Archives for category: Ohio

Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Advocacy, is a retired state superintendent in the state. He has focused like a laser on the importance of funding public education equitably and adequately. He writes here about the staggering cost of privatizing public money to pay for charters, virtual charters, and vouchers. This is money deducted from the public schools, which outperform both charters and vouchers and the failing virtual charter industry.

He writes:




The direct state subsidies to private schools and school choice programs will cost taxpayers $751,894,805 in FY 21 and FY 22; additionally, $2,352, 881,306 will be deducted from school districts for vouchers and charters





The total direct state budget appropriations in HB 166 for private school subsidies, charter and voucher programs in FY 21 and FY 22 are $751,894,805. $344,027,972 of the appropriations is in the General Revenue section of the budget and the rest is in non-General Revenue sections. This $751,894,805 is in addition to $2,352,881,306 that will be deducted from school districts, assuming that about the same amount is deducted in FY 22 as in FY 21.


Therefore the grand total of taxpayer revenue for private schools and school choice programs in FY 21 and FY 22 will be $3,104,776,111. The cost of transportation that is incurred by school districts for school choice programs is in addition.


The FY 21 and FY 22 direct state appropriation line items in HB 166 for private school subsidies, and voucher and charter school programs are listed here.


**flows through districts from a direct state subsidy
The direct state subsidies to private schools and school choice programs will cost taxpayers $751,894,805 in FY 21 and FY 22; additionally, $2,352, 881,306 will be deducted from school districts for vouchers and charters

The total direct state budget appropriations in HB 166 for private school subsidies, charter and voucher programs in FY 21 and FY 22 are $751,894,805. $344,027,972 of the appropriations is in the General Revenue section of the budget and the rest is in non-General Revenue sections. This $751,894,805 is in addition to $2,352,881,306 that will be deducted from school districts, assuming that about the same amount is deducted in FY 22 as in FY 21.

Therefore the grand total of taxpayer revenue for private schools and school choice programs in FY 21 and FY 22 will be $3,104,776,111. The cost of transportation that is incurred by school districts for school choice programs is in addition.

The FY 21 and FY 22 direct state appropriation line items in HB 166 for private school subsidies, and voucher and charter school programs are listed here.

**flows through districts from a direct state subsidy

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a report on Ohio charters, claiming that they were very successful. (TBF is a rightwing organization that supports charters and vouchers.) The Columbus Dispatch wrote that the report demonstrated that charter schools in Ohio are more successful than the state’s public schools. But Stephen Dyer reviewed the report and concluded that its findings are based on cherrypicking schools and manipulating data. In fact, he writes, Ohio’s charter sector continues to be low-performing compared to the state’s public schools, whose students lose funding to charters. The state has recently taken almost $900 million annually from its public schools to pay for a mediocre charter sector.

Dyer is a former state legislator who has written often about the charter industry. He is now Director of Government Relations, Communications and Marketing at the Ohio Education Association. (I served on the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation/Institute from 1998-2009).

He writes:

Fordham Strikes Again

Cherry picking schools; manipulating data; grasping at straws

Look, the Fordham Institute has been improving lately, calling for more charter school oversight and talking a good game. But I guess sometimes old habits die hard, and in Ohio – the cradle of the for-profit charter school movement – those habits tend to linger especially long.

Take the group’s latest report – The Impact of Ohio Charter Schools on Student Outcomes, 2016-2019 – is yet another attempt to make Ohio’s famously poor performing charter school sector seem not quite as bad (though I give them kudos for admitting the obvious – that for-profit operators don’t do a good job educating kids and we need continued tougher oversight of the sector).

But folks, really. On the whole, Ohio charter schools are not very good. For example, of all the potential A-F grades charters could have received since that system was adopted in the 2012-2013 school year, Ohio charter schools have received more Fs than all other grades combined.

So how could the Fordham report claim, as the Columbus Dispatch headline writers put it: “Students at Ohio charter schools show greater academic gains”?

Simple.

Fordham ignored all but a fraction of the Ohio charter schools in operation during the FY16-FY19 school years, including Ohio’s scandalously poor performing e-schools (yes, ECOT was still running then), the state’s nationally embarrassing dropout recovery charter schools (which have difficulty graduating even 10 percent of their students in 8 years), and the state’s special education schools – some of whom have been cited for habitually billing taxpayers for students they never had.

In other words, they only looked at the best possible charter clusters in the state. And even though they essentially ignored the worst actors in the state (effectively ignoring how more than ½ of all charter students perform), the “performance gains” they point to are not impressive.

For example, “Students attending charter schools from grades 4 to 8 improved from the 30th percentile on state math and English language arts exams to about the 40th percentile. High school students showed little or no gains on end-of-course exams.”

Really? A not-even-10-percentile improvement? And none in high school? That’s it?

How about this: “Attending a charter school in high school had no impact on the likelihood a student would receive a diploma.”

So we spend $828 million a year sending state money to charters that could go to kids in local public schools to have literally zero impact on attaining a diploma?

Egad.

Another problem: the report says charter students have better attendance rates. No word on whether the fact all charter students must be bused by local school districts, which in turn don’t have to bus district students, had any impact on that metric.

(Hint: it does.)

The report found better performance from charter students in at least one of the math or English standardized tests in 5 of Ohio’s 8 major urban districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown). Only in Columbus did they outperform the district in both reading and math.

The report ignores that ECOT took more kids from Columbus in these years than any other charter school in Columbus. And, of course, those kids did far worse than Columbus students.

But even cherry picking students. And data. And methodology, Fordham only found slightly better performance in one of two tests the study examined (again, Ohio requires tests in many subjects, but I digress) in 5 urban districts, better performance in both tests in 1 and no better performance in Cincinnati and Toledo, which lost about $500 million in state revenue to charters during these 4 years the study examined.

Of course, the study also ignored that about ½ of all charter school students do NOT come from the major urban districts, including large percentages of students in many of the brick and mortar schools Fordham examined for this study. For example, about 30 percent of Breakthrough Schools students in Cleveland don’t come from Cleveland. Yet Breakthrough’s performance is always only compared with Cleveland.

Ohio charter school performance isn’t complicated. Overall, it’s really not good, especially when you look at the approximately 50 percent of students who attend online, dropout recovery or special needs schools. Are there exceptions? Of course. But here’s what the most recent data tell us:

  • More than 34% of Ohio public school graduates have a college degree within 6 years. Just 12.7% of charter school graduates do
  • More than 58% of Ohio public school graduates are enrolled in college within two years; only 37.2% of Ohio charter school graduates are.

Why is this important? Because if charter schools performed the same as Ohio’s public schools, 750 more charter school students would have college degrees. Why does that matter? Because a college degree will allow you to make about $1 million more during your lifetime than not having it. So it can be said that Ohio charter schools are costing Ohioans about $750 million in potential earnings, just from one class of students!

Some more:

  • The average dropout recovery charter school has less than 0.5% of its students earning an industry recognized credential within 9 years and less than 0.2% of those students earn at least 3 dual enrollment credits within 4 years.
  • In 52 of the state’s 68 dropout recovery charter schools, no kids earned at least 3 dual enrollment credits within 4 years
  • In 33 of the state’s 68 dropout recovery charter schools, no kids earned an industry recognized credential within 9 years!
  • In more than 1 in 5 Ohio charter schools, more than 15% of their teachers teach outside their accredited subjects
  • The median percentage of inexperienced teachers in Ohio charter schools is 34.1%. The median in an Ohio public school building is 6%.

During the time period this report examined, nearly $4 billion in state money was transferred from kids in local public school districts to Ohio’s privately run charter schools. And even if you look at the very best slice of the mud pie that is Ohio’s charter school sector, you get perhaps modest gains – not even 10 percentiles worth though – in a few of the schools.

But that didn’t stop Fordham from excitedly declaring at the beginning of its report that this study demonstrates that “Ohio’s brick-and-mortar charters have proven themselves capable of providing quality options—and it’s time to give families across the state similar opportunities.” Or that “high-quality” charters should be expanded.

One more dirty little secret about “high-quality” charters? Historically, the “high-quality” school buildings in Ohio’s major urban districts actually outperform the “high-quality” charter schools in those districts.

So maybe the answer, especially during this pandemic, is expanding “high-quality” local public school buildings, or investing at least some of the $828 million currently being sent to Ohio’s mostly poor performing charter schools back to local public schools so they have a better shot at being dubbed “high quality”, thereby expanding the number of “high-quality” options for students?

Just a thought…

Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding explains here where the funding comes from for vouchers: public schools pay from their budgets. The cost this year is nearly $350 million, deducted from the public schools that enroll nearly 90% of the state’s children. A study funded by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute showed that vouchers are ineffective and that children who use them fall behind their peers in public schools. Yet the Leislature wants to increase the funding for vouchers. Why invest in failure?

Deductions from school districts to voucher schools increased from $42,355,792 in FY 2008 to $349,304,605 in FY 2021


In 13 years, voucher deductions have increased each year except for FY 2011 to FY 2012 wherein there was a decrease of 9%. The percentage increase during the period from FY 2008 to FY 2020 has fluctuated between 7.2% and 86%. See the table below:


2008 to 2009  34%

2009 to 2010  22.8%

2010 to 2011 13.2%

2011 to 2012 -9%

2012 to 2013 86%

2013 to 2014 15.3%

2014 to 2015 15%

2015 to 2016 12%

2016 to 2017 9.1%

2017 to 2018 11.8%

2018 to 2019 7.20%

2019 to 2020 23.3%

2020 to 2021 0%

If the HB 166 EdChoice voucher expansion goes into effect next year, there will be a dramatic surge in voucher deductions.


The voucher advocates have powerful winds behind their sails. They will surge forward until state officials cave in to their demands—a voucher for every student.


No school district will be spared; hence, it is imperative that every district join the EdChoice voucher lawsuit.

Jan Resseger writes here about the almost complete lack of leadership at the national level–and even at the state level–in protecting our children in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. The failure of Congress to agree on federal aid for cities and states is a glaring example of indifference to the health and well-being of children and families and teachers. The breakdown of negotiations between Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin can be attributed to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, who don’t want to see any aid go to blue states and cities. This is tragic because the victims are children.

She writes:

I do not remember a time when the wellbeing of children has been so totally forgotten by the leaders of the political party in power in the White House and the Congress. This fall, school district leaders have been left on their own as they try to serve and educate children while the COVID-19 pandemic continues raging across the states. School leaders are trying to hold it all together this fall at the same time their state budgets in some places have already been cut.

In Ohio, the COVID-19 recession is only exacerbating a public school fiscal crisis driven by a long history of inequitable school funding and the expansion of school privatization. On November 3, the school district where I live has been forced to put a local operating levy on the ballot simply to avert catastrophe. EdChoice vouchers, funded by a “local school district deduction” extract $6,000 for each high school voucher student and $4,650 for each K-8 voucher student right out of our school district’s budget. Although these students attend private and religious schools, the state counts voucher students as part of our per-pupil enrollment, which means that the state pays the district some of the cost of the voucher. In a normal year, there is a net loss because the vouchers are worth more than our district’s state basic aid, but this year the loss is even worse: In he current state budget, the Legislature froze the state’s contribution to the state’s school districts at the FY 2019 level. This means that the state is not allocating any additional funding to our school district to cover the new vouchers the state is awarding this year from our local budget. The Plain Dealer reports that our district will lose $9 million to the EdChoice vouchers this school year, and the school treasurer reports that 94 percent of all vouchers being awarded to students in our district are for students who have never been enrolled in our public schools. In essence, this means that across Ohio, the Legislature is forcing local school districts to pay for private and religious education.

This year, however, on top of the voucher expansion, COVID-19 has affected local school budgets across our state. Last spring, when the coronavirus shut down businesses and caused widespread layoffs, the Governor significantly reduced what the state had already promised to school districts in the state budget.  Across the state’s 610 school districts, over $300 million—which the school districts had been promised before the fiscal year ended on June 30—just didn’t arrive. All of this has created a fiscal emergency for school districts across Ohio.

Only the AFT and Randi Weingarten, she writes, have remained alert and warned of the dangers of Congressional inaction. But the party in power is not listening.

Maureen Reedy is an experienced teacher and advocate for Ohio’s public schools. She wrote a letter to the editor which all public school supporters should read:

https://www.dispatch.com/story/opinion/letters/2020/10/05/dispatch-letter-writers-take-issue-1-dewines-tweet-and-election/5884874002/

To the Editor:

Let me get this straight: James Ragland, a first-term Columbus school board member, is also a paid advocate for private and for-profit charter schools in Ohio? (Dispatch article, Sept. 23)

In the business world, Ragland’s roles would be a blatant conflict of interest — the fox guarding the henhouse in violation of his fiduciary obligation as a publicly elected board member.

Which hat was Ragland wearing when he joined Betsy DeVos at the School Choice Roundtable in July? Was he participating as the director of provider outreach for School Choice Ohio or as a Columbus City Schools board member?

Clearly, Ragland, while working for School Choice Ohio, has been a player in moving almost $1 billion from Columbus City Schools to fund lower-performing charter and private voucher schools from 2017 to 2021. During this same period, Ohio’s higher performing public schools have lost close to $5 billion to charter and private voucher schools.

Ohio’s public schools are the schools of choice for over 90% of Ohio’s schoolchildren who attend their neighborhood public schools.

Ohio’s public school four-year graduation rate is 85%, about double the graduation rate for charter schools in Ohio.

Caught in this COVID pandemic, we are in the grip of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis where it is clearly unsustainable to drain billions of dollars from Ohio’s public schools.

Ragland cannot have it both ways. Supporting the mission of Columbus City Schools as a board member while being paid to advocate for taking almost a billion dollars a year from Ohio’s public schools to fund lower-performing private and charter schools is wrong.

This conflict of interest in “robbing Peter to pay Paul” must end.

Maureen Reedy, Columbus


https://www.dispatch.com/story/opinion/letters/2020/10/05/dispatch-letter-writers-take-issue-1-dewines-tweet-and-election/5884874002/

Jan Resseger describes a grassroots effort to stave off the persistent assaults on public schools by the Republican-controlled legislature and state officials. Ohio has a large and low-performing charter sector, as well as a well-funded voucher sector that has produced no gains for students.

The privatization movement has harmed the public schools that most students attend without providing better schools. While the nation has struggled to survive the pandemic, Ohio’s legislators have remained focused on expanding their failed choice plans.

Resseger describes the work of the Northeast Ohio Friends of PublicEducation and their decision to create a website to educate the public.

Resseger writes:

In this leaderless situation with schools struggling everywhere, no matter their efforts to prepare, questions of policy have just sort of faded away—except that the privatizers are doggedly trying to co-opt the chaos in every way they can. In Ohio, the Legislature has taken advantage of the time while the public is distracted by COVID-19 to explode the number of EdChoice vouchers for private schools at the expense of public school district budgets, to neglect to address the injustices of our state’s punitive, autocratic state takeovers of the public schools in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland, and to put off for over a year discussion of a proposed plan to fix a state school funding formula so broken that 503 of the state’s 610 school districts (80 percent) have fallen off a grossly under-funded old formula.

In recent years, most Ohio school districts have been getting exactly as much state funding as they got last year and the year before that and the year before that even if their overall enrollment has increased, the number poor children has risen, or the number of special education students has grown. And all this got even worse under the current two-year state budget, in which school funding was simply frozen for every school district at the amount allocated in fiscal year 2019. That is until this past June, when, due to the revenue shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Governor cut an additional $330 million from the money already budgeted for public schools in the fiscal year that ended June 30, thus forcing school districts to reduce their own budgets below what they had been promised. With much hoopla in the spring of 2019, the new Cupp-Patterson school funding plan was proposed. A year ago, however, research indicated (see here and here) that—partly thanks to the past decade of tax cuts in Ohio and partly due to problems in the new distribution formula itself—the new school funding proposal failed to help the state’s poorest schools districts. The analysis said that a lot of work would be required to make the plan equitable. New hearings are planned this fall, but nobody has yet reported on whether or how the Cupp-Patterson Plan has been readjusted.

In this context, discussions in the Northeast Ohio Friends of Public Education focused on our need to help ourselves and the citizens in our school districts find our way. What are the big issues? What information will help us explore and advocate effectively for policies that will ensure our schools are funded adequately and that funding is distributed equitably? In Ohio, how can we effectively push the Legislature to collect enough revenue to be able to fund the state’s 610 school districts without dumping the entire burden onto local school districts passing voted property tax levies? How can we help stop what feels like a privatization juggernaut in the Ohio Legislature? And how can federal policy be made to invest in and help the nation’s most vulnerable public schools?

The idea of a website emerged, with the idea of highlighting four core principles—with a cache of information in each section: Why Public Schools? Why More School Funding? Why Not Privatization? and Why Educational Equity? Although we have noticed that much public school advocacy these days emphasizes what public school supporters are against, we decided to frame our website instead about what we stand for as “friends of public education” even though our opposition to charter schools and private school tuition vouchers is evident in our website.

Educating the public is a crucial step in reclaiming the narrative from entrepreneurs, libertarians, and cultural vandals.

Bill Phillis, founder of the Ohio Coalition for Adequacy and Equity and a vocal supporter of public schools, writes here about an investigation of vouchers by the Cincinnati Enquirer. The report echoed the findings of academic research: students in public schools get higher test scores than those in voucher schools. Vouchers don’t “save” children. They don’t “save” black children. Ohio officials shifted hundreds of millions of dollars away from public schools to support vouchers. Even with the loss of funding, the public schools were superior to the voucher schools. Why don’t Republican politicians in Ohio care about effectiveness and prudence? Why do they continue to fund failure?

Phillis writes:

Cincinnati Enquirer investigation confirms that vouchers do not enhance academic success

The voucher campaigners will have to change their pitch to entice students to their private school classrooms. Confirming what other studies have revealed, the Enquirer research indicates there is a definite public school advantage. “Yet five of the largest districts—Cincinnati, Toledo, Cleveland, Akron and Canton—fared better academically than their local private school rivals, by margins ranging from slight to decisive, according to the Enquirer analysis”, the report states.

The Enquirer research indicates that the voucher system has been least successful in educating black students.

An excerpt from the report regarding city districts other than the urban shows a definite public school advantage that is widespread:

Other areas
Forty cities were included in this category, and a public school district in all but two of the cities outperformed its surrounding private schools.

Zanesville scored about six points higher on state tests than area private schools but had about $675,000 deducted for EdChoice.

Coshocton City Schools saw $115,000 deducted. The district had a 61% proficiency rate, more than 20 points higher than local private schools.

Portsmouth City Schools earned a proficiency rate of 51.9%, 10 points higher than the private schools in its community. Yet Portsmouth City had about $725,000 deducted since 2018.

Sandusky City Schools outperformed its neighboring private schools by 17 percentage points, achieving a proficiency rate of 49%. The district saw $660,000 deducted since 2018.

Van Wert City Schools and Wilmington City Schools were the only two districts in this category that fared worse on state testing than private schools.

In all, public school districts in this category had $3.75 million deducted for EdChoice in the past three years.

A longstanding perception in the past is that there is a private school advantage. Recent research has debunked that perception. The demographic of private schools is typically different from the public system. When the demographics of public schools and private schools are considered, there is a definite public school advantage.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is behind a paywall. The results are posted in the Akron Beacon Journal, not behind a paywall.

Stephen Dyer crunched the numbers and discovered that charter schools in Ohio received more than five times as much federal coronavirus relief money as public schools. Some received more than entire districts.

He wrote:

Included in the $2.3 trillion CARES Act passed in March to cope with the COVID-19 crisis was something called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER. This fund set aside $13.2 billion for K-12 schools to cope with the new normal in preparing education spaces for COVID-19. Things like enhanced cleaning, or preparing online learning material, or maximizing spaces to ensure social distancing for potential return to school were the expenses contemplated for this money.

Every school qualified, including charter schools, for this money, some of which was passed out again last week. The money was and is essential to maintain public education through this crisis.

However, only charter schools would qualify for another program included in the CARES Act – the $669 billion Payroll Protection Program (PPP) — a fund meant to keep small businesses and non-profits afloat during the economic shutdown. Public entities like school districts and local governments did not qualify for the program, which has been essential to keeping businesses from collapsing.

But charter schools, which are organized as 501c3 non-profits, did qualify.

So did their sponsoring organizations.

So did their management companies.

All tolled, a charter school could receive federal money four ways:

Through ESSER, just like every school district in the country
Directly to the school through the PPP
Indirectly through their sponsoring organization through the PPP
Indirectly through their management company (which could be non-profit or for-profit) through the PPP

This resulted in the typical Ohio charter school receiving as much as $817 in total federal CARES Act funding while the typical Ohio public school district only received $150.

The disparities are mind-boggling.

Charter schools got the same aid as public schools. Then many double-dipped and collected federal PPP funds. Then their sponsoring organization picked up PPP money. And their management company collected more.

Dyer reminds us that charter schools are not public schools.

It is unfair that charter schools – which have for years insisted they are “public schools” – be granted more opportunities to access federal funding than the schools that educate 90 percent of our children simply because of their corporate structure.

What an outrage!

Public Education Partners is the leading volunteer advocacy group for public schools in Ohio.

They issued this statement last night.

We are public education experts.

Public Education Partners (PEP) is a statewide, grassroots public education advocacy group whose mission is to preserve, protect, and strengthen Ohio’s public schools. Public Education Partners is an integral part of education policy deliberations through legislative consultation, Statehouse testimony, and community forums, among other actions. Over 90% of Ohio’s children attend public schools, and Ohio’s public-school system is the largest employer in the state.

The PEP Board is an entirely volunteer group comprised of:
active and retired educators and administrators with a collective total of over 350 years of teaching experience in Ohio’s public schools’ urban, suburban and rural districts;
public school board members;
city council members;
parents and grandparents of Ohio Public School students

PEP is a nonprofit organization that does not endorse political candidates. Public Education Partners has no paid members.

We believe district-sourced remote learning is warranted for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year across Ohio.

PEP believes that opening the school year with full-time remote learning, sourced within school districts, is the best approach to keeping children, school staff and their families safe from the public health crisis of coronavirus infection and spread.

As much as we know teachers miss face-to-face teaching and students miss their school communities and activities, PEP urges Ohio to embrace a statewide commitment to remote learning until the pandemic is brought under control. Returning to school buildings for on-site teaching and learning should be reassessed quarterly following science-based evaluations of the containment of the virus.

The recent rise in coronavirus cases in Ohio is cause for extreme caution. Subsequent to the gradual reopening of Ohio’s economy beginning in mid-May, coronavirus cases dropped 40% until mid-June; after June 21 the number of cases in Ohio has more than doubled through Sunday, July 19.

During the past four weeks, Ohio has recorded twelve of the fourteen highest daily case totals of the entire pandemic, including a record 1,679 cases Friday July 17, another 1,542 cases Saturday July 18, the third-highest number reported since March, and an additional 1,110 cases Sunday July 19.

Currently, more than 60% of Ohioans are living in counties declared a Level 3 Public Emergency: very high exposure and spread. Governor DeWine’s state orders for Level 3 counties call for limiting activities outside the home as much as possible and wearing face coverings inside all public buildings.

A full 36% of total cases throughout the four months of the pandemic have come in the past twenty-five days. The total number of confirmed and probable cases as of Sunday July 19 is 74,932. A record 9,555 Ohioans have been hospitalized, and 3,174 Ohioans have died of COVID-19.

While we all share the goal of returning to school buildings as soon as possible, experimenting with our children’s health and safety does not reflect a society where we put children first.

Given the rise in coronavirus cases, any full-time or “hybrid” plan to reopen school buildings for on-site teaching and learning puts the lives of Ohio’s children, teachers, administration, school staff, and their families at risk.

Our recommendations are rooted in Science.

School districts should reopen according to evidence-based research from scientists, public health experts, and educators. Because children’s welfare relies on schools’ decisions, neither political expediency nor profit motives should be given priority over science.

According to health experts, COVID-19 is a highly contagious, deadly disease and the role of children in the transmission of COVID-19 is currently unknown. Health experts fear it can cause potential lifelong damage in children and emphasize that the long-term consequences of coronavirus in children are unknown.

A troubling trend concerning children and the virus is the recent report that children in Florida are showing a 31.1 percent positivity rate for COVID-19 infections based on state testing data. Children in Florida are testing positive for the virus at a 20 percent higher rate than adults who have about an 11 percent positivity rate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently declared that it was not confident that reopening schools in the middle of this public health crisis is the best option for children. This reversal of its earlier statement exemplifies the speed with which schools continue to receive vague and conflicting information from the medical and scientific communities.

This is a novel and evolving virus. There is emerging evidence that airborne transmission is a significant factor in the virus spread. Scientists continue to discover new symptoms, risk factors, and methods of virus transmission. The long-term effects of the disease to Covid-19 survivors are yet unknown.

Ohio is not ready to open schools.

PEP believes that in order for a county to safely reopen its school buildings, the coronavirus transmission rate needs to be scientifically demonstrated to be near zero. Our conviction is consistent with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and ongoing reports from Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) that the United States remains in the first of what will most likely be a series of viral waves.

In Ohio and most of the United States, there has been no flattening of the curve. The data cited above regarding these continuing spikes in infection rates in July is clear evidence the pandemic is not under control.

Other countries, such as New Zealand, Vietnam, and Germany, have responsibly reopened schools but did so only after they flattened the curve and drastically reduced infection rates through rapid case identification, contact tracing, and isolation.

Our recommendations are rooted in our deep commitment to the role of public schools.

Always, our number one priority in public schools is to keep our school communities safe.

The reopening of schools must be primarily about the health and safety of the learning environment, for the sake of students, faculty, support staff, and their families.

Despite exhaustive efforts throughout the state and the country to safeguard a return to school,
there is currently no tenable plan for keeping children infection-free in our schools,
there is currently no tenable plan for keeping adults infection-free in our schools.

The realities of education budgets must be considered in any discussion about this pandemic.

State funding:

Ohio’s K-12 public school budget has been slashed by $330 million as an emergency measure to cope with Ohio’s collapsing economy. Financially strapped taxpayers are not able to make up the school funding shortfall with additional school levies bringing higher property taxes for homeowners. Schools would be challenged without a pandemic to make the reduced budget work—in the midst of this global pandemic, unprecedented help is needed.

Pandemic-related expenses:
Neither the state of Ohio nor the federal government has provided adequate resources for increased health and safety precautions in school buildings.

Similarly, increased technological needs necessitated by the pandemic and increased distance learning, such as internet infrastructure and personal computers for all students, have not been met.

School buildings with aging heating and cooling systems lack the filtration features that reduce viral transmissions, and windows that do not open properly to promote air circulation will further increase the chance of pandemic spread.

Following CDC recommendations of keeping schools clean and maintaining six-foot physical distances between people, even in makeshift fashion or reduced capacity, is unrealistic. However careful teachers are to facilitate social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing, students are active social beings who are used to learning and playing close together.

Teacher and staff substitution potential:

Consider some basic facts about Ohio’s teaching workforce-

25% of the teacher workforce is over the age of fifty, which by definition puts them at higher risk of suffering serious illness from Covid-19.

Most schools do not have full-time nurses in their buildings.

The anticipated medical exemptions for teachers who are immunocompromised or have high-risk health conditions will be significant in number.

A shortage of both long-term teachers and substitute teachers that pre-dates the pandemic will only make the infection rates and coverage of teacher absences more difficult for students.

Virus testing is neither universally reliable and timely, nor universally available in Ohio.

Already during the pandemic, mental health issues have escalated in a significant proportion of the population from anxiety and fear of exposure to the virus. The trauma associated with rapid unexpected change will be exacerbated by every known case of viral spread within schools.

The idea of quarantining entire groups of teachers and students upon the discovery of a confirmed case of Covid-19 is untenable, and such disruption compromises the effectiveness of on-site teaching and learning for everyone.

We categorically reject the idea that schools must reopen on behalf of the struggling economy.

PEP believes that federal mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States is the cause of the extreme economic upset that has ensued. It is neither the schools’ responsibility, nor sound policy, to attempt to remedy the situation by reopening school buildings at high risk to the school communities. The health and safety of Ohio’s students, staff, and families must remain our top priority.

Conclusion:

Ohio’s K-12 public school district communities share in the suffering caused by this coronavirus pandemic. Lives have been turned upside down, and the uncertainty of this evolving global crisis causes loss, disequilibrium, and anxiety. PEP believes that moving into the upcoming school year with calm and resolve is the best way to maximize the effectiveness of Ohio’s system of public education.

Public Education Partners continues to be an educational resource for school districts and local communities across Ohio. PEP proposes pooling our collective community resources to keep our public schools safe. Shared responsibility in creating a risk-free school reopening plan will allow us to emerge stronger together in our commitment to public education and the children and families we serve.

Sources

Home


https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/public-health-advisory-system/
https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200715/watch-pandemic-path-leads-dewine-to-heart-to-heart-talk-with-ohioans

https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/507442-almost-one-third-of-florida-children-tested-are
https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/07/10/schoolreentrysafety071020
https://www.educationdive.com/news/more-robust-coronavirus-guidelines-needed-to-protect-high-risk-educators/581711/

http://digital.olivesoftware.com/olive/ODN/ColumbusDispatch/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=TCD%2F2020%2F07%2F19&entity=Ar00303&sk=E4AD08E3&mode=text
http://digital.olivesoftware.com/olive/ODN/ColumbusDispatch/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=TCD%2F2020%2F07%2F19&entity=Ar02301&sk=94FADAE9&mode=text

Click to access summary1_page_.pdf


Click to access samestormdiffboats_final.pdf


https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/07/14/covid-19-online-school-los-angeles

Once again, a state audit has uncovered waste and misspent funding at a charter chain, in this case, the Richard Allen Charter Schools in Ohio. Among other findings, the head of the school leased a Maserati with public funds.

A new state audit of the Richard Allen charter schools includes multiple findings of improperly spent money in 2016-17, and allegations of ethics violations and conflicts of interest that have triggered an ongoing special investigation.

The audit comes 15 months after the Dayton Daily News published an investigation into lack of oversight at Richard Allen, which operated four schools in 2016-17 and now has buildings on Salem Avenue in Dayton and Shuler Avenue in Hamilton.

Last year, the state attorney general’s office did not know that Michelle Thomas — whom the state sued, alleging $2.2 million in misspending — was still running the schools.Thomas, who is still the Richard Allen superintendent, on Tuesday called the audit process “a complete farce.”

School leadership “strongly objected” to the state auditor’s findings in their official response.

Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office said Tuesday that it stands by its work.

The documents released Tuesday cover the 2016-17 school year, as multiple years of Richard Allen audits have been delayed.

The audit’s findings include:

• The schools overpaid their former management company (the Institute of Management and Resources, which was also run by Thomas) by $852,618 in 2016-17 — $139,277 for Richard Allen Academy, $613,870 for Richard Allen II, $15,686 for Richard Allen III in Hamilton and $83,785 for Richard Allen Prep.

A finding for recovery seeking repayment of those funds was issued against IMR, which filed for bankruptcy protection more than two years ago, and against former treasurer Brian Adams and eight school board members: Alphonse Allen, Michael Brown, Gerald Cooper, Laquetta Cortner, Wanda Mills, Lonnie Norwood, Rhonda Ragland and Kelli Vaughn.

• The school also overpaid those eight board members by $1,110 to $1,375 each for attending meetings. The state filed findings for recovery against those eight and Adams for a total of $10,725 on that charge.

• Thomas improperly served as the superintendent of Richard Allen schools while serving as director of IMR, the school’s management company.As the Dayton Daily News reported last year, the audit shows IMR leased a 2015 Maserati for Thomas, while claiming that Thomas made the lease payments. But elsewhere in the audit, the state makes clear that IMR “failed to provide a detailed accounting” of the services it provided to the school, bringing into question how its management fees were spent.