Gadfly Bites 9/24/18 – Multiple systems, not effective

  1. The Dayton City Schools’ plan for improving educational outcomes for students (a.k.a. “avoiding state takeover”) is moving forward…starting with a shut down. Every school in the district will be closed for one day—spread out through October and November—so that all teachers can undergo training to solve what the supe says is a “lack [of] the quality instructional practices they need and want.” Should be a doddle, right? (Dayton Daily News, 9/22/18) Also in the DDN, the next edition of their Path Forward series. This time it is about job skills and retraining for today’s in-demand jobs. The only role for K-12 here, it seems, relates to career and technical education, a.k.a. CTE FYI. OK? (Dayton Daily News, 9/24/18)
     
  2. The exact same set of stories was in the Plain Dealer recently too. It went like this. East Cleveland City Schools, already staring down the barrel of the installation of an Academic Distress Commission to oversee the district, has sued the state of Ohio to “avoid state takeover”. The suit may not be heard until late November. Sigh. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/22/18) In the latest installment in the PD’s Pathways to Prosperity series, the topic is—you guessed it—CTE. There is a lot of love for career and technical education in this piece, from students and practitioners alike. It seems pretty clear from the preponderance of evidence here that CTE-based education is a great vehicle for garnering and maintaining interest in high school, the work world, and even college for many many kids. Although it is telling to see which providers of CTE are doing a good job and which are not. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/23/18)
     
  3. It is interesting, I think, in the above piece to see which providers of CTE seem to be doing a good job for their students and which seem to be slacking. On that note, here is an interesting look at Ohio’s career tech report cards, which are undergoing a bit of a revamp currently to help parents and students properly and fully evaluate career tech providers. A workgroup convened by the Ohio Department of Education will hold its final meeting on the topic this week, and should deliver its final recommendations to the state board of education in October. (Gongwer Ohio, 9/21/18)
     
  4. Editors in Toledo today opined against…something related to report cards. The piece contends that ODE should “help schools, not grade them”. I am not sure I understand this logic at all. (Toledo Blade, 9/23/18) Nor do I understand the logic of this editorial from the ABJ on school funding. Who is being opined against here? The state? Akron City Schools? (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/21/18) Doug “not on the education beat” Livingston tag teamed with colleague Theresa Cottom to run an analysis of report card data for the last 14 years, looking at movement of districts up and down the ranks over that time. I think I understand this methodology, and I may even understand what it’s measuring. (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/22/18) Now THIS I understand. The Summit Education Initiative in Northeast Ohio is actually interested in academic achievement data for local students from Kindergarten through college. (Think Kindergarten readiness, third grade reading, eight grade math proficiency, college enrollment/persistence, etc.) And every year they provide a report on that data. So how’s it going? Not so peachy for a lot of students. “The kids are a product of this system, or multiple systems interacting, that aren’t effective in helping all kids be successful.” Understand? (Akron Beacon Journal, 9/23/18) I’m pretty sure I also understand this very clearly: “No parent will ever understand it,” says Federal Hocking Schools Superintendent George Wood of a document meant to help interpret state report cards. “It’s taken me weeks to figure out how to read it.” But how about that report card, though? (Athens News, 9/24/18)
     
  5. What is the answer, then, to all these difficult questions—all these things I don’t understand? If I am reading this massive piece correctly, the answer is a thoroughgoing liberal arts education. How did the crimson crusader who authored this history lesson come to her revelation? By slumming in the heartland of course. She took a swing through Youngstown with “nine other Harvard undergrads, journalist Salena Zito, and Yo-Yo Ma’s personal driver”. There she was horrified by visiting a career tech school and while processing the experienced, she realized that a liberal arts education that includes at least graduate school was the only way to save these students. Oh the humanities! (Democracy Journal, 9/24/18)

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