Gadfly Bites 5/4/18 - First worst

  1. The Beacon Journal’s editorial board opined following that story from earlier this week about Akron City Schools’ potential for a stratospheric jump in their graduation rate. Forgive me for commenting on an editorial, but it seems to me that they are of two minds on the topic of rigorous graduation requirements. On the one hand, they seem to understand that Ohio’s currently-temporary graduation requirements are so soft as to render this year’s diploma nearly meaningless; on the other hand, reaching that 93 percent number seems to be very attractive. Kind of like they’ve got an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, whispering to them, and no one is quite sure which is which. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/3/18)
  2. In the market for a computer and looking for a deal on gently-used equipment? The former online school known as ECOT will be selling off its unneeded electronics at auction so as to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. But not right away. Next Wednesday’s previously-scheduled auction—approved by the judge overseeing the school’s shut down—will probably be postponed because the State Auditor wants to preserve data related to his audit of this particular deactivated carousel horse. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/4/18)
  3. The incoming president of Columbus’ teachers union seems to have taken exception to that rosier-than-expected budget news reported by the district earlier this week. He thinks, perhaps, that the “last best offer” his members approved earlier this year might have been neither. He will definitely be looking into it. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/4/18)
  4. We finish the week with a trio of private school stories from across the state. First up, St. Mary Catholic School in Marion is trying an experiment to boost enrollment and retention. Seems that since the closure of the Catholic high school there, families know that they have to leave St. Mary at some point, and many are choosing do so after sixth grade rather than sticking it out through the traditional eighth grade. So St. Mary’s leaders are working to creating a more specific and distinct middle school experience to break up the K-8 model and hopefully keep families in the system longer. It will be interesting to see how it goes. (Marion Star, 5/3/18) It is not noted in the above, but St. Mary accepts voucher students, as I assume did the now-closed high school in Marion. A similar situation seems to be bearing down upon Heritage Christian School in Canton, and this time Ohio’s voucher programs are front and center in the discussion. Currently a K-12 school, Heritage Christian will be cutting way back next year – eliminating grades 6 through 12 – in a bid to stay open. Officials say that the gap between tuition and the voucher amount, especially for high school and without additional revenue to support the school, is not enough to maintain the educational quality they wish to provide. Comparison is also made between urban Heritage and a more-suburban competitor. Fascinating discussion. (Canton Repository, 5/4/18) Finally, some unabashed good news. Step by Step Academy and Boundless Inc. have merged to expand the range and the geographic reach of educational services for students on the autism spectrum in a wide swath of central Ohio. No mention of the Ohio Autism or Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarships in here, but I would bet that some or all of the services are available to students with vouchers. Nice. (Newark Advocate, 5/2/18)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,