Ohio Gadfly Daily

When I was growing up, “fake news” was the black-and-white photograph of the infamous bat child. Staring back at me in the supermarket check-out line, it was easy to spot—the line demarcating fiction from reality was as recognizable as the red and yellow tabloid headlines. Nowadays, fake news, defined by Wikipedia as “written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention,” is rampant, flourishing in social media like algae in warm lake water. It’s also harder to pinpoint, having taken on so many esoteric forms beyond the blatantly untrue or “good-old fashioned viral emails” of years past. (You know it’s bad when the ignorance of yesteryear brings on nostalgia.)

Today’s fake news is insidious and creeping—like an invasive weed posing as a hearty, colorful garden plant before wilting and seeding itself in the wind to multiply its damage. The most dangerous form isn’t the outright lie. It’s the distortion of fact, the misrepresentation, the half-truth. News isn’t all that’s “fake” nowadays. Too many public policy proposals also...

Greg R. Lawson

NOTE: 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.

The Buckeye Institute in Ohio recently released Education Savings Accounts: Expanding Education Options for Ohio, a report co-authored with the Heritage Foundation’s school choice expert Lindsey Burke, which explains how Education Savings Accounts (ESA) will build upon Ohio’s already successful voucher and scholarship programs. Adopting a robust ESA program would propel Ohio’s outdated public education system into the 21st century, and make it nimble enough to navigate the needs of today’s students.

ESAs take the next step toward putting parents in charge of their child’s education. In envisioning education in the 21st century, parents—not bureaucrats—are primarily responsible for meeting the educational needs of students. And ESAs will help Ohio realize that vision.

For more than a century, an “Industrial Age” model of mass learning and limited flexibility has dominated the public education paradigm. This model too often ignores the individual needs, differences, skills, and interests of the children it purports to instruct. By embracing a more flexible and personalized approach to learning, ESAs will help Ohio transition into the new “Information Age”—empowering...

In case you missed it, Fordham released a new report last week: a first-of-its-kind analysis of the districts and the students utilizing open enrollment across district boundaries in the Buckeye State, focusing on which districts did and did not open their borders and on the academic outcomes of students who take advantage of the opportunity.

Interest in the findings was widespread and a sample of the local, state and national media coverage includes:

  • The Columbus Dispatch – which has previously covered local school residency and attendance issues
  • The blog of The 74 Million – including an interview with Fordham Ohio’s research guru Aaron Churchill
  • The blog of Chalkbeat – including a national perspective on the issue
  • Statehouse news site Gongwer Ohio – who covered the report and the release event held in Columbus

If you weren’t able to join us for that release event and the important panel discussion included therein – which included the perspective of urban and suburban district leaders as well as a vital parent perspective – please visit Fordham’s YouTube channel or click on the image below to see the full video.


  1. I don’t usually clip blog posts, but this seemed fairly significant. The learned Dr. Matt Ladner – senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute – took notice of our Ohio open enrollment report and added his thoughts to the discussion via Jay Greene’s blog. It’s an interesting take based on his knowledge of education reform history and informed by his own past research. Worth a look, even if you haven’t read our report yet. (Jay P. Greene’s blog, 6/12/17)
  2. Sticking with the school choice theme, it was announced this weekend that a new charter school will be coming to Sheffield, near Lorain, starting next school year. Repeat: it will be opening near Lorain. Near enough to drive. Academically-distressed Lorain City Schools. Or maybe take a bus. Yes, THAT Lorain. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/11/17)
  3. Finally today, a new report on the State of Preschool in the CLE shows that efforts to increase the number of 3 and 4 year olds in high quality preschool seats fell short of goals after three years of work. There’s some nuance there and the data are not all gloomy, but this stat at the very end of the
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Since 2002, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has published yearbooks on the state of preschool education. These reports examine state-funded prekindergarten education programs that meet specific criteria outlined by NIEER; besides being state-funded and directed, for example, the programs must serve at least one percent of the 3- or 4-year-old population within that state. This excludes children who participate in federally funded Head Start and special-education pre-K programs. The most recent report, chock-full of interesting data points on the national and state landscapes, focuses on three areas: enrollment, funding, and quality.

Across the nation, nearly 1.5 million children attended state-funded preschools during the 2015-16 school year. That number includes almost 5 percent of three-year-olds and a third of four-year-olds. Total enrollment rose by more than 40,000 children over the previous year, with D.C. serving the highest percentage of both three- and four-year-olds. Seven states don’t offer any state-funded programs that fit NIEER’s criteria: Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

Total state pre-K spending totaled nearly $7.4 billion, up by more than half a billion (adjusted for inflation) from the previous year. The average state spending per child was $4,976. D.C....

  1. We start today in Fordham’s birthplace of Dayton, which as you will recall, may be facing a summer of strife over teacher contract negotiations or lack thereof. Jeremy Kelley this week dug deep into the state of play in the stalled negotiations and tried to discover what is at issue. First up, the state of play is probably best described as “deadlocked” upon the halting of discussions between the two sides for all of June and July. Union reps say “pressure may be needed” to restart those negotiations, even in August. I’m thinking triple dog dare. (Dayton Daily News, 6/7/17) Then Jeremy tried to suss out the answer to the question, “What’s really going on?” That is, what issues remain and where do the two sides stand. I’m not sure he was entirely successful, but it sounds like his interview subjects are keeping their cards close to their vests for the time being. Gonna be a long summer, methinks. (Dayton Daily News, 6/7/17)
  2. Staying in Dayton for a moment, here’s some rah rah on the city’s Preschool Promise program. Which, as you’ll recall, is copiously funded but seriously lagging in sign-ups so far. Wonder how a
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For years, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has released reports that rate and compare hundreds of teacher preparation programs across the country. These reviews have examined both graduate and undergraduate programs for elementary, secondary, and special education teachers.

NCTQ’s newest report looks at traditional undergraduate programs that develop secondary school teachers. Though quality preparation is vital for all educators, the high-level academic content that middle and high school teachers must deliver to their students makes strong preparation essential. As the report authors note, the vast majority of Americans depend on their high school education to give them a knowledge base across many subject areas that they won’t go on to major or work in. Without a firm grasp of subject content and how to convey it effectively to their pupils, high school teachers are unable to impart this essential knowledge, the result being a less knowledgeable society.   

The new report examined 717 programs across all 50 states and D.C. on a variety of standards in three main areas: knowledge (content preparation in the sciences and the social sciences[1]), practice (subject-specific instructional methods courses, student teaching, and classroom management), and...

Bernie Moreno

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.

This commentary was originally published in Crain’s Cleveland Business.

As a business owner in Cleveland as well as other cities, I spend a lot of time thinking about return on investment (ROI).

It's a financial term that when used in public education can make some people feel uncomfortable. Students and teachers are not units or widgets, and running schools is not a business — or so the thinking goes. Many would argue that the educational process of expanding a child's mind and equipping them for a lifelong love of learning simply can't be reduced to numbers.

I agree that teaching is an art form, that children are unique, and that K-12 public education — as a public good — cannot and should not be reduced to balance sheets alone. Yet we see the results of a poor education very much in terms of numbers.

These are cold, hard facts that we must contend with and eventually pay for. Low percentages of students who can't read or do math at grade level lead...

  1. In case you missed it, Fordham yesterday released a first-of-its-kind analysis of interdistrict open enrollment in Ohio – a look at the districts and the students utilizing it this popular and widespread school choice program and the academic outcomes attained. Day-of-release coverage of the report can be found in the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 6/6/17), the blog of The 74 Million, including some nice in-depth Q&A with our research guru Aaron Churchill (The 74 Million, 6/6/17), and from Matt Barnum in the Chalkbeat blog. (Chalkbeat, 6/6/17). Additionally, the folks at Gongwer were kind enough to attend our report release event yesterday morning and provide a further perspective on open enrollment by including comments from our distinguished panelists. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/6/17) Thanks everyone!
  2. In all the excitement over our impending report release, I completely forgot to talk in Monday’s Bites about that proverbial “other shoe” which dropped late in the day on Friday regarding those goofed-up ACT tests scattered across Ohio. In the end, ACT agreed to score and report the results for all of the students who took the incorrect test. Whew! (Dayton Daily News, 6/2/17)
  3. Speaking of tests, the state supe went
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Tom Gunlock

NOTE: 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.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) recently recommended that the legislature soften graduation requirements and allow attendance, community service, and other non-academic items to replace test scores and allow students to graduate regardless of whether they meet existing graduation requirements. If the proponents of this change are to be believed, the state’s End of Course (EOC) tests (which replaced the Ohio Graduation Tests, or OGTs) are too hard for students—and will lead to nearly one-third of the Class of 2018 failing to graduate.  Though lowering standards is troublesome there is another—perhaps more alarming—reason to oppose this recommendation: the legislature is being asked to make a change without having all the facts. Here are a few questions that must be answered before the legislature can decide to lower the bar.

First, what does the most recent student data say?

The SBOE claims that a third of students in the Class of 2018 won’t graduate due to new EOC tests. But this claim rests solely on test results from students’ sophomore year, almost 12 months ago....