Gadfly Bites 6/29/18 – It’s a kind of magic

  1. As we noted on Wednesday, the state legislature was moving expeditiously to pass a ton of bills, including one that contained measures to deal with Ohio’s “online charter school problem” (yes, that problem). By the end of the day on Wednesday, that bill and a ton of others had passed out of the General Assembly and were headed to Governor Kasich’s desk. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/27/18) This all sounds like good news to me as I understand it. What, then, to make of the decidedly downbeat coverage of these e-school changes? Check out the PD’s take and see what you think. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/27/18) Also on its way to the governor after the flurry of expedition – SB 216 – the education deregulation bill. Here’s a look at its final form. More on this in Item 3 below. (Dayton Daily News, 6/28/18)
     
  2. Let’s get back to that downbeat assessment of the bill passed to address Ohio’s “online charter school problem” (you know the problem I mean), mentioned in Item 1 above. We have previously discussed the widespread demonization of ECOT, which went so far as to turn literal when its moldering corpse was compared to Dracula in a newspaper article. I can only hope that this story – about the demise of another online school for the exact same reason as ECOT – might cheer up some of the demonizers…unless they fear that Akron Digital Academy and all the others already closed might not be completely dead in their electronic coffins. Or perhaps they have concerns that the bill just passed to address Ohio’s “online charter school problem” (keep up, willya?) is not strong enough in the garlic/holy water stakes in case they make like old Vlad and start rising from the dead. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/28/18). But honestly, I think that the extreme demonization efforts were ultimately too effective and created an enduring, all-purpose boogeyman. Even adult education providers can’t seem to resist summoning the ECOT specter when making their case for more money, and time, and a break. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/28/18)
     
  3. Meanwhile, Ohio’s Academic Distress Commission law had a hearing in a Columbus courtroom this week…and came out a winner. Again. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/29/18) Speaking of which, we return to the topic of SB 216. Efforts were made to include a moratorium on new Academic Distress Commissions in the deregulation bill, efforts that did not ultimately succeed. Instead, the state superintendent and the Ohio Department of Education will now be required to study the duties of ADCs and their district CEOs for details of effectiveness or lack thereof. Since Dayton City Schools and nearby Trotwood-Madison City Schools are on the shortlist of possible districts to fall into academic distress, the DDN was on the case. Chad is quoted in this piece, seeming to wonder what all the hubbub is about. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/29/18)
     
  4. Speaking of school districts operating under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission, here’s a story about Lorain High School students gaining work experience over the summer. It’s nice that they’re getting paid and learning what the 9-to-5 grind is like – and the students seem to like it – but did it have to be in the depths of city government? I guess it’s better than the DMV, but seriously. Won’t someone think of the children? (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/28/18)
     
  5. Finally today, Toledo City Schools last school year had the second-highest number of out-of-school suspensions in the state. This week, the school board voted in favor of changes to the discipline policy that will most likely reduce that number dramatically. “We focused on reducing exclusionary discipline and using more interventions that will keep students in their seats and the learning environment,” said the director of pupil placement and child adjustment services. “We want to modify behavior. We’re not looking to punish. We’re looking to teach.” Teacher training on the new policy starts in August. (Toledo Blade, 6/27/18)

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