Gadfly Bites 7/17/17 - "A distinct disadvantage"

  1. We start today with something of a broad overview of education in Ohio, courtesy of state supe Paolo DeMaria. The supe presented his vision at the City Club of Cleveland last week, stressing the need for strategic planning and broad goals rather than what he calls “random acts of policy development”. Wonder what he means by that? (Gongwer Ohio, 7/14/17)
  2. Here’s one of those “big picture” things which the supe’s planning efforts should probably take into account – the large scale baby bust in the United States. The impacts of a declining number of young people needing K-12 education services should probably drive decision making now for the future. And of course since this decline has been going on for a decade, it should probably have been taken into account somewhat sooner than now. But hindsight is 20/20, amiright? (Dayton Daily News, 7/16/17)
  3. And just for balance, here are some small picture things that should probably get some attention in whatever strategic planning is on the horizon for Ohio. Toledo Public Schools has the highest number of students classified as homeless in Ohio – approximately 2,700 students last school year, representing a 37 percent increase over the last three years. The definition is perhaps a little broad, but the problem is real, especially when ZIP code equals destiny in a district. (Toledo Blade, 7/16/17) Ohio students are far more diverse as a group than are their teachers. And while quality is more important really than is diversity, any efforts to accomplish both aims simultaneously will likely pay dividends. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/16/17) Back to Toledo to get an update on their efforts at diversifying their teacher workforce through the Teach Toledo initiative. There is interesting detail here about barriers the program faced to recruiting enough people to even fill up its first class of locally-based teacher candidates (think transcript fees and family-friendly class schedules), but fill it up they finally did. Now, on with the show. Good luck to everyone involved! (Toledo Blade, 7/17/17)
  4. Over the weekend, editors in Youngstown opined in a “be careful what you wish for manner” regarding the pending legal case of the school district vs. the “Youngstown Plan”. (Youngstown Vindicator, 7/16/17)
  5. Speaking of CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions, here are the five finalists for CEO in Lorain, ahead of tomorrow’s Meet the Candidates night. The ADC might want to make sure they’ve got someone else lined up to set out the chairs, it appears, as the person I had expected to be doing that job – with a spring in his step and a tune on his lips – will probably not be there. Much to my surprise. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/16/17) We finish up in Lorain with a small piece about changes afoot in the Colossus of Lorain (a.k.a. their schmancy new-ish high school) for next school year intended to help aid rising freshman to success. The piece is so short as to pass nearly unnoticed, but also so loaded with between-the-lines irony and unanswered questions as to stand like a – well – Colossus smack dab in the middle of the county. Unanswered questions include: “Why didn’t someone planning this monstrous building point out that freshmen might rightly feel a bit ‘lost’ among its multiple floors and enormous hallways?” and “Are there going to be additional cameras or keycard access points incorporated for the third floor Freshman Hidey Hole?” Ironic bits include the fact that the high school absenteeism rate in Lorain was pretty darned alarming the last few years and that all of this could be undone by the new CEO whose last name will not be Graham. Aside from all that though, do carry on. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/16/17)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,