Ohio Gadfly Daily

NOTE: The Education Committee of the Ohio Senate last week heard testimony on SB 85, a proposal that would expand Ohio’s private school voucher program. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a witness at this hearing and these are his written remarks. You can watch archive video of the hearing here, courtesy of the Ohio Channel. Chad’s testimony begins at the 10:16 mark; questions from committee members and Chad’s answers begin at the 19:17 mark.

Thank you, Chair Lehner, Vice Chair Huffman, Ranking Member Sykes, and Senate Education Committee members for giving me the opportunity today to provide testimony in support of Senate Bill 85.

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 every parent should have access to a good school that meets his or her child’s educational needs. School choice in its many forms, including open enrollment, magnet schools, charter schools, homeschooling, and private school choice, is important when a zoned school—for whatever reason—isn’t a good fit.

While supportive...

If you don't know about Fordham Ohio's Gadfly Bites news clip service, you literally don't know what you're missing!

Thrice weekly, we publish a news and commentary blog. In it, we take a quick look at education news and opinion pieces from media outlets around the state, dig into the content, add our own analysis and commentary, and offer readers a sense of what these stories mean.

It is often irreverent, sometimes serious, hopefully amusing, and always thoughtful. You can have Gadfly Bites delivered directly to your inbox with our new Gadfly Bites email service. Click here to sign up now.

And if you want a taste of what you’ll be getting: check out our April 26 edition in which the sudden reappearance of Dennis “the Menace” Kucinich on the Ohio stage – full of venom over charter schools like it’s 2007 all over again – is likened to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.

  1. Does the state budget bill as it stands right now water down charter school accountability? Doug Livingston – while NOT on the education beat, mind you – is doggedly on the case to find an answer. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/28/17)
  2. Are editors in Youngstown inconsistent in supporting district CEO Krish Mohip’s plan to return to neighborhood schools? They opined on the topic – and the self-reflective question – this weekend. (Youngstown Vindicator, 4/30/17)
  3. Are Ohio’s students subjected to too much testing? Three Toledo area teachers on the state’s testing committee have no doubt about the answer to that question. (Toledo Blade, 4/30/17)
  4. Is social capital a proxy for wealth in regard to student success? An OSU researcher is part of team looking at that very question. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/1/17)
  5. Bonus question: Is soccer too expensive to start up as a varsity sport? Clearview school district is weighing the hella pricey-sounding options. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 4/30/17)
  1. I imagine we’ve all seen that episode of Law & Order: you know, the one where fingerprint evidence solves the case at the last minute as the ominous strings build up in the background. But what if the fingerprints themselves are missing? Looks like that’s the situation Ohio finds itself in, as it was revealed this week that the fingerprints of 4,700 licensed educators which should be in the system, are not. Duh DUH. (AP, via Columbus Dispatch, 4/27/17)
  2. Today, DeBlade opined on DeVos. (Toledo Blade, 4/28/17)
  3. Good news: the brand spankin’ new Lorain Alumni Association looks like it’s going to come together. Better news: it looks like it is intended to include public and private (well, Catholic) high school graduates. Best news: it looks like the new group can raise a crap ton of money in a less-than-affluent part of the state. The other shoe: first order of business is a schmancy new stadium to go with the schmancy new (district) high school. Great for fiddling in, I reckon. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 4/27/17)
  4. Speaking of Catholic schools, here is a profile of tiny but mighty Mater Dei school in suburban Whitehall.
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  1. In case you missed it this week, Ohio’s own pale, skinny version of the Loch Ness Monster resurfaced on the shores of the Scioto River, to take a context-free and factually-deficient lunge against charter schools, jaws a-slavering. Luckily, our own Chad Aldis was on hand to offer a rebuttal to Dennis’ menaces. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/24/17) The Dispatch covered the monster press conference, but did not include Chad’s comments. Must be a deadline thing. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/24/17) Marc Kovac of the Ohio Capitol Blog cited the Monster and included Chad’s best quote since the “paper victory” thing last week. Chad called Dennis’ planned anti-charter townhall tour “naked political grandstanding”. Boom! (Ohio Capitol Blog, via The Twinsburg Bulletin, 4/24/17) After resurfacing in Columbus following his long political slumber, the Lake Erie Monster dove back into the water and disappeared…only to reemerge in Washington Township. (Perhaps via the Great Miami and Holes Creek – who knows the ways of this mysterious creature?) A slightly less factually challenged version of the same lunge against charter schools was mounted in the Dayton area, followed by the same response from Chad, and then he was gone again into the depths. (Dayton Daily News,
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  1. Another clips compilation, another set of editors quoting Chad – and opining in agreement with him – about the need to hold the line on graduation standards. Although the editors at the Morning Journal have a couple of caveats they’d like to share. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 4/24/17)
  2. Anyone recall the protracted review and approval process for Ohio’s federal Charter School Program grant? Me too! Good times, right? At long last, the application process for year one distribution of those funds is beginning. However, for good or ill, the “rigorous school sponsor evaluation system has limited the number of eligible grantees in our community school pipeline.” So says the Ohio Department of Education. Fordham is namechecked as one of that limited number of sponsors in this story on the CSP grant. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/21/17) Chad is quoted (and Fordham namechecked) in the PD version of the story. It goes a little deeper, using the hook of ODE “returning” some of the grant money to the feds specifically because of the lack of qualified recipients to elicit a wide range of complimentary responses. Fascinating. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/21/17) Editors in Youngstown take
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  1. Chad is quoted in two pieces discussing possible budget amendments which would change the state’s charter sponsor evaluations. What is mainly at issue is the weighting of schools of differing sizes in a sponsor’s portfolio. But you have to dig through the reporters’ and interview subjects’ focus on how much this would affect Ohio’s largest online school to get to the deeper detail. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/20/17) Chad’s comments are especially helpful in that regard in the Dispatch piece from this morning. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/21/17)
  2. Speaking of budget amendments, changes to and a study of the impacts of College Credit Plus are afoot via other possible amendments coming down the pike. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/20/17) In Stark County, however, College Credit Plus is seen as an unqualified success for students, families, and especially for Clark State Community College. No changes required except expansion. (Dayton Daily News, 4/20/17)
  3. We told you earlier in the week about CEO Krish Mohip’s new neighborhood school proposal in Youngstown. Initial reaction to the proposal from the community and district stakeholders is good, although there is no price tag on it yet and certain details still need to be worked
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In politics as of late, there’s been a lot of talk about “going nuclear” in order to accomplish a goal. Ohio now has its own version of scorched earth policy in the form of House Bill 176, a wide-ranging education proposal that, if enacted, would do away with standards and accountability as we know it.

Many of its provisions—namely ditching Ohio’s Learning Standards for Massachusetts’ pre-2010 standards and ditching Ohio’s assessments for Iowa’s pre-2010 assessments—appeared in House Bill 212 back in 2015. That legislation did not move through the General Assembly, but one of its key proponents is at it again. Unfortunately, the new version is an even bigger nightmare than its predecessor.

In a separate piece, I’ll take a deeper look at why using Massachusetts standards and Iowa assessments are two steps in the wrong direction. But for now, let’s take a look at a few of the other changes HB 176 is trying to make and why they’re not in Ohio’s best interest.

Eliminating graduation requirements

Ohio has been abuzz with talk about graduation requirements and how to ensure that students are being held to high—but not ridiculously high—expectations. HB 176...

When news broke the other day that LeBron James was starting a school in his home town of Akron, some commentators assumed it was going to be a charter. That’s an understandable mistake, as celebrities and stars of all stripes have gotten in chartering in recent years, from Andre Agassi to P. Diddy to Pitbull and beyond. And why not, given that in most places, the charter model comes with huge advantages for philanthropists wanting to make a difference, among them the freedom from district red tape and teacher union contracts.

LeBron chose to create his school in partnership with the traditional public school district, as a non-charter—likely due to his long-standing relationship with Akron City Schools. There’s no way to know whether he considered the charter route. But if he had, he’d have discovered a challenging charter school terrain suffering from the double whammy of recovering from a long-held poor reputation and inhospitable policies for education entrepreneurs.

First of all, kudos to LeBron, whose efforts to help struggling youth and his partnerships in Akron are nothing new. You can read more about the school plans here, but the gist is that the...

  1. Chad Aldis’ dire warning of a “paper victory” for adults who wish to lower Ohio’s graduation requirements continues to reverberate in cigar smoke-filled editorial board rooms in the Buckeye State and beyond. Editors in Wheeling, West Virginia, opined in warning to their next door neighbor to keep graduation standards high. (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, 4/16/17). And editors in Columbus reiterated their support for higher standards yesterday. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/18/17)
  2. Today, families in Youngstown get their first look at CEO Krish Mohip’s district reconfiguration plan. Citing feedback he received during numerous community input sessions, he believes that the return of “neighborhood schools” will increase parental involvement and will facilitate the equitable distribution of resources (technology, high-quality teachers, STEM courses, etc.) to all parts of town. More to come on this. (Youngstown Vindicator, 4/19/17)
  3. Speaking of feedback, the Perrysburg school board issued a formal “thanks for listening to us, Mr. Superintendent” to Paolo DeMaria, giving him kudos for hearing the cries of oppressed suburban school districts like theirs in regard to Ohio’s proposed ESSA plan. Perrysburgers are pleased with the delayed submission and fully expect every one of their demands to be incorporated into the final version
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