Gadfly Bites 11/16/18 – Make that no sympathy

  1. How many times have I started a clips rundown with this sentence in the last 18 months? “The state board of education met this week and made some effort aimed at weakening Ohio’s graduation requirements.” Too darn many, I’ll tell you. And it happened again this week as the board passed the buck—again—to the state legislature on this matter. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted here, serving up a “stay strong and make sure that diplomas continue to actually mean something” message, with a side order of “whose decision is this anyway?” (Gongwer Ohio, 11/15/18) State board members also made efforts to change Ohio’s new school and district report cards to, among other things, remove overall letter grades from them. We—and the legislature—have heard that song before too. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/18)
     
  2. A new joint legislative committee met this week in the first step of an effort to revise funding for online schools in Ohio. It is hoped that the fix will be completed in time to be part of Governor-Elect DeWine’s first budget in March. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/18)
     
  3. I can sort of see the conundrum that Columbus City Schools is talking about here, but I am less sympathetic when I think about where else the district could find money of their own to keep much needed and putatively successful interventions going strong. Like, perhaps NOT spending $4 million to buy a building they didn’t need just for spite. Or, perhaps, to right-size the district and sell their excess buildings and properties—as they were advised to twice!—to eliminate millions of dollars in upkeep spending and bring in additional millions by the sales themselves. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/18)
     
  4. Back to report cards for a second, the new-ish superintendent of Painesville City Schools in Northwest Ohio presents what the headline terms “realistic talk” about where the district is and where it needs to go. So what’s the real? Painesville got an F on its last report card and, “community perception” aside, supe seems to understand that his district needs to do better going forward. And part of that is actually serving kids. You know: effectively teaching them math and stuff. For real. (Willoughby News-Herald, 11/15/18)
     
  5. The results of annual charter sponsor evaluations were released this week. Why isn’t this bigger news? You got me. The first (and so far only) coverage it comes from the tiny Loveland Magazine. Kudos! The piece also includes a sidebar answering the questions “What is a sponsor?” and “What is a community school?”. For the uninitiated, I guess. (Loveland Magazine, 11/15/18)
     
  6. The City of Toledo is looking to help boost kindergarten readiness with a huge preschool initiative—with a corresponding price tag—starting in 2019. The rationale and the bare bones of a funding plan are laid out in this piece. (Toledo Blade, 11/14/18) Toledoans are even getting advice from the folks behind Dayton’s Preschool Promise program. One piece of that advice goes like this: We in Dayton did a pilot program in a nearby suburb before getting started in the city; we urge you not to do that and just get started right now. Hmmm… Whether that’s good advice or bad, I will leave to others to decide. But I will toss out the hope that, if it does work to boost Toledo kiddos’ readiness for kindergarten, that those kiddos find some good elementary schools to go to so as not to, you know, squander the investment. (Toledo Blade, 11/15/18)
     
  7. Finally today, students in two elementary schools in rural Lancaster, Ohio, are eligible to receive free WiFi hotspots in their homes due to a grant awarded to the district from T-Mobile. Having lived in Lancaster for some years, I can understand how this will be a huge boost for internet connectivity for families there. I am a little surprised they started with elementary grades, but I’m sure that many of the families in this small city have students in a number of grades and all of them will benefit. Nice! (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 11/13/18)

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Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,