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...

Charters and their supporters failing our kids

ODE has finally released the full school report card, though only in spreadsheet format, and it comes with a warning

ODE will not publish PDFs of the Local Report Cards until the investigation by the Auditor of State is concluded.

We thought it would be useful to compare how effective traditional public schools were versus their charter school counterparts. The results are staggeringly bad for charter schools

Report Card Rating Traditional Schools Charter Schools
Academic Emergency 3.4% 18.8%
Academic Watch 4.6% 15.6%
Continuous Improvement 10.4% 27.3%
Effective 21.4% 15.6%
Excellent 41.0% 7.4%
Excellent with Distinction 14.4% 1.1%
Not Rated 4.8% 14.2%

61.6% of all charter schools in Ohio are less than effective, while that can only be said of 18.4% of traditional schools. If the purpose of charter schools was to be incubators of excellence, they are doing a very poor job, with only 8.5% of them hitting the excellent or better rating. Indeed, if you truly want to see excellence, you have to look at traditional public schools, where over 55% are rated excellent or better.

If "school choice" organizations in Ohio had any integrity, the choice they would be urging in almost all cases, would be for parents to choose traditional public schools. In the vast majority of cases, their advocacy of charter schools are an advocacy of miserable failure, at huge tax payer expense.

Diane Ravitch spoke to this issue in Columbus yesterday

Proficiency testing and charter schools were billed in the late 1990s as solutions to a broken public-education system. Now, they are part of a failed status quo, said Ravitch, 74, an author and U.S. assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

Proficiency tests have changed — from something that assesses students to something used to punish teachers and schools, said Ravitch. And after a decade of poor results from charter schools, she said, the charter movement and high-stakes testing have proved to be failed national experiments.

Also at the same event, Greg Harris, the Ohio director of the 65,000-member charter-school advocacy group StudentsFirst

...charters were supposed to provide an experiment in innovation, and though many have failed, many others are working.

“The parents are making these choices” to go to charters, Harris said. “These are parents from high-poverty backgrounds who are making major sacrifices to get their kids out of failing schools.

“We agree with her that bad charter schools should be closed, but why close good ones?”

Parents are often steered into these choices by corporate education reformers and their boosters, like StudentsFirst, the most ironically named group of all. And when parents aren't being steered into wrong choices, it's because they are using factors other than quality to make their decisions, as we noted in this article.

The real story in Cleveland

Taken directly from Mayor Frank Jackson's "Cleveland Plan" document

The Plan: This is a bold, child‐focused plan prepared to address chronic and structural challenges – both academic and financial ‐ for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. It is designed with one over‐arching mission: Do what is best for Cleveland’s children. At the same time, it will help improve the future and vitality of the City.

Goal: Create educational excellence for every child in Cleveland. Within six years after implementation, The Plan is anticipated to triple the number of Cleveland students enrolled in high‐performing district and charter schools.

Worthy goals to coalesce behind, most people would agree. But how do those goals square with the Mayor's actual plans?

The Cleveland school district plans to cut about 600 teachers from its payroll by fall to trim a budget deficit, leading to shortened school days and cuts in music, art and gym classes.
The plan calls for school days for kindergarten through eighth grade to be shortened by 50 minutes, that time being shaved from art, music, gym and media classes.
The shorter day contradicts Gordon's long-term goal of having longer days or longer school years in some schools.

It doesn't just contradict plans for a longer school day, it contradicts the entire plan to provide "educational excellence for every child in Cleveland". How does one do that by cutting music, art, gym?

We can begin to see the real purpose behind the "Cleveland plan", one which the Mayor let slip in front of City Council

"...this is about whether or not we can pass a levy in November and to be perfectly honest with you I don't know if any of you would support a levy with the same old stuff you're not going to do it and neither would the citizens of the city of Cleveland."

This hasn't been some great secret, but we should stop pretending this is for the students, if it was, collaboration with stakeholders who actually do the educating would have happened from day one. Instead, the Mayor has spent a lot of time obfuscating the real crisis in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Municipal School District currently faces a large deficit of approximately $65 million, according to the Mayor.
The bulk of the deficit faced by Cleveland public schools is a direct result then, of the draconian budget enacted by columbus politicians and supported by Governor Kasich. Why Mayor Jackson has not called upon the Governor to restore funding to his schools, instead of seeking his help in denying teachers basic collective bargaining rights, remains a deep mystery.

Cleveland has only been able to pass 1 levy in 39 years, and with businesses, alleged by the Governor to be making threats, you can see why the Mayor feels like he had to engage in some old fashioned union busting.

Passing a bipartisan education reform bill is only the beginning of solving Cleveland's crisis.

The Cleveland teachers Union have moved a long way, and presented what should be viewed as an historic compromise, it's now time for Cleveland businesses to step up and support their schools, and for the state to step up and meet its constitutional obligations in helping Cleveland close its budget gap that the state helped create.

Maybe then we can really begin to talk about delivering "educational excellence for every child in Cleveland".

What happens to merit pay without the pay?

A reader brought this article to our attention. One of the items you will notice if you study the corporate reform plans being pushed for teacher merit pay, is the focus on firing "bad teachers", what you hear very little about is the pay aspect to "merit pay".

The largest teacher merit pay program in the nation is no more, reduced to a shell of its former self after having 90 percent of its funding slashed in the Texas budget crunch.

About 180,000 teachers—more than half the state's total—will receive bonus checks this fall for their work in the just concluded school year. But over the next two years, when state funding plummets, there will be enough money for only 18,000 to receive bonuses.

Originally trumpeted by Gov. Rick Perry and legislative leaders as the wave of the future in public education, the program fell victim to the scaled-back budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor last week. The state is spending $392 million in the current two-year budget on the District Awards for Teacher Excellence program but will have just $40 million for it in the next one.

All the downsides to the policy, without the rewards for excellence. Sounds very much like the plans the Ohio legislature have.

Sommers sweats gifted student question

The reckless budget includes moving $60 million for gifted student services into a larger pot of state aid with no spending requirements. As budgets are slashed across the board the clear ramification of this will be the wholesale elimination of gifted student programs around the state, as districts use this money for general revenue and operating purposes.

This is proving to be politically difficult for the administration. One the one hand it wants to claim it cares about excellence in education, but the realities, with examples like this, are running contrary.

These difficulties can be seen and heard in this interview with the administration's education czar, Mr. Sommers