Ohio Education Gadfly
Volume 5, Number 5
March 18, 2011
Fordham advocates for legislative changes
Eric Hanushek to Ohio lawmakers: Education policies must incentivize achievement
By Jamie Davies O'Leary
From the Front Lines
Doing more with less in K-12 education - a timely discussion for Ohio
Finn speaks to Dayton Rotary Club
Congratulations to two KIPPsters!
March 18, 2011
Over the past several weeks, Fordham staff members have testified before committees of the Ohio House and Senate on several pieces of education-related legislation. You can read more about these testimonies by checking out summaries on Fordham’s blog, Flypaper, which have been excerpted below.
Fordham’s Kathryn Mullen Upton testifies
in support of charter school serving incarcerated youth
Fordham’s Kathryn Mullen Upton, director of charter school sponsorship for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, testified before the Ohio Senate Education Committee in support of SB 86. The bill would enable the creation of a charter school that would “serve adults of school age who are incarcerated or who have been released from the custody of the Department of Youth Services.” The proposed school would be called WinWin Academy and would serve youths ages 18-22, and initially would be located at the Pickaway Correctional Institution. Read more here, or go straight to Kathryn’s testimony here.
Fordham’s Jamie Davies O’Leary testifies
in Ohio Senate in support of TFA
The Ohio Senate Education Committee met to discuss SB 81- a bill that would allow Teach For America alumni to gain a resident teacher license and be equipped to teach in the state of Ohio. It also paves the way for the creation of an actual TFA-Ohio site. In support of the bill three TFA alums (including Fordham’s own Jamie Davies O’Leary) testified, throwing their support behind this bill. After listening to their testimony, it became clearer than ever to me that Ohio needs to pass this legislation and allow TFA participants and
Jamie Davies O'Leary / March 18, 2011
Last week, economist and education policy expert Eric Hanushek testified in a joint meeting of the Ohio House and Senate education committees. His testimony – which focused on the importance of ensuring that all education policies, including school finance policy, create incentives for achievement – came less than one week before Gov. Kasich’s budget was introduced.
The most debated education-related policy changes here in Ohio over the last month have been about Senate Bill 5, the Buckeye State’s controversial attempt to weaken public sector collective bargaining in the state. (Terry testified in support of the aims of the teacher personnel provisions in the bill, not expressly on rolling back collective bargaining rights.)
Hanushek’s presentation helped reframe the debate in a necessary way: undoing LIFO, or changing teacher salary schedules, or including value-added data in teachers’ and principals’ evaluations is not about weakening unions but about incentivizing performance, driving student achievement, and ultimately improving the quality of Ohio’s future labor force.
Given the highly politicized environment surrounding the capitol lately, it was good to hear an outside expert explain the research and remind lawmakers that the need to move toward achievement-focused policies predates the Midwest’s turmoil over collective bargaining and will certainly go on long after. Hanushek explained:
As important as the fiscal issues that motivate current discussions are – they are actually secondary in my mind to other policy concerns about our schools, although we shall see that there is also overlap. The current fiscal situation is pushing us to make a variety of responses. We should first respond to these pressures
Governor Kasich unveiled his much-anticipated biennial budget proposal Tuesday. True to his word, the budget doesn’t raise taxes and will change, in some cases significantly, how Ohio government – including the state’s 610 local school districts – does business.
The governor didn’t mince words about the fiscal reality facing K-12 education in Ohio:
- Money isn’t the answer. Kasich acknowledges that, despite steady increases in school funding and significant growth in the number of adults working in Ohio’s public schools, academic performance has been flat. More money isn’t the solution to improving public education. Doing things differently at the state, district, and building levels is.
- Stimulus money is gone, and won’t return. School budgets across the country were propped up the last two years by one-time federal stimulus funds. That money bought time for districts, but led to little operational changes for schools in preparation for the “new normal.” Despite two years of warning about the impending funding cliff, few districts are well prepared to deal with their post-stimulus budgets.
Still and all, Kasich allotted more funds to K-12 education than most observers had anticipated, defying expectations that he would slash funding to schools. Instead, state funding will increase by 2 percent in FY 2012 and another 1.5 percent in FY 2013, keeping pace with inflation. Overall revenue for schools will fall, as one-time federal funding dries up this year – but this is a reflection of federal funding realities, not draconian cuts on the governor’s part. (Claims that Kasich is reducing funding to schools by hundreds of millions are disingenuous.)
But much is still unknown about
March 18, 2011
This week 140+ local school district leaders and members of the business and philanthropic communities gathered in northern Ohio to take part in two Doing More with Less in K-12 Education events. The events, one held at Cleveland State University and the other at Lorain County Community College, were intended to help local education, business, and community leaders identify ways to think smart about cuts to schools spending while still staying focused on student achievement.
The event was moderated by our own Chester E. Finn, Jr. and featured three panelists: Nate Levenson, co-founder of District and Community Partners- a consulting group that helps district improve their special needs programs while reducing costs; Steven Wilson, founder and president of Ascend Learning- a charter school management organization in New York City; and Paolo DeMaria, principal at Education First Consulting and former executive vice chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. All three panelists brought a unique and different viewpoint, helping attendees grasp what it means to do more with less in K-12 education. These events could not have been timelier as school districts around the state have to learn how to operate with fewer resources. The event can be watched in its entirety here and the presentation can be viewed here. The following are some of the best tweets and photos from the events. You can view the Twitter stream using #morewless.
Terry Ryan: spending/achievement conundrum
March 18, 2011
Last week Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr. was in Ohio and stopped in Dayton (Fordham’s hometown and his) to give a speech to the Dayton Rotary Club. The speech, Reforming America’s Schools: Where Things Stand in 2011, highlighted the major education reform efforts and struggles associated with them since the mid-1980s. Finn stated that the major goals of education reform have centered on three areas: boosting academic achievement, narrowing learning gaps between the “haves” and “have nots,” and increasing choice options to allow for poor and disadvantaged youth to escape failing schools. Finn pointed out that:
Those priorities have given rise to a tsunami of standards-based reform, including statewide academic standards, assessment and accountability systems, as well as considerable federal aid and pressure in this direction via Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, and much more, including, most recently, the Common Core or “national” academic standards for reading and math and the Race to the Top portion of the economic stimulus act.
Finn went on to recognize that while all of these reform efforts should be applauded, they have not yet gotten us where we need to be.
Whether you’re looking at domestic or international test results or high school graduation rates, you find our educational outcomes essentially flat—save for a smallish upward blip in math in the earlier grades—and you find other countries outpacing us on a number of key indicators.
Finn discussed several roadblocks currently standing in the way of reform efforts. Specifically, he highlighted eight major areas that help contribute to the lack of consensus surrounding education reform. Among these
Jamie Davies O'Leary / March 18, 2011
Columbus Collegiate Academy, a Fordham-authorized charter school in one of Columbus’s poorest neighborhoods (Weinland Park), has just been awarded the Gold-Gain EPIC award by New Leaders for New Schools for dramatic gains in student achievement.
This award is an incredible accomplishment on the part of CCA school leader Andy Boy and his dedicated staff. Only four charter schools in the entire country earned the Gold award. CCA won EPIC’s silver award last year – and was the only charter school in the whole state of Ohio to win. The school’s ability to continue making tremendous gains with students – 94 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged – propelled it into the very top tier for student growth, among the ranks of some of the most impressive charter schools in the country.
CCA Executive Director and Founder Andy Boy explained the school’s keys to success in a press release:
We are so proud of our students and staff. Our teachers and staff share the belief that all students can and will learn when provided the right environment for academic success. Through high expectations, a structured school day, and an uncompromising focus on academics our students are outpacing students from around the country.
Kathryn Mullen Upton, director of charter school sponsorship at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, noted:
We are thrilled that Columbus Collegiate Academy is a 2011 EPIC Gold Gain School. This award recognizes the exceptional quality of the academic program at Columbus Collegiate, the relentless efforts of its staff and leader, and the positive impact that Columbus
Nick Joch / March 18, 2011
A big congratulations are due to KIPP Journey Academy students McKeala Hudson and Michael Robinson, who were recently accepted into the KIPP STEP Summer Program at Deerfield Academy! Yes, that Deerfield Academy – the prestigious prep school in Massachusetts whose students consistently populate the campuses of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.
The students are examples of the remarkable results that KIPP, which primarily serves economically disadvantaged students, has produced since it opened its doors in 2008. (Fordham authorizes KIPP Journey, Ohio’s first and only KIPP school.) Already its students are scoring higher than the district average on the state mathematics assessment and higher than the state-wide community school average on the state science assessment. The STEP program is taught by a team of KIPP and Deerfield teachers, and includes three weeks of fully paid Deerfield courses focused on science and language arts.
After being accepted to the STEP program, McKeala and Michael each wrote an essay about their life goals and reasons for applying to the program. McKeala writes:
My goal is to become a News Reporter, to go to college at Spellman [sic] or the University of North Carolina (UNC), and to go to Columbus Academy for high school. I also want and to meet new teachers so they can inform me about how to be a better person. I will take this Deerfield experience as an honor since I am learning new studies in subjects and I’m glad to see this extravagant school in person. I will inspire others by this journey and show them that they