Gadfly Bites 5/30/18 – “If you want to kill the progress here and you want to hurt the kids, you go right ahead and try.”

We're back after a week's break and there's a lot to cover!

  1. Well, it took a little while, but the superintendent of Akron City Schools finally submitted an op-ed in response to Chad’s own commentary on the topic of the district’s expected graduation rate for the Class of 2018. Personally, I’m not sure it says what Hizzoner thinks it says. But I could be wrong. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/26/18) Meanwhile, public radio in Kent briefly covered the original story on how Akron was able to reach the 90+ percent graduation rate this year, and also quoted Chad “Color Me Skeptical” Aldis on same. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 5/28/18) Also happening in Akron: here is an update on that social-emotional education effort known as the I Am mirror wall. It is, in a word, a triumph. If the teachers do say so themselves. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/27/18)
     
  2. Lest you think that John Kasich has checked out of governing Ohio during his final months in office, here is a story which might make you think again. Kasich is in support of summative A-F grading for schools—which makes sense since he championed the legislation which created it in the first place—and would like to see it finally come into use this year. And because of his unwavering support, current legislative attempts to delay or cancel it seem to be stalled. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/23/18)
     
  3. You know what else Governor Kasich remains in support of? CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions. Also not terribly surprising, of course, given how much political capital he expended to help HB 70 pass. Kasich sat down with the editorial board of the Vindicator last week and told them just how much he remained in support of ADCs, especially in light of recent data showing some test score improvement in Y’town. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/27/18) Editors in Youngstown followed up that news report with their own—similar—opinion on same. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/27/18) I don’t know what day Kasich traveled to Youngstown, but perhaps it was the same day that a group of elected school board members and other officials from both Y’town and Lorain caravanned down to Columbus to protest HB 70 to whomever would listen to them. I can just imagine the two motorcades passing each other on the freeway, can’t you? It is unclear who the electeds spoke to or what the response was, but they were in town on the same day that legislative efforts to carve out a safe harbor for further ADC designations under HB 70 were stalled. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/24/18) Finally, it was graduation time this past weekend in Youngstown. Seems like most of the bickering and rancor about ADCs was left aside for the day, although district CEO Krish Mohip did tell East High School grads: “You are the class that came and led the transformation of a school system. ... You have restored hope in the hopeless.” Nice. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/26/18)
     
  4. Speaking of graduations, a Toledo childcare center celebrated several of them last week. Mom’s House is dedicated to supporting young mothers and their children and this year two of their moms graduated from high school and a third graduated from the University of Toledo. All the women credited the support of Mom’s House for helping them persevere and earn their diplomas while caring for their children. Kudos to everyone. (Toledo Blade, 5/23/18) Kudos, also, to Learn to Earn Dayton, a partnership of organizations dedicated to increasing academic achievement for low income students in the Gem City. Learn to Earn won two national awards last week—and some cash—to continue its work. (Dayton Daily News, 5/25/18)
     
  5. I know it’s a packed roster of clips today, but stick with me on this one. It seems important. This week we got our first insight into the process by which the potential closure of buildings in Columbus City Schools will occur. Four clear and reasonable criteria were established (think, age/condition of building, capacity being used, etc.) and all existing buildings were ranked on those criteria. Only two buildings district wide passed all four criteria, while ten buildings failed all four. There is a fascinating discussion of why, in particular, so many schools are below capacity and it has to do with school choice. I have never seen the movie “Field of Dreams”, but I am certain that its most famous line should be retired from consideration as motivation for building projects in the 21st Century…and in the real world which includes school choice. In a more functional system, it would be an easy call to close most or all of those ten buildings and to consolidate students among higher-quality facilities currently under capacity. However, Columbus City Schools is not a perfect system, as we are all aware. More to come. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/29/18)
     
  6. Speaking of school choice, interdistrict open enrollment is given partial credit here for the sound state of Reynoldsburg City Schools’ finances. Open enrollment, good decision-making, and fiscal restraint. And open enrollment. (ThisWeek News, 5/28/18)
     
  7. Speaking of the far flung exurbs of Columbus, here is a piece on the growing diversity of the student bodies of a number of districts at the various bucolic fringes of central Ohio. I did a quick web search and confirmed what I figured based on the story contents—all of the quoted district officials (and the inexplicably-included police chief) are indeed white. The consultant being brought in to help at least one of those districts with staff training and other things—you know, the one quoted at the very very end—is not white. Do with all of that as you will. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/29/18)
     
  8. Finally today, here’s a quick look at the reflections of a rookie middle school teacher at the end of her first year in Zanesville City Schools. Sounds pretty rosy, I guess, but I have some questions regarding that whole signing the whiteboard business. (Zanesville Times-Recorder, 5/23/18)
 
 
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,