- Apparently, the feared “loophole” around additional charter school funding that we discussed last week has been avoided. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted in this piece praising the fact that the statute worked as intended and money was not awarded to low-rated schools in Ohio. Myself, I wonder about the fund’s potential for motivating actual out-of-state operators to relocate here in Ohio when so many in-state schools qualified that there was not actually enough money to go around to them. Guess that’s what one might call the opposite of a loophole. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/11/20)
- You ready for a new, yet very familiar, blizzard of stories about EdChoice angst across Ohio? Me neither, but it’s what is filling up the papers these days so we’ve got to talk about them. Let’s start with this lengthy piece from Toledo. It is full of unrefuted and unsubstantiated untruths from the usual suspects. I’d love to try and respond to them all, but I’ve only got room to give you two. First up: “I’d like to go back and knock on a couple of those doors and say ‘I'm so sorry but everything you just passed is now going to private schools’...” This is a quote from a suburban superintendent regarding a new levy just passed in her district. First of all, she has no idea how many district kids are going to take advantage of their voucher eligibility, and of course the difference between state funding and local tax funding is completely ignored. I wish she’d come to my house with that ish. Secondly, Toledo’s supe told the reporter that his district has tried to counteract the losses (by which he means money he doesn’t get) by “increasing enrollment and by being fiscally responsible”. Never mind that some or all of that enrollment increase is likely coming from school choice programs via open enrollment, but why not try to keep some folks from leaving by, you know, actually providing the education quality they want? Oh wait: “We began providing creative schools and opportunities that ultimately leveraged us. You’d be surprised how many kids are attending our schools that are coming from private entities, parochial entities, and suburban entities because it’s a great school choice.” I would be surprised, and so would the reporter because the supe did not actually give us a number. Ugh! At least the Blade provided some "balance" by clipping a couple sentences from a recent Fordham blog about EdChoice. (Toledo Blade, 1/12/20) And in Cincinnati, we get this gem, regarding state vs. local funding: “We have to find this money, which means that my neighbors and your neighbors and your neighbors are going to be paying for this on a levy at some point.” Yes, he’s right. Even the family sending their kid to a private school (voucher or no voucher) must continue to pay the local taxes whether or not they get any benefit from it. (WLWT-TV, Cincinnati, 1/10/20) This piece from Portage County tries a novel approach, multiplying the voucher amount for a student’s full K-12 stint, coming up with this whopper (and I mean that in more ways than one): “Students do not need to attend their home school before applying for the scholarship and once received, the scholarship is guaranteed until the student graduates even if their home school moves off the EdChoice list. That means that a district could pay up to $65,850 for the private K-12 education of a student that never walked through their doors.” Of course that implies a massive one-shot payout for maximum shock value, and that comes from a piece that has already conflated state and local funding (as well as charter schools and private schools). But I wonder what the homeowner’s local tax pay in to the district is over those 13 years for education that other kids will be accessing? Plus that voucher amount will probably go up at some point…but shhhhh! (Record-Courier, 1/12/20) Haven’t heard much from voucher haters in Allen County before now. What’s up, gang? “A scholarship may allow a student to attain a virtually free education at a private school by transferring state funds that had been earmarked for a public school.” Oh, more of the same, with a side of ownership of tax money (and kids, by extension). (Lima News, 1/11/20)
- An op-ed on the topic appeared in the Plain Dealer over the weekend. While it is not exactly a surprise that a member of The League of Women Voters would oppose vouchers, this particular member is taking an interesting tack in advocating action. Her call for income-based vouchers as a solution is also pretty unusual if you ask me. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/11/20)
- The state supe was quizzed about his views on the current EdChoice tempest when he visited Bowling Green High School last week. (At least, I assume he was asked and didn’t just volunteer these quotes.) You can read his comments for yourself here and see if you can discern as stance base on them. I sure can’t. (Sentinel-Tribune, 1/10/20)
- The state board of education apparently faces a big decision this week. Whether to “support” or to simply “accept” the report from their recently-concluded Dropout Prevention and Recovery Workgroup efforts. The problem? The report’s gamut of recommendations, which, some fear, could get “beat up” during that discussion/voting process. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/10/20)
- Back in the real world, the leaders of Mad River Local Schools near Dayton look like they want to go big in an effort to improve academics in their district. They are proposing shrinking the school year for students by several calendar days but extending the length of most of those school days. The goal is to free up time for teacher training and preparation. I’m sure they will get pushback, not least of which will be from those folks who loathe school starting too early in the morning. But looking at Mad River’s recent report cards, maybe anything is worth a try. (Dayton Daily News, 1/13/20)
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