Gadfly Bites 5/11/18 - Epic Bites

  1. We start today with two awesome student stories. They are both a little off the beaten path for Gadfly Bites, but were too great to pass up. The first one comes from the sports page: Cin’Quan Haney just graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in physics and is headed to a great job and what seems to be a very bright future indeed. Haney is from Dayton and was a walk-on member of the OSU football team for three years, hence the placement of this story in the sports page. He took the field for only one play in his entire career but gives huge props to the coaches and staff for helping him boost his already-strong academic efforts. In this profile, he also gives huge props to his high school—Chaminade-Julienne—for its role in his personal growth and education. Why is this important? First, because Haney’s life included a full hand of what some folks like to call ACEs—adverse childhood experiences. Those experiences should have, according to those same folks, precluded some or all of Haney’s now-demonstrated success. Those folks are dead wrong. Second, because whatever Cin’Quan Haney needed to succeed in school was either not available in Dayton City Schools or was not enough for him and his mother. Folks who believe that school choice should not exist and that status quo one-size-fits-all district schools should be the only option are—you guessed it—dead wrong. Third, Chaminade-Julienne High School takes students on the EdChoice Scholarship program. There is no indication that Cin’Quan Haney sought or received a voucher, but CJ participating in the state’s voucher program means that the same supports and opportunities that Haney credits for his success are far more widely available to Dayton students than without it. Those folks who oppose vouchers are dead wrong too; and this is proof. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/10/18) But don’t take my word for it. Who am I, after all? This story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes the school choice and voucher case directly. It is the story of Cameron Smith, one of the first recipients of Georgia’s special needs scholarship back in 2007, who graduated with honors from Reinhardt University last week. Smith’s mother describes how she sent her son to a magnet elementary school outside of his Atlanta neighborhood because she felt it was the right fit for his needs. When it was time for middle school, however, she felt she had no choices in the city schools until the scholarship program came online and helped her access a Catholic school across town. While she makes it clear that the voucher amount was in no way sufficient on its own, she is also very clear that Cameron would not be on the path he is today without the assistance of school choice options and vouchers. And where does that path lead? To Ohio! Cameron Smith is joining a theater troupe in the Buckeye State…as soon as he’s back from a trip to the Vatican with his chamber singing group. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/9/18)
  2. Can you stand some more good news today? Me too! Youngstown Schools boss Krish Mohip presented some data in his public CEO Update meeting this week—all of it good. Modest but clear improvements in math and reading scores, attendance, and student GPA across the board from the start of the year. Not only is the positive news worth talking about, so is the fact that the community got ACTUAL REAL TIME STUDENT DATA at a public meeting! What is not worth talking about is what the elected school board were “discussing” at their own separate meeting held at the same time across town. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/10/18)
  3. This is not a riddle: What do you call a charter school when you like a specific school of that type but you don’t like charter schools as a category and wish they would all go away (except, of course, for the one you like)? The answer can be found in this piece, which notes that Steel Academy (great name, BTW) in Akron, which is undoubtedly a charter school but which serves mainly students with ADHD and other learning disabilities and so is not called by that term, will soon part ways with a service provider which had been its backbone for most of its existence. In any normal story about charter schools in Ohio (see below), especially one from the ABJ, this piece would include the term “charter school” in some screamy headline and would probably include a history of questions raised about relationships and money and leadership. It would definitely imply that this is the end of the line for said charter school and might even suggest that it’s probably already closed. This piece, however, seems very hopeful to me. A new provider will be found and our beloved “free public school” should be right as rain soon. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/11/18) Turns out that Cleveland Metropolitan School District will not be closing its gifted school after all and dispersing its students among other “general ed” schools, following some loud and visible pushback from students and families. District CEO Eric Gordon announced the stay this week, along with a revised plan that will see all the gifted students crammed together on just two floors of the current building while construction all around them—part of the reason for the original dispersal plan—continues for the next couple of years. The good news is, of course, that the gifted school’s student body has been steadily dwindling over the years—ANOTHER part of the reason for the original dispersal plan—so perhaps it won’t be so tight a squeeze after all. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/10/18) Well, we knew all the good news couldn’t last. So here’s the bad news: Cleveland’s Montessori High School will close at the end of this school year due to declining enrollment. It is a unique institution: a non-religious private high school using the Montessori Method and with a boarding school component as well. It’s location on the lovely University Circle was pretty cool too. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/10/18)
  4. In case you missed it, the Auditor of State’s report on ECOT was released yesterday. Hizzoner has some thoughts, which I will skip over for now, but I did want to parse the headline here for a minute. How certain are we really that ECOT “inflated” the amount of time that “students spent learning”? Surely not every minute that students spend in brick and mortar schools is “learning time”. How do we know that some of the time ECOT students were logged in but not “active” didn’t include watching movies or filmstrips on another device? Maybe they were having a field day on the side yard trampoline? Perhaps they were running laps in their garage or practicing music in the corner of their rooms? What if they were conducting a mom-sanctioned walkout in protest of something? Or they were in the bathroom or trying to remember their locker combination or texting about why Dionne was wearing THAT on video today? Or napping at their desk or reading a book or giving their little sibling a swirly? I think we have more questions than answers here, honestly, but as noted above who am I to ask? (Associated Press, via Akron Beacon Journal, 5/10/18) Editors in Tiffin had an interesting take on the ECOT story post-audit,  reinforcing the similarity they would like to see between bricks and mortar and online schools. (Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune, 5/11/18)
  5. We end today where we began: on the sports page and in Dayton. As my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will be aware, 2017-2018 has been annus horribilus for Dayton City Schools athletics. Brawls, investigations, vacated wins, sanctions, court cases, fines, and firings. All of this awfulness has led to big changes in job descriptions, hiring, and training for ADs and coaches district wide. The new plan was unveiled this week with hopes of implementation for next school year. (Dayton Daily News, 5/11/18)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,