Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 2, Number 21
October 8, 2008
Gadfly Readers Write...
re: Sept. 24 Capital Matters
Fixing Dayton's schools--nothing ventured, nothing gained
News and Analysis
Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, in brief
Charter-school foes dealt swift kick in court
October 8, 2008
Carl Wick, a member of the Ohio State Board of Education, took issue with a Sept. 24 Capital Matters piece concerning state education budget cuts.
As chair of the Ohio Board of Education's budget committee I must dispute your characterization of the Board's 2010-2011 budget proposal. You stated, "It's hard to imagine other state agencies, whose directors are appointed by the governor, publicly promoting such pie-in-the-sky spending requests in the face of the state's current economic constraints and despite the governor's call for reduced spending."
We submitted three versions of the 2010-2011 budget. They are based on different state revenue scenarios. Two of the budgets, the 95 percent and 90 percent versions, were requested by both the governor and OBM (Office of Budget and Management). Both deal with two scenarios of decreased state revenue.
The third budget, called a flat-plus budget, calls for an increase of 2.2 percent in 2010 and 5.7 percent in 2011. This budget was crafted in accordance with our legislative mandate of identifying the budget necessary to adequately fund the state's portion of public education dollars.
You criticize the State Board for recommending any increase. The truth is that we originally crafted a completely flat budget with virtually no increase. What happened?
The Ohio Department of Taxation notified us that property values across the state will fall significantly. Lower property tax valuations have a major effect on the school funding formula. As valuations are reduced, the state must assume a larger share of school funding. Falling property values are largely a consequence of the recent housing
School reform is hard-as those working to improve Dayton's (and other urban centers') schools know all too well. By now, reformers know the challenges: high levels of poverty, children from broken homes, rapid student turnover, stubborn bureaucracies, unsettled leadership, financial challenges, and obdurate teacher unions.
Despite these obstacles, from 2002 to 2006, the Dayton Public Schools made academic progress. In four years, the district pulled itself out of Academic Emergency on the state's rating system to make the Continuous Improvement rating in 2006. Then the wheels fell off. In the past two years, the district's rating has dropped to Academic Watch. Dayton's charter-school performance is only marginally better (see here).
As a group long engaged in school reform efforts in Dayton, the Fordham Institute is deeply disappointed at the downturn, but as with a stumble by a loved one trying to shed an addiction problem, now is no time to give up. Now is the time for the Dayton Public Schools, its supporters, and community leaders to be steadfast-and courageous. We can learn from others and take inspiration from public schools that have successfully undergone what can be painful transformation. Three such examples surfaced in recent weeks. Each idea is, admittedly, too new to have yielded higher test scores or lower dropout rates-and none, alone, is capable of overpowering all the challenges urban schools face. Yet each idea is so obvious, so sensible, and so gutsy as to require any community
Emmy L. Partin / October 8, 2008
Before the local report cards for Ohio public schools had even been released last summer, districts were crying foul over one particular component, AYP (adequate yearly progress). Simply put, schools must meet annual AYP targets in reading and math proficiency and test participation, graduation rate, and attendance rate for all students and for subgroups of students (see more here). AYP targets increase each year in order to move schools toward the federal No Child Left Behind goal of all children being proficient by 2014. Districts or schools that miss AYP for three consecutive years can be rated no higher than Continuous Improvement, or a C, by the state.
Dublin City Schools feared it would become the latest Columbus suburb to see its rating fall because of AYP and went to the media in July to warn parents and residents that, despite having met 30 of 30 state report card indicators, the district's overall designation might be less than perfect (see here). In the end, however, Dublin's worries-and those of other districts around the state-were for naught. Dublin met its overall AYP targets and was rated Excellent with Distinction-the highest possible rating (see here). So, what happened? The AYP growth model kicked in this year.
Ohio schools previously had three ways to meet AYP: 1) meeting current year achievement targets with current year results, 2) meeting current year targets by combining this year's and last year's results, or 3) meeting
Emmy L. Partin / October 8, 2008
It took a year, but common sense prevailed Sept. 25 when a Montgomery County judge dismissed the latest legal shenanigan of charter-school foes in the Buckeye State (see here). In September 2007, then-state Attorney General Marc Dann sued to close three Dayton-area charters alleging that their poor academic performance and mismanagement put them out of compliance with the state's charitable trust laws (see here). He added a fourth case, against a Cincinnati charter, in January 2008.
In the ruling involving the New Choices Community School in Dayton, Common Pleas Judge Michael Tucker disagreed: "This court concludes... that New Choices [charter school] is a political subdivision. Given this conclusion, there is simply no charitable trust role for the Attorney General either by statute or at common law."
The New Choices decision gives hope of a favorable outcome in the remaining two suits since they are also based on the same novel interpretation of Ohio law. Cases remain against Moraine Community School in Montgomery County (see here) and the Harmony Community School in Cincinnati, in Hamilton County (see here). Dann originally filed against four charters, but the fourth school, the Colin Powell Leadership Academy, in Dayton, closed.
As The Gadfly has noted, Dann's lawsuits were never about rescuing kids from bad schools (see here). They were a political maneuver, pure and simple. The Ohio Education Association (OEA), in return for Dann's cooperation in filing the suits, agreed
Terry Ryan / October 8, 2008
The Aspen Institute's National Education Summit: An Urgent Call
Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2008
British education consultant (and long-time student and friend of the United States) Sir Michael Barber believes too many Americans still aren't worried enough about the dire state of education in America.
In a recent speech to The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., Barber, former chief policy advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair (see here), emphasized this lack of anxiety and that it needs to end. He drew on his work in Britain and knowledge of other countries' education systems in making several points about American schooling. His observations are highly relevant to Ohio and will resonate with those who have read and appreciated the McKinsey-Achieve report shared with the state's leaders in late 2006. Barber served as the lead author of that report (see here).
Progress is difficult in America as compared to other countries, Barber said, because of our highly decentralized system of government: separated powers between the three federal branches as well as between federal, state, and local levels of government. Barber is hopeful, however, because more Americans are starting to realize that the nation's education systems are failing too many children and are in need of serious reform. In stating something fewer and fewer Americans will say themselves, he is hopeful because of the focus on the achievement gap generated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. Barber says NCLB, while not perfect
October 8, 2008
Brian L. Carpenter
National Charter Schools Institute
The book begins, "Except for global warming, healing your inner child, and achieving financial success in life, I doubt few other topics have been as exhaustively written about as organizational strategic planning." Is the author unfamiliar with love, war, religion, and Paris Hilton? But things improve a bit when author Brian Carpenter spins a tale about fictional Breezy Palms Charter School, the board of which is composed of regular, down-to-earth people with good intentions but no strategic plan. Because its students are not achieving at high academic levels, Breezy Palms almost has its charter revoked. The authorizer decrees that the school may stay open, but only if its board presents a strategic plan that prescribes how the school will improve.
Enter The Seven Outs: figure out, find out, scope out, write out, carry out, measure out, and shout out. By constructing its strategic plan according to The Outs' guidance, the school stays open. The book's second half delves into The Seven Outs and describes how these can be applied to schools. While some of the lessons are basic common sense-preparing for board meetings, planning your weekly/month schedule-we know that lots of charter boards have little idea what they're doing, and so, simple instructions, as this book offers, can be helpful. Value can be found in The Seven Outs for those who have an interest in charter-school governance. The book can be ordered here.
October 8, 2008
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and University of Dayton, School of Education and Allied Professions are hosting a reception and discussion of the new book Sweating the Small Stuff (see here) by former U.S. News and World Report senior writer David Whitman. Join us Wednesday, October 22, at 5 PM at Dayton Early College Academy to hear remarks from Mr. Whitman and participate in a discussion moderated by Scott Elliott of the Dayton Daily News. This event is free and open to the public. For more details, contact Emmy Partin.