Education News for 05-09-2013

State Education News

  • Voters OK’d 60 percent of levies for schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Ohio voters approved 60 percent of 137 local tax requests for schools on Tuesday…Read more...

  • Just 7 percent of voters go to polls in central Ohio (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Tuesday was far from a proud day for democracy in central Ohio. It also was a costly one in terms of citizen participation…Read more...

  • State takeover closer after levy defeat (Dayton Daily News)
  • State fiscal watch is imminent for Fairborn City Schools following voter rejection Tuesday of an 11.7-mill emergency levy by a 2-to-1 margin…Read more...

  • Senator Looking For $100 Million In Budget To Support Preschool Vouchers (Gongwer)
  • Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said Wednesday she hopes to amend the budget to add $100 million for a new voucher program to cover preschool costs for three- and four-year- olds…Read more...

  • Liberty schools hopeful about teacher negotiations (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • State officials are hoping contract negotiations with the Liberty teachers union will save the school district “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Conneaut BOE, City Council building deal in jeopardy (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • A possible partnership between the city of Conneaut and its school district to share use of a commercial building is in jeopardy over the cost of rehabilitating the structure…Read more...

  • Cleveland school district and teachers union reach agreement on Cleveland Plan details (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Cleveland Teachers Union have reached a tentative agreement on how the two will work together to implement…Read more...

  • Huber schools continue staff reduction plan (Dayton Daily News)
  • The Huber Heights school board will continue implementation of more than $6 million in cuts by reducing 34 support staff…Read more...

  • Avon schools prepare to go wireless (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • Students can ready their Ipads and other Wi-Fi capable devices as Avon schools prepare to go wireless…Read more...


  • Minority decides for the majority (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A look at Tuesday’s primary-election results shows that many important races and issues were decided by only a handful of the people…Read more...

  • School spirit (Findlay Courier)
  • Most would agree there's no better investment in the future than education. But by cutting funding in recent years, state government has shifted more of the burden of operating public schools to taxpayers and property owners…Read more...

Wall Street ♥ charter schools

Call them cynical, but the widespread involvement of financial firms in the charter school movement raises suspicion among many public school advocates.

The map below illustrates just a few entanglements of big league investors in national school-choice organizations.

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How charter operators evade Ohio’s automatic closure law

Policy Matters Ohio issued a report on the failure of Ohio's Charter school accountability laws. The full report can be found at this link. Here's their executive summary.

Ohio law requiring the automatic closure of charter schools that consistently fail to meet academic standards has been showcased by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers in its “One Million Lives” campaign, which calls for tougher state laws to close failing charter schools. Key findings

  • Ohio law requires automatic closure of academically failing charter schools.
  • Loopholes in the closure law allow sponsors and charter management organizations (CMOs) to keep failing schools open despite orders to close.
  • Seven of 20 closed schools are still operating, with five run by the same CMOs that first opened them.
  • An eighth school avoided mandated closure by shutting down a year early, but reopened with much of the same staff.

The widespread attention given the NACSA campaign has pushed Ohio’s closure law into the spotlight as a model of accountability. Unfortunately, loopholes weaken Ohio law. Since the charter-closure law went into effect in 2008, 20 schools across the state have met closure criteria, and all are currently listed as closed by the Ohio Department of Education.

But Policy Matters Ohio has documented that of those 20 schools, seven have essentially remained intact, effectively skirting the automatic-closure law. In some cases, charter management organizations (CMOs) have expanded the charters of other schools to incorporate grade levels served by closed schools. In other cases, CMOs replaced schools facing automatic closure with nearly identical schools, managed by the same company with much of the same staff. An eighth school, Hope Academy Canton, was ordered closed by its sponsor a year before it would have been shut down by the state. Our investigation showed that by closing early and opening a new school in the same location with much of the same staff, Hope Academy’s for-profit operator, White Hat Management, bought five additional years of life – and revenue – for a low performing school. In more than half the cases we examined, the new schools’ academic performance remained the same as that of the old schools; five of the eight schools are still ranked in Academic Watch or Emergency, while their management companies and sponsors continue to take in millions of dollars in public funding. For-profit management companies – the Leona Group, White Hat, and Mosaica Education – run six of the schools, the non-profit Summit Academies runs one, and the last is independently operated. The table on the next page provides an overview of these schools.

Automatic closure Ohio’s charter-closure law, which became effective in 2008 and was revised in 2011, calls for automatic closure of schools rated in Academic Emergency for at least two of the three most recent school years. To be subject to the law, charters serving grades four through eight also must show less than one year of academic growth in either reading or math in that time period.

Ohio law holds charter school boards legally responsible for a school’s academic and financial performance, but places no penalty on CMOs when their schools meet closure criteria, even though these companies are often in charge of hiring and firing teachers, assessing academics, contracting vendors, budgeting, developing curriculum, and providing basic classroom materials. This creates a loophole to keep “closed” schools open and to continue to direct public funds to failing schools.

Weak accountability Since the Ohio legislature first established charters, the state has taken a quantity-over-quality approach to approving new schools and allowing troubled schools to continue. The closure law was meant to deal with the glut of ineffective charters that have for too long betrayed the promise of charters in Ohio. But our investigation shows that despite its seemingly strict closure law, Ohio still falls short of the meaningful oversight and accountability needed to improve the state’s charter sector. The repeal in 2011 of Ohio’s “highly qualified operator” provision gives new start-up charter schools the option of contracting with management companies that do not meet performance standards. Similarly, aside from losing revenue, sponsors are not penalized when schools are closed under their watch. Sponsors are coming under increasing oversight, and some are now prohibited from authorizing new schools, but the effectiveness of these efforts remains to be seen.

Recommendations Based on this study, Policy Matters Ohio recommends that legislators revamp the closure law, strengthen ODE’s capacity to oversee charter schools, direct ODE to refuse the kind of expansion of charter contracts that has allowed schools and management companies to skirt the law, and hold charter management companies accountable for the academic performance of their schools. Charter law in Ohio remains ineffective and weak. Until Ohio gets serious about quality in the charter sector – both by preventing operators with weak track records from opening new schools, and by creating a more meaningful charter-closure law – Ohio will continue to fall short of the goal of strengthening its public education system so that it can serve everyone.

Parents *STILL* choose public schools

HB153, the budget bill, increased the availability of school vouchers for private schools from 14,000 to 30,000 last year and to 60,000 this year. Clearly the legislators was expecting a private school voucher gold rush.

When that didn't happen last year, excuses were made. This year, according to reports in the Dispatch, application levels are almost as miserable.

An additional 1,544 requests for a new special-needs voucher program were made by Sunday’s deadline.

Among the 17,438 applications for an Educational Choice Scholarship were 3,814 new applicants. That deadline was Friday. About 17,000 applications were filed last year to use vouchers this school year.

There are 60,000 vouchers available next school year for students in low-performing schools. They’re worth $4,250 for younger students and $5,000 for high-school students.

The Dispatch headline catagorizes this as "School-voucher programs prove popular". the reality and the truth is obviously quite different. Approximately 3,438 additional students have appliedfor vouchers above the original cap of 14,000. That amounts to just 5.7% of the new 60,000 cap.

ohio voucher expansion

The voucher expansion in Ohio is clearly a massive failure. Lawmakers obvously expected demand for these vouchers to be over 30,000, hence the increase to 60,000 this year. For those that continue to believe that parents in Ohio want "choice", for the second year in a row, they have been proven to be wrong. Parents in Ohio continue to overwhelmingly support public schools - it's time politicians listened and began to support it fully too.

Who are the businesses making threats to children?

Gongwer, March 12th, quoting Governor John Kasich

"I think what's going to happen in Cleveland (if the legislation doesn't pass), I've been told the business community is walking away," Mr. Kasich said. "They're not going to support levies; they're done; they're finished with what's happening there."

These businesses that the Governor references ought to step forward from behind the skirt-tails of the chamber of commerce. People have a right to know who is making threats towards their children's future so they can decide if that's a business they wish to continue to support.