Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Fordham Ohio is all over this wide-ranging piece on charter schools. It is the personal story of a Cleveland grandmother’s efforts to find the right academic fit for her granddaughter, it is 2015-in-review for statewide charter school policy, and it is a look ahead to charter accountability in 2016 and beyond. CREDO’s 2014 report on Ohio charter school performance, our blockbuster school closure report, Jamie Davies O’Leary’s blog post on Ohio’s past CSP grant winners, and an interview with Chad Aldis are all quoted extensively in the piece, along with several charter critics. (WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, 12/24/15)
  2. Speaking of Fordham’s blockbuster school closure report, this fascinating opinion piece from a former classroom teacher quotes said blockbuster school closure report while discussing the stormy relationship between teachers unions and charter schools nationwide. (California Political Review, 12/22/15)
  3. Governor Kasich popped back home last week to sign a passel of bills into law. One of those was a “clean up” of some provisions passed in last year’s state budget. Among other things, the new bill corrected budget language which erroneously delayed access to vouchers for students in three suburban Cleveland private schools.  Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/24/15)
  4. Also last
  5. ...
  1. We start today with some huge and fantastic news. The owners of the Cleveland Browns are donating $10 million to the Breakthrough Network of schools, to support the network’s plan to reach 20 high-quality charters in the CLE by 2020. Wow. Huge congratulations to the team at Breakthrough. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/23/15)
  2. The recent story on Dayton Public Schools’ poor test scores generated a response from the district which is worth a read. It is a tiny bit worrying that their response included early reference to the “safe harbor” status currently in place for Ohio’s schools. The fact that no sanctions will come down on the district for a few years due to those poor test scores should not be a balm for anyone. However, their statement ended with the district pledging it would “continue to do the hard work without excuses.” Let’s hope it is so. (Dayton Daily News, 12/22/15)
  3. Staying in Dayton for a moment – and focusing on the positive as the paper invites us to do – four photography students from Stivers School for the Arts have placed highly enough in the national YoungArts competition that they will be able to
  4. ...

As the year winds down, the Fordham Ohio team reflects on a landmark year in the Buckeye State. At times, this year has felt long and arduous, an uphill climb that could prompt even the driest among us to want to spike the holiday eggnog. However, the state’s struggles haven’t been for naught; this year boasts some successes that would put a smile on the face of the Grinchiest of the Grinches. Here’s our take on the three worst and best events in Ohio’s education space in 2015.


Worst #1: Authorizer evaluation fiasco and its aftermath

Legislation in 2012 installed meaningful authorizer performance reviews. After three years of piloting and developing the evaluations, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) finally launched them and announced the first spate of ratings (including the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s exemplary marks). The ratings lasted all of four months. It was discovered that ODE’s school choice director had tossed out scores from online schools as part of authorizers’ academic ratings. That move was illegal, cost him his job, and resulted in all ratings being rescinded. The evaluation was sent back to the drawing board; Fordham weighed in on its...

Ohio has exemplary charter schools – beacons of quality that are helping students reach their full potential. Who are these high flyers and what can we learn from them? How can Ohio replicate, expand, and support great charters in every part of the state?

Fordham partnered with Steve Farkas and Ann Duffet of the FDR Group to survey the leaders of these exemplary schools to capture their thoughts on charter policy, hear what makes their schools tick, and learn what we can do to make sure that good schools flourish and expand.

Quality in Adversity: Lessons from Ohio’s best charter schools will be released on Wednesday, January 27, 2016. You are invited to join us as we discuss the findings and recommendations arising from this survey. A fitting way to celebrate National School Choice Week!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Coffee and pastries will be available

Program begins at 8:30 am

Program concludes at 9:45 am



Chase Tower

100 East Broad Street - Sixth Floor Conference Room B

Columbus, OH 43215

Space is limited. Register today by clicking here....

  1. Fordham’s own Aaron Churchill is quoted in this DDN piece digging in to Dayton City Schools’ recently-released PARCC test scores. Looks pretty bad for the district – already on the short list for the new Academic Distress Commission process – when it lags both local charter schools and the other Big 8 urban districts. (Dayton Daily News, 12/20/15)
  2. Chad’s recent testimony before the state board of education is paraphrased in a Dispatch editorial from this past weekend. What are they talking about? The influence that the new interim state superintendent can have over charter sponsor evaluations. This is probably optimistic of them given that the interim doesn’t covet the permanent job and because the timing doesn’t line up. You can read the written version of Chad’s testimony here. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/20/15)
  3. As we learned last week, the interim state supe will be Dr. Lonny Rivera, the current number two in the Ohio Department of Education. There have so far been two pieces about Dr. Rivera appointment in his hometown paper, neither of them in any depth and neither of them particularly positively disposed to their hometown guy. We brought you one last week, and
  4. ...

We here at Fordham Ohio are in a reflective mood and on Monday will reveal our winners for the best and worst events from 2015 in Ohio public education. There were many contenders for the prize and it was hard to pin down just three. In the spirit of anticipation (while drinking eggnog and watching a fireplace video on loop), here are the honorable mentions that didn’t make the final cut (in no particular order).


  1. What is the definition of “teacher”? According to a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court magistrate, it is nothing less than a person currently teaching in a K-12 classroom. And that means that the Youngstown school board president’s appointee to the new Academic Distress Commission (currently a substitute principal with a teacher’s license) is barred from the gig. The pres can either appoint someone else who fits the court definition (which must be done within 48 hours of the ruling, i.e. today) or appeal the decision. Sigh. (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/17/15)
  2. Editors in Columbus opined this week on a raft of charter school related issues, and especially the currently-stalled federal Charter School Program grant. (Columbus Dispatch, 12/17/15)
  3. $10 million in state grants were awarded this week to a number of colleges around Ohio, to help them train K-12 teachers to be ready for rigorous College Credit Plus courses. The same story is in a number of outlets, depending on where winning colleges are located. Here’s the one from the Blade, talking of their local winners – the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. (Toledo Blade, 12/18/15)
  4. Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers will recall that your
  5. ...
  1. The state board of education discussed the state’s proposed new charter sponsor rating system – you know, the one that needs to replace the one that was scrapped following scandal? The clock is ticking as well, with a December 31 deadline looking. Chad’s testimony before the board is quoted by the PD in their piece. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/15/15) It is also quoted by the Dayton Daily News in their piece, along with some commentary on Chad’s testimony by hometown Sen. Peggy Lehner. (Dayton Daily News, 12/15/15) To read Chad’s written testimony in full, click here. For an in-depth look at the board’s discussion of this thorny issue – but not including Chad’s testimony, Gongwer’s got you coverage. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/15/15)
  2. The board also this week named an interim state supe. As predicted, the job went to Dr. Lonny Rivera, an accomplished district administrator from Northwest Ohio and current assistant state supe. Also, the only person put forward for the job. You can read a brief piece on the appointment in Dr. Rivera’s hometown paper, the Blade. (Toledo Blade, 12/15/15) Or you can check out a more interesting piece from the formerly-Big D wherein
  3. ...

In its 2015 state policy analysis, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) found that fourteen states (including Ohio) saw positive charter policy changes since its inaugural report last year. These wide-ranging improvements demonstrate the value of sizing up a state’s legal framework, diagnosing its structural problems, comparing it to peers, and using that information to press policymakers for change. In other words, rankings like this—and other seemingly wonky law and policy reviews—may actually pave the way for real improvements.

NACSA analyzed and ranked every state with a charter law (forty-three, plus the District of Columbia) against eight policy recommendations meant to ensure a baseline of authorizer quality and charter school accountability: 1) Can schools select from at least two authorizers? 2) Does the state require authorizers to meet endorsed standards (like NACSA’s)? 3) Does the state evaluate its authorizers? 4) Do poor authorizers face sanctions? 5) Do authorizers publish annual performance reports on schools? 6) Is every charter bound by a contract that outlines performance expectations? 7) Are there strong non-renewal standards, and can authorizers effectively close poor performers? 8) Does the state have an automatic closure law on the books?

Additionally, the report offers...

NOTE: Chad Aldis addressed the Ohio Board of Education in Columbus this afternoon. These are his written remarks in full.

Thank you, President Gunlock and state board members, for allowing me to offer public comment today.

My name is Chad Aldis. I am the vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education-oriented nonprofit focused on research, analysis, and policy advocacy with offices in Columbus, Dayton, and Washington, D.C. I testified to you in September urging the state to quickly and thoroughly implement the charter school provisions contained in HB 2. I also emphasized during my testimony the importance of moving quickly to get the sponsor performance review (SPR)—which was required by legislation passed in 2012, but took three years to develop and pilot—back on track. The success of Ohio’s recent reforms lie heavily on the SPR, so the department deserves tremendous credit for installing an independent panel to review the SPR and draft recommendations quickly. It is a strong sign that the department is serious about implementation and sponsor quality.

We are pleased to say that we agree with many of the recommendations and commend the panel for its thorough...