Ohio Gadfly Daily

The Education Tax Policy Institute in Columbus released a new report that says the tax burden in Ohio has shifted significantly since the early 1990s, from businesses onto farmers and homeowners, to the detriment of school districts and local governments. Much hay is being made over this report by the usual suspects, including the alphabet soup of education groups (BASA, OASBO, and OSBA) who commissioned it. Here are a few examples of media coverage the report has garnered:

While this report is interesting and describes changes to the state’s property-tax policy over the years, it doesn’t offer much in the way of takeaways. The shift in the property-tax burden over time is likely borne of necessity, as Ohio works to ensure that its business-tax structure is competitive with that of other states. The implication, though, is that the shift has somehow harmed education funding. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be true, as...

  1. Student journalists connected to the Beacon Journal are pushing hard on Horizon and Noble charter school board members. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  2. The big Dog himself seems not so pleased about a private school from the Akron-adjacent town of Green which is moving to a new and expanded campus in Springfield. Odd that he didn’t note that Chapel Hill has been a long-time taker of students on the EdChoice voucher program. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  3. Speaking of Springfield, here are some details on a Straight A grant-winning program in the district which is designed to give STEM academy students access to college courses from Ohio State remotely. (Springfield News-Sun)
  4. This story was supposed to be about immigration issues and their importance to Latinos in central Ohio. Instead, it turned into an education story, as it seems that Latinos in the area feel that education is their highest priority. I can’t help but sense a disconnect between the comments of Columbus City Schools’ first Latina school board member and the local mom who seems to be sacrificing quite a bit to put her daughter in a private school. Interesting. (Columbus Dispatch)
  5. Many Common Core haters can’t be bothered to even read the standards before attacking. But two teachers in Northwest Ohio have not only read all the standards, they’ve
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Inter-district open enrollment often flies under the radar in discussions about school choice. It may be that way because it has been around so long (established in 1989 and operating in its current form since 1998); perhaps because it is not universally available or because many of the most-desirable districts do not allow open enrollment; or perhaps because it is choice “within the family” (that is, the traditional district family). Despite its usual low-profile, two recent newspaper stories shined light on the topic of open enrollment, showing a disconnect between those administering this unsung school choice program and those who actually use it.

From a district’s point of view, open enrollment can easily devolve into “just business” – dollars in and dollars out to be accounted for year after year. Just check out this story from Hancock County in Northwest Ohio. Net financial “winners”—those districts that have more open-enrollee students coming in than leaving—seem to be fine with the system, as might be expected. But net financial “losers” are objecting more strenuously as the losses go on. Their objections, however, often have very little to do with why students are attending a school outside of their “home” district. In fact, most of the district officials quoted in this in-depth piece don’t even seem curious as to why large numbers of their residents are opting to go somewhere else when given the opportunity – even when seizing that “opportunity” requires jumping through several hoops.

When long application lines and even...

  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is one of the pundits weighing in on the pros, cons, and caveats to automatic school closure laws. Nice. (EdWeek)
     
  2. Outgoing Reynoldsburg Schools Superintendent Steve Dackin will move up a rung to the community college world, taking on the post of Superintendent of School and Community Partnerships at Columbus State beginning in August. Congratulations! (ThisWeek News/Reynoldsburg News)
     
  3. Elyria Schools’ state of the district report goes old skool this year – scrapping the poorly-attended live show in favor of a printed newsletter delivered by snail mail. Hopefully more folks will check it out – the district’s financial status looks good, there is some fine praise for Common Core, and there’s even “OTES with an Elyria twist”. (Lorain County Chronicle-Telegram)
     
  4. A charter school in Dayton is fighting its sponsor’s attempt to dissolve the sponsorship contract between them. There are a number of items at issue, but the crux seems to be an uncompleted corrective action plan that calls for a high-level staff change the school doesn’t want to make. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  5. A plan is afoot to make West Chester – Cincinnati suburb and home of House Speaker John Boehner – into a major bioscience hub. Major players include the Butler Tech voc ed system and the West Chester-Liberty Chamber. Major biotech businesses are said to be interested as well. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  1. It took a little while, but the Enquirer finally noticed the Southwest Ohio winners of Straight A grants from the state. Quite a mixed bag among the winners: Common Core, reading proficiency, arts assessments, and technology access are all in there. Also of note: the journalist includes the number of students projected to be affected by each project, and there’s a district/online charter school collaboration in there that probably raised some eyebrows. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. Speaking of technology, Mansfield City Schools recently underwent a tech assessment which revealed a number of deficiencies (old equipment, lack of backup, lack of disaster recovery plan, etc.), many of which the Supe says are being addressed over the summer. But buried in this story appears to be the news that both the firm paid to do the assessment and the contractor being paid to fix some of the problems seem to be owned/run by the same person. Not sure if I’m reading it right or not, but if so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one soon. (Mansfield News-Sun)
     
  3. In somewhat happier (and clearer) technology news, a team from Newark Digital Academy was in Portland, Oregon last week, presenting at the NWEA conference on the ways that they use testing data to help their at-risk e-school students improve. Very nice. (Newark Advocate)
     
  4. Some nice insight here from the superintendent of Hilliard City Schools. A straightforward question about alternate pathways to third grade promotion opens up a discussion
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  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a guest on The Ron Ponder Show in Canton yesterday, talking about third grade reading, as were OEA’s new president and a member of the state board of education talking separately about Common Core. The audio for Chad’s segment is here. If you’re interested, you can find the others at this link. Just click on the “audio vault” tab and look for the June 30 segments. (WHBC radio, Canton)
     
  2. OEA’s new president Becky Higgins also called in to public radio in Cleveland yesterday, noting that she was on her way to Denver for the NEA annual convention, where she expected Common Core to dominate the agenda. Her take on CCSS in Ohio? She firmly supports the standards and is “cautiously optimistic” that districts statewide will allow a one year safe harbor provision before teachers are evaluated based on PARCC exam scores. (IdeaStream radio, Cleveland)
     
  3. Editors in Youngstown opine most strongly on the difficult job ahead for the new academic distress commission chair overseeing Youngstown City Schools’ attempt to climb out of the achievement basement. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  4. Speaking of oversight by the state, Monroe schools are almost out from under their fiscal oversight after nearly two years. Just a few more things to button up….like figuring out how to forward mail in the summer from dormant school buildings to central office. Hope they can crack that code soon. (Middletown Journal-News)
     
  5. And speaking of district finances, sounds like
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Yitz Frank

Earlier this year, two articles published in the Columbus Dispatch claimed that students using vouchers to attend private schools in Ohio perform worse than their peers attending public schools. The focus of the March 8 article and the subsequent March 16 editorial was on extending the third grade reading guarantee to students using vouchers (a measure eventually signed into law). In an effort to bolster this argument, the article referenced data suggesting that 36 percent of third-grade voucher students would be retained compared to only 34 percent of public school students. Other articles in the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Canton Repository made similar comparisons that negatively portrayed the performance of students using an EdChoice Scholarship. However, Test Comparison Summary data released this week by the Ohio Department of Education shows a very different picture of how voucher students are performing. The key is using the right comparison group.

The data used in the articles referenced above incorrectly grouped the results of all public school students in the state, including many affluent public schools, and then compared their results with those of voucher students. However, these scholarships are not available to all students. Students are only eligible for a traditional EdChoice Scholarship if they attended or otherwise would be assigned to a “low-performing” public school. Many such schools are located in Ohio’s less-affluent urban areas. Accordingly, the most accurate comparison is to examine the test results of students receiving EdChoice vouchers with the...

  1. The Akron suburb of Woodridge debated school building issues for most of their meeting last week. But the superintendent wanted to talk about some nuts and bolts good news as well. Such as the great work being done to make sure all third graders pass the reading test and move on to fourth grade, explaining what Common Core means for the district and how good the new standards are, and that the district is ready for PARCC exams. Nice. (Akron Online)
     
  2. How is this possible?! As noted in the above story, there are plenty of high-level resources available to districts to help them reach the goals of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. How, then, did that train-wreck of a volunteer reading tutoring program in Akron that we mentioned last week get over 100 kids signed up? (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  3. What do you think of when you hear the term “foreign language immersion school”? It’s a school for folks who want their children to learn a foreign language, right? Unless that term has changed meanings over the years (could be, I’m kinda old), I think that Toledo Public Schools may be unfamiliar with the concept as they seem to think that a Spanish Immersion School is mainly for children who speak Spanish as their primary language. While the effort to reach out to the growing number of Spanish-speaking families in Toledo is very important, a different name (International School, Welcome Center, etc.) seems to be in
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While some folks are busy marching and complaining and “going to war” over ed reform and school choice efforts. And while pundits are looking for the next big thing to boost student achievement and promote the best and brightest in teaching and accountability, there is one place where the arguments are already settled.

I found a little bit of peace last week in this place - an oasis where all school choice is fait accompli. All options coexist happily and productively, geography doesn’t matter much, and student success is the only thing on folks’ minds.

Where is this Shangri-la? The school uniform store.

In this serene place, charter schools commingle with district schools and with private schools of all stripes (Catholic, Christian, nonsectarian). Schools from a 25-mile radius are all represented there with no turf battles or rivalries, even though their various sports gear is side-by-side.

The staff of the store is friendly and helpful to all who come in, whatever school they have chosen, and they are knowledgeable about the requirements for all those schools and make sure that parents know that this skirt is required and that top is optional. To them, it’s all about the right fit. Literally.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could substitute the word “uniform” for “options” and everything else stay the same?...

  1. Editors in Canton opine on Ohio's new teacher evaluation protocols…and the even newer tweaks made to them by the legislature. (Canton Repository)
     
  2. St. Paul Lutheran School in Union County has closed its doors after 122 years. It is not noted in this article that St. Paul took students on the EdChoice Scholarship for some years. Its closing leaves just two EdChoice-participating private schools in the county. Interestingly, both are Lutheran schools. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Yesterday’s PD piece on whether or not there will be a “safe harbor” for teachers from evaluations based on PARCC exams apparently grew out of this longer and more in-depth interview with ODE’s data-guru Matt Cohen. In it, he answers questions about how value-add will be calculated when tests switch from OAA (RIP) to PARCC (OMG), among other intricacies. I was happy every time I read the phrase “in simple terms”. I can only imagine the level of detail Mr. Cohen was able and willing to provide! (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. In case you think being in charge of a state-mandated commission overseeing school districts in fiscal trouble is a glamorous business, this story will probably change your mind. There appears to be no shortage of people scrutinizing the custodial budget and operations in Mansfield schools at the moment. Looking at privatization didn’t yield the savings hoped for and now discussion turns to making in-house services more efficient, although as the Supe says: he’s “not sure how a more efficient custodian
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