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Fordham Ohio Panel Discussion: Facilities Challenges Facing Ohio Charter Schools

Fordham Ohio Panel Discussion: Facilities Challenges Facing Ohio Charter Schools

Ohio charter schools have long reported struggling in their efforts to secure school facilities. A newly-released report, “An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio,” from the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Charter School Resource Center, the Charter School Facilities Initiative, managed by the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools surveys school principals to get the most detailed look to date of Ohio charter school facilities. The survey, which includes data from 81 percent of Ohio's brick and mortar charter schools, examines multiple aspects of charter facilities including the size, uses, and cost per student of each.

On February 2, 2016, we partnered with the Callender Group to bring the report's authors to Columbus to discuss their findings. We also brought together a group of Ohio charter schools/school networks to talk about their first-hand experiences finding and maintaining their school facilities.

Check out the full report by clicking here.

PRESENTERS

Kevin Hesla, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and report co-author
Jessica M. Johnson, Esq., Colorado League of Charter Schools and report co-author

PANELISTS

Tiffany Adamski, Regional Director Midwest at iLEAD
Andrew Boy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, United Schools Network
Lyman Millard, consultant at Breakthrough Schools

MODERATOR

Mark Real

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has introduced the Charter School Accountability Act. In making his case for charter school reform, Senator Brown cites a recent study by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) showing Ohio charter students lagging their peers in traditional public schools on state assessments.

“While presumably well intentioned, Senator Brown’s effort to scale up federal involvement in public charter schools nationwide based upon a situation in Ohio misses the mark,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Making matters worse, it seemingly ignores the tremendous state work undertaken over the last six months by Governor Kasich and the Ohio legislature to craft the most comprehensive charter school reform legislation in the state’s history—a version of which has already passed both the Ohio House and Senate.”

Senator Brown has also offered the bill language as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act currently under consideration. Announcement of the legislation was met with strong support from both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

“Unfortunately, Senator Brown’s proposal goes well beyond simply strengthening accountability and transparency,” Aldis added. “The inclusion...

 
 

Bad schools rarely die. This was the conclusion of Fordham’s 2010 report Are Bad Schools Immortal?, which discovered that out of two thousand low-performing schools across ten states, only 10 percent actually closed over a five-year period. On reflection, the finding was not too surprising: Shuttering schools nearly always sets off a torrent of political backlash, as authorities in Chicago, Philadelphia, and other urban districts have learned in recent years. And the reasons are understandable: Schools are integral parts of communities. They’re built into families’ routines and expectations, and closing them inevitably causes pain, disruption, and sadness, even when it’s best for students.

However, we also recognize that closing schools is sometimes necessary. In the charter sector, in particular, closure is an essential part of the model: Schools are supposed to perform or lose their contracts. That’s the bargain. And in the district sector, experience has taught us that some schools have been so dysfunctional, for so long, that efforts to “turn them around” are virtually destined to fail.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to put bad schools out of their misery. Part of the difficulty is political, but it’s also a genuine moral dilemma: Are we sure that...

 
 

AGAINST THE GRAIN
Chalkbeat New York covers New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s controversial plan to evaluate and promote teachers, one that focuses on increasing assessment-based ratings to count for 50 percent of an evaluation and lowers the weight of principal observation and feedback. Fordham’s sensational tag team of Mike Petrilli and Andy Smarick weigh in on the plan, saying that Cuomo is moving in the opposite direction of other state leaders.

WE'VE GOT TO BOOK THIS GUY FOR AN EVENT
It looks like everyone over at Success Academy Harlem East has been eating their Wheaties. On his morning visit to the New York City charter school, Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion, noted remarkable behavior by both teachers and students. The dedicated instructors and quality curriculum in place at the school challenged students and gave them the opportunity to critically engage with class material and learn from their own mistakes. Perhaps this is the secret behind the charter network’s unparalleled recent test scores.
...

 
 

Editor's note: This testimony was presented at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions onFixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability on January, 21, 2015. It additionally appeared in a slightly different form at Education Next.

Chairman Alexander, Senator Murray, Members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would like to begin by congratulating the committee on putting the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act at the top of its legislative agenda for the 114th Congress. Nothing is more important to our nation’s future than ensuring that we provide all children with the opportunity to reach their full academic potential. Congress cannot do that on its own, but it can help by addressing the very real shortcomings of the most recent reauthorization, No Child Left Behind, and restoring the predictability with respect to federal policy that state and local officials need to carry out their work.

As you move forward with this important work, however, I would urge you not to lose sight of the positive aspects of No Child Left Behind. Above all, the law’s requirement that students be tested annually in...

 
 

Welcome to the new-and-improved Late Bell, Fordham's uncanny afternoon newsletter! We're starting off our bold new era with a special Fordham-in-the-news edition.

WHEN YOU’RE AN EDUCATION-POLICY WONK AND A PUBLIC SCHOOL DAD
“Education leaders are often put off by parents who know a lot about schools and won’t shut up. Petrilli is definitely in that category,” notes Jay Mathews of the Washington Post on a recent column in which this education-policy dad asks where’s the beef on curriculum.

THE EDUCATION-REFORM PLAYOFFS
At the National Review Online, Fordham’s Chester E. Finn, Jr. asks whether pushing only a test-based accountability system is the best strategy. But that doesn’t mean he’s giving up on reform: “Major-league education change is still needed, maybe now more than ever, and it’s no time for either complacency or despair.”

YOU SAY SKILLS, WE SAY KNOWLEDGE
Emily Richmond chronicles why Common Core might be more difficult to implement in the higher grades since the standards are based on the idea that kids need...

 
 

Are America’s urban schoolteachers working hard or hardly working? This new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) uncovers some troubling evidence that points toward the latter, at least for a non-trivial subset of teachers. The analysts examined teacher-attendance data from forty large districts in 2012–13, finding that teachers in these districts were absent, on average, eleven days out of the school year. (The analysis excluded long-term absences, such as those accrued due to maternity leave or serious illness.) In fairness, eleven days is slightly less than the average number of absences allowed under these districts’ personnel policies. The averages, however, mask considerable variation across and within school districts. Across this group of districts, two Ohio cities—Cleveland and Columbus—suffered the most severe teacher-absentee problems. Cleveland’s teachers were absent an average of sixteen days, while in Columbus, they averaged fifteen. Indianapolis (six days) and the District of Columbia (seven) had the lowest average number of days absent. Within districts, too, the analysts discovered both “chronically absent” teachers (eighteen or more days absent) and those with near-perfect attendance. In Cleveland, for example, 6 percent of the teachers had “excellent” attendance—bless their hearts—while a staggering 34 percent were “chronically” absent. We...

When we talk about educational choice on these pages, we are mostly speaking of charters, vouchers, digital learning, and the like. But in Fordham’s home state of Ohio, educational choice encompasses several other options, of which many families regularly avail themselves. Two of those “outer-limits” options have been in the news recently.

Opting out

In law, they are called “non-chartered, non-tax-supported” schools—NCNTs. In parlance, they are called “508 schools,” after the part of the Ohio Administrative Code that describes them. In reality, they represent the furthest distance of “schools” from government oversight. Among the “entanglements” with state government: the setting of a minimum length of the school year and school day should be; the reporting of pupil population, withdrawals, and adds; minimum teacher qualifications; health and safety rules; and the requirement that a “regular promotion process” must be in place and followed (although it is clearly up to each school to determine its own process).

NCNT schools are something like homeschooling co-ops but with a structure more closely approximating that of private schools—tuition fees, group classes, social activities, field trips, and even sports. But NCNT schools are truly free to create whatever structures they like—strong religious grounding, classical...

 
 

Private Schools, Public Vouchers - School Leaders Panel

Private schools and public vouchers: Policy leaders panel

In the spring and fall of 2013, Fordham enlisted veteran journalist and former Dayton Daily News editorial-page editor Ellen Belcher to dig deep into the world of voucher schools across Ohio, trying to understand what happens in these school buildings as the mission to educate is tested by changing demographics and school culture.

Join us, Ellen, and private school leaders to discuss the fascinating findings.

SCHOOL LEADERS PANELISTS

Karyn Hecker
Principal
Immaculate Conception School, Dayton
Monica Lawson
Admissions Director
St. Martin de Porres High School, Cleveland
Deb O'Shea
Principal
St. Patrick of Heatherdowns School, Toledo
Mike Pecchia
President, Youngstown Christian School

POLICY LEADERS PANELISTS

Sarah Pechan Driver
Senior Director of Programs
School Choice Ohio
Greg Harris
State Director - Ohio
StudentsFirst
Larry Keough
Associate Director,
Department on Education
Catholic Conference of Ohio

OVERVIEW/MODERATOR

Ellen Belcher
Opening remarks

Lead Investigator
Journalist and former editor,Dayton Daily News
Chad Aldis - Moderator
Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
 

 

We’ve passed the time for standing by and patiently hoping that Ohio’s lowest-performing charter schools will improve on their own. Or that the authorizers of such charters will solve this problem on their own. As a strong supporter of charter schools, my New Year’s resolution is to seize the promise of change and resolutely champion the effort to strengthen the quality of the charter sector across the Buckeye State.

I also know that undertaking such an effort sans allies won’t likely yield much change. But timing is everything—and now is the right time for all of Ohio’s charter advocates to take up the fight for quality schools.

The problem

Charters have been operating in Ohio for well over a decade, and their performance can be most accurately described as mixed. We’ve been blessed with some resounding successes, such as the Breakthrough Network in Cleveland, Columbus Preparatory Academy, and Columbus Collegiate Academy. These schools, and hundreds other like them around the country, highlight the great potential of charter schools to change the educational trajectory of at-risk students. Yet too many other charter schools in Ohio (and elsewhere) have struggled mightily, as documented by a series of...

 
 

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