Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Our own Jamie Davies O’Leary was front and center on the editorial page of The D this morning, opining against lowering graduation standards in the strongest possible terms. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/28/17) In case you’ve forgotten what she’s talking about, here’s Jeremy Kelley to remind you and give you the depressing legislative update. Personally, I can’t believe we’re going down this road and can’t bear to discuss it further. (Dayton Daily News, 6/27/17)
  2. Speaking of things that I can’t bear: I missed out on clipping some important budget-related news on Friday. Our own Chad Aldis was discussing potential changes to the state’s sponsor evaluation system proposed in the budget. He advised that, whatever the outcome, the focus stay as firmly on academic outcomes as possible. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/23/17)
  3. In somewhat related news, a kerfuffle is afoot in Cleveland regarding the proposed opening of two new charter schools for next school year – one of which will be sponsored by Fordham if it actually opens. At issue is how, when, and whether the Cleveland Transformation Alliance vets charter sponsors operating in the city. I’m sure this will all get worked out, but the rhetoric is a
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Despite their pronouncements to the contrary, many of Ohio’s affluent suburban school districts are about as “public” as a gated community. That’s the right conclusion to draw from a series of recent events.

In late May, The Columbus Dispatch explored how some school districts in Ohio are rooting out students with “questionable residency” (my colleague Jamie Davies O’Leary also examined this Dispatch article here). For those unfamiliar with questionable residency, it refers to students who are enrolled in a school district where they claim to live, but who actually live elsewhere. In particular, the article focused on Bexley City Schools, citing arguments in favor of investigating residency claims from both the superintendent and the district’s law firm and investigators.

Three weeks later, we released Interdistrict Open Enrollment in Ohio: Participation and Student Outcomes. The report examined statewide data on Ohio’s open enrollment policy, which permits students to attend school in a district other than the one in which they live. Ohio’s policy is voluntary, which means it’s up to districts to decide whether to accept non-resident students. In total, 80 percent of Ohio’s 610 school districts allow open enrollees, and more than 70,000 students participate in the...

  1. Not much going on in education news over the weekend, but what there is of it revolves around money. Of course. First up, a huge surplus in the class fees fund in Toledo Public Schools likely means drastically lower fees for many classes next year – even full elimination in the costs of some workbooks and lab coats and art supplies. This is awesome for folks, certainly, but I might wonder what it does to the renewal chances of the three district levies on the horizon over the next 18 months. Do you need money or don’t you? Inquiring minds want to know. (Toledo Blade, 6/26/17)
  2. You know who’s got a lot of money to spend? Dayton’s Preschool Promise program, that’s who. And they’re still having trouble finding 3 and 4 year olds to spend it on. But never fear, they’ve spent some of that money to hire some outreach coordinators to work hard over the summer to recruit families into the program. Because preschool is some kind of unknown quantity that parents need spelled out to them. Good luck! (Dayton Daily News, 6/24/17)
  1. Patrick O’Donnell took a look at the latest CREDO study of charter management organizations, showing that several CMOs with schools in Northeast Ohio are performing very well indeed. John Zitzner of Breakthrough Schools calls their results “mind-boggling”. You know what’s more mind-boggling to me? The fact that this piece has been posted on the PD website for nearly 48 hours and has attracted not one comment. Not one. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/21/17)
  2. Speaking of charter schools, here’s a story about the rent agreement between the City of Mansfield and a charter school which rents space from them. It’s a long one – over 1000 words – and the upshot is that the school has not paid rent for a year or so. But the round robin of misunderstandings, missing voice mails, typos in contracts, and the like reads like a comedy of errors on both sides. Interestingly, there are no online comments on that article either. (Mansfield News Journal, 6/21/17)
  3. As you may have heard, Dayton City Schools’ infamous busing woes lasted almost the entire year in 2016-17. But things are going to change in 2017-18! By which I mean the bell schedules at nearly
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Recently, several school districts asked to be repaid a chunk of the money that the state of Ohio is attempting to recover from the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT); House Bill 87, currently pending in the General Assembly, would grant them their wish. ECOT is the largest virtual school in Ohio and is notorious both for its political clout as well as its poor performance. It’s been embroiled in a lawsuit with the Ohio Department of Education and was recently ordered by the State Board of Education to return $60 million for being unable to prove all of its 15,000-plus students were logged in and adequately participating in learning last year. ECOT is fighting this decision and related issues in court.

ECOT’s track record may be poor, but there is something alarming in this discussion about the “lost money” that Ohio districts are now seeking. Regardless of whether ECOT could document their students’ attendance, these children were not being educated by their home districts either—because they didn’t attend their schools. That much is indisputable.

The question at the heart of the...

  1. Our own Jessica Poiner, in a blog posted Monday, “blasted” Ohio’s efforts to lower graduation requirements and reduce the state’s high school diploma to an Oprah-like certificate of participation. (“Everybody gets a diplomaaaaaaaa!”). Fortuitous timing of said Ohio Gadfly Daily post, too, since the Ohio Senate decided to include just such a lowering of graduation requirements in the state budget bill it is currently debating. Patrick O’Donnell noted that fortuitous timing and said so in this piece. In other, not-sure-it’s-unrelated news, the Senate is proposing to reduce Medicaid eligibility too. Can we really have it both ways, Senators? Just askin’. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/20/17)
  2. The first of those open-to-the-whole-public-really-everyone-no-seriously-everyone focus groups gathering input on the type of person Lorain schools needs as its CEO drew mostly district employees this week. Sad? Sure. Predictable? Maybe. But what’s interesting is that none of those quoted in this brief recap of the discussion seem sure that putative CEO frontrunner Moe Szyslak is their ideal candidate. Certainly not as sure as the other district supes quoted earlier in the week. But I could be wrong about that analysis. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 6/19/17) A second focus group held the following day
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John Zitzner

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.

Not long ago, the Plain Dealer published an opinion article by former public school educator and teacher union head Bill Lavezzi. In his article, “Calls for funding equity for Ohio charter schools overlook charters’ failures and lack of transparency,” Lavezzi offered up five “simple, common-sense” standards that all charter schools should meet if they wish to receive equitable public funding. In the article, he also suggests that charters not meeting these conditions are “parasitic” and “undeserving not only of funding equity but of public funding itself.”

The idea that equitable funding for children should be conditional in the first place—especially for those students in public charter schools who are predominantly low-income and minority—makes about as much sense as a parent doing the same to his kids. In this analogy, public charter schools are the disliked step-child struggling to prove their worth to a parent dangling approval—and resources—conditionally for one, while doling it out unconditionally for the other....

Early last week, the Trump administration gave three states feedback on their submitted plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The nature of the comments varied for each state, but those addressed to Delaware inspired some fascinating debates around the rights and limitations of the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) under the new law.

Of particular interest is my colleague Mike Petrilli’s response to the Delaware feedback. He focused on two aspects of the USDOE’s response, in particular: 1) their suggestion that Delaware’s long-term goals for academic achievement weren’t “ambitious” enough and 2) their disapproval about Delaware’s inclusion of performance on AP and IB exams in its ”school quality or student success” indicator.

In reference to long-term goals, Mike argued:

The goals that Delaware submitted in its ESSA plan are extremely ambitious, almost irresponsibly so. In the course of a single generation of students, for example, Delaware is aiming to increase the math proficiency rate for Latino students from about 30 percent to about 65 percent. No state in the country has ever made that kind of progress—and that’s not ambitious enough?

He also pointed out that these kind of “utopian goals” were the...

When it comes to high standards and accountability, Ohio talks a pretty good talk. Many of the most popular education reforms of the day have already been proposed or passed in the Buckeye State, and a few have even been hailed as best in the country. As these policies have been implemented, however, and as sometimes unwelcome consequences begin to kick in, Buckeye policymakers have had a difficult time walking the walk. In fact, they’ve shown a lamentable habit of backing down in the face of pressure to weaken accountability.

Take the ongoing uproar over graduation requirements. Back in November, district superintendents started to warn of a graduation “apocalypse” in which a third of the class of 2018 might fall short of the state’s new and more rigorous graduation requirements. Despite many unanswered questions, the State Board has recommended that students be permitted to graduate regardless of whether they pass end-of-course exams or meet career and technical requirements. Instead, they’ll only need to two of eight conditions, a list that includes such rudimentary achievements as 93 percent attendance or 120 hours of work/community service during their senior year. As my colleagues have pointed out, the...

  1. Our own Chad Aldis was a guest on the State of Ohio news program on Friday. He was there to talk about our recent report on interdistrict open enrollment, along with the redoubtable Steve Dyer, although host Karen Kasler couldn’t resist asking them both about the status of the ongoing kerfuffle between the state’s largest online school and the Ohio Department of Education. The education portion of the show starts at 6:42 in the video and continues for the remainder of the episode! (The Ohio Channel, 6/16/17)
  2. Chad was also quoted in the D yesterday, in a piece which tried to assess the status of all those charter schools whose sponsors did not fare well on their evaluations last year. Ten of 21 cases are resolved, says the article, including the fate of Groveport’s Cruiser Academy, as noted by the Dispatch last week. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/18/17)
  3. Speaking of the D, editors there opined in praise of the state board of education in regard to the aforementioned online school kerfuffle. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/18/17) Today, Dispatch editors opined with equal energy in frustration at recent news regarding the years-old and seemingly far-from-being-behind-us data scrubbing scandal in
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