Gadfly Bites 6/13/18 – Bargain basement

  1. Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type: Columbus City Schools just bought the former headquarters of ECOT in an auction. District reps call it “a solid investment”. There are still many questions (and many jokes) outstanding. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/12/18) As you can see, there’s more to that Dispatch story than just the auction news, but I’ll leave the details aside for now and simply suggest that ECOT seems to have become an education-related boogeyman throughout Ohio. Whatever is ailing your school district is ECOT’s fault – maybe the fact that it ever existed is the problem, maybe its sheer size, maybe the dissembling of administrators or reps, or even its very closing – no matter how nonsensical the connection may seem. Case in point: a group of homeowners in tiny Jefferson Township school district has petitioned for their property to be rezoned into another district. This is due to the closure of ECOT, says a lawyer, and therefore the request should be denied. How this is even possible and how Jefferson Township’s extreme and persistent suckitude may have contributed to the “disgraceful and shameful” request are not explained. The money equation on both sides IS discussed at length, however. (Dayton Daily News, 6/12/18) Meanwhile, Dayton City Schools’ board of education yesterday heard some concerns over the cost of moving its district HQ across the street. The move has already been approved by the board, but the cost estimates are rolling in now and have spooked at least one board member. Which is, of course, curious since the district has been handing out retroactive raises like Mardi Gras beads for the last two months. Why the sudden trepidation on spending, I wonder? Probably ECOT’s fault. (Dayton Daily News, 6/12/18)
     
  2. Here is a lovely profile of a group of smart and ambitious college-and-career-bound kids in Cleveland Metropolitan School District. If you are like me, you will read this and puzzle a bit over the intro used by the author – a public radio host in the CLE – and you will be left with a question: What exactly did CMSD do for them to assist in their pursuits and boost their awesomeness? The answer, I think, can be found in the literal circumstances of the interview day. School was not in session for some reason but the doors of the building were open so this interview could take place. Downright metaphorical if you ask me. If there is anyone beyond just these young men themselves to cheer on here, it is perhaps the “extracurricular” Health Professions Affinity Community program led by the Northeast Ohio Medical University. Kudos to all. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/10/18) Speaking of kudos, the CTE students at Washington High School in Massillon have apparently earned tons of them this year. From in-class success to awards on the local, state, and national levels, it seems to have been a banner year for the Tigers. This story is a detailed and almost hilariously celebratory look at the past year and is completely worth a read. Design, marketing, 3D print/manufacturing, television production, etc. Sounds like a great program with lots of benefit to students. (Canton Repository, 6/13/18)
     
  3. We have already covered this school year’s “successes” in Akron City Schools (successful “hand-holding” of students by teachers, successful “capstone projects” that take nearly two whole days start-to-finish, successfully posting a nearly-meaningless graduation rate, etc.), so it’s appropriate that we now look forward to the busy summer season, preparing for next year. That prep is mostly cosmetic at this point, and expensive. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/11/18) But the crown jewel of the 2018-19 school year in Akron – the new I Promise School – took a big leap forward this week free of charge as hundreds of volunteers swarmed into the school’s future home to clear out furniture and equipment. Volunteers included staffers and interns at the LeBron James Family Foundation and students from King James’ alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Marys High School. I assume the documentary camera crew was there as well, not working gratis per union contract. The extremely cosmetic changes (black and white paint! decals!) at this building will start very soon. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/12/18) Meanwhile, in Lorain City Schools, summer means “school leader bootcamp”. That starts today with an eight-day summit meeting where all building leaders and district-level chiefs get on the same page with CEO David Hardy and his turnaround plan. It is followed by intensive homework to turn the plan into specific actions and programs to begin on Day One of the 2018-19 school year. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/11/18)
     
  4. The state board of education met this week to talk about some stuff and to vote on some stuff. First up, a committee recommended some tweaks to the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program, but those did not include a one-year-of-prior-existence rule for new providers. So there’s that. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/11/18) Another committee recommended not increasing the cut score for promotion on the state’s third grade reading test. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/12/18) The full board got to hear state superintendent Paolo DeMaria’s self-evaluation for the last year, some plans he’s got for next year, and how much he loves visiting schools more than any other part of his job. Don’t blame you there, chief. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/11/18) Probably the biggest news is that the supe’s long-gestating strategic plan for K-12 education in Ohio was approved by the board. In other business, however, the board voted against a territory transfer out of Columbus City Schools (see above, and you can probably blame ECOT). (Gongwer Ohio, 6/12/18) And what’s in that plan? I think the headline on this PD piece actually explains it pretty well, although my interpretation is probably slightly different than some. Basically, however well your school does on math and ELA now is how well it’s going to do on social-emotional learning and critical thinking skills. But can you hand-hold someone to leadership skills? Seems unlikely, but I guess we’ll find out. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/12/18)
     
  5. If all of the above sounds like the recipe for an academic death spiral, happily the MJ is here to remind you that Ohio now recognizes multiple tests besides the GED for adults to get credit for high school if they didn’t graduate. Can we just skip the high school part and go straight to the test? (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/12/18)
 
 
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,