1. Another meeting was held this week to screech (“thrust!” “scream!” “fight!” “evil!” “damning!” “crafted in darkness!”) and bash Ohio’s new(ish) academic distress paradigm under whose aegis two-and-a-bit school districts are currently operating. Districts whose student achievement was so sucky for so many years that the state had to step in to try and right the ship on behalf of students and families. The title quote for today’s Bites comes from that meeting and it was attributed to the only member of the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission who attended the screech-fest. The member appointed by the local teachers union. While he was the only person who had anything to say about helping kids and families, this quote is another example of the hyperbolic two truths and a lie mentality we discussed on Monday around this same topic. (Youngstown Vindicator, 4/15/19) Coverage of the same meeting by a local TV station includes a quoted reference to Brexit (is that code?) and to the I Promise School in Akron as a preferable model to the existing ADC. While I would venture to suggest that such a thing would be far easier for a CEO to create than a school board—and indeed reconstitution of school buildings is part of the ADC law currently—we all know that nobody asked for or cares about my opinion on the matter. Good thing the reporter called up Governor DeWine and asked him for his opinion instead! (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 4/15/19) As you might expect, Governor DeWine kept his focus on helping children succeed academically and called continued district failure “unacceptable”. The editorial board of the Beacon Journal included similar language decrying persistent academic failure in their opinion piece this week, which is good, but then wishy-washed all around it with a focus on process, “the system”, and the aforementioned two truths and a lie discussion. Interestingly, they also posed the most important question: “[HB 70] had in mind rescuing the troubled Youngstown schools. How did that work out?” However, they had no interest in actually answering it. Wonder why. (Akron Beacon Journal, 4/15/19)
  2. Meanwhile, in the curiously unexamined Youngstown City School district, three finalists have been named to be the next CEO. (Youngstown Vindicator, 4/16/19)
  3. While some of the quotes included in this piece give me pause, the folks at Lancaster City Schools do at least seem to have built a pretty decent counseling infrastructure around the non-academic graduation pathways with which the state has gifted them recently. Kids are seeming to get a lot of support in reaching the attendance or community service thresholds they need as well as getting first crack at interviewing for career-ladder jobs right out of high school with local employers. Additionally, military service and future college attendance are still mooted. Preparation for actual success in any of these alternatives seems mainly up to the kids, but what can you? (Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, 4/16/19)
  4. As we have discussed here before, no matter how awesome the state’s College Credit Plus program is, we have no evidence yet that it has saved any Ohio family any money at all. But the data we do have is encouraging on a number of other fronts. Case in point, this year’s celebration by Sinclair Community College in Dayton of 37 teenagers who have earned their associates degree while still in high school. Awesome things which jump out at me from that group: the number of juniors and sophomores (!) who have earned their degrees already, the wide variety of majors pursued, and the steady increase in home-schooled students succeeding via CCP. (Dayon Daily News, 4/16/19)
  5. Finally today, a fascinating look at the inner workings of Dayton City Schools. Apparently, the district has for years had a large number of students starting the first day of school without complete schedules. In some years, those schedules have not been completed until many days into the year. A predictable snowball chaos and problems have, reportedly, ensued. (No wonder transportation is always messed up at the start of school years too!) How did this happen? And why does it keep happening year after year? Turns out it’s due to a CBA-related scheduling quirk that has never been addressed or corrected. Until now. Dayton supe Lolli tells the DDN that a heroic effort produced a memorandum of understanding that will have counselors start back to work a week earlier than in previous years so that they can address the annual last-minute registrations the district typically receives. Makes sense. Honestly, it might be the only thing that makes sense in any of these clips. (Dayton Daily News, 4/16/19) 

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Policy Priority:

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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