Additional Topics

  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 in Akron City Schools and elsewhere every year and no reporter would suggest that perhaps a low-rated and half-capacity elementary school should simply not “reopen” next year. In fact, district building closures for these same reasons are strongly resisted with calls to neighborhood and nostalgia, or simply with calls for
  4. ...
Categories: 
  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 and the instatement of daily student attendance counts and reporting for districts. Less “contentious” than Common Core, sure, but still worthy of a quotable quote: "It will be interesting to see how this year goes." Indeed. Luckily Lake had plenty of money to hire a staffer to do only that
  4. ...
Categories: 

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 such schools now operating in England and enrolling more than one in four of all school kids in the country, it was unrealistic to expect Gove and his small staff to know much about what was happening in them. Still, that’s how this enormously important element of England’s school-choice and...

Categories: 

Glenn Beck ain't got nothin' on this podcast

Mike and 50CAN’s Marc Porter Magee take on career and technical education, sorting by student achievement, and charter schools’ noncognitive effects. Amber reports on charters’ productivity.

Amber's Research Minute

The Productivity of Public Charter Schools by Patrick J. Wolf, et al., (Fayetteville, AR: School Choice Demonstration Project, University of Arkansas, July 2014).

  1. I’m a bit late in highlighting this, but it’s worth noting that United Schools Network’s Joe Baszynski was named as one of the “40 Under 40” movers and shakers to watch in Columbus. Nice interview here. (Columbus Business First)
     
  2. Lots of heated rhetoric around the Horizon/Concept Schools investigation by the FBI. Here’s some actual news, detailing what evidence was sought and what was found by the FBI, all relating to the federal E-rate program. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. One of those companies connected to the FBI investigation of Concept’s E-rate program is based in Northeast Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. As predicted, not much will be done to crack down on the Kingdom of the Bus Drivers in Columbus. This is all acceptable behavior. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  5. Dual enrollment in both high school and community college in one Dayton-area suburb means two diplomas at once for these students, all for free. The sky is the limit for these two young people. Best wishes to them both! (Dayton Daily News)
     
  6. As noted a week or so ago, some districts are staffing up their assistant principal ranks because they feel their principals will not have enough time to properly evaluate all teachers next year as required by OTES. Mansfield City Schools did the same yesterday, approving up to 3 new assistant principals for evaluation duties (although one hopes there are other productive things they’ll be doing as well). Additionally, the board approved hiring another second
  7. ...
Categories: 

Elementary-school teachers might think twice before plastering their walls with paintings, posters, and pin-ups. This small-scale experiment found that Kindergarten students in a decorated classroom were more likely to be “off-task” and less likely to demonstrate learning. To conduct the study, researchers had twenty-four children participate in six science lessons: three of them were held in a decorated classroom and three in a largely undecorated (“sparse”) one. The decorated room had an assortment of posters, student artwork, and maps on the walls; meanwhile, the walls of the sparse room contained only materials directly related to the lesson. The study utilized video recordings to document on- and off-task behavior and pre- and post-tests, to measure learning. When it came to time on task, the children were off task 39 percent of the time while in the decorated classroom, versus 28 percent off task while in the undecorated one. (Students looking in the direction of the teacher or at the learning materials were deemed on task.) Meantime, children showed greater learning gains in the undecorated room. The average gain in tests scores—the difference between the pre- and post-test—was 33 percent in the sparse room, compared to 18 percent in the decorated one. The bottom line: students can become easily distracted. And this study, while small and for only one age group, suggests that teachers could at least clamp down on one source of distraction—classroom decor—to the benefit of student learning.

Source: Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin, and Howard Seltman, “Visual...

Categories: 
  1. Another development yesterday in the case of a Cincinnati-area charter school trying to find a new sponsor in order to stay open. ODE – ordered by one court to take over as sponsor – appealed and was granted a stay…for now. Story developing. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. Akron’s Firestone High School has had “a couple of stellar years” of performance by its students in International Baccalaureate exams and is seeking to bolster its IB participation by creating a middle school feeder system. Nice. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  3. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: good educators do not fear Common Core or the associated tests. Latest example: Amherst Schools. Says Michael Molnar, education services director in the district: “We will not teach to the test.” Additionally, he promised that educators won’t “kill and drill”. To the question of anticipating lower scores on harder PARCC tests, Molnar says, “I’m confident that we’ll continue to be excellent. No one can predict what our scores will look like when these tests come out.” Sounds just about right. (Amherst News Times)
     
  4. Stop the local budget-cutting madness! Save Safety Town! (Middletown Journal-News)
     
  5. Mansfield’s Spanish Immersion program is undergoing some growing pains – not only are local parents increasingly opting to send their children, but families from outside can access it via open enrollment as well. Some MSI parents say at least one additional teacher is needed, although the district says it doesn’t have the money right now. (Mansfield
  6. ...
Categories: 
  1. Editorial content looms large in today’s edition. First up, Fordham’s own Jessica Poiner with a letter to the editor of the Dispatch published on Saturday in response to their recent editorial in support of public records access for organizations seeking to inform the public about voucher options. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. The Dispatch’s Saturday letters pages are typically extensive and often include the higher-profile letters they have received during the week. Along with Jessica’s, there was a letter from the superintendent of Springfield City Schools, also responding to that pesky editorial. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Finally in the realm of the flagged editorial content, Dispatch editors weighed in on the merits of Reynoldsburg’s teacher merit pay contract proposal. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. I mention “flagged editorial content” because much of what passes for education news these days is simply journalists covering expressions of folks’ opinions. Case in point: one state rep speaking about Common Core at a townhall event last week. I do like the “Freedom Summer Day” recognition bill proposal though. Good luck with that one. (Middletown Journal-News)
     
  5. The Vindy published a profile of the new head of the Youngstown academic distress commission over the weekend, talking to current and former colleagues of Joffrey Jones. My favorite quote:  “People better be ready to hear what he has to say.” Talk about intestinal fortitude. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  6. Republican Governor John Kasich joined Democratic Mayor Michael Coleman in Columbus to announce that the state will help in funding
  7. ...
Categories: 

1. Editors in Columbus get out in front on the issue of charter school oversight with today’s editorial. (Columbus Dispatch)
 

Sadly, the other editorials on this issue in media outlets across the state – and there are a lot of them today – are mislabeled as “news stories” and are not clipped here today. If there is any actual proper news reporting, I’ll find it and bring it to you.
 

2. The summer reading blitz in Columbus City Schools ended yesterday with a big celebration. Many students have taken – and passed – the third grade reading test and will not need to be held back next year. A number of others are waiting for results or will take a final shot at the test this weekend. Kudos to all the dedicated adults – teachers, volunteers, parents – and kids who buckled down and got to work. Looks like a great program with an emphasis on all the different ways that reading can be fun and interesting and all the different learning styles needed to reach kids to impart this vital skill. But remember that those children who don’t pass should be greeted next year with nothing less than another full-out blitz of remediation and support and instruction and opportunities to succeed. Just like the football team that comes up short in the big game--pick up, dust off, figure out the new strategy, work hard, win the next one. (Columbus Dispatch)
 

3. There are ...

Categories: 
  1. Here’s a great story about the value of having clear academic standards and four years of lead time to create/align curriculum. Teachers and administrators in Fairfield City Schools, in southwest Ohio, have worked hard since 2010 to create a program that can meet and exceed the targets set by Ohio’s New Learning Standards (which of course include Common Core in ELA and math) so as to implement a dual-enrollment program. They are ready, their partnership with Cincinnati State is ready, and now the path is clear for Fairfield students to meet the standards and then move on to free college credit-bearing courses while still in high school. Nice. (Middletown Journal-News)
     
  2. Dispatch editors took a bit of time to digest the Vergara ruling before issuing their opinion on the issue of tenure for teachers. Bottom line: “Teacher tenure is a relic… It made sense in 1886 Massachusetts, where female teachers were fired for getting married, becoming pregnant or wearing pants.” Yowza. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. How do you say “scrunch up there” in Turkish? The State Auditor’s office is jumping on the investigate-Horizon-charter-school bandwagon, becoming the third entity do so. Not saying it’s not warranted, but it’s probably gonna be a very long line to get to the file cabinet for a while. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  4. But seriously, on the front page of the Dayton Daily News today, State Sen. Peggy Lehner says – in response to questions about the Horizon allegations – a full review
  5. ...
Categories: 

Pages