Additional Topics

  1. The pointed language and slant in this story about busing of K-12 students in Akron (all students that is – district, charter, and private) is impossible to miss, and a number of pertinent facts about how busing actually works in Ohio are absent or elided. I’m going to avoid the obvious bait and simply point out that if families weren’t choosing to go to schools other than Akron City Schools, the “problem” would be far less than is presented here, even without changes to current busing rules. And that the lone parent interviewed gave a pretty cogent reason for choosing another option. (Akron Beacon Journal, 11/30/15)
  2. Perhaps the good folks at Akron City Schools should take a break from the echo chamber and read this piece instead. After decades of serious decline, Cleveland Metropolitan School District is cautiously reporting a possible gain in its student population. If it proves to be true, officials in the CLE will have some celebrating to do. What is most instructive at this point, however, is that district officials are crunching the numbers daily and actively trying to figure out where new students are coming from, what district schools they are choosing,
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  1. Fordham is namechecked and Vladimir Kogan’s guest post for the Ohio Gadfly is discussed in this article about the whole “Similar Students Model” vs. Value-Added conundrum currently doing the rounds here in Ohio. Cage match, anyone? (Akron Beacon Journal, 11/24/15)
  2. Here is a ton more detail on committee proposals for fixing Ohio’s charter sponsor review process. Interesting if esoteric stuff. The public comment period on these proposals runs until December 7. (Gongwer Ohio, 11/23/15)
  3. My kids got their PARCC test scores in the mail earlier this week. All is well in the Murray household. This piece discusses the full process of informing families of the students’ test scores – individually, districts, and statewide. One question from me not answered here or in earlier stories about this: what impact will opter-outers have on the emerging data? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/25/15)
  4. Quick – what were YOU doing in 2005? I was watching the first series of the newly-revived Doctor Who. The Ohio Department of Education was reducing what are known as “foundation payments” for three of the largest school districts in the state due to lower-than-expected enrollment. Those reductions have been contested by the districts
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NOTE: State Sen. Cliff Hite is holding a series of events around Ohio to discuss the topic of extracurricular activities and the fees being charged by schools for those activities. He intends to introduce a bill soon that could call for the banning of so-called pay-to-play fees. Chad Aldis spoke at one such event today. These are his written remarks.

My name is Chad Aldis. I am the vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment today on pay-to-play fees.

Before I begin, I would like to commend Senator Hite for his focus on these issues. Policies like pay-to-play may aid schools with their immediate budgetary concerns, but they also put a strain on families. While many of the proposals that you will hear about today are a good start, I encourage you to think broader and perhaps even outside the box.

For years, the Fordham Institute has focused on education as a means of social mobility. Schools have long been championed as places where we can level the playing field for low-income children. Unfortunately, that leveling doesn’t happen as often as it should or even...

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill is briefly quoted in this piece taking a preliminary look at preliminary PARCC test scores. Aaron notes that this is only preliminary data. Preliminarily. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/20/15)
  2. I’m sorry to have found this rather remarkable series of stories at its midpoint, but I think you will agree it is worth catching up and then tuning in for the final parts over the next two weeks. Journalist Bradley W. Parks has dug deeply into Ohio’s district and school building report cards and has visited all six Muskingum County school districts to see what the report card measures mean to superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents. The result is a compelling five-part series focusing on key individual measurement areas. Part One is an overview of district report cards, discussing all of the moving parts and how those parts have been affected by other moving parts (standards, testing, etc.) Quotable: “In an effort to make everything measurable, we’ve lost sight of what is important,” said one supe. “If you were trying to come up with a system to destroy public education, I’d think you’d done a pretty good job.” (Zanesville Times Recorder, 11/7/15) Part Two
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  1. We’ll lead off today with some good news. Dayton City Schools was one of two districts in the state whose academic performance put them on a path to a possible designation of “academic distress” and all that that entails in Ohio. As a preventative measure, the Ohio Department of Education offered help. To wit: “We have flooded the district with services and support, to the total of 546 days of service from our staff,” the Dayton school board was told this week. “We’re very proud to be … welcomed by Superintendent Ward, the district leadership team and the teachers and principals who are with us on a daily basis.” Sounds great. And how are things looking in the wake of all that help? “If the district continues in the vein that it is in now, with fidelity and adherence to their plan,” ODE staff told the board, “we do not foresee that more intensive supports will have to be placed upon the district.” In other words, the “Youngstown Plan” will not need to become the “Dayton Plan”. Sounds pretty good based on my summary, right? But if you read the piece all the way to the end you will
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The Achilles’ heel of the West, I read not long ago, is that many people struggle to find spiritual meaning in our secular, affluent society. How can we compete with the messianic messages streaming from the Islamic State and other purveyors of dystopian religious fundamentalism?

It made me reflect on my own life. How do I find meaning? Largely from my role as a father, a role I cherish and for which I feel deep gratitude. But ever since I lost faith in the Roman Catholic Church of my upbringing—not long after I nearly succumbed to cancer at age eighteen—much of my life’s meaning has come from my view of myself as an education reformer.

I suspect that I am not alone. We are drawn as humans to heroic quests, and those of us in education reform like to believe that we are engaged in one. We’re not just trying to improve the institution known as the American school; we see ourselves as literally saving lives, rescuing the American Dream, writing the next chapter of the civil rights movement.

When people speak of Arne Duncan with tears in their eyes—explaining earnestly that he has always put kids first—it...

John Chubb was not only a fine scholar, tireless education reformer, and creative innovator. He was also my friend and colleague for more than two decades. I first came upon him in 1990, when he (then at Brookings) and Terry Moe published their blockbuster school choice book, Politics, Markets and America’s Schools. Two years later, we found ourselves working together at the outset of Chris Whittle’s ambitious Edison Project. We both also served as founding members of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, which led to much collaboration over more than fifteen years, as well as more terrific books, articles, and reports written or edited by John. (A good collection can be found here.)

While he was still with Edison (where he lasted a lot longer than I did), we had many dealings over that firm’s stewardship of a pair of charter schools that Fordham authorized in Dayton. He and I also found ourselves together at umpteen conferences, workshops, and board meetings. Quite recently, John surprised many of us by taking the helm of the National Association of Independent Schools. He was off to a terrific start there, fully grasping the challenges of that corner of...

  1. Starting today’s report with an interesting piece I missed last week. Ross County continues to be the epicenter of debate on the topic of open enrollment in Ohio – that is, allowing students to attend schools across traditional district boundaries. There is discussion of current net “losers” and “winners” of students and of the funding that follows those students. Most importantly, it seems that some districts are actually surveying the students who leave in order to find out why. A huge development in the ongoing discussion. (Chillicothe Gazette, 11/12/15)
  2. On Friday the 13th, all five members of the new Youngstown Academic Distress Commission were finally named. (WYTV – Youngstown, 11/13/15) There’s no information in this piece on the individual appointed by Youngstown’s mayor. Here is a nice profile of that appointee – a retired dean from Youngstown State University. (Youngstown Vindicator, 11/13/15) Meanwhile, the school board’s sole appointee to the commission has irked the local teachers union, who state that while the retired administrator chosen has a long track record in the district and substitutes regularly, she is “not a current teacher in the Youngstown City Schools.” Next up – assuming
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  1. Chad’s quote from last month’s Dispatch story on the CREDO e-school report was recycled in a blog post on the website of Non Profit Quarterly. (Non Profit Quarterly, 11/10/15) Ditto for this version of same on the blog of NCPA, which quotes Chad and Jamie’s blog post/testimony on the same topic. (National Center for Policy Analysis, 11/12/15) What’s the point? I don’t know either.
  2. Back in the real world, here’s a brief piece on the Men of Color event in Dayton earlier this week. This is a local iteration of the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative to provide access to strong male role models for local students. More than 200 men participated. Nice. (Dayton Daily News, 11/11/15)
  3. The leader of the Men of Color initiative in Dayton is a former state board of education member. He is probably very happy to be off that board now that the search for a new state superintendent is getting underway. Even the impaneling of a group to formulate the RFP rules for a search firm has been mired in politics. It’s going to be a long winter around here. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/12/15)
  4. The Ohio Alliance of
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  1. Job changes continue to dominate the media coverage of Ohio education. First up, the PD posited a possible interim replacement for retiring state supe Dick Ross. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/9/15) This was followed by editors in Akron opining that Ross’ retirement is “an opportunity for fresh leadership”. (Akron Beacon Journal, 11/11/15) And also notice that Colleen Grady, senior policy advisor of the House Republican Caucus, will be leaving her post in the legislature and starting a similar high level post at the Ohio Department of Education on Monday. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/10/15)
  2. The Ohio School Boards Association is having a big confab in Columbus this week. The only thing reported out so far is some sort of legislative platform change that states the OSBA is in favor of prohibiting charter schools with poor grades or finances from advertising to families, among other PR limitations. (AP, via Dayton Daily News, 11/10/15)
  3. Editors in Cleveland yesterday opined upon the implications of Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s bucking of the national downward trend in NAEP test scores. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/10/15)
  4. Meanwhile, some high school students in the CLE are protesting district plans to split
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