Gadfly Bites 7/27/18 – The gap between rhetoric and reality

  1. As we have discussed previously, Madison Local Schools near Mansfield has been engaged in a monthslong kerfuffle with a number of district parents over implementation of a new STEM curriculum in elementary and middle schools. This week, the board voted unanimously to implement the curriculum as a “mandatory elective” for just one year to start, and with a “contingency plan” in place to assuage parental fears. Assuring these folks that STEM is not an indoctrination program created by aliens from Alpha Centauri appears to be full time work for the supe and her board going forward. (Mansfield News Journal, 7/25/18)
     
  2. Speaking of trepidation, it sounds like some very important folks are saying “maybe” to the Say Yes to Education program’s adoption in Cleveland. “Unless accompanied by deeper reform of the education system as a whole, and of the inequality underlying it, even the most ambitious, innovative and sustained efforts will have, at best, modest results.” This is part of the conclusion reached by researchers from Brookings whose recent report takes a look at several Say Yes cities as extended case studies. Issues such as existing resources, data collection and availability, and racial equality all are areas of concern specifically for Cleveland. Say Yes is, according to the authors, “treading very carefully” with regard to expansion in the CLE. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/25/18)
     
  3. The state attorney general’s office was this week given the thumbs up by a judge to open a new front in the ECOT monetary clawback war. Either the current AG, or perhaps his successor, will have a lot of work on their plate with this new authority. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/27/18)
     
  4. Preliminary test score data seem to indicate that Trotwood-Madison Local Schools will not rise above an “F” in its overall grade for the 2017-18 school year, which would be the third year in a row and thus trigger a designation of academic distress…and all that comes with it. But there are other factors of course, including important value-added measures, which go into the final overall grade. So nothing is set in stone yet. However, the bad test score news coincides with a new report from the Ohio Department of Education, giving results of a site review of Trotwood conducted back in April. There are conflicting reactions in this piece, ranging from hope to denial to grudging acceptance, including multiple conflicting reactions from the same person. (Dayton Daily News, 7/26/18)

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