Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Kinda quiet in education news today. A decision has been made in Austintown schools on the fate of inter-district open enrollment, a hot-button issue as loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall. The good news is that no students currently open enrolled in Austintown and who want to return will be barred from doing so. The bad news is that there will be no new students in grades 9 through 12 allowed to open enroll next year and that OE in the lower grades will be greatly restricted. There’s a lot of interesting nuggets in this concise story. Hope someone will do a proper bit of research on OE in the near future. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/26/17)
  2. What’s the collective noun for a group of hard-bitten newspaper editors? A “column”, perhaps? (If that’s not it, it should. TM Gadfly Bites.) A column of PD editors today weighed in on the topic of Education Secretary-Designate Betsy DeVos and the unpaid fines assessed by Ohio on the organization she once led. Color me surprised. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/27/17)

The American Federation for Children (AFC) recently released its third annual poll on school choice. The national poll surveyed just over 1,000 likely November 2018 voters early this January via phone calls.

To determine general support and opposition, AFC posed the following question: “Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs.” By and large, the findings indicate broad support for school choice—68 percent of those surveyed support school choice compared to 28 percent who oppose it. These numbers are similar to AFC results from previous years: 69 and 70 percent of likely voters who expressed support for school choice in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

In addition to overall percentages, AFC broke out the survey numbers by specific demographic groups. Seventy-five percent of Latinos and 72 percent of African Americans support school choice compared to 65 percent of Whites. In terms of political affiliation, 84 percent of Republicans support school choice (up slightly from 80 percent in 2016), compared to 55 percent of...

  1. A commentary written by Elyria teacher and education activist Matt Jablonski – on the topic of Ohio’s putative “graduation rate apocalypse” – cites a 2014 blog by our own Aaron Churchill while opining. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/24/17)
  2. The current Academic Distress Commission in Lorain is sunsetting, with the new CEO-version getting underway in early March. Last week, Lorain school board members participated in a final assessment of the outgoing ADC (specifically, how well the district is following their approved academic recovery plan) with a panel of reviewers. Hint: not very well, as far as outcomes are concerned. Comments from all the interview subjects in this piece are tiresomely cagey and unnecessarily gloomy. Let us hope that all of this will be swept out when the “Lorain Plan” finally dawns. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 1/23/17)
  3. Speculation is running rampant around the Statehouse on the topic of education funding in the upcoming biennial budget. To wit: this piece from Monday speculating on the likelihood of direct funding for charter schools. Some of the voices quoted on this topic are more credible than others. Just sayin’. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/23/17) Yesterday, Governor Kasich added some fuel to the
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  1. There was some further coverage of our HB 2 implementation report On the Right Track over the weekend. First up, Columbus-based public television station WOSU-TV included discussion of the report in its weekend public affairs roundup show. Video is here; discussion of the report starts at the 21:47 mark. (WOSU-TV, Columbus, 1/20/17) Editors in Akron opined favorably on the report and seemed “heartened” by its findings. What more could a think tank ask? (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/23/17)
  2. The Dayton Daily news this weekend featured a brief interview with new state board member Charlotte McGuire. (Dayton Daily News, 1/22/17)
  3. Here’s a nice piece on the students from Toledo Early College HS who recently competed in the Poetry Out Loud contest. Next year, let’s hope some boys participate. (Toledo Blade, 1/21/17)
  1. Coverage of Fordham’s HB 2 implementation report On the Right Track continued over the last couple of days. Check out journalistic coverage from the Associated Press (AP, via Toledo Blade, 1/18/17), Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 1/18/17), and statewide public media (Statehouse News Bureau, 1/18/17). Fordham’s report serves as an additional talking point in this editorial from the D opining on the need to keep up the pressure on poor-performing charter schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/19/17)
  2. The Youngstown branch of the NAACP this week gave its own grade card to district CEO Krish Mohip at the six-month mark of his tenure. You can read the details for yourself but it seems a pretty good showing if you ask me. More telling, I think, are the comments of NAACP officials when asked if they’ll be grading the district school board along the same criteria. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/19/17) Also telling: Mohip’s response to said report card. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/19/17)
  3. The Louisville school board this week started the process to fire 3 of 10 teachers suspended in the aftermath of the recent strike. They are accused of deleting computer files necessary for the running of their classes
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On the college football field, Ohio and Michigan are bitter rivals. But in the charter school world they share something in common: Both states’ charter sectors have been saddled with the unflattering label of the “wild west.” Recently, this characterization—generally meant to describe a state without proper accountability policies—has been used in critiques of Michigan native and charter supporter, Betsy DeVos, president-elect Trump’s appointee for secretary of education.

What’s clear is that this label and accompanying narrative are hard to shed, even though both states have significantly strengthened their charter laws. On these Gadfly pages, Daniel Quisenberry has described how Michigan is improving its charter sector. In a Fordham report released today, we show how Ohio’s era of stagecoaches and saloons is starting to give way to a more modernized charter sector.

In On the Right Track, we examine the early implementation of recently enacted charter reforms in our home state of Ohio. Bottom line: The Buckeye State’s reforms are being implemented with rigor and fidelity, bringing promising changes to one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most notorious charter sectors.

In autumn 2015, Governor John Kasich and Ohio legislators passed a landmark, bipartisan...

  1. Today, Fordham released its latest report – On the Right Track: Ohio’s charter reforms one year into implementation. First out of the gate with coverage of our HB 2 report is Jim Siegel at the D. Thanks! (Columbus Dispatch, 1/18/17)
  2. On the day when our HB 2 implementation is released, it is fitting that we get to note that our own Aaron Churchill and Chad Aldis were recently quoted in the Dispatch regarding the exceptionally low number of new charter schools opened in the state in 2016. What could have caused it, do you think? (Columbus Dispatch, 1/14/17)
  3. Some news outlets are just catching up to the recent Quality Counts report, in which Ohio had a mediocre showing. You can read Chad’s request for a nuanced look at the data in this brief piece from the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/17/17) and in this longer piece from the DDN. (Dayton Daily News, 1/17/17)
  4. Two stories bearing the words “Common Core” in their headlines hit the PD late last week. First up, a look at how Ohio’s Learning Standards for ELA and math do and don’t resemble CCSS and how both may change further
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Jack Archer

NOTE: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

Last fall I retired to Northeast Ohio, where my wife and I have family, from Washington state, where I’d been staff to the State Board of Education and the state legislature. In perusing the Plain Dealer one morning, I felt that I could as well have been back in Olympia. 

The story described new state high school graduation requirements linked to higher standards defining readiness for college and career that had been set by Ohio’s State Board of Education and the fierce backlash ensuing from superintendents and others. The State Department of Education calculated that nearly 30 percent of high school juniors were likely to fall short of graduating next year if the new requirements were applied to them. Superintendents organized a protest rally—dubbed by one State Board member a “march for mediocrity”—on the statehouse steps. In light of the concerns voiced, the Board created a task force to make a recommendation on whether the requirements should be changed or phased in in some manner.

That the present controversy resonates with my experience in...

Much prior research indicates that youngsters from single-parent families face a greater risk of poor schooling outcomes compared to their peers from two-parent households. A recent study from the Institute for Family Studies at the University of Virginia adds to this evidence using data from Ohio.

Authors Nicholas Zill and W. Bradford Wilcox examine parent survey data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. This dataset contains information on 1,340 Ohio youngsters—a small but representative sample. The outcomes Zill and Wilcox examine are threefold: 1) whether the parent had been contacted at least once by their child’s school for behavioral or academic problems; 2) whether the child has had to repeat a grade; and 3) a parent’s perception of their child’s engagement in schoolwork.

The upshot: Buckeye children from married, two-parent households fare better on schooling outcomes, even after controlling for race/ethnicity, parental education, and income. Compared to youngsters from non-intact families, children with married parents were about half as likely to have been contacted by their school or to have repeated a grade. They were also more likely to be engaged in their schoolwork, though that result was not statistically significant.

An estimated 895,000 children...

More than sixty years after Brown v. Board, traditional district schools are more often than not still havens of homogeneity. Static land use guidelines, assignment zones, feeder patterns, and transportation monopolies reinforce boundaries that functionally segregate schools and give rise to the adage that ZIP code means destiny for K-12 students. Asserting that student diversity is an object of increasing parental demand, at least among a certain subset of parents of school-age kids, the National Charter School Resource Center has issued a toolkit for charter school leaders looking to leverage their schools’ unique attributes and flexibilities to build diverse student communities not found in nearby district schools. The report cites a number of studies showing academic benefits of desegregated schools, especially for low-income and minority students. It is unlikely that the mere existence of documentable diversity is at the root of those benefits. More likely, it is a complicated alchemy of choice, quality, culture, and expectations that drives any observable academic boosts. Garden-variety school quality is a strong selling point for any type of school, but this toolkit sets aside that discussion to focus on deliberately building a multi-cultural student body for its own sake. Bear...