Celebrate National Poetry Month April 2013: National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. The purpose of the monthlong celebration of poetry is to:
- Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
- Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
- Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
- Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
- Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
- Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
- Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry
A variety of individuals, organizations, and businesses are involved in promoting National Poetry Month. Many resources are also available for teachers to use to involve students in reading and creating poetry.
Information about teacher resources and activities to promote poetry is available.
130th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will be back in session on April 9, 2013 with hearings and sessions scheduled for the week.
The House Finance and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Representative Amstutz, will be introducing a substitute bill for House Bill 59 (Amstutz) the FY14-15 budget bill. Representative Amstutz told reporters last week that lawmakers need more time to deliberate on some parts of the bill, and so some provisions might be removed and placed in separate legislation. House lawmakers are seeking resolutions on several controversial components of Governor Kasich’s $63.3 billion two year budget, including expanding Medicaid to cover uninsured Ohioans; cutting the income tax; expanding the sales tax and the severance tax on gas and oil drilling; and developing a state funding system for Ohio’s schools.
Some advocates for public education are urging lawmakers to make changes in HB59’s proposed state aid program for school districts. They are recommending that the state amount per pupil be raised to over $6000 in FY14, and a new per pupil amount, that represents the cost of the components of a high quality education, be developed by a bipartisan commission for FY15. Under HB59 the per pupil amount works out to be around $5000.
The House Finance and Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet this week on April 9, 2013 at 3:00 PM; April 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM; April 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM; and April 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM. All hearings will be held in room 313 at the Statehouse. A substitute bill is expected to be introduced on April 9th.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on April 10, 2013 in the South Hearing Room at 10:15 AM. The committee will receive a presentation from Frank DePalma, superintendent of the Montgomery County Educational Service Center, on the history, role, and funding of ESCs. The committee will also consider for approval Governor Kasich’s appointment of Darryl Mehaffie, Angela Thi Bennett, C. Todd Jones. and Mark Smith to the State Board of Education.
Transportation Budget Signed: Governor Kasich signed on April 1, 2013 HB51 (McGregor/Patmon) the Transportation and Public Safety Budget for FY14-15. The $7.6 billion budget includes a plan to fund statewide highway projects using $1.5 billion in Ohio Turnpike bonds. Governor Kasich vetoed a $7.5 million per year reimbursement to railroads for grade crossing maintenance. In the veto message the governor explained that this provision was already addressed in another section of the budget.
ODE Regional Meetings: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) is hosting a series of regional meetings on recent changes for K-12 education. The ODE Division of Learning will lead sessions for teacher leaders and school district leaders around the state through April and May focusing on the following topics:
- Ohio Principal Evaluation System
- Ohio Teacher Evaluation System
- Ohio’s New Learning Standards
- Third Grade Reading Guarantee
- Next generation of assessments
- New online teacher licensing program
- Ohio Resident Educator Program
- Lesson and unit development and evaluation using content-specific rubrics aligned to the new standards
The meeting for Columbus was held on April 2, 2013. Meetings in other areas are scheduled for,
- Wednesday, April 10 in Dayton
- Friday, April 12 in Cincinnati
- Tuesday, April 16 in Cleveland
- Friday, April 19 in Youngstown
- Wednesday, May 8 in Toledo
- Friday, May 10 in Zanesville
- Thursday, May 16 in Findlay
Sessions for school districts will run from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Sessions for teacher leaders will run from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM.
Register at the STARS website by searching the key words “Division of Learning Regional Meetings” and “Division of Learning Teacher Work Sessions”.
Administration will Introduce Federal Budget: President Obama will release on April 10, 2013 his administration’s FY14 budget plan, which would take effect on October 1, 2013.
According to an article in the Washington Post, the budget includes the same offer President Obama made to House Speaker John Boehner last December during talks about ways to avoid drastic budget cuts known as sequestration. That offer includes $1.8 trillion in deficit reductions through cuts in spending and tax increases. The proposed budget is expected to include cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and other measures to replace the across the board cuts made in the federal government on March 1, 2013. The budget also expands preschool programs for students from low-income and moderate income families, and includes investments in brain research. (“Obama budget would cut entitlements in exchange for tax increases” by Zachary A. Goldfarb and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, Updated: Friday, April 5, 12:38 PM)
In addition to the debates that will now take place in Congress about appropriations levels for FY14, lawmakers and the White House will also have to deal with another fiscal challenge in early summer about raising the federal debt ceiling.
The President’s budget, which is usually introduced in February, was delayed this year due to continuous negotiations between the parties about FY13 allocations and the debate about sequestration, which eventually went into effect in March.
The U.S. House and Senate approved their budget plans last month. The U.S. House approved a non-binding FY14 budget sponsored by Representative Paul Ryan (House Concurrent Resolution 25: vote 221 to 207), while the U.S. Senate approved on March 23, 2013 a non-binding FY14 budget sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (Senate Concurrent Resolution 8). Both measures take different paths to balancing the national budget in the future. The Republican budget plan maintains funding for the military while decreasing funding for domestic programs, including education. It also includes a provision that would allow parents to use Title 1 funds for private schools. The Democrat’s plan increases taxes while also reducing spending, and ends sequestration cuts for education. The plan would increase funding for Title 1 and special education, and calls for more investment in early learning programs.
Budget resolutions are not binding, but do provide guidance for appropriations bills to fund federal agencies and governments. FY14 appropriations bills for all federal agencies and departments must be approved by October 1, 2013.
More information about the President’s proposed budget is available.
State Board of Education to Meet
The State Board of Education, Debbie Terhar president, will meet on April 8-9, 2013 at the Ohio Department of Education Conference Center, 25 South Front Street, Columbus, OH.
On Monday, April 8, 2013, the State Board’s agenda includes a formal swearing-in ceremony for the new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Richard Ross, led by Justice Sharon Kennedy of the Ohio Supreme Court. Hannah News reports that Governor Kasich might also announce two appointments to the State Board. Currently the 19-member Board has two vacancies: an open “at-large” seat, formerly held by Stanley Jackson, whose term expired in December 2012, and the District 10 elected seat held by Jeff Harden, who passed away last month. (Hannah News, Friday, April 5, 2013.)
The State Board’s Achievement, Capacity, and Urban Education committees will meet on Monday morning, and the Accountability Committee will meet at 5:00 PM on Monday. The Achievement Committee will discuss college and career readiness and the Accountability Committee will discuss the new report card design.
On Monday the State Board will also conduct a 119 hearing on Rules 3301-102-09 regarding approving applicants of new internet or computer-based community schools. The State Board will then discuss Governor Kasich’s state school funding proposal included in HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget. The Board will receive testimony from the following witnesses:
- Chris Burrows, Superintendent, Georgetown Exempted Village
- Rusty Clifford, Superintendent, West Carrollton City
- Barbara Mattei-Smith, Assistant Policy Director for the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education
- Chris Pfister, Superintendent, Waynesfield-Goshen Local
- Lori Snyder-Lowe, Superintendent, Morgan Local
The State Board will also receive a presentation from Philanthropy Ohio, led by Dr. Suzanne Allen, President, and Lisa Gray, Education Project Director.
On Tuesday, April 9, 2013 the State Board’s Legislative and Budget Committee will meet at 8:30 AM to discuss the development of the federal IDEA platform. The full Board will meet at 9:30 AM to begin its business meeting. The Board will discuss the education components in HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget; receive reports from committees; and receive the report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Board will also recognize Ohio’s Blue Ribbon Schools.
In the afternoon the Board will receive public testimony on public and non-agenda items, and vote on the Recommendations of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Board will then consider old business, new business, miscellaneous business, and adjourn.
Recommendations of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
#2 Approve a Resolution of Intent to Adopt Rules 3301-28-01 TO 3301-28-06 of the Administrative Code Regarding Local Report Card Measures and to Rescind Rules 3301-58-01 TO 3301-58-03 of the Administrative Code Regarding the Value-Added Progress Dimension. (VOLUME 2, PAGE 6)
#3 Approve a Resolution of Intent to Amend Rules 3301-51-10, 3301-83-09, -10, -16, -17, -21, AND -22 and to Adopt Rule 3301-83-24 of the Administrative Code Regarding Pupil Transportation. (VOLUME 2, PAGE 21)
#14 Approve a Resolution to Amend Rules 3301-24-08 of the Administrative Code Entitled Professional or Associate License Renewal.
#15 Approve a Resolution to Amend Rules 3301-24-19 TO -22 of the Administrative Code Regarding Alternative Educator Resident Licenses. (VOLUME 3, PAGE 288)
#16 Approve a Resolution to Adopt Rule 3301-35-15 of the Administrative Code Entitled Standards Concerning the Implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention Supports and the Use of Restraint and Seclusion. (VOLUME 3, PAGE 304)
Information about the State Board of Education meeting is available.
Teacher Evaluations In the News: Last week several articles were published about the new evaluations for teachers based on student achievement and other criteria, and stirred- up more national debate about this latest education reform.
New York Times Article: On March 30, 2013 the New York Times published an article entitled “Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass” by Jenny Anderson. The article explains that nearly half of the states now require new teacher evaluation systems to provide meaningful and critical information to administrators to “weed-out” poor teachers. However, when the teacher evaluations were completed this year using the more rigorous evaluation systems, Florida still rated 97 percent of teachers as effective; Tennessee found that 98 percent of teachers were “at expectations”; and in Michigan 98 percent of teachers were rated effective or better.
The article notes that the “rosy” results are “worrisome” considering the millions of dollars that have been spent developing the new systems, and the thousands of hours that have been used to train principals and others to evaluate teachers using the new criteria, including student academic growth.
Some experts opine that the high stakes consequences of the evaluations – in some states teachers with ineffective ratings over time can lose their jobs – and the amount of flux that has been occurring in assessments and standards, have made principals more cautious about giving teachers low marks.
Others believe that some states have set the academic growth bar too low, so that it raises the ratings of teachers rather than helps to identify weaker teachers.
Some teachers and principals are also raising questions about the consistency and fairness of using student test score results to evaluate teachers, because they believe that there is no scientific evidence for rating teacher effectiveness based on student academic growth.
The article is entitled “Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass” by Jenny Anderson, New York Times, March 30, 2013.
Bill Gates on Teacher Evaluations: Then on April 3, 2013 Bill Gates added to the national discussion about teacher evaluations by publishing an opinion piece in the Washington Post. (“Bill Gates: A Fairer Way to Evaluate Teachers”, by Bill Gates, Washington Post Opinions, April 3, 2013.)
According to the column, “Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.”
Mr. Gates then refers to Ohio’s 165 page PE assessment as an example of an excessive use of testing, and states that he “understands” teachers’ “concerns and frustrations”, when student test scores are used as the primary basis for making decisions about “firing, promoting and compensating teachers.”
Mr. Gates recommends that teacher evaluation systems provide feedback that teachers can trust, and “…include multiple measures of performance, such as student surveys, classroom observations by experienced colleagues and student test results.”
Anthony Cody’s Responds: In response to Mr. Gates’ Washington Post column, Anthony Cody writes in Education Week’s “Living in the Dialogue” blog that, “No one in America has done more to promote the raising of stakes for test scores in education than Bill Gates”. His influence (billions of dollars) on the U.S. Department of Education, the Data Quality Council, the National Council on Teacher Quality, and groups such as Teach Plus has led to labeling schools as failures; closing neighborhood public schools; narrowing the curriculum; using test scores as a significant component for evaluating teachers; and promoting charter schools and voucher programs.
Mr. Cody then states that Mr. Gates’ Washington Post column “…amounts to an attempt to distance the Gates Foundation from the asinine consequences of the policies they have sponsored, while accepting no responsibility for them whatsoever.”
The blog is entitled “Bill Gates Dances Around the Teacher Evaluation Disaster He Sponsored” by Anthony Cody, Education Week Living in the Dialogue Blog, on April 4, 2013 3:32 PM and is available.
For more comments about teacher evaluations please read the following posts:
- Valerie Strauss “Wrecking physical ed: Ohio’s P.E. assessment for kids” by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM.
- Diane Ravitch “Cody: Time to Hold Bill Gates Accountable” by Diane Ravitch, posted on April 6, 2013.
HB113 (Antonio/Henne) High School Physical Education: Allows school districts and chartered nonpublic schools to excuse from high school physical education students who participate in a school-sponsored athletic club.
SB96 (LaRose) High School Social Studies Curriculum: Requires one unit of world history in the high school social studies curriculum.
Governor’s Appointment: Governor Kasich announced last week the appointment of James F. Dicke, II of New Bremen to the Ohio Arts Council for a term beginning on April 5, 2013 and ending on July 1, 2017. Mr. Dicke is the chairman and chief executive officer of Crown Equipment Corporation. He is also recognized as an artist and photographer in his own right. He graduated from Trinity University, Texas, in 1986 with a B.S. in Business Administration, and has served as a trustee at Trinity University and chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1997-2000. He is recognized for his art collections and philanthropic contributions, including support for the Dicke Art Building in the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center, at Trinity University. He has also been chairman of the Commissioners of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and is Chairman Emeritus of the Dayton Art Institute.
More on STEAM Schools: The Tri-City Herald in the state of Washington reports that the Pasco City board of education is considering building two new elementary schools that will focus on the STEAM educational model. (“Pasco School Board Wants to See If New Schools Can Focus Around STEM, STEAM Programs” by Ty Beaver, Tri-City Herald, March 30, 2013)
All of the subjects taught in the new schools would focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and also include the arts (STEAM). According to principal Deidre Holmberg, students would not only learn to paint, but learn to make their own paints. Students studying the oboe would also understand how it works. Currently STEM subjects are integrated in the middle and high school curricula. This effort would ensure that students in the early grades would also have a STEM/STEAM integrated curriculum starting in Kindergarten.
The article is available.