Education News for 05-22-2013

State Education News

  • Little Miami regains its independence (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Today is Independence Day for the financially embattled Little Miami Schools. Once Ohio’s poster child for school district monetary woes, the Warren County school system will be autonomous…Read more...

  • Coleman, Gee pitch Columbus school proposal to legislators (Columbus Dispatch)
  • State legislators drew attention to academic failures of the Columbus school district and to its ongoing data scandal last night in the first talks over a bill that…Read more...

  • Special-needs aides still fighting dismissal (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Two Columbus special-needs aides who were fired last summer are still fighting to get their jobs back. The final day of hearings before the Columbus Civil Service Commission…Read more...

  • Northridge out of fiscal caution, but levy needed (Newark Advocate)
  • The Northridge School District is out of fiscal caution. However, the district will have to renew its 8.86 mill levy by the end of 2014 to remain in the black long term…Read more...

  • As prepared as we can be for Tornadoes (Portsmouth Daily Times)
  • An enormous tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., Monday, killing more…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Families of the victims of Chardon School shooting are suing the United Way over access to Chardon (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The families of the three Chardon High School students who were killed in 2012 are suing the United Way of Greater Cleveland and its Geauga County chapter…Read more...

  • Reynoldsburg takes over charter e-school (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The Reynoldsburg school board is taking over the charter e-school that it placed on probation last year…Read more...

  • Groveport Madison levy still losing by 12 votes (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Groveport Madison’s school levy gained four votes but is still behind after elections officials counted provisional ballots and added in an uncounted…Read more...

  • Columbus school board votes to back report of Coleman’s education panel (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A resolution supporting the recommendations of the Columbus Education Commission passed a divided Columbus school board last night, after a lengthy debate that centered largely around whether…Read more...

  • Brunswick school officials close all buildings in response to norovirus (Sun Newspapers)
  • Although symptoms of the condition itself last, in general, little more than 24 hours, a norovirus outbreak at the Brunswick City Schools this past week led to the closer of every building…Read more...

  • Maysville students benefit from early college courses (Zanesville Times-Recorder)
  • Skylar Novaria might achieve his goal of becoming a business manager or CEO sooner than expected because of being a proactive teenager…Read more...

Why are we investing more in a failed experiment?

By Maureen Reedy, former teacher of the year and candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

History seems to be repeating itself in the Statehouse. Once again, legislators are poised to pass a state budget bill that continues to take billions of our tax dollars out of traditional public schools to fund for-profit charters that have produced dismal results after two decades of experimentation in our state.

“Let the money follow the child,” is a favorite phrase of Gov. John Kasich and his fellow charter-school fans to craft legislation that diverts more and more of our public funds to charter schools each year.

For two decades, the money has been following Ohio’s children out of the doors of our public schoolhouses and through the doors of charter schools. Despite losing over $6 billion to charters during the past 15 years, traditional public schools continue to vastly outperform their charter-school counterparts.

While 77 percent of Ohio’s public schools were successful last year (rated Excellent with Distinction, Achieving or Effective), only 23 percent of Ohio’s charters were successful (rated Effective or Achieving). So 77 percent of Ohio’s public schools are receiving A’s, B’s and C’s while 77 percent of Ohio’s charter schools are receiving D’s and F’s. And the bottom 111 performing schools last year? All were charter schools.

Graduation rates also should give our legislators reason to put the brakes on funneling dollars to charters: 81 percent of Ohio’s students graduate from their public high schools as compared to a 30 percent to 40 percent high-school graduation rate for charter-school students.

“Following the money” also leads us to family-run charter-school operations with hefty salaries and few education credentials, including multimillion-dollar salaries for the CEOs of Ohio’s two largest charter-school chains, David Brennan of White Hat Management Co. and William Lager of Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. Our tax dollars also are going to pay for advertising campaigns to recruit students to attend their underperforming charter schools.

Also perplexing are the two sets of rules that seem to exist for public schools and charter schools. Apparently, once public money goes into a charter-school operation, it ceases to be public and belongs to the charter-school corporation.

Brennan of White Hat has refused to open his books to the state auditor for the third consecutive year. We are still waiting to hear exactly what percentage of public tax money is being spent on instructional resources and supports for educating children verses top-level multimillion-dollar administrative salaries, advertising and recruitment efforts in the corporate headquarters of White Hat.

In addition, while Lager of ECOT receives millions of dollars for his annual salary from public funding, his private software company has enjoyed profits of over $10 million in just a single year selling products to his ECOT schools, paid for by our public tax dollars.

Charter schools also are permitted to close their doors and shut down operations when cited for multiple violations, only to re-open the next day under a different sponsor, in a different building under a different name and continue to receive our tax dollars.

As charters close, oftentimes at mid-year, hundreds of children are shuffled back to their public schools without adequate records and a significant loss of instructional time. Just as tragic is the students’ loss of community and social connections, which contributes to academic deficits and delays.

As a parent, taxpayer and 30-year public-school teacher, I have to ask: Why are legislators proposing a budget that does nothing to restore funding for our public schools, but instead increases funding to charter schools? Why are we continuing to invest billions in a failed experiment that weakens our stronger-performing traditional school system and risks the future of Ohio’s children?

The Higher the StudentsFirst grade, the lower the academic performance

StudentsFirst released their "education policy report card" which they describe thusly

StudentsFirst created the State Policy Report Card to evaluate the education laws and policies in place in each state. We hope this helps reveal more about what states are doing to improve the nation’s public education system so that it serves all students well and puts each and every one of them on a path toward success.

They give each state a GPA based upon how much of StudentsFirst policy prescriptions have been implemented. We thought it would be interesting to look at the correlation between StudentsFirst "GPA" and the NAEP scores to see how well the policies StudentsFirst wants legislators to pursue stacks up against actually academic results.

The results are quite clear and unambiguous - following the policy prescriptions of StudentsFirst is bad for academic performance.

As you can see, in both 4th and 8th grade reading and math, the higher the StudentsFirst grade the lower the students performance. Yet more proof that StudentsFirst is not an education reform organization, but instead an extreme right wing anti-tax group funded by billionaires.

Education News for 03-30-2012

Statewide Education News

  • State audit faults Columbus schools’ tutor spending (Dispatch)
  • The Columbus school district paid tutoring groups for serving children who weren’t enrolled in Columbus schools and for services that were never provided, a state audit says. The district does “actively monitor” the federally required tutoring program, auditors said. Yet auditors “identified several inaccuracies and falsified vendor documents,” particularly on the invoices that tutoring groups submitted to the district. Read More…

  • Ohio legislators aim to introduce Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's schools plan next week (Plain Dealer)
  • CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's sweeping plan to transform Cleveland schools won't reach the Statehouse launching pad this week as the mayor had hoped. Instead, legislators are giving him and the Cleveland Teachers Union one more chance to reach agreement first. Four legislators who have been working with the two sides announced Thursday they will hold off until after the union and the mayor's office meet again Tuesday. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Cleveland schools, teachers union plan rally Saturday to showcase district's successes (Plain Dealer)
  • CLEVELAND — The Cleveland School District and the Cleveland Teachers Union will hold a "Rally for Excellence" on Saturday, showcasing success in the city schools. The event, scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at East Technical High School, 2439 East 55th St., will feature author and Oprah Winfrey Network TV host Wes Moore as the keynote speaker at 11:45 a.m. A youth advocate, he is the author of the bestseller "The Other Wes Moore." Read More…

  • ACTION demands answers from leaders (Vindicator)
  • Youngstown - State and local leaders were placed on the hot seat at Thursday’s ACTION meeting, where community members requested from them specific levels of commitment toward fixing the education system in Youngstown. At the meeting themed “Save Our Children,” state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Canfield, D-33rd, Youngstown Superintendent Connie Hathorn and Larry Ellis from the Youngstown Education Association sat at a table in front of a packed Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s east side. Read More…

  • Southeastern teens' anti-bullying video goes national (News-Sun)
  • SOUTH CHARLESTON — What started as a school project on bullying is gaining national attention. Tyler Gregory and Scott Hannah, both members of the Family Community Career Leaders of America, made an anti-bullying video as part of a project for the organization. The idea came following the national attention surrounding the suicide of 14-year-old Jamie Rodemeyer. “I never thought that we could stop bullying,” Gregory said. “But we wanted to do something that would alleviate it, help it out a little bit so people think before they do it.” Read More…

  • Warren Schools may expand (Tribune Chronicle)
  • WARREN - Not even two years after the city school district opened two of its new buildings, officials are considering options to expand those buildings, at a cost of about $1 million. William A. Schurman, executive vice president at Hammond Construction, presented plans to the Warren City Schools Board of Education during a recent work session. Plans call for the addition of several classrooms at each of the Jefferson and McGuffey K-8 schools on the city's west side. Read More…

Dispense with the Pretense to Listen

Now that the budget bill is about to be signed, we can dispense with the notion that the Governor was serious about soliciting advice from teachers.

"There are teachers in the state who are concerned about the criteria," Kasich said. "I want to make sure that teachers across the state know that if they want to participate in establishing this criteria, we want to invite them to be a part of this process.

"They can contact the governor's office. They can start there, and send an email. ... I look forward to it. And even if there are several hundred that want to participate, we'll sit them down and walk them through this."

That was just a short month ago. None of that input was shared with legislators. The Senate had sensibly removed teacher merit pay and evaluation provisions, but over a single weekend a heandful of legislators met behind closed doors to dream up their own rubric - based on what, no one seems to know or understand.

What they did come up with is byzantine and can be broken into 2 basic pieces.

Merit Pay

Merit pay will replace current salary schedules, but only for those schools that are participating in the Federal Race to the Top (RttT) program. Plunderbund smartly comments

To clarify, only the 479 school/districts that have received money through the federal Race to the Top program will be required to implement a merit pay program. For the other 441 schools/districts, it will remain business as usual.

We have been INUNDATED with information that claims that business as usual is THE problem with our schools and that merit pay is a key to fixing them (research refutes this), but in the final solution the Committee decides to go 50/50?

If merit pay is such an effective method of reform that the legislature included it in Ohio’s budget bill, mandating it for 479 schools/districts (negating any RttT work they have engaged in), then why not mandate it for everyone?

Furthermore, many have commented to us that RttT agreements might be violated by these measures, as RttT was designed to be developed in partnership with, and not forced up, teachers. It should also be noted that the General Assembly did not allocate any money for merit pay - something we observed recently.

Teacher Evaluations

We highlighted the teacher evaluation language in a previous post. Back are the requirements that 50% of evaluations be based upon high stakes testing. For the 70% of teachers where such data is not available, new testing regimes need to be designed, developed and implemented - at huge cost. This all needs to be done by the end of July 2013. The new provisions also call for costly twice a year in-class observations - something we calculated would cost millions of dollars and produce a huge administrative burden.

None of these provisions were needed, and had the Governor done as he said he would, and listened to teachers he would have realized that the Ohio Educator Standards Board (ESB) has developed a research based teacher evaluation model as part of the RttT grant. Districts and teachers have already been collaborating in developing evaluation and compensation system based on this ESB framework.

Now, in a rush to continue the assault on teachers and public education, that work is wasted and replaced with a bifurcated, unfunded mandate that is not based on any valid research.

BASA and OASBA urge legislators to reinstate merit pay

BASA and OASBA sent a letter to the General Assembly urging budget bill conference committee members to reinstate teacher merit pay and RIF provisions. They clearly see it as a way to reduce salaries for teachers.

BASA/OASBA HB153 Final Memo

You should continue to send emails and make phone calls to your legislators and urge them to keep these SB5 like provisions out of the budget.