This is a special Thursday edition of Gadfly Bites, catching up on all the great/horrifying/mystifying (delete as appropriate) clips we missed while we were on break at the end of 2019. Back to regular service for 2020 tomorrow.
- Our own Aaron Churchill gave us all a belated Christmas present, with this op-ed in the Enquirer explaining the value of Ohio’s report card system. “It shines a light on schools that overcome obstacles and provide excellent options for families,” he writes. “At the same time, it clearly identifies schools that are struggling and need some combination of additional support and intervention.” Yep. Sounds right to me. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 12/26/19)
- A recent blog of Aaron’s was also quoted extensively by the good folks at Gongwer just after Christmas. His words echoed a call by NCTQ for a review of out-of-state teacher license reciprocity in the Buckeye State. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/26/19)
- Here is a detailed profile of the business-centric education group Ohio Excels. As my dedicated subscribers will recall, Ohio Excels was instrumental in making sure that strong, academically-rigorous graduation requirements were put into Ohio law this year. And that effort is the centerpiece of this very long profile. What’s most intriguing is the tone the writer takes throughout. It is generally respectful and fully factual (not to mention featuring a wide range of interview subjects), but it is also redolent with snarky asides and hilarious word choices that convey a more unusual view of the business community than this outlet typically features. Whatever the motivation for it, your humble clips complier and CSO (Chief Snark Officer) approves! On a more serious note, though, Fordham’s Chad Aldis is quoted throughout, paying respect to the full coalition of voices behind the graduation requirements effort. “When the Columbus Public Schools and the Olentangy School District and the business community agree on something, that’s incredible,” he says. Good stuff. But hold that thought. (Columbus CEO, 12/30/19)
- You still holding that thought? Good. Because the anti-voucher choir got another voice singing in harmony last week. It was the elected board of Columbiana Exempted Village Schools this time, passing a resolution to express their opposition to the EdChoice Scholarship Program. (Morning Journal News, 12/28/19) And keeping with the theme, I guess it’s good for the behind-the-scenes conductors that Columbus City Schools also joined the anti-voucher choir, but honestly those guys shouldn’t waste time talking about vouchers. No change to EdChoice currently on the table—short of outright abolition—will help my kids’ “home district” limit voucher eligibility by much. (WSYX-TV, Columbus, 12/24/19)
- One thing that just might help lots of districts and school buildings escape the label of suckitude is
teaching their kids to a high degree of academic competencyfor the state to eliminate A-F report card grading. That was the wishful thinking going on in Elyria and elsewhere at year’s end. (Elyria Chronicle, 12/20/19)
- But just to show you the dangers inherent in the anti-accountability mindset: here is the story of newly-elected Youngstown School Board “member” Barbara Brothers. Before even taking office, she has “resigned” (can you resign from a seat you never actually held?) and graced us all with an explanation. As near as I can translate her letter’s contents, here’s how it goes: She ran because she believed the ratings system that led to a declaration of academic distress and created the ADC is wrong/false/unfair and wanted to make change in the district on that basis. Between election and inauguration, however, she seems to have found out—somehow—that her colleagues actually BELIEVE the school district sucks. Her implication seems to be that they only SAY they believe that because it is their best route to beat the ADC. (Something along the lines of “Y’town schools sucked before because of #reasons and you removed us from power for it. But now Y’town schools suck because of ADC/CEO and now they must also be removed as a matter of fairness.”) However, because the board are bound to that outcome (and loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers know what she means there) and in that manner, there is no room to argue against the accountability system that got them there in the first place. And Ms. Brothers, being a staunch “we never deserved this” accountability hater, apparently cannot find common ground with her putative colleagues and so decided to nullify her own election and refused to take her seat. But I could be reading that wrong. (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 12/30/19) Related? You decide. On New Year’s Eve, public media in Northeast Ohio discussed a new report from Brandeis University that shows four Ohio cities among the bottom ten in a list of those providing poor opportunities for African-American youth. Youngstown was among the four, unsurprisingly to some. (If only we could eliminate the grading!) But what could be causing this very poor showing? The folks at Brandeis seem to suggest “residential segregation”. Hmmm… Talk about “dropping the ball”. (WKSU-FM, Kent, 12/31/19)
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