Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. We have discussed the Move to PROSPER initiative here before. It is an effort to improve the lives of families in poverty by moving them to “higher resourced” areas via subsidized housing and other supports. Here is a profile on one of the first ten families taking part in the program—folks who moved from the East side of Columbus to Gahanna. Things sound pretty good for them, which is awesome. Given that fact, I can only assume that life is less awesome for many/most/all of the thousands of families just like this one who remain living on the East side of Columbus. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/12/18)
  2. Speaking of things that are less than optimal, editors in Columbus opined this weekend about a “lack of leadership” from the elected board of Columbus City Schools in regard to their non-decision on right sizing district buildings and saving money. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/18) Continuing the theme: Columbus City Schools finally has a deal with its new supe, Talisa Dixon. It starts with one day of work per week from January through early March. Full time after that. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/10/18) Dr. Dixon’s scheduled departure before the end of the current school
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  1. Saying that right sizing schools and saving money is a “distraction” from trying to stave off a “state takeover”, the elected board of Columbus City Schools voted this week—from the depths of its enormous, empty, $4 million white elephant of fur-lined Batcave—to ignore all the recommendations of their latest facilities task force. Again. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/7/18) Committee members quoted in this follow up piece seem to concur with this assessment and, inexplicably, say that their time was not wasted. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/8/18)
  2. Speaking of both distractions and wasting of time, the elected board of Lorain City Schools wants to check out all the receipts (and emails thereto) regarding the district CEO’s recent trip to Texas. They are hopping mad that he visited charter schools down there and are imputing any number of motives, while conveniently overlooking the fact that he had to go that far to find some best practices that might work to turn desperately underperforming schools around. (Elyria Chronicle, 11/8/18)
  3. Speaking of public records requests, the ABJ dug deep into the specifics of the contract between Akron City Schools and the company responsible for producing the upcoming documentary on the district’s I
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Extending the New Markets Tax Credit

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is urging charter school supporters to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support extending the New Markets Tax Credit, which expires in 2019. According to NAPCS, this credit “is one of the most effective tools to help charter schools access affordable facilities.”  

What does Governor-Elect DeWine mean for Ohio school choice?

In short, we don’t know for sure as it wasn’t a major part of the campaign. Fordham’s Jessica Poiner pieces together DeWine’s campaign materials and information from a variety of news sources to give us an overview of what we might expect from a DeWine administration in regards to school choice and education generally.

ECOT’s headquarters changes hands

The Columbus Board of Education recently held its first meeting in the former headquarters of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), which they purchased in the summer for about $4 million. The Dispatch explains that the board is currently weighing their options on how they’ll use the space.

Featured event: Ohio in a Post-Janus world

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a...


Earlier this week, Republican candidate and current Attorney General Mike DeWine won the Ohio gubernatorial election by 4.2 percentage points over Democratic challenger Richard Cordray. DeWine will succeed two-term Republican governor John Kasich, whose leadership left an indelible imprint on Ohio’s education policies.

Although DeWine’s education policies won’t take shape until after the start of the new year when his administration unveils its first operating budget, there are plenty of clues about which issues will be priorities. Based on his campaign’s policy platform and various news sources, here’s a look at what can be expected from a DeWine administration.

Accountability and testing

The governor-elect is stepping into his position amidst some intense education debates. A dispute over high school graduation requirements has raged for over a year, with no end in sight. There’s been a consistent push to dump A-F letter grades on state report cards. And there is a lot of heated discussion, and ongoing litigation, about academic distress commissions—the state’s approach to intervening in persistently low-performing districts. And, yes, there continue to be concerns about “overtesting.”

Despite all this controversy, or perhaps because of it, DeWine was careful to...

  1. As all my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers know (love to all six of you!), your humble clips compiler loathes politics. So, as you can imagine, it is a very fallow week for proper news clips. I’ll soldier on, of course, but if any of you wanted to drop your subscription after reading this pathetic edition, I couldn’t blame you. The “driver's education company” Aceable has for some inexplicable reason released a list of the 25 most beautiful high schools in Ohio. For an even more inexplicable reason, the Enquirer has chosen to make this into “education news”. Can’t hurt that the top two schools are in the Cincy area, I imagine. But seriously, school quality is more about what goes on inside, right? Are any of these schools on the whole list any good academically? Oh. Maybe this is not inexplicable after all. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 11/4/18)
  2. Perhaps when the dust clears in Ohio’s ongoing War on Knowing Stuff, kids will get points toward a diploma based on the beauty of their high school building. That’d be cool. This piece—mainly just a bullet-point rundown of items discussed at the most recent meeting of the elected board of Canton City
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Ohio’s news outlets have covered the debate over graduation requirements as if it were a burning problem that policymakers need to urgently “fix.” For instance, the local NPR affiliate headlined an article, “Ohio education panel still crafting long-term fix on graduation standards.” The Dayton Daily News ran a piece titled, “State school board backs long-term graduation changes, weighs emergency fix.”

Such headlines are likely inspired by public officials who have raised alarms over the past two years that Ohio’s new graduation standards would withhold diplomas from too many students. In fact, one former State Board of Education member predicted that graduation rates would fall sharply to 60 percent for the class of 2018, the first cohort subject to the state’s updated requirements that include exam-based and career-technical pathways. Based on these concerns, state lawmakers approved softball alternatives that this cohort could meet to receive high school diplomas. Various policymakers have expressed interest in extending less demanding options to future graduating classes.

Now that much of the class of 2018 has moved onto bigger and better things, it’s a good time to step back and see how these students fared in terms of meeting...


A few weeks ago, officials at ACT released a report that breaks down the ACT test results of the 2018 graduating class. It examines participation and performance overall, as well as data based on college and career readiness benchmarks in English, reading, math, and science that indicate whether students are prepared to succeed in first-year college courses. 

At the national level, the results are disheartening. The data—which account for more than 1.9 million graduates, or 55 percent of students in the 2018 national graduating class—show that the average composite score dropped from 21 to 20.8. Average scores in all four subjects also slid compared to last year (though only between 0.1 and 0.3 points).

As for the benchmarks, readiness in both math and English has been steadily declining since 2014. This year was no exception: 40 percent of graduates met the math benchmark, the lowest percentage in fourteen years, and 60 percent met the benchmark in English, the lowest level since the benchmarks were first introduced. Reading and science readiness levels were both down by 1 percentage point compared to the year prior, but generally show flat long-term trends.

In Ohio, the declines were larger. The table below...

  1. Not much in the way of education news in recent days. Wonder what else reporters are talking about? Whatever it is, the pieces we do have were all posted today, which is a nice way to keep the Bites fresh. First up, Fordham is namechecked in this piece which states that a legislative panel has been named to “find a plan to pay [online] schools based on students’ course completion, for “competency” in subjects or for finishing units within a course” rather than basing payment on reported enrollment. Once they do that, I can’t wait until it gets rolled out to districts too. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/5/18)
  2. Speaking of online schools, the elected board of Columbus City Schools has decided to make use of the former headquarters of ECOT, which they bought using nearly $4 million in loose change scrounged out of dilapidated couch cushions in various district properties. Other than having six people hang out in the vacant building to let reporters come in, the actual uses still seem to be up in the air. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/5/18)
  3. Finally today, here is yet another piece about the “graduation crisis” in Springfield Local Schools. We
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Editor’s Note: As Ohioans prepare to elect a new governor this November, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the seventh in our series, under the umbrella of supporting great educators. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Establish a competitive grant program that would provide funds to implement human-capital initiatives aimed at attracting and/or developing classroom talent. These grants could be used to support innovative compensation strategies, such as differential pay structures, signing or performance bonuses, or assistance with paying off student loans. They could also be used to implement mentoring, evaluation, retention, and development programs that ensure great teachers remain in classrooms and take on instructional leadership roles. The grants should be open to districts, charter and STEM schools, as well as to consortia of educational institutions.

Background: Attracting talented individuals to the teaching profession remains key to developing a high-performing K–12 system. But in an increasingly competitive job market, schools have had trouble drawing top talent into...


On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to prohibit public-employee labor unions from collecting “agency” or “fair share” fees, overturning a 41-year-old precedent. At the time, the ruling in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, was thought to have broad implications for education. What, if anything, has changed in the ensuing months? What will happen further down the line?

We invite you to join us in Columbus on Thursday, November 29 for an important conversation on the implications of Janus in Ohio and how it's likely to impact education.

Doors open at 8:00 am; coffee and pastries will be served.