Additional Topics

  1. We’ve told you a number of times about the student journalists being used by the Beacon Journal and the Vindicator to attack charter schools from all angles, including the lovely Jacob Myers who came at us a couple months back by phone leading off with, “Are there any good charter schools in Ohio?” Well, once we ascertained what he was really interested in, Aaron gave him a ton of great information and lo and behold Jake actually wrote about what he learned. I think these two pieces from the student journalists’ blog are a couple of months old, but worth sharing anyway for the heavy use they make of Aaron’s Parsing Performance report card analysis from last fall. Plus it’s a slow news day. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  2. Sandusky schools have taken over management of a two-year-old online alternative program targeted to students ages 14 to 22 who “don't fit the mold of a traditional classroom education.” Students in the program can also participate in traditional extracurriculars within Sandusky schools. Previously, the local ESC managed the program – open to students from any district – but now Sandusky will do the work and collect the open enrollment funding directly. Summer school starts July 21. (Sandusky Register)
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  1. The tone is a bit condescending, but we’ll take the media hit: StateImpact Ohio takes a look at Fordham’s Lacking Leaders report. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  2. Dispatch editors weigh in decidedly in favor of School Choice Ohio’s legal action against two school districts on the topic of public records. This legal action will be resolved soon with or without this support, but my favorite bit is on another related topic: “The more successful School Choice Ohio is in getting the word out [about voucher eligibility], the more students may leave public schools via vouchers. Public schools understandably want to avoid this, but they should fight against it by making their schools safer and more effective — not by scheming to prevent families from knowing about their options. Scheming in defiance of state law would be even worse.” Wow. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. We are still feeling the effects of the bitter winter weather in central Ohio. No, not by skiing in July, but by the aftereffects of legislation aimed at helping districts whose calendars were hard hit by the weather. Districts and charter schools can now count their instructional time in hours rather than in days. And with that in place, Columbus’ Catholic schools are busily shrinking their calendars for 2014-15, some by up to two weeks. Wonder if that will result in a lowering of tuition? (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. Vindy editors are first out of the gate with an editorial in support of their student journalists’ “investigation”
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Just as the education-reform movement is starting to figure out how to use test-score data in a more sophisticated way, the Obama administration and its allies in the civil-rights community want to take us back to the Stone Age on the use of school-discipline data. This is an enormous mistake.

We all know that there are real problems with the ways that discipline is meted out in some American schools today. You can find campuses where huge numbers of students are suspended or expelled, particularly African American and Latino teenagers and mostly boys. Those young people are extraordinarily likely to end up in America’s bloated prison system as adults, causing all manner of societal suffering along the way, not to mention blighting their own lives. “Zero tolerance” policies—by removing administrator discretion and treating all offenses as equally injurious—have arguably made things worse.

I whole-heartedly support efforts to improve the ways that schools handle these issues; tips and training on creating a positive school culture and reducing suspensions and expulsions are welcome. Nor do I doubt that some of America’s 100,000-plus schools discriminate against minority children. Russlynn Ali, the former assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, talks about the district where a black Kindergartener gets suspended for pulling a fire alarm while a white tenth grader does the same thing and gets off with a warning. That’s wrong, and I’m grateful that students...

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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...

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  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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  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)
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In which Mike offers/threatens to kiss Joel Klein

Mike and Brickman talk poor-quality math instruction and the ramifications of this week’s Supreme Court decision on union dues. Mike pitches a new bumper sticker: “Keep NCES boring.” And Amber is psyched about New York’s tenure reforms.

Amber's Research Minute

Performance Screens for School Improvement: The Case of Teacher Tenure Reform in New York City,” by Susanna Loeb, Luke C. Miller, and James Wyckoff, Working Paper 115 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, June 2014).

  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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Bravo to Fordham’s original gadfly!

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools yesterday inducted Fordham president Chester E. Finn, Jr. into its Charter School Hall of Fame—established to honor pioneers in the development, growth, and innovation of charter schools.

At its annual conference in Las Vegas, Checker was lauded for his long track record of support and hailed as one of the “intellectual godfathers” of the charter school movement. He was inducted along with Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz and the Doris and Donald Fisher Fund.

“Hall of Fame members include school teachers and leaders, thinkers, policy experts, and funders that have paved the way for the success and growth of public charter schools. They have strengthened public charter schools nationwide and inspired us to do more for our nation’s students,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance.

Checker is among twenty-six individuals and organizations named to the Hall of Fame since 2007. He joins U.S. senator Lamar Alexander, the KIPP Charter Schools, Joel Klein, and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, among others.

Check out this short video on Checker’s contribution to the charter school movement.

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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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