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becoming concerned that the public common school is unraveling; however, many within the public school community have withdrawn by indicating, "This isn't my problem.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

Rhee cloaks her partisan agenda

Michelle Rhee was in Ohio yesterday, and had a Q&A with StateImpact. A few of her answers raised eyebrows.

Q.What are your thoughts on Gov. John Kasich; do you think you have his support in these efforts?

A: It’s very interesting. John Kasich is a Republican, I’m a Democrat, so we certainly don’t agree on all issues. But as it pertains to education and education reform, I have found Gov. Kasich to be a very, very strong proponent of reform.

What people label themselves as is a matter of personal preference, but one isn't hard pressed to notice that Rhee spent the better part of 2011 working very closely with Republican governor's and finding so few friends in the Democratic party that her lobbying front group "StudentsFirst" had to go out and hire a PR flack. You don't have to take our word for it though. Leaked in a memo, Rhee spoke of her "Waiting for Superman" event with the governor being designed to boost the governor's flagging approvals

Drive to Cleveland!
@ 6:10 Governor Kasich will start the viewing of Waiting for Superman. Margaret Spelling will give a pre-taped special message at the beginning. Mafara will be on site.
(NOTE: WFS will be broadcast via webcam to six other town hall meetings through out the state. The locations were chosen based on districts where we need to sure up support for the Governor’s budget. It’s also being broadcast via webcam for house parties that were put together by the Partnership for Ohio’s Future.)

Did we also mention that Rhee's lobby group helped craft parts of SB5? They did. So when she talks about how popular her agenda is, being reminded it was defeated 62%-38% isn't being unkind, it's being truthful.

This, however, wasn't the Q&A that raised our eyebrows the most.

Q. It seems that some of the things that you stand for (like tying performance to teacher pay and opposing last-hired, first-fired) have really come to be synonymous with the Republican Party’s reform efforts and anti-union, anti-liberal (agenda) in Ohio. How did that develop in your own personal belief system?

A: For example last-in, first-out basically says that if you’re the last teacher hired, you must be the first teacher fired at the time of a layoff. Makes absolutely no sense. Nobody wants layoffs to occur, but if they do have to occur then we have to do our best to ensure that the best teachers, the most highly effective teachers are maintained in the system. So I don’t see that as a Republican point of view, I don’t see that as a Democratic point of view, I see that as a pro-kid stance.

When asked about how she balances her claims to be a Democrat with her alliances with Republican governor's, she avoids the question altogether. Given how easy it is to document her Republican bona fides, that come as no surprise.

Rhee could have pivoted away form that uncomfortable question with all manner of responses. But as if to further prove our point that corporate education reformers all have a fetish for teachers losing their jobs, Rhee couldn't help herself and responded with an answer wholly about teachers losing their jobs. It's seems pathological.

The fact that Rhee and her lobby group have to resort to such contortions so early in their efforts is no surprise. We've long ago documented how deceptive they are about their agenda, and SB5's massive defeat by actual voters demonstrates they might be wise to keep their corporate education reform agenda cloaked - because when that agenda is exposed, people really don't like what they see.

Mayor Jackson has a secret Ed plan

The Plain Dealer has a report that hints at Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson having a education reform plan.

Mayor Frank Jackson is working on a plan to make the Cleveland schools academically successful and financially stable, a task that will require changes in state law and that Gov. John Kasich said "could set a standard for the whole state."

We don't know what this plan is however, because Jackson isn't saying.

Jackson declined Wednesday to discuss details of his plan, saying that would be premature.

We do know a few things though. Like most corporate education reformers, Jackson isn't collaborating with educators.

Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke, whose members would be most affected if the plan renews Jackson's earlier push for changes in teacher rules and contracts, said Wednesday that he has "absolutely no knowledge" of Jackson's plans.

He said CTU is always willing to discuss changes and collaborate to improve the schools, but has not been included.

It is no surprise that the Governor seems delighted by this new, as Jackson had previously stated he supported SB5 like education reforms, even while denying he supported SB5. The fact that the plan is currently secret and no educator discussions have taken place provides more than a clue as to the direction Jackson wishes to take Cleveland schools.

The very real problem facing Cleveland schools isn't a lack of corporate education reform, but instead the state having raided its budget.

The district is facing tight financial restrains with the existing $13.2 million deficit, the recent recall of more than 400 teachers and state funding cuts totaling $14.5 million.

Jackson is now having to plan a local levy push, along with lay offs and service recutions in order to compensate for this massive loss of revenue. Perhaps Jackson should spend a few minutes talking to the Governor not about corporate ed reform, but school funding reform - the administration is looking for ideas on a new funding formula.

How unemployed parents might affect your job

A recent paper titled "Short-run Effects of Parental Job Loss on Children's Academic Achievement", found the following

We study the relationship between parental job loss and children’s academic achievement using data on job loss and grade retention from the 1996, 2001, and 2004 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. We find that a parental job loss increases the probability of children’s grade retention by 0.8 percentage points, or around 15 percent. After conditioning on child fixed effects, there is no evidence of significantly increased grade retention prior to the job loss, suggesting a causal link between the parental employment shock and children’s academic difficulties. These effects are concentrated among children whose parents have a high school education or less.

Parents becoming unemployed affect their children's academic achievement. Here's the unemployment trend for Ohio

As you can see, in recent years, unemployment in Ohio has escalated alarmingly to around 10%. That's a lot of students who have potentially been academically impacted by this trend.

We mention this because this is just one variable of many that isn't captured through student/teacher linkage, or the Value Add calculation, yet could critically affect student achievement and hence their teacher's evaluations.

What happens to these teacher level value add scores when a large local employer has mass layo-offs? Will it lead to lower performance evaluations for teachers in that area? Would that be fair?

These kinds of questions are going to need to be investiagted, and having silly web forms isn't going to cut it.

The White flag as seen from around Ohio

We reported on yesterday's surprising news of the Governor finally conceding that SB5 went too far and should be toned down. Here's the news of that white flag being raised, as reported from around the state.

The Cincinatti Enquirer gets a quote from the author of SB5, State Sen. Shannon Jones

The Southwest Ohio legislator who authored Senate Bill 5, state Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, dismissed suggestions that the GOP leaders’ offer reflects concern that voters might pass Issue 2, the ballot measure aimed at repealing the reform of the state’s 1983 collective bargaining law.

“I don’t think that’s a fair analysis at all,” said Jones, who represents eastern Hamilton County and all of Warren County.

“This is just a reminder that an offer that was there from the start – to sit down and talk, to look for common ideas – is still open,” she told the Enquirer. “If they want to do that, fine. If not, we’ll have an election.”

The Toledo Blade reminds us that it's difficult to change SB5 if the Legislature isn't in session, and won't be until after the August 30th deadline

"These politicians who passed Senate Bill 5 have the ability to come back and repeal the law, and that's what they should do—repeal the entire law," We Are Ohio spokesman Melissa Fazekas said. "Or they can join us and vote ‘no' in November on Issue 2."

Lawmakers, however, are on summer recess and are not scheduled to return before the Aug. 30 deadline.

The Dispatch has this choice quote from the Governor

Kasich said avoiding a fight over state Issue 2 is in "best interest of everyone, including public employee unions." He asked the unions to "set aside political agendas and past offenses."

Some might call that projection.

The Marietta Times has a quote from a teacher, one we've heard expressed many times already too

"But a divisive fight on these issues that could possibly be avoided is in the best interest of everyone, including public employees and people who support public employees," Kasich said.

Marietta resident Sarah Beaver, a 59-year-old retired teacher, isn't buying it.

"Don't trust him farther than I can throw him," she said "He's just afraid (the repeal) is going to pass and this is his way to avoid it."

This is why reapling then dealing is the only way forward.

Finally, in the 3rd of a 3 part series, Plunderbund has what might be the real reason for yesterday's developments

We’ve heard all sorts of crazy rumors shaking out today. Mostly, that Building a Better Ohio’s fundraising has been shockingly poor. We can’t confirm because Building a Better Ohio, by legal design, has organized itself to avoid having to report as regularly and as transparently as We Are Ohio… this from the same campaign that asserts unions oppose public transparency in labor negotiations.

Double digits behind in the polls, no grass roots support, poor fundraising, a record massive 1.3 million signatures collected, and lots of evidence of voter anger over SB5, those are the kinds of conditions that make any politician want to have a do over.