Gadfly Bites 10/4/17 - Administrator resigns! Board dissolved!! Another online charter school ready to bite the dust!!!

  1. Another outcome of the report card data this year is that three school districts are another step closer to falling into Academic Distress classification due to two years of bad grades. Two of these are near Cleveland, so Patrick O’Donnell took a look at what – if anything – those districts are doing to improve. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/3/17) Speaking of report card data, here is something of a curio. A Blade commentator is both blasting the state report card mechanism and aggressively touting the awesomeness of the Maritime Academy charter school. The problem: some mistaken reporting by the school leader led to a poor outcome on some aspect of the report card (unclear what it is exactly). While I, like the Blade, welcome any opportunity to big up the unique and interesting Maritime Academy, surely the report card issue will be fixed at some point and does little in the short term to harm the sterling reputation the school enjoys among both charter advocates and folks who would normally want to shut down any charter school. (Toledo Blade, 10/2/17)
  2. Back in the real world, the issue of fees charged to some students for use of Chromebooks and other one-to-one technology is coming under the microscope at the state level. Is it tantamount for charging families for textbooks or something different? Seems an important distinction as one-to-one tech expands across the state. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/2/17)
  3. Still in the real world, a couple of Marion County school districts are reporting growing pains with regard to the state’s new truancy reporting and response rules, which went into effect back in April. Despite having part of a school year and an entire summer to adjust, both humans and technology in those districts profiled here continue to wrestle with how the “new” absentee tracking process works and how to respond to problematic and chronic absenteeism when the data show it happening. (Marion Star, 10/2/17) And speaking of Marion City Schools, here is a fascinating dissection of the efforts said district is taking to get itself the heck out of the charter school business as quickly as possible. We’ve already told you about the sudden shutdown of the Marion City Digital Academy, the district’s other online charter school, hit with a funding clawback amounting to a crap ton of money because it could not adequately account for its attendance numbers. (Hmmm…. Story sounds familiar, but that’s not the right school name, is it? Weird.) Now we have the slower and more laborious/clunky “reintegration” of Rushmore Academy into the district’s regular offerings. (Marion Star, 10/3/17)
  4. We told you last week of the unfortunate downside of recent changes to the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship program. Now, the upside: rather than having specific application windows which families must negotiate, the statewide voucher program for students with special needs is accepting applications all year around. Can’t tell whether the folks in Lima think this is good news, but it seems so to me and they did put it in the paper. Knowledge is power, people. (Lima News, 10/2/17)
  5. Finally today, just a reminder that an 18 year old high schooler is running for mayor in rural Lancaster, Ohio. His unofficial platform appears to be “dealing a blow to the ‘good ol’ boys’ network”. Which, given recent hijinks among elected officials in the city and county probably resonates pretty well. (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 10/3/17)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,