Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. Fordham is namechecked in this Dispatch editorial on the topic of funding changes for online charter schools. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/13/19)
  2. The dastardly scourge of charter schools rears its head in this piece too, in which a couple of folks in suburban Springboro Schools are incensed (incensed, I say!) over the district’s choice of consultant to assist with their strategic planning process. Doesn’t matter that the dude was previously state supe in both Ohio and Oklahoma. Doesn’t matter that he’s already worked with a bunch of districts in Ohio and elsewhere on just this sort of thing. It only matter that he once was part of a charter school network. We must now duck the witch. Duck him, I say! (Dayton Daily News, 1/12/19)
  3. Not enough school-choice-based hysteria for you? Try this then: The headline of this DDN piece says that the state’s voucher program is “to nearly double”. What it really means is that the students in a lot more schools across the state are eligible for vouchers due to consistently low academic performance in those school buildings. That is all that really qualifies as news here. The number of vouchers available = old news.
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In Ohio and across the nation, policymakers are contemplating sizeable increases to public outlays for early childhood programs, including expanded preschool, childcare, and other support services. Polls indicate that early childhood programs enjoy broad support, and proponents of early childhood programs often cite as evidence for expansion the positive, long-run effects of the boutique Perry Preschool program (it served just fifty-eight low-income children during the 1960s). But will greater expenditures in early childhood programs generate big returns? Or could they backfire?

A new study by university researchers Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber, and Kevin Milligan offers a cautionary tale. They examine the short- and longer-run outcomes of children participating in North America’s largest universal childcare program. Starting in fall 1997, Quebec began offering large public subsidies, open to all parents, for center- or home-based childcare programs serving youngsters up to four years old. As of 2011–12, the program cost $2 billion per year and subsidized roughly 80 percent of a family’s child care costs. Quebec has been the only province to adopt such an expansive childcare policy. For example, from the mid-1990s to 2008, Quebec children in center-based childcare jumped from 10 to 60 percent; during...



Automatic charter closure questioned

Ohio’s automatic closure law closes persistently low-performing charter schools. Not enforced the last few years because of safe harbor, fifty-two Ohio charter schools just received notice that if their performance doesn’t improve next year, then they will be forced to close. Fordham’s Aaron Churchill breaks down the issue in a new piece and notes, “given the significant policy shifts since the enactment of Ohio's original automatic closure law, legislators should revisit the state’s automatic closure criteria.”

Ohio’s urban charters are now better and more cost-effective

Neerav Kingsland, a managing partner at The City Fund, recently wrote a blog about charter school performance and funding in Ohio, citing Fordham’s recent report card analysis. Kingsland explains that urban charter schools still have some work to do, but it appears that they’re now better than Ohio’s urban traditional schools at increasing student learning and doing so while receiving less money.  

A call for better facilities and funding for charters

This week, Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), wrote a piece that appeared in The 74 in which she discusses the...

  1. Here are two variations of how Lorain City Schools CEO’s first Town Hall meeting of 2019 went. They are somewhat different in tone and content. The Journal’s coverage is here. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 1/11/19) The Chronicle’s coverage is here. (Elyria Chronicle, 1/11/19) Did the Journal reporter just leave early – say, at the scheduled conclusion of the event – or is there more to it than that?
  2. Not much else to cover today, so we end the week back on the editorial page of the Steubenville Herald-Star where editors opine on changes to topic of federal school discipline policy. (Steubenville Herald-Star, 1/11/19)

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  1. There is a new player looking to influence education outcomes in Toledo City Schools and he’s got a lot of green stuff to blaze his trail, he says. Pete Kadens is a graduate of a suburban high school near Toledo who is, apparently, a filthy rich retired entrepreneur currently living in Chicago and looking at a prescription for positive change. To me, if I may put it bluntly, his five-point plan features only two points that directly impact K-12 classrooms, and one of those is peripheral at best. Kadens is providing seed money to a nascent non-profit called HOPE Toledo that looks to grow more capital from other donors and seems to have 420 percent support from the new Toledo mayor. (Toledo Blade, 1/8/19)
  2. Seniors in Lakota Local Schools were excluded from the “universal” distribution of laptops to high schoolers, which occurred on Monday, due to the fact that they only have one semester left of school. Proof positive that none of this was very well thought out if I do say so myself. Everyone else seems pretty excited to have reached the 20th Century. (Middletown Journal-News, 1/8/19)
  3. The headline of this piece looking at
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With Ohio’s safe harbor provisions now in the rearview mirror, formal consequences for poor school ratings have reemerged. Among them is the automatic closure law, first enacted in 2006, which requires low-performing charter schools to permanently close. Recently, the Ohio Department of Education released data revealing that fifty-two of Ohio’s 311 charter schools are at-risk of closure under this statute (including one sponsored by our sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation). Taken together, the schools on this “watch list” enrolled 15,557 students last year, about the size of the Dayton Public School District. Charters are in jeopardy of closure when assigned F’s on specific measures—e.g., performance index and value added—based on their most recent data; schools must close when they receive two years of low ratings within a three-year window.  

There are rumors about efforts to roll back the automatic closure statute. That’s not surprising given the severity of the penalty and the sharp rise in the number of charters in jeopardy of closure. As my former colleague Jamie Davies O’Leary has reported, only four schools sat on the watch list in the year prior to safe harbor. While not every school on the...

  1. While I like the sentiment of course, this brief editorial from the Steubenville newspaper in opposition to softer graduation requirements is obviously too little too late. In case the name sounds familiar, it’s because Steubenville schools have been in the news a bit the last year or so for having quite good report cards despite being a small, impoverished town hit hard by the downturn in manufacturing in our state. Perhaps the folks making decisions on graduation requirements should be listening to them. (Steubenville Herald-Star, 1/7/19)
  2. New year, new communications staff at Dayton City Schools. But is the message really new? Honestly, I’m not sure this piece manages to explain what the message even is. (Dayton Daily News, 1/7/19)

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Ohio teacher shares her experience with online teaching

Last week, Jessica Creager, a high school social studies teacher for Great River Connections Academy, published a piece on the Columbus Moms Blog discussing what it’s like teaching in an online environment. Creager, an experienced classroom teacher before joining Great River six months ago, talks about the transition from a traditional classroom to online and what it has meant to her.

Dayton Early College Academy completes building purchase

The Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) recently purchased the downtown building that currently houses their middle school, which they have leased since 2016. Though no renovation plans are currently in the works, DECA Superintendent Judy Hennessey notes that owning the building makes it more likely they’ll pursue future facility improvements.

Charter schools and content-rich curriculum

In a recent piece, Fordham’s Robert Pondiscio explains that if a knowledge-rich curriculum is your favorite flavor of education reform, school choice is no side issue; it’s a proof point. He discusses the importance of Core Knowledge—especially for disadvantaged students, explains that charter schools are far more likely to adopt Core Knowledge than traditional district schools, and notes several...


A belated happy new year to all my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers! At last, we’re catching up to all of the exciting education news clips so far in 2019. As with our 2018 wrap up, these clips are mainly presented in chronological order rather than organized to tell a story. I promise to get back to the snarky storytelling you all show up for starting Monday!

  1. Cincinnati Family Magazine started the new year talking about—and talking up—private schools. What they’re like, how to evaluate them, how to ask about financial aid, etc. (Why yes, vouchers are discussed in this piece. Why do you ask?) What’s most interesting to me is the opening tagline, which explains why they are talking about this subject. It reads: “You want the BEST education possible for your child, but can you swing it? The answer is ‘Yes,’ so it’s time to roll up your sleeves.” Personally, I think there’s a ton to unpack in this seemingly-simple declaration, but maybe it’s just marketing hype for writer/article/magazine. (Cincinnati Family Magazine, 1/1/19)
  2. Folks in Woodridge Local Schools in northeast Ohio are starting out the year discussing their champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Hope they’re not
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In 2015, Ohio imported a successful program used to help community college students in the City University of New York (CUNY) system persist in school and complete a degree in three years or less. A new policy brief from the nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research organization MDRC—also an implementation partner in both the CUNY and Ohio programs—looks at the first data from Ohio.

The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) began in 2007 with a suite of supports and requirements for CUNY students. Based on research showing where students’ ambitions and abilities were mismatched, these efforts included incentivizing full-time enrollment; encouraging students to take remedial courses immediately rather than putting them off to focus on whatever credit-bearing courses are available; providing comprehensive support services such as intensive advising and financial support; and offering blocked courses (seats held open in specific courses that college officials deem necessary for participants) and condensed schedules. Six years of data on the CUNY program can be found here.

The Ohio iteration, implemented at three independent and geographically separated community colleges—Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Cuyahoga Community College, and Lorain County Community College—was designed similarly to the New York program. The Ohio...