Ohio Gadfly Daily

In Ohio’s great graduation debate, we at Fordham have warned that lowering the bar is tantamount to the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Weakened standards, such as those pushed by the State Board of Education, imply that many low-income pupils need alternative routes to diplomas because they’re unable of reaching the state’s academic or career-technical requirements. Yet as this piece discusses, lowering our sights won’t just hurt poor students, it’ll also ask much less of our young men, especially Ohio’s young men of color.

Consider the four-year graduation rates for the class of 2017, the most recent available, displayed in the figures below. This was the final cohort subject to Ohio’s “old” graduation requirements, which included passage of the low-level Ohio Graduation Tests (OGTs). Figure 1 shows average graduation rates across Ohio’s district typologies, classifications developed by ODE to group districts with similar socio-economic and geographic characteristics. You’ll notice that graduation rates for males trail behind their female counterparts across all typologies, suggesting that high-school completion for young men should be a widespread concern. The disparities are most visible in Ohio’s high-poverty urban areas that include big- and small-city districts, and some inner-ring suburbs.

Figure...

 
 
  1. As noted in the Bites on Friday, the most recent charter sponsor ratings were released last week. Coverage has been uncharacteristically sparse. (Seriously, Ohio news outlets are usually all over charter news.) Thanks to Gongwer, we find that things are pretty rosy this time around and Chad is on hand to put the results in context. “Sponsors have a better understanding of the expectations,” he suggests. Quite. (Gongwer Ohio, 11/16/18)
     
  2. The more typical media attitude toward charter schools can be found in this Blade editorial regarding proposed funding changes for online schools. (Toledo Blade, 11/19/18)
     
  3. Ohio’s War on Knowing Stuff seems to have gained a new general and two new field lieutenants. General Doug Livingston, with the help of two fellow joustin’ journalists, gives us his first foray into battle with this wide-ranging yet curiously selective slant on the story. It goes into detail on unimportant issues (why is anyone pinning hopes for victory on a bill sponsored by a member of the superminority party in the General Assembly, no matter how much they like it?), and leaves out vitally important points regarding how long schools have already had to adjust to the new graduation
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans await the start of the new governor’s term in January, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the ninth in our series, under the umbrella of creating transparent and equitable funding systems, and the second to be published following the election of Mike DeWine as Ohio’s next governor. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Repeal the statutory provision that prescribes a pass-through method for paying schools of choice—public charter schools, independent STEM schools, and the bulk funding for private school scholarship programs. Instead, they should require ODE to pay schools of choice directly—apart from districts—out of the state Foundation Funding appropriation. However, a separate budget line item (subject to a line-item veto) should not be created to fund schools of choice.

Background: The vast majority of state funds allocated to public charter schools, independent STEM schools, and private school choice programs are passed through local district budgets. Here’s how it works: the state (1)...

 
 
  1. How many times have I started a clips rundown with this sentence in the last 18 months? “The state board of education met this week and made some effort aimed at weakening Ohio’s graduation requirements.” Too darn many, I’ll tell you. And it happened again this week as the board passed the buck—again—to the state legislature on this matter. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted here, serving up a “stay strong and make sure that diplomas continue to actually mean something” message, with a side order of “whose decision is this anyway?” (Gongwer Ohio, 11/15/18) State board members also made efforts to change Ohio’s new school and district report cards to, among other things, remove overall letter grades from them. We—and the legislature—have heard that song before too. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/18)
     
  2. A new joint legislative committee met this week in the first step of an effort to revise funding for online schools in Ohio. It is hoped that the fix will be completed in time to be part of Governor-Elect DeWine’s first budget in March. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/15/18)
     
  3. I can sort of see the conundrum that Columbus City Schools is talking about here, but I
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Albert Einstein Academy: Making a difference for bullied students

The Albert Einstein Academy (AEA), an Ohio charter school, is being recognized for being a “life saver” to many LGBTQ students in the Cleveland area. AEA is one of the few schools in the country that focuses specifically on LGBTQ students, and it’s giving students who have been bullied a place to feel safe and belong. You can hear from AEA students and how the school has changed their lives here.

New e-school funding panel meeting

A newly established legislative committee created to examine how e-schools should be funded conducted its first meeting on Thursday. Committee members heard testimony from the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office, and the Legislative Service Commission. At the meeting, Auditor Yost’s policy advisor recommended that Ohio use a hybrid-model for funding online schools, where funding is provided for fixed costs and then given based on student competency on in-person exams.

New video resources on charter school authorizers

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) has released two new videos to help people better understand how charter school authorizing works. In the videos, they...

 
 
  1. Fordham’s latest annual analysis of Ohio school and district report cards—Checking Ohio’s educational vital signs—was released on Tuesday and garnered a bit of media interest. First up, somehow the report’s findings got subsumed into Dayton Daily News’ Path Forward series. Specifically, Aaron’s suggestion to “drive more resources to the handful of Big Eight schools that are getting the job done” in order to improve academic outcomes for students. That’s one thing to focus on, sure. (Dayton Daily News, 11/13/18) While the Dayton Daily News was focused on a solutions-oriented (and Dayton-centric) view, statewide public media focused on the problems highlighted by the state’s report cards. To wit: “About 60 percent of students are leaving their high school experience without the knowledge and skills really necessary to do well in college and also in technical careers”. Oh yeah. That. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 11/13/18) As befits its position as a news outlet of record for state government, Gongwer focused on Aaron’s recommendation to the new governor and General Assembly of how to fix the readily-apparent problems. (Gongwer Ohio, 11/13/18)
     
  2. Beacon Journal reporter Holly Christensen has a fascinating piece this week regarding a new initiative called LIFE Project, a
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans await the start of the new governor’s term in January, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the eighth in our series, under the umbrella of empowering Ohio’s families, and the first to be published following the election of Mike DeWine as Ohio’s next governor. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Remove the statutory provisions that confine startup brick-and-mortar charters to “challenged districts” (the Big Eight, Lucas County, and other low-performing districts). Currently, this policy allows charters to start up in just thirty-nine of Ohio’s 610 districts.

Background: Ohio has more than 300 public charter schools (a.k.a. “community schools”) that educate over 100,000 students. Though online (“virtual”) charters have received much attention of late—much of it deservedly critical—the vast majority of charters are traditional brick-and-mortar schools, almost all of which are located in the major cities and serve primarily disadvantaged children (see figure 3; charters are signified by orange dots). The last detailed evaluation...

 
 
  1. We have discussed the Move to PROSPER initiative here before. It is an effort to improve the lives of families in poverty by moving them to “higher resourced” areas via subsidized housing and other supports. Here is a profile on one of the first ten families taking part in the program—folks who moved from the East side of Columbus to Gahanna. Things sound pretty good for them, which is awesome. Given that fact, I can only assume that life is less awesome for many/most/all of the thousands of families just like this one who remain living on the East side of Columbus. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/12/18)
     
  2. Speaking of things that are less than optimal, editors in Columbus opined this weekend about a “lack of leadership” from the elected board of Columbus City Schools in regard to their non-decision on right sizing district buildings and saving money. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/18) Continuing the theme: Columbus City Schools finally has a deal with its new supe, Talisa Dixon. It starts with one day of work per week from January through early March. Full time after that. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/18) Dr. Dixon’s scheduled departure before the end of the current school
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  1. Saying that right sizing schools and saving money is a “distraction” from trying to stave off a “state takeover”, the elected board of Columbus City Schools voted this week—from the depths of its enormous, empty, $4 million white elephant of fur-lined Batcave—to ignore all the recommendations of their latest facilities task force. Again. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/7/18) Committee members quoted in this follow up piece seem to concur with this assessment and, inexplicably, say that their time was not wasted. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/8/18)
     
  2. Speaking of both distractions and wasting of time, the elected board of Lorain City Schools wants to check out all the receipts (and emails thereto) regarding the district CEO’s recent trip to Texas. They are hopping mad that he visited charter schools down there and are imputing any number of motives, while conveniently overlooking the fact that he had to go that far to find some best practices that might work to turn desperately underperforming schools around. (Elyria Chronicle, 11/8/18)
     
  3. Speaking of public records requests, the ABJ dug deep into the specifics of the contract between Akron City Schools and the company responsible for producing the upcoming documentary on the district’s I
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Extending the New Markets Tax Credit

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is urging charter school supporters to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support extending the New Markets Tax Credit, which expires in 2019. According to NAPCS, this credit “is one of the most effective tools to help charter schools access affordable facilities.”  

What does Governor-Elect DeWine mean for Ohio school choice?

In short, we don’t know for sure as it wasn’t a major part of the campaign. Fordham’s Jessica Poiner pieces together DeWine’s campaign materials and information from a variety of news sources to give us an overview of what we might expect from a DeWine administration in regards to school choice and education generally.

ECOT’s headquarters changes hands

The Columbus Board of Education recently held its first meeting in the former headquarters of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which they purchased in the summer for about $4 million. The Dispatch explains that the board is currently weighing their options on how they’ll use the space.

Featured event: Ohio in a Post-Janus world

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a...

 
 

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