Education News for 03-29-2013

State Education News

  • Board of directors’ votes to shut down Akron Digital Academy (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • With just more than half of its nine-member roster present, the board of directors for the Akron Digital Academy voted 4-1 Wednesday night to shut down the online school…Read more...

  • Bethel works to meet reading guarantee requirements (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • School board members March 21 approved a resolution stating the district would not be compliant with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements for the 2013-2014 school year…Read more...

  • Students sharing successes (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • From designing bridges and 3D projects to exploring their creative side, area high school students also are getting a head start on their college degrees…Read more...

  • Tests point to improved designation for Youngstown schools (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Based on preliminary data, city school and state officials expect the Youngstown district to move to the equivalent of “continuous improvement” on the 2012-13 state report card…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Small crowds attended Conneaut school shooter meetings (Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • A subject dear to parents, the safety of their children, didn’t help put people into seats at a series of recent meetings outlining Conneaut’s school defense plans…Read more...

  • Striking Strongsville teachers obtain documents (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Strongsville schools spent more than $1.1 million through the first two weeks of a teachers strike, according to figures the Strongsville Education Association…Read more...

  • ‘Still Frontier kids’ (Marietta Times)
  • Becoming a charter school would not sever Lawrence Elementary's ties with the Frontier Local school district…Read more...

  • Springboro school board posts contract proposals (Middletown Journal)
  • The Springboro school board has published contract proposals submitted by the board and the union representing district’s teachers and certified staff during their first negotiating session…Read more...

  • New school projects deficit in first 4 years (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Financial projections for the agricultural science school show that the academy would operate at a deficit for the first four years…Read more...

  • Documents detail cost of Strongsville teachers strike for district (Sun Newspapers)
  • According to recently released documents, the school district spent more than $1.1 million in preparation and execution through the first two weeks…Read more...

Radical legislation being planned

We have wrote briefly about ALEC, a far right organization dedicated to pushing radical legislation (such as SB5 and HB194) through state legislatures. Their next salvo is being prepped for education, according to leaked documents.

Mark your calendars, people, because ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council is having their spring pow-wow in Charlotte, NC on May 11th, and their agenda is simply brimming with ideas meant to undermine American democracy. The agenda was revealed by Common Cause, who obtained packets ahead of the conference taking place at the Westin Charlotte (in case any of you in Charlotte would like to show up to voice your opposition), and proving that ALEC is a squid-like demon with their tentacles in every aspect of American life, they have covered all their bases.

That does sound bad! But what exactly are they planning? (Here's their leaked agenda (pdf)), and a sample:

Online Course Choice for Students
This bill opens up the world of high-quality online course instruction to students. Each year, students in public school grades 7-12 would have the option to enroll in up to two online courses that award college credit or meet standards for core academic courses. The state would create standards and accountability measures to ensure that they are providing students with a course catalog containing only high-quality online course offerings. Funding for each online course is driven by the free-market in an open and competitive process, rather than simply allocating a portion of student funding unrelated to the actual cost to deliver the course. Finally, after completion of each online course, parents and students provide feedback via the web in an open forum to rate the effectiveness of the course. This feedback, combined with test scores, provides a quality indicator ranking that is available to all.

More privatization of instruction, market driven of course. Worse proposals are still to come, including

District and School Freedom Act
This legislation creates a mechanism for public school districts and schools to request exemption from state education standards and regulations. Under this act, any district or school can create a list of state regulations or standards that, if exempted from, the district or school could operate more efficiently and better serve students.
Model Legislation
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of XXXX:
A. Notwithstanding any other law, a school district, tradition, or charter school may receive exemptions from statutes and rules as prescribed in this section.
B. The school district, traditional, or charter school may identify and submit exemptions to statutes and rules relating to schools, governing boards and school districts to the state board of education for approval. The state board of education shall review and may approve the exemptions submitted, except for those statutes and rules that directly apply to the following:
1. Health and safety.
2. Requirements for the graduation of pupils from high school.
3. Special education.
4. Financial compliance and procurement requirements.
C. The state board of education may adjust the list of exemptions to comply with federal and state law.

A free for all! It's a mighty strange world we live in where groups can opt to of laws they don't like, but that is what ALEC is proposing here.

So if you see or hear of bills being introduced in Ohio similar to these, you know where the idea came from. We'll be keeping an eye out.

Educators Offer Solutions For NCLB Rewrite

It’s punitive. It over-emphasizes standardized testing. It narrows curriculum and takes a one-size-fits-all approach to education.

The problems with federal education policy under No Child Left Behind, the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, are numerous and frustrating for America’s educators and students.

With the Obama administration’s recent announcement that it will soon establish guidelines for states seeking relief from NCLB’s onerous requirements, there have been renewed discussions on what it will take to fix NCLB permanently and comprehensively.

America’s educators, who are intimately familiar with the practical problems NCLB presents at the classroom level, are eager to be heard in those conversations.

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Stretching the Truth, Not Dollars

Earlier in the year the Fordham Institute released a report "Stretching the School Dollar - A Brief for State Policymakers", that contained 15 right-wing ideological reform ideas, some of which we are currently seeing being implemented in Ohio.

  1. End "last hired, first fired" practices.
  2. Remove class-size mandates.
  3. Eliminate mandatory salary schedules.
  4. Eliminate state mandates regarding work rules and terms of employment.
  5. Remove "seat time" requirements.
  6. Merge categorical programs and ease onerous reporting requirements.
  7. Create a rigorous teacher evaluation system.
  8. Pool health-care benefits.
  9. Tackle the fiscal viability of teacher pensions.
  10. Move toward weighted student funding.
  11. Eliminate excess spending on small schools and small districts.
  12. Allocate spending for learning-disabled students as a percent of population.
  13. Limit the length of time that students can be identified as English Language Learners.
  14. Offer waivers of non-productive state requirements.
  15. Create bankruptcy-like loan provisions.

Some familiar stuff, mostly centered on teacher bashing and erosion of the profession. The National Education Policy Center took a look at this Fordham report, and let's just say their findings were not kind.

One category I might have included above is that at least two of the recommendations embedded in the report argue for stretching the school dollar, so-to-speak, by effectively taxing school employees. That is, setting up a pension system that requires greater contribution from teacher salaries, and doing the same for health care costs. This is a tax – revenue generating (or at least a give back). This is not stretching an existing dollar. This is requiring the public employees, rather than the broader pool of taxpayers (state and/or local), to pay the additional share.

Below is the report in full.

Unproven and Unsubstantiated Dollar- Stretching State Policies

Teaching isn't as simple as it appears

Ever since Gov. John Kasich barely beat the red light in last November's election, his school-reform bus has been careening at breakneck speed, rolling over all in its path. But no one is in sight to flag him for reckless driving.

He and other public-education "reformers" are transferring millions of tax dollars from public schools to less scrutinized charters and private schools. They are dissing classroom teachers by taking away both their dignity and their voices at the bargaining table, while watering down teacher-license requirements and dancing to the tune of the highly paid elites from tax-exempt foundations.

If the governor and our lawmakers can escape their fact-free zones and policy gurus, they might visit public schools - to listen, watch and learn what it really takes to teach children.

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