Gadfly Bites 4/30/18 - And by perfect, I mean a giant disaster

  1. Data from Fordham’s new 2018 edition of Ohio Education by the Numbers is quoted in this piece which discusses a proposed moratorium on imposition of new Academic Distress Commissions in Ohio—no matter how low a district’s performance sinks. Luckily, the Fordham-provided data are accurate, because there is some serious misinformation about ADCs in here. (Elyria Chronicle, 4/28/18)
  2. The biggest piece of misinformation in the above article is the assertion that the state chooses/imposes/installs (select one as your dudgeon level compels you) the CEO. Of course, that duty falls to the Academic Distress Commission members themselves. Speaking of which, after some weeks of chaos in Youngstown, one of the several empty ADC seats has been filled with what sounds like a very solid choice. (Youngstown Vindicator, 4/27/18)
  3. OK. So setting aside the misinformation and the high-quality, dedicated ADC members working away to help improve education for students in Youngstown and Lorain (and, presumably, in any other district which falls under Academic Distress designation), apparently we’re still anti-ADC these days here in Ohio. In that case, let’s take a look at a district long on the cusp of Academic Distress designation—Fordham’s hometown schools in Dayton—and see how things are going. Citing four years of poor academic progress, in part because previous editions went on “too long”, Dayton City Schools is changing things up for summer school programming this year. The sessions will be shorter during each day, run for a shorter length of time, include a couple of field trips to encourage attendance, and will be run by a private company based in New Jersey. Locations TBD. (Dayton Daily News, 4/27/18)
  4. So the answer in Dayton is privatization and less time on instruction, it seems, at least in summer school anyway. Let’s check in on Akron, then, another longtime low-performer in the state. (Don’t believe me on that? Check out these stats from the article: A four-year graduation rate of 74 percent, 10 percent of students meeting college readiness benchmarks on the ACT and a mere 3 percent of graduates emerging with industry-recognized credentials.) The answer in Akron, as we have previous discussed here in the Bites, is to entirely blow up the status quo. All of Akron City Schools’ general education high schools will disappear by the 2019-20 school year, to be replaced by college and career academies. All students remaining in the district will be required to choose an academy of interest to them (think, healthcare or business) and a pathway within that academy (think, hospital tech or business administration). All general education classes will be retooled and geared toward that path’s specific needs and students will take other, new classes specifically  toward certification/credentials/next steps in that field. This is a pretty detailed description here, and at least one parent says she’ll hang on for a while instead of moving her kids to a private school because of it. Kudos. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/30/18) Despite all of the foregoing, the reporter does note that some parents still have questions. If someone were to ask me, I might surmise that the questions deal with some of the following issues: what to do if your kid doesn’t want any of the pathways offered in the high school nearest them, what if the preferred pathway is across town (city bus passes!), what if the closest or most preferred pathway is full, what if the closest or most preferred pathway is underutilized, and/or what to do if your kids get two years into a pathway that they don’t like/don’t want anymore. No one has asked me, of course, so you can all disregard the preceding questions. The ABJ’s year-by-year breakdown of how things will evolve with the new academies is aimed at providing even more answers for those folks with lingering questions, but I’m not sure it hits the mark. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/28/18)
  5. So if ADCs, summer school, and job training academies are not apparently the recipes for academic turnaround, how about open enrollment to another school district? Well, if you’re in the Youngstown area, you might steer clear of that option for a little while too. As we discussed last week, things are a bit dicey on the open enrollment front there. I am not sure that this open letter from Liberty Local Schools’ superintendent makes things any better or presages a resolution any time soon. Especially since we are still missing some vital information about open enrollment into Liberty. Maybe this week’s meeting with the NAACP will help. (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 4/30/18)
  6. So what are we left with? Maybe we need to hit up a private school instead. Here’s a look at the schmancy new St. Martin de Porres High School building in Cleveland. Nice. Why yes, they do take students on Cleveland vouchers, EdChoice, Ohio Autism, and Jon Peterson special needs scholarships. Why do you ask? (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/27/18)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,