More Sen. Peggy Lehner Please

State Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) is proving herself to be an unusual Republic legislator. One who has a keen understanding of education issues, and a willingness to listen and work with educators, not just tow the ideological line.

The first piece of evidence being her attempt to fix the problems with the 3rd grade reading guarantee law, via SB21 which she sponsored and shepherded through the Senate on a 30-1 vote, and then passage through the House (albeit with some questionable changes having been made).

Now comes news of her attempt to bring Ohio's preschool efforts back from the dead

A Senate Republican leader on education policy wants to create a $100 million voucher program over the next two years to allow thousands of low-income Ohio children to attend preschool.

For every dollar Ohio spends on early childhood education, the return is $10 or more, said Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. The need to have students enter kindergarten prepared to learn is more vital than ever, she and others argued, especially as the state implements a new requirement that students pass a reading exam in third grade or risk being held back.

“So many of our children come to kindergarten two or three years behind their peers, and we’re trying to catch them up before third grade,” Lehner said. “If we don’t catch them up, they don’t have a prayer of passing that third-grade reading guarantee.”

This would be a welcome policy change of direction after the Governor's shameful evisceration of early childhood education in his previous budget, and unwillingness to restore those cuts in the current proposal

A decade ago, more than twice as many Ohio children were enrolled in the state’s preschool program than now.

According to a recent report by the National Institute for Early Education Research, in 2011-2012 total state enrollment for preschool was 9,379. The state only paid for 5,700 of those students; the rest were paid for by parents, local dollars or federal funds.

Compare that to the 2001-2002 school year when 23,599 Ohio children were enrolled in the state’s preschool program.

Although the situation isn’t unique to Ohio, the state did see the most drastic drop in early childhood education enrollment in the nation over the last decade.

According to NIEER, Ohio’s decline in the number of preschoolers in state funded programs is the result of state budget cuts over the last few years.

Kudos to Sen. Peggy Lehner, and here's hoping more of her colleagues follow her lead of listening to educators concerns.

We note that Steve Dyer at 10th Period has some concerns about this pre-school proposal.

Kasich education team is out of control

A week after the Governor's orchestrated school funding plan announcement, we are still waiting on him to release his actual school funding numbers

Ohioans still can’t see how their tax dollars will be divided among local school districts under Gov. John Kasich’s school-funding plan.

Although Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols had said on Friday that the information likely would be released yesterday, it turns out there was a problem with some of the data and “it’s still being worked on.”

Kasich adviser Barbara Mattei-Smith compiled and used the data to help the administration formulate its funding plan, which was released on Thursday, Nichols said.

The administration initially said such a record didn’t exist, then said it was merely her “notes” and didn’t have to be made public, before now saying the information Kasich relied on in the $15.1 billion education plan apparently was wrong.

Perhaps if his hand picked Superintendent wasn't fired for serious ethics violations, and his hand picked President of the State Board of Education spent less time comparing her ideological enemies to genocidal maniacs, and perhaps if his acting State Superintendent and his deputy weren't both looking for new jobs, we might have had the numbers by now. But if all that wasn't enough, news breaks today of even more shocking failure of leadership at the Ohio Department of Education

The Ohio Department of Education said it fired its chief operating officer after learning he was under investigation for possessing child pornography and then finding such images on his work computer.

John T. Childs, 47, of 2239 Planetree Court on the Northwest Side, was fired on Nov. 2, said John Charlton, an Education Department spokesman. Childs had been on paid administrative leave since around Oct. 15.

“He was under investigation by local law enforcement for child pornography on his home computer. We put Childs on paid administrative leave until we could investigate the alleged charges and we could look at his work computer as well,” Charlton said.

The department turned Childs’ work laptop computer over to the State Highway Patrol, which found thumbnail images "of pornographic nature."

The Governor's education team is out of control. We wish we were just talking about bureaucratic incompetence, but sadly we are now well into the realm of serious failures of ethics and criminal behavior.

Schedule Conflicts

As most people know, the majority of public school teachers are paid based on salary schedules. Most (but not all) contain a number of “steps” (years of experience) and “lanes” (education levels). Teachers are placed in one lane (based on their degree) and proceed up the steps as they accrue years on the job. Within most districts, these two factors determine the raises that teachers receive.

Salary schedules receive a great deal of attention in our education debates. One argument that has been making the rounds for some time is that we should attract and retain “talent” in the teaching profession by increasing starting salaries and/or the size of raises teachers receive during their first few years (when test-based productivity gains are largest). One common proposal (see here and here) for doing so is reallocating salary from the “top” of salary schedules (the salaries paid to more experienced teachers) down to the “bottom” (novice teachers’ salaries). As a highly simplified example, instead of paying starting teachers $40,000 and teachers with 15 years of experience $80,000, we could pay first-year teachers $50,000 and their experienced counterparts $70,000. This general idea is sometimes called “frontloading,” as it concentrates salary expenditures at the “front” of schedules.

Now, there is a case for changes to salary schedules in many places – bargained and approved by teachers – including, perhaps, some degree of gradual frontloading (though the research in this area is underdeveloped at best). But there is a vocal group of advocates who assume an all-too-casual attitude about these changes. They seem to be operating on the mistaken assumption that salary schedules can be easily overhauled – just like that. We can drastically restructure them or just “move the money around” without problem or risk, if only unions and “bureaucrats” would get out of the way.**

Salary schedules aren’t just one-shot deals. When teachers and districts negotiate salaries, they don’t start with a blank slate. Schedules are, in many respects, evolving systems, which emerge over time as a result of continuous negotiation (and, in bargaining states, approval) by both parties.

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The Buckeye Institutes doesn't understand simple things

The Buckeye Institute just released a tool to compare salaries. The only trouble with this hackish tool is they don't understand how anyone is paid apparently.

In their effort to make public sector workers appear over compensated, they add vacation and sick pay to salaries, without understanding sick and vacation pay is paid instead of salary, and therefore can't be added to create a juicy big total salary they can get all indignant about.

What kind of a "think tank" doesn't understand the basic principles of employee compensation?

There's nothing Super about charters

We were going to write a review and mythbusting article on the movie "Waiting for Superman", today. But our friends at American Society Today have a piece that says everything that needs to be said. It's good. Real good.

The propagandistic nature of Waiting for “Superman” is revealed by Guggenheim’s complete indifference to the wide variation among charter schools. There are excellent charter schools, just as there are excellent public schools. Why did he not also inquire into the charter chains that are mired in unsavory real estate deals, or take his camera to the charters where most students are getting lower scores than those in the neighborhood public schools? Why did he not report on the charter principals who have been indicted for embezzlement, or the charters that blur the line between church and state? Why did he not look into the charter schools whose leaders are paid $300,000–$400,000 a year to oversee small numbers of schools and students?

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Charter schools funneling vast sums of money to Turkey

Here's the blockbuster report from WEWS into 16 Horizon Science Science Academies across Ohio that were funneling vast sums of money to Turkey

Outsourcing education to Turkey and low paid Turkish teachers, with so little oversight it has been able to go on for over a decade.