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  1. The Cincinnati Enquirer has finally relented and covered School Choice Ohio's legal action against Cincinnati Public Schools in regard to student directory information. Sadly, the piece is a mess of misstated/omitted facts about EdChoice and includes some flawed conclusions because of it. Especially egregious is the omission of EdChoice eligibility for students in chronically underperforming schools regardless of income. The piece states, “A win by School Choice Ohio could lead to drastic enrollment drops at some schools.” Yes, indeed, if parents in perennially low-rated schools actually knew they had a private school option available to them and had someone to help them get more information, a number of them would likely leave. And that's a problem because why? (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  2. Teachers in Worthington City Schools have approved a new contract that contains some novel tweaks. The union’s leader trumpets a revised pay-for-experience schedule for veteran teachers entering the district, but as a Fordhamite I’ll highlight the clause which would deny a step increase to any teacher who receives a designation of “ineffective” on an evaluation. Which also begs a couple of questions in itself. (Columbus Dispatch)
  3. Summer school in Dayton Public Schools could be a bit crowded…for the first couple of weeks. Approximately 450 students had not yet scored proficient the third grade reading test prior to the May assessment and results for those children will not be known until a week or so into summer school, which all of those 450
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  1. So the education news was pretty thin on the ground around Ohio this weekend…unless you count graduation coverage. Here’s one of those graduation stories that caught my eye: remember the kerfuffle we reported back in January about one district high school wanting to hold its graduation ceremony in a church…as they had done for the previous two years? Due to parental concerns, it was back to the cramped, less-accessible civic center this year but the kerfuffle was pretty well forgotten amid the tears and joy. (Canton Repository)
  2. Another case in point: the Big D was so busy doing other things that they ran a reprint of an editorial from the Chicago Tribune this morning. It was opining strongly in favor of Common Core. (Columbus Dispatch)
  3. The Beacon Journal editors also opined this weekend, about how charter schools are failing dropouts and potential dropouts, following on from a similiar-sounding series of articles from last week. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  4. One journalist who was working hard this weekend was Casey Elliott of the Urbana Citizen. Casey went in-depth to look at PARCC pilot testing recently conducted in area districts. Most interview subjects felt that things went “smoothly” but some were concerned about a lack of typing skills among younger students that could hamper online test success. A nice piece. (Urbana Citizen)
  5. One other journalist working hard this weekend was
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Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did more than give a terrific speech last week at the Harvard commencement; he delivered an eloquent, well-timed, and much-needed rejoinder to the national push—well, national but mainly on elite campuses—by students and faculty to ban or repress just about every viewpoint and person that doesn't conform to conventional leftist-orthodoxies. This now includes not only blocking potentially controversial speakers (like the notorious IMF head Christine Lagarde) but also demanding that college professors and administrators alert their students before exposing them to anything they might find objectionable or upsetting.

I wrote about this on May 21 in Politico Magazine, but Bloomberg said it better. He said it in the citadel of the liberal intelligentsia. And, of course, he's a heckuva lot more influential! As hizzoner bluntly put it, "A university's obligation is not to teach students what to think but to teach students how to think. And that requires listening to the other side."

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  1. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Lorain City Schools was undergoing its first review since coming under the auspices of an academic distress commission. That review is now nearly complete and in the fine tradition of good news/bad news, the district gets the good news first.  Among those pieces of good news: cooperating with the distress commission and “working to build the culture of high expectations” as determined by fully aligning its ELA and math curricula with the Common Core. It’ll be another couple of weeks before the bad news is made public. I’ll stay on the lookout. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal)
     
  2. The dean of Ohio’s distress commission work is Paul Marshall, who has been doing the fiscal distress side of the work around the state for many years. I look forward to his eventual book on the work because it will be fascinating. Case in point: Mansfield City Schools, where the current oversight commission had to suspend work on a fiscal plan earlier this week due to tussles with staff over custodians. On an unrelated note, I declare the “Keep Calm and…” t-shirt trend to have jumped the shark as of publication of this piece. (Mansfield News Journal)
     
  3. Streetsboro’s Board of Education recently approved an option for students with disabilities to "opt-out" of algebra II and one advanced science course beyond biology and to trigger an “individual career plan” process that seems geared to direct students
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The beach forecast is looking warm and sunny. You need your edu-reads. Here’s installment two!

When I was working for a state department of education, I had the chance on several occasions to meet with groups of award-winning teachers. In every case, I learned a great deal. Their thoughts on policy issues were always insightful and often different than the positions staked out by the reform crowd and unions. I was reminded of those experiences by this new report from the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. It summarizes survey results of state and national teachers of the year; they hold forth on the professional experiences that most contributed to their impressive performance. Anyone interested in educator effectiveness ought to read it…and we all should think of ways to make more use of this organization in the future.

Several of my Bellwether colleagues have written a terrific report on the use of student surveys in teacher evaluations. This subject ended up in lots of headlines after the release of findings from the MET study and as states developed new rules for educator evaluations. But there’s been a paucity of reporting on what’s actually happening. No more! This report finds that the use of student surveys is still quite limited in districts and preparation programs, though a growing number of high-performing charter operators have adopted this approach (often at the...

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It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry over the demand by U.S. college students for “trigger warnings” to alert them that something they’re about to read or see in one of their classes might traumatize them—apparently a new trend, according to the New York Times. Ditto for off-beat campus sculptures, placards displayed by protesters and more.

Poor dears. These are the same kids who would riot in the streets if their colleges asserted any form of in loco parentis when it comes to such old-fashioned concerns as inebriation and fornication. God forbid they should be treated as responsible, independent adults! After all, they’re old enough to vote, to drive, even (though it’s unlikely) to join the army.

Yet they want their professors to shield their precious eyes from anything potentially offensive. In the words of a course-syllabus guide produced by Oberlin College’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force, that means flagging “all forms of violence” and examples of “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.” Although the Oberlin faculty has temporarily tabled the document, the school’s Office of Equity Concerns already admonishes instructors to “take steps to make the classroom more inclusive for … individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations.”

Just how, aside from inviting all of one’s students to take their seats, is a teacher supposed to manage that? Does the history professor refrain from...

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  1. In case you hadn’t yet heard, Fordham’s Aaron Churchill has a fantastic op-ed in the Dispatch today, who graciously allowed him to rebut the paper's recent report on charter schools and segregation by running the numbers and continuing the important conversation. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. We have long championed Reynoldsburg City Schools as a district where reform and innovation are welcomed in the name of helping students succeed. Today, we are learning about a proposal to change teacher compensation to what looks like a full merit pay system – along with a cash payment in lieu of district-provided health insurance. The Big D got the info on this proposal via a public records request (yeah!) and no one in the district is quoted on the record, but the teachers union and BASA are. Could get interesting folks. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. Ohio's new report cards got a big thumbs up from both parent reviewers and wonky researchers in a new study from the Education Commission of the States. Reviews cited breadth of measures, ease of interpretation, and easy accessibility among other things. Best of the best, baby! (Dayton Daily News)
     
  4. StateImpact's Bill Rice was paying attention to the K-12 education MBR last week and produced this piece talking about Common Core changes proposed in the legislature. Important moves underway with regard to standards in Ohio. (StateImpact Ohio)
     
  5. Editors in Akron were also paying attention to the State Senate last week, and late yesterday they opined
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On Friday, the Oklahoma legislature voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Common Core. The bill also requires that they be approved by the legislature, which will “bring representative government into the process”—a surefire recipe for a hot mess. Regardless of your views on the Common Core, or any standards, do you really want what the next generation learns to be determined by who wins the next election? The future of high-quality educational standards in the Sooner State is now in the hands of Governor Mary Fallin, who has until the end of next week to decide whether to sign the bill or let it die via a pocket veto. We hope she makes the right decision.

Yesterday, the New York Times’s David Leonhardt rounded up evidence finding that college is “clearly” worth the cost, highlighting two new studies in particular: one from the Economic Policy Institute and another by MIT economist David Autor (published in Science magazine). EPI found that the pay gap between college graduates and everyone else reached a record high last year, and Autor found that the true cost of a college degree is negative $500,000 over the average lifetime. However, Autor notes that the calculation doesn’t control for preexisting differences between college grads and non-grads—and that’s the rub. If you’re well prepared for college, it’s worth it—but we can’t ignore the fact that many are not....

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The #Kimye edition

After discussing what the research says young North West’s likelihood of educational success are, Mike and Michelle get down to brass tacks on Oklahoma’s possible Common Core repeal, the value of a college degree, and what makes Boston’s charter sector so high quality. Amber grades America’s public pension plans.

Amber's Research Minute

The State of Retirement: Grading America's Public Pension Plans by Richard W. Johnson, Barbara Butrica, Owen Haaga, and Benjamin G. Southgate, (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 2014).

With Memorial Day in our rearview mirror and Labor Day far over the horizon, miles and miles of beach-filled days stretch ahead of us. Nothing complements SPF 325 and drinks with umbrellas like some high-quality recent edu-reads.  Here’s the first installment of some good stuff I’ve come across; you’ll get tranche two tomorrow.

More to come as researchers’ keyboards allow and sunny days demand.

I recently wrote about my evolving thinking on the “public” in public education, especially as it relates to “local voice” and “system-wide coherence” in increasingly choice-based urban locales. If these issues interest you, I highly recommend a paper by Ashley Jochim and Michael DeArmond presented at a recent conference of the Association for Education Finance and Policy. They explore the influence that choice-based “fragmentation” has on “collective action.” Unlike too many conference papers, this one is not only informed by recent policy developments and current activities, it also has timely, actionable recommendations. Great stuff from the team at CRPE.

Andy Rotherham and Ashley LiBetti Mitchell, my colleagues at Bellwether, recently penned Genuine Progress, Greater Challenges: A Decade of Teacher Effectiveness Reforms, which captures and analyzes the major efforts to improve educator effectiveness over the last several decades. Readers will learn about the research findings and policies that predated today’s focus on growth scores, teacher evaluations, and preparation programs. The report also provides a list of sober recommendations for an area of work prone to bingeing.

Speaking of educator-effectiveness...

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