Deep Red Opposition to Kasich Funding Plan

As the 130th General assembly gets underway and begins its hearings on the Budget, questions from law makers and superintendents are already starting to heat up - and not from your typical quarters.

the most eye opening example is Superintendent of Franklin City Schools, in deep red Warren county who sent out a letter to residents calling John Kasich a liar, and asking for citizens to join him in removing him from office.

Governor John Kasich was untruthful last week, and in doing so, finally clarified that kids in poor school districts don't count.
As parents and friends of our district, I hope you will do two things: First, please join me in an active campaign to ensure that Gov. Kasich and any legislator who supports him are not re-elected. Second, I hope you will contact our state officials and urge them to ask Gov. Kasich to return to the drawing board on his school funding proposal.

Here's the full letter

Letter to Residents-Mr. Elam

Further difficult questions were posed to the Governor's education advisors during a House education committee hearing. Plunderbund captures on such exchange by Rep Smith (a Republican who won his district with over 65% of the vote in 2012)

During the hearings [video available here at 137:53] Smith asked a very moving question of Richard A. Ross, head the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education. He simply wanted to know what, if anything, this budget would do to help the severely underfunded schools in his district, schools that are laying off teachers and other vital staff and can’t afford to provide simple classes in art of music. Ross compared his schools to the fast growing Olentangy school district in Central Ohio.

“Olentangy schools have German 1,2 and 3, Jewelry 1, Ceramics 1, Sculpture 1, Stage Craft 1, Concert Orchestra,” said Smith. ”These are things that children of Appalachia don’t get exposed to.”

“I’m not asking for synchronized swimming or a swimming pool or anything extra. I’m not asking for violin lessons or cello lessons. What I want for is my kids is music. And art… just give them a basic education,” pleaded Smith.

State Rep Smith also tells the story of Symmes Valley School District where the Superintendent had to layoff his board secretary, transportation director and curriculum director and is now doing all of those jobs himself. Another school district in Smith’s area has lost 40 teachers and the rest have had no raises in four years.

Smith ends by asking Ross asking if there is any “special sauce” in this budget that will help superintendents just provided a basic education to the kids in his district?

the Governor's advisors told Rep Smith that perhaps students in his poor district could learn music online. Then they laughed. They may not be laughing much longer, as opposition to the second worst school funding plan (The worst being their previous plan that cut almost $2 billion from school budgets) is increasing and hardening even in red corners of the state.

Stephen Dyer notes that Governor Kasich ought to be worried. We agree.

Subtraction by Distraction

With the ever increasing generation and use of value added scores - that is, scores primarily based on student test results, there will be a increasing desire by some to inappropriately use these scores in a public way.

The Ohio Department of Education recently conducted a session on this topic with Ohio's media to try to inform them on the proper use of value add, its complexities and limitations.

Such is the red hot nature of this topic, the Center for American Progress has just released a report on the subject of publishing value add scores tied to teachers names. It concludes with this warning.

Value-added scores give us important information, so they should continue to be used as part of teacher-evaluation systems. Parents and the public have a right to transparent information about teachers, but teachers’ privacy needs to be protected. Public identification of teachers with value-added estimates will undermine efforts to improve schools by hamstringing efforts to make actual classroom performance the basis for decisions affecting the career prospects of currently practicing teachers, and by hoisting red flags of caution for college graduates and career changers inclined toward the profession.

The bottom line is this: Teachers need to be part of reforms but releasing names in this way only leads to conflict and runs counter to the need for collaboration. We note also that parent notification is a particularly tricky issue that needs considerably more thought than we were able to devote to it in this brief.

Releasing value-added scores at the school level is appropriate, however, and this could serve valuable purposes related to transparency and accountability. Districts could aggregate value-added scores and evaluations by grade, or by school, as a component of a robust accountability system that could then be folded into the requirements of state or national accountability laws. Publicly releasing such aggregate information could play an important role in documenting whether or not highly effective teachers are equitably distributed among schools in a district and among districts in a state.

If journalists attempt to do their own analyses of value-added data, they should follow the same standards that researchers do when protecting human subjects. "is means that data are de-identified and individual names are never published.

Furthermore, datasets should continue to be available to researchers whether in academic institutions or in media outlets. Such research is absolutely critical in order to develop a deeper knowledge base about value-added scores, their potential uses, and misuses that should be avoided.

Battele for Kids, who are heavily involved in the design and creation of value add and teacher evaluations had this recent warning

Those who deal with statistics recognize that using a single data point, like value-added, in a single point in time is not a responsible use of that data. Although it does provide utility to assist us in aligning curriculum, course pacing and resource allocation, a three year rolling average of value-added data would provide a clearer picture of a teacher’s effectiveness.

As we increasingly rely upon data in the persuit of corporate education reform policies, we need to be vigilant in holding those who use this data to a high standard of analysis, and not allow the misappropriate or intepretation of data to drive ideoloigcal or profit driven agendas.

Charters omitted from evaluation

When it comes to charter schools the playing field isn't just unlevel, there are 2 different fields. A report from Gongwer

Majority Republicans imposed new requirements in the budget bill for public schools to regularly evaluate teachers and principals, but in a little-noticed twist to the hotly debated policy change, many charter schools ended up with an exemption.

The budget language, which is supported by Gov. John Kasich, gives more than 130 charter schools a pass from instituting teacher performance evaluations, which critics say creates unequal accountability among public schools.

So what are both sides saying about this?

Ohio Association of School Business Officials Associate Executive Director Barbara Shaner said the performance evaluation requirement should be applied uniformly.

"We feel like there does need to be the same level of accountability, and if the evaluations are meant to improve student achievement and improve the effectiveness of school districts then I guess our view would be that it should apply to all schools," she said.

That would seem like the common sense response. We hear continually from corporate education reformers how imperative it is that teachers are accountable for their results, and that the continued lack of accountability is causing a crisis in education.

Apparently, when it is suggested to corporate education reformers and their benefactors that charts should be held to similar standards, the story changes

Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools President Bill Sims said he understands the motivation for the budget language. "I think that the rationale there was that in keeping with the original intent or precepts of charter schools was to give them as much autonomy as is possible," he said.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols agreed, saying the language reflects that charter schools operate under different oversight than traditional schools do.

But, but but, charters are different!

Yes, yes they are. Let's compare the 2011 state report card for traditional schools and charters. We'll note in red the worst performing of the two

Designation Charters Traditional Schools
Academic Emergency 20.9% 4.4%
Academic Watch 16.8% 5.6%
Continuous Improvement 28.9% 12.1%
Effective 11.8% 23.2%
Excellent 7.4% 40.1%
Excellent with Distinction 1.5% 8.7%
Not Rated 12.7% 5.9%

The governor's spokesperson continued

"From the administration's perspective, charter schools by definition operate outside the tentacles of state regulation, which is in part why they've been very, very successful; unsuccessful ones are simply shut down," he said.

That's a lot of red for something that's been very, very successful, don't you think? So much red you might be excused for thinking more oversight is needed, not less.

20 years after DeRolph case school funding in Ohio isn't fixed

Nate DeRolph knows a lot about how Ohio finances public education. Twenty years ago, a lawsuit bearing his name was filed in Perry County challenging the state's school funding system.

The case was filed by the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding on behalf of children who were being educated in schools similar to DeRolph's.

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Anger over reckless budget runs red

In 2010 John Kasich defeated Ted Strickland 36,407 to 23,761 in Medina county. Speaker Batchelder defeated his opponent even more convincingly 32,406 to 13,666. Clearly, Medina county runs a deep shade of red. With that in mind, this isn't the kind of response Republicans would expect on their home turf

Concerned Medina County residents came looking for answers Thursday night about school funding and pending state budget cuts from the top-ranking Republican in the Ohio House.

Instead, some said they felt that House Speaker William G. Batchelder and State Sen. Larry Obhof, whose districts include Medina County, left them hanging.
The two state legislators, Obhof in particular, a first-term Republican from Montville Township, took some heat from angry audience members when discussions wandered from educational areas into political, and what happened while former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland was in office the past four years.

"Talk about what Kasich is doing to education up here," one angry man yelled out while Obhof was speaking. "Keep politics out of this talk . . . we're here to see what's happening to education."

The outburst brought applause and cheers from the crowd in the reliably Republican county.

News for March 10th, 2011

After news that the Wisconsin legislature steam-rolled through their assault on collective barainging, steam appears to be building for an even more radical effort in Ohio, as the Dispatch reports

House Speaker William G. Batchelder now says he hopes to bring the collective-bargaining bill to the floor for a vote next week, after indicating for the past several days that he wanted to hold three weeks' worth of hearings.

Asked whether the timetable had suddenly been moved up, the Medina Republican said it will be the "equivalent" of three weeks of hearings "because they're going to meet every day."

Teacher Ms. Johnson took the message to Washington

Facing a full Congressional hearing panel, in front of a packed house, Ohio teacher Courtney Johnson took a seat Tuesday and methodically laid out how attacks on workers’ rights and cuts to education will affect her students.

“Ever-deepening cuts to our public schools send the dual messages to our kids that, one, it is not a priority that they get educated; and two, that we have given up on finding better solutions to our problems,” Johnson told the 23 members of Congress. “Many of us are not willing to send those messages, and I know that we are not alone. Just watch the news and you will see Americans are not ready to give up on our kids.”

Clad in red as part of the national Wear Red for Public Ed on Tuesday movement, Johnson spoke eloquently and passionately about how teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. The English teacher at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School in Columbus, Ohio, is a member of the Ohio Education Association.

It's widely reported that on the day of the budget the Govenor will be holding a downhill style meeting

Gov. John R. Kasich announced today that on the day he sends his budget proposal to the General Assembly he will also hold an Ohio town hall meeting to discuss the state's budget challenges and his proposed solutions to them. The meeting will be held on the evening of Tuesday, March 15 at the Capitol Theater in Columbus and will be broadcast live on the internet and via satellite to Ohio television stations. After presenting the budget plan Kasich and his cabinet will take questions from the theater and online audiences.

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