130th Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold hearings and sessions this week.
The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Oelslager, will meet on May 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM and May 14, 2014 at 9:30 AM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. The committee will receive testimony on seven bills, including three Mid Biennial Review (MBR) bills that affect education policies. Those bills are:
- HB486 (Baker/Stebelton) MBR-Workforce and Economic Development Programs
- HB483 (Amstutz) MBR-Operation of State Programs
- HB484 (Rosenberger/Brown) MBR-Higher Education
The committee is also receiving testimony on HB492 (Scherer) MBR-Taxation and HB85 (Terhar/Gonzales) Homestead Exemption.
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on May 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM in the South Hearing Room and on May 14, 2014 at 2:30 PM in room 110. The committee will receive testimony on HB487 (Brenner) MBR K-12 Education Programs.
The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Stebelton, will meet on May 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM in hearing Room 313. The committee will receive testimony on the following bills:
- HB437 (Hagen/Ramos) Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Instruction
- HB449 (Gonzales) Higher Education-Residency Status
- HB460 (Brenner/Driehaus) School Restructuring
- SB229 (Gardner) Teacher Performance Evaluations
May 6, 2014 Primary Election Results: Last week Ohio voters selected candidates for the November 2014 Election, approved State Issue 1, the State Capital Improvement Program, and voted on hundreds of local issues, including tax issues for schools.
The Ohio School Boards Association reported last week that 69 percent of school tax issues were approved by voters on May 6, 2014, which is an increase of nine percent compared to May 2013. There were a total of 148 school tax issues on the ballot this year, including emergency levies, operating levies, permanent improvement levies, bond issues, income tax levies, etc.
Ohio Presidential Scholars Named: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on May 5, 2014 the members of the 50th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. Simon S. Horn, Bexley High School, and Lindsay, J. Myers, Princeton High School, were selected as Presidential Scholars from Ohio. They are among 141 students from across the country who have been recognized for their accomplishments in academics and the arts. Candidates are nominated by the chief state school officer of a state, or, in the case of the arts, the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition. The 2014 Presidential Scholars awards ceremony will be held June 22, 2014 when each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.
More information is available.
OEA Votes to Delay High-Stakes Decisions: Catherine Candisky reports for the Columbus Dispatch that the Ohio Education Association’s Spring Representative Assembly voted on May 9, 2014 to urge Ohio lawmakers to delay for three years making high-stakes decisions tied to the new state standardized assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. This would include decisions about students (third grade reading), teacher evaluations, and district/school ratings.
See “Teachers Union Wants Testing Delay” by Catherine Candisky, Columbus Dispatch, May 10, 2014.
More on “Thorough and Efficient”: In a May 10, 2014 letter to the Columbus Dispatch, Nick Pittner, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the DeRolph school funding lawsuits, challenges the proposal to remove from the Ohio Constitution the “thorough and efficient” standard for Ohio’s education system and the assertion that the courts have no role to play in determining the constitutionality of laws. The proposal was offered by Chad Readler, the chair of the Education, Public Institutions & Miscellaneous and Local Government, at the April meeting of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. Mr. Pittner’s letter responds to an editorial by the Columbus Dispatch (April 20, 2014) that agrees with Mr. Readler’s view that the Ohio Supreme Court stepped “outside its constitutional bounds” when issuing the DeRolph decisions.
Mr. Pittner writes that the very role of the courts is to “… declare laws unconstitutional when necessary and appropriate.” He goes on to say, “It has been the province of the courts to rule on the constitutionality of legislation since the 1803 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Marbury vs. Madison.”
He explains, however, that after the Ohio Supreme Court directed the legislature to fix the school funding system, there was a constitutional crisis: “The court directed change, the legislature refused. Ultimately, the Supreme Court blinked and Ohio’s public-school pupils have yet to realize their constitutional promise of a “thorough and efficient” system of public education.”
The failure of the legislature to follow the directive of the court is not a reason to remove the “thorough and efficient” standard in the constitution. He writes, “The problem is not solved by changing the constitution to delete the “thorough and efficient” language. With no measure of accountability, the right to any level of public education for children in Ohio would disappear. Public education would exist, if at all, at the whim of the legislature.”
States recognize the obligation to provide educational opportunities for children to ensure the social, economic, and political well-being of the state. Mr. Pittner concludes by writing, “For Ohio to abandon its constitutional standard and immunize the legislature from judicial scrutiny would certainly jeopardize the future, not only for Ohio’s schoolchildren, but for all of us.”
See “Thorough and Efficient is Necessary for Accountability” by Nick Pittner, Columbus Dispatch, “Letters to the Editor”, May 10, 2014.
See “Revisiting DeRolph”, Columbus Dispatch Editorial, May 20, 2014.
Second Look at the Common Core: Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder recently told Darrel Rowland from the Columbus Dispatch that he was surprised by the controversy over the Common Core State Standards and its impact on the May primary election in Ohio. Mr. Rowland writes on May 11, 2014 that Ohio Republicans are going to take a second look at the CCSS, and have “…commissioned a poll to see how many Ohioans have a problem with the Common Core.”
See “Capitol Insider: GOP to Give Common Core a Second Look”, by Darrel Rowland, Columbus Dispatch, May 11, 2014.
U.S. House Approves Charter School Act: The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10) on May 9, 2014 with bipartisan support (360 to 45). The bill reauthorizes provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act regarding charter schools, and was introduced by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline and Senior Democratic Member George Miller. The bill supports expanding successful charter schools by combining two charter school programs to allow federal funds to be used to start new charter schools, or expand existing charter schools. The bill also addresses facilities for charter schools, increases federal funds for charter schools from $250 million to $300 million, encourages charter schools to enroll and retain students with special needs and English Language Learners, allows charter schools to give special preference to certain types of students in the admissions process, and more.
The House charter school bill was opposed for various reasons by the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, and Parents Across America, but these organizations all agree that the bill lacks tighter reporting and accountability requirements for charter schools. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association supported amendments to add more accountability requirements for charter schools, but the amendments were not included in the bill as passed by the House.
The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where a bipartisan group of Senators, including Senators Mary Landrieu (D), Mark Kirk (R), and Lamar Alexander, introduced their own charter school bill, The Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act. The U.S. House approved a similar charter school bill in 2011, but the Senate failed to take action on it.
House Approves the Strengthening Research Act: The U.S. House passed the Strengthening Education Through Research (H.R. 4366) Act on May 8, 2014. The legislation reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act “to improve the federal research structure” and was approved with bipartisan support. The bill streamlines the federal education research system, requires regular evaluations of research and education programs, strengthens privacy provisions to ensure that personally identifiable information is secure and protected, and maintains the autonomy of the Institutes for Education Sciences, the National Assessment Governing board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
More information is available.
Florida Court Issues Decision on VAM: U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker dismissed a lawsuit on May 6, 2014 entitled Cook v. Stewart, filed by the Florida Education Association in February 2013. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of teacher evaluation systems adopted by the school boards of Alachua, Escambia, and Hernando counties, and approved by the Florida State Board of Education and Florida Department of Education. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida Gainesville Division.
Judge Mark Walker found that although the Florida teacher evaluation policies might seem “unfair”, there is a rational basis for the State to establish a teacher evaluation system.
He writes in the Court’s Order, “The unfairness of the evaluation system as implemented is not lost on this Court.”
“To make matters worse, the legislature has mandated that teacher ratings be used to make important employment decisions such as pay, promotion, assignment, and retention.9 Ratings affect a teacher’s professional reputation as well because they are made public—they have even been printed in the newspaper. Needless to say, this Court would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would find this evaluation system fair to non-FCAT teachers, let alone be willing to submit to a similar evaluation system.”
“This case, however, is not about the fairness of the evaluation system. The standard of review is not whether the evaluation policies are good or bad, wise or unwise; but whether the evaluation policies are rational within the meaning of the law. The legal standard for invalidating legislative acts on substantive due process and equal protection grounds looks only to whether there is a conceivable rational basis to support them. For reasons that have been explained, the State Defendants could rationally conclude that the evaluation policies further the state’s legitimate interest in increasing student learning growth.”
More information is available.
CTU Opposes Common Core: The Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates adopted a resolution on May 7, 2014 opposing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the “…aligned tests as a framework for teaching and learning.”
According to a CTU press release, the CTU believes that the Common Core “represents an overreach of federal power into personal privacy as well as into state educational autonomy.”
The resolution states that the Common Core State Standards “…reflect the interests and priorities of corporate education reformers than the best interests and priorities of teachers and students”; have been implemented too quickly, and as a result have “produced numerous developmentally inappropriate expectations;” adversely affect students of color, impoverished students, English language learners, and students with disabilities; and emphasize inappropriate pedagogical techniques.
The resolution goes on to list complaints about the aligned assessments, which are described as not transparent, time consuming, and are politically used to justify closing schools.
The press release states that CTU will now “…lobby the Illinois Board of Education to eliminate the use of the Common Core for teaching and assessment” and work “to organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to the law that increases the expansion of nationwide controls over educational issues.”
State Board of Education to Meet: The State Board of Education, Debe Terhar President, will meet on May 12 & 13, 2014 at the Ohio Department of Education Conference Center, 25 South Front Street, Columbus, OH.
This month the State Board will conduct a Chapter 119 Hearing for proposed Ohio Administrative Code Rules
-3301-21-05 to -07 Colleges and Universities Preparing Teachers
-3301-24-07 Provisional License Renewal
-3301-37-01 to -12 Child Day Care Licensing
-3301-102-11 to 12 Academic Gains, Overall Designations
The Accountability Committee, chaired by Tom Gunlock, will receive an update about the work of the Gifted Indicator Work Group and discuss weighting report card components.
The Achievement Committee, chaired by C. Todd Jones, will consider a resolution to adopt the model curricula in the Fine Arts and World Languages, and receive an update about the K-3 Standards, plans for summer professional learning opportunities, and the Race to the Top Grant.
The Urban and Rural Renewal Committee, chaired by Dr. Smith, will receive a presentation from the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations and discuss the Anti-Virus Youth Program.
The Capacity Committee, chaired by Tom Gunlock, will discuss score-setting recommendations for the Ohio Assessments for Educators Licensure Exams in the areas of Agriscience and Health and OAC Chapter 3301-103, Autism Scholarship Program, and review candidate performance on the Ohio Assessments for Educators Licensure Exams
The Operating Standards Committee, chaired by Ron Rudduck, will consider for approval revised Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3301-35-05 Staff Focus and Rule 3301-35-06 Educational Program and Supports.
The Legislative and Budget Committee, chaired by Kathleen McGervey, will meet on May 13, 2014 and receive updates about the Mid Biennial Review bills regarding education, HB483 (Amstutz) General Operations, and HB487 (Brenner) K-12 education.
The voting agenda for this month includes personnel items and the following resolutions:
#14 Resolution to Rescind Rule 3301-24-10 of the Administrative Code entitled Alternative Educator License.
#15 Resolution to Amend Rule 3301-46-01 of the Administrative Code entitled Establishing Provisions for Granting Exceptions from Statutory Provisions and Rules as Necessary to Implement Innovative Education Pilot Programs.
#16 Resolution to Amend Rules 3301-51-01 to 3301-51-09 and Rule 3301-51-11 of the Administrative Code and to Rescind and Adopt Rule 3301-51-21 regarding the Operating Standards for Ohio Educational Agencies Serving Children with Disabilities.
#17 Resolution of Appointment to the Educator Standards Board
#18 Resolution to Approve the Recommendation of the Hearing Officer and to Dismiss the Parent’s Appeal Pursuant to R.C. 3356.05 Regarding a Dispute with the West Liberty-Salem School District about Credits Granted for a Post-Secondary Options Course.
#19 Resolution Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
More information is available.
NAEP 12th Grade Assessment Released: The National Assessment of Educational Progress Governing Board (NAEP) released on May 2, 2014 the results of an analysis of twelfth-grade achievement in reading and math entitled, The Nation’s Report Card: 2013 Mathematics and Reading, Grade 12. Twelfth grade students in 13 states participated in the assessment, which is voluntary, unlike the 4th and 8th grade assessments, which are mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. The NAEP results of the 4th and 8th grades assessments were reported last November.
According to an NAEP press release, the achievement levels of 12th grade students in math and reading has not changed since 2009, but the math scores dropped for English language learners (ELL). Student achievement is reported as average scale scores and three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Basic denotes partial mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for grade-appropriate work; Proficient denotes solid academic performance; and Advanced represents superior work. The following are some of the reported results:
- 26 percent of students overall scored at or above the proficient level in math in 2013. The following are the percents of students by selected groups that scored at or above proficient in math: 47 percent of Asian Pacific Islanders; 33 percent of White students; 12 percent of Hispanic students; and 7 percent of Black students.
- 38 percent of students overall scored at or above the proficient level in reading. The following are the percents of students by selected groups that scored at or above proficient in reading: 47 percent of Asian Pacific Islanders; 47 percent of White students; 23 percent of Hispanic students; and 16 percent of Black students.
- Of the participating states, four states, Idaho, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Connecticut, had higher scores in math in 2013 compared to 2009, and two states, Arkansas and Connecticut, had higher scores in reading in 2013 compared to 2009. There was no change in scores between 2009-2013 in the other participating states, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Two participating states in 2013, Michigan and Tennessee, did not participate in the 12th grade NAEP assessment in 2009.
The report also includes some additional information about the 12th grade students who participated in NAEP:
- Average mathematics scores were highest for students who had taken calculus, and lowest for students who had not taken a mathematics course higher than algebra I.
- Mathematics scores were higher for students who reported that mathematics was their favorite subject, believed mathematics would help them in the future or thought that their mathematics course was often engaging and interesting.
- Students who strongly agreed that they learn a lot from books and find reading enjoyable had average reading scores at or above the Proficient level.
- When asked if they discussed what they read, students who reported discussing their reading every day or almost every day had higher reading scores.
More information is available.
Three Reports About Charter Schools: Last week, May 4-10, 2014, was National Charter School Week. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports that there are “nearly 6,500 schools and more than 2.5 million students” attending charter schools in the U.S. The U.S. House also approved last week the The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, which will increase access to quality charter schools. U.S. Representative Luke Messer (R-IN), who advocated for the bill’s passage, told the Huffington Post that the demand for charter schools has increased, and there are about 1 million students on charter school wait lists.
More information is available.
See “Bill Expanding Access To Charter Schools Could Benefit Latinos” by Griselda Nevarez, Huffington Post Latino Voices, May 10, 2014.
The following are three reports about charter schools that have been published recently:
- Charter School Wait Lists: The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released on May 5, 2014 a policy memo entitled, “Wait, Wait. Don’t Mislead Me! Nine Reasons to be Skeptical about Charter Waitlist Numbers” by Kevin G. Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, and Gary Miron, Western Michigan University.
The memo explains that in 2013 the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) reported that there were 920,007 students on charter school wait lists, but, upon questioning from the public and the media, had to lower its wait list estimation to 520,000.
In this policy memo the authors investigate the “usefulness” of the wait list data, and offer the following reasons why policy-makers, the media, and the public should be skeptical about charter school wait list numbers:
- Students apply to multiple charter schools and district schools, and maybe the charter school was not the first school of choice.
- The wait list numbers cannot be confirmed. NAPCS uses a survey of charter schools to develop the wait list report. However, the survey numbers are based on the number of applications submitted, and are not audited.
- Charter school record-keeping is not reliable. When researchers such as Gary Miron conducted evaluations of charter schools in Illinois and Pennsylvania, he was unable to collect wait list data, because charter schools did not keep these lists current and did not take into account that the applicant might have eventually enrolled in the school.
- Many charter applications are for non-admissible grade levels, because the charter school does not offer the grade. The authors found in previous charter school studies that the students who applied for these unavailable grade were still added to a wait list for a school.
- It’s likely that most charters aren’t very oversubscribed. The authors cite a Mathematica Policy Research study of oversubscribed middle grade charter schools, and found only 36 out of a possible 167 very popular charter schools actually had wait lists.
- The methods and specific data that NAPCS’s uses to develop the aggregated wait list has never been released to researchers.
- The NAPCS wait list is inexplicably precise at 920,007 students, and leads to questions about its reliability.
- It is not clear what question the wait list number answers or policy it supports. The authors note that NAPCS believes that the wait list provides a reason for policy makers to expand access to charter schools. The authors explain, “But charter schools are part of a larger educational system that includes traditional public schools (TPSs). Shifting enrollment from TPSs to charters is seen as a good thing by the NAPCS, based on the apparent assumption that there’s unmet demand in charters but not in TPSs. But what is the support for that assumption?”
In addition, traditional public schools don’t have wait lists, because everyone who applies must be accepted. So the “…waitlist data are not grounded by a meaningful comparison.”
- Charter wait lists can be trimmed by requiring backfilling. Student mobility creates openings in charter and traditional public schools throughout the school year. But the authors found that some charter schools do not replace students who leave with students from the wait list.
The authors conclude: “There’s an interesting debate to be had about the policy import of such aggregated numbers, but we’re not at that point: we simply do not have trustworthy, reliable waitlist data. Until we do, policymakers would be wise to set aside NAPCS’s claims and wait for verifiable data.”
More information is available.
EPI Report About Privatizing Milwaukee Schools: The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released on April 24, 2014 a report by Gordon Lafer entitled, “Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower-Quality Education Than Rich Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin”.
The report provides information regarding proposed education reforms being debated by Wisconsin lawmakers, focusing on those who are advocating to close lower performing public schools (especially in Milwaukee), and replace them with Rocketship, which is a national charter school chain.
Although the focus is on the Wisconsin Mr. Lafer draws information about the academic and financial status of charter schools from across the nation, and carries his investigation into the history of e-schools and the interests of hedge-fund investors in “blended learning”, which has become a highly profitable charter school model.
Mr. Lafer reports that the advocates for expanding charter schools in Wisconsin include the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). These organization seldom support adequate school funding for traditional public schools and effective anti-poverty policies to help families escape poverty, such as increasing the minimum wage.
The author writes that through an investigation of the performance of the Rocketship charter school chain, and its use of “blended learning” and inexperienced teachers to reduce cost, “…it appears that charter privatization proposals are driven more by financial and ideological grounds than by sound pedagogy…”
He goes on in the report to examine the success of Rocketship, the efficacy of the “blended learning” education model, and the involvement of corporate lobbies in education reform, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch-brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and draws the following conclusions:
- ”National research shows that charter schools, on average, perform no better than public schools. There is thus no basis for believing that replacing traditional public schools in Milwaukee with privately run charters will result in improved education.”
- ”The “blended learning” model of education exemplified by the Rocketship chain of charter schools—often promoted by charter boosters—is predicated on paying minimal attention to anything but math and literacy, and even those subjects are taught by inexperienced teachers carrying out data-driven lesson plans relentlessly focused on test preparation. But evidence from Wisconsin, the country, and the world shows that students receive a better education from experienced teachers offering a broad curriculum that emphasizes curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, as well as getting the right answers on standardized tests.”
- ”Blended-learning schools such as Rocketship are supported by investment banks, hedge funds, and venture capital firms that, in turn, aim to profit from both the construction and, especially, the digital software assigned to students. To fund the growth of such operations, money earmarked for Milwaukee students is diverted to national headquarters and other cities where the company seeks to expand. Furthermore, the very curricular model that Rocketship employs is shaped not simply by what is good for kids but also, in part, by what will generate profits for investors and fuel the company’s ambitious growth plans.”
- ”The proposed “school accountability” bill that Wisconsin State Senate Education Committee Chair Luther Olsen drafted in January 2014—which embodies the most ambitious version of corporate-backed school reform—measures school achievement in ways that are skewed against poor cities and that exempt charter schools from equal accountability. Such a bill would likely result in shutting a growing number of public schools and concentrating the city’s neediest students in a shrinking public system that is denied the resources to serve them. Eventually, this would bankrupt the public school district.
- ”Some of the best options for school improvement are outlawed in Sen. Olsen’s draft bill. For instance, Milwaukee’s award-winning ALBA (Academia de Lenguajes y Bellas Artes) school is a publicly run charter school that outperformed every privately run charter in the city. Yet under the proposed legislation, this school would be banned from opening more campuses, while privately run schools with much worse performance would be encouraged to expand.”
- ”To truly improve education in Milwaukee, we must start with the assumption that poor children are no less deserving of a quality education than rich children. As such, the schools that privileged suburban parents demand for their children should be the yardstick we use to measure the adequacy of education in the city. This means subjecting all schools—whether public, charter, or voucher—to the same standards of accountability, including measurements that account for the economic and disability challenges their students face, and that recognize the value of a broad curriculum and experienced teachers who are qualified to develop the full range of each child’s capacities.”
See “Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower-Quality Education Than Rick Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin” by Gordon Lafer, Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper, April 24, 2014.
Report Focuses on Charter School Fraud: The Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education released on May 6, 2014 a report entitled Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud & Abuse, a compilation of news reports and criminal complaints from 15 of the 42 states that have authorized charter schools. The states examined in the report are Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Florida, Hawai’i, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
The report identifies a loss to taxpayers of $136 million as a result of the charter school industry’s violations of state and federal laws. The authors explain that the title of the report, Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud & Abuse, actually comes from a section of a semi-annual report issued by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) in March 2010 called Semiannual Report to Congress, No. 60, October 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010. In that report the OIG identified inadequate oversight of charter schools by state agencies, local education agencies, and the federal government, as leading to an increase in criminal activity among some charter school operators. The number one offense found was embezzlement, but charter school operators were also found tampering with student enrollment to increase revenue; tampering with student grades to avoid being closed; diverting Federal funds to vendors created by the charter school operators; and misusing school credit cards for personal expenditures. The most recent OIG report was issued in September 2013, and reported a total of 62 charter school investigations from January 2005 through September 30, 2013, with 40 indictments and 26 convictions of charter school officials.
The report issued by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education organizes charter school violations of law into the following six categories and provides examples of each category from the 15 states.
- Charter operators using public funds illegally for personal gain
- School revenue used to illegally support other charter operator businesses
- Mismanagement that puts children in actual or potential danger
- Charter operators illegally requesting public dollars for services not provided
- Charter operators illegally inflating enrollment to boost revenues
- Charter operators mismanaging public funds and the schools
The report includes several examples of fraud, waste, and mismanagement of public funds by charter schools in Ohio. For example, The Talented Tenth Leadership Academy for Boys and Girls Charter School was recently closed by Superintendent Richard Ross, because the school failed to ensure a safe environment; failed to feed its students; and failed to accurately track students.
The report recommends that states impose a moratorium on opening new charter schools and cap charter school enrollment until the following recommendations are implemented by state legislatures:
- Require states to establish an office dedicated to the oversight of the performance and effectiveness of charter schools and authorizers.
- Give the charter office authority and resources to investigate fraud, waste, mismanagement, and misconduct. “This includes the authority to refer findings to the district attorney with jurisdiction or to the Office of the Attorney General or to any other appropriate law enforcement agency for prosecution if the Office discovers or receives information about possible violations of law by any person affiliated with or employed by a charter authorizing entity or charter school entity.
- Provide the charter office with adequate resources, including staffing.
- Authorize the charter office the power to put a hold on the distribution of funds to the charter authorizing entity or charter school entity.
- Authorize the office to affirm, reverse or otherwise adjust charter grants, and the authority to renew or amend decisions made by charter authorizing entities if charters entities are found to be in violation of state or federal law. The Office should also have the power to revoke the chartering authority of charter authorizers.
- Require charter schools to be independently audited on an annual basis, with publication of such audits available online at the charter school’s website.
- Amend state charter school laws to explicitly declare that charter schools are public schools, and are subject to the same non-discrimination and transparency requirements as are other publicly funded schools.
- Require that each charter school’s original application and charter agreement be available to the public online, through the websites of both the individual school and the charter authorizer.
- Require charter schools to post a full list of each charter school’s governing board members, officers, and administrators with affiliation and contact information on the school’s website and the authorizer’s website.
- Require members of charter school governing boards, charter school administrators, charter school employees, as well as public officials to file full financial disclosure reports, as well as to report on any potential conflicts of interest, relationships with management companies or other business dealings with the school, its management company or other charter schools. These reports should be similar to, or the same as, the reporting requirements of traditional school district Board members. Make these documents available to the public online through the charter’s authorizer.
- Require minutes from charter school governing board meetings, the school’s policies, and information about staff to be made available on the charter school’s website.
- Require charter schools to be fully compliant with state open meetings/open records laws, with compliance monitored by authorizers. Failure of the schools to release documents pertaining to governing board meetings, school policy and data, or to allow members of the public to file formal freedom of information requests to obtain these documents must be swiftly addressed and corrected by the authorizer.
- Require charter school authorizers to post on their web site school financial documents, including detailed information about the use of both public and private funds by the school and its management entities. These reports should include full disclosure of the sources of private funds, and the duration of commitments of private funds.
- Require disclosure of all vendor or service contracts over $25,000, and prohibit any vendor or service contracts to any entity in which the charter school operator or a member of the governing board has any personal interest.
- Require charter school governing boards to be elected, with representation of parents (elected by parents), teachers (elected by teachers), and in the case of high schools, students (elected by students). Non-parent/teacher/student members of the governing board should be required to be residents of the school district in which the school/s operate.
- Require charter school governing board members to live in a geography that is close in proximity to the school’s physical location.
- Hold members of a charter school governing board legally liable for fraud or malfeasance occurring at the school or schools that they oversee.
See “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud & Abuse,” The Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education on May 6, 2014.
Culture Works Gathering Input About the Status of Arts and Culture: Culture Works, Martine Collier president and CEO, is sponsoring public meetings to gather information about the status of arts and culture in the Dayton community, and identify primary issues and concerns.
The meetings will be held on June 4, 2014 at 5:30 PM at the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm at the Charity A. Kruegar Farm Discovery Center, 9202 Frederick Pike, Dayton, OH, and on June 5, 2014 at 5:30 PM at the Springfield Museum of Art at the Center for the Arts at Wittenberg University, 107 Cliff Park Road, Springfield, OH.
Researchers from the University of Dayton and Wright State University and Marc Golding from the arts consulting firm WolfBrown will facilitate the discussion to identify the strengths and challenges facing the arts and culture sector of the community.
Culture Works is a nonprofit regional arts agency that provides a unified voice for all the cultural organizations and activities in the Dayton region, and promotes the good news about the amazing cultural vibrancy of our region to a national audience.
More information and to register for one of the meetings click here.
CSC Announces New Education Initiative: The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) announced on April 23, 2014 a new arts education initiative called PROJECT 38. CSC will be collaborating with 38 schools in the Cincinnati area over the next school year to produce a full production, monologue or scene, dance, musical piece, or other representation from one of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. Teaching artists from CSC will work with students and faculty to develop the concept and the production. The schools will be brought together at the end of the school year to celebrate their creations with family, friends, and the community through a multi-day PROJECT 38 Festival.
According to CinStages.com, “Over the last 20 years, CSC has brought classical theatre and literature to life for over 200,000 students from 150 schools in more than 100 zip codes across three states. This close connection with students and educators has inspired them to take on this exciting new endeavor. This season, Cincinnati Shakespeare is also “completing the canon” by producing all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays. The 38 plays have served as the inspiration for the title of PROJECT 38.”
CSC plans to offer PROJECT 38 each school year and expand the list of participating schools. For information about how to support or get involved with PROJECT 38, please contact Jeanna Vella, Director of Education and Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513.381.2273 ext. 3202, or visit www.cincyshakes.com.
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.