House Passes FY14-15 Budget: The Ohio House approved on April 18, 2013 Sub. HB59, the FY14-15 budget introduced by Governor Kasich in February 2013 (Executive Budget). The vote was 61 to 35.
The House approved budget includes General Revenue Fund (GRF) totals of $61.45 billion for the biennium, which is $1.7 billion less than the Executive Budget. The House approved All Funds budget is $120.2 billion for the biennium, which is also less than the Executive Budget.
After weeks of hearings and debate, a majority of House members agreed on changes to HB59 that removed or reduced funding for some of the Governor’s priorities, including Medicaid expansion, increases in the severance tax on oil and gas drilling, a 20 percent reduction in the income tax, reductions in income taxes for small businesses, increases in the state’s sales tax, a new school funding formula based on property valuation, and more.
But, House leaders also pledged to continue talks about Medicaid and tax reform as the Senate worked on the budget and during the remainder of this session. The substitute version of HB59 included a seven percent across the board reduction in the state’s income tax, and members unanimously accepted a floor amendment that states the House’s intent to take action on a Medicaid plan through separate legislation in the future.
In another floor amendment the House removed a controversial provision (inserted by the House Finance and Appropriations Committee) that further restricted sex education course content and allowed schools to be subject to a $5000 penalty if found guilty of straying from abstinence only pedagogy. The amendment also eliminated a provision that called for the alignment of an Ohio Department of Education expenditure plan to increase broadband capacity for schools with the time line for implementing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
The Ohio Senate has already started hearings on the HB59, receiving testimony last week from representatives of the governor’s office, the Office of Budget and Management, and the Legislative Services Commission. The Senate Primary & Secondary Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Randy Gardner, is receiving testimony from state agencies this week, and will receive public testimony on the education budget the week of April 29, 2013.
More details about HB59 are included below.
Changes Approved for Statehouse Security: The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) approved on April 18, 2013 a new security plan for the Statehouse in Columbus, but did not set a time frame for when it will go into effect. The plan includes the following:
- A reduction in the number of access points to the Statehouse. The Broad Street entrance to the Rotunda will be closed.
- Law enforcement officers will be placed at the three remaining street-level entrances and at the sliding glass doors in the underground parking garage.
- Visitors without state-issued identification badges will be subject to security wand searches, and bags and packages will also be subject to inspections. Registered lobbyists will be able to purchase a special entry pass that will grant them access to the building during normal business hours.
- 25 security cameras and alarms on doors will be installed.
Secretary Testifies About President’s Education Budget: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified on April 17, 2013 before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Other Related Agencies, chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, about President Obama’s FY14 budget recommendations for education.
According to the testimony the President is seeking a funding increase for the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), from $68.1 billion in FY12, before sequestration, to $71.2 billion in FY14. The plan retains allocations of $14.5 billion for Title 1 Grants to Local Educational Agencies and $11.6 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Grants to States. It also includes a five percent increase in education funding to compensate for the cuts due to sequestration. The FY14 funding plan would also support the following education initiatives:
- Preschool for All: One of the major initiatives of the president’s budget is “Preschool for All”, a new federal-state partnership to provide universal high-quality preschool for 4 year old children from low-and moderate income families up to 200 percent of the poverty level. The program, which will cost $75 billion over the next ten years, would be funded by increases in taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products. States would be required to “match” federal funds, and meet quality benchmarks, such as standards for early learning, qualified staff, and comprehensive assessment and data systems.
- STEM Innovative Networks: Another major initiative in the president’s budget proposal is a government-wide realignment of 114 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs across 13 agencies, and the development of a cohesive national STEM education strategy. To improve K-12 STEM education the budget includes $150 million for STEM Innovative Networks, which would support creating partnerships among school districts, institutions of higher education, research institutions, museums, community partners, and business and industry. These networks would develop comprehensive plans for identifying, developing, testing, and scaling up evidence-based practices to provide STEM learning opportunities in participating local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools. They also would work to leverage better and more effective use of the wide range of STEM education resources available from federal, state, local, and private entities, including federally supported science mission agencies.
- STEM Teacher Pathways: The budget includes $80 million for STEM Teacher Pathways to recruit, train, and place recent college graduates and mid-career professionals in the STEM fields in high-need schools; and $35 million to establish a new STEM Master Teacher Corps, which would identify STEM teacher leaders, who would take on leadership and mentorship roles in their schools and communities aimed at improving STEM instruction and helping students excel in math and science.
- Effective Teachers and Leaders: The budget proposal includes $2.5 billion for the Effective Teachers and Leaders State Grants to improve teacher and principal evaluation systems, and $617 million for the DOE to build evidence about how to recruit, prepare, and support effective teachers and school leaders. $400 million is also included for the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund to improve the effectiveness of teachers in high need LEAs and schools, and another $98 million is requested to support training for principals.
- School Turnarounds and Data-Based Innovation: The budget plan requests the reauthorization of the School Turnaround Grants (STG) program and $659 million to support the program. The request includes $125 million for competitive awards to improve persistently low-achieving schools, and $25 million to expand the School Turnaround AmeriCorps Initiative.
- Investing in Innovation: To support research and new education reforms $215 million is being requested to support the Investing in Innovation (i3) program. Up to $64 million would be available for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education to improve teaching and learning. $85 million is requested to support statewide longitudinal data systems, including support to develop P-20 reports and tools to inform policy-making.
- Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program: Included in the president’s budget is a $1.1 billion request to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center to strengthen alignment among secondary and postsecondary CTE programs with business and industry, and create a better accountability system for career tech. The request includes $300 million for a new High School Redesign program to ensure that students graduate with college credit, earned through dual enrollment, Advanced Placement courses, or other postsecondary learning opportunities; and career-related experiences or competencies, obtained through organized internships and mentorships, structured work-based learning, and other related experiences. $42 million is included to fund dual enrollment programs.
- Affordability and Quality in Postsecondary Education: The President is recommending $1 billion for a new Race to the Top—College Affordability and Completion competition to improve college access, affordability, completion, and quality. To make college more affordable the budget links student load interest rates to market rates; expands repayment options to ensure that loan repayments for all student borrowers do not exceed 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income; and increases aid available under the Campus-Based Aid programs, including $150 million for Work-Study, and reforms to the Perkins Loans program.
- Promise Zones Initiative: To address the challenges of concentrated poverty in neighborhood schools, the president’s budget proposal includes $300 million for Promise Neighborhoods, a $400 million request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program, and $35 million for the Department of Justice’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grants program, in addition to tax incentives to promote investment and economic growth. According to the testimony, these funds will be used to revitalize high-poverty communities by attracting private investment, increasing affordable housing, improving educational opportunities, and providing tax incentives for hiring workers and investing in the Zones. “This interagency effort will explore opportunities to make better use of all available resources—Federal, State, and local—to address the negative effects of concentrated poverty.”
- Making Schools Safer: The 2014 budget supports new investments to improve school emergency plans, create positive school climates, and counter the effects of pervasive violence on students, including $30 million in one-time emergency management planning grants to States to help their LEAs develop, implement, and improve emergency management plans; $50 million for School Climate Transformation Grants, to create positive school climates; and $25 million for Project Prevent grants to break the cycle of violence in some communities through the provision of mental health services to students suffering from trauma or anxiety (including PTSD), conflict resolution programs, and other school-based strategies to prevent future violence.
Secretary Duncan’s testimony is available.
President Obama’s FY14 Budget is available.
This Week at the Statehouse: The Ohio House and Senate will hold hearings and sessions this week.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The House Select Committee on the 98th District Election, chaired by Representative Huffman, will meet on April 23, 2013 at 8:30 AM in hearing room 121. The committee will hear presentations from counsel for the contestor, the contestee, and respondents. The nine-member committee was formed to review the results of the 98th House District election between Representative Al Landis (R-Dover) and former Representative Joshua O’Farrell (D-New Philadelphia). Representative Landis won the election in November by 8 votes, but the election was immediately contested by Josh O’Farrell, who filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor reviewed the evidence gathered in response to the lawsuit, and directed the case to be settled by the House of Representatives. The complaint alleges that there were irregularities in how some ballots were counted. Once the House committee examines the evidence, it will present its recommendations to the full Ohio House for a final decision.
The Senate Education Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) will meet at 11:00 AM in the South Hearing Room. The committee will receive testimony from the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission and the Ohio Board of Regents regarding HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The Senate Education Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), will meet at 9:30 AM in the South Hearing Room. The committee will receive testimony from the Ohio Department of Education and the Office of 21st Century Education regarding HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget.
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Gerald Stebelton, will meet at 5:00 PM in hearing room 121. The committee will receive testimony on the following bills:
- HB8 (Roeger) School Safety Laws, which would revise the school safety laws. A substitute bill is expected to be introduced.
- HB14 (Pelanda) School Records-Abused, Neglected, Dependent Child, which would change the way school districts withhold or transfer to another district or school the records of a child who is alleged or adjudicated an abused, neglected, or dependent child.
- SB21 (Lehner) Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which would revise the requirements for reading teachers under the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) will meet at 9:00 AM in the South Hearing Room. The committee will receive testimony from several statewide agencies.
HB59 Omnibus Amendment Approved: The House Finance and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Representative Amstutz, made a number of substantive changes in Sub. HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget before approving it on April 16, 2013 and sending it to the full House for consideration. The omnibus amendment increased All Funds Budget totals in FY14 by $61 million and in FY15 by $52.7 million. The General Revenue Fund budget is $61.45 billion for the biennium, which is $1.7 billion less than the Executive Budget. The House approved All Funds budget is $120.2 billion for the biennium, which is also less than the Executive Budget.
The following is a summary of the education related amendments that became part of HB59 as approved by the House on April 18, 2013.
- Sec. 3314.29 Permits an e-school that serves at least grades one through eight to divide into two schools as long as the sponsor agrees and the division is accomplished in either the 2013 – 2014 or 2014 – 2015 school years.
- Sec. 3314.017 Dropout Recovery Schools: Requires the State Board of Education, not later than December 31, 2014, to review the performance levels and 13 benchmarks for report cards issued for dropout recovery 14 community schools.
- Sec. 3314.06 Community School Tuition: Permits a community school to charge tuition to a student who is not an Ohio resident.
- Sec. 3333.31 Residency Status for State Subsidy and Tuition Purposes: Requires that, if a state institution of higher education issues a student a letter or utility bill to use as proof for voting purposes in Ohio, the student must be granted residency status by rule of the Chancellor of the Board of Regents for the purpose of state subsidy and tuition surcharges.
- Sections 263.10 and 263.220 Vocational Agriculture Program: Increases GRF appropriation item 200545, Career-Technical Education Enhancements, by $5,000 in each fiscal year by the same amount, and increases the earmark for the Vocational Agriculture Programs at an at-risk vocational school in the Cincinnati City School District.
- Sec. 263 Academic Distress Commission: Allows the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create an academic distress commission for any district found by the State Auditor to have knowingly manipulated student data with the intent to deceive.
- Sec. 3314.029 Community School Sponsor Termination: Authorizes the Department of Education to deny an application submitted under the Ohio School Sponsorship Program by an existing community school, if the school’s contract with its sponsor was terminated.
- Sec. 3313.848 Un-expended Funds Paid to an Educational Service Center: Permits the board of education of a school district, governing authority of a community school, governing body of a STEM school, or governing body of a municipal or other political subdivision (client) to elect, at the end of a fiscal year, to have unexpended funds that were paid to an education service center (ESC) during that fiscal year applied toward any payment owed to the ESC in the next fiscal year.
- Sec. 3301.07 Operating Standards – Use of Phonics Operating Standards: Reinserts removed language that requires phonics to be used as a technique for reading teaching standards adopted by the State Board of Education.
- Sec. 3301.07 Financial Reporting Standards: Restores current law requiring that the State Board of Education develop financial reporting standards for specified categories to be used by public schools when annually reporting financial information.
- Sec. 3314.08 E-Schools Career Tech: Provides that an e-school is eligible to receive career technical education funding in addition to the core opportunity grant and special education funding.
- Section 263 Special Education Funding Community Schools: Provides an amount from GRF appropriation item 200550, Foundation Funding, to certain community schools for students who receive special education services for severe behavior disabilities (SBH). The amount is equal to the difference between the aggregate amount paid in the current fiscal year for special education services for SBH students and the amount that would have been calculated for those students in FY01.
- Sec. 3321.01 All Day Kindergarten Tuition: Provides that a school district may charge tuition for a student enrolled in all-day kindergarten as long as the student is counted as less than one full time equivalent student.
- Sec. 3365.07 Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Reimbursement – Transfer Modules: Clarifies that the Department of Education may not reimburse a college through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) Program for courses that are not included in, or equivalent to a course included in, either a transfer module or the transfer assurance guide developed by the Chancellor of the Board of Regents.
- Sec. 3317.022 and 3317.051 Gifted Unit Funding: Includes gifted unit funding in the list of core funding components. Requires a school district to use the funding it receives for gifted coordinator services or gifted intervention specialist services only for that purpose. Permits a school district to assign its gifted funding units to another education entity as part of an arrangement to provide gifted services.
- Sections 363.10 and 363. Under the Board of Regents creates GRF appropriation 235523, Youth STEM Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Program: Allocates $2.0 million in FY14 and $3.0 million in FY15 for the Youth STEM Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Program. Requires the Program to include regional STEM forums, online high school and collegiate content and courses, and a statewide mentoring network available to Ohio high school students. Requires the Program to conduct a statewide competition, open to all Ohio high school students, which includes awards for students, professional development and participation incentives for teachers, and initiatives to engage minority, rural, and economically disadvantaged students. Requires the Program to collaborate with institutions of higher education, existing STEM and entrepreneurship programs, and STEM professional and trade associations to implement these provisions.
- Sec. 263.460 Operating Standards: Removes the requirement for the State Board of Education to revise minimum operating standards.
- Sections 263.10 and 263.230 Public Funds for Home-schooled Students: Increases Foundation Funding 200-550 by $250,000 each year and earmarks that amount for home-schooled students to take Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program courses.
- Sec. 3317.013 Category Two Special Education Students: Specifies that students who are preschool children identified as developmentally delayed are category two special education students for purposes of special education funding.
- Sec. 5705.192, 5705.217, 5705.218, and 5705.25 656 School District Levies for Permanent Improvements and Current Expenses: Allows a school district that levies an existing combined levy for current expenses and permanent improvements to replace or renew that levy solely for the purpose of funding general permanent improvements. The amendment also allows the district to replace the levy for a term of years different than the term for which the original tax was levied. Under current law, a district may renew or replace such a levy only for the same purposes and the same term for which it was originally levied.
- Specifies that new combined current expense and permanent improvement levies may be levied for current expenses and general (not specific) permanent improvements. Current law allows such levies to be used for either general or specific improvements.
- Section 263 Study on Funding for Gifted Students: Requires the Department of Education to conduct a study to determine the amounts of funding, method of funding, and the costs of statewide support for gifted students. The study must include costs for effective and appropriate identification, staffing, professional development, technology, materials and supplies at the district level. Requires the Department to issue a report of its findings to the General Assembly not later than March 31, 2014.
- Section 263.10 and 263 Ready to Learn: Appropriates $5.0 million in each fiscal year in GRF appropriation item 200468, Ready to Learn. Requires ODE to use this funding to contract with public and private early childhood education providers to fund early childhood education services for 2,200 preschool-aged children whose family income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Requires that funding be provided for at least 3 children in each county. Requires that private providers have at least a three star rating in the Department of Job and Family Services “Step Up to Quality” program. Requires programs receiving funding to meet certain teacher qualification and professional development criteria, aligned to ODE’s early learning content standards, assess and report on child progress as required by ODE, and participate in the Step Up to Quality program.
- Sec. 3313.843 Total Student Count Educational Service Centers; Revises the bill’s definition of “total student count” for purposes of calculating any state subsidy to be paid to an educational service center (ESC) to mean the sum of the average daily student enrollments reported on the most recent report cards issued by the Department of Education for all of the school districts with agreements with the ESC.
- Sec. 105.41, 125.05, 3313.603, 3314.074, 3317.06, 3317.50, 3317.51, 3319.22, 3319.235, 3353.01, 3353.02, 3353.04, 3353.06, 3353.07, and 3353.09; Sections 263.470, 363.570, and Section 4 of Sub. S.B. 171 of the 129th General Assembly, amended in Sections 610.20 and 610.21 Broadcast Educational Media Commission.
- Removes the bill’s provisions abolishing the eTech Ohio Commission and, instead, renames and reconstitutes the eTech Ohio Commission as the Broadcast Educational Media Commission (BEMC). Transfers all of the state’s educational broadcasting services, including educational television, radio, and radio reading services, and the rules associated with these services, from eTech to the BEMC.
The House Finance and Appropriations Committee also considered amendments proposed by House Democrats, but all but one were tabled by the committee. Some of the same amendments were presented during the floor debate on HB59 in the House on April 18, 2013, but again, all but one of the amendments was tabled. The Democrat amendments related to education would have addressed the following:
- created the “Finish Fund” to promote incentives for college juniors and seniors to finish their degrees
- removed provisions permitting the superintendent of public instruction to create an academic distress commission in any school district found to have manipulated student data
- removed provisions expanding the EdChoice voucher program for certain students based on income
- removed provisions adding career technical education funding for e-schools
- increased accountability for for-profit charter schools by requiring that they be subject to the same public records/audit requirements as public schools
- enact a 10 percent targeted middle class tax cut, and appropriate an additional $118 million for schools ($54 million in FY14 and $64 million in FY15) using funds that supported the seven percent income tax cut included in the substitute bill.
Media Report School Funding Decreases/Charter School Increases: Last week newspapers and analysts reported that the House approved version of HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget decreases state funding for traditional public schools while increasing funding for charter schools. The reports resulted from analyses of Legislative Service Commission simulations of the amount of state funding that would be allocated for each school districts through the new House school funding formula, which was developed by House Republicans and included in Sub. HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget as passed by the House.
When compared to the Executive Budget, the House version of HB59 (Amstutz) changes funding levels for the following K-12 education line items:
- Provides $7.9 billion in General Revenue Funds in FY14 and $8.25 billion in FY15. The House version is $349 million more than FY13 estimated levels, and a $272 million increase between FY14 and FY15 levels. Compared to the Executive Budget the House Budget reduces General Revenue Funds for the Ohio Department of Education by $49.5 million in FY14 and by $21 million in FY15, for a total reduction of $70 million.
- Provides $11.467 billion in All Fund Groups in FY14 and $11.81 billion in FY15. The House version is $487 million more than FY13 estimated levels, and a $350 million increase between FY14 and FY15 levels. Compared to the Executive Budget the House Budget reduces All Fund Groups for the Ohio Department of Education by $161 million in FY14 and $140 million in FY15, for a total reduction of $301 million.
The following are some of the reports about how the House school funding formula works:
Akron Beacon Journal April 13, 2013: On April 13, 2013 Doug Livingston at the Akron Beacon Journal reported that simulations showing how each school district would be affected by changes in the House proposed school funding formula were not comparable with simulations showing funding levels for school districts under the Executive Budget. The simulations were released when the House Finance and Appropriations Committee accepted a substitute bill for HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget on April 9, 2013.
At first it seemed that more school districts would receive increases in state aid. But further analyses, by newspapers and researchers, showed that Sub. HB59 provided between $82 and $191 million less for schools compared to the Executive Budget. According to the article, 133 districts could receive less funding in 2014 under the House proposal than they are estimated to receive this year, but it is difficult to tell, because there are so many significant changes in the funding formula and pass-throughs for charter and private schools.
The article goes on to explain that an additional $1.3 billion is needed to account for the increases in the per pupil amount from $5000 per pupil in the Executive Budget, to $5,732 in FY14 and $5789 in FY15 in the House version of the budget. However, the new formula is not fully funded, because the six percent “cap” on increases in state aid for school districts under the House version, reduces state aid for 364 school districts by $901 million in FY14. (Not included in the article is additional information prepared by Howard Fleeter, an economist from the Education Tax Policy Institute, who determined that school districts lose another $718 million in FY15 from the cap.)
The author writes, “The Beacon Journal’s analysis shows that those not getting full funding tend to be among the most needy districts — those with more students living in poverty, lower average property valuations per pupil and slightly larger class sizes. They also tend to have higher percentages of minority children.”
The article is “Ohio House school funding plan looked good at first, but the numbers show they’re cutting education aid” by Doug Livingston, Beacon Journal, April 13, 2013.
Innovation Ohio April 16, 2013: When the House Finance and Appropriations Committee introduced on April 9, 2013 a substitute bill for HB59, it was reported that the school funding formula developed to replace Governor Kasich’s school funding formula would ensure that no school district received less state aid than current levels. However, on April 16, 2013, Innovation Ohio (IO) reported that an analysis of the House Committee’s school funding plan, compared to Governor Kasich’s Executive budget, found that 127 school districts would receive less state money in FY14-15. Overall the analysis found that state funding would decrease by $191 million compared to state funding levels proposed by Governor Kasich in the Executive Budget.
The IO analysis determined that the House Committee’s school funding plan, which included funds for transportation and career technical education in the core opportunity grant, made it look as if more state funds were being provided, but when those line items were separated-out, the House plan decreased overall funding by $191 million.
“House Budget Would Cut 127 School Districts” by Dale Butland, April 16, 2013.
The Plain Dealer April 17, 2013: On April 17, 2013 Patrick O’Donnell at The Plain Dealer reported that school officials, analysts, and legislators were still struggling to understand the school funding provisions included in HB59 (Amstutz) Biennial Budget, even as lawmakers prepared for a vote on the bill. School funding experts and school officials were trying to determine the “bottom line” for state aid for school districts, but found it difficult, because the House version of HB59 included funding for transportation and career technical education in the formula, while those funds were reported separately in the Executive Budget; the House budget caps increases in state aid for school districts at 6 percent, meaning that many school districts are prevented from receiving the full benefit of the formula; and there was confusing information about the amount of deductions/transfers from school districts to charter schools and private schools participating in the voucher programs.
According to the article some lawmakers were frustrated that the House and Executive budget simulations of state funding levels for school districts were not comparable, and that estimates provided by the Legislative Service Commission showed that charter schools would receive $816.5 million under the House version, which is an increase of five percent over FY13 levels, while state aid for some traditional public schools was reduced.
“School funding plan from Ohio House headed to a vote with many details still unclear” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, April 17, 2013.
Akron Beacon Journal April 18, 2013: On April 18, 2013 Doug Livingston at the Akron Beacon Journal writes that, “The House version increases overall state funding for education by 1.6 percent, from $8.2 billion in 2012 to $8.8 billion in 2014. In that same time, state funding for charter schools would increase 7.3 percent.” Charter schools received $771 million in 2012. Based on 2012 data, the House formula would increase funding to charter schools to $816 million, which works out to a $450 per pupil increase. Charter schools are also receiving an additional $100 per student for facilities, which means charter schools receive another $10.8 million.
“Projections show funding increases for charter schools” by Doug Livingston Beacon Journal education writer published: April 18, 2013 – 06:12 PM.
Lawsuit Filed Over Florida’s Teacher Evaluation System: The National Education Association (NEA) filed a lawsuit on April 16, 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Gainesville Division challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s teacher evaluation laws and policies. (Cook et. al. v. Tony Bennett, Florida Commissioner of Education, et. al. “Florida Unions Sue Over Test-Score-Based Evaluations” by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week, April 16, 2013.)
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three NEA affiliates and seven teachers in Florida. The lawsuit alleges that the Florida law, approved in 2011 to change teacher evaluations, infringes on due process and the equal protection rights of teachers in violation of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit asks the court to end the current evaluation system and void the evaluation results for the 2011-12 and future school years.
The new Florida teacher evaluation system rates teachers who teach subjects that don’t have a standardized assessment, using a schoolwide growth score, or the results of an assessment that is “only tangentially related to their field.” One of the plaintiffs, for example, was evaluated partially on the test scores of 4th and 5th grade students, even though she teaches 1st and 2nd grade.
According to the article, the Florida suit is the first legal challenge of the technical properties of a “value added” metric to calculate a teacher’s contribution to student learning. The lawsuit contents that the state formula used to measure student growth is “….being stretched far beyond the limited purposes for which it was designed”.
Teachers in other states are also raising questions about using student test scores to evaluate teacher performance. Recently a panel in Tennessee recommended that the percent of a teacher’s evaluation based on student test score results be reduced.
The article is available.
The lawsuit is available.
Federal Government Should Do More to Improve School Equality: The Leadership Conference Education Fund released on April 15, 2013 a report entitled “Reversing the Rising Tide of Inequality: Achieving Educational Equity for Each and Every Child”, by Robert Rothman, principal author.
The purpose of the report is to bolster efforts to achieve both quality and fairness in our nation’s public education system and implement the recommendations developed by the Equity and Excellence Commission chaired by Christopher Edley, Jr., the dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mariano-Florentino “Tino” Cuellar, a law professor at Stanford University,
The 27-member commission was chartered by Congress to provide advice about “….the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance, and to recommend ways in which federal policies could address such disparities.” The commission, which met for over two years, submitted a report to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan in February 2013. The report summarizes “…. how America’s K-12 education system, taken as a whole, fails our nation and too many of our children.” According to the report, the education reform initiatives of the past sixty years, based on standards and test-based accountability, have made some progress, but not enough.
The Leadership Conference Education Fund’s report recommends that Congress, the president, Executive Branch agencies, state policy makers, civil and human rights organizations, the philanthropic community, and the business community take action on a number of recommendations developed by the Commission.
Members of Congress are urged to conduct hearings on the impact of fiscal inequity on under served populations and on the nation’s well being, and target federal resources to students and communities most in need. Congress should reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and hold local educational agencies accountable for student outcomes and closing the achievement gaps among groups of students. The Obama administration should enforce compliance with federal civil rights laws barring discrimination and inequality, and enforce provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
The following were the recommendations listed for state policy makers to implement:
- Governors and state legislators, state school board members, and chief state school officers, should publicly re-affirm their support for, and intention to, to comply fully with state court orders regarding equitable school financing, and develop strategies to ensure that schools are funded equitably.
- State and local education officials should determine what it will take to ensure that all public schools have the resources necessary to serve each and every child well, including college and career-ready standards. Public hearings should be conducted to gather information to enable all interested parties to be heard.
- Those states that do not have a robust right to education in their constitutions should begin deliberations on whether and how to amend their constitutions, or take other legislative action to guarantee the right to public education for all children.
- State leaders should use multiple sets of data and other evidence to determine the relative costs to fully educate each and every child in the state (aka “costing out studies”) and take legislative action to ensure the state’s financing and resource allocation systems are well-aligned with what is required to educate each child.
The report also recommends that non-government organizations (NGOs), philanthropy, and business organizations must continue to play a prominent role in supporting public schools and in advocating for equity and justice for students. An education equity communications plan should be created by these NGOs to respond to public opinion and to articulate why education is important to individual growth and happiness, improving our economy, sustaining our international prominence, and maintaining national security and harmony. These entities should take the lead in developing and funding community-based and regional partnerships among the K-12 school system, public and private employers, higher education institutions, labor unions, and representatives of under served communities to facilitate greater collaboration.
The report is available.
More Questions Raised About Common Core Standards: An article in the Washington Post on April 19, 2013 describes how the Republican National Committee and lawmakers from both parties are questioning the efficacy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and how one lawmaker, Senator Charles Grassley, is working to eliminate $360 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s budget to develop standardized tests to assess the Common Core.
The Common Core standards were developed by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. According to the article supporters and opponents of the Common Core are from both the left and right. Critics on the right believe that the federal government has overstepped its authority and is interfering with state and local control of education policy when it promotes the Common Core. Critics the left cite the lack of research and involvement of educators in the development of the standards as reasons to oppose them. Resistance is also growing at the state level. At least 10 state legislatures/education leaders are reconsidering their support for CCSS.
Senator Grassley has noted that while federal law states that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or assessments for states, the criteria for the federal Race to the Top Program require that states adopt “a common set of K-12 standards” and college and career readiness standards. The U.S. DOE is currently using federal funds to support the development of assessments for the Common Core by two consortia, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This could be interpreted as an over-reach by the U.S. DOE of its authority.
The article is “Common Core Standards Attacked by Republicans” by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, April 19, 2013.
ACT Releases Survey Results: The results of the ACT National Curriculum Survey 2012 were released on April 17, 2013. The survey, conducted every three to five years by ACT, collects data about what students should know and be able to do to be ready for college-level coursework in English, math, reading, and science. The results are used to inform policy makers and educators and validate ACT’s College Readiness Standards and the College Readiness Benchmarks. The most recent survey sampled 9,937 participants including elementary, middle, and high school teachers, and college instructors in English, writing, reading, and science.
The document Policy Implications on Preparing for Higher Standards, which ACT prepared based on the survey results, includes the following observations:
- There is a large gap between how high school teachers perceive the college readiness of high school graduates and how college instructors perceive the readiness of incoming students.
- There is support among high school teachers for college and career ready standards.
- There is a lack of alignment between the K-12 and postsecondary education systems. The lack of alignment might be hampering the efforts of K-12 to prepare students for life after high school.
- Classrooms might need better and more secure computer technology to administer the Common Core assessments.
- Potential inequity of access to computers across schools, districts, and states might create reliability issues with assessment results.
- Teachers at the high school level report differing degrees of familiarity with the improved standards, which will affect students being college and career ready.
Based on the results of the survey, the report recommends the following policy changes:
- Increase and improve the amount and quality of professional development about college and career-ready standards at the K-12 level.
- There must be better alignment between K-12 and postsecondary educators to ensure that course curricula and classroom materials reflect the skills needed for college and career readiness.
- More attention must be paid at the postsecondary level to ensure that students in development college courses leave these courses prepared.
- Resources should be provided to ensure that students have access to computer technology and are prepared for innovative assessments that are likely to accompany implementation of college and career-ready standards.
The report is available.
Statehouse Art Collection Appraised: Executive Director William Carleton of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) recently reported that the artwork and memorials on the Statehouse grounds in Columbus have been appraised at more than $20 million. The Statehouse art collection has been created to benefit the people of Ohio and tell the story of the state. The art works depict the hopes, dreams, values and aspirations of Ohio – and commemorate the state’s accomplishments and struggles. Artworks have been added over the years to preserve the public memory and to create a consensus about what is important to Ohio.
The Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, in partnership with the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board and the Ohio Arts Council, has developed a set of teacher resources for the works of art found in The People’s Art Collection at the Ohio Statehouse and on Capitol Square. The resources include individual lessons and integrated lessons for use by educators and parents. Information about The People’s Art Collection is available at
Latest FAST Survey Results for Arts Education Released: The National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, released on April 2, 2013 the latest national report about the status of arts education for public elementary and secondary schools entitled, Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999-2000 and 2009-10. This is the third study that has been conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) about the national status of arts education. The first study was conducted in the 1994-95 school year and a second study was conducted during the 1999-2000 school year. The results of the first study are now used as a baseline for comparing recent data.
The FAST Survey is a congressionally mandated study on arts education in public K-12 schools, collected through seven Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) surveys during the 2009-2010 school year. Comparisons with data from the 1999–2000 FRSS arts education study are included where applicable. A preliminary report about this data was released in 2011 as A Snapshot of Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009–10. This report provides a broader description of the status of arts education and changes from a decade ago. At the elementary school level, indicators are based on data collected from school principals, music specialists, visual arts specialists, and classroom teachers. Indicators at the secondary level are based on data collected from school principals, music specialists, and visual arts specialists.
Summary of Results: According to the latest FAST Survey, ninety four percent of elementary schools reported instruction designated specifically for music and 83 percent specifically for visual art in the 2009-10 school year. Only 3 percent and 4 percent of elementary schools reported instruction designated specifically for dance and drama/theatre, respectively, in the 2009-10 school year. This represents a decrease from 20 percent of elementary schools offering instruction in dance and drama/theatre in the 1999-2000 school year.
The survey also found that among elementary schools that offered designated instruction in the arts in the 2009-10 school year, 91 percent employed music specialists and 84 percent employed visual art specialists. Schools with instruction designated specifically for dance or drama/theatre had lower percentages of employed specialists to provide instruction (57 and 42 percent, respectively).
When examining the amount of instructional time that schools scheduled for the arts, 93 percent of elementary schools reported that they offered music instruction at least one a week and 85 percent of elementary schools offered instruction in visual art at least once a week during the 2009-10 school year. Schools with instruction designated specifically for dance or drama/theatre had lower percentages offering instruction at least once a week (53 and 58 percent, respectively).
In the 2009–10 school year, the survey found that most music specialists in public elementary schools taught the arts subject full time (88 percent), and most visual art specialists taught the arts subject full time (83 percent). On average, full-time music specialists spent 22 hours per week teaching 25 different classes with about 18 students per class. Full-time visual art specialists in public elementary schools had similar teaching loads as their music counterparts, with full-time visual art specialists spending an average of 22 hours per week teaching 24 different classes with about 22 students per class.
The survey also found that 88 percent of classroom teachers reported that they include instruction in the arts in their classroom program, including 97 percent who incorporate visual art in other subjects; 92 percent who incorporate music in other subjects; and 87 percent who incorporate drama/theatre in other subjects.
Reviewing the survey results for secondary schools, the report found the following:
- In the 2008-09 school year, most secondary schools offered instruction designated specifically for music (91 percent) and visual art (89 percent). About 12 percent offered instruction designated specifically for dance and 45 percent offered instruction designated specifically for drama/theatre. None of these percentages represent a significant change from the 1999-2000 school year.
- In the 2009-10 school year instruction designated specifically for music and visual art differed by the concentration of poverty in the school, measured by the percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch. Eighty one percent of secondary schools with the highest poverty levels offered instruction in music, while 96 percent of secondary schools with the lowest poverty concentration offered music instruction. Similar differences by poverty level were observed for visual art instruction (80 percent vs. 95 percent).
- Fifty seven percent of secondary schools required some arts course-work for graduation in the 2009-10 school year, not measurably different from the percentage of schools with this requirement in the 1999-2000 school year.
- Among secondary schools requiring arts coursework for graduation, only about 15 percent required more than 2 credits for graduation in the 2009-10 school year, not measurably different from the percentage that required more than 2 credits for graduation in the 1999-2000 school year.
- Eighty nine percent of secondary schools included arts classes in the calculation of students’ GPA in the 2009-10 school year, not measurably different from the percent that included arts classes in GPA calculation in the 1999-2000 school year.
The report also examines arts education activities outside of the regular school hours and school community partnerships. According to the survey, the most commonly cited curriculum-based activities outside of regular school hours were school performances or presentations in the arts (75 percent) and arts-related field trips (61 percent). Schools also reported activities for choir/band/marching band practice (46 percent), individual or small group music lessons (39 percent), and dance activities, such as lessons or team dance (12 percent).
Forty-two percent of elementary schools indicated that they had partnerships with cultural or community organizations. The percentage of schools that reported other types of partnerships or collaborations ranged from 31 percent for individual artists and crafts people to 7 percent for the community school of the arts.
The report also includes a section that focuses in on data behind the results for each of the arts disciplines, including how access to instruction in the arts relates to concentration of poverty, and information about professional development, teaching loads, planning time, and student assessment in the arts.
The report is available.
Arts Education as an Pay-Forward Investment: Doug Herbert, special assistant for arts education at the U.S. DOE Office of Innovation and Improvement, writes that National Arts Education Advocacy Day, which was held on April 9, 2013 in Washington D.C., is a time to rally support for arts education and for identifying ways to help all students retain what Pablo Picasso referred to as the “child artist” within themselves. (“Arts Education and Advocacy: An Investment in Every Child’s Future” by Doug Herbert, April 16, 2013.)
The arts, which are an integral part of a well-rounded education, provide students with essential skills to succeed in life and earn a livelihood, but according to the latest FAST survey on the status of arts education in our schools “…millions of American students, particularly in high-need schools, have either minimal or no access to instruction in the arts.”
Herbert goes on to write that this year world-renown cellist and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), Yo-Yo-Ma, was the Arts Advocacy Day, Nancy Hanks Lecturer on Arts and Public Policy. His speech before a capacity audience at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, focused on the reasons to support arts education as a “smart, pay-forward investment in every child’s education and future.”
Arts education as a strategy for school improvement and an investment in the future is supported by research available through ArtsEdSearch, an online clearinghouse for high-quality research on arts education. The article explains that ArtsEdSearch contains a growing number of valid research studies on the impact of arts education on students’ cognitive, emotional, and social development; on professional development outcomes for arts educators and teaching artists; and on academic achievement and other outcomes associated with arts learning in school- and community-based programs.
The article is available.
This update is written weekly by Joan Platz, Research and Knowledge Director 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, Ohio Art Education Association, Ohio Educational Theatre Association, OhioDance, and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.