Education News for 03-22-2013

Local Education News

  • Canton schools superintendent outlines reorganization plan Akron Beacon Journal)
  • A wide-ranging plan for Canton City Schools that would introduce more choice is taking aim at publicly funded charter schools that pull students — and money — from traditional buildings…Read more...

  • Conneaut school officials unveil defense plan Ashtabula Star-Beacon)
  • School officials in Conneaut unveiled their defense plan to parents and the public in case of an armed intruder Thursday night in the first of four meetings scheduled at each of the districts buildings…Read more...

  • Educators say “stop the misuse of standardized testing” Athens Messenger)
  • Those who think there’s an over-use of standardized testing in public schools have signed an online petition…Read more...

  • Reform not often demanded of school boards, panel told Columbus Dispatch)
  • Voters typically don’t replace ineffective school board members and rarely demand reform from failing districts, an education policy expert told the Columbus Education Commission yesterday…Read more...

  • Jackson school board member guilty in threats Columbus Dispatch)
  • A 25-year member of the Jackson City Schools Board of Education has been found guilty of intimidation of a public servant for sending threatening letters to educators and other school-board members in the southeastern Ohio district…Read more...

  • Strongsville Mayor's proposed meeting with teachers, school board is shot down Sun Newspapers)
  • Mayor Thomas Perciak's proposed negotiating meeting between the board and teachers union representatives at 10 a.m. March 22 has fallen through…Read more...

  • Parents share concerns over Supt. Hathorn's schools plan Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Gertrude and Alvin Hosea can live with city schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn’s revitalization plan for the schools as long as their granddaughter gets to stay at Kirkmere Elementary School next year…Read more...

What Administrators Are Really Saying About Kasich’s School Plan

From our mailbag.

The Governor’s office deceptively highlighted the minority of Administrators across the state that are actually pleased with Kasich’s plan to make permanent his historic education cuts. What are school administrators among the 60% of districts receiving no additional state funding actually saying about Kasich’s plan?

  • “The statements the governor made are a damn lie.” – Arnol Elam, Superintendent of Franklin City Schools
  • “[We were] duped by Kasich. We got told all the right things, but he didn’t follow through. This is not what we were told.” – Bob Caldwell, Superintendent of Wolf Creek Local School District
  • “Everyone in the room when he [Kasich] announced his budget was misled.” – Roger Mace, Superintendent of Gallipolis City Schools
  • “This is really going to hurt us.” – Becki Peden, Huntington Local Schools Treasurer
  • “It just seems like the rich get richer, and the rest of us are left to fend for ourselves.” – Larry Hook, Superintendent of Carlisle Schools
  • “What the governor and his staff told us in Columbus just was not true… Five of the seven districts will not receive any more money [in fiscal year 2014].” – John Rubesich, Superintendent of the Ashtabula County Educational Services Center
  • “Instead of closing the gap between poor and wealthy districts, it appears to be exacerbated.” – Tom Perkins, Superintendent of Northern Local Schools of Perry County
  • Aurora Schools Treasurer Bill Volsin said his district will receive the exact same amount from the state as it did last year. While state government officials say Aurora will receive almost half a million more in 2014, Volsin and Superintendent Russ Bennett claim that isn’t true. – Auora Advocate, 2/13/13

How long one teacher took to become great

A great piece in the Washington Post

A few weeks ago I flew into Buffalo, New York, rented a car, and drove down to northeastern Ohio for a high school class reunion — the 55th — for students I’d taught when they were 9th graders in 1952.

They told me stories about myself, some of which I wish they’d kept to themselves, but what they had to say got me thinking about the teacher I once was.

I have a lousy memory, but it’s good enough to tell me that, notwithstanding assurances that I was their favorite teacher (what else could they say?), I hadn’t really been a good one.

I certainly wasn’t a good teacher in 1952. No first-year teacher is a good teacher.

I wasn’t a good teacher in 1958 either. Some people thought I was; they had spoken sufficiently highly of me to prompt a superintendent from a distant, upscale school district to come and spend an entire day in my classes, then offer me a considerable raise if I’d come and teach in his district.

I did. But I can clearly recall leaning against the wall outside my room during a class change and saying to Bill Donelly, the teacher from the room next door, “There has to be more to it than this.”

The “this” was what I was doing — following the standard practice of assigning textbook reading as homework, then, next day, telling kids my version of what the textbook had covered. Pop quizzes and exams told me how much they remembered. (According to reunion attendees, not much.)

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Education News for 08-31-2012

State Education News

  • Program eyes link between students, Chillicothe community (Chillicothe Gazette
  • Chillicothe City Schools is enlisting the help of community members this fall to bolster student performance at Mount Logan and Tiffin elementary schools…Read more...

  • High-calorie drinks limited in schools (Dayton Daily News)
  • Beverage companies decreased drink calories offered in schools by 90 percent between 2004 and 2010, according to a recent study, a strategy industry and school officials…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Stow school board member sues peers, district treasurer (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • A Stow-Munroe Falls Board of Education member has sued the rest of the board and the district’s treasurer…Read more...

  • Perry classroom addresses needs of children with autism (Canton Repository)
  • Elementary school is all about exploration. It’s about discovering the world and its shapes, colors, sounds and numbers…Read more...

  • Being bullied is no joke, students told (Findlay Courier)
  • The message was clear: Something you may find funny may forever damage another person's view of themselves…Read more...


  • Planned budget cuts harm at-risk youth (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • There is a lot of talk in our nation’s capital about the pending sequestration of nondefense discretionary programs…Read more...

Teach the Books, Touch the Heart

FRANZ KAFKA wrote that “a book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.” I once shared this quotation with a class of seventh graders, and it didn’t seem to require any explanation. Related in Opinion

We’d just finished John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.” When we read the end together out loud in class, my toughest boy, a star basketball player, wept a little, and so did I. “Are you crying?” one girl asked, as she crept out of her chair to get a closer look. “I am,” I told her, “and the funny thing is I’ve read it many times.”

But they understood. When George shoots Lennie, the tragedy is that we realize it was always going to happen. In my 14 years of teaching in a New York City public middle school, I’ve taught kids with incarcerated parents, abusive parents, neglectful parents; kids who are parents themselves; kids who are homeless or who live in crowded apartments in violent neighborhoods; kids who grew up in developing countries. They understand, more than I ever will, the novel’s terrible logic — the giving way of dreams to fate.

For the last seven years, I have worked as a reading enrichment teacher, reading classic works of literature with small groups of students from grades six to eight. I originally proposed this idea to my principal after learning that a former stellar student of mine had transferred out of a selective high school — one that often attracts the literary-minded offspring of Manhattan’s elite — into a less competitive setting. The daughter of immigrants, with a father in jail, she perhaps felt uncomfortable with her new classmates. I thought additional “cultural capital” could help students like her fare better in high school, where they would inevitably encounter, perhaps for the first time, peers who came from homes lined with bookshelves, whose parents had earned not G.E.D.’s but Ph.D.’s.

Along with “Of Mice and Men,” my groups read: “Sounder,” “The Red Pony,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Macbeth.” The students didn’t always read from the expected perspective. Holden Caulfield was a punk, unfairly dismissive of parents who had given him every advantage. About “The Red Pony,” one student said, “it’s about being a dude, it’s about dudeness.” I had never before seen the parallels between Scarface and Macbeth, nor had I heard Lady Macbeth’s soliloquies read as raps, but both made sense; the interpretations were playful, but serious. Once introduced to Steinbeck’s writing, one boy went on to read “The Grapes of Wrath” and told me repeatedly how amazing it was that “all these people hate each other, and they’re all white.” His historical perspective was broadening, his sense of his own country deepening. Year after year, ex-students visited and told me how prepared they had felt in their freshman year as a result of the classes.

And yet I do not know how to measure those results. As student test scores have become the dominant means of evaluating schools, I have been asked to calculate my reading enrichment program’s impact on those scores. I found that some students made gains of over 100 points on the statewide English Language Arts test, while other students in the same group had flat or negative results. In other words, my students’ test scores did not reliably indicate that reading classic literature added value.

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Education News for 01-17-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Getting students ready for college is shared goal of Ohio Board of Regents, Department of Education (Plain Dealer)
  • COLUMBUS - A marriage between Ohio's K-12 and higher education systems isn't imminent, but the two are preparing to move in together. The Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees the state's public colleges and universities, plans to move its offices less than half a mile to the Ohio Department of Education's building this spring, said higher education Chancellor Jim Petro. Petro told the regents at a meeting last week that he and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner have developed a significant partnership that had not existed in the past between the two agencies. Read More…

  • What are state rules on school inspections? (WKYC 3 NBC)
  • OHIO - A Cleveland school was recently closed when concerns arose over the structural integrity of the 100-year old school. So we wondered, what are the rules for inspections? Local health departments are required to inspect schools twice a year, mainly focusing on sanitary conditions but some are more thorough. Fire departments also need to make sure alarms are working and exits are open. As far as structural integrity, school custodians are expected to look for any changes in the building and report any problems. Read More…

  • Kids can't learn if they're not in class (Repository)
  • CANTON — With her six children at home, Crystal Brownfield wasn’t expecting company Friday. But a knock on the door came from Canton City Schools Superintendent Michele Evans. Evans, along with Tim Henderson, Compton Learning Center principal, was one of 20 teams of educators and Family Court employees who staged a friendly blitzkrieg of visits to homes where school attendance is an issue. The district has noticed a sharp increase in the number of truancies at the kindergarten and first-grade levels — a trend that both has puzzled and surprised school officials who typically see the problem with older students. Read More…

  • Fiscal emergency may solve Niles schools’ financial woes (Vindicator)
  • Not only is the Niles City School District facing a major financial crisis, but the teachers’ union has rejected the board’s “last, best and final” contract offer. To describe the situation as dire is to state the obvious. What is not so obvious is a solution that at first glance may seem counter intuitive: State imposed fiscal emergency. Such a declaration by state Auditor David Yost would trigger the appointment of a state fiscal oversight commission. The entity would the take control of the school system’s finances, and would also have the power to set aside all labor contracts. Read More…

  • Parents Concerned About Cyber Bullying (WBNS 10 CBS)
  • CHILLICOTHE - A mother said on Monday that she is concerned that online anonymous attacks could lead to problems. According to Melissa Tyler, a mother of two, Ross County middle and high school students are using a website called Topix to create discussion threads about people in town. “These are damaging things to kids,” Tyler said. “If you’re called something for so long, you’re going to believe that you are.” Tyler and other parents alerted Chillicothe City School District officials, who blocked the site from inside school buildings, 10TV’s Ashleigh Barry reported. Read More…

  • State wants London to let charter keep profit (Dispatch)
  • The London school district is certain it’s right: It can funnel the $700,000 profit from an affiliated charter school into the district’s general fund. The state is certain that London is wrong: That money is supposed to benefit the at-risk kids at London Academy, an online high school that is both sponsored and run by the district. Since 2010, the Ohio Department of Education repeatedly has told London City Schools to stop taking the money and to start letting the online high school make its own decisions. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Columbus school board may raise time for public to speak (Dispatch)
  • Three minutes is too little. Five? Too much. But four minutes to say your piece at a Columbus City Schools board meeting might be just right, according to a proposal being considered tonight. The Columbus Board of Education is considering adding a minute to its per-speaker allotment during the public-comment portion of each meeting. It’s currently capped at three minutes, which speakers have complained isn’t enough time to make their point, said board member Mike Wiles. Read More…

  • More city kids ready for rigors of school (Enquirer)
  • More youngsters came to Cincinnati Public Schools ready for kindergarten this fall than in prior school years, a report on kindergarten readiness scores shows. About six in 10 students who enrolled in CPS’ 42 elementary kindergarten classes scored 19 or better on the state-issued Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy, often called KRAL. The average score for CPS’ newest kindergartners was 19.3, making this the first year the average score exceeds the 19-point benchmark. Read More…

  • Districts work to keep student-athletes eligible (Journal-News)
  • Just as high school basketball season entered its second half, many school districts also began their second semester. This marks the close of a grading period and the release of grades that could determine a student athlete’s eligibility for the rest of the season. A JournalNews analysis of the minimum academic requirements across Butler County’s public school districts found a wide range of standards. Data shows the minimum grade-point average requirement for eligibility at each of the high schools range from 2.0 to 1.0. Read More…

  • Elgin consolidation puts future of LaRue after-school program in question (Marion Star)
  • LARUE - Children gathered around the table, their puddings and juice approaching the end. Their energy? Not so much. That's part of the excitement for a free after-school program that aims to give students a safe place while extending learning beyond the end of the school day. Community members launched the LaRue After School Area Program, a state-licensed child care program, more than a decade ago. Administrator Becky Kibler said, at the time, a state inspector told her it would never last because parents weren't asked to pay. Read More…

  • Vasquez reflects on two tough TPS years (Blade)
  • Bob Vasquez has faced life-and-death emergencies in his work as a child-abuse investigator. But he says nothing else he has done caused him as much stress as his service over the past two years as president of the Toledo Board of Education. "Everything was fast-moving, intense, high-pressure decision making," Mr. Vasquez told me last week. Citing the district's troubled finances, he added: "I would go to bed every night thinking, when is the state going to take over?" Read More…

  • Twitter, Facebook helped students at Westerville North (Dispatch)
  • The day after Spanish teacher Leroy Gilkey was killed, Westerville North High School was in mourning. Teachers fought tears as they gave lessons. Hallways were silent. Grief counselors were stationed in the auditorium and near Gilkey’s classroom. Many students were glued to their cellphones, plugging into Twitter and Facebook to write what they couldn’t bear to say out loud. Read More…


  • Open the evaluation (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • When parents decide their neighborhood public school is not the best fit for their child, they have an option: They can apply for enrollment in some other public school in their home district, or they can seek enrollment outside the district. All districts are required to have policies permitting within-district, or intra-district, open enrollment. But they have a choice whether or not to take students from another district, inter-district enrollment, the tuition per pupil transferred from state aid to the home district. Read More…

  • Education reform proposals, including charters, could improve Washington state (Seattle Times)
  • A SLEW of education reforms proposed to the state Legislature signal a chance to get real work done this session. Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, provide a bipartisan and bicameral approach for smart reforms. Their proposals would allow charter schools, establish a process to intervene when schools fail and continue strengthening principal and teacher performance reviews. Expect contentious debate. In particular, the teachers union sees charter schools as a threat. Read More…