Ohio Gadfly Daily

The recent repeal of the Common Core State Standards in Indiana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma has given renewed the hopes of Ohio’s Common Core detractors. During the just-completed Mid Biennium Review (MBR) process, the legislature agreed to a number of compromises to address their concerns, but critics remain unsatisfied. This small but vocal minority is now agitating on behalf of a discharge petition for House Bill 237, which would repeal the state’s adoption of the Common Core.

A discharge petition is a little-used legislative tactic that, if the petition is signed by fifty House members, allows a bill that fails to get committee approval to move directly to the floor for consideration by the whole chamber. Supporters for HB 237 have, thanks to the leadership of Chairman Stebelton and other members, found little success in the Education Committee and have resorted to the discharge petition process.

It’s worth noting that even if the discharge petition is successful (i.e., if it gets fifty signatures and removes the bill from the Education Committee), HB 237 would still need to secure approval from the House, Senate, and governor to become law. Although these chances are slim, consider the potential consequences.

Consequence #1: If the Common Core standards are repealed, Ohio must find something to replace it. Shockingly, shortly after South Carolina chucked the Common Core, a state administrator admitted, “We don’t have time to do that [i.e., write new standards].” It seems like the Palmetto State will substitute...

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It’s a good-news-bad-news state of affairs for Ohio’s teacher-preparation programs. Let’s start with the good: the Buckeye State is the proud home to five of the nation’s best elementary and secondary programs, according to new rankings by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Ohio State’s graduate along with University of Dayton and Miami University’s undergraduate programs earned top-ten honors out of the 1,167 elementary-teacher programs that NCTQ examined. Meanwhile, among the 1,137 secondary-teacher programs, Miami University’s undergraduate and graduate programs earned top-ten recognition. On the other side of the coin, twenty Ohio programs—out of seventy-one in the state that NCTQ was able to rate—fell into the bottom half of NCTQ’s ratings. (Programs rated in the bottom half did not receive a numerical ranking.) Unfortunately, sixteen Ohio colleges refused to participate in the analysis. Caveat emptor: in Ohio, as elsewhere, we see that some programs provide a stellar training while others are mediocre or worse. Discerning employers—and college-goers—would be wise to consult this report when making their decisions.
 

SOURCE: Julie Greenberg, Kate Walsh, and Arthur McKee, 2014 Teacher Prep Review: A Review of the Nation’s Teacher Preparation Programs (Washington, D.C.: National Council on Teacher Quality, June 2014).

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You’ve already read in the Ohio Education Gadfly what we think about the third-grade reading scores across Ohio. Around the state, journalists are trying to parse what’s worked and what hasn’t and what districts will do with the approximately 12 percent of third graders who are still at risk of being held back. Here’s a sampling of what the papers are saying:

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  1. Round 2 of Ohio’s Straight A Innovation Fund grants were awarded on Friday. You can check out a description of the final determination process here. (Gongwer Ohio) There were 37 projects awarded funding statewide and we'll be covering a number of them through the week I'm sure. First out of the gate is a list of Franklin County-specific winners, courtesy of the Big D. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. I think the headline pretty much says it all, but the story is entertaining nonetheless: “Anti-Charter Groups Crash Community School Info Session, Rail Against ECOT.” Yikes. It’s all-out war this summer in Ohio, methinks. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. In the above story, charter school opponents give lip-service to school quality being of issue to them, but it really is just about money – money following children from district schools to charters. Here is a more detailed version of that same issue around the topic of open enrollment in the Hancock County area. Bottom line: net financial “winner” districts are fine with the system; net financial “loser” districts are not. And it has very little to do with why the students are moving. In fact, most district officials don’t even seem to care why large numbers of their residents are opting to go somewhere else when given the chance – even when that “chance” requires waiting in very long lines. As the headline implies, it’s just business. Fascinating in-depth look. (Findlay Courier)
     
  4. Governor Kasich says that former NY schools chancellor Joel
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  1. Fordham's Chad Aldis appeared on a much more sedate radio segment earlier this week, returning to WHK to talk more about the Common Core. The audio finally is available. Check it out. (WHK-AM, Cleveland)
     
  2. It must be a Friday during summer break because the education news in thin on the ground today. NCTQ’s new report analyzing teacher prep programs in Ohio spoke well of the University of Dayton and Miami University, and the DDN wants you to know. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. Remember that governor’s race we mentioned yesterday? Education came up again; this time dueling statements on the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Says incumbent Kasich: “The whole point is not that some fail and some pass… It's that everybody gets the skills." Says challenger FitzGerald: “This week's test results reinforce that in order to ensure our children are reading at grade level by the third grade we must make a real investment in early childhood education and universal pre-K.” It’s going to be a long summer in Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. Graduation season is over in most schools and districts in Ohio and we’ve talked about a couple of the more unusual news stories resulting. But this is by far the most interesting: 11 teenagers “graduated” from Children’s Services custody in Butler County this week. All of them graduated from high school as well, against gigantic odds. One young woman says: “I was told I was probably going to drop out of school
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  1. I missed this piece in yesterday’s barrage of clips on third grade reading scores around the state: Fordham’s Chad Aldis gets the last word on the subject of what the passage rate numbers mean in Gongwer’s report. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Perhaps, though, I was really distracted yesterday morning by this wild ride of a radio townhall on the Common Core, in which Chad took a central role as literally the only person to have any idea of what the Common Core actually was. At one point there were a dozen open mics, Chad was asked for the sixth time (dared, really) to explain what exactly Common Core was, and got nothing but bashing for doing it. Some comments worth listening out for: “If Common Core will make kids ‘career-ready’, why doesn’t it require students to learn how to read a tape measure?”; “I know algebra, but my kids won’t need that stuff. Why put it in there if they don’t need it?”; “They’re reinventing the alphabet.”; and the inevitable reference to Communist Russia. This is long but a completely eye-opening view of what happens when Common Core haters on both left and right – with zero real information – get a wide open mic and a willing victim. The Common Core portion of the program begins at the 68 minute mark. (WSOM-AM, Youngstown)
     
  3. As we have to remind ourselves around here sometimes, there’s a governor’s race going on in Ohio. Sometimes education even comes up. Democratic candidate
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  1. As we teased yesterday, third grade reading scores are all over the news across the state today. We start our coverage in Toledo, where the pass rate stands at 76.4% of third graders as of the spring tests. So far, no students have been exempted, officials say, and the district is using the impending summer reading test as a redoubt against “summer slide” for many more third grade students than would perhaps be involved in structured summer learning in previous years.  (Toledo Blade)
     
  2. In Dayton, there’s a lot of summer opportunities for third graders who still need to pass, but the article mainly focuses on what happens if students don't pass even after all that work/additional test opportunities. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. The story from Youngstown is fairly introspective. “There’s also awareness on the part of the students,” said YCS’s executive director of teaching and learning. “They’ve really taken this on and made it their own.” But, she says, “…I won’t be happy until all of our kids pass to fourth grade.” Indeed. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  4. Finally, the PD has a whole series of articles from various suburban districts that are worth a look. The crux of the story in CMSD: predictability. As Patrick O’Donnell write: “Cleveland's results came back almost exactly as the district had predicted. The district had estimated in March that about 1,000 students would need extra help this summer to pass the test. The new OAA results show that 999 of
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  1. Fordham friend and NCTQ trustee Tom Lasley wrote a guest commentary on the effect of excessive teacher absences on students which appeared in the PD over the weekend. He even contributed to the online comments section. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. I assume that this number is a tip of the hat to the dear departed Casey Kasem: Top 40 Straight-A Fund project proposals advanced to the final stage of review. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. Governor Kasich signed the K-12 Education MBR bill into law yesterday. There was no drop-kicking of the dropout-recovery school funding as many had wished. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  4. Some folks have been lamenting the sausage-like creation of the MBR bills, but not Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Two of three provisions he championed in the MBR – correcting language from the main budget bill a year ago – were included in the final bill. These restored much of the oversight over charter schools in Cleveland that he and his Transformation Alliance had won with passage of the Cleveland Plan back in 2012. The third? Well, we’ll see. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. The OSBA/BASA/OASBO triumvirate is pleased with changes to teacher evaluation  signed into law by Governor Kasich in HB 362. (Hudson Hub Times)
     
  6. So far, all we’ve heard about the newest State Board of Education appointee is that she will occupy the “rural seat”. Luckily, journalism still exists in
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Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most awesome dudes on the planet right now, using his skills as a communicator to take science into primetime television. Tyson hopes to bring the general public from their small place on Earth into the wonder of the Cosmos again.

I was reminded of one aspect of Tyson’s personal journey last week; specifically, this excerpt from a profile of him which appeared in The New Yorker back in February:

Not long ago, Tyson’s elementary school, P.S. 81, invited him to give a commencement address; he declined. He recalls telling the administrators, “I am where I am not because of what happened in school but in spite of it, and that is probably not what you want me to say. Call me back, and I will address your teachers and give them a piece of my mind.”

Evidently, Tyson was discouraged from pursuing an interest in science, because he was an “undistinguished” grade-school student, among other impediments he describes. More than once, he was on the receiving end of active dissuasion from pursuing his passion for science. Such discouragement might stymie most students. Luckily, he was an extraordinary individual determined to succeed. Tyson would overcome the odds stacked against him, attending Harvard as an undergraduate and the University of Texas for postgraduate work in astrophysics. As he tells it, the efforts to divert him from his lofty goals continued all the way through his time in higher education.

A recent...

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  1. Awesome – but brief – interview with Fordham Board member David Ponitz. Focused on higher-ed issues, but interesting nonetheless.  (Dayton Daily News)
  2. Tiny little Lodi News excerpts Fordham’s Mike Petrilli among many brief quotes in its editorial on the Vergara decision. (Lodi News-Sentinel)
  3. Definitely some ruffled feathers in Toledo regarding the split of their Head Start grant. Oddly enough for a Blade story, that doesn’t seem to include the fact that the group splitting the funds with Toledo Public Schools is a for-profit company…from Pennsylvania. It still remains to be seen what the split means for TPS’ plans to take over the YMCA building in Downtown Toledo. (Toledo Blade)
  4. Speaking of for-profit companies in education in Ohio, three smaller districts in Northeast Ohio are banding together to create an alternative program to serve students in their districts at risk of dropping out, reaching as far down as middle school to help children not making it in the traditional school setting. Admirable, yes? But this program will be run by a for-profit company from Illinois charging approximately $4,900 per student per district. One assumes this will be state money paying for these seats, so how is this different from a charter school? Answer, it’s not. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  5. I’m going to go ahead and blame Katy
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