Budget brings 2 dead policies back to life

The Governor's 4,200 page budget bill (HB 59) sees the reanimation of 2 education policy ideas that were overwhelmingly rejected in the previous legislature due to their unpopular and deeply destructive nature.

The first provision sees the Governor once again push the corporate reform idea of a statewide parent trigger. Here's the change in law he is proposing

Sec. 3302.042. (A) This section shall operate as a pilot project that applies apply to any school of a city, exempted village, or local school district that has been ranked according to performance index score under section 3302.21 of the Revised Code in the lowest five per cent of all public school buildings statewide for three or more consecutive school years and is operated by the Columbus city school district. The pilot project shall commence once the department of education establishes implementation guidelines for the pilot project in consultation with the Columbus city school district.

(B) Except as provided in division (D), (E), or (F) of this section, if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the students enrolled in a school to which this section applies, or if the parents or guardians of at least fifty per cent of the total number of students enrolled in that school and the schools of lower grade levels whose students typically matriculate into that school, by the thirty-first day of December of any school year in which the school is subject to this section, sign and file with the school district treasurer a petition requesting the district board of education to implement one of the following reforms in the school, and if the validity and sufficiency of the petition is certified in accordance with division (C) of this section, the board shall implement the requested reform in the next school year:

Over objections to this idea in the previous budget, the policy was scaled back to be a pilot program solely affecting Columbus City Schools. Since this "pilot" began, and despite many of the real and perceived problems with Columbus City Schools, not a single attempt has been made to pull "the parent trigger". Despite the failure of this pilot program, and without any working evidence that such a policy mechanism could succeed, the Governor wants to once again spread this community busting idea throughout the entire state.

Here's what people thought of the idea last time around

For further discussion on the failures of parent trigger laws, our previous posting can be found here.

The second zombie policy idea to be resurrected by the Governor was even more solidly rejected when it was introduced as HB136. HB136 sought to eliminate the restrictions on Ohio's current voucher programs (ʺEd Choiceʺ and "Cleveland Scholarship") and instead open participation statewide on the basis of family income. The idea was so bad that even the author of the bill called it a "potential doomsday" for public education. The bill prompted more than 400 boards of education to pass resolutions opposing the idea and the bill died before receiving a floor vote.

Now it's back, under Sec. 3310.032

Sec. 3310.032. (A) A student is an "eligible student" for purposes of the expansion of the educational choice scholarship pilot program under this section if the student's resident district is not a school district in which the pilot project scholarship program is operating under sections 3313.974 to 3313.979 of the Revised Code and the student's family income is at or below two hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines, as defined in section 5101.46 of the Revised Code.

(B) In each fiscal year for which the general assembly appropriates funds for purposes of this section, the department of education shall pay scholarships to attend chartered nonpublic schools in accordance with section 3310.08 of the Revised Code. The number of scholarships awarded under this section shall not exceed the number that can be funded with appropriations made by the general assembly for this purpose.

(C) Scholarships under this section shall be awarded as follows:
(1) For the 2013-2014 school year, to eligible students who are entering kindergarten in that school year for the first time;
(2) For each subsequent school year, scholarships shall be awarded to eligible students in the next grade level above the highest grade level awarded in the preceding school year, in addition to the grade levels for which students received scholarships in the preceding school year.

(D) If the number of eligible students who apply for a scholarship under this section exceeds the scholarships available based on the appropriation for this section, the department shall award scholarships in the following order of priority:
(1) First, to eligible students who received scholarships under this section in the prior school year;
(2) Second, to eligible students with family incomes at or below one hundred per cent of the federal poverty guidelines. If the number of students described in division (D)(2) of this section who apply for a scholarship exceeds the number of available scholarships after awards are made under division (D)(1) of this section, the department shall select students described in division
(D)(2) of this section by lot to receive any remaining scholarships.
(3) Third, to other eligible students who qualify under this section. If the number of students described in division (D)(3) of this section exceeds the number of available scholarships after awards are made under divisions (D)(1) and (2) of this section, the department shall select students described in division (D)(3) of this section by lot to receive any remaining scholarships.

(E) A student who receives a scholarship under this section remains an eligible student and may continue to receive scholarships under this section in subsequent school years until the student completes grade twelve, so long as the student satisfies the conditions specified in divisions (E)(2) and (3) of section 3310.03 of the Revised Code.

Once a scholarship is awarded under this section, the student shall remain eligible for that scholarship for the current school year and subsequent school years even if the student's family income rises above the amount specified in division (A) of this section, provided the student remains enrolled in a chartered nonpublic school.

Eligibility for private school vouchers, in a few short paragraphs is opened up statewide, even if students in a school district have schools rated excellent to attend. When traditional public schools are suffering such draconian budget cuts, siphoning tax payer money to private schools cannot be a reasonable policy. This is, in short, a public education privatization provision.

Correlation? What correlation?

Dublin teacher, Kevin Griffin, brings to our attention this graph, which he describes thusly

The chart plots the Value-Added scores of teachers who teach the same subject to two different grade levels in the same school year. (ex. Ms. Smith teaches 7th Math and 8th Math, and Mr. Richards 4th Grade Reading and 5th Grade Reading.) The X-axis represents the teachers VA score for one grade level and the Y-axis represents the VA score from the other grade level taught.

If the theory behind evaluating teachers based on value-added is valid then a “great” 7th grade math teacher should also be a “great” 8th grade math teacher (upper right corner) and a “bad” 7th grade math teacher should also be a “bad” 8th grade math teacher (lower left corner). There should, in theory, be a straight line (or at least close) showing a direct correlation between 7th grade VA scores and 8th grade VA scores since those students, despite being a grade apart, have the same teacher.

Here's the graph

Looks morel ike a random number generator to us. Would you like your career to hinge on a random number generator?

Leading reform

Education sector has published a survey of teachers and their attitudes towards a number of issues, including their unions. Their top findings should come as little surprise to anyone who has been following the education policy debate in Ohio. Their report is titled "Trending Towards Reform", it might more appropriately be titled, "Leading Reform".

1. Teachers want the union to protect them.

Since 2007, teachers have demonstrated strong and significant increases in their support for unions. In 2007, 24 percent of union members were involved and engaged in their local union; in 2011, 38 percent were. This isn’t surprising— with layoffs looming and constant policy changes, teachers are seeking security and turning to the one place they know they can find it: the union. Eighty-one percent of teachers say that without a union, teachers would be vulnerable to school politics or administrators who abuse their power.

In Ohio, this level of engagement has been even higher, due in large part to the significant budget implemented by the Governor, and of course the roll back of SB5 which sought to all but eliminate collective bargaining for public employees.

2. But the union should also engage in reform.

Teachers want more from their unions than traditional “bread and butter” basics. For example, among teachers who say their union does not currently negotiate evaluation, 75 percent say the union should play this role. Are teachers more supportive of union involvement because they view evaluation as important and in need of overhaul? Perhaps. Or teachers may want unions more involved in the negotiation process because they are concerned about the seemingly inevitable changes that are coming to evaluation.

Our experience has been that it is because of the latter. Indeed, education associations have been deeply involved in education reform. Around half of Ohio's school districts have engaged in some form of Race to the Top which requires association support, not to mention the reforms that teachers unions in Cincinnati and of course, Cleveland have embarked upon.

3. Teacher evaluation is improving—but still not good enough.

Compared to 2007, teachers’ overall assessment of their most recent formal evaluation improved. They are more likely to say that their evaluation was useful and effective by seven percentage points, and less likely to say it was just a formality by nine. Still, 35 percent continue to describe their evaluation as “well-intentioned but not particularly helpful” to their teaching practice. While the numbers show a notable improvement over the four years, it’s clear that evaluation must improve further.

This section of the survey is perhaps the most misleading. Evaluation systems such as the one being attempted to be implemented in Ohio are not yet off the ground, so attitudes towards their acceptance are yet to be determined.

As you can see from the results above, only 16% of survey respondents had student test scores used as part of their evaluation - that number is going to climb rapidly over the next few years, and along with it, we suspect, the number of teachers reporting a fair evaluation will fall.

4. Teachers show strong support for some pay proposals.

Teachers are most in favor of pay reforms based on factors they can control, such as their school and the subject they teach. The less control teachers feel they have over performance measures, like student test scores, the less likely they will support proposals that tie pay to performance. In fact, only 35 percent favor financial incentives for teachers whose students routinely score higher than similar students on standardized tests. A much larger proportion (57 percent) support higher pay for teachers who consistently receive outstanding evaluations by their principals, indicating a pay-for-performance plan that may be more agreeable to teachers.

This is a response that corporate education reformers simply do not understand, and will no accept. Teachers are not looking for pay schemes that a Wall Street day trader would enjoy.

5. Tenure is a must—but shouldn’t prevent ineffective teachers from being dismissed.

Teachers want to keep tenure—only one-third would consider trading tenure for a $5,000 pay bonus. But they are ready and willing to make changes to tenure-related dismissal policies to ensure that tenure is not, as AFT president Randi Weingarten said, “a shield for incompetence.” Seventy-five percent of teachers think the union should play a role in simplifying the process of removing ineffective teachers instead of leaving it to district and school administrators, compared to 63 percent of teachers in 2007.

This has been said by teachers over and over again, and yet opponents of teachers and their unions continue to deny it. The charge that teachers and their unions want to protect ineffective teachers is simply false, but what they don't want is a process whereby a capricious administration can dismiss teachers without reasonable cause.

The entire survey and it's findings can be found below.

Trending Toward Reform

Education News for 06-25-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • Former-quarterback appointee to quit charter-school effort (Dispatch)
  • Stanley Jackson will resign from the charter school he founded before it ever opens so he can qualify for an appointment to the Ohio Board of Education, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich said yesterday. Jackson, 37, the former Ohio State quarterback whom Kasich appointed to the board on Monday, said during an interview with a radio station yesterday that his charter school was “in place” to open in the fall of 2013. Read more...

  • Driving schools not thrilled with online class option (News-Sun)
  • SPRINGFIELD — Ohio teens taking driver’s education classes will be able to fulfill their 24 hours of classroom requirements online beginning in September, an idea that worries local instructors. The new law, signed by Gov. John Kasich last week, still requires eight hours of in-car instruction for drivers. Local driving school owners expressed concern that online classes may not give drivers who are just learning the roads all the benefits in-class instruction can. Read more...

  • Kasich set to sign education bill here today (Enquirer)
  • MADISONVILLE - Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected in Cincinnati today to sign a sweeping education bill that seeks to strengthen ties between the state's employers and public schools and makes dozens of other policy changes. The event will be held at Fifth Third Bank's operations center in Madisonville, 5050 Kingsley Dr. Under the measure, Ohio third-graders lagging in reading skills face the possibility of being held back for up to two school years as they get academic help. Read more...

  • Educators debate when kids should start school (Dayton Daily News)
  • While most parents send their child to kindergarten when he or she is 5 years old, some people delay their child’s entry to give them an academic, social or athletic advantage. About 9 percent of U.S. kindergartners are purposefully held back, or academically redshirted, each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This practice of delaying an age-appropriate child’s entry into kindergarten is debated by educators and parents. Some say it can lead to academic success and confidence, while others contend it can cause alienation and behavioral problems. Read more...

Local Issues

  • Reynoldsburg's student grouping shows evidence of progress (Dispatch)
  • Meet Elijah Carter, Taylor Kendrick and Quinaya Moore. The Dispatch followed the students through their sixth-grade year at Reynoldsburg’s Hannah Ashton Middle School, which has taken a radical approach of teaching students in one of three groups based on their ability. Advanced students such as Taylor are grouped together in C.R.E.W., struggling ones such as Elijah in Contenders and those in the middle such as Quinaya in Navigators. Hannah Ashton also allows students to move up or down through the groups, depending on their needs and abilities. Read more...

  • Painesville Schools refinance bonds, which is expected to save taxpayers $1 million (News-Herald)
  • Painesville City Schools recently refinanced some outstanding bonds, resulting in savings of more than $1 million for tax payers. The district refinanced parts of its outstanding school construction bonds that were issued in 2004. The bonds provided the district with $31 million that helped create five new school buildings. The school board achieved the savings by approving the issuance of an $8.4 million construction bond, district Treasurer Rick Taylor said. Read more...

  • Few local districts fiscally red-flagged (News-Sun)
  • Twenty-seven public school districts across the state are in either fiscal caution, fiscal watch or fiscal emergency, according to the Ohio Department of Education. “That number might be a few districts low (on average), but the numbers are pretty typical,” said Roger Hardin, who oversees the fiscal oversight program for the ODE. “It’s a fluid list, and districts come and go.” Most importantly for the Springfield area, no local districts made the list, which was released last week. Read more...

  • Schools pruned records, four say (Dispatch)
  • A team of data-processing workers inflated Columbus schools’ attendance figures by routinely and purposely removing large numbers of absent students from the rolls, four former district data analysts told The Dispatch. At the same time, district administrators summoned school principals to the Kingswood Data Center. There, they were schooled in how to alter other students’ attendance data to improve the schools’ academic standing. Read more...

  • Cost savings, convenience among points of contention in new Zane Trace busing plan (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Not everyone is on board with Zane Trace's new busing plan. A dual-route approach, which is set to be implemented in August, staggers school hours and puts students in grades six through 12 on separate bus routes -- an hour earlier -- than students in kindergarten through grade five. A number of bus drivers, some of whom lost their jobs this past week as a result of the switch to dual routes, have criticized school Superintendent Richard Spindler and the board of education for hastily approving a plan the drivers said might not necessarily save the district money. Read more...

  • 14 Monroe district accounting errors (Journal-News)
  • The state auditor’s office reported 14 accounting citations in the Monroe Local School District’s latest audit report. “There is usually not anything listed on the audit report,” said Monroe treasurer Holly Cahall, who was not the treasurer during the time of the fiscal 2011 audit. “But 14 (incidences) would seem like a significant number.” Asked about the number of infractions the audit report listed, state auditor spokesman Mike Maurer said 14 is a higher than normal number. Read more...


  • States Raise the Bar With Standards Implementation (Education Week)
  • This month marks the two-year anniversary of the release of the Common Core State Standards, a set of rigorous academic expectations for English/language arts and mathematics that were envisioned, developed, and now adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. The most telling shift in K-12 public education in recent history is that virtually every state has set new college- and career-ready standards—common-core or state-approved. Read more...

  • Start fiscal restraint at the top (Plain Dealer)
  • When the economy turns sour and public-sector employees are asked to accept pay freezes or cuts, it's only fair to expect that their leaders should have to submit to financial limits, too. That seems to have happened in the case of hardworking Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon, once again willing to accept a stripped-down contract. Yet some public boards of trustees seem tone-deaf in tough times, risking the wrath of employees and taxpayers alike. Read more...

  • Voice questions (Beacon Journal)
  • John Kasich tapped Stanley Jackson last week to fill a vacancy on the Ohio Board of Education. The governor described the former Ohio State quarterback as “a man of great character” and “a man of faith.” That may be so. The state Senate has the task of confirming the choice. Senators would do well to look more closely at Jackson’s qualifications and preparation for the job. The Columbus Dispatch went searching for the charter school that Jackson supposedly founded. The newspaper discovered the school does not exist. Read more...

Analysis of Education MBR bill SB316

As part of the Governor's Mid Biennium Review (MBR) he has proposed a number of education policies. SB316 is the vehicle that these policies are being carried in. Note that there is no school funding plan introduced, nor is the "Cleveland plan" part of this bill.

the Ohio Legislative Services Commission has just published their analysis of the bill (i.e. they turned it into humanly readable language), and we've posted it below for you to review.

There are a number of items that should interest educators and public education advocates.

  • Third Grade Reading Guarantee
  • The governor proposed to hold back those students who cannot meet 3rd grade reading proficiency levels, though he fails to supply any funds with which to meet this new, and costly mandate.

  • New District and school rating system
  • We've discussed the proposed new rating system at length here, and here.

  • Reports of district and school spending
  • The poorly conceived plan to implement a ranking system for schools based on spending has been delayed 1 year, and also undergoing some technical changes.

  • Teacher evaluations
  • This modifies a number of provisions introduced in the budget bill (HB153), it narrows the number of teachers to only those who spend more than 50% of their time in the classroom, it makes changes to who can perform evaluations, including added the ability to hire outside contractors to perform the task. The law will prevail over collective bargaining agreements with regard to district evaluation policies. A provision for teachers who are employed by the state is also added (think department of corrections, etc)

  • Teacher testing
  • The provision in the budget for forcing teachers to be retested if they teach in a school rated in the bottom 10% has undergone major changes. Changes to teacher retesting do not eliminate the requirement, but will delay implementation for at lease another three years as it is now dependent on results of the new teacher evaluation system. Under this model it is applied to individual teacher performance instead of school/district performance. Meanwhile, teachers in charter schools are still linked to the school being in the bottom 10% of rankings. Instead of taking the tests required for licensure, the state department is tasked with identifying an appropriate content test for educators to pass. Still no empirical evidence to support this law as a method to improve instruction.

The full analysis can be read below, and we encourage you to do so.


Education By the Numbers