For Immediate Release: March 8, 2012 Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833
Think Tank Both Praises and Criticizes Reform PlanColumbus: Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today released an analysis of the education reform plan recently put forward by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Governor Kasich has indicated the plan might serve as a model for his own education reform effort, which presumably will include the new school funding formula he promised but so far has failed to deliver. The analysis is available at www.innovationohio.org. IO said an analysis of the “Cleveland Plan” is important given Ohio’s history of expanding Cleveland education experiments, such as private school vouchers, state-wide. “If Governor Kasich is intent on using the Cleveland Plan as a model for other Ohio school districts, then it’s critical that we get it right,” said IO President Janetta King. The analysis found a number of “things to like” about the Cleveland Plan, including:
- Innovations such as a Global Language Academy, an Environmental Science School, Early Childhood Education Academies in every neighborhood, and an English Immersion School for all children for whom English is a second language;
- A focus on high-quality preschool education, as well as on college and workforce readiness; and
- A series of proposed changes to state law that would, for example, give the Cleveland Metropolitan School District flexibility to manage its fiscal assets and close loopholes in existing law that allow poorly-performing Charter Schools to continue operating.
- A proposal to allow the transfer of local property tax revenue to Charter schools;
- The transfer of school oversight and other functions from the Cleveland School Board (accountable to the Mayor) to an unelected and less accountable “Cleveland Transformation Alliance”;
- A weighted per pupil funding formula with “money following the child” that, in IO’s view, would inevitably end up short-changing either students or schools;
- Several proposals relating to teacher compensation, collective bargaining and accountability, which IO says are exact replicas of provisions in last year’s Senate Bill 5, which Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected with 61% of the vote in November.
Governor John Kasich had no new school reforms in his State of the State address, except to say he was going to count on Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to lead the state on this issue. This is despite the promise of the country’s best school funding formula in last year’s State of the State. [Read more…]
The U.S. Department of Education has fired the first warning shot to a Race to the Top grantee for failing to fulfill their end of the bargain. Hawaii is in danger of losing its $75 million grant because it can’t fulfill its promises in its application. However, Ohio’s successful $400 million application rested heavily on the Education Reform plan passed in 2009. Now that the state’s current leadership has tossed almost all of that aside, is Ohio next? Can Ohio meet the obligations it committed to if the current regime undoes all the reforms that allowed the state to make those commitments? The Race to the Top judges praised Ohio’s landmark Education Reform of 2009, and the Education Commission of the States called it the country’s most “bold, courageous, non-partisan” reform of 2009. Ohio won the $400 million by just a few points, so the state has little margin for error. Let’s hope the state gets its act together in time not to jeopardize $400 million for our kids. Of course, the Kasich administration also cut education funding by nearly $3 billion in the last budget. So we’ll see.
Gov. John Kasich’s administration yesterday confirmed what has long been suspected: Kasich’s brash claim that ditching Gov. Ted Strickland’s Evidence Based Model of School Funding and developing a new one within a year probably won’t happen, even for next school year. Less than a year after declaring he’s going to develop the best school funding model in the country, Kasich’s finding it’s perhaps more complicated than his bumper-sticker understanding of the issue made it seem.
That means for Kasich’s first biennial budget, it appears that Ohio will have the dubious distinction of being the only state in the country that doesn’t have a school funding formula.
The problem is two-fold. First, Kasich’s so-called “Bridge Formula” (which isn’t in fact a formula at all), and the district-by-district projections that accompanied his budget this year assumed a new formula in the second year of the biennium. His deputies said during legislative hearings that districts shouldn’t rely on the second year of their projections for that reason. How the state will bridge to the new formula in year two of the binnium is now uncertain for districts. Even more disturbing is it appears from the Dispatch story that the Administration hasn’t even tested any formulas by doing projections, runs or other analysis.
Second of all, Kasich and his Legislative Allies have made it very clear they have zero intention of providing any property tax relief to address the incredible funding inequities that led to four Ohio Supreme Court rulings ordering the state to reduce the property tax burden on local districts.
House Finance Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz told the Dispatch: “When you don’t have significantly more money, it makes it harder to make any bigger changes. You create winners and losers. We don’t know how much money we’re going to have.”
Looks like this crowd is doubling down on residually budgeting education, even though the Ohio Supreme Court ruled four times that practice was unconstitutional. The court ordered the state four times to figure out how much education costs, then fund it without overrelying on property taxes.
Kasich and his allies have nearly 20 years of school funding research, formula development and even a year of the School Funding Advisory Council studying these issues in depth. It’s not like Kasich has to reinvent the wheel on determining education’s cost in Ohio. He simply has to look at what many Ohioans have done already.
And don’t buy into the “where’s the money coming from” argument either. For example, to fund Strickland’s Evidence Based Model would have required the state to commit barely more than one percent of the budget each year for 10 years. Yet Kasich and his Legislative Allies refuse to make even that small commitment, which, by the way, would have meant about an average $400 property tax cut for every $100,000 Ohio home.
The education reform of 2009, which included much more than the EBM, received the Frank Newman Award from the Education Commission of the States for being the country’s most “bold, courageous, non-partisan” education reform of 2009. The commission was chaired then by former Republican Gov. and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.
Let’s hope Kasich’s formula, whenever it’s completed (if it’s ever completed), receives similar accolades.
Ohio’s kids deserve no less.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an examination of e-schools and how they perform entitled “Online Schools Score Better with Wall Street than in Classrooms.” The author, Stephanie Saul, spoke extensively with Innovation Ohio’s Education Fellow, Stephen Dyer, while researching the story, based on Dyer’s research for IO’s report: “Ohio E-Schools: Funding Failure; Coddling Contributors“. While Saul’s research led her to focus more on virtual schools in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, Dyer was quoted in the article about Ohio e-schools and their aggressive lobbying for public money:
Similar family organizations have cropped up across the country. Former State Representative Stephen Dyer became suspicious when members of the benignly named organization My School, My Choice paraded through his northeastern Ohio district carrying signs attacking him: “Why Won’t Rep. Stephen Dyer let parents choose the best education for their kids?” The protest was prompted by questions Mr. Dyer had raised over the state’s financing formula for charter and online schools. The group describes itself as a coalition of parents, teachers and employees of the schools. But Mr. Dyer said that his wife questioned the people carrying the signs and found out they were paid temp agency workers.Read the New York Times article. Read our e-schools report.
In an apparent attempt to calm the firestorm of controversy caused by his bill to expand the use of private school vouchers, State Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, held a news conference on Monday to discuss”changes” he intends to make to House Bill 136. As currently written, the bill poses the greatest threat to the viability of Ohio’s “common schools” since they became part of the Ohio Constitution in 1851. [Read more…]
Earlier this year, Gov. John Kasich decided to let Teach for America — a well-known and controversial teacher development program — come to Ohio in great numbers. TFA is designed to fill inner-city schools with bright and energetic, but inexperienced college graduates. Trouble is, TFA’s successes have been sporadic and have yet to fulfill the promise its founders and funders have made to close the achievement gap better than the traditional teacher training options. [Read more…]
During the debate over Senate Bill 5 and later Issue 2, proponents of the union-busting bill tried to argue that the only way to bring unions in line was to get rid of their right to collectively bargain. However, there is ample evidence that working with labor unions through the collective bargaining process can actually produce better results. In EdWeek today, there is a story discussing recent initiatives of private foundations — some from the teacher unions themselves — that have produced a new collaborative model in which teachers and managers work together to develop evaluation tools and other beneficial reforms. As the article puts it:
“‘In schools where people can feel free to disagree and to challenge their thinking, they’re moving forward at a much more accelerated rate,’ Mr. Collins said. ‘Teachers feel respected and teachers feel listened to—not necessarily agreed with—but they walk away from the conversation feeling like they’ve been heard.’ In fits and starts—and amid budget crises and legislative changes to bargaining—there are signs that more school administrators and teachers’ unions, like those in Springfield, are doing business together in a different way.”Teachers unions have put millions of dollars into these collaborative efforts, which are producing results. Even in Ohio, we have seen labor’s willingness to work with management produce important reforms such as the development of the state’s new Model Teacher Evaluation System. The system was developed over the course of two years (after being part of H.B. 1, the state budget passed in 2009) with the cooperation of teachers and managers. It was field tested last school year and is in the final stages of development. Perhaps with the defeat of Issue 2, we can now put scapegoating aside and start recognizing that teachers can be part of the solution.