Education News for 04-18-2013

State Education News

  • School funding plan from Ohio House headed to a vote with many details still unclear (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The school funding proposal created by Ohio House leaders is scheduled for a vote Thursday, along with the rest of the state budget…Read more...

  • Patrolman’s substitute-teaching job might start security trend (Columbus Dispatch)
  • When Columbus Police Officer Bret Wilson encountered teens on the job, he found them to be disrespectful, rude to their parents…Read more...

  • Legislator’s sex-ed proposal baffles some educators (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Some local school administrators say it’s unclear how a ban on teaching about “gateway sexual activity” would change sex-education lessons in their districts…Read more...

  • Coleman balks at school-takeover legislation (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman opposes a legislative plan that would allow him to pick two of the five members of a state panel that could take over Columbus City Schools…Read more...

  • Teachers see movement in state reading requirements (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Helping struggling readers master the skill is becoming more difficult for some Ohio teachers, even as lawmakers try to make it easier…Read more...

  • Conotton Valley debuts student helpline (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter)
  • Conotton Valley Union Local Schools has launched an anonymous helpline where students can report threats of violence, illegal activity, depression or bullying situations…Read more...

  • Bring Your Own Device pilot starting soon (Newark Advocate)
  • Newark City Schools is running a pilot for the Bring Your Own Device initiative in select classrooms at the high school. The students in the pilot will be encouraged to bring their own…Read more...

  • Budget bill contains proposal for state takeover of schools (Toledo Blade)
  • Proposed legislation could lead to a state takeover of Toledo Public Schools and eight other districts because of its data-reporting practices…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Phila school board gets ‘EverFi’ update (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter)
  • Members of the New Philadelphia Board of Education got an update on the EverFi Program…Read more...

  • Local groups could gain, schools lose under tax exemption (Zanesville Times-Recorder)
  • Some local fraternal organizations could save thousands of dollars each year if they are exempted from paying property taxes, dollars that could be directed to other charitable work in the community…Read more...

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.

Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago

The Consortium On Chicago School Research At The University Of Chicago Urban Education Institute just released an interesting report on the Chicago teacher evaluations rubric. We bring this to our readers attention because their process includes elements such as observations, that will surely be included in the forthcoming Ohio evaluation rubric. The conclusion begins

Our study of the Excellence in Teaching Pilot in Chicago reveals some positive outcomes: the observation tool was demonstrated to be reliable and valid. Principals and teachers reported they had more meaningful conversations about instruction. The majority of principals in the pilot were engaged and positive about their participation. At the same time, our study identifies areas of concern: principals were more likely to use the Distinguished rating.

Our interviews with principals confirm that principals intentionally boost their ratings to the highest category to preserve relationships. And, while principals and teachers reported having better conversations than they had in the past, there are indications that both principals and teachers still have much to learn about how to translate a rating on an instructional rubric into deep conversation that drives improvement in the classroom. Future work in teacher evaluation must attend to these critical areas of success, as well as these areas of concern, in order to build effective teacher evaluation systems.

Though practitioners and policymakers rightly spend a good deal of time comparing the effectiveness of one rubric over another, a fair and meaningful evaluation hinges on far more than the merits of a particular tool. An observation rubric is simply a tool, one which can be used effectively or ineffectively. Reliability and validity are functions of the users of the tool, as well as of the tool itself. The quality of implementation depends on principal and observer buy-in and capacity, as well as the depth and quality of training and support they receive.

We would add that this kind of tool could be very dangerous absent due process collective bargaining protections.

Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago