Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 2, Number 6
March 12, 2008
Gadfly Readers Write...
in response to our interview with Ohio's First Lady
News and Analysis
A new method of funding Ohio public schools
By Mike Lafferty ,
Inside ODE's budget cuts
State sets requirements for STEM instructors
Reviews and Analysis
Comprehensive Longitudinal Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Reviews and Analysis
The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education
In search of the next great Gadfly
March 12, 2008
First Lady Frances Strickland's February 27 interview in The Gadfly sparked this response from Dayton educator Mike McCormick, superintendent of the Richard Allen Schools:
Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland's recent interview with the Ohio Education Gadfly is cause for concern. Mrs. Strickland's thoughts concerning the state's K-12 schools are a blend of 1960s nostalgia, anti-charter-school animus, and wrong-headed retro strategies, especially for urban students.
She tells us that Governor Strickland's proposed education czar means he's serious about K-12 education reform. This may or may not be the cure for what ails our state's classrooms. But the top-down approach, with mayors (New York, Chicago, Cleveland) and retired generals (Washington, D.C.) playing chief education officers, has had mixed results at best.
It appeared initially encouraging that the First Lady was willing to concede that "you can reduce the achievement gap by focusing on basic facts," what she dismissively refers to as "procedural knowledge." The achievement gap between urban students and those in most of the rest of the state is the most critical issue facing Ohio's urban centers. There are few urban success stories these days, but when they occur, the following ingredients are always in place: longer school days, longer school years (including Saturdays), a laser-like focus on academic content standards, rigorous assessment, data-driven instructional strategies, and demanding behavior expectations. This may not sound like fun but students thrive in such settings. Students also call their peers to accountability and reap the many benefits
Ohio can boast of praiseworthy gains over the past decade in making school funding more equitable across districts. The next step must be to make funding fairer within districts, according to a new report-Fund the Child: Bringing Equity, Autonomy, and Portability to Ohio School Finance-from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (see here). This imperative also gives Ohio the opportunity to modernize its public-education finance system to keep pace with powerful changes in the education system itself.
To mitigate the school-finance inequities that remain within districts and gear school funding toward the realities of student mobility, school choice, and effective school-based management, the report recommends that Ohio embrace weighted student funding (WSF). Weighted student funding makes equity a reality within districts by allocating resources based on the needs of individual students and by sending dollars directly to schools rather than lodging most spending decisions at the district level. It represents a fundamental shift in public-education finance by redirecting money from paying for programs, buildings, and administrative staff at district headquarters toward paying for the education of real children in actual classrooms.
Ohio's funding system is antiquated-as are funding systems in most states. It simply has not kept pace with student mobility, school-level accountability, or historic advances on the school-choice front. Today, one in seven Ohio students is educated in a school other than his or her neighborhood district school. Families, especially in urban areas, increasingly change schools during the course of
Emmy L. Partin / March 12, 2008
After being dragged over the coals by Governor Ted Strickland in his State of the State Address, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has identified $101.2 million worth of budget cuts (see here) to help the governor pare $733 million from state government spending.
The $733 million target could be just the beginning if Ohio's economy and the state's tax take don't improve, and as many as 2,700 jobs could be eliminated throughout state government (see here). Estimates of the potential deficit run as much as $1.9 billion for the two-year budget, although the governor has said he would dip into the state's $1 billion rainy day fund to lessen the impact if more cuts are needed (see here).
The education department will save $29 million each year by returning unspent money to the General Revenue Fund (GRF) and releasing prior year encumbrances. The remaining savings will come from the department's operating budget. Cuts were made to a variety of programs and services, though no reductions were made to basic aid to schools or early childhood education programs.
Ohio's 60 educational service centers saw their budgets cut by 9.6 percent, or $5 million, in each fiscal year. Efforts to boost student achievement in reading also took a hit. Next year's allocation for the state's literacy training for teachers was reduced by 4.8 percent ($501,000). The grant program that funds literacy prevention and intervention services in school-improvement status
Emmy L. Partin / March 12, 2008
Currently, at least 20 Ohio public schools are seeking high school math and science teachers (see here). When the first STEM schools open next year, administrators should have an easier time filling such positions, thanks to licensure exceptions included in the biennial budget bill. Hiring the right teachers is critical at all schools, and the STEM program's success hinges of the quality of the people in the classrooms.
H.B. 119 requires the State Board of Education to issue a two-year provisional educator license to teach science, technology, engineering, or math courses in grades six through 12 in a STEM school. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a field related to the subject to be taught and pass a subject-area examination to be prescribed by the board, and then participate in an on-the-job apprenticeship. By contrast, a candidate with similar credentials wishing to teach the same course in a non-STEM school would need to obtain an Alternative Educator License by passing the subject-area examination and taking coursework in teaching methods and pedagogy.
The budget bill also requires the board to issue a 40-hour teaching permit to STEM school teachers who are not otherwise licensed and who teach fewer than 40 hours per week of science, technology, engineering, or math courses in a STEM school. Non-STEM schools can employ such teachers for only 12 hours per week.
The board's capacity committee this week nodded approval of the language for the
Kristina Phillips-Schwartz / March 12, 2008
School Choice Demonstration Project
Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas
The School Choice Demonstration Project, based at the University of Arkansas, has started a massive, five-year longitudinal evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP)-the largest voucher program in the country-serving over 18,000 low-income students. This evaluation, intended to be the most comprehensive of its kind, is investigating the impact of the program on students, parents, taxpayers, schools, and the larger community. Specifically, does the program work? If so, how, where, when, and at what cost?
Here are some findings from the baseline year evaluation:
First, the MPCP generated an estimated $25 million in tax savings in the 2006-2007 school year but these savings affected the pocketbooks of citizens differently. Because of the design of Wisconsin's funding system, taxpayers in Milwaukee are actually paying higher property taxes, while those outside of Milwaukee are receiving sizeable tax benefits from the program.
- Second, most of the MPCP schools participating in the program enroll Choice students that comprise more than 80 percent of their total population. Additionally, most of the MPCP schools are religious and tend to be much smaller and have lower student-teacher ratios than Milwaukee Public Schools' (MPS) buildings.
- Third, the limited snapshot indicates that the Choice students tend to perform below national averages but at levels comparable to similar economically disadvantaged students in MPS.
As policymakers continue to debate the merits of Ohio's growing EdChoice Scholarship Program-with scant evidence suggesting whether
Alex Karas / March 12, 2008
Clive R. Belfield and Henry Levin, Editors
The Brookings Institution Press
If a year's worth of 18-year-old dropouts graduated from high school, federal and state governments would receive an additional $156 billion over their working lives from income taxes paid on higher earnings. Even in a trillion-dollar economy, those billions amount to real money equal to about 1.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education, edited by Clive R. Belfield and Henry M. Levin.
A punchier title for this book might be "Support Schools and Save Money." This 2007 publication cites the costs rung up by inadequate school systems and is the work of 13 education experts, from Sigal Alon of Tel Aviv University to Tamara Wilder of the Teachers College at Columbia University. The book digs into the financial impact that poor education has on the labor market, welfare and public assistance, crime, and health care. The authors believe that education reforms today will definitely pay off tomorrow. For example, every person who graduates from high school will save the government $39,000 in health-care costs.
Additionally, the book presents intervention strategies to strengthen American schools. Preschool and community-learning reforms top the list. These experts argue (statistically, of course) that the financial benefits of education far outweigh the costs of fixing problems in the classrooms. Check out the book here.
March 12, 2008
Do you have a passion for improving education and a sense of humor? Are you hard-working yet cheerful? Are you able to flex with changing circumstances and work in a fast-paced, demanding environment? If so, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute might be just the place for you. We are currently seeking an Ohio policy and research analyst-learn more here.