Going in Reverse

When it comes to reforming and improving Ohio’s education system, there is more than enough drama in Columbus--as well as a fair share of proposals aimed at moving our education system backward. Two bills, in particular, are prime examples of the latter.

Representative Wolpert’s Condition

House Bill 27, sponsored by Representative Larry Wolpert (R-Hilliard), proposes changing Ohio’s method of determining district/school performance ratings by reducing the penalty for failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) for more than two consecutive years. Thus districts meeting the needs of the majority of children could continue to fail subpopulations of students--such as economically disadvantaged children--without significantly impacting their state academic rating. In the case of Hilliard City School District (Rep. Wolpert’s district), 58.2 percent of African American children are performing at or above the AYP proficiency goal in math, while 87.1 percent of white students have met this goal. Under the current rating system, this district can be rated no higher than “Continuous Improvement” until they improve the performance of their African American students--and other subgroups as well. Yet Rep. Wolpert’s proposal would allow them to be rated “Excellent-Conditional” (our italics). Thus, a district could still boast a high rating despite its failure to meet the educational needs of all students. This might be a swell proposition for superintendents, principals, and even realtors in the area, but it would do a monumental disservice to low-income and minority students. (It may also put the state in conflict with the federal No Child Left Behind act.) Let’s hope that lawmakers give Rep. Wolpert’s “condition” the un-conditional rejection it deserves.

Give the Kids a Break

What is Senator Randy Gardner’s (R-Bowling Green) solution to the state’s education challenges? More time off from school. Senate Bill 89 would prohibit school districts and charter schools from starting their school year before Labor Day. According to Sen. Gardner, the proposal would promote economic activity in the travel and tourism industry. This comes in spite of efforts by district and community schools throughout the Ohio and across the nation (see here) to extend the school day and year to gain more learning time (e.g., the Dayton Public School District, which plans to start its 2007-08 school year on August 6th). Gadfly has no doubt that the bill will be a hit with schoolchildren and perhaps the owners of Kings Island. Yet folks interested in improving students’ academic achievement will need to look elsewhere.

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December 11, 2007
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