Education News for 04-10-2012

Local Issues

  • Cleveland City Council supports Jackson's school plan (Plain Dealer)
  • The Cleveland City Council approved Monday night a resolution in support of Mayor Frank Jackson's plan to overhaul the city's schools -- while urging the Cleveland Teachers Union and state legislature to follow suit. Jackson and the union are still locked in negotiations over certain aspects of the plan. Read More…

  • Hilliard to create learning hub for students (Dispatch)
  • Hilliard students will soon be able to gather at one site to take online classes, college courses and participate in after-school clubs and programs. School officials announced at the school board meeting tonight plans to convert the district’s central office, at 5323 Cemetery Rd., to a learning hub for all students districtwide. Read More..

  • Westerville schools plan would restore 80 of 204 jobs cut (Dispatch)
  • Westerville schools would restore about 80 of 204 jobs that were cut after a November levy failure, under a proposal that administrators presented to the school board last night.

    But district officials still plan to eliminate the remaining 124 jobs next school year, of which about 80 are teachers. Read More…

  • Newark schools looking to give students laptops or iPads (Newark Advocate)
  • Newark City Schools leadership can envision a time -- maybe just a few years away -- when every high school student is carrying a laptop or tablet in lieu of textbooks. The district plans to make that transition starting next school year and is deciding between Apple MacBooks and iPads for a specified subset of students. Read More…

  • New court dates set for accused Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane (Plain Dealer)
  • A Geauga County judge today set two key hearing dates that could decide when and where T.J. Lane is prosecuted in the slayings of three students at Chardon High School in February. In a brief hearing today, Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell set a competency hearing for May 2. He also set a hearing for May 12, a Saturday, to determine whether Lane, 17, should be charged as an adult. Read More…

Editorial & Opinion

  • The test comes later (Dispatch)
  • Children aren’t born knowing how to manage money and many have parents who are equally befuddled, so Ohio schools have a formidable task ahead as they fulfill a state requirement to teach basic financial literacy to all graduates starting with the Class of 2014. In Columbus, the district has had programs for decades to teach students starting in grade school concepts that some children might absorb from observing their parents balance checkbooks, compare interest rates, manage credit-card debt and squirrel away savings. But even stable family finances are no guarantee that children will learn these lessons: Suburban children can be equally unprepared. Read More…

  • Think out plans for windfall (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Mathews and Southington schools are wisely taking advantage of Trumbull County's oil and natural gas boom. Now the trick will be to spend the windfall wisely. Mathews Local Schools authorized a lease agreement with BP for the mineral rights to 87 acres that the board of education owns. The district should reap about $339,000 for giving BP the right to tap into the Utica / Point Pleasant shale formation to extract oil and natural gas from under the board's property near Baker and Currie elementary schools. Read More…

Schedule Conflicts

As most people know, the majority of public school teachers are paid based on salary schedules. Most (but not all) contain a number of “steps” (years of experience) and “lanes” (education levels). Teachers are placed in one lane (based on their degree) and proceed up the steps as they accrue years on the job. Within most districts, these two factors determine the raises that teachers receive.

Salary schedules receive a great deal of attention in our education debates. One argument that has been making the rounds for some time is that we should attract and retain “talent” in the teaching profession by increasing starting salaries and/or the size of raises teachers receive during their first few years (when test-based productivity gains are largest). One common proposal (see here and here) for doing so is reallocating salary from the “top” of salary schedules (the salaries paid to more experienced teachers) down to the “bottom” (novice teachers’ salaries). As a highly simplified example, instead of paying starting teachers $40,000 and teachers with 15 years of experience $80,000, we could pay first-year teachers $50,000 and their experienced counterparts $70,000. This general idea is sometimes called “frontloading,” as it concentrates salary expenditures at the “front” of schedules.

Now, there is a case for changes to salary schedules in many places – bargained and approved by teachers – including, perhaps, some degree of gradual frontloading (though the research in this area is underdeveloped at best). But there is a vocal group of advocates who assume an all-too-casual attitude about these changes. They seem to be operating on the mistaken assumption that salary schedules can be easily overhauled – just like that. We can drastically restructure them or just “move the money around” without problem or risk, if only unions and “bureaucrats” would get out of the way.**

Salary schedules aren’t just one-shot deals. When teachers and districts negotiate salaries, they don’t start with a blank slate. Schedules are, in many respects, evolving systems, which emerge over time as a result of continuous negotiation (and, in bargaining states, approval) by both parties.

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Administration destroying jobs to create phantom ones

One thing that hasn't changed in the Senate's budget revisions are the cuts. While they did manage to find another $100 million or so, that still leaves schools across the state suffering from an estimated $3 billion shortfall over the next 2 years. The results of which we are starting to see now as districts cut, cut, cut, cut and cut some more.

One of the plans the administration has in the budget was to lease the state liquer business and use those receipts to fund its new economic development program, "JobsOhio". The plan had been to lease it for $1.2 billion. Now it turns out that a people are starting to question whether that's a low ball number, and that maybe this valuable state asset could be worth a lot more. Hundreds of millions of dollars more in fact.

The state of Ohio needs to jack up the $1.2 billion price on its state liquor operations before selling them off to the newly hatched JobsOhio economic development board later this year.

That's the conclusion of Republican Sen. Tim Grendell and the Center for Community Solutions, a public policy think tank. Both have popped up in recent days with criticisms that the proposed $1.2 billion price tag for the state's liquor monopoly is far too low.

By some estimates the price might be $800 million too low. Sen. Grendell wants to amend the budget to increase the price to $1.5 billion and divert that extra $300 million to education. The Governor, through his spokesperson is having none of it.

Nichols also responded in an e-mail that creating jobs was more important than expanding government.

"For those who really understand that job creation is Ohio's greatest need right now, then the right focus is on making sure JobsOhio has every resource it needs to help create jobs and revive Ohio's economy," he wrote. "Ensuring a fair transaction on the liquor enterprise is a given, but a preoccupation with that to the detriment of JobsOhio's success is just another example of people failing to realize that creating jobs is more important than growing government."

This is nonsensical. Getting more money from the sale of a state asset in order to preserve thousands of middle class education jobs is economic development. To block this move and call it "growing government" is incomprehensible, and should cause everyone to pause and consider what the administrations true motives are.

Ohio Budget Watch has more on this privatization scheme.