Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 2, Number 28
December 11, 2008
Finding common ground
Lawmakers get schooled on schools
Buckeye Institute puts teacher and administrator salaries online
Luckie strikes again!
From the Front Lines
How is the air around your child's school?
Moving on up
Terry Ryan / December 11, 2008
Columbus has joined New York, Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and other education-minded cities in building a high-quality new-schools sector. To date, however, the Columbus City Schools has not driven this effort. It has, in fact, dragged it down. This should change.
In recent months, two nationally recognized charter-school programs opened new schools in the city-one adhering to the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) model (see here), the second arising from the Building Excellent Schools (BES) program (see here). Both programs receive the support of serious urban school reformers-now including Columbus business and civic leaders-because they have a track record of delivering strong educational results for needy children. They are unabashedly "no-excuses" schools that deliver academic achievement to kids who have known little success in conventional schools.
In New York, Chicago, and other major cities where high-quality charters such as these have taken off, the school districts invite them to town, provide them with facilities, and sponsor the new schools. For example, the New York City Education Department has an Office of Portfolio Development while Chicago has an Office of New Schools. And, within the past year, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District launched its effort with the creation of its Office of New Innovative Schools (see here). Such units are responsible for recruiting, facilitating, and housing quality charter schools. They also hold schools to account for their results. These cities view charter schools as vital elements of a wider
Mike Lafferty / December 11, 2008
Ohio Senate President Bill Harris believes Gov. Ted Strickland has generated high expectations on education, especially when it comes to the issue of school funding.
Harris, who pledged to a mixed gathering of Democrat and Republican lawmakers and state education policy groups, Monday, that he would be bipartisan on education issues, is waiting to see what reforms the governor will propose next year for the state's K-12 education system.
"He's made this a high-stakes issue," Harris said in an address at the lawmakers education briefing in Columbus. The event, Closing the Gap: Moving Ohio to a World-Class Education System, was hosted by the Fordham Institute, KidsOhio.org, the ESC of Central Ohio, the Ohio Business Roundtable, and the Ohio Business Alliance for Higher Education and the Economy (see here).
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Strickland remains the most popular of those thinking about running for governor in 2010 (see here). This is important because he will need all the political capital he can muster to make good on his promise to "fix" school funding at a time when the state faces "historic" economic problems.
Money certainly was on the minds of those attending the new lawmakers meeting. Both Harris and outgoing House Speaker Jon Husted brushed aside questions regarding the constitutionality of Ohio's school funding formula, which was the subject of repeated Ohio Supreme Court rulings stemming from the 1990s DeRolf case (see here). After the high court repeatedly found the
Emmy L. Partin / December 11, 2008
As part of its effort to promote transparency and accountability in government, the Buckeye Institute has created a searchable, online database of Ohio public school district teacher and administrator salaries (which account for roughly 80 percent of school budgets). Average teacher and staff salary data for districts are available on the state education department's website (start here), but the Buckeye Institute database goes one step further, allowing users to view the salaries of all teachers in a district or search for a teacher by name. The database doesn't contain information for charter schools or the salaries of non-teachers and non-administrators, and is based on the previous year's data. Start searching at www.buckeyeinstitute.org/schoolsalaries.
Emmy L. Partin / December 11, 2008
The clock is winding down on the 127th General Assembly's lame-duck session, although lawmakers continue to introduce new bills. Such late entries rarely become law and are more often than not attempts by legislators to appease interest groups or make a political statement. Such seems to be the case with this week's introduction of House Bill 654 by Rep. Clayton Luckie (see here).
H.B. 654 would allow public school districts to "surrender" the transportation of high school students who live within their boundaries but attend charter schools. Under current law, local school districts are responsible for transporting most students who live within their boundaries, including most private and charter school students. Districts do not have to provide transportation for students in grades 9 through 12, but if they provide busing for high school students attending district schools they must do the same for most charter and private high school students. Separate rules exist for children with special needs. Luckie's bill calls for districts to notify charter schools by June 1 of each year whether they will provide high school transportation for them the following year, and it also provides a formula for the state to use to calculate transportation funding for charter schools.
Transportation is a sticky wicket in relationships between districts and charter schools. Busing is expensive, and in cities like Dayton, where charter school students make up 28 percent of the public education market share, the logistics of getting
Mike Lafferty / December 11, 2008
A USA Today newspaper story featuring poor air quality around some American schools, including one near Cincinnati, was superficial, according to the Ohio EPA, which said the article was the result of a snapshot and not rigorous testing.
The story in Monday's newspaper featured the Meredith Hitchens Elementary School in the Cincinnati suburb of Addyston (see here). USA Today staffers Blake Morrison and Brad Heath reported that school district officials pulled all 369 students from the building three years ago after air sampling outside the building showed high levels of chemicals coming from a nearby plastics plant. According to the newspaper, state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials concluded the risk of developing cancer there was 50-times higher than what the state considers acceptable.
The newspaper quoted an Ohio EPA scientist as saying that air monitoring at the closed school shows levels of the most dangerous chemicals have declined significantly, but that levels remain "over our risk goals."
The article reported that air outside 435 other schools in the nation could be even worse and the story certainly should make parents who have children in schools near industrial areas be concerned enough to demand some facts.
"We know people are concerned," Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer told The Gadfly Wednesday. "What we we're looking at [in Addyston] was not an immediate health risk. These are not levels we would expect to see immediate health effects. We're talking about long-term cancer risk over 30 years
Highlights from TIMSS 2007: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth- and Eighth-Grade Students in an International Context
December 11, 2008
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2007 results were released Tuesday (see here) and they show American kids are making progress against their international peers. TIMSS is a rigorous international comparison of fourth- and eighth-grade students' math and science test scores across countries. Worth noting: our scores are not bad in comparison to underdeveloped countries, but there's plenty of room for improvement when matched against developed countries in Asia and Europe.
For math, the report reveals that:
- The average math scores of US fourth graders and eighth graders are higher than the average across countries.
- U.S. fourth-grade math scores are higher than in 23 countries (out of 36), but still lower than test scores in eight countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, England, Latvia), and not different from 4 countries (Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany, and Denmark).
- U.S. eighth-grade math scores are higher than test scores in 37 countries (out of 48), but lower than test scores in five countries (Chinese Taipei, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong), and not different from five other countries (Hungary, England, Russian Federation, Lithuania, Czech Republic).
For science, the report reveals that:
- The average science scores for U.S. fourth graders and eighth graders are higher than the average across countries.
- U.S. fourth-grade science scores are higher than test scores in 25 countries (out of 35), but still lower than test scores in four countries (Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan), and not different from