Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Our own Aaron Churchill had an op-ed in the Dispatch yesterday, discussing the findings and recommendations from our recent charter school funding report. You know – the findings that show students in charter schools are underfunded compared to their peers in traditional district and the recommendations that say this should, like, not be the case anymore. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/27/19) You know it’s an important topic because the editors at the D got a counterpoint op-ed from William Phillis and published them both side-by-side. Personally, Mr. Phillis seems a bit less “growly” than usual here. Which is good. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/27/19)
  2. There has been a series of stories in the Blade in recent weeks about Toledo School for the Arts, which I have not clipped for you because they seemed (to me) to more like social media commentary than hard news. Here, at last, is the hard(er) news version of a couple of years of staff turnover at one of the oldest—and highest-performing—charter schools in the state. It is super interesting to hear TSA treated as a venerable and indispensable institution in the community. Believe me when I say that not a lot of charter schools get
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  1. We start today with further praise for the Say Yes to Education program, which recently announced Cleveland as its next expansion city. And that praise comes from somewhere other than the PD. The author has not been following the process in forensic detail as has the PD – she seems pretty sad that charter school students who live in *gasp* the ‘burbs will be eligible to participate – and so her take is interesting. It seems to me, dare I say, more skeptical than others. (FreshWater Cleveland, 1/24/19)
  2. If you’re like me (sorry if that sounded insulting, y’all), you are regularly asking yourself the question: “What on earth is the OSBA, what do they do exactly, and why do they always speak in unison with BASA and OASBO like they are marionettes operated by a single artist?” That last part of the question remains unanswered here, but the first two items come a bit clearer in this story which notes that Plain Local Schools board member John Halkias is the new president of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA). Yay. (Canton Repository, 1/23/19)
  3. A performance audit of Woodridge Local Schools in Northeast Ohio identified more
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New report on Ohio charter school funding

The Fordham Institute released a report this week detailing how Ohio “shortchanges” charter school students. The study, using Ohio funding data from fiscal years 2015–17, revealed that charter schools face massive inequities in funding compared to district schools. The analysis breaks down revenue and expenses statewide and in the cities where most Ohio charters are located. Coverage in the Columbus Dispatch can be found here.  

Online charter school success stories

Two students of Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) recently shared their experiences in the online school. The Marietta Times published an interview with Sarah Yoak, a seventeen year old OCA student who is enrolled in the renowned BalletMet Trainee Program. And the Columbus Dispatch published an op-ed from Jessica Nichols, a fifteen year old OCA student who holds an associate’s degree from Lakeland Community College and expects to graduate from Cleveland State University with a bachelor’s degree next year. Both students discuss how learning online has met their unique needs and how the flexibility has allowed them to follow their dreams.

NAPCS releases model charter school law report

This week, the National Alliance...

  1. In case you missed it, Fordham’s new report “Shortchanging Ohio’s charter students” was released yesterday. In it, we look at the sizeable disparity of funding between students in charter schools and students in traditional public schools across the state. We are thankful for early coverage of the report from the Dispatch… (Columbus Dispatch, 1/22/19) …the Ohio Public Radio network… (Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau, 1/22/19) …and Gongwer. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/22/19) We were fairly pleased with what appears to be a measured response, even from some folks who we thought might, you know, blow a metaphorical gasket. Perhaps this bodes well for the funding discussions sure to follow.  
  2. A little less restraint, perhaps, in this piece from the previous day. It covers the outgoing state auditor’s analysis of charter school building leases. Chad is quoted within, offering some nuance, but the ship of reportage seems to have sailed without him on this one. I personally await the similar review of nursing home property deals, but I am not holding my breath. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/21/19)
  3. The Illinois-based Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity runs a blog called “Watchdog.org”. In honor of National Oh
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NOTE: On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, we released a report entitled Shortchanging Ohio’s charter students: An analysis of charter funding in fiscal years 2015–17. This is an abridged version of the report’s introduction and conclusion. You can read the full report and findings here.

All students deserve equal access to an excellent K–12 education. Yet the quality of their educational opportunities shouldn’t hinge on zip codes, family backgrounds, or the type of school they attend. Sadly, due in part to polarizing politics, Ohio has long underresourced its public charter schools, shortchanging tens of thousands of needy students in the process and leaving them with uneven opportunities.

Fordham and others have taken pains through the years to document this injustice. Based on data from 2001–02, we published an analysis in 2004 revealing massive funding gaps in our hometown of Dayton. That analysis found that the city’s charters received about $3,000 per student less than the district. Unfortunately, the situation did not improve. Ten years later, using 2010–11 data, an analysis by funding expert Larry Maloney found charter funding gaps of a similar size.

States and cities with high-performing charter sectors typically combine strong oversight with sufficient funding. For...



Lower state report card grades open the door for more charters and vouchers

Now that Ohio’s safe harbor provisions have ended, there’s more opportunity for voucher and charter school expansion. Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell explains that “eligible areas for vouchers will double and areas where charter schools are allowed to start will rise more than 600 percent for next fall.” However, Fordham’s Aaron Churchill says not to expect an influx of charter schools. Because the challenged school district list wasn’t official until December, potential new charters will have very little time to complete all the requirements for opening a new school in 2019.

The school choice “draining money” myth

Yesterday, Choice Media announced the premiere of its new video, which tackles the myth that charter and private schools take funding away from traditional district schools. In the video, Choice Media’s Founder and Executive Director explains the “three blindfolds” it takes to believe the myth and gives a counter argument. Bowden argues that “the myth is meant to protect a billion dollar status quo, even when that status quo isn’t doing right by kids or isn’t doing right by a particular kid.”


  1. When I was in school, a B- grade was nothing to rest upon. Better than a C, of course, but indicating that some misunderstanding of either the topic or the work required of me to properly show understanding had occurred. That’s how I approached this story on Ohio’s rating of B- in the recent Nation’s Report Card produced by Education Week. Chad is quoted herein with a similar take, getting down into the important details that made up the final overall grade. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/17/19)
  2. We now present you with a trio of hyperventilating, hyperbolic headlines and stories from across the state. Families fleeing! (Dayton Daily News, 1/17/19) State siphoning! (ABC6 News, Columbus, 1/18/19) Classless corporate citizen! Seriously, this is one of the best headlines ever covered in Bites. (Zanesville Times Recorder, 1/17/19)
  3. Of course amidst the above-mentioned hyperbole there are actual stories and maybe even an issue worth debating. Case in point is the issue of Ohio’s awful school funding formula which is beset by the archaic and Byzantine “caps and guarantees” system. It may be hard to tell in the doom-mongering ABC6 News story above, but the state legislature may actually
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One of the longest running debates about early childhood education is how much emphasis teachers should place on academic content. Thanks to changing perceptions, the standards-based reform movement, and accountability policies that have changed early grade instruction, kindergarten classrooms are increasingly focused on academic content and skill development.

These changes have garnered mixed reactions. Those in favor of the increased academic focus cite studies showing that exposure to advanced content is associated with higher student achievement. Opponents, meanwhile, have raised questions about whether kindergartners are developmentally ready for academics, and whether focusing on more advanced skills reduces play opportunities and leads to poorer social-emotional (SE) development.

To address these concerns, a new study examines the relationship between advanced content in kindergarten and children’s academic achievement and social-emotional outcomes. The study’s authors used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of Kindergartners in 2010 (ECLS), a nationally representative study of kindergarteners enrolled during the 2010–11 school year. ECLS included approximately 18,200 children from nearly 1,000 schools, but the authors used a specific sample of 11,600 public school kindergarteners and their 2,690 teachers. ECLS collected information during the fall and spring of the academic year about children’s academic achievement and SE skills through surveys...

  1. We start today with sad (ish) news. A 167 year old Catholic elementary school in Louisville, Ohio, is scheduled to close at the end of the year due to declining enrollment. I mean, seriously declining. Less than 60 kids in pre-K through fifth grade this year. No, they don’t appear to accept vouchers. Why do you ask? (Canton Repository, 1/14/19)
  2. Staying in the Canton area for the moment, the new interim supe of Canton City Schools is the current head of HR. Congrats. (Canton Repository, 1/14/19)
  3. Speaking of new leadership, here is a brief rundown on the new president and vice president of your state board of education, elected by members yesterday. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/15/19)
  4. Following last week’s Lorain City Schools town hall meeting—in which, depending on what news outlet you read, things happened—district CEO David Hardy was on the dais again this weekend at Lorain’s 19th annual Speak Up, Speak Out event. The city of Lorain, the police department, and the school district all got together to answer questions from the community. Whatever they wre interested in talking about. Fascinating concept for an event. You’d think that things might be functioning more
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Each year, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) releases a “challenged district list.” The list, based on criteria outlined in state law, determines in which of the state’s 608 school districts a new charter school can open. In the waning days of 2018, ODE released the latest and greatest version of the list.

After reviewing the list, here are a few takeaways worth noting.

It’s five times longer than it was last year

Last year, only forty-two districts were identified as “challenged.” But this year, 218 districts—over one third of the state’s traditional public school districts—have met the state’s criteria. Some of the districts on the list aren’t a surprise given their chronically low performance. For instance, even if state law didn’t mandate their inclusion, all of the Big Eight districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown) would have made the list based on their overall grades. Lorain City Schools, which is under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission (ADC) because of chronic underperformance is included, as are the districts that could soon find themselves under ADC control—inner-ring, high-poverty suburbs like East Cleveland, Warrensville Heights, and Trotwood-Madison. But there are...