Our latest report examines the progress that the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) has made since the state legislature passed the so- called “Cleveland Plan” and voters approved a new levy in 2012.
Make no mistake, there has been progress. For the first time in decades, enrollment in CMSD has increased. Graduation rates have also increased, disciplinary actions have decreased, and proficiency test scores have improved relative to other large urban school districts.
However, many challenges still remain. The successes mentioned above are only relative to other challenged school districts. The district’s national fourth grade reading and math scores have improved since 2012, but remain mired in the bottom of districts nationally – as they have over the last decade.
Our report also discusses the education supports created in The Plan such as efforts to expand early childhood education, the formation of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance to establish greater local control and a better informed community about its schools’ quality, and the implementation of wraparound services to create a broader support network for students and schools.
Read the full report here.
In light of the Ohio General Assembly’s decision in 2015 to create the Academic Distress Commission to reform Youngstown City Schools, Innovation Ohio has put forward some findings to assist the Commission in its mission. [Read more…]
If the Ohio Department of Education tries to verify that students at the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow are online 5 hours a day, ECOT Superintendent Rick Teeters told email recipients, “they would likely force us and other e-schools to close our doors.”
It’s called accountability.
At issue is ECOT’s whole business model — getting paid $7,127 per student (more per pupil state funding than 85 percent of Ohio’s traditional school districts) to simply offer 920 hours of curriculum to kids, not actually prove they are educating them. ECOT received $108 million last school year from the state, and has been paid nearly $1 billion since it opened in 2000.
This is nothing less than an existential fight for the nation’s largest for-profit charter school.
ODE wants to verify that the kids it’s sending taxpayer money to educate actually logged on and off enough to justify the $108 million expenditure. ECOT claims in a lawsuit filed last week that ODE doesn’t understand its technology, which is so apparently groundbreaking that it allows kids to be educated effectively without logging in.
As Special Counsel to the Ohio Attorney General Douglas R. Cole put it in his filing responding to ECOT’s complaints,
“Under a plain, common-sense reading of the community school (charter school) funding statutes, ECOT is required to track. and ODE to reimburse for, actual student participation. Finding otherwise would render numerous (Ohio Revised Code) provisions … meaningless, and, as a more fundamental matter, the statutory scheme would not make sense.”
How else do regulators determine student participation in online educational experiences except through logging in and out of the system? It’s sort of like saying that a student in a traditional setting is “participating” even if the student shows up to school for a few minutes every so often. ECOT is arguing, essentially, that it should be paid in full for educating kids that barely show up simply because ECOT would let them in if they ever did show up.
It’d be one thing if ECOT’s performance indicated this novel approach actually worked. However, as has been documented over and over again, ECOT’s performance is among the worst of any school in the state, and it can’t even graduate 4 out of 10 kids.
So the returns aren’t great.
According to the Dispatch article about the ECOT lawsuit, we may have a hearing as early as today to decide whether ODE can proceed with its quasi-audit of ECOT’s kids. So we may have clarity about whether this count moves forward very shortly.
But if ECOT is forced to close because ODE is simply checking to make sure the school is educating students the state has already paid to educate, that says something about how ineffective ECOT has been.
And it explains, once again, just how lacking Ohio has been on charter school oversight. For it appears that all ODE had to do to overcome ECOT’s significant political clout was to simply ask them to prove their kids actually participate in an educational program.
And you wonder why Ohio’s charter school regime has been so mocked.
The rising importance of cities is well-documented: over 80 percent of Americans now live in urban areas, and the growth of cities far outstrips that of the country as a whole. In Ohio, roughly 90 percent of residents currently live in one the state’s six largest metro areas. With no foreseeable end in sight, urban migration will place increasing pressure on city governments to provide effective policy solutions.
Unfortunately, city governments have not been receiving the support they need from Columbus. From 2004 to 2014, disbursements of state-sponsored funds to local government have been cut almost in half, hampering cities’ ability to provide essential services and undertake long-overdue growth projects. Just how big is the revenue hole for Ohio’s cities and townships? Local government funding over the next two years is expected to be more than $623 million less than it was in 2008-2009, according to a recent investigation by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Luckily, Ohio’s cities are also home to some of its most ambitious innovators. Perhaps the brightest example of Ohio’s leadership came this week as the City of Columbus received word that it was selected as the recipient of $50 million as part of the US Department of Transportation’s new Smart Cities grant. City leaders successfully pitched Columbus to USDOT and its private funding partners, emphasizing the ways that intelligent transportation systems can address socioeconomic barriers to employment and serve an increasingly urbanized young professional population. The Columbus team beat out five other finalists including Austin, Portland and San Francisco for funding that will fund high-tech infrastructure, create mobility options in low-income neighborhoods and reduce climate impacts.
In recent years, cities and villages across the Buckeye state have developed innovative new approaches to a number of critically important issues:
Paid Family Leave
Last year, under the leadership of mayors Nan Whaley and John Cranley, Dayton and Cincinnati passed generous paid family leave policies for city employees, joining a growing list of major cities around the country. At the rollout of Dayton’s paid family leave plan, Mayor Nan Whaley remarked that “Paid parental leave is not only the right thing to do, but it strengthens women and families, reduces gender based economic disparities, has positive impacts on local economies, and improves health outcomes.”
At a recent meeting of the Newburgh Heights city council, members voted unanimously to provide six months of paid leave to all city employees, at 100% of salary. The policy is the first of its kind in the United States, and has attracted the attention of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who praised mayor Trevor Elkins as “a leader on an issue that keeps people up at night.”
The Newburgh Heights decision has once again shone a light on the potential for cities to serve as incubators of policy innovation.
In addition to its robust paid leave policy, Cincinnati has put into place a $15 minimum wage for city employees, expanded the range of triggers for prevailing wage requirements, and passed a hard-hitting wage theft ordinance that would revoke licenses from companies convicted of committing wage theft and require the reimbursement of victims. On Tuesday, Franklin county commissioners followed Cincinnati’s lead in passing a new ‘living wage’ ordinance for county employees. Building on the momentum of its southern neighbors, the Service Employees International Union is leading the charge to introduce a $15 minimum wage in the city of Cleveland.
In Columbus, Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown proposed, and fellow Council members unanimously adopted the Healthcare Worker and Patient Protection Ordinance, aimed at ensuring that healthcare workers and patients can enter healthcare facilities without fear of harassment, intimidation, or stalking. The law is based on model ordinances already in place in Colorado, Massachusetts, and NYC. And Cuyahoga County was the first in Ohio to place a ban on official travel to North Carolina after the state adopted a law that eliminates legal protections for the LGBT community.
These examples, as well as countless other bold, forward-facing policies introduced by city lawmakers, serve to illustrate the tremendous wealth of leadership that we enjoy in the State of Ohio. City leaders are paving the way for a brighter, more equitable future, by making our cities attractive places to work and live. It is time that the Ohio legislature stepped behind these efforts by providing Ohio’s innovators with the resources and funds necessary to amplify and expand municipal programs.