Gadfly Bites 6/8/18 – Some alternatives are better than others

  1. A final batch (one assumes) of graduation-time stories today. Here is coverage of a recent “signing day” for a small group of Akron-area kids going straight from high school to jobs in the manufacturing sector. In fact, most of them are already working at those jobs earning in the mid-$30,000 range with benefits and tuition assistance for future college work. Most of the talking in this piece is done by representatives of the businesses or the non-profit which worked to connect the kids with the jobs. Akron City Schools reps, wisely (if you ask me), kept quiet. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/6/18) Unfortunately (if you ask me), Mansfield City Schools spokespeople are all over this piece. Why “unfortunately”? Because while this story about rising ninth graders starting out on a dual high school diploma/college degree track already sounds good on the surface, there are enough red flags and question marks for me that I am skeptical of its actual goodness. Red flags such as: The jobs they are being herded into making $30K tops (see above) and the kids needing to work to support their families while still in eighth grade. And questions such as: How were these students chosen for this and are the skills they will learn suitable for any other profession should they have second thoughts down the line? (Mansfield News-Journal, 6/6/18)
     
  2. The headline of this piece says that Lorain’s school board members can’t decide whether they want to (need to? have to?) put a levy on the ballot (Elyria Chronicle, 6/7/18) But that headline must refer to their official, on the public record, said during the recorded minutes comments. Because this follow up piece seems to make very clear the stance on the topic of those board members who chose to be quoted. Both of these articles are worth a read in detail just to see the thought processes on display, if I might charitably call them that. It’s also interesting to note the reference to the public’s access to district information via local newspapers. Or should I say, ironic to note. (Elyria Chronicle, 6/8/18) Meanwhile, district CEO David Hardy seems to be chugging along with his business, announcing this week his extremely impressive pick for new leader of Lorain High School. It is unfortunate that a leader of this caliber (Ohio native, multiple degrees in education and leadership, teaching and school leadership experience in the U.S. and abroad, fluent Spanish speaker, etc.) will likely be pilloried by the Lorain school board because 1) his title will be “executive director” rather than “principal” with all the differences that entails, and 2) dude was TFA. Wonder if the newspapers can help get the important information out to the public on this? (Elyria Chronicle, 6/7/18)
     
  3. It seems the theme of our clips today is that traditional districts in Ohio don’t implement adapt very well to change. So then, how about we throw all that out and opt for homeschooling instead? For the first time, the annual convention of Ohio Christian homeschoolers is taking place in Columbus this weekend and I must admit I learned something from this brief look at the event in the Dispatch. I thought I knew what the main reasons for homeschooling were, but I was surprised to learn that the “separation” of parents and children (physically, I think she meant) during a traditional school day is a prime motivating factor for a number of homeschooling families. Live and learn, Murray. Live and learn. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/7/18)
 
 
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,