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  1. It’s a bit harder to be optimistic today than it was yesterday, since Reynoldsburg Schools has filed an unfair-labor complaint against the local teachers union. It may be tit-for-tat, but will that really help reach a successful conclusion to negotiations? (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. On a brighter note, first round Straight A Funds are already hard at work in 27 districts in Appalachia, providing additional paths to dual enrollment and college credit for high schoolers. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. State Superintendent Dick Ross speaks highly of the Straight A Fund in the article above and of the innovation it is fostering in schools across Ohio. Yesterday, Superintendent Ross was in Toledo to tout the early promise shown by the Third Grade Reading Guarantee as well, especially in combatting dropout. (Toledo Blade)
     
  4. Why yes, there is a statewide race for auditor going on in Ohio. Why do you ask? Probably because the two campaigns traded barbs over funding for charter schools yesterday. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  5. Speaking of politics and Youngstown, editors at the Vindy opine on the new legislative assault on Ohio’s New Learning Standards and mince no words. The effort is “fueled by politics” and HB597 should “die on the legislative vine”. Yowza. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  6. Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s student enrollment is down from the previous year, but by less than officials predicted. That’s likely good news, but definitely troubling is the fact that only 87% of students registered have so far showed up
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  1. I’m going to start today with some tiny rays of sunshine. The headline of this story gives you all the background: data scrubbing in Columbus City Schools has now been proven to have kept hundreds of children from being eligible for vouchers for the last several years. Wait, you say, that doesn’t sound like sunshine. What IS sunshine is that everyone – and I mean everyone – wants to fix this problem for families…if they can figure out how. “Whether you agree with vouchers or not, the fact is, it is law right now, and everyone should have equal access with the right criteria,” says Democratic state rep. Kevin Boyce. “That wasn’t the case, so folks were cheated out of it. I’d like to find a way to correct that.” This is a sea-change in attitude, putting students and families first and setting politics aside for just a few moments. I am hopeful that with bipartisan support from city hall to the school board to the statehouse, help can be found to get vouchers to families who should have had them all along. Fantastic. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. I am perhaps less optimistic that whoever allowed that “scab” headline to be published in the Reynoldsburg News last week has changed her or his tune, but I am happy to say that the most recent update on the story is both calmer and more thorough, noting clearly that some significant progress was made in previous negotiations between teachers and administration.
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  1. Chad and Fordham are namechecked in an editorial from Cleveland, opining on the status of CMSD’s academic and organizational improvement efforts and what is still to be done. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. There is mention in that PD editorial of the district’s third grade reading results this year. Editors there, and in Columbus as well, raise concerns over the use of alternative tests to potentially boost passing rates. Honestly, it’s the editor’s final thought that resonates most with me: “Those strenuous efforts should be the new normal.” It’s more about the work ahead of those tests than the tests themselves. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. We told you a couple of months ago about a plan to outsource the placement of substitute teachers as needed this year in Dayton City Schools. Perhaps it was just a negotiating tactic – who knows anymore? – but that plan has been shelved in favor of retaining the services of local union substitutes. There are some caveats, some strict new service goals that must be met, and dental insurance is out the window, but I’m sure everyone is happy with the situation. Hmmm…. Where’s the emoticon for “dripping sarcasm”? (Dayton Daily News)
     
  4. Back in November during our first round of Common Core repeal hearings in Ohio, it was stated in testimony by CCSS opponents that “no one knows who their state school board member is”, despite the fact that every region of the state has to vote on one every four years.
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  1. Week One of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio ended yesterday. Goodness me I’m tired. Here are some reactions to and coverage of Day Three. Just as hearings were starting yesterday, it was reported that the board of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District had voted the night before to support Common Core in Ohio and oppose HB597. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Coverage in Columbus focused on concerns about standards and testing opt-out provisions in the bill. (Columbus Dispatch) As noted in the Dispatch article, committee members heard the first non-proponent testimony yesterday, in the form of “interested party” testimony from StudentsFirst. This seemed to open the door to some testy commentary from members both on and off the record. (Gongwer Ohio) Finally, the folks at Gongwer were aware of the Common Core polling results showing decreasing support for “Common Core” and this piece discusses these results in the light of testimony given so far. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Fordham’s good friend Tom Lasley of Learn to Earn Dayton penned this commentary in support of Common Core. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. Yesterday, we told you that it seemed some encouraging news related to Reynoldsburg’s teacher contract negotiations was being kept on the down low, lost in the heated rhetoric and dramatic images being reported. This morning, I think I figured out why. Checking the Reynoldsburg News website at 9:00ish, I saw this headline: “Reynoldsburg board hires scab firm in case teachers strike”. It
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New York State just released the results of its 2014 statewide math and reading exams—the second year the state purportedly aligned the tests to the Common Core. Compared to 2013, math proficiency rates rose 5 percentage points, but reading was flat. Both friends and foes of the Common Core sought to spin the results to say whether the reform is working, but it’s way too early for such judgments. On the other hand, it’s not too early to investigate out how Eva Moskowitz and her team are getting such incredible results at her Success Academies, which doubled New York City proficiency rates in reading and tripled them in math.

Much is afoot in the Louisiana court battle over the Common Core and aligned exams. Hearings over the last two weeks have brought mixed results for Bobby Jindal. Plaintiffs’ lawyers won’t be able to depose the governor. But the judge rejected the state’s request to throw out parts of the suit, deciding to hear the full merits of the case, and thwarted Jindal’s attempt to use his executive powers to repeal the standards and suspend the PARCC test. Needless to say, the Pelican State’s purely political mess continues. And the man at the helm has no Plan B (except to run for president).

In response to the swelling pushback against the newly revised AP U.S. History Framework, the College Board has released a practice exam, written a letter, and vowed to “clarify” the...

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Common Core: The right stuff or into the great abyss?

Michelle and Robert unpack New York State’s test-score results, applaud the launch of a “Consumer Reports” for Common Core textbooks, and measure the deep impact of ed-policy polls. Amber sums up the many poll results that weren’t about the CCSS.

Amber's Research Minute

"Eighth annual Education Next poll on public opinion about education policy," by Michael B. Henderson, Paul E. Peterson, and Martin R. West, Education Next (August 2014).

  1. Day Three of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio has already begun. Here are some reactions to and coverage of Day Two, still with only proponent testimony on offer so far. Editors in Columbus opine once again in favor of Ohio’s New Learning Standards, citing Fordham and the mighty Jessica Poiner’s awesome “Ten things Common Core opponents don’t want you to know” piece. (Columbus Dispatch) Gongwer took the time yesterday to talk to the Chair of the House Education Committee, who has been through these wild hearings already and has been left out of this repeat performance, along with the Senate Education Committee Chair. (Gongwer Ohio) Gongwer also seems skeptical of the allegations made in testimony that teachers are afraid they’ll be fired if they speak out against Common Core. (Gongwer Ohio) Fears that intelligent design might be greenlighted in schools if Ohio’s New Learning Standards in science are replaced by the current repeal effort form the basis of two reports from big dailies (Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer) Finally, commentary from Cincinnati discusses the futility of continually moving the goalposts – a sports metaphor, I’m told – for teachers. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. In other news, Reynoldsburg City Schools’ board met yesterday and approved a contract with a “strike management firm”, just in case it comes to that. The crowd at the meeting was large and peacefully visible in support of teachers. However, if you dig down into this article,
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  1. Day Two of hearings on the newest Common Core repeal bill in Ohio has already begun. I predict diminishing coverage, but Day One was of interest all over the state. Coverage from Cleveland focuses on literature and science (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Coverage from Columbus focuses on support for the Common Core, noting some inconsistencies in proponent testimony (Columbus Dispatch). Coverage from Cincinnati focuses on the testimony given (Cincinnati Enquirer). Coverage from public radio in Kent focuses on teachers and their views. (WKSU-Radio, Kent). And coverage from Dayton focuses on the local angle, where they find much support for the standards among educators. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  2. Back in the real world, school is starting up in Scioto County, and there is talk of some of the changes in procedure for schools across the state, especially attendance procedures and the change from instructional days to instructional hours. We’ve seen a few of these “back-to-school” pieces but this is one of the few that includes charter schools’ information as well. Especially good here, because the charter schools in question are sponsored by Fordham. Hope every student in Sciotoville has a great year! (Portsmouth Daily Times)
     
  3. A bit of a bumpy start to the year in Canal Winchester Schools yesterday – persistent mechanical issues kept a whopping 1/3 of their buses from passing inspection and therefore kept them off the road for the first day of school. Some quick borrowing of equipment from districts as
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There are three terms and phrases that I wish we could ban from the education sphere--terms that I feel are standing in the way of meaningful dialogue and the proper, productive focus of discussion.

1. “Our Kids”

Except in cases of “wards of the state,” children do not belong to school districts, charter schools, city governments, or state departments of education. Yet that term, “our kids,” can be found in quotes from school-district officials all over the media when discussing transportation, open enrollment, and school funding. “Our kids,” as used in these examples, is a language of possession and ownership, usually linked to money. It is at once patronizing and simplistic, reductive, and exclusive.

Even a benign use of “our kids” in this context is archaic and out of touch with reality; in fact, the ownership sentiment has been out of touch since open enrollment began in 1989, and the pace of change only accelerated from there. Today, nearly 120,000 children attend a charter school, and another 30,000 or so students attend a private school via a voucher. More than 70,000 students attend a school outside of their district of residence through interdistrict open enrollment. And countless others participate in intradistrict choice, early-college high school programs, and a burgeoning career-tech sector.

The “assigned” district feeder pattern that locks children into a predetermined sequence of schools that “owns” them and passes them along from building to building throughout their K–12 experience is virtually extinct. The sooner...

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  1. Editors in Columbus have checked out Fordham’s new Hidden Half report, and opined favorably upon it. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. Sticking with the realm of opinion, lots of editors and commentators weighed in on the coming legislative battle against Common Core in Ohio. Check out the arguments of editors in Cleveland in favor of Common Core (Cleveland Plain Dealer), commentary from a Cincinnati resident against the Common Core (Cincinnati Enquirer), and editors in Akron in favor of Common Core (Akron Beacon Journal). Gonna be a crazy couple of weeks around here
     
  3. In other news, echoing a question we’ve been debating around the office, the alternative tests being used in Ohio this summer to assess third graders’ reading track third graders’ reading scores have come under the microscope of the Big D. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. This is a fascinating article on the state of competition among public schools in Toledo at the start of the 2014-15 school year. There are fewer charter schools in Toledo this year than last and only one new startup opening its doors. What this might mean for TPS’ enrollment numbers is parsed, as is the effect of the last two decades of “competition”. An interesting read, as much for the questions asked and answered as for the questions left unasked. (Toledo Blade)
     
  5. Staying in Toledo for a moment, this is essentially an innocuous little story noting that Toledo Maritime Academy has named a new superintendent. What is worth
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