Gadfly Bites 4/20/18 - This craze for "steam power" will never last

  1. In case you missed it, panic ensued in schools newsrooms across the state on Wednesday when a glitch in the AIR login process required rescheduling tests in a number of school districts. Things were back to normal on Thursday; at least at the schools. One assumes the newsrooms were still on edge. Completely coincidentally, the power went out at my daughter’s school on Wednesday, sending everyone home at 11:30. I am still awaiting the calls to ditch the power grid in favor of squirrels on wheels. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/19/18)
  2. Back in the real world, some North Coast school officials are weighing in on proposed legislation that would scrap Ohio’s award winning school report cards in favor of something that looks like the gauges and dials on the dashboard of a non-award winning 1987 Yugo. Reading the piece in detail, it seems that said officials are more in the camp of “tweak” and not “scrap”. The report cards, that is, not the Yugos. Seriously, those things were junk. (Norwalk Reflector, 4/20/18)
  3. Staying in the real world for a moment, a school building in Cleveland is way under capacity and CMSD has determined that it’s too difficult and costly to properly serve those students in that situation. The solution: close the building and spread out those students and staff among other nearby buildings. Sounds simple and logical, but it rarely is, especially when we’re talking about a building dedicated to serving gifted students who may soon be facing school days spent in the “general education” population. The rhetoric gets a little heated here, as you might have guessed, but it’s clearly serious stuff to those involved. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/18/18) Ditto for this school in Toledo, a city which usually celebrates the closing of a charter school with—I imagine—parades and feasting. What’s the catch? Polly Fox Academy serves pregnant teens and young mothers to help them complete their high school education while caring for themselves and their children. Unfortunately, enrollment has been declining steadily and the model now appears to be unsustainable as a charter school. The dramatic decrease in teen pregnancies across Ohio sounds like good news, but Toledo City Schools and Polly Fox supporters are lamenting the possible loss of the school. (Toledo Blade, 4/17/18) And ditto for this charter school in Columbus which serves primarily students with special needs. It is attempting to fight a contract non-renewal notice from its current sponsor—the Ohio Department of Education—in court. The odds are long, though, as the school is facing very low academic achievement numbers and some serious debt to its previous sponsor. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/19/18)
  4. Editors in Toledo this week opined on the topic of TPS’ school suspension numbers. (Toledo Blade, 4/19/18)
  5. We end the week with this fascinating tale of three districts—distant exurb, sprawling suburb, and landlocked inner ring—all of which have problems with the “caps” and “guarantees” which interfere with Ohio’s school funding formula. Especially the caps, since all three districts have a growing student population. However, the problems are all slightly different, thus resisting easy solution. One only needs to witness the length of this piece—over 2,100 works—and the multifarious responses from folks running for office in these areas to realize the complexity of the issue. (ThisWeek News, 4/18/18)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,