Budget conference committee take backward steps

If one had hoped that the budget conference committee would take the Governor, House and Senate education policy plans and blend them into a better product, those hopes were dashed yesterday.

The budget continues to disinvest in Ohio's public education system to the tune of $532.7 million compared to 2010-2011 funding levels. To add further insult to that injury, in order to pass along income tax cuts to Ohio's wealthiest citizens, the GOP controlled legislature is also eliminating the 12.5% property tax rollback. A homeowner would face paying an additional $4.38 per mill for every $100,000 in taxable property value on new levies - making those levies a tougher sell for struggling schools.

In other areas of education policy, the conference committee failed too. The Senate had proposed to reduce the weight of a teachers evaluation using value-added from 50% to 35%. However, the conference committee reversed that policy improvement leaving the absurd over-reliance of value-add in place at 50%. Furthermore, the Senate had proposed eliminating the scores from teachers evaluations of students who were unexcused absent for 30 days or more. This would have been down from the current law of 60 days. The Conference committee reset that to an objectionable 45 days. For reference, Ohio Revised Code states that a student is chronically truant after only 15 days of unexcused absence - so why any teacher should be evaluated based on chronically truant students can only be explained by the legislature wanting to be punitive towards educators.

According to Gongwer

Conferees did adopt some last minute tweaks to the school funding that Republicans said would steer some additional money to poorer urban and rural districts.

One amendment would shift some funding from the K-3 literacy fund for all schools to economically disadvantaged districts and charter schools, according to House Republican policy aide Colleen Grady. However, the revision would not significantly alter the bottom line on K-12 spending.

So in order to more adequately fund rural school districts the legislature decided not to add more money to the put but to shift money from their own 3rd grade reading guarantee. This isn't education policy, it is madness.

Other notable changes

  • Revise the enrollment count for funding traditional school districts by switching to an annualized processed that would be updated three times a year starting in 2015.
  • Remove a funding guarantee for charter schools rated "excellent" for three years consecutively.
  • Subject private school students to state testing requirements if more than 65% of the population uses state vouchers, while allowing pupils not on scholarships to opt out of the exams.
  • Specify that homeschooled children and students moving into Ohio could obtain for EdChoice vouchers if they live in an eligible school district.
  • Ensure that students attending a STEM school can participate in extracurricular activities in their resident schools.
  • Create an advisory committee to guide distribution of the Straight A grant program funds and advise the governing board.
  • Cap Straight A fund awards at $5 million for a single grantee and $15 million for a consortium, while allowing the Controlling Board to approve higher amounts.

Education News for 03-07-2013

State Education News

  • Both candidates for Ohio education boss have made missteps (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Gov. John Kasich’s education adviser disclosed a 2009 drunken-driving conviction as part of the Ohio Board of Education’s search to find a new state superintendent…Read more...

  • Local schools didn't use up calamity days (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Students may not be happy about it, but the winter of 2012-13 has been kind to area school districts…Read more...

  • Restructuring plan unveiled (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Three school buildings would close next year, two more would change functions and grade alignment would change in several others under a restructuring plan…Read more...

  • School board president wants Connie Hathorn to stay (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Superintendent Connie Hathorn still doesn’t have a new contract, but as of Wednesday afternoon, he had the backing of the school board’s majority…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Strongsville teachers, district hold talks - but no positive results (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • No positive news emerged and no further talks are scheduled following a meeting Wednesday night of officials from the Strongsville school district and its striking teacher's union…Read more...

  • Coleman’s panel asks: Is elected school board best? (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s Education Commission will bring in experts later this month to explore whether an elected school board is the best governance model for Columbus City Schools…Read more...

  • Marion superintendent interviews beginning (Marion Star)
  • The Marion City Schools Board of Education announced it will start interviewing superintendent candidates today as it searches for a successor to James Barney…Read more...

  • No more talks scheduled; parties in Strongsville teacher strike remain divided (Sun Newspapers)
  • Contract talks between the teachers union and the district won't resume in the coming days, said Strongsville Board of Education President David Frazee March 6…Read more...

  • Medina: Outrage at superintendent's 'supersized' bonus (WKYC)
  • Parents, teachers and students in the Medina School district are outraged over a supersized bonus for the superintendent…Read more...

Survey shows disturbing patterns

The latest Metlife survey, conducted annually since 1984, shows educators under incredible stress as they cope with large budget cuts coupled with increased demands.

The whole survey is worth a read, but we've pulled out some of the most important findings.

Principals and Teachers Give Positive Ratings to the Job Teachers Are Doing

Nearly all principals (98%) give positive ratings to the classroom teachers in their school. This level is similar to the ratings provided by principals in 1986 (95%). The majority of principals (63%) say that their teachers are doing an excellent job and an additional 35% describe the job teachers are doing as pretty good.

In contrast to teachers’ ratings of their principals, the most experienced principals are most likely to rate their teachers highly. Principals with more than 10 years’ experience as a principal are more likely than those with six to 10 years’ experience or those with five years’ or less experience to rate the classroom teachers in their school as excellent (72% vs. 56% vs. 59%).

Of course corporate education reformers will continue to claim too many teachers are not performing in the classroom, despite all the available evidence.

As a consequence of the relentless teacher bashing, and budget cuts, politicians are causing serious moral problems with the workforce, as is evidenced in the next two findings

Teacher Job Satisfaction Continues to Decline

Teacher satisfaction has declined to its lowest point in 25 years and has dropped five percentage points in the past year alone, from 44% to 39% very satisfied. This marks a continuation of a substantial decline noted in the 2011 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher; teacher satisfaction has now dropped 23 percentage points since 2008.

Stress among teachers has increased since 1985

In 1985—the last time this question was asked and when job satisfaction was also low—more than one-third (36%) of teachers said they felt under great stress at least several days a week. Today, that number has increased; half (51%) of teachers feel under great stress at least several days a week. Elementary school teachers experience stress more frequently.

They are more likely than middle school or high school teachers to say they feel under great stress at least several days a week (59% vs. 44% vs. 42%). The increase since 1985 in the number of elementary school teachers who experience great stress at least several days a week is also noteworthy—59% today compared to 35% in 1985

Corporate reformers are also having negative impacts on Principals too

Most principals say that their responsibilities today have changed compared to five years ago and that the job has increased in complexity

Moreover, three-quarters (75%) of principals agree that the job of the principal has become too complex, a view shared by principals regardless of demographic characteristics such as school level, school location, the proportion of low-income or minority students, or the proportion of students performing at or above grade level in English language arts and math.

Half (48%) of principals feel under great stress several days a week or more. This finding is perhaps not surprising given the previously cited results that most principals feel their jobs are too complex, their responsibilities have changed during the past five years, and that they have a high degree of accountability with varying levels of control over decisions

The ever increasing Rube Goldberg machines being constructed by corporate education reformers is making the job of principal all but impossible. The survey notes

It is important to note that as educators begin to implement new, higher standards, many face other competing mandates related to teacher and student assessment as well as decreasing teacher morale,and reductions in budgets and other resources such as staff, professional learning opportunities, and time for collaboration.

When asked about limited resources and what would help them most in addressing the needs of diverse learners, majorities of teachers consistently say other teachers. In 2009, nine in 10 teachers agreed that other teachers contribute to their success in the classroom, including 51% who strongly agreed. Most teachers and principals also said that greater collaboration among teachers and school leaders would have a major impact on improving student achievement.

Given limited resources, teachers believed opportunities for collaborative teaching would have a major impact on their ability to address different learning needs of individual students.

Yet most teachers continued to report that their time to work with other teachers remained the same or had been reduced.

On top of these strains being faced by teachers, the strains being felt by principals is leading to teachers taking on additional leadership roles

As the job of the principal has become more complex with the need to balance instructional leadership, high-stakes accountability, and non-academic management, the survey has documented the emergence of teachers more prominently as leaders in their schools, districts and beyond. The voice of the teacher as an educator has also become a voice of leadership in education.
Teachers Are School Leaders; Many Have a Formal Leadership Role in Their School Half (51%) of teachers currently have a formal leadership role in their school, such as department chair, instructional resource, teacher mentor, or leadership team member. Teachers who have a formal leadership role are more experienced; they are more likely than other teachers to have at least six years of teaching experience (86% vs. 73%). These teacher leaders are also more likely to report that their school’s budget has decreased during the past 12 months (60% vs. 51%), perhaps reflecting a greater need among these schools to have teachers take on more responsibilities.
In the context of additional challenges for leading schools toward greater improvement, the continuing decline in teacher morale identifies itself as an urgent priority. During a time when expectations and standards are increasing for effective teaching and learning, teacher morale is yet another declining resource, one that is associated with schools with diminished budgets and other resources, fewer students meeting standards and fewer colleagues highly rated for how well they are doing their job. Teacher leadership emerges as a potential resource for translating big challenges into opportunities, served by hybrid roles for teachers as leaders and as a method for addressing professional growth and satisfaction.

It's time that politicians began to properly value and respect their most valuable asset the education system has - the educators who work in it.

Where the polls stand - 50 days to go

With just 50 days to go until the election, the race for the Presidency appears to have settled into somewhat of a constant, but small lead for the President.

According to Real Clear Politics, the President has a 46 electoral college vote lead, with 110 in toss-up

In Ohio, the President has opened up an average lead of 4.2%

NYT polling analysts at 538 have the President coming down off his convention high and settled into a 305-232 electoral college vote lead

Recent polling in Ohio suggests the President is a 72.1% favorite to win the state

The next major domestic campaign events will be the debates. The Presidential debates take place on October 3rd, October 16th, and October 22nd, with the Vice Presidential debate happening on October 11th.

Education News for 08-28-2012

State Education News

  • Vouchers meet special needs (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Hundreds of Ohio students who have special needs are getting help paying for private schooling for the first time this school year…Read more...

  • Schools tap local farms for produce (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A growing number of schools in Ohio are buying broccoli and beef from farms down the road, boosting local economies and teaching children about the value of locally grown food…Read more...

  • Education, innovation keys to improving economy (Newark Advocate)
  • One of the country's most influential monetary policymakers said generations past have shown two clear markers for lifting Ohio…Read more...

  • TPS training zeroes in on class behavior (Toledo Blade)
  • Teacher training never stops, even in the summer, and Toledo Public Schools professional development has a twist this year…Read more...

  • Worthington Survey Shows 50 Percent Of Students Do Not Feel Respected (WBNS)
  • Worthington City Schools recently asked students, teachers, parents and administrators a few things about their schools' culture and climate. Two of the top issues included in the survey were drug use and bullying…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Brecksville-Broadview Heights school board, unions agree to new contracts (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • By a 4-1 vote, with Mark Dosen being the lone dissenter, the Brecksville-Broadview Heights school board voted to accept the new agreements with the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association…Read more...

  • Hamilton school staff prepares for school year (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • The faculty and staff of Hamilton City Schools kicked off the school year Monday with an welcome back presentation from Superintendent Janet Baker…Read more...

  • Ready, get set, learn: Students back in school (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Mansfield City Schools, St. Peter's and Lexington schools return to the classroom today. St. Peter's fourth-grade teacher Julie Braumberger is excited to begin the year. On Monday she was readying her classroom, where she will have 23 students…Read more...

  • STEP brings teachers and businesses together (Newark Advocate)
  • When Melissa Felumlee's science students ask her, 'When will we ever have to use this?' she now has plenty of real life examples to share…Read more...

  • School officials juggle for Perrysburg growth (Toledo Blade)
  • Perrysburg schools' rising enrollment is "a drop in the bucket and pretty soon the bucket is full," Superintendent Thomas Hosler said a few days before the school returns to session…Read more...

  • Westerville, Olentangy Students May Spend Some Snow Days Online (WBNS)
  • Students in the Westerville and Olentangy school districts may spend a few snow days online this school year. Both districts said they have filed paperwork to hold classes online for up to three days a year…Read more...


  • Prestige to match a noble profession (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Teaching is a noble profession. What teachers do matters because they help shape the future. Political figures make speeches to that effect all the time…Read more...

Education News for 08-27-2012

State Education News

  • Scandal mars view of school officers (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Instructors at the Ohio School Resource Officers Association expect a few bruised egos when they start talking about the ethics involved with working around children...Read more...

  • State agency may request tighter reins on schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A statewide investigation into student-data tampering has prompted the Ohio Department of Education to consider becoming more of a watchdog. The department is likely to ask the legislature to give it the authority...Read more...

  • Web class on a snow day? Only for some (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Snow days will be free days for most Ohio students this school year, despite a state law that could turn some of them into days of online class. Only a few central Ohio school districts submitted the paperwork...Read more...

  • Toledo Public Schools teachers face new evaluation (Toledo Blade
  • Teacher measurement based in part on student performance will make a slow crawl into Toledo Public Schools this year. Through a mix of state law and the federal Race to the Top grant program...Read more...

Local Education News

  • Cleveland schools getting help from consultants with timetable for major improvement plan (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • A Seattle consulting company is helping the Cleveland school district map out a four-year schedule for rolling out the district's updated improvement plan...Read more...

  • District tried to buy silence of its auditor (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Columbus City Schools lost two pages of the personnel file on its former internal auditor, who said this month she was fired in 2005 for trying to investigate data rigging...Read more...

  • Exchange students view area through a different lens (New Philadelphia Times)
  • Four foreign exchange students from France and Spain recently spent a month exploring area attractions. The students, Caroline Bellande of Paris, Caroline Dupaigne of Marseille...Read more...

  • Local school districts adapt plans to keep students safe (Newark Advocate)
  • Tom Suriano will never forget the day of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Although the incident happened more than 1,000 miles from Licking County, it changed everything for educators, he said...Read more...

  • What is failure, success? Schools don’t agree (Springfield News-Sun)
  • When it comes to grading scales, not all A’s and B’s are equal for students in Ohio. An examination by the Springfield News-Sun of area high schools found disparities in the percentage...Read more...

  • Several Perry Schools administrators given raises (Willoughby News Herald)
  • Three Perry School District administrators will earn higher pay after the school board approved raises at a recent board meeting. Superintendent Jack Thompson...Read more...