Ohio Gadfly Daily

A new report from the RAND Corporation examines trends across 27 counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia where fracking is a booming business. Nine of these counties are in Eastern Ohio, including Mahoning, Stark, Belmont, and several others. This is the second of five periodic reports that track workforce, economic, and educational trends (the previous one is available here).The reports are commissioned by the Appalachian Partnership Initiative, whose aim is “to build the pool of local workers for jobs in the energy and advanced manufacturing sectors” across the tristate region.

This paper uses Census Bureau statistics to highlight a few key workforce trends:

  • From 2000 to 2014, the working age-population (age 18-64) declined in 20 of the 27 counties across this region, including seven of the nine in Eastern Ohio.
  • Wages were strong for workers in the extraction industries, which include oil and gas along with mining. Across this region, the average wage for employees in this industry was $58,290, higher than the averages in other fields such as health care ($28,690) or manufacturing ($43,967).
  • Within the extraction industry, workers with higher-level education received higher wages: In 2015, college graduates (bachelor’s or above)
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  1. It has been a busy couple of days for our Chad Aldis. First up, he was quoted in this piece, trying to inject some reality into a discussion of the fiscal analysis of the proposed expansion of the EdChoice voucher program. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/13/17) And then he was a guest on this public radio program, discussing the proposed changes in Ohio’s graduation requirements. (Ideastream Public Media, Cleveland, 4/13/17)
  2. The first graduating class of the Columbus Cristo Rey High School this week celebrated their 100% college acceptance. Congratulations everyone! (Columbus Dispatch, 4/12/17)
  3. Speaking of private schools, the founders of the new-ish Bounty Collegium school in Sylvania have big plans expansion plans for their offbeat, out-of-the-box education model. Good luck! (Toledo Blade, 4/13/17)
  4. Loyal subscribers will be well aware that your humble clip compiler doesn’t typically comment on opinion pieces included in the Bites. But I think I am duty-bound to mention that this professor’s anti-voucher commentary includes a huge and fundamental factual error. See if you can spot it. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/13/17)
  5. Speaking of education professionals, here’s a profile of the main teacher appointed last week to the new Lorain
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Last week, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced that the long-awaited Charter School Program (CSP) grant funds will soon be available. The federal program will provide $32 million in FY 2018 for high-quality charter startups and replications. This is good news for Ohio’s charter sector, as new school growth has sunk to historic lows, and is a breath of fresh air after Ohio nearly lost the grant.
Quick refresher on Ohio’s CSP drama
Here’s the bad news: Based on the announced criteria, hardly anyone will qualify for the money. Some quick context on CSP’s history: many charter networks wishing to expand or replicate have been able to do so primarily because of this pot of money. Many brand new models also got their start via CSP. But current criteria immediately disqualify many of Ohio’s 362 charter schools. Neither e-schools nor dropout recovery charter schools may access the money (unlike in years past), which slims down the qualifying pool by almost 100. In addition, all CSP applicants must have a preliminary contract with a sponsor that is rated Effective or...

NOTE: The state board of education today debated the recent report of a graduation requirements workgroup. Among those providing testimony on the state’s high school graduation requirements was Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy here at Fordham. The following are his written remarks.

Thank you, President Elshoff, Governor Hollister, and State Board members, for the opportunity to provide public comment today.

In December, I testified before this body and urged caution and thoughtfulness when dealing with the challenge posed by the new higher standards required to earn a high school diploma. Since then, a committee appointed by Superintendent DeMaria has delved into the issue and offered its recommendations. They’ve recommended that students in the class of 2018 complete 2 of 6 additional requirements,[1] and functionally, that any required measure of academic preparedness for the class of 2018 be eliminated.

If you endorse the committee’s work and recommend the legislature do the same, there will undoubtedly be educators and students around the state breathing a sigh of relief. On its face, it sounds like a win/win.

It won’t be; moreover, the consequences will be far reaching.

Ohio’s graduation rate will climb precipitously....


Ohio faces a significant budget crunch. This is forcing state lawmakers to scrutinize expenditures—even more closely than usual—to create a balanced budget by the end of June. A good place to start would be examining the projected $378 million in “guarantee funding” over the next biennium (fiscal years 2018 and 19). Guarantees award some districts with millions more than they would otherwise receive under the state’s own funding formula. Guarantees are a poor use of limited resources and undermine the formula. Here’s why.

Funding guarantees aren’t a trivial expense

Under the Administration’s budget proposal, the state would spend $181 million on the guarantee in FY 18 and $197 million in FY 19. This represents about 2.1 percent of overall state spending on K-12 education over the biennium. While that may not sound like a large slice of the funding pie, it is roughly equivalent to the state funding specifically allocated to gifted, career and technical education, and English language learning combined.

For non-budget-obsessed readers, let us recall what the guarantee is. Guarantee funds are allocated to districts that are either losing students or experiencing gains in local wealth relative to the rest of the state (sometimes both)....


A new meta-analysis of studies examining the relationship between homework and student achievement looks at 30 years of data involving over 312,000 students worldwide. It was published in the journal Educational Research Review in March.

The researchers noted a split in the findings of the studies reviewed: about as many studies found a positive relationship between homework and student achievement as found a negative relationship. But the researchers wondered if there were confounding factors among the various studies that might explain the disparate results. To look into this hypothesis, they narrowed the more than 8,000 studies under review down to twenty-eight that contained sufficient data to compare along eight variables identified as having the potential to lead to the inconsistent results.

These eight are interesting and worth noting: grade level (could the findings be more consistent in high school vs. elementary school?), subject matter (science vs. math?), homework indicators (homework measured by time on task vs. effort or grade received), publication type (perhaps the bar for publication in a peer-reviewed journal vs. a dissertation lead to inconsistent reporting of findings?), publication year (might the see-sawing reputation of homework as help or hindrance over time lead to inconsistent reporting of...


Are you a school choice supporter or just interested in learning more about this issue that is gaining national prominence? Ohio parents, students, schools, and advocates will be holding a rally on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at 11 a.m. on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse. And you’re invited to attend.

The event, supporting school choice in all of its many forms, is happening during National Charter Schools Week.

Image courtesy of School Choice Ohio

You can find more details about the event here. And you can register by clicking here

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted in this piece looking at the proposal being floated in Ohio to water down graduation requirements. Spoiler alert: Aaron is against said watering down. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/9/17)
  2. There’s something new and cool coming to Cleveland next year – Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School – part-tech, part-career, all awesome. Davis has a couple of precursors out there, including the Toledo Maritime Academy charter school – both of which intrepid journalist Patrick O’Donnell visited to get an idea of what the new school will offer students. Nice. And yes that is the second mention of Toledo Maritime Academy today. Well spotted! (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/10/17)
  3. Speaking of school choices, it seems that a lot of “rebalancing” is going on among leagues and divisions in high school sports in central Ohio, especially among private schools. The discussion centers around “base enrollment”, which is not explained. But basically if a school’s population is going up, it’s likely moving up into a division against other schools of similar size. If you’re immersed in school choice discussions like your humble clip compiler is, you can see the impact of vouchers in some of the growth.
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  1. All six members of the new five-member Lorain Academic Distress Commission were named simultaneously yesterday. Not only will this ADC avoid the “when is a teacher not a teacher?” conundrum that delayed work in Youngstown for months, Lorain actually has an alternate for the teacher seat just in case the first one is busy. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 4/6/17) The Journal went looking for local reaction to the appointees, and got it. It seems that all of these comments are either empty platitudes or non-sequiturs, but that’s probably just me. But it is clear that all the comments have to do with “big people stuff” and nothing whatsoever to do with kids or teaching or parents or the district’s history of academic distress. The journey is still uphill and it’s still steep. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 4/6/17)
  2. Speaking of districts with CEO-style Academic Distress Commissions, the Youngstown school board’s finance committee met this week for what I think is the first time in a while. It doesn’t sound like they did any productive work, but the discussion as reported is enlightening. I was surprised to learn that there is apparently a definition of what the job
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In March, Ohio’s Educator Standards Board (ESB) released six recommendations for revising the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. In a previous piece, I explained why its two most significant recommendations are a solid solution to a myriad of problems within the system. These suggestions were 1) to update the observational rubric in collaboration with a national expert and 2) to embed student growth measures into the revised rubric. In this piece, I’ll investigate the remaining proposals.

Of the four remaining recommendations, two are intertwined with the ESB’s call to embed student growth measures into a revised rubric. The first is to eliminate shared attribution, the flawed practice of evaluating non-core teachers based on test scores from subjects they don’t actually teach, such as reading and math. Policymakers should heed this recommendation and ditch shared attribution as soon as possible.

The other recommendation seeks to incorporate aspects of Ohio’s current alternative framework into the newly revised observational rubric. This includes student portfolios, student surveys, peer review, self-evaluation, and other district-determined measures. Several of these methods—like student surveys and peer observations—have research to support their use. The revised evaluation rubric should definitely include...