Greg, over at Plunderbund.com has an interesting piece discussing the many, many "top priorities" attempting to be implemented in Ohio K-12 education right now. He lists common core, new state tests, PARCC assessments moving online only, teacher and principal evaluations, teacher retesting and the new report card grading system, 3rd grade reading retention, voucher expansion, to name just a handful.
Having so many "top priorities" with imminent implementation dates, makes their individual success less likely, Greg smartly argues, using business management guru, Patrick Lencioni's writing
Most organizations I’ve worked with have too many top priorities to achieve the level of focus they need to succeed. Wanting to cover all their bases, they establish a long list of disparate objectives and spread their scarce time, energy, and resources across them all. The result is almost always a lot of initiatives being done in a mediocre way and a failure to accomplish what matters most.
When a CEO announces that her company’s top priorities for the year are to grow revenue, improve customer service, introduce more innovative products, cut expenses, and improve market share, she is almost guaranteeing that none of those objectives is going to get the attention it deserves.
Right after reading this, we read this article in the Plain Dealer, titled "Ohio schools prepare for another budget hit"
For the past year, many school districts across Ohio have been asked to do more with less after the state budget suddenly reimbursed them far less for lost business taxes -- called tangible personal property taxes -- than they had been getting. While keeping basic state aid flowing to schools, Gov. John Kasich made the change to help avoid a multibillion-dollar deficit.
The state had set up the reimbursement plan years before when it replaced tangible personal property taxes with a different business tax -- the commercial activities tax. Revenue from that new tax goes to the state instead of directly to districts.
The result will be a fiscal crunch for schools for the second year in a row.
Northeast Ohio's 97 districts will take a harder hit than some other parts of the state.
They'll see an increase of more than $9 million in basic state aid next school year -- about 15 percent of the statewide increase. But they will receive almost $74 million less in business tax reimbursements -- about a third of the loss statewide.
It's challenging enough to continue to provide a quality education in an environment of deep, widespread, funding cuts, but when coupled with a huge list of "top priorities" it is a recipe for disaster.
What is missing from the list of "top priorities", and missing from the legislatures mid biennium review (MBR) is a constitutional school funding mechanism that will prove to be fair, equitable and adequate to implement not only a quality education for all, but fund all these other pet project "priorities".
The Governor and his legislature have placed an incredible burden on school districts and their administrative and teaching staff, and simultaneously failed to provide the requisite support. That needs to change.