1. Fordham, great and small: Our own Chad Aldis is quoted in this big national story looking at new research from the Buckeye State on the effects of charter school enrollment on district school board elections. Spoiler alert: there’s a pretty clear effect. This item is currently free to view while EdWeek retools its website. (Education Week, 6/5/19) Fordham is also namechecked in the tiny Chagrin Valley Today news outlet regarding the new proposal for fixing up Ohio’s graduation requirements in whose development Fordham played a part. Chagrin Falls supe Robert Hunt is a member of one of the other groups who played a part in their development: the Alliance for High Quality Education. So, hopefully he was pleasantly disposed toward them. Alas, lack of a subscription prevents me from accessing any more than the first 100 words and finding out for sure. (Chagrin Valley Today, 6/6/19)
  2. As noted in these clips all the time, Ohio’s current War on Knowing stuff is predicated on the idea that testing students in academic areas like math and social studies doesn’t actually produce an accurate picture of what students know and can do. The ironies with this position are myriad, not least of which is that folks who think like this are really only talking about a subset of kids (you know who I mean). Of course the scores are accurate when suburban district kids pass them. And of course the scores are accurate when charter school kids struggle. This we know. What may be somewhat new is that the alternatives proposed to replace actually knowing stuff—“soft skills”, “perseverance”, “job readiness”, etc.—are also, it seems, only for certain kids. Here is a case in point from Lakota Local Schools in Butler County. Only the 12th-best district in Southwest Ohio according to Niche.com, Lakota’s overall B grade is still far above the urban and rural districts around it. This week, Lakota high school students got a surprising earful from local business leaders about the kinds of skills they are looking for in new employees—just the sorts of “alternatives” we were talking about above. Only, it seems that both employers AND students aren’t seeing these as alternatives to Knowing Stuff, but as two things that a successful applicant must have at the same time. Test scores AND soft skills. Knowledge AND readiness. Now maybe I’m reading too much into this piece, but that’s how it comes across to me. Certainly, the business leaders quoted here do not seem on board with the idea touted in our clips on Wednesday that employers assume Lakota grads Know Stuff or can simply Google it. (The Journal-News, 6/5/19)
  3. There’s a great series of anti-drug PSAs running in the Buckeye State these days. Perhaps you’ve seen them? They depict the naïve, trusting, and clueless residents of the fictional town of Denial, Ohio. Folks living in Denial have no idea that their kids, friends, and neighbors could be making bad decisions and getting into trouble because “those things don’t happen here”. They just keep on leaving prescription bottles hanging around and ignoring obvious signs of trouble. Is it possible that Cuyahoga Falls could be a real life school district of Denial? Their student enrollment has been falling strongly and steadily for years, and that of course means less state money in the coffers. If you’re paying attention to such things, you adjust, right? Right-size as you go. Surely you need less staff to serve hundreds less kids. Reading this story about how they’ve never really had to let any teacher or staff member go because all the RIFs got hired back eventually is what led me to think of those Denial, Ohio ads. “We don’t do that here.” (Akron Beacon-Journal, 6/7/19)
  4. Staying in Northeast Ohio to close out our week, here is a brief look at a fascinating new study of the career technical education landscape in the region. It ain’t pretty. A follow-up report is promised which will make recommendations to try and shore up the numerous weak spots identified in round one. (Crain’s Cleveland Business, 6/6/19) Need a real-world example of same? Here’s a great piece from a news outlet whose tagline is “Daily News for Marine Industry Professionals” (I go to such lengths for you, my amazing subscribers!). This is the story of a student at the Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School, a new-ish offering in the CTE space from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that does just what it says on the tin. And the student profiled here was really digging his studies which combine traditional school work with OJT in Cleveland’s maritime industry. Until the program that enabled his work ran out of money. Now he’s hustling to raise the cash to continue the work. Talk about skills. I hope he raises $100K! (Trade Only Today, 6/6/19)

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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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