Gadfly Bites 6/1/18 – I’m only in this for the insurance

  1. Let’s start the day with a spate of graduation-time stories. First up, yet another Ohio school district is getting rid of “antiquated” class rankings in favor of the Latin system. Future Hilliard grads, you have been warned. (ThisWeek News, 5/29/18) Elsewhere, Mahoning County High School graduate Marquale Armour gave full props to the staff of his dropout recovery charter school for helping him turn his life around to reach this moment. Said staff gave him some pretty solid props right back. Nice. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/1/18) Similar story, it seems, for this Chillicothe grad. Access to an online school helped a teen mom stay on course after the birth of her child. (Chillicothe Gazette, 5/27/18) Kudos, also, to Tiffany Baker. Her claim to fame? She is the sole member of the Class of 2018 at her school. Not only has she successfully completed her K-12 education, her school—St. Rita’s School for the Deaf in the Cincinnati area—will continue to serve her for the next two years via their Career Plus Program. At the end, Tiffany will start the next chapter of her life “with a career she loves”. I’ll bet it’s going to be something awesome! (Middletown Journal-News, 6/1/18)
     
  2. Before we leave the topic of graduation, a couple of words of caution. The super hot weather this year caused a lot of folks at Lancaster High School’s outdoor graduation ceremony to overheat and need medical attention. School officials are mulling indoor ceremonies going forward, if they can work out the logistics. Hey guys, I hear River Valley Mall has quite a bit of open space these days. (Lancaster Eagle Gazette, 5/29/18) It was hot in Oxford, Ohio this past weekend also, and that led to some trouble with the cops for a woman who was cited for leaving a dog in her hot car while attending a high school graduation ceremony. The little guy is fine, but she and “Dave” are in the doghouse. (Middletown Journal-News, 6/1/18)
     
  3. You may have guessed this given its recent spending spree, but now we have some proof that Dayton City Schools is rolling in the dough. The extra cash, it seems, is the result of leaving 150 or so positions unfilled—most of them teachers, their work covered by long-term subs. What’s next for the district? You guessed it – more spending! On intervention specialists. (Dayton Daily News, 5/31/18) Also rolling in the dough, apparently, is Akron City Schools. While the main reason for the windfall is favorable changes to the district’s insurance program, that fact merits only a tiny side note in this story, which is about how Akron City Schools is heroically draining away students from those dastardly charter schools. Probably. I add the caveat because the data included here are nearly incomprehensible and do not lead me to the same conclusion the journalist makes. But that has often been the case for me with ABJ charter school stories going way back. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/30/18)
     
  4. Dedicated Gadfly Bites subscribers may recall the sad saga of META Solutions, an educational support organization once described as a “shadow government” by the intrepid reporters at The Marion Star. It is still around and still in business using taxpayer dollars, despite some potential accounting and legal issues still to be worked out, but they’ve had to cut costs and personnel to do so. Oddly enough, a discussion of insurance factors in here too. Even after all this time—and all the electronic ink spilled by the Star—I honestly can’t tell you what school districts pay META Solutions to do. It’s something about supporting school districts in their use of technology, but that’s as far as I can tell. I wonder if the districts know? (Marion Star, 5/25/18)
     
  5. The Elmwood school district in far northwest Ohio has a problem. Despite having a robust-sounding pre-K program, officials there have noticed what they call “a trend”: more 5-year-olds than ever are just not developmentally ready for the rigors of Kindergarten. Rather than incurring a crap ton of intervention time for those students, and rather than “setting them up for failure” in Kindergarten, Elmwood has created an intermediate step between pre-K and K. It is called “begindergarten”. I don’t know if it’s because of that revolting name or because parents smell some sort of rat, but for some reason registration for the class is lagging. This despite the fact that officials are selling it hard and despite the fact that their Kindergarten class appears to be oversubscribed by quite a ways. (Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, 5/31/18)
     
  6. Finally this week: a tempest in a tempera paint pot. St. Mary Central Catholic School in Sandusky tried to tamper with tradition when it suggested earlier this year that it would renovate the high school art room to create more classroom space. The process would have destroyed a wall on which seniors had painted farewell artwork for many years. The social media outrage was white hot, as you might imagine. (Sandusky Register, 5/31/18) Editors at the Register—with nothing much else to do, one supposes—weighed in on the topic as well. (Sandusky Register, 6/1/18) Not sure whether it was the editorial board’s “dead kid” argument or the no doubt devastating Facebook meme storm that swayed them, but the school’s leadership has decided to put off the renovations for another year. Ars longa, vita brevis, amiright?
 
 
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,