Arts on Line Education Update June 15, 2015

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
June 15, 2015

1)  Ohio News

131st Ohio General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate will hold committee meetings and sessions this week.

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Oelslager, will meet on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM in the Senate Finance hearing room.  The committee is expected to consider amendments to Sub. HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget, and report the bill.  The Senate is expected to vote on Sub. HB64 on June 17, 2015, sending the bill back to the House for concurrence.  If the House refuses to concur, a conference committee will be appointed to work-out the differences between the versions of the bill.  The deadline for the budget bill to become law is June 30, 2015.

  • Presidential Primary in Ohio is Moved: Governor Kasich signed into law on June 10, 2015 HB153 (Dovilla), a bill that moves Ohio’s Presidential Primary from Tuesday, March 8th to March 15th in 2016. The move will mean that Ohio complies with the Republican National Committee’s standards, and the winner of Ohio’s Republican primary in 2016 can be awarded all the delegates to the Republican national convention, rather than having the delegates awarded proportionately based on congressional districts.
  • Proposal to Examine Testing in Schools: StateImpact Ohio reports that U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown met with parents, teachers, and students at Shaker Heights High School on June 8, 2015 to discuss standardized testing and efforts to reduce federal mandates for testing.  The audience told the Senator about how much time students spend on testing and its impact on classroom instruction.  The test results are returned too late in the school year to help teachers improve instruction, and are used primarily to evaluate teachers and schools.  The Senator has sponsored an amendment to the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015, a bill sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray in the U.S. Senate to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act .  The amendment would provide states with funds to evaluate their testing systems to reduce the number and duration of tests.

See “Opponents of Standardized Tests Meet with Sen. Sherrod Brown” by Mark Urkcki, StateImpact Ohio, June 8, 2015 at http://stateimpact.npr.org/ohio/2015/06/08/opponents-of-standardized-tests-meet-with-sen-sherrod-brown/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+npr%2Fstateimpactoh+%28StateImpact+Ohio%29

  • Sponsor Rating System Explained: An article in The Plain Dealer by Patrick O’Donnell explains why some charter school sponsors are getting “exemplary” ratings on the Ohio Department of Education’s new sponsor evaluation.  According to the article, the Ohio Department of Education is not factoring into the evaluation the performance of students attending online charter schools or dropout recovery and prevention schools in this first year of the evaluation.  In addition, only 41 percent of students need to be “in effective schools” this year for the sponsor to meet the achievement measure in the evaluation.  Sponsors that have been rated exemplary so far this year include the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation (with 38 percent of students in effective schools); the Ohio Council of Community Schools; and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (with 50 percent of students in effective schools). The sponsor evaluation is being implemented this year, so only a few sponsors have completed the process.  Sponsors will be evaluated every three years in the future.

See “Ohio ignores online school F’s as it evaluates charter school overseers” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, June 14, 2015 at

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/06/ohio_ignores_online_school_fs_as_it_evaluates_charter_school_overseers.html

2)  Update on Sub. HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget:  The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Oelslager, accepted a substitute bill for HB64 on June 9, 2015 and continued hearings on the bill.  The committee expects to consider an omnibus amendment on June 16, 2015, and the full Senate is likely to consider the bill on June 17, 2015.

The Senate budget plan would spend $71.3 billion in general revenue funds for FY16 and FY17, which is slightly lower than the $71.5 billion proposed by the Ohio House.  Senators eliminated from the House version a number of earmarks, capital spending, and new programs added to the budget by the House, but turned around and added some programs of their own, such as an incentive program that rewards school districts that increase graduation and literacy rates.  Some of the House provisions eliminated include the Joint Task Force on School Transportation, the Straight A Fund, the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, February special elections, the House proposed Joint Education Oversight Committee, supplemental payments for College Credit Plus, and more.

The Senate plan for tax reform includes a net tax cut of $1.7 billion, which is $500 million more than the tax cut proposed by the House; includes a 6.3 percent reduction in the state income tax, which is the same as the House version of HB64; and exempts small businesses from paying income tax on the first $250,000 of net income.  The plan also caps at three percent the income tax rate for small businesses above $250,000 in net income. The Senate plan would also increase the cigarette tax and taxes on other tobacco products.  The Senate is also proposing to increase the state’s Rainy Day Fund (RDF) to nearly $2 billion, by increasing the rate from 5 percent of the previous fiscal year’s General Revenue Fund (GRF) revenue to 8.5 percent.

The Senate’s substitute bill also includes changes in the House version of the school funding formula, and provides schools with $848 million less in general revenue funds than they received in FY14 and FY15.  The House provision that guarantees that all school districts receive no less than FY15 funding levels is retained. The number of school districts on the guarantee would be reduced from 198 to 100 by 2017, and the number of school districts on the cap will decrease from 232 to 138 by 2017.

The substitute bill retains the following House or executive provisions regarding the school funding formula:

-Recommendations for basic aid, gifted, special education, career-tech, and poverty assistance

-The House gain cap, which is set at 7.5 percent

-The per pupil formula for transportation

-The per-pupil/per-mill calculation to determine school district capacity, but the Senate provision calculates the measure based on 2 mills rather than 5 mills

-The House per-pupil minimum state funding guarantee (20 percent of basic aid amount), but phases it in at 15 percent in FY16 and 25 percent in FY17

-The phaseout of tangible personal property and public utility tangible personal property tax reimbursements, and the House TPP/PUTPP tax supplements.

The substitute bill makes several technical changes in the school funding formula proposed by the House.  The Senate plan eliminates the adjusted charge-off to determine the state/local share; restores the current State Share Index (SSI) calculation; and restores the current income adjustment for the SSI with some modifications.  According to testimony from education organizations, the substitute bill cuts basic aid to schools by $830 million over the biennium compared to the House version.

New provisions included in the Senate substitute bill are $323 million in supplemental funding for low density school districts for technology and transportation, and additional funding for school districts that meet graduation and reading achievement targets. These “incentive” supplements are not subject to the gain cap.  The Senate also recommends that the gain cap not be applied to funding for career-tech beginning in fiscal year FY17.  The substitute bill also adjusts the formula for school districts with more than 10 percent of agriculture real property, and increases funding for ESCs to $35 per pupil per year.

The Senate budget plan for higher education includes a tuition rate freeze at public two and four year colleges; requires that institutions of higher education find ways to reduce student costs by 5 percent; and increases the State Share of Instruction by 4.5 percent in FY16 and 4 percent in FY17( $240 million).

There is also good news in the Senate budget proposal for the Ohio Arts Council (OAC).  The Senate increases funding for the OAC by $2 million, making the total general fund appropriation for the biennium $28.9 million.  Arts education advocates were requesting $30 million for the biennium.

See the summary of the Senate substitute HB64 bill at http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/finance#

See “No school district would lose money under Ohio Senate’s budget” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, June 8, 2015 at http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/06/no_school_district_would_lose_money_under_ohio_senates_budget.html

3)  Educators Respond to the Senate’s Version of HB64:  Several superintendents and representatives from education organizations testified last week about the Senate changes to Sub. HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget before the Senate Finance Committee.   Most of the witnesses asked that lawmakers find a permanent way to reimburse school districts for lost revenue from the elimination in 2005 of the tangible personal property tax and the pubic utility tangible personal property tax. The state has decreased TPP reimbursements over the past ten years from $1.129 billion to $510 million. Tom Pickana, president of the Ohio Coalition for Fiscal Fairness in Ohio, told the committee that many school districts would not have the capacity to reduce budgets or pass additional levies to compensate for the loss of the local revenue from the tax, and believe that an agreement in 2011 to maintain reimbursements at 2013 levels should be followed. The Ohio Coalition for Fiscal Fairness was formed to advocate for school districts that are highly reliant on the TPP reimbursements, and want the state to find a permanent solution for the loss of local revenue.

Representatives of three education organizations, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio School Boards Association, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, also told the Senate Finance Committee that they support the House-proposed school funding plan rather than the Senate plan.  The House plan, according to the testimony, includes a better measure for determining school district capacity and will better address equity when fully funded.  There is a concern among school finance experts that the Senate’s approach, providing supplemental payments to school districts rather than including more funding through the formula, will not be sustained in future years.

See  http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/finance# for the testimony.

See also an editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal by Michael Douglas, which urges the Senate to reinstate the House version of the state’s school funding formula included in HB64.  “At the Core of Repairing School Funding” by Michael Douglas, Akron Beacon Journal, June 14, 2015 at

http://akronbeaconjournal.oh.newsmemory.com/?token=1a85d2a3138012a308a4aa77f2f353af_557d83dc_21aa&selDate=20150614&goTo=A01&artid=art_0.xml

4) National News

  • Update on The Student Success Act: According to Education Week, the U.S. House of Representatives might have an opportunity this week to vote on The Student Success Act, a House reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known at the No Child Left Behind Act.  A vote on the bill, which is sponsored by Representative John Kline, chair of the House Education and Workforce and Committee, was postponed last January when House leadership was not sure it had enough votes to pass.  According to Education Week, a change in the House rules will allow lawmakers to offer amendments that might convince conservative members to approve the bill.  Two amendments that could be considered are Title 1 portability, which would allow poor students to use Title 1 funds to attend private schools, and the A-Plus Act, which would allow states to opt out of federal accountability requirements for schools.

See “House Looks to Resurrect ESEA Bill for Action as Early as Next Week” by Lauren Camera, Education Week, June 10, 2015 at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/06/house_looks_to_resurrect_esea_.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2-RM

  • Oregon Approves Students Rights Bill: The Oregon Senate approved on June 11, 2015 HB2655, a bill that supports parental rights to opt students out of testing.  According to the Oregon Education Association HB2655, the “Student Assessment Bill of Rights”, will increase transparency about student testing, by giving parents more information about assessments and their purposes, and how the results will be used and made available.  The bill also establishes an online process for parents to opt their students out of assessments. The bill now moves to Oregon Governor Kate Brown to sign.

See http://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-passes-opt-out-bill-over-objections-from-us-education-department/

5) Policy Brief Proposes a Framework for Deregulating Schools:  Education First and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released last week a policy brief that proposes an end to the “burdensome regulatory regimen” that school districts face in order to attain higher student achievement and more efficient and effective use of resources in Ohio’s schools.

The brief is entitled, “Getting Out of the Way:  Education Flexibility to Boost Innovation and Improvement in Ohio” by Paolo De Maria and Brinton S. Ramsey, with Susan Bodary,

According to the authors, “A tide is rising in Ohio in favor of education deregulation. Policymakers are coming to the realization that high-quality educational performance—especially in high-need schools—requires options, individualization, and customization. A one-size fits-all approach to state regulation does not support these approaches. Education leaders, under increasing pressure to deliver better results within improved accountability and data-analysis structures, are clamoring for greater flexibility to meet these rising expectations.”

The policy brief identifies some key deregulation issues and recommends the following state policy changes to facilitate more flexible options for districts and schools:

-Create a regulatory, policy, and operational climate that fosters flexibility and innovation, but retains accountability for results.  The state should continue to refine and improve measures of student outcomes for accountability purposes.

-Modify or eliminate statutes that drive up costs or impede efforts to innovate and manage operations.

-Implement a simple waiver process that is inconsistent with plans for improving student achievement. “Teachers and leaders should have the ability to quickly and easily design and implement practices they believe will work with the students in their classrooms and communities.”

-Formally and deliberately identify targets for education deregulation and flexibility on a regular basis. “The state should design and implement a biennial review process to identify opportunities to provide flexibility and eliminate regulations.”

One of the premises that underlies the recommendations is the belief that school districts can be “trusted to work in the interest of students”. But the brief also identifies the policy areas that the state should maintain a primary role.  These include educational outcomes and a common accountability system; governance and finance structures; and student health and safety.

The brief goes on to explain that the state has a “clear interest” in specifying student outcomes and ensuring “basic equity of opportunity for all students”, and setting requirements for serving the needs of all students and for graduation.

Some of the specific recommendations for deregulation include the following:

-eliminate any structural requirements on teacher salary schedules

-expand opportunities for schools to use more non-licensed individuals, with proper supervision and evaluation;

-eliminate districts’ ability to collectively bargain away management rights, including the right to assign staff;

-allow districts to remove teachers, including tenured teachers, if they are evaluated as ineffective for more than two years, and allow districts to remove principals if buildings do not meet established academic performance standards.

See “Getting Out of the Way:  Education Flexibility to Boost Innovation and Improvement in Ohio” by Paolo De Maria and Brinton S. Ramsey, with Susan Bodary, Students First and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, June 2015 at

http://edexcellence.net/articles/foreword-getting-out-of-the-way-education-flexibility-to-boost-innovation-and-improvement

6)  State School Funding Systems Lack Resources and Fairness: Two reports were released on June 5, 2015 about the status of state school funding systems and the lack of adequate resources to support primary and secondary education.

  • Cheating Our Future:  How Decades of Disinvestment by States Jeopardizes Equal Educational Opportunity, released by The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Education Law Center on June 8, 2015, examines budget cuts and funding inequalities, which have lead to disparate educational opportunities in states.  The report focuses on the school funding systems in Colorado, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

According to the report, state governments have failed to adequately and equitably support schools to ensure student achievement.  The authors write, “If we are to build a public education system that prepares our children to take advantage of every opportunity that a 21st century economy offers, we must create the public will to push state policymakers to make the necessary investments that will lead to success for each and every child. Otherwise, we’re just cheating our future.”  page 26. The report makes the following recommendations:

-State governments should comply with rulings from state supreme courts regarding the constitutionality of state educational funding; report data on per-pupil expenditures publicly so that it is accessible to parents, advocates and the media; and fund districts and schools through weighted student funding formulas that provide additional funding to areas of concentrated poverty and those educating a larger share of English Learners and other students facing additional challenges.

-Federal policy makers should require transparent reporting of school and district expenditures, including the cost of effective teaching and rigorous courses, and how disparities in funding will be addressed.

-Federal, state, and local advocates should research ways to ensure that all students, especially under-served students in urban and rural areas, have access to educational opportunities.

-Federal, state, and local advocates should continue to work with policy makers about resolving equity issues.  The report states that “…guaranteeing all children have access to a quality public education will require substantial political will. It will require the courage to embrace an urgent national equity agenda recognizing the collective investment in each child. Policymakers need to understand why they must buck the tide and support funding for new or existing programs, to make quality improvements in these programs, and at times to make hard choices that will not be universally popular.”

-Federal, state, and local advocates must also work with the public.  “Far too many Americans—even parents of public school students and educators who work in these schools—do not understand the policy issues around equity.”

The report recommends that major funding should be provided to mount a national and state-specific public information and advocacy campaigns to inform the public about the plight of schools in low wealth communities.

-Advocates should work together to convince major foundations, donors, and higher learning institutions to invest in a new equity movement. “Without this support, efforts to improve educational opportunities for the growing majority of students from low-income families and from minority groups will not succeed. Education reform has too often ignored the resource issue. It’s time to refocus.”

See http://www.civilrights.org/press/2015/equity-reports.html

  • Is School Funding Fair?: The Education Law Center at Rutgers University also released on June 8, 2015 its 4th annual report on the status of state school funding systems in the United States.   The report is entitled “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card.”

The report examines the level and distribution of state funding for public schools between 2007 and 2012, and finds that many states continue to shortchange public schools in spite of the economic rebound.  According to the authors, “Even with improvements in the economy, few states are translating that economic growth into greater investments in school funding. While total GDP has rebounded to 2008 levels or higher in all states except Nevada and Wyoming, 20 states invested fewer total dollars into the education system.”

In addition, most states are implementing new academic content standards and assessments and teacher evaluation systems which require substantial investments in professional development and training, which further stress local education budgets.

The report defines a “fair” school funding system as one that ensures “equal educational opportunity by providing a sufficient level of funding distributed to districts within the state to account for additional needs generated by student poverty.”

The report rates state school funding systems on the following fairness measures:

-Funding Level – Measures the overall level of state and local revenue provided to school districts, and compares each state’s average per-pupil revenue with that of other states. To recognize the variety of interstate differences, each state’s revenue level is adjusted to reflect differences in regional wages, poverty, economies of scale, and population density.

-Funding Distribution – Measures the distribution of funding across local districts within a state, relative to student poverty. The measure shows whether a state provides more or less funding to schools based on their poverty concentration, using simulations ranging from 0 percent to 30 percent child poverty.

-Effort – Measures differences in state spending for education relative to state fiscal capacity. “Effort” is defined as the ratio of state spending to state gross domestic product (GDP).

-Coverage – Measures the proportion of school-age children attending the state’s public schools, as compared with those not attending the state’s public schools (primarily parochial and private schools, but also home schooling). The share of the state’s students in public schools, and the median household income of those students, is an important indicator of the distribution of funding relative to student poverty (especially where more affluent households simply opt out of public schooling), and the overall effort to provide fair school funding.

According to the report the school funding systems of Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Delaware are rated the fairest, because these states provide sufficient overall resources to schools and additional state funds to support high poverty school districts.

Nevada is rated as the state with the most “regressive” school funding system among 13 other states, including Texas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.  These state school funding systems provide less funding to school districts with higher concentrations of poor students.

Nineteen states have “flat” school funding systems. These states, which include California, Florida, Colorado, and Washington, fail to provide any appreciable increase in funding to address the needs of students in high poverty districts.

Utah, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Carolina provide some additional funding for high poverty districts, but their overall level of funding is insufficient, earning them a low rating.

States are also rated based on their “effort” or the economic capacity to support public education based on their gross state product.  The states with the lowest “effort” include Nevada, Arizona, California, and Oregon.

According to the authors, “There is a direct link between school funding and essential resources.  These latest findings show a lack of access to preschool, higher pupil-to-teacher ratios, and uncompetitive wages for teachers in those states with unfair and inadequate school funding.”

According to the report, Ohio’s average per pupil expenditure is $11,143, giving Ohio a ranking of 19th among the states.  Ohio is rated fifth among the progressive states that provide their highest-poverty districts, on average, with more funding per student than their lowest-poverty districts. On the effort index, which takes into account each state’s local and state spending on education in relation to the state’s economic productivity, Ohio ranked 17th and earned a “B”. Ohio ranks 38th on the coverage indicator, which measures the share of school-age children enrolled in public schools, and the degree to which there is economic disparity between households in the public versus private education system. About 85 percent of students attend public schools in Ohio, and the degree of disparity for Ohio is 148 percent.

One final measure — children in poverty.  In 2007 the percent of children in Ohio in poverty was 16 percent.  The percent increased in 2012 to 21 percent.

See “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card” is coauthored by Bruce Baker of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education; David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center (ELC); and Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director, June 8, 2014 at

http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org

FYI ARTS

  • NEA Appropriations Approved by House Subcommittee: Americans for the Arts reports that the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee approved legislation on June 9, 2015 to fund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Smithsonian Institution at current funding levels.

The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities is currently funded at $146 million.

Both the House and the Senate are expected to consider this legislation in full committee possibly next week, when amendments will be offered.

See “Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Bill” http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394247

  • Circleville Students are Runners-up for National Competition: Students at Circleville High School will receive $4000 for their arts education program as one of five finalists representing the Northeast in the Vans Custom Culture competition, a national high school competition to design four pairs of Vans shoes around four themes:  art, music, action sports, and local flavor. The Circleville team of 13 students was one of the top 50 entries out of nearly 3,000 schools competing for the $50,000 prize, which is annually awarded in early June to the school team that creates the best shoe designs.  This year the top prize went to Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, California.

See “Students get $4000 in shoe competition” by Jeannie Nuss, June 9, 2015 at http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/ColumbusDispatch/Default.aspx

See the shoe designs at http://sites.vans.com/customculture.


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 (www.omea-ohio.org),Ohio Art Education Association (www.oaea.org), Ohio Educational Theatre Association (www.ohedta.org); OhioDance (www.ohiodance.org), and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (www.oaae.net).

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About OAAE

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