress commission.…Read more…

  • Medina superintendent Randy Stepp offers his side of contract, education payment controversy (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The following letter was sent to area media outlets earlier today by Medina Schools superintendent Randy Stepp following the Medina School Board's decision to place him on paid administrative leave.…Read more…

  • Strongsville City Council considering resolution urging end to teachers strike (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • According to Strongsville City Council, the now six-week old teachers strike has "undoubtedly irreparably" harmed students, and it will go on the record saying that a special meeting called for 5 p.m. April 9.…Read more…

  • The superintendent will explain the Revitalization/Choice Plan changes (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Youngstown parents and students are invited to meet with Superintendent Connie Hathorn this week to learn more about new program options for the 2013-14 school year.…Read more…

  • Connie Hathorn seeking retirement and rehiring as superintendent (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • City schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn will retire and is seeking re-employment to the post. The school board will conduct a public meeting on the issue of Hathorn’s proposed employment as a retiree at 5:30 p.m. June 4…Read more…

  • Brighter Tomorrow Plan: School, citizens plan for future (Canton Repository)
  • The first of four community meetings to discuss the future of the City Schools drew about 120 parents and concerned citizens to Souers Middle School Monday evening.…Read more…

  • New strategy for intruders to be enacted (Findlay Courier)
  • A new, nationally recognized strategy for defending against violent intruders will be taught to staff and students of Findlay City Schools beginning in June thanks to the city's police department.…Read more…

  • Veterinary program teaches care (Marion Star)
  • The shout went out as Tri-Rivers Career Center students shuffled about, checking on lizards, tortoises, chinchillas and other animals in the veterinary science lab.…Read more…

  • Students, public say goodbye to Niles school (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • It was a bittersweet farewell as students and teachers - both current and former - walked through the halls of old Niles McKinley High School one last time.…Read more…

  • King CLC opening likely to be delayed due to moisture problem (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Akron school officials say a water barrier that was “not properly” installed at the King Community Learning Center (CLC) will likely delay its opening.…Read more…

  • Carey board OKs teacher contracts (Findlay Courier)
  • Carey school board approved teacher and non-teacher contracts for the 2013-14 school year.…Read more…

  • Huntington School Board cuts one position, trims four more (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Faced with a projected $720,000 deficit and flat-lined funding from the state, the Huntington Board of Education began working to narrow its budget gap Monday.…Read more…


  • Listen to the police (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • A school safety bill beginning to make its way through the Ohio House has triggered concerns that it would encourage more school districts to arm teachers and other staff members.…Read more…

Teachers stay strong in Strongsville

The teachers strike in Strongsville, Ohio is now entering its 5th week. Since the Strongsville Board of Education made their last offer, the Strongsville Education Association has made 3 counter offers that have been met with silence. The board's resistance to talk has been so extreme that a court had to order them to release public records. With this as a backdrop, we decided to travel up to Strongsville.

When we arrived we were met with the sight of hundreds of determined educators walking the picket line

After talking to them and listening to their side of the strike, it was clear to us that even after being out on strike for over a month, they were determined to secure a fair contract. It was also clear that the Strongsville board of education is being guided by special interests with an agenda and not the interests of the students and the community. This became even more apparent later in the day.

As the teachers marched up an down the sidewalk of the very busy road, they were receiving a tremendous amount of support from passersby,both in cars and on foot (a number of parents were walking the picket lines with the teachers).

Around 1pm, in the wind and cold, teachers and their supporters march to a common area to gather around a gazebo. Sen. Sherrod Brown was scheduled to address them.

At least 1,000 people turned out for a rally on Strongsville’s square attended by members of other unions.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Avon Democrat, called on Frazee to kick-start the stalled negotiations.

“Most importantly, students are not well-served when both sides are not sitting at the bargaining table,“ Brown said.

“Strongsville students deserve a settlement – now. But a settlement can’t be reached if the two parties aren’t talking. That’s why I joined teachers today – who told me how they want to be back in the classroom – and why I will keep in contact with the school board,” Brown said.

After Sen. Brown spoke, SEA President Linscott addressed her members and the crowd. She laid out the clear reasons why the strike has happened and why it continues. But more importantly she offered the board yet another opportunity to resolve the strike fairly.
In 2009 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration should it be needed.
Again, in 2010 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration. In both cases that course of action wasn't needed as agreements were made.
Yesterday, SEA once again offered to end the strike immediately if the board agreed to binding interest arbitration. The proposal can be read in full below.

Strongsville E.A Binding Arbitration offer

Unlike in 2009 and 2010, the Strongsville board rejected this offer before the end of the day, once again demonstrating bad faith and a motive other than ending the month long strike. If their goal is to try and break the SEA, and it appears that that is their goal, they are going to fail. The hundreds of teachers we met, saw and talked ot yesterday were determined and resolved to continue their strike until a fair labor contract is agreed to.

The Federal mediator has called both parties back to the negotiating table today. Pressure on the Board is mounting as conditions inside Strongsville schools is deteriorating

Dozens of parents and students fed up with the Strongsville teachers strike took their pleas for the school board to negotiate and find common ground with the teachers union to City Council’s April 1 meeting.

Six Strongsville High School students recounted concerning conditions inside the school – overfilled classrooms, substitutes who did not know the material they were teaching and were not told where the regular teacher left off and an abundance of movies and study halls peppering the eight-period school day have become the norm, they said.
Pam Mullen, who has three children in the district, says her two youngest children at Muraski Elementary School are on IEPs for speech and reading.

“For over a week they did not receive the help they needed,” Mullen said. “My daughter tried her best to keep up, but it was too much. It led to melt downs and stomach aches.”

Mullen said she received a letter from the district saying no speech therapists had been hired yet, and she could not afford to hire one herself.

“This past month has been frustrating for my family,” she said.

Moser said some of her classmates who are on IEPs were left to fend for themselves at a time that was crucial for not just them, but the school district – Ohio Graduation Tests, which took place March 11-15, during the second week of the strike.

“Strongsville City Schools was thriving before this,” Moser said. “Now there’s no learning, no love and hallways are filled with dread.”

Junior Mathangi Sridharan painted the picture for those students who are in AP classes, high-level courses the district has struggled to fill.

Sridharan said students have been going over the material that will be covered in tests given next month by themselves – she and two other students have even taught some classes.
Other students spoke about the void of honors classes and extracurricular activities, including concerts and plays the students had spent months preparing for, but a common theme came up between parents and students, alike – the strike is on the brink of doing irreparable harm to the community.

The board has now had 4 opportunities offered to it by the striking teachers and has remained silent, refusing to negotiate in good faith. Let's hope they see sense and reason, and find a way to end this strike in a way that is fair to everyone, students, teachers and the community at large.

You can stay up to date on the strongsville strike at the SEA Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Teachers Love Their Lives, but Struggle in the Workplace

A new Gallup poll finds

Teachers have high personal wellbeing, as evidenced by their high life evaluations and emotional wellbeing scores, and this may prove beneficial to their students and the broader community. It is unclear whether the relatively higher scores of teachers on several measures of wellbeing are because working in that profession enhances one's wellbeing, or if people who have higher wellbeing in general seek out teaching professions. Prior research, however, has demonstrated the significant role that the workplace plays in wellbeing outcomes. Still, teacher's low workplace wellbeing, relative to other professional occupations, indicates school and community leaders have important issues to address in the school workplace in order for teachers and students to reach their full potential. It is absolutely critical to raise teachers' workplace engagement, because their engagement is the No. 1 predictor and driver of student engagement, which Gallup research shows impacts student wellbeing and academic success. The positive news is that these workplace struggles can be addressed. Teachers and school leaders need to work together to improve the work environment.

Despite these workplace challenges, teachers love their work and the life it produces

HB555 Analysis

The Ohio House of Representatives approved HB 555. The House passed the bill without amendments in a party line vote, 58-27. The bill will now head to the Senate.

The Legislative Services Commision has analyzed the bill and produced the report below. While the devil is in the details, and there are some devils, here's a brief breakdown of the policies HB555 contains

  • Replaces the current academic performance rating system for school districts, individual buildings of districts, community schools, STEM schools, and collegepreparatory boarding schools with a phased-in letter grade system under which districts and schools are assigned grades of "A," "B," "C," "D," or "F" based on 15 measures to reflect the performance profile of each district or school.
  • Creates six component classifications in which each performance measure is categorized and a grade is assigned for each component to be calculated into assigning an overall grade to a school district or building.
  • Requires the State Board of Education to develop an alternative academic performance rating system for community schools serving primarily students enrolled in dropout prevention and recovery programs.
  • Establishes criteria for closing dropout prevention and recovery community schools based on their academic performance.
  • Requires the Department of Education to review additional information included on report cards and submit to the Governor and the General Assembly recommendations for revisions.
  • Establishes a new evaluation process for determining which community school sponsors may sponsor additional schools.
  • Permits the Ohio Office of School Sponsorship to sponsor a community school if the school's sponsor has been prohibited from sponsoring additional schools.
  • Delays implementation of the new sponsor evaluation system until the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Renames the Ohio Accountability Task Force as the Ohio Accountability Advisory Committee and alters its membership and duties.
  • Requires the State Board to submit to the General Assembly recommendations for a comprehensive statewide plan to intervene in and improve the performance of persistently poor performing schools and school districts.
  • Reinstates the permanent requirement for five scoring ranges on the state achievement assessments.
  • Requires a school district to provide immediate services and regular diagnostic assessments for a student found to have a reading deficiency pending development of the student's reading improvement and monitoring plan required under continuing law.
  • Adds college-preparatory boarding schools to the provisions requiring the Department of Education to rank public schools by expenditures.
  • Requires that a designated fiscal officer of a community school be licensed as a school treasurer by the State Board of Education prior to assuming the duties of fiscal officer.
  • Requires the Department of Education to conduct two application periods each year for the Educational Choice Scholarship Program.
  • Establishes measures the Superintendent of Public Instruction must consider before approving new Internet- or computer-based community schools.
  • Restates that the requirements of the standards-based state framework for teacher evaluations and the standards and procedures for nonrenewal of a teacher's contract as a result of the evaluation prevail over any conflicting provisions of a collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after the effective date of the bill.
  • Specifically permits educational service centers to partner in the development of STEM schools
  • Permits an educational service center to sponsor a new start-up community school in any challenged district in the state, instead of just its service territory, so long as it receives approval to do so from the Department of Education.
  • Qualifies for a War Orphans Scholarship, children of military veterans who participated in an operation for which the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was awarded.
  • Authorizes the administrators of the Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program and the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship Program to apply for and receive grants; to accept gifts, bequests, and contributions from public and private sources; and to deposit all such contributions into the respective National Guard Scholarship Reserve Fund (existing) or the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship Fund (created by the bill).

OFT is asking that the following fixes be made to HB 555

  1. Eliminate graded items for the current school year. It’s not fair to change the rules in the middle of the game, or year. Delay any grades to 2014-2015.
  2. Don’t grade items that are impacted by a lack of resources - participation in AP courses, dual enrollment participation rate, K-3 literacy rate, college admission testing scores, remediation.
  3. Eliminate Accountability Board language
  4. A composite score dilutes the value of the dashboard and should be eliminated.
  5. Eliminate language that raises the standard and the cut score for achievement tests. This causes double jeopardy for school districts. Raising the cut score and standards from 75 to 80 percent will force more school districts to have lower scores making them and buildings subject to possible vouchers for low performance. Only the cut score should be raised.
  6. Safe harbor: For three years the student portion of teacher evaluations should be reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent. For three years school districts currently earning a continuous improvement rating or higher should be exempt from sanctions.

HB 555 Analysis