Ohio Gadfly Daily

Susan Pendergrass

In addition to fielding questions about what a charter school is, and whether charters are private or public schools, I’m often asked: Aren’t charter schools intended for failing urban districts serving low-income students of color? They do serve those communities well, but let’s talk about who else they serve.

While it’s true that over half of all charter schools are in urban districts, in the 2015–16 school year there were nearly 1,800 suburban charter schools and over 1,200 in small towns and rural communities.

It turns out that curriculum really matters to middle-income parents, and many gravitate to charter schools because they offer educational models that aren’t available in traditional public schools. Some of these models are more rigorous, some are more open and creative, and some offer unique programs. There are hundreds of examples of outstanding suburban and rural charter schools, but I’ll offer just a few to ponder.

Take the BASIS charter schools: In the 2017 US News rankings of the top 10 public high schools, nine were charter schools and five of these were BASIS charter schools. BASIS currently operates 20 charter schools in Arizona, Texas, and Washington, DC. Most of them are suburban, and they serve populations that reflect their communities. Like all...

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  1. By a vote of 11-4, the State Board of Education yesterday voted against supporting HB 512, the bill which would—among other things—consolidate the state’s K-12, higher ed, and workforce development apparatuses into one agency. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/13/18) Meanwhile, the Dispatch is time traveling back to look at who HAS supported HB 512, focusing on Fordham (complete with new PCA photo from last week!) and the leaders of several career tech education centers across the state. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/13/18)
  2. CEO Krish Mohip tells Youngstown: I can’t quit you. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/13/18) Supe candidate Krish Mohip says to Boulder Valley: Well…. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/13/18) Meanwhile, editors in Boulder say: Hold up a sec. (Boulder Daily Camera, 3/10/18)
  3. Back in the sports page: Cincinnati City Schools’ Board of Education is one of several entities who must sign off on any final deal to bring a professional soccer stadium to the city’s West End. This week, board members and other stakeholders discussed an offer or two on the table, but nothing was decided. The two sides remained some distance apart. Talks are
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  1. Editors in Youngstown opined this weekend on the seeming chaos wrought by the resignations of 3/5 of the Academic Distress Commission in the last week. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/11/18) Meanwhile, some folks in the rather tony Boulder Valley school district in Colorado were wondering—out loud and on the record, of course—why someone like Youngstown CEO Krish Mohip would be a good fit for their district leadership. You know, since Youngstown is so “different” and everything. And by “different”, I think they mean… What? Oh, you already KNOW what they mean. OK. I won’t spell it out then. (Boulder Daily Camera, 3/8/18)
  2. Meanwhile, concerned Akron citizen D. Livingston writes in regard to HB 87: “A plan to send tax dollars squandered by charter schools back to the local school districts they cheated — and not to the state — has cleared the Ohio House.” What? That WASN’T a letter-to-the-editor? (Akron Beacon Journal, 3/11/18)
  3. Elsewhere, concerned Cleveland citizens P. O’Donnell and J. Pelzer write: The proposal to merge the state’s pre K, K-12, and workforce development governance “…would also wipe out about 80 percent of the power of the state school board and give it to the
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Despite genetic hardwiring of babies’ brains to learn language, emerging evidence suggests that different languages are acquired in different ways based on their specific characteristics. Most of what child development and education professionals know about language acquisition in young children is based on monolingual studies and is difficult to apply to bilingual children. But a large and growing number of young boys and girls worldwide are operationally bilingual—which means they receive regular input in two or more languages between birth and adolescence. Because language instruction and assessments are typically monolingual, understanding how simultaneous bilingual acquisition affects the taught/tested language could be an important step in supporting language development for young children. Does a low English score mean that a child is academically behind and in need of intervention? Or is she exhibiting a normal pattern based on her amount of exposure at home? A group of United Kingdom–based researchers believes they have made a breakthrough in the area of language development measurement that may open new avenues of education and support for dual language learners.

Their work involved three separate projects. The first consisted of collecting data on language exposure in a cohort of 372 typically-developing two-year-olds simultaneously learning...

Ohio legislators recently unveiled a $2.6 billion capital budget bill for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. Inside this year’s iteration are routine items like park and correctional facilities maintenance. But there are also more curious requests, including $5 million for a glass-enclosed corridor at COSI, $4 million for a potential soccer stadium in Cincinnati, $1 million to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and a quarter million for barn renovations in Delaware County. Enacted in even-numbered years, the capital budget generally funds building and infrastructure projects; it is separate from the state’s larger operating budget, which is passed in odd-numbered years.

A major chunk of the capital budget is also dedicated to education. This includes $485 million to higher education and $600 million to K–12. Practically all of the K–12 allotment flows to Ohio school districts (including joint vocational) through the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program or CFAP. In general, this program offers funding based on district wealth, prioritizing support for less wealthy districts in need of facility upgrades (contingent on them raising local tax revenue via bond issues). Established shortly after the first of several DeRolph v. State of...

  1. In case you missed it, the House Bill that proposes to consolidate state oversight of pre-K, K-12, and workforce development into one agency had a hearing earlier this week. Fordham’s own Chad Aldis was on hand to provide testimony in support of the bill. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/7/18) Despite protestations to the contrary, I think the back of his head has never looked better than it does in those Dispatch photos. But if you insist on details of the testimony without PCA (Posterior Cranial Aldis) angles, Gongwer has got you covered. (Gongwer Ohio, 3/7/18)
  2. In good news news, two high-performing charter schools in Columbus were among the recipients of state construction funds to expand their physical capacity and serve more kids announced yesterday. One of those Columbus schools – United Preparatory Academy – is sponsored by Fordham, as is Dayton Early College Academy, one of the non-Columbus awardees. Congratulations to everyone! (Columbus Dispatch, 3/8/18)
  3. I always cringe at the phrase “in the wake of recent events,” because it seems like a sloppy sort of shorthand that assumes everyone reading it is not only fully conversant with which recent events you are talking about (many events happen
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  1. Poor pickings today. At least one statewide office holder (and office seeker, full disclosure) thinks that the Columbus City Schools will probably have to restart its superintendent search process since all but one person on the short list has dropped out. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/18)
  2. Speaking of dropping out, a third member of the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission has resigned, leaving just two members on the panel. Auspicious. (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/7/18) Following them all out the door may be district CEO Krish Mohip. He is a finalist for the superintendency of Boulder schools in Colorado. See what I mean about poor pickings? (Youngstown Vindicator, 3/7/18)
  1. new statewide online school is launching in Ohio next school year. Great news for families looking for a choice. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/2/18)
  2. Incoming kindergartners in Montgomery County not only did not improve their readiness scores overall in the 2016-17 school year, but those scores actually declined from the previous year. This is “despite efforts” (as the DDN piece puts it) such as the Dayton-wide Preschool Promise program. I wanted to say there was a “multi-million-dollar effort” re: Preschool Promise, but the actual amount of millions was not included in this piece for some reason. What is included is a suggestion that the kindergarten-readiness exam might not be necessary going forward. But given this news, maybe those folks were only joking. (Dayton Daily News, 3/5/18)
  3. Speaking of money, editors in Columbus today opined on the recent Ed Trust report lauding some important aspects of Ohio’s school funding system. And especially as those findings relate to Columbus City Schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 3/5/18)
  4. Two members of Youngstown City Schools’ Academic Distress Commission – including its current chair – resigned last week. You know what that means, right? Exactly! Now there’s only one Benyo brother currently serving
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  1. And then there was one. The current superintendent of Akron City Schools let it be known earlier this week that he was removing himself from consideration to become the next superintendent of Columbus City Schools. But thanks for the consideration. (Columbus Dispatch, 2/28/18) No idea what made him change his mind, but if anyone could have, LeBron (and the newly-announced principal of his incipient I Promise school, who is a 20 year veteran of Akron City Schools and most recently was principal of lowly – oops – Schumacher CLC) could. And maybe a documentary camera crew to sweeten the deal. (Akron City Schools press release, 2/27/18)
  2. Everyone seems to agree that districts operating under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission must still have a superintendent in place. But just because they agree doesn’t mean they have to like it. With their former superintendent (finally) leaving for pastures of whatever color they may be, Lorain has decided to go to a “sorta supe” model, with one of the district’s newly-hired chiefs serving in the coveted role of liaison between the CEO and the elected school board. (Elyria Chronicle, 3/2/18) With that settled, CEO David Hardy
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Two weeks ago I spent a couple of hours hunched over a cafeteria table, helping one of the eighth grade students I mentor outline her research paper. It brought back some fond memories of my time as a high school English teacher. But it also reminded me of one of the most frustrating aspects of teaching writing: When you’re a full-time educator teaching dozens of students, there is never enough time to provide every single student with the kind of detailed and consistent feedback that will truly transform their writing.

Maybe that’s why I was so thrilled when a few days later I came across the news that The Graide Network (TGN) had successfully raised over $1 million to expand its reach to more schools. For those who are unfamiliar, TGN is an organization that connects K–12 teachers with teaching assistants who grade and provide feedback on student writing through an online platform. Assistants, known as “Graiders,” work remotely and are undergraduate or graduate students who are enrolled in, or preparing to enroll in, teacher preparation programs.

The process works like this: Teachers post detailed information about an assignment, including a rubric and grading instructions, and are matched...