Ohio Gadfly Daily

Back in February, U.S. News and World Report named Massachusetts the top state in its Best States rankings. Though the Bay State has plenty else going for it, part of its triumph is based on educational success—and on that dimension it’s no secret that Massachusetts students have recently excelled on both the national and international stages.

Perhaps, therefore, we ought not be too surprised that one of Ohio’s latest Common Core repeal attempts would replace those “national” standards with Massachusetts’s pre-2010 academic content standards. The bill’s sponsor has argued that the Bay State’s old standards are in Ohio’s current best interest because, while teaching them, Massachusetts moved from “modestly performing” to best in class. In recent testimony, he called them “excellent” and “proven” and argued that this change is necessary because Ohio’s education ranking has “plummeted” (which, for the record, is a misunderstanding of the data). The implication is that by adopting Massachusetts’ old standards, Ohio will place itself on the road to dominating the education sphere.

But is that true? Were Ohio to adopt the old Massachusetts standards, can we expect Massachusetts-style academic results?

Brief but apt digression: let’s turn...

Inequity in the City—the work of veteran authors of charter-school funding studies, including Inequity’s Next Frontier, Inequity Persists, and Inequity Expandsdiffers slightly from its predecessors because of its metropolitan focus. Its core finding is familiar, however: public charter schools face serious and persistent funding gaps compared to their district counterparts. (Will we ever get to read “Inequity Shrinks” or “Inequity Disappears”? One can dream.)

The analysts focused on 15 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Camden, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C. These locales were selected for their high concentration of charters or their “potential for growth.” Data come from fiscal year 2014.

They examined revenue differences in these places between the charter and district schools sectors, including all sources of funding—local, state, federal, and nonpublic. In eight of the cities, the authors conducted longitudinal analyses. They also tested to see whether differences in the enrollment rates of students with special learning needs (defined broadly to include students who are low-income, English language learners, or with disabilities) might explain funding differences.

There are several notable findings:

  • Urban charter schools continue to receive significantly less money than
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The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is releasing a first-of-its-kind statewide analysis of interdistrict open enrollment. Using anonymous student-level data, Ohio State University professor Stéphane Lavertu and Deven Carlson of the University of Oklahoma examined the background characteristics of open enrollees along with their academic outcomes as gauged by state exams and graduation rates.

We invite you to an important discussion of this widespread but often-overlooked means of school choice in the Buckeye State. The researchers will discuss their findings and a panel of education experts will discuss the implications of the report. The discussion will focus on the benefits and challenges of the policy; how it impacts the families, students, and districts involved; and how Ohio policy makers might strengthen open enrollment policies in the future.

Tuesday June 6, 2017

8:30 - 9:45 am

Chase Tower
100 East Broad Street
Sixth Floor - Conference Room B
Columbus, OH 43215

Seating is limited so please register today.



Deven Carlson
University of Oklahoma
Report co-author



Tina Thomas-Manning
Reynoldsburg City Schools



  1. We start today out in the ‘burbs. (I know, right!) First up is a lengthy piece about some “options” for suburban kids for whom the traditional classroom route just doesn’t seem to work. It’s not a charter or a standalone STEM school, mind, but kids in Westerville and Gahanna do have some great-sounding IB, science, and career tech options. Those latter two are thanks to Ohio’s Straight-A Innovation Fund as well. Nice. (ThisWeek News, 5/24/17) Meanwhile, adults in Grandview Heights schools have a somewhat rosier view of how their kids behave when out of their sight than did the adults in Unioto schools discussed earlier this week in the Bites. Instead of slovenly, barbaric, screen-addicted couch rats who need stringent summer rules, warnings and checklists to remind them to “be more human”, Grandview teachers and librarians think their kids just need to read a lot and get out a bit, and maybe attend a summer camp if possible. Sounds more like it to me.  (ThisWeek News/Tri-Village News, 5/23/17) Further north, the Sylvania school district in suburban Toledo is still facing stiff opposition to its efforts to redraw school building boundaries. (Toledo Blade, 5/26/17) Probably coincidentally, it was
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David Burns

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 piece was originally published on the blog of the Ohio STEM Learning Network and is reposted with kind permission from the author.

Throughout the three weeks that span the end of May and the beginning of June, students all over Ohio will be donning an unflattering tasseled mortarboard cap and a polyester gown, lining up in alphabetical order, and trying to remember all the words of their soon-to-be alma mater’s song.  They will be a bit apprehensive, somewhat self-conscious, and a tad more anxious than usual.  They’ve practiced this drill two or three times and generally know where they are supposed to go and when they sit and stand, but the gravity of the circumstance has them a little on edge.

Soon, they will walk across the stage, receive a diploma, shake a hand, and move on.  It all seems easy enough and has been done 100,000 times before, but there’s always a moment or two of hesitation.  It’s the thin line between saying what you are going to do and...

  1. We begin today talking about school districts and “their” money. But honestly, when aren’t we talking about that? Editors in Columbus opined in favor of more state money for school districts. Especially for Columbus City Schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/23/17) It must be 5-year forecast season across Ohio, based on the contents of local papers. Akron City School’s forecast, presented this week, appears relatively stable. Student flight from the district to charter schools has stopped for the time being and open enrollment into the district is currently higher than anticipated. Due, says the treasurer/CFO to “competitive programs and the fact that more staff members have children in the district.” That last bit is fascinating. (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/23/17) Toledo’s forecast looks stable too…as long those three renewal levies all pass. That is the second reference in less than a week to those levies and the importance of their passage to, well, everything. Those editorial endorsements are just writing themselves, don’t you think? (Toledo Blade, 5/24/17) Things are not so rosy for academically-distressed Lorain City Schools’ forecast. The treasurer seems optimistic about maintaining their student counts, stemming a long-standing tide of families opting for charter schools or vouchers,
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The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was intended to improve student health and reduce childhood obesity by increasing the minimum nutritional standards that schools must meet. Despite its good intentions, the changes mandated by this act were met with immediate backlash. In response to the criticism and as part of its commitment to repeal a host of Obama-era regulations, the Trump administration recently put a stop to some of the new standards.

But could returning to the days of anything-goes in school cafeterias negatively impact student achievement? The results from a recent NBER report suggest it’s possible. In the past, studies of school meals have been limited to examinations of whether providing meals can increase test scores (it does). This study is unique because it investigates whether the nutritional quality of meals can boost test scores.

The researchers examined a dataset of California public elementary, middle, and high schools that report state test results. From there, they determined whether these schools had a contract with a private meal provider. In total, approximately 143 districts overseeing 1,188 schools—12 percent of California’s public—schools did so, contracting with a total of 45 different vendors. The remaining 88 percent of...

  1. We start out with two weekend editorials. First up, editors in Columbus opined in favor of a bill to open up all state funds spent by charter schools to full public view. (Columbus Dispatch, 5/21/17) Secondly, editors in Youngstown opined in favor of greater trust on the part of the local teachers union…and against the notion of “unfair labor practices”. Although that last part may not have been intentional. (Youngstown Vindicator, 5/21/17)
  2. The PD had a piece this weekend on what they call “an often-overlooked requirement” of the legislation that created the Cleveland Plan: a district-wide Student Advisory Committee. It is a 400-ish person body that includes students from every grade and every high school which meets four times a year to discuss various topics of interest and importance to students. The intention is good, the work is sincere, and the students genuinely interested in speaking up and being heard. But at the end of this piece, I at least was pretty clear why this “often-overlooked” entity fits that description. Sad. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/20/17)
  3. Is it just me or is this piece from Akron as sadly underwhelming as the Cleveland piece above? It is
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  1. Our own Chad Aldis often plows his own furrow (so to speak) when it comes to certain aspects of education policy in Ohio, sometimes confounding those trying to define the narrative around those issues. Yet another case in point occurred this week in the wake of testimony on the topic of charter sponsor evaluations contained in the state budget bill. The title of this Gongwer piece is “Some Charter Advocates Unsatisfied With House Changes To Sponsor Evaluations”. Chad is quoted on the topic, but he is not among those “unsatisfied advocates” touted in the headline. In fact, he is the only voice quoted in support of some of those frankly pretty important-sounding changes. Going against the grain, if I may mix my metaphors. (Gongwer Ohio, 5/17/17) Testimony continued in that committee yesterday, this time primarily on the topic of school funding provisions in the state budget bill. (Gongwer Ohio, 5/18/17)
  2. Stepstone Academy this week became the fifth charter school in Cleveland whose teachers voted to unionize. Congrats. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/17/17) Here is a glimpse into Stepstone’s possible future: cordial negotiations leading to big raises! (What did you think I was going to say?) Toledo
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NOTE: The Ohio Senate Finance Committee’s Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee is hearing testimony this week on the education portion of Ohio's next biennial budget. Below is the written testimony that Chad Aldis gave before the committee today.

Thank you, Chair Hite, Vice Chair Sykes, and committee members for allowing me the opportunity to provide testimony on House Bill 49.

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. Our Dayton office, through the affiliated Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, is also a charter school sponsor.

As opposed to past years, Governor Kasich’s as-introduced budget includes relatively few education proposals. Given the magnitude and number of changes over the past six years, we believe this is a good thing. We’d encourage the Senate to follow the governor’s lead and to focus only on the most critical adjustments needed to foster a high-performing educational system. It’s important that students, teachers, principals, and school districts be given some stability and time to adjust to past legislative enactments....