Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. This week’s Dayton City Schools board meeting was supposed to be about reading and reviewing a draft strategic plan for future awesomeness. While that did occur, some on the board were more concerned that all would be for naught if the district gets a crappy report card for the third year in a row and falls into Academic Distress. The discussion on that score (“anti-takeover measures”, don’t you know?) was far more interesting if you ask me. (Dayton Daily News, 2/5/19) A busy day in Dayton yesterday as the former CEO of Microsoft (no, not THAT former CEO; the other one) came to visit the Dayton City Club and everyone talked about how much awesomeness is already extant in Montgomery County in terms of education and attainment and how much more there could be with the right money and the right programs. Note that we’re talking about the whole county. Not Dayton by itself. Just sayin’. (Dayton Daily News, 2/5/19)
  2. Columbus City Schools’ efforts to improve third grade reading test scores apparently took a cold, wet blow last week due to the big winter storm that rolled through here. Not because of the cancelled school days,
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Last summer, President Trump signed into law the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. Referred to as Perkins V, it’s the long-awaited reauthorization of the federal law that governs how states fund and oversee career and technical education (CTE) programs.

Historically, Perkins federal funding has allocated more than $1 billion a year on top of state and local contributions to CTE. 2019 will be no different. Thanks to an appropriations bill passed by Congress in September, as well as funding changes included in the new law, Perkins state grants will increase overall by $70 million this year. The U.S. Department of Education released estimated allocation numbers last week, and the breakdown for state grants indicates Ohio should receive over $46 million in 2019, which is $2.5 million more than its 2018 allocation—an increase of nearly 6 percent.

More funding for CTE, even a relatively modest increase, is good news. But what’s even more important is that the reauthorization, Perkins V, gives both states and local recipients more flexibility in how they spend their allocated funds. The law also allows the U.S. Department of Education to award grants for innovation—which means the Buckeye...


Elaborate collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) have for decades enshrined the “factory model” into public education. Negotiated by district boards and teachers’ unions, these lengthy contracts dictate numerous aspects of school life—anything from compensation to employee retention to lunch-room duties. In the early part of this decade, some states enacted reforms to CBA laws that limited what could be in these contracts in the hopes of providing greater flexibility to schools.

A new study led by Katharine Strunk, a leading expert on CBAs in the U.S., examines how legislative reforms in Michigan and Washington affected district CBAs. In 2011, Michigan passed sweeping changes to its CBA law that prohibited dozens of topics from negotiation, including things like teacher placement and transfers, classroom observation protocols, and disciplinary and dismissal procedures. Instead of being hamstrung by contract language, district leaders were given the discretion to make these HR decisions. Also around that same time, the Michigan legislature enacted statewide teacher evaluation policies, including the incorporation of student achievement measures. Washington’s reforms, on the other hand, were less extensive: Although legislators enacted a statewide teacher evaluation system in 2012—removing the issue from local bargaining—they did not adopt other reforms that narrowed its...

  1. The Speaker of the Ohio House held an (extremely) informal presser late last week, talking about his priorities for the new General Assembly session. Several items regarding charter schools got the attention of the attendant journos. To wit: The proposed elimination of for-profit charter school operators in the state… (Columbus Dispatch, 2/1/19) …and the Speaker’s aversion to direct-funding charter schools in favor of passing charter funds through traditional districts as per the status quo. (Statehouse News Bureau, 2/1/19)
  2. That was quick. The new CEO for East Cleveland City Schools was named late last week. He is the current assistant supe for nearby Maple Heights City Schools. You can read his introductory words in the PD, including the very weird quote that provides the title for today’s clips. If you ask me (which nobody ever does, of course, dude is taking a whole lot of credit for a dubious “achievement”. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/1/19) Of course, all of this naming and tasting and seeing and lauding of “Ds” will all be moot when someone successfully takes down the state’s new(ish) Academic Distress protocols. Maybe it will be the elected board of East Cleveland City Schools, whose
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Op-ed calls for increase in charter school facility funding

Nina Rees, President and CEO for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), and Fordham’s Chad Aldis wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Plain Dealer this week. Rees and Aldis discuss how charter schools are thriving, despite lackluster funding and how “Governor DeWine and the new state legislature can score a major win for educational equality and opportunity by providing more funding for public charter school facilities.”

Toledo’s bilingual charter school receives praise

The Toledo Blade published a piece yesterday highlighting the impressive work and growth of Toledo’s only bilingual school, Toledo SMART Bilingual Elementary. The K-5 charter school opened in 2014 with the hopes of catering to Toledo’s Spanish speaking population. Many parents value the school, reporting that they’ve noticed drastic improvements in their children’s abilities to speak and comprehend both English and Spanish since enrolling.

Debate on Ohio charter school funding

William Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Advocacy of School Funding, and Fordham’s Aaron Churchill recently published pro and con op-eds in the Columbus Dispatch on providing charter school students with more...


Compiler’s note: The hellacious weather around here has destroyed my productivity this week so today you lucky lucky subscribers (I love all five of you—truly) will get to see behind the scenes of what I laughingly call my “process”. Below is simply the list of clips I’ve got for you today, with a couple of words to denote why it’s interesting/important/worth clipping. This is what the first stage of the thrice-weekly clips process looks like. After that, I cleverly weave a narrative that tries to link all the disparate pieces into the “story of the day”.

There’s no time to be clever today. Onward!

  1. Chad is quoted on charter facilities funding push. Link (WCBE-FM, Columbus, 2/1/19)
  2. New boss at independent STEM School; possibly on the grow. Link (Ironton Tribune, 1/30/19)
  3. Multiple weather closures lead to “E-days” at some Ohio schools. Link (Dayton Daily News, 2/1/19)
  4. Good news story about bilingual charter school. Link (Toledo Blade, 1/31/19)
  5. West Carrollton district to close elementary; way undersubscribed. Link (Dayton Daily News, 1/30/19)
  6. List of East Cleveland ADC/CEO candidates; includes current supe. Link (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/31/19)
  7. PBIS @ EHOVE = AOK.
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Last Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch ran contrasting op-eds on the question, “Should Ohio charter schools receive more state funding?” I authored one of them, and in it I highlight the fact that charters receive far less public funding than school districts to educate pupils with comparable needs. I make the case that underfunding charters is simply unfair to students choosing a different type of school for their education. William Phillis, a harsh critic who’s called charters “parasites,” authored the opposing editorial. He trots out several tired charter canards and half-truths, notes the misconduct of the now-shuttered Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, and implies that charters misuse funds on things such as marketing and administration.

Let me first say that I agree with Phillis that the responsible stewardship of public dollars matters immensely. Just like districts, charters should be leveraging their resources to do the most for students. If a charter school is spending excessive amounts on marketing or administration, its governing board should reprioritize its expenditures. The same principle applies to district boards; they too should be combing through their budgets to ensure dollars are being well spent.

But two of his claims require strong refutation. The...

  1. Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, teamed up with our own bossman Chad Aldis to pen an op-ed published in the Plain Dealer yesterday. Topic: the golden opportunity before the state of Ohio today to leverage federal dollars and boost facilities funding for charter schools. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/30/19)
  2. Assuming that Ohio does indeed capitalize on that opportunity, there will be at least one less charter school next year needing facilities funds. Lakewood City Schools will be ending the sponsorship of its charter school this year. Despite the fact that “we had a lot of kids graduate and have success” in the charter school format, “like all things you want to evolve and innovate for children because the world is always changing.” That means bye-bye charter school and (eventually) hello “alternative school” of some type. Details are sketchy beyond “close charter”. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/30/19)
  3. With the demise of ECOT last year, the epithet mantle “Ohio’s largest online charter school” passed to Ohio Virtual Academy. Here is a quick look at the improvement plan OHVA is completing for submission to the state because it “failed to meet several
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With popular, bipartisan support, career-and-technical education (CTE) is being embraced by policymakers across the nation. It’s no different in Ohio where newly elected Governor DeWine has promised to make CTE a priority during his term. There’s good reason for the increased focus. If done well, CTE allows students to accumulate technical skills—and certifications verifying attainment—that can help them secure rewarding jobs.

Given the growing attention, it’s important to describe the state of CTE in Ohio. This post will look at the basic question of how many students currently avail themselves of CTE opportunities, and in what fields. Meanwhile, a follow-up piece will explore what we know about the outcomes of CTE students, including their graduation and industry certification rates.

One might think counting the number of CTE students would be easy, but there’s more to it than initially meets the eye. Part of the challenge lies in determining what a “CTE student” is. In fact, there are two official definitions in use.

First, there are CTE participants who have earned credit in at least one CTE course. This is a very low threshold; for instance, passing just one introductory business or information technology course likely...


During his inauguration in early January, Governor Mike DeWine spoke of his desire to use education to improve Ohio. “Education is the key to equality and the key to opportunity,” he said. “Everyone—everyone—deserves a chance to succeed, to get a good-paying job, to raise a family comfortably.”

Although DeWine’s inauguration signaled the start of new state leadership, his focus on increasing educational opportunities and improving outcomes isn’t new. Under former Governor John Kasich, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation jointly acknowledged that Ohio was facing a “looming crisis” in educational attainment. Research from 2013 showed that 64 percent of Ohio jobs in 2020 would require post-secondary education. But only 43.2 percent of working-age adults had a post-secondary degree or certificate as of 2016. More worrisome, Ohio students weren’t earning degrees and certificates at a fast enough rate to close the gap. To meet the needs of employers, Ohio would need to produce approximately 1.3 million more adults with high quality post-secondary certificates. 

In response to these disheartening numbers, state leaders announced in 2016 that they would pursue “Ohio Attainment Goal 2025”—a statewide...