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An epic set of news clips and commentary inaugurates the new Gadfly Bites - education news and opinion pieces from around Ohio with analysis and commentary to keep you in the loop:

  1. Bet you thought I’d start with Mike’s quote on Common Core. But no! Today, editors at the Dispatch opined in praise of Columbus Collegiate Academy – its past and present success, its future plans, and its recent award of over $375,000 from the Columbus Foundation. Oh, and its sponsor is namechecked as well. Note that three successful Columbus City Schools were lauded in just the same way last week. Just the way it ought to be. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. As you probably have already seen, Fordham’s Mike Petrilli is quoted along with other Common Core supporters in today’s piece from the Big D defending Ohio’s New Learning Standards in light of the planned new legislative assault. Can’t wait for Mike’s next testimony appearance in Ohio. I just hope it’s not past my bedtime again. (Columbus Dispatch)
  3. The Common Core piece, above, references Governor Kasich’s reaction to the new legislative assault
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  1. A frankly brilliant summary of the saga of VLT Academy in Cincinnati – a charter school who had no sponsor until a judge forced ODE to take it on – comes from the pen of Patrick O’Donnell today. Fordham’s Kathryn Mullen Upton is quoted throughout, spelling out the vital issues on the line for sponsor oversight in Ohio resulting from whatever is the final outcome of the pending legal case. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. In a companion piece to the above, O’Donnell interviews Alex Medler of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to talk about the “wild west” situation among charter school authorizing in Ohio. Excellent work and important insight. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. You might have heard there was a press conference late yesterday to announce the impending arrival of another bill to repeal Common Core in Ohio. If you’re brave, you can watch the whole “creepy” press conference here. If not, here is a sampling of coverage from around the state: Gongwer is here, Columbus Dispatch is here, Toledo Blade is here, and Cincinnati Enquirer is here.
     
  4. In case you despair after reading that collection, take heart that some small pieces
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Andy's odyssey: Part one

This is the first of a collection of posts about a recent self-assigned course of study—essentially a bunch of reading and furrowed-brow thinking about a subject that’s been gnawing at me.

This series will be an adventure. Though I’ve got a solid thesis, the rest is a jumble of idea fragments. I haven’t ironed out all of my arguments, I sure don’t know what they all amount to, and I’m still a country mile from recommendations.

But over the years I’ve learned I need to write about stuff before I really understand it and then write some more before I can assemble the pieces. Rather than scribbling and editing in private and then, hopefully, producing some tidy digest when the pondering is through, I’m going to file dispatches from the field.

Here’s the gist. Over the last year, I’ve found myself growing restive about ed-reform developments. Sometimes the feeling was hard to explain—a general unease during conferences or while listening to presentations. Other times, I could pinpoint it. For example, when leaders would profess anger at current conditions and a sense of urgency about change but then defer to longstanding arrangements and urge collaboration with them,...

Way back in 2000, the United Nations went through an elaborate process of setting “millennium development goals” for the world. To be attained by 2015, these were, of course, entirely laudable—e.g., “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” and “achieve universal primary education”—and they have definitely influenced the priorities of various UN agencies, other governmental and multilateral aid providers, and private philanthropies.

There’s been progress on several fronts—notably a big reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger—but none of these goals will have been achieved in full by next year, any more than the “goals 2000” project for American K–12 education met its targets (e.g., “first in the world in math and science”) by the stated end point.

How useful this kind of goal setting is may be debated, but the UN has never looked back. Rather, it’s busily updating its millennium goals for the period after 2015, and its “open working group on sustainable development goals” just held its thirteenth meeting, where it finalized a new list of goals and dispatched these for consideration by the Secretary General and General Assembly. You can find a description of this process here: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1549. You will...

  1. There’s a lot to unpack here in this Q&A with the five current members of the Stark County ESC governing board. Why now? Why those 3 specific questions? Why not ask about career tech or internet connectivity or inner-city vs. suburban vs. rural? Why not ask about the powerful effect of demographic changes in Stark County since these long-timers first took office? Two of these folks have been on the governing board since the George H.W. Bush administration. I’m all for “institutional memory” but are the voters of Stark County really sure that this group is truly representative of their interests? I think even a quick read reveals an antiquated mindset mired in the status quo of the late 20th Century unsuited to the real-world needs of today’s families and students. But that’s just me. (Canton Repository)
     
  2. There’s not much new here, but at least the Dayton Daily News investigation of the allegations against Horizon/Concept schools 1) sticks to facts and 2) keeps in mind the hometown connection to the Dayton-area schools specifically in question in most of the allegations. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. We have featured the SPARK program in these clips before, but this is
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  1. It was announced yesterday that term-limited state Representative Bob Hagan filed to run for the state board of education this fall. Today, he explains why: he intends “to make some waves”. I am sad to admit I was wrong in expecting him to have it in for Common Core, but blanket destruction of all charter schools seems a pretty sizeable goal for the guy as well. Good luck, Bob.  (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Appointed state board member Ron Rudduck filed to run to retain his seat. I am not sure at all why this news was in a California newspaper, but I’d be happy to travel out there to talk to them about Ohio education issues any time.  (Ventura County Star)
     
  3. How highly-charged is the media reporting around charter schools in Ohio these days? So much so that a story that is ostensibly about a properly-functioning charter marketplace (low performance and availability of preferable choices lead to student exodus; student exodus leads to money woes; and money woes lead to belt-tightening, layoffs, and retrenching) runs with a headline that implies it’s a shame that the school didn’t just roll over and die. The same process is happening
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The Partnership for Inner-City Education announced today that Kathleen Porter-Magee has been named its superintendent and chief academic officer. This is such a terrific match, and I’m completely thrilled for everyone involved.

The Partnership is one of a growing number of organizations that are, collectively, brightening the future of urban Catholic schooling after years of steady decline. For 50 years, inner-city Catholic schools have been shutting their doors, primarily for financial reasons, despite an extensive body of academic research showing how valuable they can be for low-income kids and communities.

To address issues of financial sustainability and academic performance, a handful of organizations are reimagining the governance and operations of Catholic schools, borrowing the highly successful network structure from charter-management organizations. The Partnership, which has supported Catholic schools in New York City for more than 20 years, signed a landmark agreement with the Archdiocese in 2013, giving the organization authority over six schools in Harlem and the South Bronx. They are now, like Cristo Rey, a group of Catholic schools functioning as a unit but outside the traditional diocesan and parish system.

The Partnership couldn’t have found a better leader...

Increasingly, the conversation about Common Core is dominated by politics and controversy. It has become so loud and shrill that it’s easy to forget that across the country are countless superintendents, principals, and teachers who are seizing the opportunity to challenge themselves to change the way they work to provide a better education for their students.

I remain as optimistic about the promise of the Common Core as I was when I first reviewed the standards four years ago. I believe that ultimately Common Core will succeed or fail based not on what politicians say but, rather, based on what teachers and school leaders do. That’s why I’m proud to take on a new opportunity to bring the Common Core—combined with the power of Core Knowledge—to a network of urban Catholic schools as its superintendent.

In March 2013, the Archdiocese of New York signed a landmark deal with the Partnership for Inner-City Education to support six inner-city Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx. This is the first time that an independent organization has been given the opportunity to manage a set of schools in the Archdiocese of New York, and the agreement builds upon the...

  1. Chad appeared on All Sides with Ann Fisher yesterday morning – along with several other guests – talking about charter school oversight and accountability in Ohio in the wake of the allegations against Horizon/Concept schools in the state. The full audio is here. Chad comes in at about the 15 minute mark. (WOSU-FM, Columbus)
     
  2. The Dispatch lays out the state of play with regard to Common Core in the Ohio General Assembly. The state of play is “contentious”. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Speaking of Common Core, my good friends at Lake Local Schools in Northwest Ohio followed up last month’s resolution against the “Common Core curriculum” [sic] with some predictable backpedaling at this month’s meeting. To wit: "[W]e did want to express our concerns and opposition to it," said the board prez. "This is the law. We would just like to get rid of it if we can." Sounds like it could be a letter to the editor, doesn’t it? But it seems that another reality of education reform also caught the board’s attention: the end of “Count Week” in Ohio
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Recent revelations suggest that David Cameron’s unexpected move to replace reform-minded education minister Michael Gove (who’s been popular with British conservatives) with Ms. Nicky Morgan might have been triggered by more than crass preelection maneuvering to placate teachers and women.

Gove’s earnestly pursued and widely touted “academies” initiative, which allows district-operated public schools to convert to charter-like status and be managed by outside groups, has led to a major scandal in Birmingham, where a handful of such schools were taken over by fundamentalist Muslims.

Because all academies are, in principle, accountable to the secretary of state for education rather than to local authorities, Gove was ultimately responsible for the decisions that led to this situation, which has been carefully documented by inspectors from Ofsted, England’s independent school-reviewing body.

This is not to say that academy status produced this problem. As a close review by Peter Clarke makes clear, the local Birmingham authorities had turned a blind eye to it for ages. Indeed, one can fairly argue that coming under the secretary of state’s authority is what finally surfaced the problem and empowered the government to intervene, which it has now done.

With some 3,500...

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