Friday, February 09, 2007

Return of the Weekly Reader (With amendment)

Since this promises to be a big year for education in Ohio, I’m again trying to post news at least weekly. And yes, I’ll get back to analyzing the amendment in a bit.

Strickland Education Watch.

Since Governor Strickland announced the date of his first State of the State address – March 14 – and since that will be days before he releases his budget, people are speculating about how he will address education. House Speaker Jon Husted, interviewed in the Blade thinks he will propose a comprehensive solution. Strickland counters in the CD that he’s working with stakeholder groups, is trying to come up with a comprehensive solution and

The first step in the budget process is the recommendation for the Department of Education. Before the PTA the ODE described this process for finding their recommendations on their website:

• ODE home page at
• Use search function and enter “Budget Recommendations”
• Click on Office of Budget and Planning
• Click on Fiscal Year 2008-09 Budget and Policy Recommendations – Final at the bottom of the page

Yeah, or you could just click here.

Amendment Update

Redhorse was first up with a report that the Ballot Board approved the structure of the amendment, clearing the way for signature gathering.

At least one State School Board member is actively speaking against the amendment. Susan Haverkos, newly elected from the Dayton area, argues against the amendment and points to recommendations in the proposed budget as the “next steps” to take. According to the news report, the recommendations include:

    implementing a more robust system of weighted student funding; moving toward implementing building-based budgeting; and targeting new investments where they can have greatest impact based on need.
All of which can mean lots of different things. Haverkos, meanwhile, has been reportedly associated in the past with anti-tax/anti-public education groups (not to mention pro-creationism), so will have little credibility in the education community. (ital reflects revision)

One other bit of news is that the campaign is calling the amendment Getting It Right For Ohio’s Future, or, apparently GIRFOF. Always trying to be accommodating, I’ll follow suit. It’s no longer AWNN; it’s GIRFOF.

Are they kidding? When the gambling industry tried to put a little education sugar on top of their latest attempt to legalize casino gambling they came up with a catchy, attractive name – Learn and Earn – and a slogan: “A lot of good will come of this.” If the folks in charge of the GIRFOF political strategy had been in charge, it would have been called the A Lot of Good Will Come of This amendment. Or, ALOFWCOT.

Charter School in Trouble.

Normally that wouldn’t be much of a headline, but the school in trouble is the Performing Arts School of Metropolitan Toledo. While not the same as the Toledo School For the Arts, it is nonetheless a charter that attempted to put some real programming together. They are in financial trouble and going through in-fighting at the top. This follows on one of the true leading lights of the charter movement – W.E.B. DeBois Academy in Cincinnati – nearly going under this spring.

All this, I fear, is due to the lack of real oversight. Charter advocates in Ohio tend to be free market acolytes. As a result, laws were written under the assumption that the market would provide all the oversight necessary. Which is fine, but the market doesn’t guarantee that businesses are efficient, it forces inefficient businesses to close. When schools close down, children’s lives are disrupted, their parents have to scramble to get them in other programs and the community built around the school is torn asunder.

Or to say it in economicese, shifting vendors carries high transaction costs.

The Performing Arts School and Toledo School for the Arts are also held up as the sort of innovative school organizers can put together when they can work outside the confines of the a traditional school district. This last point is bunk, given that Akron has accomplished much the same at Miller South, a school I have more than a passing familiarity with.


Eric in comments challenges me on the discussion of Susan Haverkos. I can't find anything on line but in the ed. community she is said to have worked with Citizens Organized Against School Taxes, a group that attempts to put issues on the ballot repealing school levies. If she is not allied with this group, she should know that the reports are out there. In any event, I've amended the post to underscore the nature of my information.


Jill said...

Thank you for doing this post.

Quick comments:

Strickland's stakeholders, I am SPECULATING, are via Chad Wick, Gates' Foundation, KnowledgeWorks and all the stakeholders who were into the small schools stuff - which was pretty much every major statewide player that you might expect to line up. The list would be on the KW website with small school info but I have it somewhere in my reams of small schools stuff too.

Second thing: Susan Haverkos. She's the mom who was elected and who pushes still for "teaching the [nonexistent] controversy" of evolution, ie. teach Intelligent Design in the public schools. Even ID opponents say they're not pleased with her. (I blogged about that a couple of months ago.)

Anonymous said...

I would have no problems with charter schools if all schools could get the same deal. Having two systems that don't work competing with each other makes no sense. How about focusing on one system and seeing just what is needed to make it successful.

Re: Miller South. A great success and everybody ignores it. Why not incorporate its truly innovative approach to integrating the arts into the academic classroom to reach all students? APS ought to be hiring arts teachers to work with staff at all the primary and elementary schools to teach the teachers how to use the arts to make lessons lasting ones.

I too have more than passing knowledge of that school. Contrary to popular belief, they don't take the cream of the crop from every other school. Kids are accepted based on talent, not grades. Many straight A kids audition and don't get in, while kids from the worst possible circumstances can succeed there -- as long as they show a genuine talent for one of the arts.

Eric said...

I'm disappointed by the unwarranted attacks on Haverkos. She's spot on with her "unintended consequences" of GIRFOF observation. She's "interested in art in the classroom and programs for gifted children, ...[and wants] to respectfully listen to everyone and try to change the polarized political environment that has guided this board."

Anti public education? She has been adamant that district employees have appropriate qualifications, and supports transparency in governance.

It's valuable to know that this is the sort of person GIRFOF supporters do not take seriously--will they be asserting a fundamental right to offend conservative Christians, Muslims, and Blacks?