Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 3, Number 11
April 29, 2009
Education doesn't have to cost more to be better, national expert says
By Mike Lafferty
News and Analysis
Chancellor Fingerhut laments teacher training
News and Analysis
Dayton charter senior awarded Gates millenium scholarship
News and Analysis
Fordham report points to possible weaknesses in AP course expansion
By Emmy L. Partin
News and Analysis
Young essayists speak to their educational opportunity
"Thorough and efficient," huh?
Reviews and Analysis
The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools
Mike Lafferty / April 29, 2009
One of the nation's foremost school-finance authorities said yesterday that Ohio can have a much better school system without paying vastly higher sums for education by getting smarter about how it spends education dollars.
Unfortunately, the state is wasting money now and the education financing changes proposed by Gov. Strickland are unlikely to help, Professor Paul T. Hill told members of the Ohio Senate Education Committee. Hill is director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell (see here).
"The school finance provisions of the governor's plan promote stasis, not continuous improvement. It makes big bets on increased staffing, heavier administration, and other mandates on uses of funds. Unfortunately those bets are essentially shots in the dark: no other school system has improved detectably by using money in these ways," Hill said in prepared testimony.
Given the projected multi-billion dollar budget state deficit forecast for the next biennium, Hill may have more Ohioans listening to his ideas. Certainly there was interest among senators as to what Hill had to say.
"On school spending, the $8 billion state deficit clearly precludes major increases in school support in the foreseeable future," Hill told the Senate panel. For his prepared testimony, see here.
"How can we do better with little or no more? That's possible. But you can't do better with no more money unless you do something different," he said in his direct testimony.
Hill said continuous improvement for school systems
April 29, 2009
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut believes Ohio's teacher training system is not providing enough qualified teachers for Ohio's K-12 schools. Fingerhut shared his comments last week in a wide-ranging discussion with members of the Ohio Grantmakers Forum (see here).
Fingerhut said creating a talent pipeline is a priority. Even though there are 50 schools of education in the state, schools are having a hard time finding qualified teachers. He noted that the Board of Regents will have a greater role in teacher preparation and quality issues under the governor's budget proposal, and he said that he is having frank discussions with education school deans and public university presidents about the need for dramatic reform. This is one area in which federal economic stimulus dollars could be useful.
Fingerhut believes higher education is affordable and will become even more so in the future. For example, under current state restructuring of financial aid, most low-income students (around 20 percent of all of Ohio's college students), if they attend a community college in Ohio, can have their higher-education tuition costs covered through the federal Pell grant program.
Turning to the state budget, Fingerhut noted that the governor has ordered the Regents to stop payments to vendors for the last two months of this fiscal year, to renegotiate contracts down 15 percent next year, and to reduce administrative expenses by 30 percent. Paradoxically, under the revamped House budget plan, state spending on education in
April 29, 2009
A 16-year-old senior at the Dayton Early College Academy (DECA) has been selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar, a prestigious national scholarship award that will pay for his college education.
Charles Wilkes is among 1,000 students selected for the award from more than 20,000 applicants.
"It's a great honor," Wilkes said. "I attribute a lot of what I have learned to my mother (Theressa Brooks of Dayton) and to DECA. I learned how to multi-task and to avoid a lot of the things teenagers in my neighborhood get into. DECA helped me stay focused and stay on the straight and narrow."
DECA is an innovative charter school located at the University of Dayton. It's operated by the university under the sponsorship of Dayton Public Schools and it was the first early college high school in Ohio. DECA also is the nation's only charter school operated by a Catholic university.
Wilkes is a member of the senior cabinet and serves as a student ambassador for DECA. He was also a member of DECA's mock trial team and played varsity basketball for Belmont High School.
As the son of a single parent who worked at a local factory and who has been retired on medical disability, Wilkes said he has been worried about how he would pay for his education. The scholarship will pay for Wilkes's books, tuition, and room and board. It provides up to 10 years of funding to
Emmy L. Partin / April 29, 2009
While the Ohio House of Representatives is poised to pass a budget bill that would expand Advanced Placement (AP) courses to every high school in the state, a report released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute questions whether the rapid expansion of the popular program will jeopardize its quality.
In the past five years, the number of high school students nationwide taking AP courses has grown by 45 percent (from 1.1 million in 2003 to 1.6 million in 2008). In Ohio, the number of students who took at least one AP exam rose 38 percent during the same period (see here), though Ohio's participation still lags the national average. About 18 percent of 2008 Ohio high school graduates took an AP exam, compared with 25 percent of graduates nationwide.
The Fordham study, Growing Pains in the Advanced Placement Program: Do Tough Trade-offs Lie Ahead?, sought to learn why AP has grown at such a dramatic clip and what impact the growth has had on the program (see here). The research included a national survey (of 1,024 AP teachers) and four focus groups with AP teachers. Among the study's key findings:
- Ninety percent of AP teachers say the program is growing because students want their college applications to look better.
- Seventy-five percent believe that high schools are expanding their AP program to improve their school's ranking and reputation in the community.
- Despite the program's rapid growth, 77 percent of AP teachers rate their
April 29, 2009
Here are a few excerpts from award-winning School Choice Ohio (see here) essays written by students who received EdChoice scholarships this year. Students wrote concerning how their learning opportunities have helped them. The topic was "Voices of School Choice."
"The EdChoice Scholarship has changed my life and my future. For the past two years, the EdChoice Scholarship has been my way to go to private school. I am...better and more focused at learning, I am more challenged at the private school, and I have better prospects to further my education."
(First prize winner - Elexus, high schooler in Dayton)
"In public school there had always been fights. But at my current school you would have more chances to see monkeys fly than see a fist fight."
(Second prize winner - Aisha, sixth grader in Columbus)
"I wish my old friends could come here and see how much fun learning can really be."
(Third prize winner - Brandon, fourth grader in Mansfield)
"I have greatly improved in all my school classes because the EdChoice program let me come to this school. My math and reading skills have extremely improved. My Papa and Nana would have never been able to pay for this kind of education. My school was considered "underachieved" and I would have been there if it wasn't for EdChoice.
(Amaya, third grader in Lorain)
"Thank you for helping me to reach my goals and obtain an excellent education."
(Jordan, ninth grader in
Terry Ryan / April 29, 2009
Education in Ohio is full of irony, and nothing is more ironic than the connection of charter schools to the state's school funding debate that was triggered by the DeRolph Supreme Court decisions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Charter schools were born, in large part, out of the frustration of suburban and rural Republican lawmakers who, in 1997, were being ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court to pump more state money into urban school districts that were badly broken. In 1995, for example, the Cleveland Municipal School District faced $160 million in debt - about one-third of its operating budget. Things were so bad that then-state Auditor Jim Petro declared, "I think by any definition of bankruptcy as we know it with a private business, they've got some serious problems." He said, "They would be deemed bankrupt."
Fast forward to 2009, and Ohioans are still debating school funding and charter schools. The Ohio House's updated version of the governor's school funding plan proposes the creation of four classes of charter schools when it comes to funding. All of these levels of funding are less than what traditional district schools would receive-some charters would be shorted less than others:
- District-sponsored brick-and-mortar charter schools. These schools, regardless of their academic rating, receive the base charter funding plus the "Ohio educational challenge factor." This factor is an index ranging from 0.75 to 1.65 that is intended to adjust funding for each school to
Charter School Board University, an Introduction to Effective Charter School Board Governance (2nd Edition)
Kathryn Mullen Upton, Esq. / April 29, 2009
By Brian L. Carpenter
This second edition of Brian L. Carpenter's classic, like the first edition, delivers valuable information on effective practices of charter-school governing boards in a straightforward and easy-to-understand fashion.
Whether you are a newly appointed charter-school board member, or a veteran, Carpenter's book is worth reading. New board members will benefit from knowing about key documents they need to keep close by, key questions to ask fellow board members, and basics such as knowing the boundary between governing the school and managing the school. Existing board members will find the book useful to reflect on their experiences.
In addition, the book peppers readers with interesting and instructive examples of what not to do. For example, Carpenter helps boards know if they're interfering with executive management or if they are stepping out of bounds by attempting to resolve parent complaints. Do board members believe they represent a particular constituency (e.g., teachers, parents)? Hint: any answer to this last question besides the taxpayer is incorrect.
It's also worth noting that the book is a good resource for authorizers that are preparing to interview new school applicants or governing board applicants whose charters are up for renewal.
For more information on the book see here.
April 29, 2009
McKinsey & Company
Consulting giant McKinsey's new report on the achievement gap might not turn many heads in education-policy circles. But the company's reputation, combined with the report's economic findings, might just help thrust education more fully into the national consciousness. In fact, the report received play from The New York Times' Tom Friedman prior to its release (see here).
The study consists of three sections. The first details four worrisome achievement gaps: the international gap between the U.S. and other advanced nations; the racial gap between white students and students of color; the income gap between students from high- and low-income families; and the systems-based gap between neighboring classrooms, schools, districts, and states. The second portion examines the consequences of these gaps.
The implications for individuals, such as lower career earnings, a higher probability of incarceration, a less healthy lifestyle, and lower civic engagement, are widely known, but the impact on our nation's economy has been less explored. Using models that assume varying levels of progress between 1983's A Nation at Risk (see here) and 1998 (presumably, this 10-year gap between 1998 and 2008 was to let graduates filter into the working world, and thus effect GDP), McKinsey estimates that the racial, class, and systems gaps have each cost the U.S. about $300 billion to $700 billion (two to five percent of our GDP). But the international achievement gap delivers the real economic whammy: if the U.S. raised