Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Coverage of Fordham’s HB 2 implementation report On the Right Track continued over the last couple of days. Check out journalistic coverage from the Associated Press (AP, via Toledo Blade, 1/18/17), Gongwer (Gongwer Ohio, 1/18/17), and statewide public media (Statehouse News Bureau, 1/18/17). Fordham’s report serves as an additional talking point in this editorial from the D opining on the need to keep up the pressure on poor-performing charter schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/19/17)
  2. The Youngstown branch of the NAACP this week gave its own grade card to district CEO Krish Mohip at the six-month mark of his tenure. You can read the details for yourself but it seems a pretty good showing if you ask me. More telling, I think, are the comments of NAACP officials when asked if they’ll be grading the district school board along the same criteria. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/19/17) Also telling: Mohip’s response to said report card. (Youngstown Vindicator, 1/19/17)
  3. The Louisville school board this week started the process to fire 3 of 10 teachers suspended in the aftermath of the recent strike. They are accused of deleting computer files necessary for the running of their classes
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On the college football field, Ohio and Michigan are bitter rivals. But in the charter school world they share something in common: Both states’ charter sectors have been saddled with the unflattering label of the “wild west.” Recently, this characterization—generally meant to describe a state without proper accountability policies—has been used in critiques of Michigan native and charter supporter, Betsy DeVos, president-elect Trump’s appointee for secretary of education.

What’s clear is that this label and accompanying narrative are hard to shed, even though both states have significantly strengthened their charter laws. On these Gadfly pages, Daniel Quisenberry has described how Michigan is improving its charter sector. In a Fordham report released today, we show how Ohio’s era of stagecoaches and saloons is starting to give way to a more modernized charter sector.

In On the Right Track, we examine the early implementation of recently enacted charter reforms in our home state of Ohio. Bottom line: The Buckeye State’s reforms are being implemented with rigor and fidelity, bringing promising changes to one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most notorious charter sectors.

In autumn 2015, Governor John Kasich and Ohio legislators passed a landmark, bipartisan...

  1. Today, Fordham released its latest report – On the Right Track: Ohio’s charter reforms one year into implementation. First out of the gate with coverage of our HB 2 report is Jim Siegel at the D. Thanks! (Columbus Dispatch, 1/18/17)
  2. On the day when our HB 2 implementation is released, it is fitting that we get to note that our own Aaron Churchill and Chad Aldis were recently quoted in the Dispatch regarding the exceptionally low number of new charter schools opened in the state in 2016. What could have caused it, do you think? (Columbus Dispatch, 1/14/17)
  3. Some news outlets are just catching up to the recent Quality Counts report, in which Ohio had a mediocre showing. You can read Chad’s request for a nuanced look at the data in this brief piece from the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/17/17) and in this longer piece from the DDN. (Dayton Daily News, 1/17/17)
  4. Two stories bearing the words “Common Core” in their headlines hit the PD late last week. First up, a look at how Ohio’s Learning Standards for ELA and math do and don’t resemble CCSS and how both may change further
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Jack Archer

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.

Last fall I retired to Northeast Ohio, where my wife and I have family, from Washington state, where I’d been staff to the State Board of Education and the state legislature. In perusing the Plain Dealer one morning, I felt that I could as well have been back in Olympia. 

The story described new state high school graduation requirements linked to higher standards defining readiness for college and career that had been set by Ohio’s State Board of Education and the fierce backlash ensuing from superintendents and others. The State Department of Education calculated that nearly 30 percent of high school juniors were likely to fall short of graduating next year if the new requirements were applied to them. Superintendents organized a protest rally—dubbed by one State Board member a “march for mediocrity”—on the statehouse steps. In light of the concerns voiced, the Board created a task force to make a recommendation on whether the requirements should be changed or phased in in some manner.

That the present controversy resonates with my experience in...

Much prior research indicates that youngsters from single-parent families face a greater risk of poor schooling outcomes compared to their peers from two-parent households. A recent study from the Institute for Family Studies at the University of Virginia adds to this evidence using data from Ohio.

Authors Nicholas Zill and W. Bradford Wilcox examine parent survey data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. This dataset contains information on 1,340 Ohio youngsters—a small but representative sample. The outcomes Zill and Wilcox examine are threefold: 1) whether the parent had been contacted at least once by their child’s school for behavioral or academic problems; 2) whether the child has had to repeat a grade; and 3) a parent’s perception of their child’s engagement in schoolwork.

The upshot: Buckeye children from married, two-parent households fare better on schooling outcomes, even after controlling for race/ethnicity, parental education, and income. Compared to youngsters from non-intact families, children with married parents were about half as likely to have been contacted by their school or to have repeated a grade. They were also more likely to be engaged in their schoolwork, though that result was not statistically significant.

An estimated 895,000 children...

More than sixty years after Brown v. Board, traditional district schools are more often than not still havens of homogeneity. Static land use guidelines, assignment zones, feeder patterns, and transportation monopolies reinforce boundaries that functionally segregate schools and give rise to the adage that ZIP code means destiny for K-12 students. Asserting that student diversity is an object of increasing parental demand, at least among a certain subset of parents of school-age kids, the National Charter School Resource Center has issued a toolkit for charter school leaders looking to leverage their schools’ unique attributes and flexibilities to build diverse student communities not found in nearby district schools. The report cites a number of studies showing academic benefits of desegregated schools, especially for low-income and minority students. It is unlikely that the mere existence of documentable diversity is at the root of those benefits. More likely, it is a complicated alchemy of choice, quality, culture, and expectations that drives any observable academic boosts. Garden-variety school quality is a strong selling point for any type of school, but this toolkit sets aside that discussion to focus on deliberately building a multi-cultural student body for its own sake. Bear...

Peter Cunningham recently called district-charter collaboration the “great unfilled promise” of school choice. He explains the possibilities by pointing to a host of cities that are already benefiting from collaboration: In New York City, districts and charters are partnering to improve parent engagement. In Rhode Island, charters are sharing with district schools their wealth of knowledge on how to personalize learning effectively. Boston has district, charter, and Catholic schools working together on issues like transportation and professional development and has successfully lowered costs for each sector. The SKY Partnership in Houston is expanding choice and opportunities for students. The common enrollment system in New Orleans has solved a few long-standing problems for parents (like issues with transparency), and partnerships in Denver have set the stage for even more innovation. Though the type and extent of collaboration differs in each of these places, the bottom line is the same: Kids benefit.

Here in the Buckeye State, there are thousands of kids in need of those benefits. Our most recent analysis of state report card data shows that within Ohio’s large urban districts (commonly known as “the Big Eight”), proficiency rates were far below...

  1. In case you didn't know, our own Chad Aldis is serving on the state supe’s workgroup on dropout prevention and recovery schools and was quoted following the group’s meeting earlier this week. As you might have predicted, he urged the study of data on dropout recovery students and schools to aid in decision making and any redesign/reform efforts. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/11/17)
  2. Miracle of miracles! The Dayton RTA drivers and mechanics strike lasted less time than the Louisville teachers strike – just four days in fact. Full service resumed this morning, which should be a great relief for all of the Dayton students who rely on RTA for school transportation. The city school board said “hundreds” of students were absent during the strike because they could not get to school. (Dayton Daily News, 1/13/17)
  3. Ohio this week was awarded a $2 million grant from JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (through the New Skills for Youth initiative), which is meant to strengthen career-focused education in the Buckeye State. Wonder if that’s why the House Education Committee was this week renamed to the Education and Career Readiness Committee? Just askin’. (Associated Press, 1/11/17)
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Education Week just issued its twenty-first “Quality Counts” report card for states. Ohio’s grades are so-so—and nearly identical to last year’s. Yet with a “C” overall and ranking twenty-second nationally, the Buckeye State’s standing relative to other states has fallen dramatically since 2010 when it stood proud at number five.

Ohio’s slide in EdWeek’s Quality Counts ranking has become easy fodder for those wishing to criticize the state’s education policies. Those on the receiving end of blame for Ohio’s fall have included: Governor Kasich (and the lawmakers who upended former Governor Strickland’s “evidence-based” school funding system), Ohio’s charter schools (never mind that nothing whatsoever in the EdWeek score cards takes them into consideration!), and even President Obama (specifically for his 2009 Race to the Top program). I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard or read that Ohio’s plummeting ranking is incontrovertible evidence of things gone awry.

An almost-twenty slot drop in rankings sounds terrible, but my guess is that many people who lament it don’t know what the ratings comprise or that EdWeek’s indicators have changed over time. Let’s take a look at the overall rankings, and then take a...

  1. Here is a nice look at a charter school in Canton, newly opened this school year, which focuses on students with special needs. For anyone who’s keeping count (besides me), that’s now two articles from shall we say “typical skeptics” reporting nice things about charters managed by Cambridge Education Group. (Canton Repository, 1/10/17) On the topic of students with special needs, the Warren County ESC has purchased a former church complex in Franklin, Ohio, in which to expand their Laura Farrell Learning Center. Looks like the aim of this program (not a school, despite the headline) is to expand the provision of services for students in need of extra help to flourish in traditional classroom settings. This is a good advance look at the program’s expansion plans. (Dayton Daily News, 1/11/17)
  2. Today is day three of a strike by Dayton RTA bus drivers and mechanics. We have told you repeatedly about the school district’s transportation woes, now the Gem City transit strike is affecting students who take RTA as an alternative. New talks are supposedly set for today. (Dayton Daily News, 1/10/17)
  3. Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall that Ohio’s state board of education in
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