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.

Education News for 04-04-2013

Local Education News

  • Toledo Public Schools audit identifies $100M in savings over 5 years (Toledo Blade)
  • A private consulting firm that conducted a performance audit of Toledo Public Schools recommends moves the firm says would save the district about $100 million over five years…Read more…

  • State Auditor: Noncompliance Findings For Columbus City Schools (WBNS)
  • State Auditor Dave Yost released documents overnight detailing findings from an annual audit of the Columbus City School district.…Read more…

  • Strongsville Strike: Negotiation meeting ends with no deal (WOIO)
  • A federal mediator met with both sides in the ongoing Strongsville teachers strike Wednesday morning. But after 14 hours of negotiating, no deal was made.…Read more…

  • Assaulting bus drivers, passing school buses could bring stiffer penalties in Cleveland (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • City Council's Public Safety Committee approved two ordinances this morning that would stiffen the penalty for passing school buses and add assaults on a public transit worker to the list of misconduct on a public bus or train.…Read more…

  • Left behind? (Marietta Times)
  • Some local school officials are concerned about having the hardware and capacity to administer new computer-based state tests set to debut in 2014-15.…Read more…

  • Monroe approves superintendent contract (Middletown Journal)
  • The Monroe school board in late March approved a two-year contract for Dr. Phil Cagwin as superintendent, confirmed district treasurer Holly Cahall.…Read more…

  • Schools face up to $1.3M cuts (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Federal sequestration budget cuts could cost Clark and Champaign County schools up to $1.3 million for tutors and other staff members that help disadvantaged students, at the same time that districts are facing new state reading requirements.…Read more…

  • Preschool project hinging on quality (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • “A chair for every child in a quality preschool.” That’s the mission of Preschool Promise, an ambitious plan to expand preschool access to 1,000 more children from low- and middle- income families annually in Greater Cincinnati……Read more…

  • Mock school shooting gives true experience in Boardman (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Two Boardman High School students lay helpless, one in a first-floor hallway bleeding from her arm, one on the stairs missing half of his leg.…Read more…

  • Activists complain of inaction by Youngstown school board (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • A group of activists and city school parents, frustrated with what they see as a lack of response to its concerns from the school board, is launching its own action plan to improve the quality of education.…Read more…

Ohio Third Graders Face Retention Ultimatum

PBS recently ran a report on the new 3rd grade reading gaurantee.

Watch Ohio Third Graders Must Learn to Read or Repeat the Year on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

This exchange with the Senate Education Committee chair was interesting

PEGGY LEHNER: I'm hoping that we can put some additional money in.

JOHN TULENKO: How much is it going to take?

PEGGY LEHNER: I think, frankly, we might be looking at $50 million, 60 million.

JOHN TULENKO: Lehner also acknowledges educators' other concerns about the reading guarantee: lack of preschool and parents who don't do their part.

There are so many questions around this.


JOHN TULENKO: Do you ever feel like you are stepping out on a limb on this one?

PEGGY LEHNER: It is a risk. And I think we have to take a risk. We have to change what we are doing, because what we have been doing is not working.

JOHN TULENKO: Can you give us a guarantee that this will work?

PEGGY LEHNER: Of course not. Of course not.

The budget will be a good opportunitiy to right some of these problems.

To Sir: Where are you?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2011 Population Survey indicates that men make up 18.3 percent of elementary and middle school teachers and 2.3 percent of preschool and kindergarten instructors, down from 2007 pre-recession proportions of 19.1 percent for grades 1 to 8, and 2.7 percent for preschool and kindergarten, reports Sarah Sparks in Education Week.

High school educators are more evenly divided: 42 percent in 2011 were men, down from 43.1 percent in 2007. The diminishing status of teachers generally, coupled with continuing sexism against men working with children, may be discouraging men from entering the field. Chanté Chambers, who recruits at historically black colleges and universities for Teach For America, sees the trend play out among high-achieving college students. Education's low status is "a major barrier" to bringing more men, particularly black men, into the field. "They're coming from communities that are not necessarily affluent, so it adds to pressure to be that breadwinner, to have financial stability," she explains.

According to Shaun Johnson, a former D.C. teacher and now a professor at Towson University, "Teacher-bashing is a new national pastime ... and [one] which you could argue is highly gendered. [Teaching's] status as a profession isn't going to improve in this climate; it's only going to get worse."

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Education News for 04-12-2012

Statewide Education News

  • School achievement tests to get tougher in 2014 (Newark Advocate)
  • The tests Ohio's third- through eighth-graders are preparing to take later this month will look vastly different in a few years. No. 2 pencils and bubbled sheets will be replaced with computers; simple multiple choice questions will be replaced with questions requiring more thought. The tests also will be more difficult. Much more difficult. Read More…

  • Ohio Continues to Fall Short on Providing High-Quality Preschool (State Impact Ohio)
  • Ohio isn’t doing a great job of getting children, particularly low-income children, into good, state-funded preschool programs. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s been true for several years running. Steven Barnett is the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. His group’s new annual report on the state of preschool doesn’t do Ohio any favors. Read More…

  • Test question raises concerns among Jews (Cleveland Jewish News)
  • An Ohio Graduation Test question asking for the Arabs’ perspective on the founding of the state of Israel has raised concerns among members of the Jewish community. Objections range from bias to over-simplification of history. Tenth-graders in public and private schools across Ohio took the OGT March 12 to 16 in five subject areas. Makeup testing took place the following week. Read More…

Local Issues

  • ‘Realistic’ financial projection requested by Liberty schools panel (Vindicator)
  • The fiscal commission prodded and picked at the latest revision of the Liberty school district’s five-year forecast Wednesday, telling the district’s treasurer it wants a more-detailed projection to ensure it is receiving adequate information for future cuts. Roger Nehls, chairman of the fiscal commission charged with guiding the district out of fiscal emergency, said districts sometimes will use the forecast as a budgetary planning tool. Read More…

Editorial & Opinion

  • Complex evaluation (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Public schools are a favorite target of politicians fixed on accountability, on showing the worth of money spent. Last year, Ohio lawmakers approved in the budget bill provisions that require the State Board of Education to develop a new framework for evaluating teachers. The new assessment will apply, beginning in 2013, to school districts, plus charter schools participating in the federal Race to the Top initiative. Read More…

  • Raise the bar
  • State Auditor Dave Yost is right that Ohio needs higher standards and stricter accountability for charter-school treasurers. As some recent high-profile cases involving ruined schools and misspent tax funds make clear, it’s easy for hundreds of thousands of dollars to be lost before corrective action takes place. Read More…

Education News for 04-11-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Schools expected to receive portion of casino taxes (Newark Advocate)
  • Licking County schools could receive $2.6 million in casino money in 2014, but treasurers are hesitant to count on it. The money -- which ranges from $129,000 for Northridge to $663,000 for Newark -- is based on estimated casino tax revenue and current enrollment of the districts. "We've not planned for it yet," said Heath Treasurer Brad Hall, whose district could see $170,000 in revenue. "It's not like you don't think about it." Read More…

  • State Board of Education urges collaboration, but stops short of endorsing Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's school plan (Plain Dealer)
  • A divided state Board of Education on Tuesday rejected Gov. John Kasich's request to endorse Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's school reform plan. Instead, the board united around a watered-down resolution urging a collaborative process for reforming the schools. Read More…

  • Drop in public preschoolers in Ohio is biggest in nation (Dispatch)
  • Ohio had about 18,000 fewer 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in high-quality public preschools last school year than a decade ago, the biggest decline of any state with public programs. And although the state didn’t lose ground in preschool enrollment between 2010 and 2011, enrollment didn’t grow, either, according to a report released yesterday. Read More…

  • Ohio worst in nationwide preschool study (Dayton Daily News)
  • A new study of state-funded preschool education, based on state policy, ranked Ohio last out of 39 states evaluated. According to a study released Tuesday by the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research, Ohio met the fewest benchmarks for quality preschool standards of any state offering state-funded preschool last year. Read More…

  • ‘Friends’ & teachers? (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • When Facebook and other social networking sites first took off several years ago, local educators said drafting policies to govern how teachers and other school staff used the forums wasn't a top priority. "But times have changed and Facebook in particular has become bigger as more and more people use it," said Richard Buchenic, Hubbard Local Schools superintendent. "It needs to at least be discussed and given a closer look." Read More…

Local Issues

  • Euclid, South Euclid-Lyndhurst school districts eye new learning methods (News Herald)
  • Euclid City Schools and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District have partnered in an effort to earn each district $130,000 in grant money to fund a blended learning program next year. Schools will choose a particular model of blended learning from six options. One school will be awarded for each model, meaning six districts out of 92 that applied for the grant will receive it, Euclid Curriculum Director Ted Lisiak said. Read More…

  • National union: CPS exaggerated teacher cuts (Enquirer)
  • One of the nation’s largest teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers, says Cincinnati Public Schools over-projected its expenses and doesn’t need to cut up to 225 teaching jobs as planned next week. The AFT reviewed Cincinnati Public’s budget forecast at the request of the local teachers’ union president, Julie Sellers. The AFT represents 1.5 million teachers nationwide and routinely does such analysis for its affiliates, including the 2,500-member Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. Read More…