Ohio Gadfly Daily

In That State Up North, a debate is brewing over the state board of education. Several Michigan lawmakers recently introduced a resolution to abolish the board via voter approval in a statewide referendum. Proponents’ main argument is that the change would create greater clarity around which state-level authority is in charge of public schools.

There are also some rumblings in the Ohio Statehouse that something should be done about the State Board of Education (SBOE). We don’t know what legislators are thinking—no bill has been introduced—or their reasons for bringing the issue up. But it’s possible that some might be frustrated with the board’s foot-dragging on making important tweaks to charter sponsor evaluations or its championing of embarrassingly low expectations for Ohio’s graduates. Or maybe, like legislators in Michigan, Ohio lawmakers are simply hoping to reduce the number of cooks in the education policy kitchen.

Whatever the motivation, lawmakers would be right to consider changes to the SBOE. One radical option would be to dump it. But like Michigan, Ohio legislators would not only need to pass legislation to do this but also gain voter approval via statewide referendum. (The state constitution calls for the...

  1. It seems like Dayton City Schools is advocating here to receive money for pre-K kids they don’t have. But I’m probably misreading it. (Dayton Daily News, 10/30/17) At the very same meeting where pre-K funding was discussed, the board also decided to initiate two separate reviews of district technology use. Of particular interest is a look at whether one-to-one student tech devices are being used “effectively.” Good question, as long as “effectively” is well defined. (Dayton Daily News, 10/31/17)
     
  2. Mahoning Valley Opportunity Center – a charter school in Youngstown – closed its doors suddenly on Monday, with leadership citing a lack of funding to keep going. Staffers interviewed have questions. Someone should probably talk to their sponsor too. Just sayin’. (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 10/31/17)
     
  3. “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance spoke at Wittenberg University in Springfield Monday night, and the audience was filled with folks who wanted to know if Vance had any answers for them about how local kids could overcome the problems plaguing small-town Ohio and find a bright future for themselves. (Springfield News-Sun, 10/31/17) I hope he gave them some good answers, ‘cause Middletown’s clearly still got problems. (Middletown Journal-News, 10/31/17)

Has William Phillis, head of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding and long-standing charter critic, been watching too many horror films this month?

This is no stretch. A Morning Journal article recapping a retired teachers’ meeting at which Phillis recently spoke reads more like a review of the wildly popular Stranger Things series than an honest depiction of Ohio’s charter sector.

As the Journal reports,

The birth of charter schools in the late 1990s created a monster and that monster is becoming a ferocious creature, William Phillis… said Thursday.

And

He said state officials, through House Bill 2, were able to “slow the monster” through more accountability for performance, but believes it is “still running wild.”

And

                The curses of deregulation in education are profound, ugly, and scary, he said.

Moreover, he accuses Ohio charters of “finding ways to control all branches of government to further their growth” and calls one particular chain of non-profit managed charters—which was cleared by a statewide investigation of all accusations wielded against it, by the way—as a “national security threat.”

According to Phillis, Ohio’s...

  1. Not much going on in ed news across Ohio. Must be all the anticipation of Election Day coming up. Speaking of which, interdistrict open enrollment is an important issue in regard to the levy on the ballot in Coventry Local Schools. To wit, the district is one of those “net losers” in terms of funding from so many students leaving to attend school in other nearby districts. However, Coventry has been in fiscal watch and/or fiscal emergency for more than 15 years, so there’s that. If the current levy doesn’t pass, district officials suggest they may seek a merger with one of those nearby districts – perhaps Akron City Schools, which is the largest recipient of open enrollment students leaving Coventry. (Akron Beacon Journal, 10/26/17)
     
  2. Not too far away from Coventry, editors in Youngstown this weekend opined bluntly in support of ending litigation against the law which created the CEO-style Academic Distress Commission under whose aegis Youngstown City Schools currently operate. (Youngstown Vindicator, 10/29/17)
     
  3. Speaking of school districts operating under the aegis of a CEO-style Academic Distress Commission, the other such district – Lorain City Schools – was unfavorably namechecked during a “community chat” event
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  1. The D finally published some kind of actual news story based on what Bill Bush heard at the ECOT board meeting (and committee meetings and executive session) he attended earlier in the week. The money stuff is pretty obvious and barely qualifies as “news” to the school’s board, let alone Dispatch readers. However, the discussion of the functionality – or possible lack thereof – of the school’s attendance tracking software is kind of interesting. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/26/17) If ECOT’s attendance tracking difficulties sound familiar, it’s because they are. Five years after the Dispatch blew the lid on Columbus City Schools’ data manipulation program, many of the system changes/improvements aimed at shoring up processes and procedures to avoid a repeat are still not marked as completed. Some of them may indeed be completed, say school board members, or near completion, or perhaps completed up to the original point but being improved even more beyond the original scope (but that extra part’s not completed). But no one – especially Bill Bush – seems to be sure of any of it. (Columbus Dispatch, 10/26/17)
     
  2. And speaking of shoring up procedures so as to avoid possible abuse, the House Government Accountability
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  1. We start today’s epic clips collection with a blast from the past – a legislative hearing in which a bunch of people come together to defend the Common Core. Chad is quoted within, naturally. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/24/17)
     
  2. Chad is also quoted in this piece on the fates (currently up in the air) of the charter sponsorship futures of the Cincinnati and Newark school districts. We discussed on Monday Newark’s appeal of its rating of “poor”, but the Cincinnati details are new and interesting. The bottom line: will ODE bend the rules and allow these poor sponsors to continue, leaving all the other sponsors so rated and who quietly relinquished their schools and proceeded to the hereafter asking, “What the fork, man?” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/24/17) Here is a close up version of one of those sponsors – Reynoldsburg City Schools – who recently settled the appeal of their “poor” rating by going out of the sponsorship business entirely. All of their schools are now sponsored by ODE or a higher-rated sponsor. (ThisWeek News, 10/24/17)
     
  3. Speaking of “killing” (nice headline, PD), a rural Ohio school district might use eminent domain to eliminate a haunted house
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NOTE: The House Education and Career Readiness Committee of the Ohio General Assembly is hearing opponent testimony this week on House Bill 176, a proposal that we believe would significantly affect the standards, testing, and accountability infrastructure of K-12 education in Ohio. Below is the written testimony that Chad Aldis gave before the committee today.

Thank you, Chair Brenner, Vice Chair Slaby, Ranking Member Fedor and House Education Committee members for giving me the opportunity today to provide testimony in opposition to House Bill 176.

My name is Chad Aldis, and I am the Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The Fordham Institute is an education-focused nonprofit that conducts research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C.

We’ve long believed that high standards, rigorous assessments, and a strong accountability framework are key components in a quality educational system. For the most part, Ohio excels in each of those areas. The legislature and this committee in particular deserves much of the credit for that and ensuring that every student in our state has the opportunity to receive an excellent education.

House Bill 176, as introduced, would severely weaken...

To give some added oomph to excellent teacher preparation, the Council of Chief State School Officers launched the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP) in 2013. Its purpose is to identify states with track records of innovative teacher preparation and support them in their efforts to implement aggressive and lasting improvements. The network’s first cohort included seven states: Connecticut, Idaho, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Washington. In 2015, they were joined by eight more states: California, Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

A new report examines the progress of those states, mainly in four key areas: stakeholder engagement; licensure reform; preparation program standards, evaluation, and approval; and the use of data to measure success.

In the realm of stakeholder engagement, participating states were required to outline how they would gain the “public and political will to support policy change.” Collaborations between stakeholder groups led several states to recognize the importance of clinical practice for new teachers. For instance, a working group made up of the Louisiana Department of Education, that state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Board of Regents collaborated to create a yearlong classroom residency for new teachers alongside an experienced mentor...

As we’ve come to learn more about sleep and how it affects adolescents, school start times (SST) have become part of a national conversation. Several studies published in prestigious outlets such as the American Economic Journal and Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine indicate that later SST could be beneficial for students, as insufficient sleep is associated with poor academic performance, increased automobile crash mortality, obesity, and depression. And as more benefits of sleep have come to light, several medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have recommended that middle and high schools shouldn’t start until 8:30 a.m. However, understandable concerns about pushing back SST remain, largely regarding increased transportation costs and whether the shift might negatively affect after-school extracurricular activities and employment opportunities.  

Enter RAND Europe and the RAND Corporation, which conducted a recent study in which they aim to gauge whether the benefits of later SST are worth the costs. Throughout the process, they sought to address two questions: If there were universal shifts in SST to 8:30 a.m.—versus the U.S. average start time of 8:03 a.m.—what would the economic impact be?...

  1. CEO David Hardy yesterday released a draft of his turnaround plan for the district, dubbed the “Lorain Promise”. Seems a little light on concrete metrics if you ask me – the fluffy story from the MJ seems to support that – and a majority of the metrics that are included appear to be survey-based. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 10/22/17) There are some metrics regarding third grade reading, overall math achievement, and eighth grade honors readiness, but they are buried deep in that document and not even commented upon in the Chronicle’s piece. What is notable is that two further public input sessions are scheduled (and online feedback is being actively solicited) prior to a final revised plan being submitted to the Academic Distress Commission. Hopefully someone asks a question about what kids are actually going to be expected to learn and know how to do. (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, 10/23/17)
     
  2. Back in the real world, we told you earlier in the month about Findlay Digital Academy’s report card and the district’s happiness about it. Now, Newark Digital Academy – also a dropout recovery charter school sponsored by a school district – reports happiness with their report card as
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