Ohio Gadfly Daily

 

New Ohio online school legislation

New legislation on online charter schools, House Bill 707, was introduced in the Ohio House on Tuesday. The bill would, among other things, create a study committee to determine how to better fund online schools. For a detailed breakdown of other changes in the bill, see here.

Charter schools are helping to stabilize Cleveland’s population

Cleveland’s population has been declining since the 1960s. The Scene recently reported on changes that the city is making to attract and retain young parents in an effort to stabilize and grow the population. And it looks like a focus on great new schools, including charters, is helping the city make some progress. 

New White House proposal to merge Departments of Education and Labor

Yesterday, the White House released a proposal to reorganize the federal government in a reform plan titled, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century.” The plan includes a recommendation to merge the Departments of Education and Labor to create a new department named the Department of Education and Workforce. Reaction from Congress, which would need to approve this type of change, was quick and...

 
 

In a pattern now becoming all too familiar, the State Board of Education recently got spooked by the prospect of tougher standards and delayed action on lifting grade-promotion standards under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee for 2018–19. The decision should not have been a gut-wrenching one, since state law requires the board to gradually lift standards each year after initial implementation. As most loyal Gadfly readers know, the reading guarantee is an early-intervention policy that aims to ensure that children can read fluently before entering fourth grade.

At issue at the June board meeting were the standards students need to meet to be promoted. But what exactly are Ohio’s promotional standards? What exams and test scores determine promotion—or retention, if falling short? Are they rigorous benchmarks, or are they relatively easy for students to meet?

The first thing to know about promotional standards is that they currently have little to do with proficiency on state exams. That might be surprising, given the guarantee’s stated purpose “to make sure that students are on track for reading success by the end of third grade.” Rather what we see from figure 1 is a significant discrepancy between promotional and proficiency rates,...

 
 
  1. As predicted earlier this month, Dayton Biz Tech – a dropout recovery charter school sponsored by Dayton City Schools – was this week saved from the chopping block by the school board. Biz Tech was granted a one year contract extension after a “successful” 2017-18 school year which overrode a couple of bad previous years. (Dayton Daily News, 6/20/18) No such luck, it seems for nearby Trotwood-Madison City Schools. Folks there seem fairly resigned to a third straight year of poor showing on state report cards, which would likely trigger a declaration of academic distress and the imposition of an Academic Distress Commission by the state. As all my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers (hello, my lovelies!) will recall, Trotwood took a proactive step in this regard several months ago when they poached Tyrone Olverson from Youngstown City Schools to be their interim superintendent. Olverson is quoted extensively in this piece, explaining how he has hit the ground running in Trotwood. He seems to be implementing what sounds a lot like a turnaround plan akin to those in Youngstown and Lorain, as if he and the elected school board have realized that the district is actually in academic distress
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In a recent blog, I described an initiative called New Skills for Youth (NSFY) that aims to help states transform their career-readiness sectors. The multi-year grant competition awarded $2 million grants to ten states—including Ohio—to expand and improve career pathways for high school students over the course of three years.

With the first year of the grant finished, NSFY released a snapshot highlighting the work of all ten participating states. The concluding page provides an index of eleven focus areas of improvement and identifies the states that made significant progress in those areas. Ohio is identified in six sections: communications, dual credit, employer engagement, graduation requirements, program quality, and work-based learning.

Based on the information included in Ohio’s individual snapshot, here’s a brief overview of the state’s work in each focus area.

Communications

During phase one of Ohio’s work with NSFY, the project team conducted a statewide survey tailored to a variety of stakeholders, including business leaders, parents, students, teachers, and secondary-school and higher-education administrators. The survey, along with supplemental information from focus groups and data analyses that were part of a broader needs assessment, revealed that, although 71 percent of students expressed interest...

 
 
  1. Having already had the image of ECOT rising from the dead like Dracula put into our heads this week, I guess you could call House Bill 707 a garlic-crusted-crucifix-sprinkled-with-holy-water-and-attached-to-a-wooden-stake kind of bill.  As Chad says: “The political debate surrounding this issue should inspire us to act to make sure this never happens again.”  (Columbus Dispatch, 6/19/18) So what exactly would this talismanic legislation do to prevent another ECOT-style “issue”? Bram O’Donnell says it mainly is about creating a study commission to review possible funding changes for e-schools, but those bullet points included in his piece seem a bit more substantial than all that. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/19/18)
     
  2. Is the “psychogeography” of Cleveland changing so as to attract more young families to the city after decades of population loss? This lengthy article tries to make that case. Yet it takes over 2,100 words before the topic of schools is discussed in any depth. Probably should have been at the top, gang. Anywho, the president of a community development funding organization says that the number of high-quality schools in the city is increasing, resulting in an increase in the number of young people in some areas. How many
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“K–12 education in America is ripe for real deregulation,” writes Michael McShane in his recent paper on school regulations. Hailing from an organization founded by the famed economist and champion of limited government Milton Friedman, his main argument comes as little surprise. But in this measured and insightful paper, McShane discusses the tradeoffs of regulatory approaches and offers several suggestions on ways policymakers can pursue deregulation in K–12 schools.

To set the stage, McShane first describes the tradeoffs to regulatory action. Regulations can serve the greater good. For example, they can help curb monopoly power (anti-collusion laws), mitigate negative externalities (pollution regulations), or address inadequate consumer information (food and drug safety rules). Yet regulatory solutions also have drawbacks, and the paper covers at least three important ones. First, they can open avenues for interest groups to “capture” public rulemaking bodies, resulting in regulations that paradoxically benefit special interests—e.g., teacher unions or any number of educational associations—over the broader public. Second, the sheer number of regulations, piled on top of each other, can have undesirable effects. In education, for example, prospective charter schools may be unwilling or unable to wade through the raft of compliance paperwork needed to operate,

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  1. A blog post by our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece looking at the future of funding and accountability for online schools in Ohio. The Education-Related Boogeyman™ that is ECOT’s thoroughly-beaten corpse is invoked here. Think I’m exaggerating this Boogeyman joke? Patrick’s reference comes complete with a vampire metaphor. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/17/18) Still think I’m exaggerating? Patrick includes the Boogeyman in this story about accountability changes for dropout recovery schools too. He notes that ECOT tried to be reclassified as a dropout recovery school prior to its closure – and would have succeeded, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids! If you think that this reference doesn’t taint every quote from an actual dropout recovery school staffer that follows said reference, there’s a bridge I’d like to sell you. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/17/18)
     
  2. You will recall that our last sighting of the Education-Related Boogeyman™ was in reference to a request from homeowners in Jefferson Township Local Schools for annexation into a neighboring district. Jefferson Township officials invoked the Boogeyman and racism as the undoubted reasons for the request. With this deeper dive into the story – in which someone has the good
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  1. Some folks are calling foul after the shocking revelation™ that ECOT utilized NDAs with regard to terminated staffers. You know which folks I mean. Our own Chad Aldis weighs in amid the Dispatch coverage of the issue. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/14/18) The DDN coverage of this latest sighting of the ECOT-Related Boogeyman™ does not include Chad. Luckily for the reading public, the education reporters in Dayton themselves are long-serving experts on NDAs (Dayton Daily News, 6/14/18)
     
  2. Back in the real world, here is coverage of Day One of that Lorain school leaders bootcamp we talked about on Wednesday. Sounds like a productive start to me. (Elyria Chronicle, 6/13/18) And speaking of Lorain City Schools, CEO David Hardy this week gave an assessment of his first year on the job. He predictably focused on administrative changes and organizational foundation building that will, hopefully, lead to academic gains down the road. Then he and this piece get lost in some discussion of Facebook, “likes”, and dopamine. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/14/18) The Chronicle’s coverage of Hardy’s remarks is a bit more concise: the CEO expects little to no academic progress to be registered on state report cards
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  1. Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type: Columbus City Schools just bought the former headquarters of ECOT in an auction. District reps call it “a solid investment”. There are still many questions (and many jokes) outstanding. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/12/18) As you can see, there’s more to that Dispatch story than just the auction news, but I’ll leave the details aside for now and simply suggest that ECOT seems to have become an education-related boogeyman throughout Ohio. Whatever is ailing your school district is ECOT’s fault – maybe the fact that it ever existed is the problem, maybe its sheer size, maybe the dissembling of administrators or reps, or even its very closing – no matter how nonsensical the connection may seem. Case in point: a group of homeowners in tiny Jefferson Township school district has petitioned for their property to be rezoned into another district. This is due to the closure of ECOT, says a lawyer, and therefore the request should be denied. How this is even possible and how Jefferson Township’s extreme and persistent suckitude may have contributed to the “disgraceful and shameful” request are not explained. The money equation on both sides IS discussed at
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  1. A new report on the status of Youngstown City Schools’ turnaround efforts was released on Friday. There are some positives, to be sure, but the negatives are kinda big and kinda troubling. They seem to indicate that reforms pushed by the Academic Distress Commission and CEO Krish Mohip, no matter how good, are not filtering down to the classroom level. The focus on “teaching and learning” seems to be fuzzy after more than two years. (Youngstown Vindicator, 6/9/18)
     
  2. Speaking of school districts operating under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission, Lorain City Schools announced another new hire last week. He is Kenan Bishop, a veteran of several highly regarded northeast Ohio charter schools (a term which is absent from this story, interestingly). His title: chief equity and achievement officer. Seems that Lorainians are trying to plow the same furrow as Youngstowners, as noted above. For the sake of district students, let’s hope Lorain can get there, and do so quickly. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/8/18) Meanwhile, the ongoing series of Q & As between the Chronicle and Lorain CEO David Hardy continues. This week’s edition could be an entry in the “All the Wrong Questions”
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