Education News for 05-22-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • Ohio's Dropout Numbers Jump At Higher Rate; Columbus Sees Decrease (WBNS 10 CBS)
  • CINCINNATI - Ohio's dropout rate increased between 2002 and 2009 at a higher rate than all other states except Illinois. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Ohio's dropout rate jumped from 3.1 percent to 4.2 percent in 2008-09. Columbus City Schools saw a decrease between the 2006-07 school year and the 2008-09 school year, 10TV News reported. The dropout rate was 7.4 percent in 2006-07, 5.8 in 2007-08 and 2.2 in 2008-09. Ohio's dropout numbers for 2009 are just slightly higher than the national average. Read More…

  • Northeast Ohio public high schools among nation's best, Newsweek says (Plain Dealer)
  • Twelve Northeast Ohio high schools are on Newsweek magazine's list of the nation's top 1,000 public high schools. Chagrin Falls High School led the region at 93rd in the country and fourth among the 35 Ohio schools on the list, which was released this week. Wyoming High School, near Cincinnati, topped the Ohio list. Other Northeast Ohio high schools singled out by Newsweek for national ranking were: Orange (151), Solon (152). Read More…

  • Fewer students missing graduation because of OGT (Beacon Journal)
  • Only 10 high school seniors in Akron Public Schools out of more than 1,300 have come up short on the Ohio Graduation Test this year and will not graduate with their classes, even though they’ve earned the required academic credits. In 2007, the first year the OGT became a requirement for a diploma, 95 seniors missed graduation, prompting many frantic and angry phone calls to board members. “It’s extremely gratifying to see that number drop the way it has,” said board President Jason Haas. Read More…

  • Academic commission owes city taxpayers an explanation (Vindicator)
  • “In order to ensure a seamless transition, the new treasurer must have the same level of expertise and the same insight and foresight as the man who is leaving.” When we expressed that opinion last month about Youngstown City School District Treasurer William Johnson’s impending departure, we had every reason to believe he had performed his difficult job with a high level of professionalism. After all, there were no complaints about Johnson’s tenure from members of the board of education or from the state-mandated Academic Distress Commission. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Westerville schools to stay in black until ’17 (Dispatch)
  • Westerville schools will be able to stay off the ballot two years longer than expected, district officials announced last night, largely because of an unusually high number of teacher retirements. Administrators said this year that a five-year levy voters approved in March would keep the district’s budget in the black through fiscal year 2015. But the district now will be solvent through fiscal year 2017, Treasurer Bart Griffith said. The announcement was based on a five-year forecast that the Westerville Board of Education approved 3-0 last night. Read More…

  • Doubling up bus routes returns to budget talks at Zane Trace (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • KINGSTON - A plan to cut the number of Zane Trace bus drivers in half is back on the table. The plan initially was suggested as the district's board of education looks for ways to reduce its budget by $1.3 million over the next two years. This past week, a motion to approve staggered school hours for the upper and lower grades -- which would have allowed the district to double up on bus routes and use fewer drivers -- failed to reach a vote. Read More…

  • Boardman students to pay more for meals (Vindicator)
  • BOARDMAN - Boardman Local School District students will pay more for a school lunch in the fall. The board of education, at a meeting Monday, approved raising the price of a school lunch by 25 cents. Currently, the price of a lunch is $1.75 for elementary students, $2 for middle-school students and $2.25 for those in high school. The raise is a result of the federal government’s Equity in School Lunch Price Act. Read More…

  • School board OKs five-year forecast (Courier)
  • FOSTORIA - Fostoria school board approved a five-year financial forecast Monday which predicts declining revenues and increasing expenses. The district's projected cash balance declines from more than $4.1 million June 30 to a negative balance of more than $2.8 million by June 30, 2016. However, that figure does not include potential revenue from three replacement or renewal levies which are scheduled to expire during the five-year time period but could be put before voters for renewal. Read More…

  • Four fired Granville teachers reinstated (Newark Advocate)
  • GRANVILLE - Four of 21 staff positions cut through a Reduction In Force action in March were reinstated Monday by the Granville Board of Education. Thanks to the retirement of seven teachers, a bus driver, a librarian and the school nurse in addition to two resignations, the reinstatements became possible, Superintendent Jeff Brown said. "When we enacted this Reduction in Force in March, I said that it would change probably the next day. I was right," Brown said. Six of the retirements were approved at the April board meeting. Read More…


  • Despite initial misgivings, charter school alliance supports the Cleveland Plan (Plain Dealer)
  • The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools (OAPCS) supports the Cleveland Plan. We have long advocated for portfolio plans, like Cleveland's, that focus on improving low-performing schools and that provide parents with a range of choices that include district and charter schools. The only part of the plan that troubled us was the Transformation Alliance. As originally proposed, the Alliance would be comprised of a group of people selected by the mayor who would have veto authority on all new charter schools opening in Cleveland. Read More…

Studies show unionized charters are desperately needed

Bill Sims, president and CEO of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools said, in defense of charter school teachers poor pay and conditions, "Charter school teachers often are making less than district teachers but because they tend to be smaller schools, with smaller classrooms, less bureaucracy, they officer[sic] a pay in 'psychic salary' that more often than not makes up the difference". If this is true, why do so many charter school teachers quit? Indeed, study after study has found that charter school teachers leave at alarming rates, with pay and poor conditions often cited as the main reason.

The Ohio Collaborative, an educational research group initiated by the Ohio Board of Regents and housed at Ohio State, produce a study in 2005 which found

Nearly half of the teachers in Ohio's charter schools quit their jobs each year, with the majority leaving teaching altogether, according to a new study.

From 2000 to 2003, between 44 and 52 percent of charter school teachers quit their positions each year. Few took other jobs in teaching.

In comparison, between 6 and 11 percent of teachers in traditional public schools left their positions during each of those years. Even in major urban, high poverty public schools, the teacher attrition rate was only between 9 and 19 percent.
The results showed many areas of concern, Opfer said.

For example, charter schools had an average of 30 pupils for each teacher in 2004, compared to 19 pupils per teacher in traditional public schools. The pupil-teacher ratio in charter schools increased significantly from 2003, when there were 24 pupils per teacher.

Class sizes that are almost twice the size of traditional schools puts lie to the claim by Bill Simms that charter teachers enjoy smaller class sizes. His entire defense of poor pay and conditions in charter schools is falling apart or looks absurd ('Psychic pay').

Other studies have found the same problems, time and time again in Charter schools. Poor pay and working conditions causing high rates of attrition - that is, high rates of charter school teachers quitting to find jobs more rewarding, both professionally and economically.

A 2007 study, titled "Teacher Attrition in Charter Schools", by The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, found

  • The single background characteristic that strongly predicted teacher attrition was age: younger teachers in charter schools are more likely to leave than older teachers. No significant attrition differences appeared between males and females or for African-American teachers.
  • Among teacher qualification variables, the best predictors were “years of experience” and “years at current school.” Teachers with limited experience were significantly more likely to leave their charter schools. (It is presumed that many of these inexperienced teachers moved to teaching jobs in other schools.).
  • Certification was also significant. Attrition was higher for noncertified teachers and for teachers who were teaching outside their certification areas; this situation may be related to the No Child Left Behind act’s pressure for ensuring teaching staff meet its definition of “highly qualified.”
  • Other strong and significant factors included teachers’ relative satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the school’s: 1) mission, 2) perceived ability to attain the mission, and 3) administration and governance. Generally, teachers who left were also routinely less satisfied with: curriculum and instruction; resources and facilities; and salary and benefits. It appeared that teachers who were not satisfied were leaving or were being asked to leave.

These findings prove that experience does matter, and so does education and certification - contrary to many claims made by corporate education reformers. This study made the following recommendations for improving this serious rate of attrition

  • Efforts should be made to strengthen teachers’ sense of security as much as possible.
  • Efforts should be made to increase teachers’ satisfaction with working conditions, salaries, benefits, administration, and governance.

Efforts that could easily be achieved by organizing charter school teachers and the subsequent use of collective bargaining.

The National Center of School Choice, at Vanderbilt University produced a study in 2010, again finding the same results, with the same set of problems

The rate that teachers leave the profession and move between schools is significantly higher in charter schools than in traditional public schools.
  • Charter schools that are started from the ground up experience significantly more attrition and mobility than those converted from traditional public schools.
  • Differences in teacher characteristics explain a large portion of the turnover gap among charter and traditional public school teachers.
  • Dissatisfaction with working conditions is an important reason why charter school teachers are significantly more likely to switch schools or leave the profession.
  • Involuntary attrition is significantly higher in charter schools.

Taken one by one - conversion schools, those that might have had some collective bargaining history, or in a handful of cases, still do, are less affected than start up schools where teachers can be treated as temporary help. Experience and certifications matter, so too does poor pay and working conditions offered by most charter schools, and employees have little or no job security and work at will.

These are all serious problem which can be resolved easily through collective bargaining. The studies results prove it

The odds that a teacher in a charter school will leave the profession are 230 percent greater than the odds that a teacher in a traditional public school in their state will do so.

In the charter schools, nearly a quarter of the teachers ended up leaving by the end of the school year, 14 percent of them leaving the field altogether and 11 percent transferring to another school.

By comparison, the average turnover rate in the regular public schools in the same states was around 14 percent. Half the departing teachers were leavers and half were switchers.

So when corporate education reformers, and charter school boosters like Terry Ryan at the Fordham Institute claim "unionized charters would be a setback for Ohio’s school improvement efforts", they need to go deeper than simple rhetoric and address these serious problems of massive teacher attrition at the schools they are promoting. Bill Simms, CEO of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, need to stop pretending charter schools are some great place for predominantly young, inexperienced, underpaid teachers to be working, and instead begin to formulate ways in which working conditions can be improved in order to attract and retain great teachers for charter students to benefit from.

OEA has it right, it's time to organize some charter schools and see what impact improved conditions has upon charter quality - this kind of experimentation after all is what charter schools were designed to test. They certainly weren't designed to maximize profits as some proponents, operators and authorizers have come to believe.

Education News for 03-22-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Top school official asks Marion business leaders to help (Marion Star)
  • MARION - Ohio's students should have all the opportunities in the world. Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner started off his Tuesday speech to the Marion Rotary Club with those thoughts, saying state officials want to make it so. The way to do so, he suggested, is by expecting more from schools. Heffner's talk at the Palace Theatre's May Pavilion outlined those expectations as he said current standards are outdated compared to the knowledge and skills needed today. Read More…

  • Cleveland schools plan not necessarily for other districts (Columbus Dispatch)
  • In a rare display of bipartisanship, Democratic and Republican legislators from both chambers of the General Assembly declared yesterday that they will work together to pass legislation to overhaul the long-troubled Cleveland school district. Gov. John Kasich has held up the plan developed by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson as a possible model for Ohio’s urban districts and perhaps others in the state. Read More…

  • Spare classes that directly affect students, board advised (Newark Advocate)
  • Two classes to be affected by a reduction in force approved by the Granville Board of Education Monday night directly affect students and should be spared, their defenders say. During the public comment section of Monday's meeting, five speakers including two high school students urged that middle-school Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Barb Blatter be retained and a full roster of her classes be taught. Read More…

  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's school plan gets show of support from bipartisan group of lawmakers (Plain Dealer)
  • COLUMBUS — A bipartisan cast of Statehouse lawmakers stood with Mayor Frank Jackson Wednesday and pledged to move forward soon with a dramatic reshaping of Cleveland public schools through legislation. While the lawmakers, including two Cleveland Democrats -- Sen. Nina Turner and Rep. Sandra Williams -- stopped short of fully embracing Jackson's school plan, they sounded ready to shake up the status quo. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Lake school board approves staff layoffs, closing of elementary (Toledo Blade)
  • Second-grade teacher Brooke Schulte, her voice quivering slightly, said she wasn't angry that she just lost her job and she still supported Lake Local Schools. Parent Jamie Blazevich wanted her 5-year-old son in all-day kindergarten next year so she plans to enroll him somewhere else, now that Lake's full-time kindergarten is gone. The two women were among several who spoke out Wednesday night as the school board unanimously approved closing Walbridge Elementary next school year and laying off eight teachers and 17 other employees. Read More…

  • State’s new graduate-rate method concerns Youngstown schools’ chief (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Youngstown - Among the changes on the upcoming state report cards for school districts is an alteration in the graduate rate. The modification calculates the rate based on how many students graduate in four years or less after entering high school. Previously, the rate was based on an estimate of how many 12th-graders graduate. For Youngstown schools, the rate on the most recent report card would have been 58 percent, compared with about 68 percent based on the previous rate. Superintendent Connie Hathorn is concerned about the change. Read More…

  • Northridge school district to buy modular units for fourth, fifth grades (Newark Advocate)
  • JOHNSTOWN - Northridge will keep its existing modular units for its fourth- and fifth-grade students, after exploring options that ranged from consolidation to building a new, more permanent structure. The board voted, 4-1, to buy the existing intermediate school for $485,000 -- which should be paid off within four years -- instead of the permanent structure that would have cost up to $1.6 million, spread out during a 15-year loan. The district will continue paying $10,274 per month to rent the units. Read More…

New criteria for dropout schools proposed

Charter operators have long used a loophole in Ohio's lax charter laws to skirt and avoid accountability. Some of those loopholes are getting smaller. Gongwer

Dropout recovery charter schools have long been shielded from Ohio's closure laws for poor performance but the Department of Education revealed details Monday on how it might fairly grade those schools.

Advocates for the schools that serve students age 17 to 22 who either dropped out of school or who are at risk of doing so have said their institutions should be graded differently from traditional schools because they work with challenging student populations.
ODE staff laid out eight criteria by which they said the state could score the dropout recovery schools in an equitable manner.

The eight criteria are as follows:

  • Academic growth, If this standard were adopted, however, it would only apply to students who are engaged and participating a certain number of days out of the year.
  • The schools' graduation test passage rate as a cumulative rate. It would not be the same indicator as for traditional schools, which is first-time passage of the test in 10th grade.
  • The schools' extended graduation rate. Designed to give schools credit for graduating students in four years, five years, six years, seven years."
  • Credits earned as an indication of progress toward a diploma.
  • College and career readiness with the former including apprenticeships and two-year and four-year degrees.
  • Community collaboration. A measure of working on an individualized education plan for these students and measuring whether those (plans) exist for students.
  • Sustained enrollment and attendance, which addresses that challenge of getting students to participate.
  • Sponsor rating, which would attempt to address the uniqueness of dropout recovery schools in their mission and population.

Only time will tell if these criteria are meaningful enough and vigorously pursued to have any meaningful impact on students academic achievements.

November 2011 School Levy Results

Here are the results of the November8th 2011 school levy elections.

Type Failed Passed Pass Rate
New 83 33 28.4%
Renewal 8 62 88.6%
All Levies 92 95 50.8%

11/9/2011 Ohio School Levy Results