- Chad Aldis published an op-ed on school turnarounds in the Beacon-Journal this weekend, noting three tenets that he believes any legislative improvements to the current academic distress paradigm should incorporate. (Akron Beacon Journal, 8/10/19)
- Speaking of school districts operating under the aegis of an ADC, what’s going on in Lorain and Youngstown these days? First up, the elected school board in Lorain is apparently prepared to take legal action to force the district treasurer to stay on the job rather than leave for another gig. Because they love him. So. Dang. Much! (Elyria Chronicle, 8/9/19) Meanwhile, elected board members in Youngstown were unable to complete the steps necessary to place a renewal levy on the November ballot after all—due largely to the fact that barely a quorum showed up for the emergency meeting where the final vote was taken. With the Vindy closing up in a couple of weeks, it seems that reporting time is at a premium. So coverage of the levy situation has been entirely in editorial form. And those folks are not happy about it. (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/8/19)
- The Journal-News seems to think that school board elections are “high stakes”. I agree with the terminology, but probably for different reasons. Either way, all but two of the elections covered here have only as many candidates as there are open seats. So it’s more like “small potatoes”. (The Journal-News, 8/9/19) But perhaps none of this will matter anyway soon. Mahoning County’s auditor continues to sound the alarm about shrinking populations and of the financial and structural considerations that population-dependent entities such as school districts will face as a result. Editors in Youngstown opined in favor of consolidation of districts as a practical, first-line response. Plus you might jettison some of those board members you don’t need anymore. (Youngstown Vindicator, 8/11/19)
- Going back to Akron for a moment. In his ABJ op-ed, Chad referred to two local efforts aimed at improving education in the Rubber City. We have covered the first one—the I Promise School—to a good degree here already. In its first year, its intensive support and relentless academic focus made headlines for a significant test score boost among its students. More data will come as I Promise enters its second year. The second effort, transitioning all Akron high schools to “college and career academies” has been a slower process—nearly 10 years to get to this day. This year is the first in which all rising freshmen must pick a pathway to follow through their high school careers. We have read about the high-profile partnerships with well-known businesses and organizations and of the millions of dollars in community support brought in to support the effort. All the academics in each academy will be focused on that pathway (math classes with curriculum geared toward medicine or business, for example). It all sounded pretty good—a great way for kids to explore a career option by immersion, right? And now that everything is done—all the high schools converted and all rising freshmen compelled to choose a pathway—with no going back, what do we find out? Students will likely get no more than four courses dedicated to their actual career pathway through their entire four years of high school (“As sophomores and juniors, they will take one elective each year in their chosen fields. As seniors, they will take two such electives.”) and that no adult in the district is guaranteeing any kind of career-based outcome (“We are not built on the premise that we are producing a certain career field… It’s really about making sure our students can go wherever they choose to go after high school with those transferable skills that make them marketable.”). Literally all the previous reporting on this indicated the opposite. (You know that if they would have said something like that before, your humble clips compiler would have been all over that mess!) Sounds like a bait-and-switch to me. (Akron Beacon Journal, 8/10/19)
- As opposed to Akron City Schools, the Say Yes for Education program in Cleveland seems to be promising even more than originally planned: including a slew of mentors for CMSD graduates going on to college. Still no word about whether charter school graduates will ever be eligible for Say Yes support, but I’m guessing that word is going to be “No” whenever we do hear it. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8/8/19)
- Two charter schools in Dayton got an unexpected windfall last week when none other than Lady Gaga gave funds to the Donors Choose crowdfunding platform. This largesse was denied to Dayton City Schools, however. You will recall a kerfuffle last year in which the elected board voted to prohibit district teachers from pitching projects on all crowdfunding platforms due to concerns over lack of board control of the money and due to the huge pile of cash the district was already sitting on. This will probably sting for a while. (Dayton Daily News, 8/10/19) But never fear – the usual balance in the charter school universe is restored with this story in which Marion Preparatory Academy, a new charter school opening this week, is accused of the typical heresies: siphoning money, students, and money (in that order) from Marion City Schools. Oddly enough, the person doing most of the protesting was formerly the president of the board of that charter school. Twisty. (Marion Star, 8/9/19)
- Finally today, Sunrise Academy, an Islamic private school in Hilliard, is on the grow and will eventually serve students from K-12. Nice! (Columbus Dispatch, 8/12/19)
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