Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 1, Number 29
February 28, 2007
Note to the Bard: Leave "Nasty Man" at Home
Ohio Needs a World-Class Education System
By Kristina Phillips-Schwartz , Quentin Suffren
Reviews and Analysis
A New STEM Class for Ohio
By Quentin Suffren
February 28, 2007
“At every word, a reputation dies,” wrote 18th century poet Alexander Pope in his epic parody The Rape of the Lock. Too bad Princeton High School assistant principal Sean Yisrael failed to heed Pope’s words. Yisrael was recently put on administrative leave for sharing his verse (from his self-published book Words of a Poet) with two students—who promptly copied and distributed it around the Sharonville, Ohio high school. Several parents who read the poems cried foul and swiftly accused Ysirael of peddling pornography. Turns out a few of the poems contained sexual content and bore suggestive titles such as “I Like Big Women,” “The Nasty Man in Me,” and “Is It a Crime?” And while the answer to the latter seems to be “no,” Ysirael could lose his job. School district officials have yet to decide his fate. In his favor, Princeton School District spokesperson (and suspected Yisrael groupie) Robyn Allgeyer stated, “It’s [Yisrael’s work] not pornography. It’s poetry that includes some parts that are of a sexual nature.” Gadfly is no literary critic, but perhaps next time Mr. Yisrael might shun the muse--or just leave his “Nasty Man” at home.
“Sexual Poetry Causes Uproar,” by Michael D. Clark, The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 22, 2007.
February 28, 2007
On February 13, 2007, Achieve, Inc., presented to the Ohio State Board of Education a study of education policy, entitled Creating a World-Class Education System in Ohio. An earlier benchmarking study for Ohio in 1999 had evaluated the state’s educational reform strategies at the time against the best domestic practices and has contributed substantially to Ohio’s progress over the past eight years. A decade ago, Ohio was essentially stuck in the middle when compared to other states. On cross-state comparisons of current National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, Ohio is now in the top quarter of states.
The new Achieve study is responsive to the State Board’s focus on understanding the implications of the new global economy for K-12 education in Ohio. No state has felt the impact of the globalizing economy more than Ohio. With the continual decline of manufacturing jobs, Ohio has struggled to move toward a knowledge-based economy. The fastest-growing and highest paying jobs require higher levels of education. The state’s ability to regain its economic competitiveness is dependent on the ability of its schools to provide a world-class education to its citizens, and not simply a strong education when compared to other states. This perception is shared by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who on November 7, 2006, proclaimed the importance of “building an education system, from pre-school through college, that doesn’t just compete with our neighbors like Indiana and Kentucky, but rivals the best
Kristina Phillips-Schwartz , Quentin Suffren / February 28, 2007
Though most Ohioans are still thawing out from weeks of frosty weather, Columbus has been bustling with activity as many elected officials considered (or proposed themselves) a number of education initiatives--all claiming to improve Ohio’s education system.
Most notable was the release of the new policy report Creating a World-Class Education System in Ohio by Achieve, Inc. (see here and above). Prepared by the international consulting group McKinsey & Company and authored by former British education adviser Sir Michael Barber, the report lays out a comprehensive, integrated and outcomes-based approach for transforming Ohio’s K-12 program into a leading education system by 2015. None too soon, we say. The state’s current system masks wide achievement gaps among student subgroups and is struggling to prepare Ohio’s youngster for the demands of college and workplace. “Despite the progress Ohio has made in student achievement, the pace of improvement needs to escalate drastically,” Barber told State Board of Education members.
Whether state policymakers will embrace the McKinsey team’s bold vision remains to be seen, but comments so far are promising. C.J. Prentiss, former state senator and Strickland’s education aide, noted, “I will report back to the governor ‘Good News’…This is a road map for what we need to do” (see here). State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Zelman insisted that state education officials have little choice but to push for change. Yet State Board member John
Quentin Suffren / February 28, 2007
When it comes to preparing Ohioans for the demands of the modern workplace, “Good enough is no longer good enough,” write the co-chairs of the Science and Math Education Policy Advisory Council (SAMEPAC). Especially when those demands arise in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.
Formed by the Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Department of Education and the Governor’s office in 2005, the Council was tasked with identifying the most critical issues facing science and mathematics education, and making recommendations to improve them with an eye on Ohio’s current budget realities and future economic prosperity. The result is “Science and Mathematics: A Formula for 21st Century Success ,” which lays out a comprehensive plan for increasing Ohio’s capacity to educate and employ its citizens in STEM fields. In particular, SAMEPAC offers five strategies for improving science and math education and developing Ohio’s youngsters into the world-class talent new economy businesses need:
1. <!--[endif]-->Expand public awareness and understanding of the importance mathematics and science. Just 55 percent of Ohioans polled in 2006 (see here) said that high schools should prepare all students for college. In the same year, just 28 percent of state high schoolers enrolled in upper level science courses. The public awareness campaign would address the link between advanced math and science skills and future economic opportunities--and target parents and students early.