Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. There’s a governor’s race going on in Ohio; the candidates’ stances on education are far apart. In Akron yesterday, Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald spoke only briefly on education. You can see the full text of the ABJ coverage at the link, but here's what Mr. FitzGerald was reported to have said about charters: "He said he is not opposed to charter schools and thinks they can be an ‘important option for some kids.’ He said, though, that he thinks charter schools should be treated the same as public schools. “I disagree with the way charter schools are funded at the expense of public schools and the fact they are exempted from the same requirements and oversight,” he said.  (Akron Beacon Journal)
  2. Lorain City Schools is forecasting a big deficit for next year. Primary reasons given: open enrollment and vouchers, $5 million in property tax delinquencies, and “glitches” in the state funding formula. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal)
  3. There’s an open enrollment flap in West Geauga Schools as well, in which currently open enrolled students who reside in other districts are being denied renewal for next year due to a new cap imposed on the number of students being accepted. If only someone could have predicted such a thing! Yeah, I did. 72 days ago according to Twitter. West G had better make it right, although I wonder now whether those families will feel welcome at all, even if
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  • School Choice Ohio has initiated legal action against Springfield and Cincinnati schools for denying them student directory information requested under Ohio public records law, while they were regularly providing that same information to other nonprofits. Fascinating to see where this will go. (Springfield News Sun)
  • I’m not going to tell you what the topic of this story from Cincinnati actually is. I’m just going to give you the opening paragraph and see if you can guess before looking. Good luck. “The Common Core education standards may suck the oxygen out of the room when it comes to education conversations, but the factor that makes the most difference for a kid is and always has been his teacher.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Kinda fascinating look at a small, well-off Cleveland suburb tussling over what they want in a new district superintendent. Well, I say “they” when I really mean the 12 people who showed up to air their opinions. (West Life)
  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald hates high-stakes tests, a fact articulated by Mr. FitzGerald this week along with some of his other education policy positions. Wonder how he feels about high-stakes elections at the moment? (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Know what editors at the Dispatch hate? FitzGerald’s opposition to the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. (Columbus Dispatch)
  • I have heard
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We are excited to share that the nationally renowned Building Excellent Schools (BES) Fellowship program is in Columbus this week to visit and study the United Schools Network (USN). USN is comprised of Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main, and Columbus Collegiate Academy – West. Both schools have been recognized for producing outstanding academic results in schools where a majority of students are economically disadvantaged (92 percent at Main, 100 percent at West).

Building Excellent Schools’ core work is to raise the quality of urban charter schools to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive the education they deserve. Their highly selective fellowship has seeded more than 60 schools in 20 cities serving 20,000 students nationwide. Over the next two years, those numbers will grow to over 130 campuses in 30 cities.

Individuals selected as fellows focus on closing the achievement gap in some of the highest need communities across the country. Fellows spend a year studying how to design, found, and lead a charter school. During that year, fellows master school design and leadership, operations, governance, and external relations. Fellows also visit over 30 high-performing schools around the country, engage in a month-long residency in an excellent school, and interact with subject-area experts.

On-site study, such as that taking place at the Columbus Collegiate schools this week, is one of the lynchpins of the practice-based BES Fellowship. Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main, the flagship school, was founded in 2008 by 2006 BES Fellow Andrew Boy. In...

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We are excited to share that the nationally renowned Building Excellent Schools (BES) Fellowship program is in Columbus this week to visit and study the United Schools Network (USN). USN is comprised of Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main, and Columbus Collegiate Academy – West. Both schools have been recognized for producing outstanding academic results in schools where a majority of students are economically disadvantaged (92 percent at Main, 100 percent at West).

Building Excellent Schools’ core work is to raise the quality of urban charter schools to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive the education they deserve. Their highly selective fellowship has seeded more than 60 schools in 20 cities serving 20,000 students nationwide. Over the next two years, those numbers will grow to over 130 campuses in 30 cities.

Individuals selected as fellows focus on closing the achievement gap in some of the highest need communities across the country. Fellows spend a year studying how to design, found, and lead a charter school. During that year, fellows master school design and leadership, operations, governance, and external relations. Fellows also visit over 30 high-performing schools around the country, engage in a month-long residency in an excellent school, and interact with subject-area experts.

On-site study, such as that taking place at the Columbus Collegiate schools this week, is one of the lynchpins of the practice-based BES Fellowship. Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main, the flagship school, was founded in 2008 by 2006 BES Fellow Andrew Boy. In...

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  • We’ve been covering the efforts of schools and districts around the state to meet the requirements of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, mostly with a lot of optimism and positivity. That optimism and positivity seems seriously lacking in Akron, even while the work is actually getting done. It could be that teachers and administrators have given their all and don’t know what else to do, but I do credit the ABJ for noting that third graders in the district will have been given up to six chances to pass the test when all is said and done. That’s a ton of effort for the district to be proud of; no matter the number of kids who don’t make it, it’s got to be better than the status quo from previous years. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Districts in the Cincinnati area may not be serving gifted students to the fullest extent. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • There’s a joke about beans to be made here, but I’m not one to laugh in the face of success. The food service chief of Lima City Schools testified before Congress this week on how well the Community Eligibility Provision is working for families in Lima. Said Ms. Woodruff: “I was there to offer my perspective from one school district that’s doing it and can say it’s going well. The parents appreciate it, the students are participating and it’s a good fit. I was
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  • “Fiscal sustainability” is one of the first criteria to be addressed by reviewers looking at Straight-A Fund applications. And there is some concern that charter schools pitching projects look quite different on paper than traditional districts or ESCs in that regard. So many charter schools' projects were graded down due to sustainability issues in the most recent review that they will be looked at again separately to assess the potential biases their structure introduces. Hey guys, what about standalone STEM schools too? Just sayin’. (Gongwer Ohio)
  • Two new members were sworn in to join the Cleveland Municipal School Board yesterday, one of them a former member of the Friends of Breakthrough Board, the other a public health practitioner. Both charter schools and health-related wraparound services are innovations being pursued by CMSD so these seem like pretty good fits. But I’m not sure why we had to have that little joke about Ms. Bigham having made sure to leave the FoB Board before joining CMSD. Weird verbal dynamics. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Speaking of Breakthrough Schools, a 2011 documentary about a 7th grader at E-Prep struggling with school and life will air tonight on WVIZ-TV in Cleveland. Tomorrow, the young man will update us on his continuing story on public radio. Important stuff, I think. (StateImpact Ohio)
  • State Auditor Dave Yost made 10 recommendations to tiny Mechanicsburg Schools to help them operate more efficiently
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Student transportation is as nuts-and-bolts as it gets. But if we want to expand access to quality schools, we have to get it right. Today, for all the expansion of school choice in Ohio and beyond, especially in urban areas, it’s far from clear how many students can physically access their top-choice schools. In a 2009 study, for example, the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) found that low-income parents in Denver and Washington, D.C., were particularly likely to report that a lack of good transportation constrained their real-world choices.

This doesn’t come as a surprise. School transportation systems were designed for an era when practically all students attended the district-operated school nearest to their home. For a half-century now, students have ridden clunky school buses, and routing and scheduling schemes have assumed that pretty much everyone living in a particular neighborhood attends the same school, with relatively rare exceptions such as youngsters with significant disabilities. Moreover, some school systems have eschewed busing altogether—not a bad thing for kids who live within walking distance and in cities with crackerjack public-transport systems, but not a good thing in myriad other situations.

Ohio, though, was a pioneer in recognizing early on the value of transporting kids to their school of choice. Since 1966, private-school students (with some exceptions) have had the opportunity to ride a district school bus to their school of choice. Today, kids...

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Last week, the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools (OAPCS) announced that Darlene Chambers would take the helm of the organization as its new president and chief executive officer. Darlene takes over for Bill Sims, whose steady leadership guided the group for its first seven years. Leadership changes at any organization present challenges and opportunities, but in this case those are one and the same: the need to improve the quality of Ohio’s charter-school sector.

At the beginning of this year, we stated the obvious: that Ohio’s charter sector has too many low performers. We went on to suggest that it’s incumbent upon charter supporters to lead the effort to improve quality. Darlene’s background uniquely positions her to steer a course toward quality. As the executive director of a leading charter sponsor, the Ohio Council of Community Schools, Darlene understands more than most the difficult and important decisions that sponsors face when deciding whether to renew a charter contract or to close a school. She also has learned firsthand (as has Fordham) that nonrenewal or closure is hard but is sometimes the right decision for kids.

In addition to her role at OCCS, Chambers is also the outgoing president of the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers. This collection of Buckeye sponsors has been an advocate for higher-quality charter authorizing. Given the importance placed on the role of effective authorizing at the state and national level, this gives Darlene a unique...

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Last week, the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools (OAPCS) announced that Darlene Chambers would take the helm of the organization as its new president and chief executive officer. Darlene takes over for Bill Sims, whose steady leadership guided the group for its first seven years. Leadership changes at any organization present challenges and opportunities, but in this case those are one and the same: the need to improve the quality of Ohio’s charter-school sector.

At the beginning of this year, we stated the obvious: that Ohio’s charter sector has too many low performers. We went on to suggest that it’s incumbent upon charter supporters to lead the effort to improve quality. Darlene’s background uniquely positions her to steer a course toward quality. As the executive director of a leading charter sponsor, the Ohio Council of Community Schools, Darlene understands more than most the difficult and important decisions that sponsors face when deciding whether to renew a charter contract or to close a school. She also has learned firsthand (as has Fordham) that nonrenewal or closure is hard but is sometimes the right decision for kids.

In addition to her role at OCCS, Chambers is also the outgoing president of the Ohio Association of Charter School Authorizers. This collection of Buckeye sponsors has been an advocate for higher-quality charter authorizing. Given the importance placed on the role of effective authorizing at the state and national level, this gives Darlene a unique...

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