Ohio Gadfly Daily

Miyea Thompson

NOTES: 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.

Miyea Thompson is a fourth grader at UPrep, a high performing charter school in the United Schools Network in Columbus. On Friday, October 6, USN celebrated its 10th anniversary at its annual gala event. Miyea was a featured speaker at that event and the following is the written version of her speech. For more information on USN schools, we urge you to visit our website and download our recent profile of another student in the network.

Thank you! My name is Miyea Thompson, and I am a 4th-grader at United Preparatory Academy - State Street. Last month, I had the opportunity to write about what it meant to me to be a rising star. Tonight, I’d like to share with you what I wrote.


When I think about being a rising star I got started by identifying what type of stars exist. We have famous people that are called stars such as actors, models, singers, and athletes. These people grew up to become stars, and I would love to...


It’s frustrating feeling like a broken record, but Stephen Dyer’s comparisons between school districts and charter schools can’t go uncontested. His analyses are reductive, crudely simplifying poor families’ quest for better schools as mere financial transactions that—he claims—unduly harm school districts. Yet he ignores the harm that’s caused when a student attends an unsafe or educationally unsound district school. He overlooks the harm when somebody else’s child is cheated out of beautiful, high-quality learning experiences--the kind that we seek for our own children.

Given Dyer’s long established ties to active charter opponents—Innovation Ohio, the teachers unions, and the Know Your Charter project—it’s not surprising that he routinely places the interests of districts and the adults they employ ahead of families and children simply seeking a quality educational environment that meets their needs. Each blog he writes lays bare the common yet wholly fallacious view that state education dollars are “owned” by districts. Districts receive state funds to ensure that students can receive a publicly funded education in a publicly accountable institution; when a student leaves, so should those dollars.

This edition of “I can’t even, Stephen” has to do with yet another of his common...

  1. Ugh. Some days the clips write themselves, and some days are like today. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this brief piece from public radio on the possibility that Ohio’s various diplomas may fall afoul of ESSA graduation calculation requirements. I think. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 10/19/17)
  2. Speaking of graduation, Elyria City Schools seems poised to drop the laudatory valedictorian and salutatorian labels for its top grads starting with the Class of 2019. The main argument seems to be that uneven access to credit bearing college classes and AP/IB options advantages some students over others. Although there is also some discussion of fierce and “distracting” competition among students (starting as early as eighth grade) for the limited number of honors available. Instead, under a new proposal, grads will be able to earn summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude honors with a wide swath of students likely earning each. (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, 10/19/17)
  3. Meanwhile, here’s a look at a day in the life and work of Elyria’s Life Skills dropout recovery charter school. Really interesting piece. More, please. (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, 10/20/17)
  4. THE Bill Gates was in Cleveland yesterday, addressing attendees of the Council
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I recently visited United Preparatory Academy (UPrep). It’s a charter school serving students in grades K-4 (growing to grade five) located in Franklinton—one of Columbus’s poorest neighborhoods, where the median household income is thirty percent lower than the city-wide average. About half the population has less than a high school diploma, and just one in ten have earned a four-year college degree. I say all this not to reduce the neighborhood, its families, or its children to these data points—but because from a research point of view, it makes what I’m about to tell you all the more powerful.

Before the visit started, I sat in the office alongside children who’d been dropped off wearing a random assortment of clothes other than the school uniform. It became apparent that it was a struggle for some families to keep freshly laundered clothes in stock for their children. This challenge is part of a growing conversation about how high-poverty schools go beyond the classroom in order to serve families, and more specifically, curb truancy. About ten kids waited while the office manager reached into a cabinet filled with black dress pants and bright blue, logoed polo shirts. One by one,...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis is quoted on the uniquely Ohio-centric nature of the attendance audit issues which resulted in a funding clawback order for ECOT (and other online schools, but who cares?) and reportedly threatens ECOT with closure (and has already closed other online schools, but who’s keeping track?) in this national story. Which is about ECOT. And only ECOT. What other schools? (The 74 Million, 10/16/17)
  2. It’s not often that Jamie Davies O’Leary resorts to using the “p” word, but it is clearly warranted here. Because Innovation Ohio and their analyst Steve Dyer (for he’s a jolly good Fellow!) are once again trotting out their favorite apples to orchards comparison of charter schools and traditional districts regarding report cards and funding. I meant “preposterous”. What “p” word were you thinking of? (Gongwer Ohio, 10/16/17) One of the “p” words relevant to this Enquirer guest commentary piece opining against the value of school report cards is “professor”. A professor from tony Miami University (Ohio) opined thusly and suggested an alternative that sounds a lot like Yelp to me. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/16/17)
  3. So, you remember that graduation rate “apocalypse” that we heard so much about late
  4. ...

It’s one of those perennial ideas in education reform that never seems to get across the finish line: raising the standards for who can teach in our schools. Advocates on the left and right argue that if we could emulate the highest-achieving nations and recruit from the top of our college classes instead of the middle or the bottom, we’d see higher achievement too. (We could also cut lots of red tape and focus on empowering talented educators to make more key decisions.)

To its credit, Ohio has already revamped its licensure system in an attempt to raise the bar. (For more on how the system works, see here.) Ohio’s teacher residency program is a key part of this structure. Beginning teachers must take part in the four-year residency program. The program offers new teachers mentorship, collaboration with veteran educators, professional development, and feedback. It also includes the Resident Educator Summative Assessment (RESA), which requires teachers to electronically submit a portfolio that demonstrates their teaching abilities based on the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession. In order to earn a renewable professional license, beginning teachers must pass RESA and complete four years in the residency program.


  1. Just like other online general education charter schools and even brick-and-mortar charter schools before them, dropout recovery schools in Ohio are currently being ECOTted. That is, tarred with a brush meant for the much-reviled-in-whatever-form Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. Herewith, testimony from supporters of dropout recovery schools given before the House Speaker's Task Force on Education and Poverty last week, trying to rebuild a reputation for their school model that they probably didn’t think needed rebuilding as little as a month ago. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/13/17)
  2. The Cleveland Transformation Alliance announced last week that the state had not concurred in its efforts to keep St. Aloysius Orphanage from opening new charter schools in Cleveland. State Supe Paolo DeMaria did load a few new requirements onto St. Al’s in the realm of communication and reporting, but that is far short of what the Alliance was asking for and some members seem quite unhappy. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/14/17) Speaking of Cleveland, thank heavens DeMaria was around to explain this multi-district collaborative around teaching social-emotional skills to students in Northeast Ohio. "People have always been doing it," says the supe. "We just haven't been as deliberate about it." That makes sense
  3. ...
  1. Big changes in the district became breaking news in Youngstown this morning. To wit: the district’s administration building is being emptied – with a number of departments already having relocated to vacant space within district school buildings without notice or fanfare – in order for that building to become the new home of Youngstown Early College High School. The stated reason for this change is that the popular (and successful methinks) YEC has no room to grow in its rented digs at Youngstown State. But unstated is that whatever cost the district has been incurring to rent space at YSU will go away or be greatly reduced by a move into a district-owned building AND administrators will be closer to the daily lives of their staff and students. Wow! Sounds like a great idea to me. Wonder what the objection(s) will be? In 3… 2... 1… (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/13/17)
  2. Oops. A “systemic data compilation error” is to blame for errors in several portions of the report cards issued last month for career tech providers statewide. The changes are supposed to be minimal, but I’m sure the CTE folks are eagerly awaiting the revised data. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/13/17)
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  1. A statistic from a Fordham study regarding charter school attendance is referenced in this piece looking at education in central Ohio over the last 25 years, including both K-12 and higher ed. Nope. Me neither. (Columbus CEO, 10/9/17)
  2. Speaking of CEOs, here is a nice profile on the Bright New Leaders for Ohio Schools Program, a public/private partnership aimed at recruiting, training, and placing strong leaders into the state’s neediest schools. (The 74 Million, 10/11/17)
  3. You’ll have to click the link if you want to see the whole thing, but here is the list of the top 100 public high schools in Ohio as ranked by Performance Index scores. While there are a couple of surprises in the back of the list, the top schools are fairly predictable if you know wealth distribution patterns in Ohio. However, I would draw your attention to No. 19 – The Bio-Med Science Academy STEM School in Portage County. That would be a non-district, standalone school open to all students via lottery. And, apparently, it kicks booty. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/11/17)
  4. Ugh. Less than 16 months after successfully ending state-mandated fiscal watch status – a designation it labored
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Most American teenagers plan to head off to college after high school. In my organization’s recent survey of over 2,000 U.S. adolescents, a strong majority reported plans to attend a four-year university (62 percent), while another quarter said they’ll attend a two-year college or trade school. According to survey data from Learning Heroes, 75 percent of parents expect their own child to earn a college degree. Almost 70 percent of high school graduates do in fact matriculate directly to college.

Kids’ and parents’ aspirations are admirable, as data show that adults holding bachelor’s degrees tend to fare better. A four-year degree is associated with higher lifetime earnings, lower unemployment rates, higher rates of homeownership, and more lasting marriages. While there are many “good jobs” available to people without a bachelor’s degree, it’s still a good bet to earn such a credential.

But how many of Ohio’s young adults have actually made it “to and through” college?

Data from the 2011-15 American Community Survey indicate that 32 percent of Ohio’s 25 to 34 year olds—“millennials” roughly speaking—hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This proportion falls just below the national average of 33...