1. While our clips have in the last several weeks focused heavily on the state budget process, it is only now at the end where the plaintive cries of “But Ohio shouldn’t make education policy through the budget” are being heard. That cry comes up in this piece supposedly about the “split” among education groups on topics such as graduation requirements, school funding, and school turnarounds. Chad, never one to decry the process, is quoted as to his take on this so-called “split”. (Gongwer Ohio, 6/24/19) All of the aforementioned education topics could see significant action in the final version of the budget currently being hammered out by conference committee in a clean, airy, well-lighted alcove of our beautiful and historic Statehouse. (Really, it’s lovely and well worth a tour, even if you’re not in eighth grade Ohio History anymore). Among those now decrying “the process” is the editorial board of the Plain Dealer. In this piece, they are talking specifically about graduation requirements and how any changes to them shouldn’t be “shoehorned” but should instead be dealt with later via standalone legislation. Fordham namecheck? Check! (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/26/19) Also needing to be addressed via standalone legislation according to the PD ed board (rather than “squeezing it into Ohio’s frenetically debated budget bill”) is the topic of school turnarounds. While I personally dispute the esteemed editors’ premise that the existing Academic Distress Commission paradigm “isn’t working”, at least these folks are being (suddenly and frenetically) consistent. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/26/19) Editors in Columbus choose to take the opposite tack, stating at least a sliver of what they would like to see included in the final budget bill (that process merely “frustrating” in their eyes). This includes those aforementioned new graduation requirements. (Columbus Dispatch, 6/26/19)
  2. To bolster the case for their “ADCs aren’t working” stance, the PD ed board has the redoubtable Patrick O’Donnell for support. He has published no less than two pieces on the topic in the last few days. First up, a test score analysis on Cleveland Metropolitan School District (the OG of Ohio turnaround cases), Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland City Schools. You will probably not be surprised to know that I am unconvinced by this weak sauce, but YMMV. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/24/19) And then there’s this: an effort to semantically differentiate a state plan of “assistance” vs. a state plan of “forced takeover”. Unfortunately (or fortunately—YMMV here also), the collection of quotes from various policymakers are pretty clear in framing the debate differently. As in: do we shovel money and support to the same folks who have run these districts into the ground (you know who I mean) with little to no additional accountability (you know what I mean) or do we, you know, try to disrupt that cycle and do something else? Seems like the right frame to me. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/25/19)
  3. Speaking of standalone bills, one item that was in the budget at one point but probably won’t make it to the finish line is an overhaul of school funding. There is no indication here what the cadre of “Ohio shouldn’t make education policy through the budget” folks think about this situation, but the legislators responsible for the original plan are already prepping for the standalone bill version to come. Sounds wise. (AP, Via U.S. News & World Report, 6/26/19)
  4. Finally, we have a quick trio of non-budget related stories. (Really? Three whole stories?!) First up, the state’s largest school district, nearly 50K students, is part of an industry-funded program that has apparently helped 300 kids (300!) learn tech skills through internship placements. Those numbers are dubious enough for me, but the descriptions given here of what the current crop of kids are doing and “learning” are a total turnoff. (Spectrum News 1, 6/25/19) Earlier this week, the elected board of tiny West Geauga Local Schools voted unanimously to approve the “absorption” (my word this time) of even tinier Newbury Local Schools. The move was not without criticism. (Geauga Maple Leaf, 6/25/19) Finally today, the elected board of Shelby City Schools really really really wants a new K-8 school building. Despite being rebuffed at the ballot box three times in 12 months, somehow the board was able to unanimously enter into something called a “lease-purchase deal” with the state that will build them a new building which they will not own and on which they will pay nearly $1 million per year in rent-to-own payments (“How do we get locked into that great rate?” one board member asked.) for what appears to be the next 30 years. (Mansfield News Journal, 6/25/19)

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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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