Additional Topics

  1. When editorials are presented in Gadfly Bites, I usually try to let them speak for themselves without too much commentary, but this editorial from Sunday’s Vindy (on the topic of the practicalities of the Youngstown Plan) is too unusual for that. First, it seems to be a direct response to questions raised in some other forum, the nature of which we outsiders are left guessing. Second, the effort of editors to assuage plan critics regarding universal EdChoice eligibility for Youngstown students is likely to cause more problems than it solves. Third, the lively discussion in the comments section regarding students with special needs is more interesting than the editorial. Fourth, this is one of the worst headlines ever. (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/30/15)
     
  2. Meanwhile, public radio took a look at the first day of school in Youngstown with the “threat of a state takeover looming”. Portentous much? (WKSU-FM, Kent, 8/28/15)
     
  3. Ohio governor John Kasich was thrown casually under the bus in the preceding piece. Editors in Toledo do the same as they opine, as if on repeat, in favor of charter law reform now. (Toledo Blade, 8/30/15)
     
  4. Kasich and his presidential run are front and center
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  1. It’s quiet around the Statehouse these days, just like most summers. That’s probably why Innovation Ohio, the Ohio Education Association, and others held an event yesterday to trot out some old saws – charter school funding issues, charter school law reform, charter school quality, charter schools stealing kids, etc. As a response, particularly to the funding question, Chad was interviewed for this piece in the Advocate. Chad is not exactly quoted here, but his more detailed description of how school funding actually works in Ohio is laid out. (Newark Advocate, 8/28/15). Chad’s dulcet tones explain school funding directly – characterizing the Innovation Ohio description of it “not intellectually honest” – in this piece from public radio. Ouch.  Link (WKSU-FM, Kent, 8/27/15)
     
  2. The event was also covered by a number of other news outlets – remember, it’s pretty quiet over there in the Statehouse – without quoting Chad. How do you like your coverage? It ranges from ranges from bland (Gongwer Ohio, 8/27/15), to mild (Columbus Dispatch, 8/28/15), to medium (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/28/15), to hot (Toledo Blade, 8/28/15).
     
  3. In the Dispatch story, above, there is a reference to FCI Academy, a
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  1. The state board of education this week added two of its members to the new review panel for rating charter school sponsors. (Columbus Dispatch blog, 8/24/15)
     
  2. Speaking of charter school sponsor reviews, editors in Akron opined this week in frustration about a yet-to-be-filled public records request for emails from the department. (Akron Beacon Journal, 8/24/15). Editors in Columbus opined similarly today. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/26/15). Governor Kasich’s presidential aspirations are part of both discussions.
     
  3. That currently-stalled bill which would overhaul charter school law in Ohio may not be stalled for very much longer. So says the President of the Ohio Senate. (Gongwer Ohio, 8/25/15)
     
  4. Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon gave his annual state-of-the-district report earlier this week. He reported that the Cleveland Turnaround Plan is working and cited such things as better school facilities, a strong teaching staff, more parent engagement, stabilizing enrollment, and more good preschool slots as evidence of improvement. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/24/15)
     
  5. On the other coast of Ohio, Cincinnati City Schools has cancelled the famous/infamous “magnet school campouts” this year. For those of you who don’t know, this was an annual ritual in which families
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  • Policymakers in Arkansas are granting important charter-like freedoms to traditional school districts. The regulatory waivers included exemptions from burdensome teacher licensure and class-size requirements. District officials argued that these exemptions were needed to open educational opportunities for students, particularly partnerships with local businesses and colleges. One state is cutting the red-tape for their district schools, and so should Ohio.
     
  • A small tempest is roiling the Clintonville area of Columbus as the best-performing neighborhood elementary school in the city announced that its Kindergarten and fourth grade classes were full and wait-listed resident families were informed their students would be bused to another school outside the neighborhood. Putting aside the red herring of the annex building recently razed on the site, this is actually a good problem to have, especially for the beleaguered Columbus City Schools. How they handle academic success and the predictable popularity that follows - and how neighborhood residents find peace with it - will likely be important for urban districts across the state.
  1. We’ll start today with a couple of out-of-left-field pieces which namecheck Fordham. First up, Mother Jones is talking about presidential candidate (and Ohio governor) John Kasich’s education record. Fordham’s reports on charter school quality in the Buckeye State from late 2014 are referenced. (Mother Jones, 8/24/15) The MJ piece isn’t listed as an opinion piece, although it probably ought to be. Meanwhile, the second charter school hit piece we’re looking at today is clearly marked as opinion. In it, a 16-month-old quote from Chad Aldis from the Columbus Dispatch is recycled. (Al-Jazeera America, 8/24/15)
     
  2. Back in the real world, Chad is quoted in this piece on what standardized testing will look like in Ohio in the post-PARCC era. (Port Clinton News Herald, 8/22/15) Also in other Gannett outlets.
     
  3. Here’s a couple more stories on the post-PARCC era, not quoting Chad. First up, Gongwer, which focuses on updates to the Ohio Department of Education’s website re: testing. Toledo City School’s chief academic officer is hopeful that this year’s testing protocols will go better than he says last year’s went. No clues as to who is responsible for making that hope a reality from reading
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  1. As promised, the Ohio Department of Education will create a new charter school sponsor evaluation process after the previous version was rescinded amid complaints that e-schools’ performance were not included as part of their sponsors’ ratings. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/19/15) A three-person panel was named to advise the department in creating the new evaluation process. The panel includes the superintendent of Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools. But instead of interviewing him, the Blade instead grabs a quote from a state representative who “doesn’t have much faith” in the new panel. Sorry, local supe. (Toledo Blade, 8/20/15)
     
  2. Not to worry, Perrysburg Supe, your own people love you. Or at least your district. 65% of respondents to a recent survey say that Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools deserves a grade of A. Less than 2 percent said the grade should be a D or F. This is a no-stakes poll, really, with a majority of respondents being senior citizens, but still those results have got to take the sting away a little for the boss. (Toledo Blade, 8/21/15)
     
  3. Speaking of high marks, this guest commentator – a teacher at an online charter school – opines in praise of
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COMPILER’S NOTE: Gadfly Bites is back from its summer recess and resumes regular thrice-weekly publication today. First up, a recap of important news pieces published over the last ten days.

  1. We noted yesterday that the term “rampant uncertainty” is something of a misnomer in regard to charter schools in Ohio. There IS “rampant bad publicity” around charter schools, which isn’t new but is problematic, not only for charter school supporters but also charter haters. Case in point, this op-ed from the Toledo Blade, which must thread a fine needle in jumping on the bandwagon against charter schools (naturally) while reminding readers that some of the best schools out there are charter schools, including the Toledo School for the Arts. (Toledo Blade, 8/9/15).
     
  2. Same goes in Cleveland, where this op-ed pours together all of the charter school issues but comes out with a specific opinion against online schools, rather than against the charter sector writ large. Kudos for the Alice in Wonderland reference. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/16/15)
     
  3. The state board of education and state superintendent are targets of journalistic and editorial ire under a heading that can probably be called “rampant opportunism”, no needle-threading required. Governor (and
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COMPILER’S NOTE: Gadfly Bites is back from its summer break. Today, a recap of Fordham In the News pieces published over the last ten days. Regular publication schedule restarts tomorrow, August 19.

  1. More than a half-dozen Gannett outlets (including the Cincinnati Enquirer) carried a story last week looking at the status of charter school law reform in Ohio – stalled – and suggesting possible reasons for the hold up of what had been a bipartisan push to improve charters in Ohio. Well, really only one reason is touted. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in response to that key assertion: “I think to suggest (contributions) had an effect is only speculation… Members in both parties get lots of campaign contributions from lots of people.” Lawmakers interviewed insist they want to make sure the bill is right before passing it. (Zanesville Times-Recorder, 8/8/15)
     
  2. Fordham’s Kathryn Mullen Upton is quoted – and Fordham’s charter sponsorship portfolio is summarized – in this piece regarding what is called “rampant uncertainty” in the charter school world in Ohio. The piece lumps together a number of separate issues (sponsor ratings, audit findings against individual schools, sponsor accountability, the aforementioned stalled bill, etc.) in
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COMPILER’S NOTE: Gadfly Bites is taking a summer vacation next week. It will return with a wrap up of the previous week’s stories on Tuesday, August 18. Regular thrice-weekly publication will resume on Wednesday, August 19.

  1. I’m not sure why the current Academic Distress Commission in Youngstown was fretting last week about what good they can do for the district while awaiting the new commission arriving in October. The information that will emerge from this staffing audit they authorized for the ever-shrinking district will be invaluable. Even the school board president says so. And then the new commission will, hopefully, act upon the findings. (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/6/15)
     
  2. Remember that dustup over upsizing of high school athletic divisions due to the new eligibility of charter and STEM school students? Complaints and litigation threats successfully tabled the division changes yesterday. Adults solving adult problems like adults, eh? Hope someone remembers that there are lots of newly-eligible students who will need the adults to think of them at some point. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/6/15)
     
  3. Speaking of adult problems, Governor John Kasich said the following this week in regard to state board of education members’ criticism of the Ohio Department
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  1. Here is yet another school district touting their new “online education program”, decrying the loss of money for kids who leave the district for charter schools (online or otherwise) and then implying that the kids come back to the district “even more behind” than when they left. Lots of problems with all of those anecdotal statements, of course, but let’s put those aside to focus on who is providing this valuable new service to the district’s students in their online venture for “non-traditional learners”. Vandalia-Butler City Schools has contracted with an online charter school to run their own E-school. Fascinating and bizarre. (Dayton Daily News, 8/3/15)
     
  2. So, if online charter schools are no longer foes for school districts, then who is? According to the leaders of 41 Southwest Ohio school districts, the state of Ohio is their enemy. The state has made it “nearly impossible” for their teachers to do their jobs via “unfunded mandates”. Oddly enough, Vandalia-Butler has yet to sign on to this enmity pact. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/3/15)
     
  3. However, in Columbus, it’s the Ohio High School Athletic Association that appears to be the more urgent bête noir. OHSAA’s distribution of newly-sports-eligible charter and STEM
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