Gadfly Bites 8/11/17 - Guidance issues

  1. In case you missed it, State Auditor Dave Yost (…) issued some guidance this week. What’s the big deal, I hear you ask. Doesn’t he do that literally every week? Well, probably. But this is rather special guidance with some potentially far-reaching effects for charter schools across the state for years to come. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/9/17) Of course, you might not get that impression if you read the foregoing Dispatch piece, or indeed this version of the story from the PD. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/9/17) The D and the PD and the Blade are focused solely on how this guidance affects Ohio’s largest online charter school, which, as both of my dedicated Gadfly Bites subscribers know, is currently involved a kerfuffle with seemingly every facet of state government over matters of contract law and the results of an attendance audit. Of course, said school’s sponsor is located in Toledo, so kudos to the Blade for the local angle at least. (Toledo Blade, 8/9/17) Not even the analytical and thorough folks at Gongwer could think of the name of any other charter school – online or otherwise – to which this guidance currently applies. But I am assured by reputable folks, including our own Chad Aldis, who is quoted in support of the common sense guidance and its aims in this and in all of the pieces herein, that it does indeed have the ability to apply universally and currently does apply to other online schools besides the most obvious example. (Gongwer Ohio, 8/9/17) I’ve read the guidance letter myself and am convinced it’s not simply targeted at that one humungous online school, whatever the focus of the press coverage. Perhaps we should think of it similarly to HB 70 – a favorite topic of discussion for your humble clips compiler (see below) – which is still called the “Youngstown Plan” despite applying to another school district currently and potentially to any other one in the future. It’s always the “Some Other Town Plan” until it lands on your doorstep. Probably appropriate then to conclude our rundown of coverage of Yost’s guidance issue with the AP version, which has got like 40 hits from around the state already, aside from this one in the ABJ. You all (may) have been warned. Or “guided”. (Associated Press via Akron Beacon Journal, 8/9/17)
  2. It was pretty late in the day before anyone saw it, but smoke was indeed spotted emanating from the chimney atop the building where Dayton’s teachers were voting in conclave on a new contract offer. It was gray smoke, however, which indicated good news/bad news. Good news: the teachers voted to approve the offer, likely averting a strike. Bad news: the teachers voted to approve a motion of no confidence in the district board and supe (wait – that was on the agenda?!). To which I say whew (and “get in line”)! (Dayton Daily News, 8/10/17) Nobody seems particularly happy about the deal in this follow up piece and “moving on” seems to be predicated on some folks having to perhaps eat a little crow-flavored breakfast cereal, but there’s always the first day of school to look forward to next week. I’m sure that won’t be awkward at all. Not to mention the upcoming school board race. Wonder if anyone will mention this strike stuff during the campaign? (Dayton Daily News, 8/10/17)
  3. Speaking of supes, the honorable gentleman from Columbus – Dr. J. Daniel Good – yesterday announced his retirement from the lofty height of superintendent effective no later than the end of December. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/10/17)
  4. And speaking of school boards, let’s see if the folks in Louisville have gotten over their strike-related rancor after eight months. If the comments of the school board candidates quoted in this piece – all frantically trying to correct the record after a previous Rep piece they felt erroneously stated their views – are anything to go by, the answer is a decisive no. (Canton Repository, 8/10/17) Of interest in the foregoing piece is a quote from the current Louisville board prez, who is not seeking reelection seemingly because of the aforementioned strike-related rancor: “I felt badly about the way things were, and I thought if stepping away helps things to heal and bring about peace, then I’m all about that.” Noble in a sense, I suppose, but riddled with retroactive contradictions. Let’s contrast that with the school board race in Sylvania, which you’ll recall faced its own rancorous debate over redrawing attendance boundaries within the district. “If I’m going to complain about it, then I’m going to step up and do something about it,” said one of three candidates running because of the uproar. Logical in a sense, I suppose, but riddled with problems of its own. Personally, I prefer “I’m an expert in this, I could really be helpful. I should lend a hand,” as a motivation for running for office, but sadly no one is on the record as saying that. Ever. (Toledo Blade, 8/9/17)
  5. I am remiss in clipping this, but it’s worth a look even a week late. Stephanie Klupinski of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and John Zitzner of the Breakthrough Network of charter schools opined together in praise of the Cleveland Compact. Lots of interesting facts leavened in with the opinion as well. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/4/17)
  6. At last we’ve reached the What the Heck is Going On in Lorain portion of our clips. Sadly I’m not sure this collection will actually answer that question. But here goes. First up, the Morning Journal took a look at TNTP, the NYC-based entity who will be spearheading the effort to solicit public input to help the new CEO to formulate his turnaround plan. Both the organization and the VP who testified before the Academic Distress Commission seem focused in the right areas, if I may say so. Work begins next week. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 8/9/17) At the same meeting, Lorain CEO David Hardy’s 90-day timeline was laid out. From public input to final submission of his Academic Improvement Plan. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 8/10/17) Meanwhile – and returning to our theme in Item 1 above – Lorain School Board Prez Tony “The Tiger” Dimacchia seems to have reached something of a breaking point as the “Youngstown Plan” has morphed rather decidedly into the “Lorain Plan” right under his very nose. He seems to have determined that tattling to Papa Paolo may not work and has decided to go find Grandpa John instead, tossing Youngstown under the bus along the way. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 8/10/17)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,