Yesterday, Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor released special audits as part of an investigation into Daniel Burns, a former district administrator at the Toledo and Cleveland school districts who is accused of stealing $820,000 from the two districts over the course of eight years.
???????Ordered background checks on private citizens who were critical of the district superintendent,
???????Used private investigators to tail district employees to find out how they spent their workdays and whether they were feeding "inside information" to school board members, and
???????Hired a security firm to do a "sweep" of the superintendent's office and car, likely looking for listening devices.
Eugene Sanders, the superintendent of both districts during Burns' tenure, as well as spokespeople for each district say they had no knowledge of Burns' actions, and there is no evidence to the contrary. One can't help but wonder if there is a "Deep Throat" somewhere lurking in the shadows of Cleveland or Toledo waiting to tell all. If you are out there, Gadfly would love to hear from you.
Photo courtesy of Itsjustanalias via Flickr
Check out this special edition of the Ohio Education Gadfly, a look back at the decade's most significant education events in Ohio. 2010 bring new opportunities for K-12 education in Ohio, but let's not forget the impact of things like DeRolph, the Zelman voucher case, Strickland's "evidence-based" funding model, charter legislation, value-added measures, and more, and their potential to shape (for better or for worse) education reform in the Buckeye State in years to come.
The news coverage around Race to the Top and the efforts states are making to become more competitive seems to now dominate much of the conversation around education. With so many state leaders moving into action (or at least using aggressive reform rhetoric), Ohio is like the kid in show-and-tell who forgets to bring something cool and shows off a piece of pocket lint while classmates hold up crystal geodes, model airplanes, and Indian arrowheads.
Some states have already enacted sweeping RttT-inspired legislation that will undoubtedly win them points: California enacted a law giving parents more power to move their children out of poorly performing schools. Michigan's governor signed sweeping legislation that gives the state authority to shut poorly performing schools and evaluates (and dismisses) teachers partly on the basis of student test scores.??
Other states get kudos for trying: Alabama is trying to schedule a special legislative session to pass the state's first charter schools bill. Tennessee's governor is rallying support for a proposal to tie teacher tenure decisions to student performance. Education leaders in Rhode Island are calling for an overhaul of teacher recruitment and retention, and certification based on student test scores. Several other states (Florida, Minnesota, Louisiana) have bold plans for reform even without legislative or executive action. The list could continue, but you get the gist.
Meanwhile, Ohio lawmakers passed a provision giving the Department of Education and the chancellor
Ohio unions are hand in glove with writers of Buckeye State's Race to the Top application--why this is a bad thing
Before jumping prematurely to the conclusion that Ohio's ability to achieve union buy-in for its Race to the Top plans is a good thing, let me stop you. Buy-in, cooperation, coalition-building are all nice ideas (and valued in the Race to the Top application -- states garner significant points for achieving LEA support), but unless Ohio unions? have had a dramatic change of heart as to what constitutes "reform," this collaboration sounds like trouble. Take this message (sent to district superintendents across the Buckeye State on December 30, 2009) from Ohio's state superintendent of public instruction, Deborah Delisle:
Please join representatives from the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Education Association, and the Ohio Federation of Teachers for a conference call to provide additional guidance and technical support in the completion of the Race to the Top Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
While unions in states such as Florida, Michigan, and Minnesota are in an uproar over their states' RTTT applications (calling them "fatally flawed," "unconscionable," insert insidious adjective ), Ohio's education chief sends out what sounds like a party invitation thrown by herself and two of her closest friends. All the more odd considering that the OEA and OFT don't host conference calls providing direction to districts applying to other federal grant programs.
Why are the OEA and OFT willing to provide "guidance" and "support" to school districts applying for Race to the Top funds, while other
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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