1. Chad is quoted in this piece covering this week’s flurry of legislation related to Ohio’s academic distress paradigm. The various legislators and officials quoted seem all over the map in terms of what they want and on the varying merits of the possible paths to get there. Honestly, there is a much simpler way to deal with this, folks. Stop shortchanging your kids. Teach. Them. (Columbus Dispatch, 4/12/19) In Toledo, where the local schools still have a year plus to actually do that “teaching thing” I mentioned, editors at the Blade have decided to let the district entirely off the hook and instead opined that the elected school board should “Take the fight to Columbus” to stop state intervention. Seriously. (Toledo Blade, 4/11/19)
  2. Some districts across the state with academic troubles are, however, taking some encouraging steps to actually, you know, improve teaching and learning. To find the mistakes, some of them distressingly longstanding, and actually fix them. Marion City Schools, as we noted earlier in the week, has recently undergone an academic performance audit and the results were pretty bad. Here is a detailed look at the pluses and minuses found in each of the “four pillars” of the district’s academic plan. Honestly, even some of those pluses are suspect to me because successfully “put[ting] a greater emphasis on discussion and activities around student preparation in regards to plans after graduation” (whatever that actually means) is worthless if 50 percent of your graduates are not going to be literate or numerate enough for college work. What I suspect is, and here’s hoping that the new supe will move quickly on this, that the district needs to focus on shoring up their bedrock before trying to build any kind of “pillars” upon it. (Marion Star, 4/10/19) Dayton City Schools, next in line for a designation of academic distress, seems to be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at improving their academics. This includes newly announced building closures, teacher and principal staffing “shakeups”, and the creation of a school-based health center for students. Better health for kids is great, but will it improve academics on its own? Doubtful. Merging two underenrolled and long-underperforming schools might help in that regard. But if you were sure, dear reader, that at least the teacher shakeup would boost academic outcomes, district supe Lolli is here right now to reset your expectations: “We’re hoping we’ll get those committed teachers who will show up to work and teach every day, all day to go to those buildings.” In other words: fingers crossed, kiddos! (Dayton Daily News, 4/12/19) The only really good news on this topic comes from Akron City Schools and the new I Promise School. Not only is student performance by a subset of Akron students on NWEA tests showing some dramatic improvement after just half a school year, but student growth shown via a reputable national assessment is being analyzed and discussed in the New York freakin’ Times independent of any other factors. That in itself is awesome. What’s the catch? “For the average student, your percentile doesn't move that much unless something extraordinary is happening.” True story, Mr. 20-Year-APS-Veteran-Administrator. “Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school.” Also true, King James. Which of these situations will be the headline six months from now? A year from now? Two years from now? That is the catch. (New York Times, 4/12/19)  
  3. For some reason, editors in Columbus opined yesterday about the overdue need for regulation of online charter schools. What is this, 2017? (Columbus Dispatch, 4/11/19) On a purely unrelated note, I’m sure, Doug Livingston of the ABJ reported yesterday that a bunch of school districts are suing Facebook for $250,000. That money was apparently spent by ECOT to advertise on the social network. Yep, definitely getting a whiff of 2017 now. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/11/19) Fun fact, and totally apropos of nothing, the Dispatch and the ABJ are both part of the same media conglomerate these days. Like magic! Meanwhile, one of the districts involved in the above-referenced lawsuit is Cuyahoga Falls City Schools. Here is a look at the dire financial straits the district is facing and some staff cuts that may be coming down the pike to try and stave off the flood of red ink. I assume from the previous piece that Falls’ legal budget will be spared the axe. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/12/19)
  4. Finally today, take a look at this cool-sounding shark tank project for students at Life Skills High School in Elyria. The students, mostly young adults working to finish high school after some time away and gain some work credentials in the process, developed and pitched business plans to real area entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Awesome. If it were me, I would pitch a plan for a new computer system for the MJ. One that doesn’t automatically omit the words “charter school” when lauding Life Skills. Probably not scalable enough for the sharks, but it would certainly solve a nagging problem for me. (The Morning Journal, 4/10/19)

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Jeff Murray is a lifelong resident of central Ohio. He previously worked at School Choice Ohio and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. He has two degrees from the Ohio State University. He lives in the Clintonville neighborhood with his wife and twin daughters. He is proud every day to support the Fordham mission to help make excellent education options more numerous and more readily available for families and…

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