- “For $3 billion dollars, African American students have scored an F for 22 straight years.” That is the assessment of Jimma McWilson, long-time vice president of the Youngstown/Mahoning County Branch of the NAACP, regarding Youngstown City Schools. It is a scathing critique and is, to him, the definition of structural racism. From the outset, he said during a recent virtual conference, racism was built into the education system and it continues today whether his district is under local control or the oversight of a state Academic Distress Commission. And the data supports his assessment. “They’re all just doing the same thing,” he said of those in charge of the system, “carrying out what’s been put in place.” He’s got some ideas for change and improvement if anyone’s willing to make those systemic changes. (Youngstown Business Journal, 6/23/20) Meanwhile, Ohio’s largest school district has hired its first ever Chief Equity Officer. While Columbus City Schools hasn’t exactly had 22 straight years of Fs, it’s been pretty close, especially for Black and Brown students. She’s got her work cut out for her. (Fox28, Columbus, 6/23/20)
- Middletown City Schools’ report cards haven’t been so great over the last couple decades either. And while its current superintendent is happy with his community’s relatively-low Covid caseload—students are in summer classes and athletic practices are happening pretty much as normal on his campuses right now—he’s very much worried about systemic racism and its effects in his district. He’s got some plans to make changes—and Ed Dive is all about them—but I personally am not certain that those plans are as connected to academic improvements as he might think they are. (Education Dive, 6/23/20)
- The current leadership of Mansfield City Schools is touting their efforts to “grow their own” future staff from within the ranks of their students and alums. The impetus behind the effort is good, and it will be great if it works out as they hope. But the most recent report cards for the district indicate that this is an uphill endeavor. Or should I say, a circular one? (Richland Source, 6/23/20)
- “If we have to stay on remote learning this school year, we will lose a generation of readers,” says Dayton supe Elizabeth Lolli. I don’t think this has to be true, but I think that it will be true if the suggestions she proffered to the state are followed. (ABC6, Columbus, 6/22/20) Speaking of things that Dayton City Schools has not managed to perfect (were we?), the district is proposing to once again revamp its student transportation—perennially awful for everyone—after last year’s latest disastrous efforts. Loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers (I lost count of all of you once we passed 20) will no doubt recall the huge push last year—fueled by millions of dollars in excess cash burning a hole in the board’s collective pocket—to utilize transit agency RTA in an effort to transport kids and (especially) to boost attendance. Every part of that, except for the transfer of millions of dollars from district to RTA coffers, failed miserably. And now the district is abandoning that effort…for its own kids…and planning to let RTA be the transportation system for charter and private school students living in the district. There are a ton of unanswered questions and obvious problems here such that the whole thing will probably get nuked before it happens, but as a piece of bald-faced, anti-school choice theater, you have to admire the temerity. It’s kinda like letting the engineers who built the Titanic have another go…using people they don’t like as the passengers. (Dayton Daily News, 6/22/20)
- Speaking of anti-school choice theater, it seems odd that Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools were not the first ones on board for a putative new lawsuit against the EdChoice voucher program. But a diva’s got to know when to make an entrance for maximum impact, doesn’t she? (Cleveland.com, 6/22/20)
- The amount of awesomeness in this piece about early college/dual enrollment programs across the country is almost off the charts. In just Ohio alone, we have the story of Amber Bennett, a student at Ohio Connections Academy, who’s already got an associate degree under her belt as a rising high school junior. She’ll be doing that high school work at the same time she starts her bachelor’s degree via the University of Notre Dame. Awesome! From there we learn that many dual enrollment programs at community colleges and universities across the country are currently experiencing a sizeable boost in participation from students under the age of 18. The supposition—supported by anecdotes and data—is that coronavirus-related disruptions to K–12 education have fueled summer participation in college courses as both catch up from weeks of sucky non-teaching that was peddled as “remote learning” and as a hedge against future crapitude coming their way under that same guise with the blessing of education officials everywhere. (While it is true, as one student put it, that “[P]rofs have actual experience with teaching online [as opposed to her high school teachers], so they know what material to give out, so stuff makes sense,” it is also true to say that colleges’ business models require that they do this right in order to maintain their income. That is obviously not true with most K–12 public schools.) But, as with everything ‘rona-related, longstanding gaps between the haves and the have-nots are shown in strong relief here too. Lorain County Community College is actually seeing a lag in dual enrollment participation, despite some strong previous numbers from schools across Northeast Ohio, which is pinned down to a “lack of access” to high school students for recruiting purposes. The discussion of who is the gatekeeper for student access to dual enrollment is a thorny one, especially in the midst of an unforeseen school building shut down. While some colleges may want high schools to send them kids who they think are ready and able to do the work, there is something to be said for the schools being able to recruit freely on their own—especially in the midst of an unforeseen school shutdown which affected K–12 schools differently than it did higher education—and for students and families to take charge of their own access to dual enrollment. I’ll bet that’s how it worked for Amber. (The 74, 6/22/20)
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