Charters & Choice

For too long, the topic of school choice in Ohio has been divisive and polarizing. You are invited to attend a thoughtful and substantive discussion of school choice with experienced leaders from across the state. This effort to find common ground and collaborative solutions in support of students promises to be a great evening. We hope you can attend.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

6:00 to 8:00 pm

Capital University Law School

Room 229, 303 E. Broad Street

Downtown Columbus

Panelists: Stephen O. Dyer (Innovation Ohio), Andy Boy (United Schools Network), Mary Ronan (former Superintendent of Cincinnati City Schools), and Chad L. Aldis (Thomas B. Fordham Institute),.

Refreshments will be served, and there will be time reserved for you to ask questions and gain insight into school choice efforts currently underway across Ohio.

We hope you’ll join the conversation.

Tickets are free but we urge you to register today....

Yesterday, the Ohio Department of Education released the second round of charter sponsor (a.k.a. authorizer) ratings. The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell was quick out of the gate in noticing overall improvements from last year’s ratings (“Cleveland and other charter school sponsors doing a better job, new ratings show”) highlighting the Cleveland district’s own improvement as well as a high-level look at the grades. The Dispatch took a more negative spin, “Sponsors of 10 Ohio charter schools receive ‘poor’ ratings from state,” emphasizing that nearly half of sponsors earned a rating of Poor or Ineffective.

Indeed, 21 of 45 sponsors were deemed ineffective or poor for 2016-17. Yet the Dispatch omits the fact that all but six of these low-rated sponsors (one career technical center, one non-profit, and four educational service centers) were traditional public school districts. The story also took pains to note that those earning effectives did so “despite poor achievement ratings for some or many of their schools.” This is true, but it overlooks the reality that high-poverty schools across the board (charter or district) have struggled and will continue to struggle on achievement metrics until the state makes student growth over time a bigger...

Since 2012, the Center for Education Reform (CER) has released an annual “parent power index,”—a scorecard for states as well as an interactive tool for parents “to discover whether their state affords them power over their child’s education—and if not, what they can do to get it.”

The index rates states along five categories: (private) school choice, charter schools, online learning, teacher quality, and transparency—and then provides an overall score. It also offers quick facts on statewide achievement (NAEP proficiency and ACT scores) and student enrollment. On the latest index, Ohio ranks eleventh in the nation and scores well above the national average in all but one of the five categories.

How Ohio performed on the 2017 Parent Power Index

The question CER seeks to answer is an incredibly important one: how much power do parents really have? Unfortunately, this particular index is only partially accurate. Let’s take a quick look at what it got right, where it went askew, and how this local Ohioan views parent power in the Buckeye state.

School choice

The index gave Ohio a C for...

For the first time in their lives, my twin daughters are attending separate schools. It was a hard decision made after a lot of research and soul searching. My wife and I think both schools are good ones, but I’d be lying if I said I was 100 percent confident. The national debate over whether and how parents can know best when it comes to school choice has me wondering if we’ve chosen well. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that we had full information and access to many options, but I know that’s not the same for every family. That should be the debate on parental choice. Perhaps the process that my family went through—and the differences between the schools we ultimately chose—can help shed light on the larger discussion.

The school that both girls attended through ninth grade last year is an odd one, to be sure, and not just because of its sixth-through-twelfth-grade orientation. As a standalone STEM school, it is more like a charter than a traditional school, but it has no sponsor or elected board; it is supported by a consortium of higher education, philanthropic, and district leaders. As...

Cheer up, education reformers

On this week's podcast, Mike Petrilli, Alyssa Schwenk, and Brandon Wright discuss education reform’s surprisingly good year. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines a rigorous new study of career and technical education and its relationship to higher graduation rates.

Amber’s Research Minute

Michael A. Gottfried and Jay Stratte Plasman, “Linking the Timing of Career and Technical Education Coursetaking With High School Dropout and College-Going Behavior,” American Educational Research Journal (October 2017).

Has William Phillis, head of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding and long-standing charter critic, been watching too many horror films this month?

This is no stretch. A Morning Journal article recapping a retired teachers’ meeting at which Phillis recently spoke reads more like a review of the wildly popular Stranger Things series than an honest depiction of Ohio’s charter sector.

As the Journal reports,

The birth of charter schools in the late 1990s created a monster and that monster is becoming a ferocious creature, William Phillis… said Thursday.

And

He said state officials, through House Bill 2, were able to “slow the monster” through more accountability for performance, but believes it is “still running wild.”

And

                The curses of deregulation in education are profound, ugly, and scary, he said.

Moreover, he accuses Ohio charters of “finding ways to control all branches of government to further their growth” and calls one particular chain of non-profit managed charters—which was cleared by a statewide investigation of all accusations wielded against it, by the way—as a “national security threat.”

According to Phillis, Ohio’s...

Reinventing Andy Smarick

On this week's podcast, special guest Andy Smarick, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, joins Mike Petrilli and Brandon Wright to discuss his review of David Osborne’s new book, Reinventing America’s Schools. During the Research Minute, David Griffith examines how heightened parent expectations affect Chinese students born during the Year of the Dragon.

Amber’s Research Minute

Nacu H. Mocan and Han Yu, “Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China,” National Bureau of Economic Research (August 2017).

The teachers and administrators at Columbus Collegiate Academy-Main Street have a strong track record of supporting their students in closing the achievement gap and putting them on a college prep path. CCA-Main students have consistently out-performed their peers in more affluent schools, and eighth graders regularly gain acceptance to the top high schools in Columbus. The United Schools Network, the school’s operator, and its recently launched School Performance Institute, want to share their recipe for success with you.

On November 30, 2017, USN’s Chief Learning Officer John A. Dues will host a day-long Study the Network™ workshop at the school to observe how its culture has been purposefully designed to get results in a high-poverty context. Participants will also discuss how to apply these ideas in their own schools.

If you are interested in concrete steps you can take to help low-income students achieve and thrive academically, this workshop is for you. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, and all necessary materials.

You can find out more information about workshop details and register to attend by clicking here....

Miyea Thompson

NOTES: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

Miyea Thompson is a fourth grader at UPrep, a high performing charter school in the United Schools Network in Columbus. On Friday, October 6, USN celebrated its 10th anniversary at its annual gala event. Miyea was a featured speaker at that event and the following is the written version of her speech. For more information on USN schools, we urge you to visit our website and download our recent profile of another student in the network.

Thank you! My name is Miyea Thompson, and I am a 4th-grader at United Preparatory Academy - State Street. Last month, I had the opportunity to write about what it meant to me to be a rising star. Tonight, I’d like to share with you what I wrote.

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When I think about being a rising star I got started by identifying what type of stars exist. We have famous people that are called stars such as actors, models, singers, and athletes. These people grew up to become stars, and I would love to...

It’s frustrating feeling like a broken record, but Stephen Dyer’s comparisons between school districts and charter schools can’t go uncontested. His analyses are reductive, crudely simplifying poor families’ quest for better schools as mere financial transactions that—he claims—unduly harm school districts. Yet he ignores the harm that’s caused when a student attends an unsafe or educationally unsound district school. He overlooks the harm when somebody else’s child is cheated out of beautiful, high-quality learning experiences--the kind that we seek for our own children.

Given Dyer’s long established ties to active charter opponents—Innovation Ohio, the teachers unions, and the Know Your Charter project—it’s not surprising that he routinely places the interests of districts and the adults they employ ahead of families and children simply seeking a quality educational environment that meets their needs. Each blog he writes lays bare the common yet wholly fallacious view that state education dollars are “owned” by districts. Districts receive state funds to ensure that students can receive a publicly funded education in a publicly accountable institution; when a student leaves, so should those dollars.

This edition of “I can’t even, Stephen” has to do with yet another of his common...

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