Additional Topics

  1. Have you all been following the Proper Perspective series in Ohio Gadfly Daily? If not, you should. In it, our own Jamie Davies O’Leary exchanges views on important education topics with Innovation Ohio and KnowYourCharters guru (and former state legislator) Steve Dyer. And now one of those Proper Perspective entries – on the topic of testing opter-outers – has spawned a commentary piece by Jamie and Steve in the ABJ. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/29/16)
     
  2. The state board of education added three more folks to the list of finalists for permanent state supe, bringing the total of candidates to be interviewed to eight. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/28/16). Interviews will start soon, which is good because the person holding the seat on an interim basis is actively looking for another job closer to home. Just like he said he would. (Toledo Blade, 4/28/16)
     
  3. I think we may be able to move Groveport-Madison schools from “maybe challenging” the Win-Win Agreement to “definitely challenging” the Win-Win Agreement. But I could be wrong. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/28/16)
     
  4. As our own Jessica Poiner has told us previously, Ohio’s new-ish College Credit Plus program – to give kids access
  5. ...

We have many reasons to be troubled by the Left’s push to dramatically reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions by public schools. At the top of the list is the worry that disorder and violence will return to high-poverty schools across the country, putting the safety and learning of poor and minority students at even greater risk. This is hardly hypothetical; it’s already happening, report teachers in New YorkMinnesota, and elsewhere.

But an even more fundamental question is whether school discipline reformers are diagnosing the problem correctly. Many analysts and activists look at national, state, and local data illustrating large disparities in discipline rates between racial subgroups and interpret them as proof of racial discrimination or bias. Why else would African Americans and Latinos be suspended or expelled at much higher rates than whites or Asians?

In a system of fifty million children and one hundred thousand schools, instances of minority children being treated unfairly will undoubtedly occur. A white teenager pulls a fire alarm and gets a slap on the wrist; a black ten-year-old does the same and gets a week’s suspension. That’s wrong and is a legitimate target for civil rights enforcers.

But discrimination isn’t the...

The LEMONADE edition

On this week’s podcast, Mike Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio celebrate Prince’s little-known legacy in the world of education, assess education policies that hold parents accountable, and question the alleged diversity of the opt-out movement. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines the causes and effects of test score manipulation in New York State.

Amber's Research Minute

SOURCE: Thomas S. Dee, Will Dobbie, Brian A. Jacob, and Jonah Rockoff, “The Causes and Consequences of Test Score Manipulation: Evidence from the New York Regents Examinations,” National Bureau of Economic Research (April 2016).

  1. We’ve mentioned previously that Ohio’s “value added” measure is going to undergo some scrutiny in the state legislature. The first round took place this week as “placeholder” HB 524 got its first hearing in the House Education Committee. Prior to the hearing, Fordham was namechecked in this piece looking ahead to the value-added hearing. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/25/16) Additionally, Chad was actually quoted in this piece from The D, summarizing previous discussions about value added and what if anything might augment or replace it. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/26/16) Both the House and Senate Education Committees got a presentation from the Ohio Department of Education on value added – what it is, how it’s calculated, and how its been used on state report cards in the past. Gongwer has a good summary of the presentation and of the testimony from House Ed. More to follow. (Gongwer Ohio, 4/26/16)
     
  2. What’s that they say about a free lunch never really being free? Having made the district 100% free lunch last year, Columbus City Schools are now choking down a big old irony burger. They have erased a long-standing deficit in their food service budget (replaced with a healthy surplus thanks
  3. ...

Whether the goal is to enhance instruction, create a culture of excellence, or broaden educational options for parents, it’s nearly impossible to improve schools without strong leaders. This is hardly news; for decades, unambiguous evidence has proven the importance of effective principals. Yet reform strategies have largely lacked a coherent plan to upgrade leadership, even though it’s clearly a fundamental piece of the school improvement puzzle. This neglect is likely unintentional. Many states simply don’t know how to strengthen their cadre of leaders.

This is understandable. Most of the action around school leadership takes place at the local level, far from state capitals. It is, after all, districts (and charter schools) that recruit, select, and place school leaders—and develop their expertise (or not). It’s easy for state officials and advocacy groups to prioritize leadership. Knowing which policy levers to pull is a lot harder.

That’s where A Policymaker's Guide to Improving School Leadership comes in. This online resource was designed to help policymakers and advocates focus on what makes a great principal—and how to get more of them in the schools that need them most. We teamed up with our friends at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) to produce the toolkit and recruited author Eric...

School leadership is one of the keys to making our schools stronger and giving every student the educational opportunities that prepare him to succeed. That’s why the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Center on Reinventing Public Education recently released A Policymaker’s Guide to Improving School Leadership for state policymakers and advocacy groups interested in improving school leadership policies.

Much attention has been focused on teacher effectiveness, but there has been too little discussion about the role that principals play in ensuring that educators have the support, tools, and working environment they need to provide high-quality instruction. Education advocates need to understand which state policies most impact principal quality and how they can strengthen or alter them to benefit schools.

As with any proposed reform, however, advocates are likely to encounter some pushback from institutions and individuals resistant to change. Yet many of the arguments against changing school leadership policies are not founded on a full understanding of the research and facts. What follows are rebuttals to five common justifications for maintaining the status quo.

1. Improving the principal training pipeline

Argument: It’s not clear that preparation programs are the problem. And even if they are, we can’t fix them by...

  1. Andy Boy, Founder and CEO of United Schools Network here in Columbus, had a great commentary piece in the Dispatch this weekend on how high-quality schools like his can help close achievement gaps for poor and minority students. And I don’t just say it’s great because Fordham sponsors USN’s schools. I say it because Andy knows what he’s talking about from long and successful experience. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/23/16)
     
  2. Patrick O’Donnell continued his profiles of the top five candidates for state superintendent. That’s right, we’re back to five again, as noted peripherally in this profile of Dayton’s Tom Lasley. Quite a career, I’d say. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/22/16)
     
  3. No one is saying that there is a direct line from Reynoldsburg City Schools to the upper echelons of the Ohio Department of Education… Well, maybe Patrick is saying it a little bit in this profile of current Reynoldsburg supe Tina Thomas-Manning, another of the top five candidates for state superintendent. There’s lots to dig into here, but I would draw your attention to two of Thomas-Manning’s reference letters, among the application materials posted on the PD website. One is from former Reynoldsburg supe (and current Fordham board
  4. ...
  1. The PD continued its series profiling the top candidates for state superintendent. Candidate Bob Sommers’s profile notes (among other things that are probably more important) that his application contained a reference letter from former Fordhamite Terry Ryan. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/20/16)
     
  2. Speaking of Mr. Sommers, the proposed additional location for his Carpe Diem charter school at the Underground Freedom Museum in Cincinnati is a no-go due to a lack of sufficient space. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/20/16)
     
  3. Staying in the Queen City for a moment, we’ve told you about changes afoot in Cincinnati City Schools before: moves, expansions, grade band changes in buildings, scuffles between district and arts agency, etc. Here is a more detailed look at the seven affected buildings which gets a little “turf-y” for lack of a better word. Hannah Sparling’s occasionally-disdainful tone (also evident in the above piece) doesn’t aid in following the details. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/21/16) P.S. – I think this future piece will probably explain the “turfiness” in more detail for us outsiders.
     
  4. The official job description for the new CEO of Youngstown City Schools has been posted, with a very short deadline for applications as expected. The
  5. ...
  1. Editors in Columbus opined once again this week in favor of SB 298, the e-school accountability bill, and lamented its assignment to the Senate Finance Committee’s education subcommittee. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/19/16) Meanwhile, Mansfield City Schools announced it is going to be contracting with an outside company (go ahead, look them up by name) to provide online schooling to district students and others from outside the district (wait, does that math even add up?) in an attempt to “win back” kids from those dastardly online charter schools. The ironies in this story are not limited to online schooling either. Read on about the extra test-prep period that freshmen will be getting every day next year and how the district is petitioning to get out from under state fiscal oversight after proposing thousands of dollars of new personnel expenditures. (Mansfield News Journal, 4/19/16)
     
  2. Remember those Top 5 state supe candidates we told you about last week? Before poor Patrick O’Donnell could even do his first profile, the list was cut to 4 as one of them withdrew to take another job and that “profile” turned into a “see ya later” piece. Was it something we said? (Cleveland Plain
  3. ...
  1. Editors in Columbus today opined on who/what the next state superintendent should not be. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/18/16)
     
  2. Score one for Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips at last? Folks in central Ohio schools say that the first wave on online state testing is going well so far this year. Although I’m pretty sure that same story ran last year after the first week too. And last year’s was such a disaster that some districts were ready to dust off their abaci and slide rules. Just ask anyone. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/17/16) A couple of Dayton-area school districts were caught unaware by a change in science testing rules for their high school freshmen. I’m sure all those kids will be fine (the issue arose because they were accelerated in science as 8th graders), but take a good look at the difference in language used by the district reps between Kettering and Northmont over the exact same situation. Miles apart in attitudes toward testing. Also note the Northmont folks would have had trouble giving the test via pencil and paper if they’d been required to. Just sayin’. (Dayton Daily News, 4/17/16) Finally, folks in Elyria schools must believe their kids
  3. ...

Pages