Education News for 05-21-2013

State Education News

  • Legislature may ditch takeover proposal for Columbus schools (Columbus Dispatch)
  • As hearings start this week on a Columbus school-district reform bill, an earlier proposal allowing for a state takeover of the state’s largest district is likely to vanish…Read more...

Local Education News

  • North Canton school officials take steps to increase building security (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • The Board of Education has approved the purchase of digital radios and antennas as part of a district-wide safety and security initiative…Read more...

  • Akron board cuts Akron Digital Academy loose (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • The Akron school board effectively severed ties with Akron Digital Academy — after sponsoring the online charter school for more than a decade…Read more...

  • A look inside the future of education (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • In a new building just outside of Indianapolis’ downtown, Darren McCorkle sits at a desk in a sea of short-walled cubicles, taking an eighth-grade algebra lesson online…Read more...

  • Teachers negotiating (Findlay Courier)
  • Contract negotiations between Findlay's teacher union and the district administration are progressing smoothly, according to Superintendent Dean Wittwer…Read more...

  • Lorain City Schools' staff looks to change culture of low expectations (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • Lorain City Schools’ staff has developed a “widespread culture of low expectations” but hope is budding among employees under its new administration, a state assessment determined…Read more...

  • Lots of changes in Warren district (Marietta Times)
  • The Warren Local school district will look very different next year with a new superintendent, new high school and elementary administrators and the return of high school busing…Read more...

  • Boardman schools official warns of 5% cut in funding (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The Boardman schools director of instruction said she expects a 5 percent cut in funding next year for the four federal programs for which the school district receives money…Read more...


  • Dollars in the classroom (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • State Sen. Peggy Lehner wants to devote an additional $100 million to early childhood education in Ohio. The Kettering Republican cites the handsome return, $10 or more for every dollar spent…Read more...

  • Added scrutiny of charter schools in city and state is overdue, but finally coming (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • State and local education leaders are committing themselves to beefed-up monitoring of Ohio’s ballooning network of charter schools…Read more...

Education News for 02-11-2013

State Education News

  • Attendance investigation to cite errors (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Officials with the Cincinnati and Winton Woods school districts say they will be dinged for improper procedures and other errors, including missing documents and clerical issues …Read more...

  • GED test for high school equivalency degree will be more expensive and harder in 2014 (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Adults without high school diplomas will find it harder and more expensive to earn their equivalency degrees next year, another obstacle for people…Read more...

  • Auditor’s report on ‘scrubbing’ due today (Columbus Dispatch)
  • When state Auditor Dave Yost releases results today of his statewide investigation into whether schools “scrubbed” students from their books, the list of rule-breakers will be short…Read more...

  • New reading requirements could cost schools millions (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • It could potentially cost Miami Valley school districts millions of dollars annually to meet the requirements of the new state Third Grade Reading Guarantee…Read more...

  • Stakes high for new teacher evaluation system (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • School districts across Ohio are preparing to implement the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System next school year, which will rate teachers based on how well their students learn…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Project Excellence accepting nominations of outstanding Warren County teachers (Dayton Daily News)
  • The Area Progress Council’s Project Excellence program is seeking teacher nominations as it enters its 26th year of honoring public educators in Warren County…Read more...

  • Digital learning put on display (Marion Star)
  • Marion Harding High School students and teachers put digital learning on display Wednesday as part of the second national Digital Learning Day…Read more...

  • Local Catholic high schools see enrollment increases (Middletown Journal)
  • Two local Catholic high schools are bucking the trend of falling enrollment at schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati…Read more...

  • Schools, parents team up to fight pill abuse (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Nearly one in every five high school students in Clark County has taken medications not prescribed to them, a local health district survey found…Read more...

  • Area high school teachers tackle technology (Willoughby News Herald)
  • Technology evolves so quickly that it can be hard enough for the average consumer to keep up…Read more...


  • Uncertain schools (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • An irony confronting school officials across Ohio is that a Statehouse that requires them to project district budget plans five years into the future itself shuffles the deck once or twice every two years…Read more...

  • Board game (Toledo Blade)
  • The Toledo Board of Education faces a long, tough, urgent agenda that would tax the skills of a highly effective governing body…Read more...

Power, Ideology, and the Use of Evidence

Consider the three-decade long, unrelenting promotion of classroom computers and online instruction. A recently mobilized corporate and civic-driven coalition chaired by two ex-state governors issued a report that touted online instruction as a way to transform teaching and learning in U.S. schools. (p. 19 of Digital Learning Now Report FINAL lists corporate, foundation, and top policymakers who participated).

Evidence that regular instructional use of these machines will transform teaching and learning is barely visible. Furthermore, evidence of students' academic achievement gains attributed to online instruction, laptops, and other hardware and software in schools is missing-in-action. And the dream that school use of these machines and applications will lead to better jobs (except in programs where technical certificates can lead to work - e.g., Cisco), well, I won't even mention the scarcity of evidence to support that dream.

So what do these two-governors champion in their Digital Learning Commission report?

"Providing a customized, personalized education for students was a dream just a decade ago. Technology can turn that dream into reality today. The Digital Learning Council will develop the roadmap to achieve that ultimate goal."

Sure, this is an advertisement pushing for-profit online outfits such as for-profit K12 and non-profit projects such as the Florida Virtual School and "hybrid" schools. See here and here. These ex-governors want states to alter their policies to accommodate this "Brave New World" where students get individual lessons tailored to what they need to learn.

Question: After decades of blue-ribbon commissions issuing utopian reports promising "revolutionary" and "transformed" schools, where is the evidence that such futures are either possible or worthwhile?

Answer: When it comes to technology policy, evidence doesn't matter.

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What 10,000 teachers think

Scholastic and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have just released a survey of nearly 10,000 public school teachers titled "Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession". Teachers were asked about their schools and classrooms, about student and teacher performance and about the ways it should be evaluated, supported and rewarded. They shared their honest, professional opinions on everything from the role of standardized tests to teacher tenure, from family involvement to job satisfaction, from digital content to salaries.

In this survey, teachers told us:
  • Raising Student Achievement Requires the Work Of Many

    – Teachers agree that their primary goal is helping all students learn and achieve, but a hardworking, committed teacher cannot do it alone.

    – Other factors that teachers identify as essential to raising student achievement include: family involvement, quality curriculum, and a community of educators and school leaders committed to the success of all students.

  • Teaching and Learning Are Too Complex to Be Measured by One Test

    – Teachers are clear in their call for multiple measures of student achievement, and they say that standardized tests do not accurately reflect their students’ growth. In fact, we were surprised to learn that only 45% of teachers say their students take such tests seriously. – They also call for more frequent evaluation of their own practice from a variety of sources, including in-class observation, assessment of student work, and performance reviews from principals, peers and even students.

    – Teachers are open to tenure reform, including regular reevaluation of tenured teachers and requiring more years of experience before tenure is granted. On average, teachers say that tenure should be granted after 5.4 years of teaching, more than the typical two to three years in most states today.

  • Challenges Facing America’s Schools Are Significant and Growing

    Teachers are concerned about their students’ academic preparedness. They tell us that, on average, only 63% of their students could leave high school prepared to succeed in college.

    When we asked veteran teachers to identify what is changing in their classrooms, they told us:

    – Academic challenges are growing. Veteran teachers see more students struggling with reading and math today than they did when they began teaching in their current schools.

    – Populations of students who require special in-school services are growing as well. Veteran teachers report increasing numbers of students living in poverty, students who are hungry and homeless, and students who have behavioral issues.

  • School and Community Supports Are Essential to Keeping Good Teachers in the Classroom

    When asked to identify the factors that most impact teacher retention, teachers agree that monetary rewards like higher salaries or merit pay are less important than other factors

    – though some of these factors require additional funding – including strong school leaders, family involvement, high-quality curriculum and resources, and in-school support personnel.

Here are some of the interesting highlights from the survey, but be sure to check it all out yourself below.

Teachers work long hours

Teachers work, on average 53 hours a week, or 10 hours and 40 minutes a day.

Of the time during the required school day, here is how teachers reported it being spent

The survey has lots of information, including how teachers like to and would prefer not to, spend their time.

Classroom Issues

The graph below shows how teachers feel about class sizes (hint: they think it is very important)

And what do teachers think impact student achievement? (this one's a bit harder to read, but you can see it in large size in the document below). Common core appears at the bottom, family involvement at the top

On student assessments, teachers are in serious disagreement with current reform trends that lean heavily on standardized testing to measure student achievement.

Contentious Issues

Moving on to more contentious issues, reformers should take note - teachers could be your allies if you ever decide to collaborate. Higher salaries are viewed poisitively, but pay for performance is not seen as an important or driving force

But higher salaries fall well down the list of important issues for improving teacher retention. Parental involvement and quality leadership top the list

Finally, on tenure. Teachers do not think tenure ought to be automatic, or bad teachers protected by it. There should be a lot of opportunity for reformers and educators to collaborate in this area.


Packed Virtual Classrooms

Later today, Apple will unveil its plans for digital textbooks.

Steve Jobs described textbooks as an '$8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction', in conversations with his biographer Walter Isaacson.

Given how much dead tree weight students have to carry around, and how expensive textbooks have become, this is an area ripe for a solution. But as Apple lays out its plans for capturing some of the profits to be had from education, likely with an innovative technology based solution, corporate education reformers have set their sights on using technology to capture profits in an altogether different way.

The Fordham Foundation recently released a paper titled " Creating Sound Policy for Digital Learning, A Working Paper Series from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The piece begins

Online learning, in its many shapes and sizes, is quickly becoming a typical part of the classroom experience for many of our nation’s K-12 students. As it grows, educators and policymakers across the country are beginning to ask the question: What does online learning cost? While the answer to this question is a key starting point, by itself it has limited value. Of course there are cheaper ways to teach students. The key question that will eventually have to be addressed is: Can online learning be better and less expensive

At that point the paper descends into the usual rote corporate ed stuff, using anecdote to try to capture the costs and quality of virtual education. The total lack of innovative thought is captured in their first graph.

You will clearly note that it is not technology driving the savings, but instead the slashing of spending on educators. The entire difference between a traditional model and virtual model is in the category of faculty and admin expenditures. Stephen Dyer, at his new blog "10th Period", points out that actual e-school spending in Ohio follows this exact model

Over at Innovation Ohio, I helped write and research a report that pointed out Ohio pays these major eSchool operators enough money for them to provide 15:1 student:teacher ratios, $2,000 laptops and still clear about 30% profit.

However, they don't do that. On average, they have 37:1 student:teacher ratios. Ohio Virtual Academy (run by the infamous, national for-profit K-12, Inc.) has a student:teacher ratio of 51:1, if you can believe it. Anyway, of the $183 million Ohio's taxpayers sent to these eSchools last school year, the schools spent a grand total of $27.5 million on teacher salaries, or about 15% of its money.

E-schooling as envisaged by corporate education reformers doesn't rely upon any technological innovation as a means to deliver high quality education, they use the virtual nature of the model to obfuscate the fact that class sizes can become huge. It's hard for a parent to know their child is crammed in to a packed class with 50 other students if he is sat alone in his bedroom. What you don't see, won't hurt, right?

It's never explained how a teacher can deliver quality to such large classes, in a situation where the virtual nature of the classes already make it naturally more difficult and challenged.

We know from facts certain that Ohio's e-schools are appallingly bad. Even the Fordham Foundation itself found e-school to be terrible

Perhaps before we even begin to consider cost, we ought to sort out the very serious problems we have with quality. What does it matter how cheap something is, if it is not fit for purpose? One might even argue, with tongue not so firmly planted in the cheek that Ohio's e-schools are breaking consumer laws

In common law jurisdictions, an implied warranty is a contract law term for certain assurances that are presumed to be made in the sale of products or real property, due to the circumstances of the sale. These assurances are characterized as warranties irrespective of whether the seller has expressly promised them orally or in writing. They include an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, an implied warranty of merchantability for products, implied warranty of workmanlike quality for services, and an implied warranty of habitability for a home.

The State of Charter Schools

NPR news's All sides considerdd had a great segment earlier this week "The State of Charter Schools". You can listen to it here, or there

The State of Charter Schools

Do your children go to public schools, charter schools, or private schools? Why? On this segment of “All Sides with Ann Fisher,” we’ll be discussing charter schools… Do they work?


  • Molly Bloom (Digital Reporter, State Impact Ohio)
  • Ida Lieszkovszky (Broadcast Reporter, State Impact Ohio)
  • Stephen Dyer (Education Policy Fellow at Innovation Ohio)
  • Terry Ryan (Vice-President for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Foundation)