Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 2, Number 13
June 18, 2008
Casey Foundation series provides valuable lessons learned
News and Analysis
Getting high school in sync with college is a good step
More money does not equal more learning
Appropriations bill stuffed with extras, including some for education
From the Front Lines
Cleveland schools see spike in homeless kids
From the Front Lines
They were just too busy being videographers to help
Chester E. Finn, Jr. / June 18, 2008
One might think that leaders of the Buckeye State who have at least one eye focused on education would be struggling to prepare tens of thousands more kids with the skills and knowledge that global competitiveness demands in the 21st century: math, science, engineering, history, languages, and writing as well as prowess in "creative" applications of such skills and knowledge. No state is in greater economic peril than Ohio in 2008.
One might also think those leaders would be struggling a la the No Child Left Behind act to narrow the achievement gaps that separate Ohio's more fortunate young people from its growing numbers of poor, minority, and immigrant youngsters, and to prepare far more of the latter to complete high school and go on to succeed in college.
And one might think they'd be preoccupied with boosting school productivity, creating more strong schools, and fostering the ability of families to move among them to tailor the right fit between a child's educational needs and the school best able to supply them-not to mention liberating kids from dreadful schools and getting them easier access to good ones.
To be sure, some of all that is going on. One thinks of the STEM initiative and some of Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut's bolder moves. But it's not nearly enough. And that's not where the energy is.
No, at a time when Ohio's leaders should be
Colleen Grady / June 18, 2008
In response to a June 4 Gadfly article about Ohio's proficiency standards, State Board of Education member Colleen Grady comments about board members' consideration of student proficiency testing:
As recently as the May meeting, the state board did briefly discuss the need to raise "cut scores" for some of Ohio's assessments. Three years ago when the first set of cut scores were adopted, the board included a provision to "review and revise" within three years. The board was told that the initial recommendations were a "starting point" that could/would be changed as districts became accustomed to tests and alignment of instruction improved. Based on that understanding, the board should have received new recommendations this month. Unfortunately no changes have been presented by ODE for board consideration.
While Ohio has made substantial progress, that progress has come against some fairly low expectations. If we're serious about "best in the world" our definition of proficient must rise and our definition of excellence at the district level has to be more than 75 percent of students meeting minimum requirements.
State Board of Education, District 5
If you have something to say about The Ohio Education Gadfly, say it in an e-mail to an article author or to the editor, Mike Lafferty, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Correspondence may be edited for clarity and length.
Kathryn Mullen Upton, Esq. / June 18, 2008
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (of which Fordham board member Bruno Manno is a Senior Associate for Education) recently released a series of publications entitled Closing the Achievement Gap (see here). These concise education briefs provide insights and lessons concerning major aspects of the foundation's work over the past seven years to improve education by supporting all stakeholders (e.g., school principals, community organizations, parents, education reform organizations, philanthropists, and policy makers). The series makes clear the broad scope of Casey's work and influence in education, yet at the same time, zeros in on key strategies that the foundation has used over time to improve educational opportunities for young people.
Topics covered include the importance of making early strategic investments. One example is Casey's seed funds to the mayor's office in Indianapolis that enabled the mayor to become one of the country's premier charter-school authorizers. Another is how critical it is for parents, students, teachers, governing boards, and community members to speak a common language and share a common vision in raising student achievement. Funding is always a key topic in the world of education, and perhaps the most interesting lesson learned is that investments needn't be large to attract additional resources and produce change, but they do need to be well-calculated and targeted.
The series titles tell the story: Getting to Results; Creating Quality Choices: Charters; Creating Quality Choices: District Schools; Exploring Quality Choices: Vouchers; School, Community, Family Connections; Strategic Funding
Mike Lafferty / June 18, 2008
Talk about streamlining education. This month, some Ohio high school seniors will be earning not just high-school diplomas but also associate-college degrees. In Columbus, 19 seniors have already taken enough courses to earn associate degrees from DeVry Advantage Academy (see here). Some students knock off as much as 18 months of future college classes toward a bachelor's degree under the program paid for by the Columbus City Schools.
And qualified students in 42 Ohio school districts are gearing up to take their senior year in high school on a state college campus under Gov. Ted Strickland's Seniors-to-Sophomores program. Under S-to-S, high school seniors will receive their high-school diplomas next June and also, hopefully, earn enough credits to be college sophomores (see here). Such programs look good to students and parents because they keep kids learning during their senior year and they cut the cost of higher education. Knocking a year off a state college education would save thousands-at Miami of Ohio about $21,000 and that doesn't include a student's personal expenses.
The idea of making K-16 education seamless is generating powerful and positive innovations that are central to the Ohio Board of Regents' plan to boost the number of college graduates in the state. By 2017, Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut wants to have 230,000 more students enrolled in Ohio colleges and universities, boosting the total to 830,000.
Fingerhut's basic ideas have been circulating for a couple of months, but he has
Can Ohio afford Gov. Strickland's education reform plan? Not without a tax increase, according to Richard Sheridan, of the Center for Community Solutions, writing in the latest issue of State Budgeting Matters. Sheridan is surely right-after all, with the full implementation of scheduled tax cuts in a few years, Ohio will see billions of dollars less in revenue annually. Those tax cuts, in addition to other economic development stimuli, are designed to boost business. If the resulting tax take doesn't offset the future lower rates, then every state-spending program will be up for substantial reductions. Sheridan, however, is wrong to assume that improving Ohio's public-education system means spending more.
Sheridan chronicles the public-education changes Ohio governors have made throughout the 20th century. He highlights three major instances-under governors White, Gilligan, and Voinovich-that he says can be considered real reforms. In each instance, Sheridan argues, education reform and increased taxes were inextricably bound. The changes he points to, however, were really just modifications to how the state funds its schools and how much it spends on education. They were not wholesale transformations of the education system. And, while Ohio's K-12 education needs a transformation, it is not the one Gov. Strickland is probably contemplating.
Sheridan looks at education through the lenses of the educational producers, who never seem to see that successful education reform does not necessarily mean more teachers, more programs, more requirements, and more money. A recent report by the
Emmy L. Partin / June 18, 2008
The General Assembly approved the state's $1.3 billion biennial capital appropriations and budget-correction bill (H.B. 562) last week and it is now awaiting Gov. Ted Strickland's signature. Like every appropriations bill, H.B. 562 is stuffed with lots of extras, in addition to the cash, including these education-related items:
- Charter schools will not have to make up days missed for inclement weather so long as the schools provided at least the minimum-required 920 hours of instruction this year. This fixes a problem for some charters dependent on public-school busing that The Gadfly first reported in March (see here). District schools that were closed due to flooding and which meet a host of other requirements also won't have to make up those days.
- School districts that jointly or cooperatively operate a school or education program-like the Metro High School in Columbus-may charge fees or tuition to participating students.
- Nonpublic schools, including parochial schools and most other private schools, can make purchases through low-cost contracts negotiated by the Department of Administrative Services. District and charter schools, political subdivisions, and other public entities have long had this privilege.
- Private-school students will be allowed to participate in the new Seniors-to-Sophomores program.
- A district may run a STEM school; however, the district must treat the STEM school as a separate operating unit for accounting purposes and the auditor must certify that dollars intended for the STEM school are spent on the STEM school.
- The Distance Learning Clearinghouse will move
Mike Lafferty / June 18, 2008
CLEVELAND-The city has poverty, a troubled education system, too little opportunity, an epidemic of home foreclosures, crumbling city infrastructure, and now a 43-percent jump in homeless children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. According to an editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the city schools now serve 2,200 children who are homeless and there's a significant risk that these numbers will get larger as the home foreclosure crisis continues to spread (see here).
In the meantime, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reports Ohio has slipped from 28th to 30th among states in the well-being of its children (see here). The report from the foundation's Kids Count program is for the 2005-2006 period and indicates that 8.7 percent of all babies born in the state were low birth-weight children in 2005; that's up slightly from 2004. Infant mortality was 8.3 per thousand in 2005, up from 7.7 per thousand in 2004, while child deaths remained steady at 20 per 100,000, and teen deaths declined from 64 to 61 per 100,000. In 2006, 34 percent of children were living in a home where no parent had steady, year-around employment, the same level as in 2005; 19 percent of the state's children lived in poverty in 2006, also unchanged from 2005, and 33 percent lived in single-parent homes in 2006, up a percentage point from 2005.
Mike Lafferty / June 18, 2008
CINCINNATI-A Taft High School student has been suspended for 80 days after a videotaped fight with another girl, in May, was posted on YouTube. The fight broke out just before a sophomore English class May 20, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer's Eileen Kelley.
It's clear that multiple people were recording the fight with cell phones, according to Kelley, who reports the victim was repeatedly punched in the face, kicked, and knocked through a row of chairs before being struck aside the head. She escaped with bruises and abrasions according to Kelley (see here).
The attacker will miss the first 80 days of the 2008-09 school year, but the suspension could be reduced to 45 days if the student enrolls in an anger-management program.