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For the last four months, Fordham Ohio has been publishing a daily news and commentary blog. In it, we take a quick look at education news and opinion pieces from media outlets around the state, dig into the content, add our own analysis and commentary, and offer readers a sense of what these stories mean.

It is sometimes irreverent, sometimes serious, hopefully amusing, and always thoughtful. Starting Monday, August 18, you can have the blog delivered directly to your inbox with our new Gadfly Bites email service. Click here  to sign up now.

Here’s a sample of recent clips and commentary:

  • There’s a lot to unpack in this Q&A with the five current members of the Stark County ESC governing board. Why now? Why those three specific questions? Why not ask about career tech, Internet connectivity, or inner city vs. suburban vs. rural education? Why not ask about the powerful effect of demographic changes in Stark County since these long-timers first took office? Two of these folks have been on the governing board since the George H.W. Bush administration. I’m all for “institutional memory,” but are the voters of Stark County really sure that this group is truly representative of their interests? Even a quick read reveals an antiquated mindset mired in the status quo of the late twentieth century, unsuited to the real-world needs of today’s families and students. But that’s just me. (Canton Repository, July 28, 2014)
  • We have featured the SPARK program in these clips before, but this is a really nice feature on how it actually works—in-home pre-K prep for kids in Columbus, funded mainly by philanthropy. This story is especially interesting and timely given the high-profile bipartisan state/city push for more institutional-type pre-K seats in the city. The mom featured in the article tried but couldn’t get her daughter into a district program because it was full. A one-on-one in-home program sought her out because of this, and now her daughter will enter Kindergarten in the fall already knowing how to read…and her mom knows better how to support her education going forward. A cost-comparison is the only thing missing from this piece. (Columbus Dispatch, July 28, 2014)
  • A brilliant summary of the saga of VLT Academy in Cincinnati—a charter school who had no sponsor until a judge forced ODE to take it on—comes from the pen of Patrick O’Donnell today. Fordham’s Kathryn Mullen Upton is quoted throughout, spelling out the vital issues on the line for sponsor oversight in Ohio in whatever is the final outcome of the pending legal case. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 29, 2014)
  • In case you ever despair after reading some of our clips, take heart that some small pieces of education reform are working in Ohio. The originally maligned Straight-A Fund has apparently become a source of pride for some communities, both in the winning and in the innovations themselves. Round 2 appropriations cleared the controlling board yesterday, releasing $144.7 million in grants to districts, ESCs, charter schools, consortia, and one beloved early-college STEM school in the Columbus Metro area. Coverage of this was minimal and confined to smaller local papers, and Alison Matas’s shout-out to the three winning projects in Stark County is typical of the coverage. (Canton Repository, July 2, 2014)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,