- We’re back! With lots to talk about. But we’re not going to start where you might expect. Let’s hit some reality first. Proponent testimony was heard last week on a bill which would give online schools in Ohio “another tool in [their] toolbox” to “deal with chronically disengaged students.” Witnesses included the leader of Ohio’s second largest online school and our own Chad Aldis, whose testimony called the measure a “meaningful improvement” for online education policy. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/23/20) This is clearly important stuff. How do I know this? Because the leader of Ohio’s second largest online school also had an editorial in the Dispatch on Friday promoting, among other things, the value and importance of the measure in potentially helping students to succeed. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/24/20) Wonder what the opponents will say about it when they get their turn in front of the committee tomorrow?
- OK. With that out of the way, now we can make our required visit to voucher-insanity-land. How do I know the discussion is going to lack sanity? Because we’re starting with an editorial about EdChoice that suggests what the authors claim would be a “huge change” to the program (make the state “take on 25 percent of the cost of these vouchers”) which doesn’t make a lick of sense since the program is entirely state funded already. (Toledo Blade, 1/23/20) Whatever changes are made legislatively to quell the voucher grouchers are bound to be problematic. On what do I base this prediction? The fact that whatever schools are still left on the eligibility list after the horses have been traded will still be complaining that the report cards that put them there are “flawed”; the fact that some legislators don’t want a huge expansion of income-based vouchers, which will likely occur; and the fact that a bunch of kids will still be underserved and their parents will still get jerked around due to the primacy of the needs of “the system”. Let’s call it a lose-lose win-win. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/23/20) How do I know the districts are going to be sore no matter what? It’s the fundamentals, man. Here’s just one example: Marion City Schools, despite having hundreds of EdChoice-eligible students, sees just
$164,000 of its cold hard cash36 of its students opting to leave the district via a voucher. Despite this, supe says, “We know the report card itself is broken and needs fixed, but yet we're still relying on that as the data and the information to make those decisions. I have a fundamental problem with that.” Something is definitely “broken”, dude. If only we could correctly legislate which “something” that is. (Marion Star, 1/26/20) It is interesting to note that the balance of discussion about vouchers in Lorain County is somewhat different than in ‘burbs. A bit less disdain for parents and kids is in evidence, which is a nice change. I wonder if it’s because Lorain County is an area where chronically low-performing schools are par for the course (you know what I mean)? (Elyria Chronicle, 1/24/20) The whole voucher brouhaha looks different in Cleveland, which has had its own separate voucher program for a lot longer. But that’s not stopping district officials from jumping on the bandwagon…all in the name of money. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/24/20)
- How do I know this voucher jazz is big enough to be classed as a “brouhaha”? Because the Dispatch ran dueling op-eds on the topic this morning. First up, the leader of School Choice Ohio with his case for vouchers, although the headline is set up to make him argue the negative. Clever that. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/27/20) Second, a man who needs no introduction (seriously, he is only identified by name and photo, like we all know who he is), makes somebody’s case against vouchers. (Columbus Dispatch, 1/27/20) No dueling is required at the Beacon Journal, as you might imagine, even though they are in the same newspaper family as the Dispatch these days. Nope. Editors in Akron opined over the weekend that “hurting many to help a few makes no sense” to them. I think you know what that means. (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/25/20)
- Not sure if this goes in the realm of reality or not, but the residents of Hills and Dales who would like their houses rezoned to a neighboring school district are moving their efforts forward into the legal buzzsaw again. How do I know it’s going to be a buzzsaw? Because that loss is going to feel pretty real for whoever comes out that side. (Gongwer Ohio, 1/24/20)
- We end today with some actual real stuff. How do I know it’s real? It doesn’t get any more real—or more important—than attempting to end years of academic mismanagement in Ohio’s largest districts. First, we learn that not only is Columbus City Schools getting ready to face down the results of a new curriculum audit—one which its lead author guarantees us “isn’t going to be pretty”—but we also are reminded that two previous curriculum audits have occurred over the past 40 years. Both of which were also ugly, and both of which were entirely ignored by board(s) and administration(s). Says the author of the new, upcoming report: “You have to face the brutal facts in order to get better.” Sounds right. But will they? (Columbus Dispatch, 1/26/20) We noted with a bit of concern over the last year as Dayton City Schools threw everything and the kitchen sink at its longstanding academic malaise (including an effort at a curricular upgrade), with little seeming rhyme or reason to the efforts. The main motivator of this flailing was to avoid a declaration of academic distress (and everything that, at that time, went along with it but for some reason no longer does). The interesting bit: it actually worked to some extent. The district as a whole moved from an F to a D on its state report card. But guess what else happened? Dayton City Schools is also no longer on “Watch” status in the state’s ESEA-centered “differentiated accountability” system. While the district is still among the worst performers in the state, it is just a little less terrible than it was, which, surprisingly, is a win for students and families. Still hate those report cards, y’all? Still think they “don’t reflect what is really going on” in your district? (Dayton Daily News, 1/27/20) I wonder if either of these stories of realness will have the media drawing power of self-serving, BS-filled, sanity-defying voucher grouching?
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