Ohio Gadfly Daily


National expert praises progress in Ohio charter sector

Greg Richmond, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch this week. Richmond notes that the “sun is setting on the ‘Wild, Wild West,’” a phrase that NACSA once used to refer to Ohio’s charter school sector. He explains that charter-schooling in Ohio is headed in the right direction, as Ohio has increased transparency, eliminated conflicts of interest, strengthened charter governing boards, and improved its oversight of sponsors.

New report from CREDO on Ohio charter school performance

Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), the nation’s foremost independent evaluator of charter-school performance, will be in Columbus on February 19 to unveil a brand new analysis of Ohio's charter sector performance from 2013-14 through 2016-17. CREDO director Margaret (Macke) Raymond, Ph.D. and lead analyst Chunping Han will present their findings. You can register for the event, which will be held at the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in Columbus from 8:30 - 10:00 am, here.

How Opportunity Zones benefit charters

As a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, based on...


In the waning days of January, Chiefs for Change—a nonprofit, bipartisan network comprising state and district education chiefs, including Ohio’s own superintendent, Paolo DeMaria—issued a report containing a series of recommendations on how to improve career and technical education (CTE).

The report presents a compelling case for why stronger CTE programs are necessary, namely that the United States lags behind other leading countries when it comes to quality career preparation during high school. In places like Germany, Finland, and Switzerland, students in grades ten through twelve take a “substantial, coherent course of study focused on a particular career area comprising five to six credits or more.” In the United States, only 6 percent of students do the same.

International differences in education models aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But the lack of adequate career preparation in America has led to some troubling consequences. The U.S. Department of Labor reported a record-high 7.1 million job openings in October 2017, but they also reported approximately the same number of unemployed adults—an indication that the skills and preparation of job-seekers didn’t match the needs of employers. Data also show that there are shortages in middle-skill jobs that don’t...

  1. In case you haven’t been following it (and who can blame you with everything else going on here?), a battle royale has been raging in neighboring West Virginia. A battle over education reform the tenor of which, as I understand it, could make even a coal miner’s daughter blush. Ohio’s charter schools – and particularly a Fordham-sponsored school in Sciotoville, Ohio – got dragged into the discussion this week by a Charleston television station. I may be biased, but I feel that Sciotoville Community Schools Superintendent Rick Bowman really managed to get across what makes his educational model work for his students and how the charter school framework helps in this effort. Nice. (WVAH-TV, Charleston, WV, 2/15/19) In the end, the WVAH piece was too little, too late, it seems, as a scaled back version of the bill which (among other things) reduced charter schools to a two-building pilot program passed the West Virginia House yesterday. (WOWK-TV, Huntington, WV, 2/14/19)
  2. Enough about charter schools in the Mountain State. How are charters faring right here in the good old Buckeye State? The CEO of NACSA put pen to paper in a Dispatch op-ed this week in which
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In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, pundits and analysts were hyper-focused on rural communities. NPR wrote that voters there played a “big part” in the election, and The New York Times claimed that the election “highlighted a growing rural-urban split.” Many in the education sphere predicted that all this attention might convince policymakers to finally focus in on rural schools and their unique struggles.

Yet two years later, the majority of education debates continue to revolve around urban and suburban communities—at least in Ohio. That’s mostly a function of size. According to recent data, the Buckeye State has 229 rural school districts serving over 250,000 students—15 percent of the state’s student population. Urban districts comprise over 28 percent of the population, and suburban districts over 33 percent. Together, they make up the majority of the state’s students. It’s understandable that they would dominate policy discussions.

But even considering their small size, rural districts should get more attention than they do. More than half are considered high poverty, and almost half of their students are economically disadvantaged. In places with steep poverty rates, rural schools face many of the same issues as urban districts, including lower...

  1. The headline of this piece says that the new(ish) president of Lorain City Schools’ elected board “seeks help” from the new(ish) governor of Ohio. I will let you guess as to what kind of solid hizzoner – the nominal head of a district operating under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission – is looking for hizzotheroner – the actual buck-stopper-in-chief in this situation – to do him. In an additional twisty note, a blog post written by our own Jessica Poiner is quoted here. She is treated as a sort of DeWine-Whisperer. Rather than the journalist actually talking to hizzotheroner himself about the issue, that is. Which is weird. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 2/12/19) Meanwhile, in Youngstown City Schools – also operating under the aegis of an ADC – the elected board is spending some time honing a list of criteria it would like to have in a new district CEO. I don’t see “ability to make twisty ironic statements” in here anywhere, but the board members themselves surely have that trait down cold. Any more would probably just be confusing for folks. “Intestinal fortitude” also is not listed, but I figure that goes without saying in
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Nina Rees

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the new state legislature can score a major win for educational equality and opportunity by providing more funding for public charter school facilities.

A 2015 survey of Ohio charter schools funded by the U.S. Department of Education and conducted by the Charter School Facilities Initiative found that more than half of respondents’ schools are located in buildings that weren’t designed to be schools. Many of these facilities lack basic school features such as cafeterias, nurse’s offices, or science labs. A third of Ohio charter schools report having no outside space at all for playgrounds or athletic fields.

As with most education disparities, such deficiencies affect poor and minority students most. The majority of Ohio’s brick-and-mortar charter schools are located in the state’s big eight urban cities, serving primarily black and Hispanic students. Despite the challenges around finding and paying for good learning spaces, low-income, black charter school students in Cleveland are achieving better results on average than their district peers.

It’s this success — along with qualities like safety, innovation, and more time in class — that make charter schools so popular among parents. But while successful charter schools would like to...


As Ohio’s high school diplomas erode in value, there will be a growing need for students to demonstrate knowledge and skills through other means. For many young Ohioans, earning a college degree will continue to be their passport to good-paying jobs. But with college completion rates hovering just above 30 percent, that leaves countless thousands without credentials that open doors to rewarding careers.  

Industry-recognized credentials can help fill this void. Around the nation, states are starting to see the value of credentials to both young people and employers. A joint paper from the CCSSO, Advance CTE, and New Skills for Youth highlights how three states are working to identify high-quality industry credentials and encouraging their accumulation. Florida, for instance, provides schools additional funding when students earn credentials, with amounts varying based on the type of certificate. Twenty-six states also include industry credentials in their accountability systems, giving schools all the more reason to help students earn them.

Ohio, too, has implemented a framework for industry credentials in thirteen career-and-technical career fields. Some credentials verify in-demand skills in HVAC, Auto CAD, Cisco routing, agribusiness, and Adobe graphic design. Yet...

  1. The Path Forward series returns to the pages of Dayton Daily News, chronicling the efforts of Dayton City Schools to avoid state takeover start serving their students at a high level of academic achievement. First up, an in-depth look at Ruskin Elementary School, which is “one of the top performing buildings” in the district despite neighborhood poverty and the somewhat vague report of “trauma” that some or all of the students have experienced. It seems like good news, but I do have some questions, of course. Like, why must all this seeming goodness be spearheaded by non-staffers? And why must it all be crammed into the afterschool time frame and not be a regular part of the school day? But Ruskin’s test scores indicate that something positive is going on here. (Dayton Daily News, 2/10/19) The profile above indicates that expansion of Ruskin’s success is not on the radar of Dayton City Schools officials. They cite logistics (finding outside partners with capacity) and cost (paying those partners to do the job that the schools get paid a lot of money to do themselves). But there is also some vague discussion of the need to “standardize” other district schools’ offerings
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  1. We told you a while back about a Toledo native and “herbal entrepreneur” (shall we say) who says he’s got a great plan to boost education in Frogtown and apparently plenty of green stuff with which to implement it. This week, dude went before the school board to hash out details. The Toledo Bud has the story. (Toledo Blade, 2/8/19)
  2. St. Mary School in Elyria is in danger of closing after 160 years due to a funding shortfall. This piece from the Chronicle says that “more students” is the only answer, noting prominently that the school accepts students with EdChoice vouchers. But, seriously, bro, you sure that’s the ONLY answer? ‘Cause the good folks in Toledo could have a new vein you might consider tapping for some additional green. Just sayin’. (Elyria Chronicle, 2/8/19)

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Ohio House Speaker discusses education priorities

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder recently sat down with the Ohio legislative press corps to discuss his priorities for the year. Householder spoke about a number of education issues, including Ohio’s school funding formula, school security, and his belief that charter school management companies be limited to non-profit entities. In terms of funding, he’d like to see a simpler and fairer formula but doesn’t see a reason to directly fund charter schools.

Columbus charter school welcomes community leader

KIPP Columbus is currently conducting a series of leadership breakfasts, which give students opportunities to interact with successful community members like Mayor Andrew Ginther, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, and (most recently) Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake. During his recent visit, Drake talked about leadership, decision-making, and the importance of one’s core values.  

Can charter schools deny students?

Shaelyn Macedonio of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) recently wrote a blog addressing the misconception that charter schools can deny admission to some students. She explains how charter schools, like all public schools, serve students regardless of their income, religion, or ethnicity.

Rebuild America’s...