Gadfly Bites 5/2/18 - "Dreaming big"; well, dreaming

Before we start our clips today, I want to address the elephant in the room. Yes, tens of thousands of Ohio kids having been taking AIR tests online this week and no glitches have been reported. That’s right, not a single explosive story of log-in fails or authentication errors in any newspaper in Ohio. It was certainly huge news statewide last week when there was a glitch. I can’t imagine why the local press is not reporting on this vitally important story. Personally, I suspect that the No. 2 pencil lobby is trying to keep it under wraps that some of their products malfunctioned in previous test-taking attempts and should, rightfully, be banned forever because of it. But I ain’t taking on Big Graphite.

  1. Now, to the actual news clips. Not to harp on this more than is necessary, but the interdistrict open enrollment flap in Liberty Local Schools drew the attention of the Associated Press last week, and their report includes some important commentary on OE by researcher Deven Carlson from the University of Oklahoma. While it is not noted here, Professor Carlson honed his knowledge by co-conducting Fordham’s 2017 study on interdistrict open enrollment here in Ohio. It seems, perhaps, that more questions beckon on that front. (Associated Press, 4/27/18)
  2. In that same neck of the woods, the Youngstown Schools board of education met in “special session” this week for…what appears to be no reason at all. The one interesting point in this piece is the local NAACP noting that the board could have avoided all of the agita of dealing with an Academic Distress Commission by simply educating the children in their charge when they had the chance. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/2/18)
  3. Speaking school boards, Columbus Schools’ board heard a sliver of good news at their meeting this week—the district’s imminent budget deficit got pushed a little further out, thanks to $18 million in spending cuts. No idea what those were, though. Sounds like they’re still hoping for an end to funding caps and guarantees at the state level to really get to and stay in the black. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/1/18)
  4. Yesterday was “signing day” at Valley View High School in Montgomery County – when the post-graduation plans of graduating seniors are publicly announced and celebrated. This is a countywide happening sponsored by Learn to Earn Dayton and it has two main goals. The first is to show off the diversity of options available to successful graduates—not just college but military enlistment and joining the work force—and to emphasize that no one pathway is right for every student. The second is to make sure that underclassmen know that they need to be thinking of—and working toward—their postsecondary pathways now. Valley View’s principal specifically uses signing day as the start of a conversation with his youngest students about what they must do with the remainder of their schooling in order to reach the place they want to be when their day comes. (Dayton Daily News, 5/1/18)
  5. Here we have some of the first detailed on-the-ground discussion of how this year’s lower, non-academic graduation requirements have been implemented, courtesy of Akron City Schools. And it seems to have gone much as one might have guessed. After much “hand holding” of its students, the district appears to be on track to graduate more than 90 percent of its seniors this year, after starting the year with only 54 percent on track. You can read the depressing details for yourself—community service was “quite popular”—but I am left with one main question: where was all this “hand holding” when kids weren’t passing the end of course exams the past three years? (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/1/18) Don’t forget, though, that Akron has some big changes in store starting next year, including the innovative I Promise School. Yesterday, we got a first look at design plans for the renovation of the building currently housing swing space which will be the first home of I Promise. Planners are “dreaming big”, including relocating the existing flagpole, putting glass on the stairway rails, adding a third arch to the McDonald’s next door, and creating a Wall of Shoes in the entrance way. Let’s call it Extreme Makeover: Bureaucracy Edition. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/1/18)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,