Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. As you may have seen in media outlets both social and not, Monday’s opening of the I Promise School in Akron was quite the event. Here’s a sample of some coverage from the hometown paper but there’s plenty more where that came from should you want it. Hopefully the documentary camera crew was there on Day Two, because it seems no other media outlet (social or otherwise) was present. (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/30/18)
  2. Yesterday, however, editors in Canton did opine on the golden opportunity presented by both Akron’s I Promise and Canton’s own AIM Academy, both on Day Two of operation. Yes, they mean an opportunity for students to succeed. (Canton Repository, 7/31/18)
  3. Not to be outdone by the NBA, the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week announced a new effort to assist students in Lorain City Schools who may have trouble affording uniforms. The support this year will allow for deeply discounted “Titan Pride Packages” of clothing. The goal is to eventually raise enough support to provide those packages free of charge to every Lorain student. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 7/31/18) The Browns’ purchasing office might want to hold off on that initial order for
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Since 2007, Ohio’s minimum wage has climbed from $6.85 per hour to the current rate of $8.30. Earlier this year, state Democratic leaders introduced a bill that would further accelerate minimum wage increases to $15.00 per hour by 2025. Though unlikely to pass this year, the legislation is part of a national debate about what constitutes a “living wage” for employees who may be trying to make ends meet for their families. My intention is not to jump into the rancorous discourse around wage floors for grown-ups. But it is worth examining how escalating minimum wages might affect work opportunities for teenagers. In my view, if we want to promote more teenage employment, Ohio policymakers should consider setting a youth minimum wage that differs from that of adults.

Figure 1 shows some national data on teenage employment trends. There’s been a dramatic decline in the employment of sixteen- to nineteen-year-olds over the past forty years. In 1980, almost 60 percent of young people in this age range held part- or full-time jobs; that number has since fallen to just 35 percent. This drop in teenage employment diverges from the general working-age population trend, which has remained steady over...

  1. Fordham’s own Mike Petrilli and Amber Northern have an editorial published in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer, discussing the findings of the recent Charter School Deserts report and urging changes in Ohio law that could address those issues here in the Buckeye State. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 7/30/18)
  2. One of the law changes championed by my bosses in their op-ed above is access to state facilities funding for charter schools in Ohio. Maybe I’m too pessimistic, but I personally think it will be a cold day in Hell, California, before that happens. I will submit this piece from Columbus as Exhibit A to support my downbeat assertion. It simultaneously besmirches the current funding sources charters must utilize, belittles a local charter for “not looking like a school”, and casts aspersions because the operators dared to try and make a non-purpose-built building (which most charters cannot do) look and function more like a school. (Columbus Dispatch, 7/29/18)
  3. Meanwhile, school leaders from various districts, Catholic, and Christian schools in Stark County were approached by the Repository to tell readers why they are so awesome and what they are doing to remain awesome and maybe even to get more awesome in the
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OhDELA testing new approach to online learning

The Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy (OhDELA) is now working with ACCEL Schools. The charter school’s new operator, ACCEL CEO Ron Packard, recently announced his plans for improving OhDELA’s performance using a “new approach to online learning.” Some of the changes include requiring more in-person meetings between students and teachers, doing less advertising to ensure they’re recruiting students who are truly well-suited for online classes, and more.

It’s time to be pragmatic about online charter schools

Last month, the General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation (SB 216 and HB 87) that, among other things, seek to address some of the issues that have plagued online charter schools in Ohio. But an important measure (from HB 707—a bill that didn’t pass) that would have required ODE to adopt rules allowing online charter schools to disenroll students for not “actively participating in learning opportunities” didn’t pass. Fordham’s Chad Aldis believes Ohio needs to revisit this recommendation—he explains why here.

IDEA schools success story

This week, Idea Public Schools’ superintendent Joann Gama is celebrating: All 849 seniors from her charter schools graduated this...

  1. As we have discussed previously, Madison Local Schools near Mansfield has been engaged in a monthslong kerfuffle with a number of district parents over implementation of a new STEM curriculum in elementary and middle schools. This week, the board voted unanimously to implement the curriculum as a “mandatory elective” for just one year to start, and with a “contingency plan” in place to assuage parental fears. Assuring these folks that STEM is not an indoctrination program created by aliens from Alpha Centauri appears to be full time work for the supe and her board going forward. (Mansfield News Journal, 7/25/18)
  2. Speaking of trepidation, it sounds like some very important folks are saying “maybe” to the Say Yes to Education program’s adoption in Cleveland. “Unless accompanied by deeper reform of the education system as a whole, and of the inequality underlying it, even the most ambitious, innovative and sustained efforts will have, at best, modest results.” This is part of the conclusion reached by researchers from Brookings whose recent report takes a look at several Say Yes cities as extended case studies. Issues such as existing resources, data collection and availability, and racial equality all are areas of
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Online charter schools have been front-page material in every major Ohio newspaper for the past two years. The coverage, largely focused on the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), has featured the very public funding dispute between ECOT and the Ohio Department of Education, a host of legal proceedings, the school’s mid-year closure and subsequent displacement of 12,000 students, and the political rush from both parties to take credit or assess blame for the entire situation.

Last month, the General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation (Senate Bill 216 and House Bill 87) that, among other things, seek to address some of the issues that have plagued online charters in Ohio. A quick overview of the changes can be found in this summary of education-related legislation for the first half of 2018. The online charter provisions, while generally recognized as being positive, also drew criticism for not going far enough. This is likely because another piece of legislation—House Bill 707, which was introduced in mid-June by Republican Representatives Reineke and Faber—had even stronger accountability provisions, many of which came from recommendations made by Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost.


  1. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but summer will be over sooner than you think. Don’t blame me; blame LeBron James. Because his new I Promise School in Akron opens next week! I’m sure the documentary camera crew will be there for LeBron’s big day, which is apropos, given this piece talking about the high tech media lab which the new school will contain, thanks to generous support. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/23/18)
  2. Akron may have LeBron and his foundation, but not to be outdone, Youngstown has former Buckeye Maurice Clarett. Specifically, it has The Red Zone, a behavioral health agency founded by Clarett that works to support students facing “tremendous personal obstacles that inhibit them from doing well in school”. A new report indicates that whatever The Red Zone is doing, it has helped raise some GPAs for Y’town students. Interesting. (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 7/23/18)
  3. However, Akron City Schools has another big player on its team as well—Bridgestone. This week, it was announced that the tire giant will be the sponsor of the new Academy of Applied Engineering and Technology at East High School. With their support and $200,000 contribution, the
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A couple of years ago, I had the honor of interviewing for a vacancy on my local school board. Working at an education think tank, especially one that supports school choice, leads many to assume I’m not supportive of traditional public schools. They are mistaken. My three kids have all attended their neighborhood schools, and my school district is a critical part of my community. So serving on the board seemed like an amazing opportunity to give back to that community and learn more about the challenges school boards face.

I didn’t anticipate receiving, and ultimately didn’t get, the position, but the interview process was positive and educational. Being a school board member is clearly hard work. Most members have full-time jobs, but they still spend a significant amount of time participating in and preparing for full board and committee meetings, attending other community-related obligations, and representing the board at school-sponsored events. And that’s only part of the work. Members also play an important role in contract negotiations and spearheading efforts to pass school levies—and do it all for shockingly little pay. School board service is not for the faint of heart.

My short-lived candidacy, and day job as an...

  1. Both Chad Aldis and Jessica Poiner are quoted in this Gongwer piece on the potential effect of new rules for dropout recovery schools, recently approved by the State Board of Education. Sounds like those effects are difficult to prognosticate, but we will likely see how they did within a year. (Gongwer Ohio, 7/20/18)
  2. It is notable, I think, that ECOT is not mentioned in the above piece. It is downright miraculous, I would suggest, that ECOT is not mentioned in this piece – looking at a “new approach to online learning” to be piloted by the new operator of Ohio’s OHDELA online charter school. Color me surprised. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 7/21/18)
  3. Unless Dayton City Schools has an awesome billiards team that I don’t know about, there is quite a mixed metaphor in this piece. But that’s the only questionable thing in here, as the top-to-bottom restructuring of Dayton’s athletic department after a fairly awful year seems pretty darn awesome. And athletics enhances academics. (Dayton Daily News, 7/23/18)
  4. Speaking of Dayton, here is a fantastic profile of STARBASE, a Department of Defense initiative in which the U.S. Air Force offers hands on STEM summer
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A good news online charter school story

Sarah Robinson, an online charter school graduate from Massillon, Ohio wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Canton Repository this week. Robinson, the co-valedictorian for the class of 2018 at Ohio Connections Academy (OCA), describes how the school’s flexibility enabled her and her sister to learn self-discipline, work at their own paces, and pursue outside interests (like taking college classes and volunteering). This is a great reminder that, despite the flurry of negative stories, there are many students like Sarah who thrive in online schools.


Analyzing the impact of dropout recovery report card changes

As we’ve described previously, the State Board of Education recently adopted significant changes to the rules around report cards for Ohio's dropout prevention and recovery schools (DPRS). A new piece from Fordham’s Jessica Poiner examines the potential impacts of those changes, specifically around identification as a DPRS and graduation rate performance levels.


Ohio charters in the news

The Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy (OhDELA), an online charter school long operated by White Hat management, is now working with ACCEL Schools. This story in the...