Arts Online Update May 26, 2009

128th General Assembly: The Ohio House will hold session and committee hearings this week.  The Ohio Senate has cancelled its session, but will hold some committee hearings.

*The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee, Senator Carey chair, is expected to consider a new version of Am. Sub. HB 1 (Sykes) some time this week. The Finance Committee is expected to reduce the House version of the budget by $1 billion, focusing cuts on discretionary funds that will not impact receipt of federal stimulus dollars through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Senate is still targeting the first week in June to approve Am. Sub. HB 1.  Another round of cuts, however, is expected when the proposed budget reaches conference committee.  At that time lawmakers will use the latest budget estimates for FY10-11 to determine funding levels for HB1. Overall the Senate and conference committee may reduce the proposed budget by possibly as much as $3 billion.

Latest update on the FY09 budget: The Office of Budget and Management, J. Pari Sabety, released updated revenue estimates for
FY09 on May 18, 2009.  A $912 million shortfall is predicted based on reduced estimated revenue from the income tax (down $527.5 million), sales tax (down $287 million), and the commercial activity tax (down $140 million).

Last week the OBM announced that it had identified $150 million in savings as a result of the governor’s executive order to reduce agency spending and debt restructuring.  These savings will reduce the shortfall in FY09 to $762.1 million, which could be made up with funds from the Budget Stabilization Fund, which is estimated at $1 billion.

This Week at the Statehouse
TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2009
The House Alternative Energy Committee, chaired by Representative Celeste, will meet at 3:00 PM in hearing room 114.  The committee will hear testimony on HB 113 (Foley), School Energy Measures.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2009
The House Finance and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Representative Sykes, will meet at 9:30 AM in hearing room 313 to hear testimony on HB4 (Phillips) Interactive Distance Learning.

The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee, chaired by Senator Carey, will meet at 1:30 PM in the Senate Finance Hearing room to consider a substitute bill for Am. Sub. HB1 (Sykes) the FY10-11 budget.

THURSDAY – SUNDAY, MAY 28-31, 2009
The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee, chaired by Senator Carey, has scheduled hearings starting at 9:30 AM in the Senate Finance hearing room IF NEEDED on May 28, 29, 30, & 31, 2009 to consider the substitute bill for Am. Sub. HB1 (Sykes) the FY10-11 budget.

Groups Organize to Push for Tax Increases: The Campaign to Protect Ohio’s Future (Campaign) is urging lawmakers to adopt a “fiscally responsible and balanced” approach to address the revenue shortfall that will impact Am. Sub. HB 1 (Sykes) the FY10-11 budget.

As of May 18, 2009 31 organizations, including Policy Matters Ohio, the Center for Community Solutions, Hunger Network in Ohio, Voices for Ohio’s Children, etc. have endorsed a statement by the Campaign that urges lawmakers to adopt an approach “…that includes increasing revenues to fully fund health and human services that support individuals and the Ohio economy.”

The Campaign to Protect Ohio’s Future is a coalition of health, human services, primary and secondary education, and higher education organizations organized in 2003.  It seeks to protect Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens by restoring or adequately funding vital services through a responsible budget that has – as its primary priority – to meet basic human needs and provide sufficient funds to invest in Ohio’s future.”

The Campaign is not supporting one type of tax increase, but has identified the following potential revenue increases and options for discussion purposes:

*Restore the cuts in the personal income tax to bring in more than $400 million a year.  Restoring the top personal state income tax rate of 7.5 percent (2005 level) for incomes over $200,000, for example, would raise $470 million a year.
*Restrict tax breaks to generate $150 million.  For example, expand the sales tax base; means test the 10 percent and 2.5 percent rollbacks for homeowners and owner occupants; apply the Commercial Activity Tax to suppliers of large distribution centers; etc.
*Increase the cigarette tax 1 cent per cigarette to generate $130 million; double the current tax on other tobacco products to generate $20 million.
*Increase the sales tax to yield about $675 million for each percentage point increase.
*Restore the $1 billion in reduced business taxes as a result of House Bill 66, the 2005 tax reform bill, by increasing the rate of the Commercial Activity Tax, or taking other actions regarding the CAT.  Each 0.01 percent increase in the CAT would generate about $50 million or more in annual revenue.  Currently, the CAT is due to reach its full rate of 0.26 percent in April 2009.

The state could also increase the minimum CAT payment of $150 a year; a $50 increase would generate $6 million annually.

*Halt the final reduction in the corporate franchise tax.  At 20 percent of its pre-HB 66 level, the tax could raise $306 million.

For more information about the Campaign please visit http://www.protectohio.org/default.htm.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio approved the following resolution regarding the state income tax at their convention on May 3, 2009:

LWVO Action Resolution #4 – Income Tax

Whereas, Tax reform enacted in 2005 reduced state income tax rates by 21 percent;

Whereas, The State of Ohio is facing a fiscal crisis of such serious magnitude that it threatens the provision of basic social, human, and government services; and

Whereas, Provision of basic human needs and essential government services across a broad spectrum is jeopardized when specific social service interests are forced to compete against one another for ever-shrinking revenues; Therefore be it

Resolved, That the League of Women Voters of Ohio, meeting in Dublin, Ohio, in state Convention on May 3, 2009, urges the General Assembly to restore the Ohio income tax to 2005 levels during the 2010-2011 biennium as part of a plan to ensure adequate social, human, and government services for the citizens of Ohio.

Survey Results on Choice and A Think Tank Response: The Friedman Foundation for Education Choice reported on May 21, 2009 the results of a telephone survey conducted in February 2009 of 1,200 voters in Ohio by Strategic Vision. The survey is called “Ohio’s Opinion on K-12 Education and School Choice” by Paul DiPerna.

The survey is part of a national State series called “School Survey in the State”, published by the Friedman Foundation starting in November 2007.  The purpose of the state surveys is to “…measure voter attitudes toward public institutions and policies, innovative ideas, and the state’s K-12 education system.”  Ohio is the eleventh state to be the focus of the State surveys.

The results of Ohio’s survey were released jointly by School Choice Ohio, the Alliance for School Choice, Agudath Israel of America, Association of Christian Schools International – Ohio River Valley Region, Center for Education, Reform, Children’s Scholarship Fund of Greater Cincinnati, Democrats for Education Reform, and the Ohio Black Alliance for Educational Options.

According to description of the survey results, “…Ohioans are not satisfied with the status quo public school system; they support the Educational Choice Scholarship Program and are open to school vouchers; they favor charter schools rather than oppose them; and they are skeptical about new public school spending.”

The survey noted for example that 45 percent of K – 12 parents surveyed said that they would like to send their child to a private school; 27 percent said that they would like to send their child to a charter school; and 16 percent said that they would choose a regular public school for their child.

83 percent of respondents reported that they would opt for something other than traditional public schools, such as private schools.

The survey results are available at http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/downloadFile.do?id=371.

Think Tank Review of the Friedman Foundation Series Professors Jon Lorence and A. Gary Dworkin from the University of Houston, have reviewed the new Ohio poll and ten previous surveys in the Friedman Foundation State series for the Think Tank Review Project.  The Think Tank Review Project is a collaborative project of the Arizona State University Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) and Colorado University-Boulder’s Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC), and provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think tank publications.

According to their review of this latest Friedman survey dated May 22, 2009, “A new report issued this week by the Friedman Foundation is part of a series of reports based on public opinion polls, each of which relies on polls containing poorly worded questions and suffering from problems in sampling. These problems were documented six months ago, in a study of the first 10 of these Friedman reports.”

The ten previous Friedman reports “…conclude that a majority of likely voters view public schools as performing unsatisfactorily, that respondents prefer private over public schools and want more educational choices, that vouchers should be available, and that potential voters are more likely to support candidates who back school choice proposals.”

The reviewers point out, however,  that these reports fail to cite other surveys and research results that consistently show that more Americans oppose vouchers than support them, including the annual Gallup polls, conducted annually for Phi Delta Kappa.

The reviewers also identify problems with the surveys, including population samples which may not be representative, low response rates, biased wording of questions (in comparison to the Gallup wording), the use of unclear terms, and concluding that alternatives to traditional public schools will improve the quality of education.
The review of the Friedman survey noted, for example, that the response rate for the Ohio survey is considered low at 37 percent, which should raise “red flags” for researchers about sample bias. The surveys also substitute the word “scholarship” for “voucher”, which may solicit a different response from respondents.

The Think Tank Review Project recommends that, “Contrary to the authors’ claims, the data provide little evidence that state public officials will increase their electability by supporting school-choice policies.”

Schott Foundation Releases Opportunity Report: The Schott Foundation for Public Education, John H. Jackson CEO and president, released on May 19, 2009 a report called “Lost Opportunity:  A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America. The report provides a state-by-state (and District of Columbia) comparison of both academic proficiency of students’ using 8th grade NAEP scores in reading, and access to high performing schools using an Opportunity to Learn Index developed by the Schott Foundation. According to the Schott Foundation, the core minimum resources that a child needs in order to have a fair and substantive opportunity to learn are high quality early childhood education; highly qualified teachers and instructors in grades K-12; college preparatory curricula that prepares all youth for college, work, and citizenship; and equitable instructional resources.

According to the report, students from historically disadvantaged groups have just a 51 percent Opportunity to Learn when compared to White, non-Latino students, as measured by the Schott index. The report also found that the effects of these inequities are disproportionately concentrated in California, New York, and Texas.

Eight states can be identified as providing both at least a moderately proficient and a high access education for all students:  Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Virginia.

Sixteen states provide a moderately proficient education for most students, but demonstrated low access for historically disadvantaged
students:  Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming;

Seventeen states provide high-access but low-proficiency education to their students: Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and Utah.

Nine states provide both low proficiency and low access: Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia, along with the District of Columbia,

Ohio ranked 16th compared to other states, earning a moderate proficient but low access rating.  Ohio’s Opportunity to Learn Index Score was 26 percent, giving Ohio a ranking of 49th compared to other states.  The percentage of students in Ohio at the national proficient level or above was 36 percent, which was a tie for 10th place. The following are the core resource rankings for Ohio:  High Quality Early Childhood Education – 37th; highly qualified teachers – 41st; instructional materials – 23rd; and college preparatory curriculum 5th.

The report recommends that the federal government “make access to high quality opportunity to learn a federally guaranteed right for every American.”

The report is available at http://www.schottfoundation.org/

Collaboration Needed to Improve Schools: Policy Matters Ohio released on May 13, 2009 a report called “Leaders at Many Levels:
Improving Schools Through Collaboration in Ohio” by Piet van Lier.  The report examines through interviews the Ohio Improvement Process, and finds that the “…Ohio Improvement Process provides a valuable model for a collaborative approach to school improvement”.  The report also notes that the large urban schools districts participating in the process were less likely to view the process favorably with only three of the 13 urban respondents giving it positive marks.

The report is based on information gathered from interviews with 37 teachers and administrators from 18 school districts engaged in the Ohio Improvement Process, which began as a pilot in the 2007-08 school year.  The process is an effort by the Ohio Department of Education to create a unified approach to school improvement.  It brings together a “more representative group of teachers, administrators and others to the decision-making process than otherwise would have participated in many of the districts represented in this study.”

Research shows that a collaborative approach can help improve teaching and boost student achievement.  The report recommends that the collaborative process be supported in the future through ongoing and embedded training and resources that allow teachers the time they need to plan and learn together. Some districts that do not have the “culture” of cooperation and trust between teachers and administrators will need more training in consensus decision-making.
Also, Ohio’s larger school districts should be allowed to adapt the process to meet their needs, in order to be more successful. The report notes that the diversity of Ohio’s school districts and the range of their challenges requires a flexible rather than a “one-size-fits-all approach, so that the process can be adjusted to meet the needs of Ohio’s school districts and Ohio’s students.

The report notes that Sub. HB 1 (Sykes) the FY10-11 budget proposal, includes provisions for lead teacher positions, targeted funding for professional development, and a proposed Center for Creativity and Innovation to build teacher leadership in schools. These provisions support an education system that involves teachers as equal partners at the school and district level, and should be kept at the forefront of the discussion.

The report is available at http://www.policymattersohio.org/LeadersAtManyLevels.htm

Bills Introduced:

SB129 (Strahorn) Public Employees’ Bargaining Law: Eliminates an exemption from the Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Law for specified educational employees.

FYI ARTS
*Opportunities for Students this Summer:  The Phoenix Theatre for Children in Columbus, OH will sponsor a summer camp called “2009 Acting Up Summer Theatre Camps for Kids and Teens” at the Columbus Performing Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio. The Camp includes a variety of activities for children ages 4-18, and runs between June 22 through August 14, 2009 organized in weekly sessions. Extended child care is also available to 6:00 PM.  Please visit www.phoenix4kids.org for more information, including how you can receive special discounts by being a Phoenix season subscriber. You can also call 614-464-9400.

*Article on Brain Research and Arts Education: An article in the May 18, 2009 issue of the Baltimore Sun called “Arts appear to play role in brain development” by Liz Bowie highlights recent research on the effects of arts education on brain development.

A recent conference on brain development and the arts was held at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum, sponsored by Neuro-Education Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University.  Presenters explained how neuroscientists are investigating how training students in the arts may change the structure of their brains and the way they think.  An interdisciplinary field between education and neuroscience is emerging at Johns Hopkins and Harvard University, which has also created a center to study learning and the brain. Brain imaging techniques can now tell the difference between people who study string instruments and the piano, for example.
Researchers are searching for the connection between music education and attention, math, and how this information can transform classroom instruction.

The article is available at http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bal-md.arts18may18,0,1345340.story

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This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Information Coordinator for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.  The purpose of the update is to keep arts education advocates informed about issues dealing with the arts, education, policy, research, and opportunities.  The distribution of this information is made possible through the generous support of the Ohio Music Education Association (www.omea-ohio.org), Ohio Art Education Association (www.oaea.org), Ohio Educational Theatre Association (www.Ohioedta.org); OhioDance (www.ohiodance.org), and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (www.OAAE.net).

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About OAAE

Since our founding in 1974, by Dr. Dick Shoup and Jerry Tollifson, our mission has always been to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Working at the local, state, and federal levels through the efforts of a highly qualified and elected Board of Directors, our members, and a professional staff we have four primary areas of focus: building collaborations, professional development, advocacy, and capacity building. The OAAE is funded in part for its day-to-day operation by the Ohio Arts Council. This support makes it possible for the OAAE to operate its office in Columbus and to work statewide to ensure the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. Support for arts education projects comes from the Ohio Arts Council, The John F. Kennedy Center, Ohio Music Education Association, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, VSA Ohio, and OhioDance. The Community Arts Education programs of Central Ohio are financially assisted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Greater Columbus Arts Council. We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the financial support received from each of these outstanding agencies and organizations.
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