Archives for category: Ohio

Dave Dewitt, editor-in-chief of the Ohio Capital Journal, wrote a blistering critique of the state’s political leadership, who place the interests of the private sector above the common good of the public.

Many Ohioans pay taxes for schools but don’t have school-age children. Their taxes are meant to fund quality public schools because having educated citizens is a public good. Sending their money to unaccountable for-profit, private, and religious schools is a terrible abuse.

Compelling taxpayers to support private interests at the expense of public ones is not only unethical, but unconstitutional when those private interests intertwine with religion. American taxpayers should never be forced to fund the efforts of religious institutions of any kind. Not one red cent.

The very first clause in the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights is couched firmly in that defining principle. The entire basis for making “no law respecting an establishment of religion” the first clause was “Father of the Constitution” James Madison’s takedown of anti-Constitution Patrick Henry’s proposal to send taxpayer money to support religious institutions.

Nevertheless, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has put forward a budget proposal to expand school voucher subsidies that would send money to private, for-profit, and religious ventures. Prominent Ohio Republican Statehouse leaders appear to be on board.

From Cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock:

“Families are eligible for EdChoice scholarships by either living in the boundaries of a low-performing school or by household income. Currently, a family of four can qualify for state money if the household income is at or below $69,375, or 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The limit would increase to 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which would be $111,000 for a family of four, under DeWine’s proposal. …”

EdChoice vouchers are distributed as checks given to private schools to help cover a student’s tuition. The scholarship amount is currently $5,500 for students in grades k-8 and $7,500 for grades 9-12. Republicans who control the legislature expanded vouchers in 2012, 2020, and 2021.

So vouchers are already available to low-income households and in low-performing districts, which means the only reason to increase the voucher threshold to 400% is for a massive sweetheart giveaway to private interests.

DeWine’s budget also would increase per-student building funding for all charter schools from $500 to $1,000 per student — a 100% bump — and provide an extra $3,000 for each economically disadvantaged student, or a student who qualifies for free or reduced lunch — up from $1,750 currently.

DeWine, Hancock notes, did not propose any extra per-student money for traditional public education.

Sadly, American public education was marked as a $500 billion a year opportunity for private profiteering some time ago, and Ohio has been leading the way.

 Getty Images.

Over the past several decades, Ohio’s seen one boondoggle after another.

Ohio taxpayers were ripped off by hundreds of millions of dollars, and nearly 12,000 Ohio schoolchildren and their families left in the lurch, when the ECOT schemedreamed up on a Waffle House napkincrashed and burned in 2018.

Another for-profit charter school operator called White Hat Management drained $67 million a year away from Ohio public schools before low test scores and soaring high school dropout rates led to a lawsuit from school boards and its eventual demise.

Dayton Daily News’ Josh Sweigart has uncovered a smattering of cases the past decade, including nepotistic hiring, undocumented purchasing, and charter school board members overpaying themselves.

Meanwhile, Ohio Capital Journal’s Zurie Pope revealed in reporting this past summer that the proposed “Backpack Bill” legislation last General Assembly to send public education money to private schools by the head was written with help from religious lobbying group the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) and a think tank that promotes charter schools.

Promotion for the so-called “Backpack Bill” law featured CCV President Aaron Baer speaking at a press conference for it, and documents obtained by OCJ also revealed behind-the-scenes advice and promotion by outside groups like Heritage Action and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC even held a luncheon for lawmakers at the Statehouse promoted as a “Backpack Bill Briefing.”

All of this has come amid a decades-long right-wing assault on public education itself, only becoming more venomous and destructive in recent years.

But by wide margins, parents express satisfaction with their kids’ schools, and educational outcomes over the past 50 years in America have only steadily improved. From Education Next:

Contrary to what you may have heard, average student achievement has been increasing for half a century. Across 7 million tests taken by U.S. students born between 1954 and 2007, math scores have grown by 95 percent of a standard deviation, or nearly four years’ worth of learning. Reading scores have grown by 20 percent of a standard deviation during that time, nearly one year’s worth of learning.

The narrative of “failing public schools” has been manufactured by corrupt private school bloodsuckers looking to wet their beaks in the public school money pot.

Aside from its false pretenses, it undercuts funding and saps the ability of public schools to address real problems.

The biggest achievement gap in American education is directly tied to poverty. Exacerbating this situation is the fact that Ohio has had unconstitutional property tax-based school funding for 25 years. Wealthy districts do great, while low-income districts suffer mightily.

We have ample empirical evidence to prove that the way to address the poverty achievement gap is by robustly funding public schools to institute best practices: early childhood education; a well-rounded school experience including culture, sports, and the arts; extra-curricular activities that give students a sense of purpose; community-minded and community-building schools; cooperative learning.

But initiatives like these are the very things money-strapped districts are forced to cut first, alongside practical necessities like busing or the teachers themselves.

DeWine’s proposed budget does include money for things such as early childhood education, and he has already awarded significant grants for it, which is commendable.

But he seems to want to balance this politically with a massive giveaway of public dollars to private school interests and the religious zealots aligned with CCV, which is unacceptable.

Many Ohio taxpayers — even those who don’t have children or whose children are no longer school-age — are happy to help fund public schools.

We understand that quality public schools increase property values and make our communities attractive places to live, which helps them thrive.

We want our communities and our public schools to thrive.

What most Ohio taxpayers do not want is our public schools to continue to suffer as money and resources are siphoned away from them to prop up private, for-profit, and religious interests.

But when it comes to funding those interests, or fully and fairly funding Ohio’s public schools, Republican Statehouse leaders have continually legislated for the private interests.

The vultures have poll-tested their messaging, so they love to talk about “school choice,” “parents’ rights,” and “funding the students, not the system.”

This is a smooth evasion that attempts to elide the fact that the question isn’t about whether parents have a choice where to send their kids for schooling; everybody already does.

What these interests are asking for are endless direct state subsidies to their private enterprises and religious institutions.

And that’s what DeWine and these lawmakers stand prepared to keep giving them, on our dime and at the expense of our public schools.

Every Ohio public school faces a yearly audit, but no such requirement exists for private schools receiving public vouchers. Why not? If public money is continually funneled into these schools, why are they not subjected to the same auditing standards as public schools to make sure that money is actually going toward appropriate education of students?In an analysis of one proposed bill, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Commission found that two-thirds of kids getting vouchers in Ohio’s expansion program have never been in public schools.

So that means that these kids aren’t being “rescued” from public schools; they were never going to public schools in the first place. This is pure state subsidy of private school tuition. As the LSC puts it, these are “existing nonpublic school students that represent a new state responsibility.”

Do the private schools lead to greater academic success?

A Cincinnati Enquirer analysis of nearly 2.5 million test scores from schools in more than 150 Ohio cities during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years found that in 88% of the cities, the public district achieved better state testing results than the private schools.

Given all this, what assurances are Ohioans being given that our money will not be misused as it has been in the past? If this money is coming out of public school funding, what guarantees do we have that our public schools will be fully funded under the new Fair Funding plan?

 COLUMBUS, OH — JANUARY 31: Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) takes questions from the press following State of the State Address, Jan. 31, 2023, in the Warren G. Harding Briefing Room at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

Ohio Senate Republicans led by President Matt Huffman have made clear they want the full “Backpack Bill” pushed by the CCV. That would be the biggest win possible for the private interests. As this DeWine proposal is brought and negotiated between the House and Senate, it looks likely to become, essentially, “Backpack Bill Light.”

I’m not holding my breath for full, fair public school funding. Legislators repeatedly steamroll DeWine and there’s no reason to think they won’t on this. There’s only one pot. It’s meant for high-quality public schools. But they always turn their backs on our public schools in favor of the private interests.

I come from a family of educators: My mom, a longtime teacher and junior high school principal; my sister, a primary school special education teacher; my grandmother, a high school teacher; my other grandmother, a school librarian; my grandfather, a school teacher and later the dean of a Kent State University branch.

I grew up surrounded by public educators, both at school and at home. I grew up generally believing that we as a society agreed about the importance and value of public education.

It came as a great shock to me when I entered adulthood that there are incredibly well-funded private interests working every day to undermine and rob our public schools.

Then I started seeing one for-profit school scam after another in Ohio, and realized that our state government was actively stoking the grift.

When I ask the public educators I know for their thoughts, many tell me there’s a definite role for traditional charters and private schools for the maybe 10% of students best off at them, but it’s unconscionable to rob the other 90% of public school students and prioritize the 10%.

That seems reasonable.

Traditional charter and private schools have a place, but they must face just as much scrutiny and accountability and auditing as our public schools if they are to receive our money.

And propping up private schools should never, ever come at the expense of our already woefully unsupported public schools.

We need to dedicate ourselves to a positive vision of the wonderful beacons our public schools can be when we invest in them, when we support them, when we encourage them to be creative, and when we give them the resources and opportunity to thrive.

Public education is not failing. Ohio politicians are failing to prioritize and invest in public education.

KIPP leadership is not pleased by the efforts of KIPP teachers and other staff in Columbus who want to join a union. Major funders of KIPP, like the Walton Family Foundation, don’t like unions. Some of their teachers object to their “Union-busting” tactics.

Megan Henry of the Columbus Dispatch wrote this article, which was also published in USA Today.

The Ohio Federation of Teachers is accusing KIPP Columbus of using a “unionbusting persuasion campaign” as the charter school’s employees attempt to unionize.

The campaign has involved mandatory and voluntary meetings with “antiunion consultants” and a visit from KIPP’s new CEO Shavar Jeffries, according to OFT President Melissa Cropper.

“Public education funding should be used to educate Ohio students. It should not be used to persuade and intimidate workers who are exercising their legally protected right to organize a union,” Cropper said.

KIPP Columbus received at least $15 million in public funding for the 2021-22 school year, which represents the majority of its funding, union organizers said.

“It is incumbent on KIPP to spend that funding on education, not union-busting,” Cropper said. “If KIPP wants to claim that they are paying for their union-busting through a different source of funding, we feel that is essentially a shell game.”

Teachers, social workers, paraprofessionals, intervention specialists and student life coordinators from KIPP’s primary, elementary, middle and high school are attempting to organize as the KIPP Columbus Alliance for Charter Teachers and Staff (KIPP Columbus ACTS) through OFT.

“We believe that unfair labor practices have occurred, and we may file formal charges on that,” Cropper said. “Currently, we are calling on KIPP to do the right thing and allow their employees to have a secret ballot union election without intimidation and anti-union lobbying from management.”

The Dispatch asked KIPP Columbus officials to address the allegations of union-busting, but they didn’t respond to those specific questions in their written response.

“We are encouraging all of our colleagues to consider all relevant information – from multiple sources – about what it could mean to join a union and what the collective bargaining process entails,” KIPP Columbus said in a statement. “Many of our colleagues have asked questions about these topics, and we are working diligently to ensure that those questions are answered promptly.”

Zach Usmani, a social worker at KIPP elementary and a member of the organizing committee, said the anti-union consultants didn’t share their names during the two-hour meeting he was required to attend.

“It seems very strange that they don’t want to share any information,” Usmani said. “It makes me question what’s going on. People are now even more frustrated because they are getting pulled from their students to go to these meetings.”

Jeffries took over as KIPP’s CEO the first week of January and visited KIPP Columbus that same week, but staff questioned the purpose of his visit.

KIPP Columbus, which is part of a national network of college preparatory schools, has about 2,000 students.

“He used this platform to again push anti-union messaging on our staff,” Usmani said.

Jeffries is planning a tour of all KIPP regions and has already been to Atlanta, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, said KIPP Foundation spokesperson Maria Alcón-Heraux. He also plans to go to Washington, D.C. and New Orleans in the coming weeks, Alcón-Heraux said.

“Shavar Jeffries spoke to KIPP Columbus staff and students about his vision for more alignment across KIPP regions as we deliver educational excellence and equity at a nation-leading level,” Alcón-Heraux said of the visit here.

In December, KIPP Columbus charter schools administration declined to voluntarily recognize KIPP Columbus ACTS.

“While we respect our colleagues’ rights to join a union, we believe that our current model is the best way to create an innovative learning environment for students while supporting and empowering our valued teachers and staff,” KIPP Columbus said in a statement.

Seventy-eight percent of KIPP Columbus’ roughly 130-person staff signed union cards. Union cards were filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Nov. 15, but KIPP Columbus hired the Vorys legal firm, which filed a legal challenge with the NLRB on Nov. 16, which has delayed a secret-ballot union election. An NLRB election won’t be scheduled until the legal challenge is resolved, which could take months, Cropper said.

KIPP Columbus began in 2008 as KIPP Journey Academy with 50 students in the fifth grade at a former Columbus City Schools building in Linden and has since expanded to its present 150-acre campus at 2900 Inspire Drive on the city’s Northeast Side. That campus houses the KIPP Columbus Elementary, KIPP Columbus Primary, KIPP Columbus Middle, KIPP Columbus High, the KIPP Columbus Battelle Environmental Center, the KIPP Columbus Early Learning Center, and the KIPP Athletics & Wellness Complex.

KIPP teachers and staff are unionized at the nonprofit public charter school’s operations in New York City, Baltimore and St. Louis.

If the union is approved by KIPP Columbus’ educators, it would be the 10th charter school to join the OFT. The other OFT unionized charter schools in Ohio are in the Cleveland area: Stepstone Academy in Cleveland, Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland, three schools in the Summit Academy chain (Parma, Painesville and Lorain) and four schools in the ACCEL charter chain.

mhenry@dispatch.com @megankhenry

Jan Resseger keeps close tabs on education in Ohio, which is constantly under attack in the legislature. In this post, she reviews what happened in the past year. The “good” consists of bad things that didn’t happen. The Republican-dominated legislature is intent on constant privatization of public funds. Ohio is rife with failing charters and ineffective vouchers. The legislature wants more failure. The chair of the House Education Committee, Andrew Brenner, calls public schools “socialism.” The Ohio legislature deserves a spot on this blog’s Wall of Shame.

Jan Resseger wrote:

In the midst of the big 2022 Christmas week storm, a frozen sprinkler-system pipe burst at the Ohio Statehouse and flooded the state senate chamber. This year in Ohio’s gerrymandered, supermajority Republican legislature, democracy itself has been so severely threatened that many of us wondered if the event was an expression of cosmic justice.

As Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor retired due to the state’s mandated age limit,O’Connor—herself a Republican—condemned legislators who created one gerrymandered legislative and Congressional district map after another, O’Connor told the Associated Press: “My advice to them was, please review the Constitution and maybe go back to, what is it, fourth or fifth grade and learn about our institutions… And maybe, just maybe, review what it was like in Germany when Hitler intimidated the judiciary and passed those laws that allowed for the treatment of the Jewish population… This country cannot stand if the judiciary is intimidated.” The AP reports that, “In retirement, she has pledged to champion a constitutional amendment that fixes Ohio’s redistricting process…”

BAD THINGS THAT DID NOT HAPPEN IN 2022

The 134th Ohio General Assembly did not pass Ohio Senate Bill 178 to hollow out the Ohio State Board of Education and shift its primary responsibilities (including overseeing the Department of Education itself) to a new cabinet Department of Education and the Workforce under the Governor. Politics have already to some degree invaded the Ohio State Board of Education, because the governor already appoints 8 of its 19 members. And during the past two years there have been several legislative/gubernatorial interventions to gerrymander the districts of elected members to favor Republicans, and to fire unruly members and appoint new members who would be more faithful to Ohio Republicans’ priorities.

In 2022, the Ohio Senate passed SB 178 to move the important functions of the State Board of Education under the governor’s control, to insulate the state board from the will of the people, and to remove many of the State Board’s responsibilities. In December, during the last week of the legislative session, SB 178 was heard by the House Education Committee, but the bill never came up for committee vote and never was acted on by the Ohio House. At 2:30 AM, before the the 134th General Assembly permanently adjourned at 6:30 AM, Senate President Matt Huffman inserted the entire 2,144 page SB 178 into HB 151 to ban transgender girls from sports, inserted another amendment to ban school vaccine mandates, and sent the entire package back to the Ohio House, where it failed by 6 votes. Although this problematic bill failed in the 134th General Assembly, Senate President Matt Huffman has pledged another attempt during 2023 to politicize the State Board of Education in the 135th Ohio General Assembly.

A Mass of Culture War Bills Will Die Because They Never Came Up for a Vote (For details, see Honesty for Ohio Educationor the Northeast Ohio Friends of Public Education.)

  • HB 322, HB 327, and HB 616 to ban teaching and materials about divisive concepts including racism and sexual orientation.
  • HB 529 to demand that school curricula be posted online.
  • HB 454 to ban gender affirming care for minors.
  • HB 704 to affirm that gender identity is identifiable at birth according to DNA.
  • HB 722 to ban discussion of any ‘sexually explicit’ content and establish a ‘parents bill of rights.’
  • SB 361 to enable former military troops to become teachers with relaxed credentialing.
  • SB 365 to include curriculum about free market capitalism in educational standards.

HB 290, the “Backpack” universal education savings account voucher programnever came up for a vote in the 134th General Assembly. Most people expect, however, that a similar bill will be introduced in the 135th General Assembly, perhaps as part of the FY 2024-2025 biennial budget bill. For more information see here.

GOOD THINGS THAT DID NOT HAPPEN IN 2022

The Ohio Legislature did not pass HB 497 to eliminate the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. After HB 497 passed the Ohio House by a margin of 82-10 and after the bill was unanimously endorsed by the Ohio State Board of Education, HB 497 was never considered by the Ohio Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee and never forwarded for a vote by the full Ohio Senate. The bill died with the end of the 134th Ohio General Assembly. The bill would have eliminated mandatory retention in third grade of any student who does not reach a proficient score on the state’s third grade achievement test. Research demonstrates that holding kids back in grade damages self esteem and makes it more likely that students will drop out of school before graduating from high school. For background see here.

BAD THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 2022…

Keep reading to learn about the “Bad Things That Happened in 2022” and the One Good Thing That Happened.

Jan concluded her post:

There is no reason to believe that in 2023 the legislative majority of Ohio’s 135th General Assembly will be supportive of Ohio’s public schools. Persistence will be required as advocates press for the full six year phase-in of adequate school funding under the Cupp-Patterson Fair School Funding Plan. And, as Ohio Public Education Partners declares, we must demand that the Legislature “rejects the school privatization agenda, which includes school voucher schemes (and) charter schools….”

Stephen Dyer is a very insightful and reliable analyst of school issues in Ohio. He used to be a legislator. He reads bills and budgets. He keeps everyone informed about the intellectual fraud that perpetuates the diversion of public funds to failing charters and voucher schools. In this post, he dissects a recent paper by the Fordham Institute, which is an outspoken advocate of school privatization. Fordham, writes Dyer, said the quiet part out loud. A few years ago, Fordham funded a study by David Figlio on vouchers in Ohio that showed their negative effects, but they try to ignore their own study.

Dyer writes:

There’s been some news coverage today of Fordham’s latest foray into fantasy — a study they claim proves EdChoice vouchers are perfectly fine and dandy for kids and taxpayers.

However, tucked away in one of their “findings” is a kind of startling admission — that EdChoice forces local school districts to rely more on property taxes to pay for educating the students in public schools.

“Combined with the decrease in enrollments, this dynamic led to a 10-15 percent increase in local revenue per pupil.”

I’m sure the study’s author(s) had no idea what they had just done. But those of us who have been saying the same thing for years sure did. This is an admission that EdChoice means that students not taking EdChoice vouchers have to rely more on local, voter approved property taxes to pay for their educations — the exact thing that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled four different times made Ohio’s school funding system unconstitutional.

“The overreliance on local property taxes is the fatal flaw that until rectified will stand in the way of constitutional compliance,” ruled Justice Alice Robie Resnick in the 4th and final DeRolph decision in 2002.

So it was nice of Fordham to admit this. However, the report went on to spend a lot of time trying to minimize the potentially existential lawsuit Ohio’s voucher program faces, as well as mocking me and others as “Chicken Littles” (because those with a winning argument always use ad hominem attacks to strengthen their position).

The study blows minimal to zero impacts on student success into enormous justification for increasing taxpayer subsidies for private school tuitions. As Michigan State’s Josh Cowen put it: “First and most important: the study presents a ton of zero impacts and tiny effects. Mostly this is a #schoolvouchers report about statistical noise, packaged as a win.”

Exactly.

Take the information on segregation. The study compares the racial makeup of voucher students with the statewide racial makeup of Ohio students. The study’s author, Stephane Lavertu of Ohio State University (who taxpayers paid $132,968 in 2019 to educate students) was very careful to only compare the racial makeup of EdChoice recipients with public school students “statewide”.

Because he knows that EdChoice voucher students don’t come from every district. They come from majority-minority districts.

There are 95 districts that lose 10 students or more to EdChoice. In 76 of those districts, accounting for 87% of all vouchers given through the program, a higher percentage of white students take vouchers than there are in that district.

The average difference between white students taking vouchers and white students in those 76 districts was 76.2%. That means that in the districts where 87% of voucher students come from, voucher recipients are 76.2% more likely to be white than their public school counterparts.

My friends, that’s White Flight. Like, obvious White Flight.

Dear reader, do these data suggest — as Huffman wants you to think — that these segregation issues are “isolated examples”?

If 87% of voucher recipients are more likely to be white than the districts they come from, is that really “isolated”? Or is it “systemic”?

I mean in Huffman’s own district of Lima, Temple Christian takes 100% white voucher students. From a district that’s 35% white….

The vouchers worsen segregation. The students in voucher schools do worse on state tests than the public schools they left. What is more, “voucher students do worse on state tests the longer they take the voucher.”

A lose-lose, for students, for public schools, and for the state.

Nonetheless, despite failure, the state Teoublican legislature wants more vouchers and more failure!

Please open the link and keep reading this important post.

Bill Phillis, leader of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy, reports good news in the battle against the state’s expensive and ineffective voucher program.

Private School Voucher Lawsuit Given Green Light to Go to Trial

Effort by Attorney General and Out-of-State Interest Groups to Dismiss Foiled

COLUMBUS – The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the harmful private school voucher program was given the green light on Friday to go to trial sometime in 2023.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jaiza Page dismissed motions by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and out-of-state pro-private school interest groups like the Institute for Justice to dismiss the case, and instead gave the go ahead to the coalition of public schools suing the state to present their case.

“We are one step closer to proving that private school vouchers are unconstitutional, and hurt Ohio, our public school students, educators, parents, taxpayers and our communities,” said William L. Phillis, Executive Director for the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding. “Facts matter in the court of law. The Ohio Constitution is clear. There shall be a single system of public schools, not a separate and unequal system of schools that can apply a discriminatory litmus test against students based on race, religion, income, or any disqualifying factor that strikes their fancy.”

“School board members like me owe it to our taxpayers to bring this lawsuit because my district, like so many others, has been forced to increase our property taxes with local levies to make up for the public tax dollars lost to private school vouchers. We know the vast majority of these parents are using the voucher as a refund or a rebate and they never intended to enroll their children in public schools,” said Dan Heintz, a school board member with plaintiff district Cleveland Heights-University Heights.

To read the Motion for Judgement on the Pleadings click here.

To read the Motion to Dismiss click here.

The Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding is working with Vouchers Hurt Ohio, a growing coalition of public school districts that have come together to sue the state over the unconstitutional and harmful private school voucher program.

Josh Cowen of Michigan State University reviewed a report by the rightwing Thomas B. Fordham Institute about for-profit charter schools in Ohio. It was published by the National Education Policy Center.

The summary:

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently published For-Profit Charter Schools: An Eval- uation of their Spending and Outcomes. The report examines academic outcomes in Ohio’s nonprofit and for-profit charter schools; in addition, it explores whether differences in contracted services in for-profits appear to correlate with differences in their outcomes. Although the report finds that charters generally have higher academic outcomes relative to traditional public schools, for-profit schools perform slightly lower academically than their nonprofit counterparts, and they perform worse than traditional schools in some areas as well. In addition, the report finds that for-profits typically contract for either staffing or other services and that those contracting for staffing perform especially poorly. Based on these findings, the report includes cautions about overregulation of for-profit charters but also raises concerns about virtual and charter schools that contract out for nearly all services. Contrary to the report’s enthusiastic Foreword, written by Fordham executives Amber Northern and Michael Petrilli and containing implications that somewhat vary from those in the report’s body, there is little in the report to remove skepticism from the debate over for-profit status. Rather, the report includes negative findings such as fewer students in for-profit charters earning diplomas, and it reinforces concerns about for-profit schools— particularly those that contract out for staff. In addition, the report is limited in its focus on only Ohio, which has substantially more transparency than many states require for school choice options. As a result, the report offers little to inform policy and practice in dissimilar or nationwide contexts.
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/for-profit-charters

Ohio is a state dominated by Republicans. When progressive candidates won seats on the state board in the recent election, Republicans moved swiftly to strip the state board of its powers and transfer them to a new state agency.

The state board has 19 seats. Eleven are elected. Eight are appointed by the Governor, Republican Mike DeWine.

News5 reported on the GOP plan to strip the state board of its powers.

For the first time in years, progressive candidates will control the elected seats on the executive agency, regulating if a resolution is able to pass or not. Candidates are voted on as nonpartisan candidates, however, each leans conservative or progressive and will be endorsed by a party. School board candidates tend to share their beliefs publically.

Three of the five seats up for grabs were taken by liberal candidates. Tom Jackson, of Solon, beat out incumbent Tim Miller by about 50,000 votes. Teresa Fedor, a now-former state senator from Toledo, beat opponent Sarah McGervey by more than 30,000 votes. Katie Hofmann, of Cincinnati, beat out incumbent Jenny Kilgore by around 30,000 votes.

“We’re just looking forward to getting back to Columbus and doing the people’s work,” Jackson told News 5.

Now, seven of the 11 elected seats are held by Democrats. The elected seats ensure that the total board can’t pass all resolutions it wants, since it needs a 2/3 majority. Of the 19 total seats, eight were appointed by Gov. DeWine. Now, with 12 GOP seats, a Democrat would need to switch over for policy to pass. This could change depending on attendance.

Even though Republicans hold a majority, they don’t have a 2/3 majority, and they won’t be able to pass resolutions without at least one Democrat.

Republican Governor Mike DeWine endorsed the plan to neuter the state board.

Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday he supports an Ohio Senate bill that would overhaul the Ohio Department of Education, gut powers from the Ohio State Board of Education and give his office more oversight of education.

“I think virtually every governor for 40 or 50 years has wanted to have more control in regard to the Department of Education,” DeWine, a Republican, told reporters. “So this governor is not going to be different. You know, I support the bill.”

Senate Bill 178 would put the Ohio Department of Education under a cabinet-level official in the governor’s office and rename the agency the Department of Education and Workforce, which would be called by the acronym DEW. The cabinet official would oversee the department, a task currently held by the state school board. The department would have two divisions: one for primary and secondary education and one for workforce training.

The 19-member state school board, made up of 11 elected members and eight members appointed by the governor, would continue to exist, but it would be stripped of most of its duties. It would oversee educator licensing and select the superintendent of public instruction, who would be a secretary to the board and an advisor to the DEW leader in the governor’s office.

“Candidly, the bill was not our idea, but I support the bill,” DeWine said. “I think what the public expects is accountability. And it’s hard to have accountability under our current system. You know, having the Department of Education with kind of a joint control between the governor’s office and the governor on certain areas, and other areas be the state elected Board of Education, I think is a very significant improvement.”

We have seen the same anti-democratic move in other states, like Indiana and North Carolina, where the legislature removed powers from the Governor or state superintendent so as to keep control of education in Republican hands, disregarding the voters’ wishes.

William Phillis, former deputy state superintendent of education in Ohio, is appalled by the waste and corruption in the charter sector. The state constitution requires a common school system, and charter schools and vouchers violate the state constitution. Ohio has had some of the biggest financial scandals in charter world (think ECOT), yet the Republican legislature continues to demand more funding for charters and vouchers. In this post, he likens charters to the one-room schools that were closed down long ago. He also notes that half of the 600 charters authorized in Ohio have closed.

William Phillis writes:

Charter Schools Conceptually and In Practice Are a Scourge on the Education Landscape In Ohio

Not all charter schools and their management companies are rife with fraud and corruption. Nor are all charters low-performing. Nor do all of them shortchange students to stack-up shameless profits. Nor do all of them practice nepotism in hiring, cherry-picking students, and closing without notice. However, the charter industry, as a whole, is rife with all of the above. Even if the charter industry would be free of all these negatives (and more), the concept and practice of chartering is wrong-headed.

The charter industry is inefficient within its own parameters and causes the whole of provisions for education to be inefficient. Historically the state has allocated between 34 to 45 percent of its General Revenue Fund (GRF) to K-12 education. Currently, about 40% of the state GRF is allocated to K-12 education.

Due to the demands of other state programs and services, the percentage of the state General Revenue Budget allocated to K-12 education will not likely increase substantially in the future.. Tax funds siphoned away from school districts for charters (and vouchers) duplicates facilities and programs which causes inefficient use of tax funds and reduces educational opportunities for students in both districts and charters.

Since 1900, the state forced school districts to consolidate to expand educational opportunities and to use tax dollars more efficiently. In 1900 there were about 3500 school districts. Ten thousand one room school buildings were in operation. Now there are 612 districts and no one room schools in operation. However, the state has issued more than 600 charters to private individuals, 300 or so of which have closed. Most charters serve less students than the school districts that the state forced to close. If smaller is finer, then why doesn’t the state force deconsolidation of school districts?

The smaller charter enrollments typically reduce breadth of programs and opportunities for students. The charters duplicate programs and services which exacerbates the inefficiencies. What are state officials thinking?

Charter schools are largely deregulated. For the sake of students and taxpayers there is no justification for a differential between public schools and charters in the matter of regulations. The original idea of chartering was that some teachers and parents would propose to a board of education that they would create innovative, creative programming and demonstrate better results in exchange for reduced regulations. As an industry, charters have been neither creative nor innovative. Nor has the charter industry outpaced traditional public schools in academic performance; however, reduced regulations have spawned fraud and corruption coupled with little or no accountability and transparency.

Charter schools have no constitutional basis.

The charter school experiment in Ohio has been rife with fraud and corruption and low performance. Billions in tax funding has been stolen and wasted. The experiment is a failure. There is no justification for this experiment to continue.

Learn more about the EdChoice voucher litigation

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VOUCHERS HURT OHIO

William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540 |ohioeanda@sbcglobal.net| http://ohiocoalition.org

With the help of the teachers’ unions, the people of Ohio elected three new members of the state board of education who support public schools. This is great news because the politicians in the State House and the Legislature have been frantically diverting public funds to charter schools and vouchers, as well as endorsing extremist policies on race and gender. The state constitution explicitly authorizes a system of public schools and forbids public funding of religious schools. Ohio’s charter schools are among the lowest-performing in the nation and are lower performing than the state’s public schools. Half of those authorized by the state have closed.

 

Anti-culture war candidates win three seats on Ohio State Board of Education, with big boost from teachers’ unions

By Laura Hancock, cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Voters elected three candidates to the Ohio State Board of Education on Tuesday who oppose fights over LGBTQ students in bathrooms and attempts to control how American racism is discussed in social studies classes. The Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Education Association contributed tens of thousands of dollars to help the campaigns of former state senator Teresa Fedor of Toledo, Tom Jackson of Solon and Katie Hofmann of Cincinnati, who each won their races against more conservative candidates. Candidates the unions did not support, including one who ran unopposed, won races in two districts.

The unions were involved in recruiting the three candidates. Fedor and Hofmann are each former teachers and members of OFT. Jackson, a businessman, is a volunteer coach at Solon High School and serves on the Solon City Schools Strategic Planning Team. Their members volunteered to knock on doors and spread the word about the candidates.

They also gave their candidates a big fundraising boost. In addition to writing checks for each candidate’s campaign — OEA gave $13,700 to each candidate’s campaign and the OFT gave $12,000 to Fedor and Jackson and $13,700 to Hofmann — the unions spent at least $100,000 to get them elected through an independent super PAC called Educators for Ohio. The PAC is normally controlled by OEA, but OFT this year was also involved in it, said Melissa Cropper, president of the OFT.

The super PAC spent money only on the three state school board candidates, said Scott DiMauro, president of the OEA. “The three individuals who won those contested races are all strong advocates of public education, they have strong records on that,” DiMauro said. “I would anticipate they would work closely with other members of the state board who have been pushing back on some of those (culture wars) attacks. How everything is going to play out still remains to be seen, because you still have an extremist faction that is pushing some of those resolutions. Some of those members are still there.”

Fedor defeated Sarah McGervey, a Catholic school teacher who talked about parental rights against perceived liberal bias in education and keeping LGBTQ protections out of Title IX. Jackson defeated incumbent Tim Miller and Cierra Lynch Shehorn, who was ran further to the right of Miller. Hofmann defeated conservative incumbent Jenny Kilgore.

Hoffman, Jackson and Fedor vastly outraised their opponents. Kilgore individually raised $5,800 in 2022. Hofmann raised nearly $44,000. Jackson raised $53,000 this year, compared to Miller’s $7,600 and Lynch Shehorn’s $4,800.

Fedor’s and McGervey’s campaign finance reports are more complicated. McGervey ran for the Ohio House in August. After she lost that race she ran for the state board. Her total fundraising haul was $15,000. Fedor was a sitting senator in 2021, the beginning of the two-year funding cycle, and she raised $95,000 during the two-year period.

Other candidates who won but were not supported by the unions include incumbent member John P. Hagan, a conservative on the board, who beat a challenge from Robert R. Fulton. Neither candidate in that race received the unions’ endorsement. Ohio State Board of Education President Charlotte McGuire won reelection unopposed. Ohio Value Voters, a conservative Christian organization, backed the conservative slate of candidates, including Hagan.

As Ohio students fell academically behind from remote learning during the pandemic and Ohio has been without a permanent state superintendent for more than a year, conservatives on the state school board pressed to take on several controversial issues over the last year.

Last year, conservatives on the board successfully overturned an anti-racism resolution that the board had previously passed in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Two members of the state board who voted to overturn the anti-racism measure were defeated Tuesday night: Miller, of Akron, and Kilgore, of Hamilton County. A third supporter of the resolution, Kirsten Hill – who organized a bus from Lorain County to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 but said she never entered the U.S. Capitol – opted not to seek reelection.

More recently, conservatives on the board have been pushing a resolution that would urge local school districts to defy Title IX protections for LGBTQ students that are being proposed by President Joe Biden’s administration, potentially putting federal money for free and reduced lunch and special education in jeopardy. The resolution remains under consideration. Board members have spent 10 hours taking public testimony and discussing it since September.

Most of the state school board campaigning and fundraising took place in just the past two months, Cropper said.

“Remember, this election cycle, no one knew what the lines were going to be,” she said. Every 10 years, the boundaries for the Ohio State Board of Education shift when Ohio Senate boundaries are redrawn. Gov. Mike DeWine changed state school board boundaries Jan. 31, a move panned by critics as gerrymandering. DeWine didn’t change the school board map, even as state mapmakers shifted the Senate’s boundaries found to violate the Ohio Constitution, and on July 14, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose notified county boards of election to use the Jan. 31 changes DeWine made. Candidates for the state school board, which are nonpartisan, had to file to run for the seats Aug. 10, which left just a few months to campaign.

“It really was a crunch in trying to get quality candidates to run,” Cropper said. “We had incumbents we know that were not pro-public education, who were in my opinion, pushing these culture war issues at the state board level. And it was just critical to us that we could get them out of there. So we definitely were looking for people who understand public education, who have been engaged in conversations about equity, social-emotional learning, the whole child approach, all the things that are really important to us.”

The whole child approach refers to the state board’s 2019-2024 strategic plan that says the state is concerned with the “whole child,” not just academics but stressors children experience at home that can influence learning. In 2019, the Ohio Department of Education unveiled social-emotional learning standards that aim to help children become successful in their interactions with others, to establish positive relationships, manage their emotions, and make healthy, drug-free choices in life.

“My estimation is that people rejected extremists and the extreme issues that they’re bringing to the table and children are caught in the middle,” Fedor said Wednesday. “I believe this is an overall rejection of using our children as political fodder.” Fedor had the most name recognition among the state school board candidates. In addition to her legislative career, she was on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket this spring with former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. Fedor said that as she campaigned, she talked about reducing the number of standardized tests kids have to take. She talked about her own time in the classroom, when she worked an additional part-time job at the Toledo Zoo to make money for classroom materials.

She said she learned that people were horrified that Hill led Ohioans to the Jan. 6 rally. “There was a flood of different ideas and thoughts about what’s going on,” she said. “And they did not support the extremists who are bringing the extreme issues forward. The culture wars in the classrooms have to end so we can get to the business of educating our children with quality public education.”

Billionaires have been pouring millions of dollars into state and local school board races for at least the last dozen years. These elections are often flooded with money from out-of-state billionaires who support expansion of charter schools and invalid ways of evaluating teachers.

It’s great to see the unions step up and support state school board members who care about public schools and teachers and care about issues that matter, rather than divisive conflicts that don’t help anyone. The amount of money spent by the unions was small compared to what the billionaires spend, but it made a difference.

The ever wise Jan Resseger points out that the Ohio House overwhelmingly voted 82-10 to end the policy of holding back third graders who don’t score proficient on the state reading test. Now, she hopes that the State Senate will complete the elimination of this disastrous experiment. The idea that children will become better readers if they are failed is nonsense. Years of experience and research shows that failure leads to negative consequences, causing a loss of confidence, a sense of failure and higher dropout rates in later years.

She writes:

Ohio’s Third Grade Guarantee, enacted by the legislature in 2012 and implemented beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, requires that students who do not score “proficient” on the state’s third grade reading test must be retained for another year in third grade. Brown reports that,”Ohio has retained around 3,628 students per year.”

Jeb Bush and his ExcelInEd Foundation have been dogged promoters of the Third Grade Guarantee, but last May, the Columbus Dispatch’s Anna Staver traced Ohio’s enthusiasm for the Third Grade Guarantee to the Annie E. Casey Foundation: “In 2010, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a bombshell special report called ‘Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.’ Students, it said, who don’t catch up by fourth grade are significantly more likely to stay behind, drop out and find themselves tangled in the criminal justice system. ‘The bottom line is that if we don’t get dramatically more children on track as proficient readers, the United States will lose a growing and essential proportion of its human capital to poverty… And the price will be paid not only by the individual children and families but by the entire country.’”

But it turns out that promoters of the Third-Grade Guarantee ignored other research showing that when students are held back—in any grade—they are more likely later to drop out of school before they graduate from high school. In 2004, writing for the Civil Rights Project, Lisa Abrams and Walt Haney reported: “Half a decade of research indicates that retaining or holding back students in grade bears little to no academic benefit and contributes to future academic failure by significantly increasing the likelihood that retained students will drop out of high school.” (Gary Orfield, ed., Dropouts in America, pp. 181-182)

Why does holding children back make them more likely to drop out later? In their book, 50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools, David Berliner and Gene Glass explain the research of Kaoru Yamamoto on the emotional impact on children of being held back: “Retention simply does not solve the quite real problems that have been identified by teachers looking for a solution to a child’s immaturity or learning problems…Only two events were more distressing to them: the death of a parent and going blind.” Berliner and Glass continue: “Researchers have estimated that students who have repeated a grade once are 20-30% more likely to drop out of school than students of equal ability who were promoted along with their age mates. There is almost a 100% chance that students retained twice will drop out before completing high school.” (50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools, pp. 9-97)

In a recent report examining the impact of Third-Grade Guarantee legislation across the states, Furman University’s Paul Thomas explainsthat short term gains in reading scores after students are held back are likely to fade out in subsequent years as students move into the upper elementary and middle school years. But, Thomas quotes the National Council of Teachers of English on how the lingering emotional scars from “flunking a grade” linger: “Grade retention, the practice of holding students back to repeat a grade, does more harm than good:

  • “retaining students who have not met proficiency levels with the intent of repeating instruction is punitive, socially inappropriate, and educationally ineffective;
  • “basing retention on high-stakes tests will disproportionately and negatively impact children of color, impoverished children, English Language Learners, and special needs students; and
  • “retaining students is strongly correlated with behavior problems and increased drop-out rates.”

Here is what Thomas recommends instead: “States must absolutely respond to valid concerns about reading achievement by parents and other advocates; however, the historical and current policies and reforms have continued to fail students and not to achieve goals of higher and earlier reading proficiency by students, especially the most vulnerable students who struggle to read.” Specifically, Thomas urges policymakers to eliminate: “high-stakes policies (retention) around a single grade (3rd) and create a more nuanced monitoring process around a range of grades (3rd-5th) based on a diverse body of evidence (testing, teacher assessments, parental input)…. Remove punitive policies that label students and create policies that empower teachers and parents to provide instruction and support based on individual student needs.”