Gadfly Bites 6/27/18 – Expedition

  1. On Saturday, editors in Akron opined on the topic of Ohio’s “online charter school problem” – you know the one they’re talking about – and on the need for legislation to fix it. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/23/18) On Monday, Ohio legislators were reported to be “exploring ways to expedite passage” of changes to the rules governing online charter schools. You know the ones I’m talking about. Fordham’s own Chad Aldis is quoted here expressing optimism in regard to those efforts. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/25/18) That optimism was right on the money, too. By the end of their work day yesterday, members of the House Education and Career Readiness Committee had successfully explored and expedited those rule changes, and also passed them out of committee as part of a previously-debated bill. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/26/18) Of course, the end of the work day for the stalwart members of the Fourth Estate is different than for legislators so here’s the hot take on all of this from the Dispatch late yesterday evening. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/26/18)
  2. Back in the real world, we have two examples of something I like very much: education-support organizations and programs that exist for the benefit of kids no matter what type of school they may attend. First up is a super cool high-tech summer camp focused on something called Additive Manufacturing. The article explains it better than I can, but it entails students solving a given problem (such as making it easier for people with arthritis to open jars or writing underwater) using computer-aided design, 3D printing technology, math, physics, planning, and good old fashioned trial and error. An industry credential is in the offing as well. There’s a lot to like here, but most notable to me is that the three participating students quoted in the article are a homeschooler, an early college high school student (YAS!), and a dropout recovery charter school student. A veritable who’s who of school choice. Kudos to Columbus State Community College and the PAST Foundation for this awesome program. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/26/18) Secondly, here’s a shout out to the Lake Effect Conference, a group of now-11 varied schools in Northeast Ohio who banded together to create their own high school sports league. It consists of small religious private schools (many of whom take students on vouchers, I happen to know), independent and secular private schools, and charter schools as well. I don’t love sports, but I love this. (Elyria Chronicle, 6/26/18) Speaking of school choice, Liberty Local Schools’ board of education voted this week to change its open enrollment policy. For the foreseeable future, it will block “native students” from leaving Liberty to enroll in neighboring districts due to concerns about racial balance. That means, specifically, white students will not be allowed to leave until further notice. There is no report of any changes to the rules for incoming students. However, the board did discuss some possible avenues for shared services with other nearby districts as a way to save money. A precursor to a merger, perhaps? Time will tell. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/26/18)
  3. The new leader of Citizens Academy, a charter school in Cleveland, is a citizen of Lorain who currently sits on the district’s Academic Distress Commission, appointed by the mayor. Sounds like a win-win because Citizens will be getting a pretty awesome-sounding new staffer and because he will (for the time being) remain on the ADC. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/25/18)
  4. Here are some stats on Lorain County’s Head Start students. Administrators are pleased with the numbers of ready-for-Kindergarten youngsters among them. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/26/18) Things do not seem so rosy in Marietta in far southern Ohio. So many incoming children there have been found to be unready for the rigors of Kindergarten that the district is implementing a “transitional year” to help the youngsters gain the skills they’ll need before they start school in earnest. Well, at least they’re not calling it “Begindergarten”. (Marietta Times, 6/27/18)
  5. Finally today, the Akron ENERGY Program has got at least 15 goals by my count – including school readiness for kids, drug abuse prevention for kids and adults, social-emotional education, parental engagement, community involvement, and African-American heritage studies. It’s like Kwanzaa in July. Good luck, everyone. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/26/18)

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Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,