The wheels of churn in our schools

Dayton panelists from left: Bob Taft, Rusty Clifford and Lori Ward

The word churn is used within a variety of industries.  Just as customers leave businesses and migrate to competitors for other products or pricing options, students transfer between school districts and buildings. Churn is a reality within Ohio schools.  But what are the reasons for this cycle? School leaders, parents, community members and others gathered yesterday in Dayton and Cincinnati to discuss student churn, what it means for their schools and what might be done about it. A crowd of about 100 gathered for each event.

In November, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Columbus-based Community Research Partners (CRP), and nine other funders released a statewide study of student mobility in Ohio. This substantial report was the basis of the conversations hosted by Learn to Earn in Dayton and The Strive Partnership in Cincinnati. 

“Today’s event in Dayton was very eye opening,” said Chatoya Hayes, an audience member who joined the discussion from the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area.  “I think the issue of student mobility is directly altering student success and is a major factor not usually considered.”  Hayes said she found the comparisons between Dayton and other districts in Ohio to be especially beneficial to the thinking of audience members.  Churn within schools can be associated with a variety of factors, whether academic, family life, or housing situations. At both events panelists and audience members pointed out that tackling challenges of student mobility will require new forms and levels of community partnerships.  

Parent and Cincinnati attendee Ruth Anne Wolfe said, “We can pull together as a community to support children’s success in our schools.  We need to work on the reasons why students might switch schools, from housing to job issues.”  Wolfe said she applauded the school districts and community partners for coming together and sparking a conversation about student mobility. 

Both events featured a presentation about the research by Bobbie Garber, consultant to Community Research Partners and former executive director.  Terry Ryan served as the moderator.  In Dayton, the discussion included panelists Rusty Clifford from West Carrolton Schools, former Ohio Governor Bob Taft and Lori Ward from Dayton Public Schools.  Cincinnati’s event included Superintendent Rob Amodio from Norwood City Schools, Superintendent Mary Ronan from Cincinnati Public Schools, Rolonda Smith from Parents for Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati and Moria Weir from Hamilton County Jobs & Family Services.

As the wheels of student mobility and churn continue to spin, what can parents, school leaders and community members do to help better serve students?  Share your thoughts about our mobility study and comment below! Click here to view media coverage from the Cincinnati event.

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