- The sitting members of the Youngstown school board are going to, at some point, search for someone to take the place of Barbara Brothers. You remember her from yesterday’s clips: she ran for the board and was elected in November, only to change her mind and forgo the seat when she, apparently, found out that her putative colleagues do not share her views on state accountability. (Vindy.com, 1/1/20) Two other newly-elected board members were seated this week. However, it should not be forgotten that there should be no elected school board in Youngstown at all at this point. The law governing districts in academic distress dictate that the sitting board should be dissolved and a new board be appointed by the city’s mayor after three years of continued academic failure under an ADC. Youngstown mayor Jamael Tito Brown has, thus far, declined to move forward with this effort since there are still approximately 3,275 legal cases pending. One of them is bound to be decided by April, right? (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 1/2/20) We talked back in November about Mike Kahoe, a high school senior who won election to his school board in Revere Local Schools. He has taken his seat on said board and is already off and running at the age of just 18. He’s got some great ideas about how to expand the public’s access to and input in board business. By the way, did you know that he saved someone’s life while out campaigning too? True story. (Akron.com, 1/2/20) Folks are motivated to run for school board for a lot of different reasons, as we saw with the Brothers and Kahoe stories above. In Niles City Schools, not far from Youngstown, we read about a newly-elected board member who is a former district teacher, currently engaged in a lawsuit against the district he now helps to run over a claim that he was fired improperly. But I’m sure he ran for other reasons. (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 1/2/20)
- Hey hey. Ho ho. Editors in Toledo opined against state report cards this week, that’s what I know. (Toledo Blade, 1/2/20)
- The good folks at Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools will be hosting an event next week that I personally think should be titled The 411 on How Much Vouchers Really Really Suck. But they probably called it something else. (Patch.com, 1/2/20) School district leaders in far eastern Ohio got together with a couple of local state legislators this week in order to complain about vouchers. Lots of incorrect details in the reporting, but there’s no way to tell where they came from. What is clear is that while it was supposed to be a talk about the state’s voucher program, participants did not once discuss parents, students, or the reasons the state provides educational options. The “evils” of choice were taken as truth and were the bedrock of the discussion. And honestly, most of the discussion centered on the underpinnings of the voucher program instead: testing, report cards, and accountability. (Steubenville Herald, 1/3/20)
- Those accountability systems do apparently look different from different perspectives. This piece discusses the awesomeness of Avon Lake City Schools in Lorain County. Awesomeness that is quantified by their district report card—which, it is noted here, rose from a B to an A last year. I took a look at the component grades too, and they also were generally very high. The district supe is quoted as saying, “Avon Lake takes the state report card and the state testing seriously, but we believe that there are better measures of our specific needs. It is important that the Avon Lake stakeholders know that learning in our schools is based on individual student needs for academic growth and success in life, not on a better standardized test score or better state report card grade.” Sounds good, right? Hold that thought. Now, I also took a look at the EdChoice eligibility list and found one Avon Lake elementary school on it. What’s the issue? Looks like it’s the Progress component, currently at a D. (And, presumably, somewhere in that vicinity for one or two previous years also. Thus, a pattern.) Despite the fact that one of his elementary schools is on the EdChoice eligibility list—meaning that hundreds of students are eligible for vouchers and could opt to leave the district forever, with thousands of dollars in state funding following them—why is the Avon Lake supe not condemning the report cards in this piece? In fact, there is no mention of a voucher-eligible school at all here. If you ask me, it’s a matter of perspective. Because the report card is generally good, the district has proof of the supe’s claim that they take testing seriously, with teaching and learning going on at a fairly high level. Demonstrably. So it must be right. But that likely means that the data showing kids failing to meet adequate progress levels in that one school is also right. It is a real issue that the district must deal with or face the music from parents for whom those low-progress students are real, not just numbers on a chart. And the rest of that stuff—the “better measures” supe spoke of—are icing on the cake of a good report card. They are not a replacement for the real measures of academic achievement that parents and taxpayers rely on. I think this story shows that a truly excellent school must do all those things. How’s that for perspective? (Morning Journal, 1/3/20)
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