Election News: The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted on November 16, 2012 a motion to temporarily stop an order issued by U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley requiring boards of elections to count provisional ballots even if they do not include accurate voter identification information on the affirmation form.
Secretary of State Jon Husted appealed the order which stems from the enforcement of the decision in Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) v. Husted. Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking the ruling in response to a directive issued by Secretary of State Jon Husted days before the November 6, 2012 election.
According to Judge Marbley’s order, the Secretary of State’s directive violates Ohio Law and a 2010 federal consent decree, because it directed county boards of elections to task voters, rather than poll workers, to record the type of identification that voters presented to vote. This task, according to Ohio law, is the responsibility of the poll worker. The Judge’s order directs county boards of elections to count provisional ballots cast if the affirmation form includes the last four digits of the voters Social Security number, unless it can be proven that a poll worker recorded on that form that a voter must return to a county board of elections with proper identification, what identification must be presented at the county board, and that the voter did not go to the board within 10 days of the election.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, found that poll workers use a separate “verification statement” to verify voter identification, and Judge Marbley’s order changes the rules by which provisional voters affirm their identification. The order is available.
College Affordability Website: The Ohio Board of Regents has developed a new website called OhioMeansSuccess.org that includes several online tools to help students find affordable and efficient higher education opportunities that will lead to a degree. The website provides information about comparing college costs; transferring credits between state colleges, universities, and career-technical centers for more than 60 degree programs; obtaining financial aid; and how veterans can use their military training and experience to obtain college credit.
The website is part of the Board of Regents “Complete College Ohio Initiative,” to graduate more students and encourage them to remain in Ohio. According to Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro, currently 26 percent of Ohioans have a bachelor’s degree compared to 31 percent nationally. The website is available.
Senate Democrats Elect Leadership: Democrats in the Ohio Senate re-elected Senator Eric Kearney as minority leader; Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown), assistant minority leader; Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), minority whip; and Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo), assistant minority whip. The leadership team will serve in the 130th General Assembly beginning in January 2013.
OLBC Elects Leadership: The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) elected Representative Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) president for the 130th General Assembly. Also elected are Senator Edna Brown first vice president (D-Toledo); Representative Roland Winburn (D-Dayton) second vice president and treasurer; Representative Dale Mallory (D-Akron) secretary; and Representative Vern Sykes (D-Akron) sergeant-at-arms. The leadership team will serve in the 130th General Assembly beginning in January 2013.
Tool Kit Available to Increase Efficiency: Rick Lewis, Executive Director of the Ohio School Boards Association and Randy Cole, President of the State Controlling Board, announced last week an online tool kit that will help schools/districts reduce costs and become more cost effective. The tool kit includes examples of shared services and business practices that school districts are using to become more effective with tax dollars. The tool kit is available.
Lame Duck Session/Effect on Education: Members of Congress returned to Washington, D.C. last week to tackle the pending 8 percent across the board reductions in funding for some federal programs on January 2, 2013; the repeal of tax cuts initiated under President George W. Bush; and the end of the temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes and the Alternative Minimum Tax. The culmination of these events is referred to as the “fiscal cliff.”
Across the board cuts in discretionary federal programs, also known as sequestration, are set to go into effect on January 2, 2012 as a result of a deal made last year through the Budget Control Act of 2011, to reduce federal spending by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The deal was made after Congress and President Obama were not able to agree on recommendations to reduce the deficit proposed by a joint committee of Congress, and instead postponed action until January 2013. Budget cuts will not be made in several programs, including Social Security, school lunch, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Pell Grants.
Just a reminder, the U.S. Department of Education has identified $3.5 billion of its budget that could be affected by sequestration. The FY2014-15 biennial budget proposed by the State Board of Education includes over $3 billion in federal funds for Ohio’s schools. If Congress does not reach an agreement on the federal budget by January 2, 2013, Ohio’s schools could see significant declines in funding for federal programs, such as Title 1, special education, school improvement, Head Start, etc. The effect on local school district budgets could lead to more cuts in music and arts programs, as school districts re-distribute funds to compensate mandated programs for the loss in federal funds.
Ohio Congresswomen to Lead Congressional Black Caucus: U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge (D-Warrensville Heights) was selected last week to chair the Congressional Black Caucus during the 113th Congress. The Caucus also unanimously elected G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) to serve as First Vice Chair, Yvette Clarke (NY-11) as Second Vice Chair, Representative André Carson (IN-07) as Secretary, and Representative Karen Bass (CA-33) as Whip. Currently the caucus has 43 members, and advocates for jobs, equal access to health care and educational opportunities, balancing the federal budget in a fair and fiscally responsible way, etc. A press release is available.
Sub. HB555 Includes New School Accountability System and More: The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, accepted on November 13, 2012 a substitute bill for HB555 (Stebelton).
The bill includes a new A-F rating system for districts/schools that will be presented in a new “dashboard-style” report card that includes indicators for student achievement, student progress, achievement gap closure, graduation rates, K-3 literacy, and college-career readiness.
The new report card would be phased in over school years 2012-13 and 2013-14 to accommodate the transition to the new and more rigorous Common Core standards and aligned assessments. Schools/districts would receive separate grades for individual components of the dashboard for two years and a composite A-F grade starting in 2014-15.
A separate report card for drop-out recovery schools would also be develop based on graduation rates with four-, five-, six-, seven- and eight-year graduation cohorts; test passage rates, student progress, and gap closing using the Annual Measurable Objective standard.
The bill also includes criteria to evaluate and rate community school sponsors based on student performance, quality practices, and compliance with laws and rules.
Changes are also being proposed for the current Ohio Accountability Task Force, which would become the Ohio Accountability Advisory Committee.
The committee is expected to consider amendments to the bill following the Thanksgiving break. An analysis of the substitute bill is available.
State Board of Education Meeting
The State Board of Education, Debe Terhar President, met on November 11, 12, and 13, 2012 in Columbus and at the Ohio School Boards Association annual meeting. The following are highlights of the meeting.
Executive Committee: The Executive Committee, chaired by President Terhar, met with representatives from Ray & Associates on November 11, 2012 to discuss the timeline for the State Board to hire a new superintendent. The current plan is to have a permanent superintendent in place by March 2013. The committee also discussed new rules for notifying the public about meetings of the State Board.
Update on Race to the Top: Maggie Niedzwiecki, Director of Ohio’s Race to the Top (RttT) initiative, and two guests, Marlene North, Superintendent and K-6 principal at North Baltimore Local Schools, and Dr. Mary Jo Scalzo, Superintendent of Oakwood City Schools, presented an overview of the progress that schools and districts have been making as participants complete the second year of Ohio’s federal RttT grant program. In December the U.S. Department of Education will publish a report analyzing Ohio’s progress in meeting the goals in Ohio’s Race to the Top grant. Ohio’s Race to the Top grant proposal includes five over arching goals:
- Increase high school graduation rates by .5 percent per year
- Reduce graduation rate gaps by 50 percent
- Reduce performance gaps by 50 percent
- Reduce the gap between Ohio and the best-performing states in the nation by 50 percent
- More than double the increase in college enrollment for 18 and 19 year olds
In addition to working with participating schools and districts, Ohio’s Race to the Top initiative has made available to all Ohio schools and districts important findings and resources. For example, the November 1-2, 2012 statewide education conference was supported by the Race to the Top grant, and a number of presenters highlighted what has been learned through the initiative so far.
To achieve the goals, Ohio’s RttT initiative has developed a number of strategies and initiatives, referred to as Paths to Success, that support the work of RttT schools and districts, and direct the work of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). These strategies include Learning New Standards – Common Core, Educator Evaluation, Value Added, Formative Instructional Practices (FIP), grants and awards, turning around the lowest achieving schools, and support for schools/districts (Local Education Associations – LEAs).
Ms. Niedzwiecki was pleased to share with the State Board that Ohio’s schools/districts have already met one of the goals of the initiative and have increased the graduation rate by .5 percent per year. In 2010 Ohio’s graduation rate was 78 percent, but in 2011 it had increased to 79.7 percent, which is even higher than the goal of 79.6 percent.
To support professional development for teaching the new Common Core and revised Ohio standards the ODE has trained 147 regional education personnel and 100 content specific specialists. The rigor of the new Common Core standards and Ohio’s revised standards in science and social studies will require students to demonstrate deeper knowledge and understanding of the content in order to be successful. The ODE has also been working with the Ohio Board of Regents to align college and career readiness standards to the entrance requirements of Ohio’s institutions of higher education.
One of the most expansive projects of the Race to the Top initiative has been the development of new evaluations for teachers and principals. The framework for Ohio’s Teacher Education System (OTES) has been piloted within 136 LEAs and the ODE has trained over 3000 credentialed evaluators in the state. Individual districts are developing their own systems with the involvement of teachers.
In June 2012 the ODE met its target of generating value-added reports for eligible teachers in 60 percent of LEAs statewide (representing 100 percent of eligible teachers in all RttT LEAs) for SY 2011-2012, and is now moving forward with activities to expand value-added report awareness and accessibility.
Working with Battelle for Kids the ODE is supporting implementation of formative instructional practices (FIP) to all RttT participating LEAs. FIP services include 56 customized web-based English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies modules for grades pre-K-12; formative instructional awareness professional development sessions; and online training modules for LEAs.
RttT has also awarded thirty competitive grants to participating LEAs to create and implement innovative models for school reform. The ODE has designed mini-competitive grants for LEAs to develop additional growth measures. Through a contract with Battelle for Kids, the ODE has awarded grants in 2011-2012 to thirteen LEAs in the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative (OAC). In June 2012 the ODE conducted a best practice conference for its persistently lowest achieving schools and early warning schools. The ODE also offered 16 technical assistance sessions to all persistently lowest performing schools.
Ohio’s School Turnaround Leader Program, a training program required for all School Improvement Grant cohort 1 and 2 school principals and assistant principals, graduated its second cohort of 50 principals, resulting in 150 total graduates of the program to date.
To support all LEAs the Ohio Department of Education Ohio held a Statewide Education Evaluation Symposium in May 2012 with more than 2,300 attendees, and in November 2012, Ohio’s Annual Statewide Education Conference had 2,663 attendees (participating and non-participating RttT LEAs). The conference featured over 100 presentations focused on student achievement, best practices, and education reform.
Ms. Niedzwiecki cited several examples of school districts that have been successful in using their Race to the Top grant funds to improve student achievement, and noted that these grants have provided the only support for professional development to many school districts struggling financially.
The powerpoint presentation is available.
Update on the Restraint and Seclusion Policy: The Achievement Committee, chaired by Angela Thi Bennett, voted to recommend to the Full Board the adoption of the Restraint and Seclusion Policy at their December 2012 meeting. The Committee received a presentation on the feedback received from the online public review of the draft current Restraint and Seclusion policy and rule and discussed key areas such as training and procedures for the use of restraint and seclusion. The external workgroup associated with the policy’s development will meet again in December to discuss the feedback received and make additional recommendations for the policy.
Standards for Waivers of the Operating Standards: The Capacity Committee, chaired by Tom Gunlock, voted to recommend to the Full Board the adoption of Standards for Waivers of the Operating Standards, and requested that ODE develop a guidance document to assist schools and districts in understanding the waiver request process. In HB153, the General Assembly enacted R.C. 3301.07(O), which permits the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to grant waivers of the operating standards in accordance with standards adopted by the State Board of Education. A draft of the proposed standards states the following:
“The Superintendent shall work with districts and schools to approve waivers of the Operating Standards where such waivers can be granted to increase the flexibility accorded to a districts or schools without materially detracting from the educational program or affecting student safety. However, a waiver of the Operating Standards cannot be used to waive requirements that are set forth in statute. Statutory requirements may, however, be subject to waiver under statues such as R.C. 3302.05, 3302.063, or 3302.07, and a district or chartered non-public school may combine a waiver of the Operating Standards with another available waiver or exemption for the purpose of receiving a waiver of requirements that are found in the Operating Standards and in statute.”
“To apply for a waiver of the Operating Standards, a board of education or governing authority shall apply to the Superintendent, and describe the nature of the waiver requested and the time period for which the waiver is requested. No Waiver shall be granted for a period of time to exceed five years. Prior to approving or disapproving the waiver, the Superintendent may request additional information from the district or school. The Superintendent shall consider every application for a waiver, and notify the applicant if the waiver has been approved or disapproved. A board of education or governing authority may apply to renew a waiver granted in accordance with these standards.”
Update on Expenditure Standards pursuant to ORC 3302.20: The Capacity Committee voted to recommend to the Full Board the adoption of the revised Expenditure Standards. A vote for adoption by the full Board will take place in December. The ODE has been working with a stakeholder work group to revise the expenditure standards formerly approved by the State Board of Education, due to changes in statute. The revisions focus on the alignment of the standards to federal categories as required by SB316.
Business Meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Superintendent’s Report: Acting Superintendent Michael Sawyers presented to the State Board an update on the following topics:
Audit of State Report: The investigation of school/district attendance report irregularities being conducted by the Auditor of State David Yost will be completed in mid December 2012, and the final report will be released then.
Early Learning Task Force: The State Board of Education is required by law to work with the Early Childhood Advisory Council in consultation with the Governor’s Office for 21st Century Learning to develop legislative recommendation for literacy policy from birth through third grade by February 28, 2013. To facilitate this work a sub group of the State Board of Education’s Early Childhood Task Force and the Task Force on the Third Grade Guarantee will begin work on developing the recommendations.
Public participation on non agenda items: Three individuals addressed the State Board of Education during public participation on non agenda items.
The State Board received testimony from Charlotte Andrist, Ohio Board of Regents, Dyslexia Task Force and International Dyslexia Association, recommending that the State Board of Education adopt the state of Massachusetts’ existing licensure test in reading (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure® (MTEL®) Foundations of Reading (90)) so that Ohio classroom teachers can show that they are qualified to teach reading pursuant to requirements included in the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
This issue was also raised by Rob Hovis, who requested clarification of the current qualifications to teach reading in Ohio’s schools. Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Sawyers explained that Ohio teachers with a preK-3 grade license currently have earned at least 12 semester hours in reading. However, this license does not meet the legislative requirements for teachers to be considered “endorsed in reading”. The K-12 endorsement in reading means that the license holder has completed additional hours of reading instruction or has passed a test in literacy. The Ohio Department of Education has requested that the General Assembly clarify what “endorsed” means, and is reviewing exams from other states, including Massachusetts, to find other ways for teachers to show that they are qualified to be considered “endorsed” in reading.
Mary Heather Munger, also requested that the State Board of Education adopt the MTEL 90 reading exam to ensure that teachers are properly “endorsed” in reading.
Ida Ross-Freeman, from Canton, Ohio, spoke about how early childhood education prepares students for meeting the Third Grade Guarantee. She warned the State Board about how children are harmed when they are retained, and in many cases African American children are most affected.
State Board of Education Actions: The following is a summary of the resolutions that the State Board of Education considered at their November 13, 2012 meeting:
#14. Referred back to the Legislative and Budget Committee: Resolution concerning early childhood education. “Resolved, that to the extent the Governor and the General Assembly choose to make additional resources available for K-12 education, such additional revenue be prioritized to fund the expansion of Early Childhood Education, but that no funding for this area be added to the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s recommended biennial budget requests.”
Several State Board members, Deborah Cain, Rob Hovis, Kristen McKinley, Jeff Mims, Ann Jacobs, and Mary Rose Oakar objected to this resolution and urged the State Board to fulfill its Constitutional responsibility to recommend that additional funding be included in the State Board’s FY14-15 Legislative Recommendations. The State currently serves 5000 eligible children in early childhood education programs, but there are potentially 60,000 eligible children that could be served if funding was available.
Kristen McKinley proposed an amendment to the Resolution requesting that the Governor and the General Assembly provide additional funding for schools/districts when they require additional mandates, but no action was taken on it. It was the decision of President Terhar and the Board to refer the resolution back to the Legislative and Budget Committee for reconsideration.
#15. Approved. Resolution concerning technical infrastructure investments. “Resolved, that the $500,000 for school district video conferencing be assumed within the $10 million placeholder for Technical Infrastructure Investments.”
#16. Referred back to the Legislative and Budget Committee: Resolution concerning the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. “Resolved, that to the extent the Governor and the General Assembly choose to make additional financial resources available for K-12 education, such additional revenue be prioritized to provide additional funding for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, but that no funding for this area be added to the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s recommended biennial budget requests.”
Kristen McKinley requested that this Resolution also be referred back to the Legislative and Budget Committee, because it raises similar concerns about unfunded mandates as Resolution #14. President Terhar agreed, and referred the resolution back to the Legislative and Budget Committee.
#17. Pulled. Resolution concerning the Ohio Young Farmers Program. “Resolved, that additional funding is not recommended to be added to the October 1, 2012 Budget Book Scenario submitted to OBM for the Ohio Young Farmers program.”
#18. Pulled. Resolution to adopt an amendment to the operator contract with the SEED Foundation.
#20. Approved. Resolution regarding the appointment Mark Hartman, Senior Director of Client Engagement and Ohio Portfolio Manager, Battelle for Kids, and Kathleen Paliokas, Program Director, Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), Council of Chief State School Officers, to a panel of experts to evaluate the adequacy of the teacher licensure standards of identified states. A third panel member will be appointed in the future.
ORC 3319.228 requires the State Board of Education to establish and approve a panel of experts to evaluate the adequacy of the teacher licensure standards of identified states appearing on the list that the Superintendent of Public Instruction was to develop by July 1, 2012. According to statute, the panel of experts is to make recommendations to the State Board no later than April 1, 2013 regarding whether the list should be approved by the Board without changes, or that the specified states should be removed from the list prior to approval. The State Board is to approve a final list of states no later than July 1, 2013.
#21. Approved. Resolution appointing Tina Thomas-Manning as associate superintendent for the Division of Accountability and Quality Schools. Tina Thomas-Manning most recently served in the Reynoldsburg City Schools. She replaces William Zelei who resigned.
#22. Approved. Under New Business Rob Hovis introduced a resolution referring to the Legislative and Budget Committee two items: A request for the Legislature to rescind a prohibition of State Board of Education standing committees and a prohibition of members of the State Board of Education to serve on other types of boards and committees, except for those committees and boards that would be in direct conflict with the work of the State Board.
Report Analyzes Cuts to Local Governments: Policy Matters Ohio released on November 13, 2012 a new report entitled Intensifying Impact, State budget cuts deepen pain for Ohio communities by Wendy Patton and Tim Krueger. The report identifies the amount of funding and services that Ohioans have lost as a result of successive annual cuts to the Local Government Fund and Public Library Fund, and the accelerated phase-out of tax reimbursements to communities for lost revenue from the phased elimination of the public utility tax and the tangible personal property tax.
The report and the Policy Matters web site include graphs and Fact Sheets about the amount of funding cuts since 2007 for Ohio’s 88 counties, various cities, school districts, townships, libraries, and special districts in the county, and compiled reports from the media and local officials about how the cuts have affected staffing and services.
For example, according to the Fact Sheet for Franklin County, schools and jurisdictions lost $262 million; county health and human services levies lost $37 million over the biennium; Columbus City lost $36 million; Hilliard residents will pay $188 a year for trash services; and public service jobs between 2008 and 2011 declined by almost 4000 in the Columbus metropolitan area.
The largest cuts in state aid to local government in the current state budget came from The Local Government Fund (LGF) and tax reimbursements provided to compensate for several local property taxes eliminated as part of tax reductions during the past decade. Losses from these two sources in calendar years 2012-13 total just over a billion dollars, a reduction of nearly half of what was distributed in 2010-11. Revenue in the local government fund dropped from $663 million in FY2010 to $356 million in FY2013. Tax reimbursements dropped from $576 million in FY2010 to $133 million in FY2013.
The Public Library Fund, another branch of local government funding, was reduced by $15 million in calendar years 2012 and 2013 compared to 2010 and 2011, and lost another $20.8 million as a result of the loss of tax reimbursements to local library levies.
The Estate Tax, which affected 8 percent of Ohio estates, was eliminated in the current budget bill as of 2013. The estate tax brought in $419.2 million in 2011, of which $337.5 million (80 percent) went back to communities. This tax supported cities, communities, and townships, based on the wealth of residents. Some communities depended on this revenue source more than others. According to the report, on average between 2007 and 2010, Cincinnati received $14.36 million each year from the estate tax; Columbus, $7.41 million, and Cleveland, $3.77 million.
According to the report, the impact of the budget reductions affected municipalities, townships, counties, and multi-jurisdictional entities. Municipalities lost $419 million in 2012-2013 compared to 2010-2011; townships, $116.8 million; and counties, $471.8 million. County health and human services levies (special districts) received $210 million less in tax reimbursements, and multi-jurisdictional or sub-county levies received $70.3 million less for levies. For example, children’s services levies lost $39 million; levies for county health districts lost $32 million; senior levies lost $12 million; and mental health and developmental disabilities levies lost $127 million.
The authors of the report note that the reductions in the local government fund have reduced services for seniors, children, recreation, yard and litter waste, mental health and substance abuse treatment, streetlights, road repair, and more; reduced police and fire services; and the reduction in the estate tax, will further erode local public services. Ohio has lost 33,500 jobs in local government since the end of the recession.
Hamilton County has cut its budget since 2007 and more cuts are proposed for investigating child abuse; the coroner’s office; the sheriff’s department; the probation department; and the clerks office. Maintenance and repairs of roads and bridges are on-hold in several communities. (Mansfield and Wyoming). Swimming pools have closed; staff laid off; and services for seniors cut. (Norwood) Police and firefighers are losing their jobs also. (Eastlake)
The authors write that, “The public sector is the platform upon which private wealth, both residential and commercial, is built. How far can we cut it before our common wealth starts to erode. It’s a question that concerns our economy and our quality of life.”
The report recommends that “The pending budget offers an opportunity to consider a more balanced approach to rebuilding Ohio’s common wealth and job base. It is time for investment for the future.
The report is available.
County fact sheets are available.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About…….: The Center for Community Solutions (CCS) released on November 13, 2012 an analysis of the effects of the Great Recession of 2008; background information about the state of the economy and unemployment; the history of Social Security programs; an analysis of Medicare and Medicaid programs; and the consequences of the “fiscal cliff”. (State Budgeting Matters: Social Policy and the Fiscal Cliff: Background and Observations by John Begala, CCS executive director, and Joseph Smith)
The Great Recession of 2008 has impacted Americans with the lowest incomes levels the most. According to the authors 61 million Americans live in households with an average annual income of $11,034 or less. To get a sense of what this means, these Americans “….outnumber the entire populations of all but 23 of the world’s 195 countries.”
Congress and President Obama are meeting in Washington, D.C. for a lame duck session to work-out how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” on January 2, 2013, a situation brought about by a number of factors: 1) the failure of our leaders in 2011 to close the national deficit, and instead, to agree to $1.2 trillion in across the board cuts in discretionary federal programs over ten years, also known as sequestration; 2) the expiration of reductions in income taxes and Social Security Payroll taxes; 3) the expiration of extended Unemployment Insurance benefits; and 4) the expiration of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
Although support for some health and social service programs are exempted from across the board cuts, the authors believe that, “reductions to other programs would be deep, while leaving unaddressed the long-term financial sustainability of these major programs”. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the U.S. economy could be put back into recession as a result of the cuts in federal programs and the impact the cuts will have on all segments of the economy.
According to the authors “…extensive adjustments are needed to rationalize health and social policy” in the U.S. The number and complexity of federal domestic assistance programs, now over 2,100, has become a barrier to their effectiveness, and Social Security has become much more than a pension system for older adults; “it is the architecture supporting national policies for helping nearly half of all Americans meet their basic needs.”
The authors state that “Long-term changes in the major income support, and health and social service programs, which account for most of the spending, could entail major realignment of spending programs and tax credits, as well as a reorganization of roles in the federal system between the federal government, states and communities.” And, because public and private segments of the American economy are interdependent at every level, “It is counter-productive to frame policy questions as though they are somehow separable or antithetical.”
The report makes the following recommendations:
- “A balanced approach to addressing short-term deficit reduction will have to include new revenue. This can be done several ways — by increasing federal income tax rates, broadening the base of the income tax (reducing tax expenditures/closing loopholes), or accelerating economic growth. It will probably take a combination of all three, mathematically and politically.”
- “In addressing short-term spending cuts, exemptions to sequestration for the major programs comprising social security broadly construed (i.e., the major Social Security Act programs, plus veterans benefits, housing, nutrition, child development and senior services … along with the EITC), provide supporters of a strong federal role in meeting basic human needs considerable ‘cover.’ Because these include the largest and most important domestic programs, they will have to be included in any alternative to the ‘fiscal cliff.’ Yet, if the current ‘hands-off’ approach to most of them is impossible to sustain, protecting the fundamentals of these programs represents a valid first line of defense and a foundation for reforms aimed at simplifying, stabilizing and sustaining them.”
- “Long-term, revenue questions, such as comprehensive tax reform, might be more politically feasible with the emergency of the ‘fiscal cliff’ so near, or might be ‘kicked down the road.’” However, CCS suggests this should include reducing tax expenditures for special interests and a rethinking of “off budget” programs such as Medicare and OASDI which are supported by their own payroll taxes, albeit inadequately.”
- “Long-term reform of Social Security broadly construed needs to be brought ‘in-bounds’ by the political left, with the aim of adapting it to a different, and evolving, economy. The economies of the 1930s and 1960s, during which the fundamentals of these programs were developed, have given way to globalization, technology, and an increasingly skilled, specialized, and female workforce.”
- “There are constructive ideas from the political right for making social welfare affordable, sustainable, and comprehensible to the general public. In particular, libertarian approaches built more upon respect than concern, trusting that most people acting for themselves will get things right most of the time, offer a path not only to program innovations, but perhaps to a new consensus.”
The authors conclude by saying that fixing the “fiscal cliff” and its complexity will take years of work, but the grassroots work of civic leaders, human service professionals, ‘policy wonks,’ and advocates can have an impact over the long haul “….by engaging elected officials at home where their votes matter”, and helping them to understand the consequences of their actions or inactions.
The report is available.
Recommendations to Increase College Graduation Released: The Ohio Board of Regents released on November 13, 2012 a report entitled Complete College Ohio prepared by the Complete College Ohio Task Force. The task force, created by Chancellor Jim Petro, was charged with developing recommendations to increase the percentage of Ohioans with a degree or certificate.
According to the report, “It is well documented that high levels of educational attainment yield substantial economic and noneconomic benefits for individuals and communities. And yet, more than half of all Ohioans who enroll in college fail to earn a degree and often leave with high levels of debt. Additionally, the percentage of Ohio adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher remains in the bottom quartile of states, typically five percentage points below the national average.”
To prepare the recommendation, task force members worked in three subgroups that focused on preparing student to be college ready; maximizing the college/career experiences; and ensuring that students complete college. The report includes the following 20 recommendations for policy makers and institutions of higher education, grouped under seven categories:
Campus Completion Plans
- Require institutions to develop Campus Completion Plans. This recommendation is the centerpiece of this report. “The Task Force views campus completion plans as an essential institutional commitment that will drive our collective success in dramatically improving college completion throughout Ohio. We expect each institution to draw heavily from the recommendations and tactical options contained in the report, customized to build on existing institutional strengths and align with institutional mission and priorities. What we seek are focused, impactful, locally driven action plans.”
Foundations for Access and Success
- Adopt a consistent, statewide definition of “college and career readiness.”
- Adopt a consistent, comprehensive statewide definition of “college completion” and uniform statewide requirements for common college credentials.
- Establish stronger collaboration and tighter alignment across the P-16 education continuum.
- Establish a new system of high school assessments to improve preparation and readiness for college.
Connecting with College & Preparing for Success
- Intensify engagement of students and families prior to students’ enrollment in college.
- Broaden awareness of connections between college completion and career opportunities.
- Enhance financial literacy and planning for students and families.
- Expand opportunities for earning college credits that count toward a degree or certificate before graduating from high school.
- Increase opportunities for adults to earn college credits for meaningful knowledge and skills documented through prior learning assessments.
Ensuring & Supporting First-Year Success
- Adopt more holistic college placement assessments and policies.
- Redesign and personalize remedial education course content and policies, especially for adults returning to school.
- Develop comprehensive, mandatory orientation and first-year experiences, as well as robust support and interventions for all students.
Staying on Track & Accelerating Progress
- Develop institutional systems that accelerate students’ connection to clear and concise degree pathways, track progress toward academic goals and intervene when help is needed.
- Implement “intrusive” advising supported by robust academic support systems and services.
- Devise more flexible, innovative scheduling, registration and degree-granting policies and practices.
- Strategically expand and enhance Ohio’s articulation and credit transfer programs.
Rewarding Success & Incentivizing Completion
- Expand programs for rewarding and leveraging meaningful “packages” of academic program work that have been completed, or nearly completed, but not formally credentialed.
- Expand and diversify financial opportunities and incentives for achieving critical benchmarks and timely completion.
- Mount a comprehensive statewide communications strategy about college completion.
The report calls for the Chancellor to determine a dissemination strategy for sharing this
report with campus leaders and frontline higher education professionals throughout the University System of Ohio. The Chancellor should also work with state policy leaders to determine specific state-level commitments and actions required to advance the recommendations in this report.
The Chancellor will continue to engage higher education leadership, with input from P-12 educators and leaders, to reach consensus on uniform statewide definitions of “college and career readiness” and “college completion” as called for in Recommendations 2 and 3. With input from college and university leadership, a framework and timeline will be developed to receive campus-level Campus Completion Plans called for in Recommendation 1. The Chancellor should also initiate work on developing a comprehensive statewide communications strategy to drive and support efforts to increase completion in Ohio.
The report is available.
Report Highlights Successful Schools: Public Agenda released on October 12, 2012 a new report entitled Failure is Not an Option: How principals, teachers, students and parents from Ohio’s high achieving, high poverty schools explain their success by Carolin Hagelskamp and Christopher DiStasi and sponsored by the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Department of Education, and The Ohio State University.
The report examines the success of Ohio “Schools of Promise” to learn how schools with high levels of students from lower income families can achievement at high levels, and includes profiles of nine schools (six of which are Schools of Promise) to identify conditions and practices that support student achievement.
Schools of Promise meet the following criteria:
- At least 40 percent of the student body was “economically disadvantaged” based on a student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price lunches.
- The schools selected for this study actually had a student body in excess of 50 percent “economically disadvantaged”.
- The school met adequate yearly progress.
- The school’s graduation rate1 was at least 85 percent.
- On the Ohio Achievement Test (OAT) and/or Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) in reading and mathematics: In 2010–11, at least 75 percent of all students in tested grades passed, at least 75 percent of students in the economically disadvantaged subgroup2 in tested grades passed and at least 75 percent of students in each racial or ethnic subgroup3 in tested grades passed; and
- In 2009–10, at least 65 percent of all students in tested grades4 passed.
- On OGTs, in 2010–11, at least 85 percent of all eleventh graders, 85 percent of economically disadvantaged eleventh graders and 85 percent of eleventh graders in each racial or ethnic subgroup3 passed.
- If applicable, the school received a “Met” or “Above” for the 2010–11 value-added composite score.
- The requirements for the 2009–10 Schools of Promise award were identical except that on the OATs and OGTs, passage percentages were required for either reading or mathematics. In 2010–11, requirements included both—not either—of the subjects.
The schools that are profiled in this report are East Garfield Elementary School, Steubenville; Citizens Academy Elementary School, Cleveland; Grove Patterson Academy Elementary School, Toledo; River Valley Middle School, Bidwell; Hannah J. Ashton Middle School, Reynoldsburg; Northwest High School, McDermott; Eastmoor Academy High School, Columbus; Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School, Cincinnati; and MC2 STEM High School, Cleveland.
The researchers identified the following conditions that contributed to student achievement in the profile schools:
- Principals lead with a strong and clear vision for their school, engage staff in problem solving and decision making and never lose sight of their school’s goals and outcomes.
- Teachers and administrators are dedicated to their school’s success and committed to making a difference in their students’ lives.
- School leaders provide genuine opportunities and incentives for teachers to collaborate, and teachers say that collaboration and sharing best practices are keys to their effectiveness.
- Teachers regard student data as clarifying and helpful, and they use it to plan instruction.
- Principals and teachers have high expectations for all students and reject any excuses for academic failure.
- School leaders and teachers set high expectations for school discipline and the behavior of all students.
- Schools offer students nontraditional incentives for academic success and good behavior.
- Students feel valued, loved and challenged. They are confident that their teachers will help them succeed and be at their side if they hit a rough patch.
- While parent and community support can be an asset, principals and teachers do not see their absence as an insurmountable barrier to student learning and achievement.
- School leaders and teachers seek to continuously improve practices and student achievement. They take today’s success as tomorrow’s starting point.
- Each school tells its own story of change and improvement, yet some commonalities exist.
Researchers also examined how these successful schools sustained their achievements and found that leaders plan for smooth principal transitions, expect change, engage teachers, ensure that new teachers endorse the school’s vision and practices, leverage a great reputation, and celebrate success.
The report is available.
Project-Based Learning Through the Arts: An article in the Newark Advocate on November 4, 2012 entitled School within a school project focuses on hands on learning within a school by A. Jeffries describes a new project that has brought five Newark High School teachers together with the Granville Studio of Visual Arts to provide project-based classes for about 250 students in grades 9-12.
The project was the brain child of Newark Superintendent Doug Ute, and was developed to provide students with alternative ways to earn credits for graduation. According to Maura Horgan, director of secondary curriculum instruction for the Newark City Schools, the goals of the new “school within a school” project are to engage students in the best way they learn; get students excited about learning; reshape how instruction is delivered; and help students stay on track for graduation.
Students in the project take traditional classes along with their school within a school classes, which are designed to incorporate all subjects including math, science, English, social studies, economics, technology, and art. The project pairs classroom teachers in social studies, business, science, and English with arts educators from the Granville Studio of Visual Arts. This year students are exploring the themes Food, Hunger, and Poverty at the local and global levels and are using a variety of media to integrate what they are learning. Even though the project started in August 2012 students have already displayed their art work based on the themes.
The article is available.