Arts on Line Education Update December 14, 2015

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
December 14, 2015



131st General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate finished work on several bills last week and have cancelled their remaining sessions for 2015.   Some committees are meeting this week, including the 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission on December 15, 2015 at 2:30 PM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room, but for all intents and purposes lawmakers are heading home for the holidays! Sessions and committee meetings will resume in January 2016.

The Ohio House passed HB299 (Blessing-Rezabek) by a vote of 91-0 on December 8, 2015. HB299 would allow a temporary, legal or permanent guardian to apply for an autism scholarship.

Education Committee Updates: The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Brenner, met on December 8, 2015 and received a presentation from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) about the 2014-15 report card, which will be released in January 2016.  The committee also received testimony on HCR4 (Brenner) National School Choice Week and HB113 (Grossman-Manning) CPR-Graduation Requirement.

The committee accepted a substitute bill for HCR4 and reported the concurrent resolution.  The committee amended HB113 to exempt some students with disabilities from the CPR training requirement.  A student who is exempt must have the exemption noted on his/her IEP.  The committee also amended the bill to require all public schools, including community schools, to provide the training, but exempted e-schools and schools that primarily serve students with disabilities.

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, also received a presentation from the ODE about the 2014-15 report card.  The committee then received sponsor testimony on SB241 (LaRose) Education Professional-Employment and SB238 (Tavares), which designates October as Ohio Principals Month.

In his sponsor testimony on SB241, Senator LaRose explained that the bill would encourage school districts to employ library media specialists, social workers, school nurses, counselors and teachers in arts, music, and physical education to ensure that students continue to have access to a well-rounded education.  He explained that the bill was introduced after the State Board of Education eliminated the employment requirements for school districts in five of eight of these areas when it revised Operating Standards for Ohio’s Schools, Rule 3301-35-05, Ohio Administrative Code in April 2015.

See the testimony at



Update on Sub. HB340 (Amstutz):   The Senate substituted and the House concurred on December 9, 2015 with changes to HB340 (Amstutz) Local Government Innovation Council.  The bill originally extended the Local Government Innovation Fund, but the substitute version added a lot of pages and budget corrections to the bill as lawmakers looked for a way to address budget issues before leaving Columbus for the holidays.

One of the added provisions would provide spending authority for the supplemental payments to school districts for lost tangible personal property tax (TPP), included in SB208 (Beagle), and passed by lawmakers on November 15, 2015.  HB340 would provide $56.5 million for some school districts to receive the supplemental payments.

The bill also revises the law regarding the qualifications of private high schools located outside of the Cleveland Municipal School District to participate in the Cleveland Scholarship Program; revises the “third-grade reading proficiency percentage” used to calculate the third grade reading bonus that is paid to qualifying school districts and community schools; and changes the pension provisions included in HB2 (Dovilla-Roegner) Charter School Reform.  HB2 eliminated dual contributions for employees by charter school operators to Social Security and/or the State Teachers Retirement System and the School Employees Retirement System for employees, but HB340 limits the provision to those employed by an operator that, on or before February 1, 2016, was withholding and paying Social Security taxes for persons employed in that school.

HB340 now awaits Governor Kasich’s signature.



Bill to Address Truancy Introduced: Lawmakers introduced last week HB410 (Hayes-Rezabek) to strengthen Ohio’s laws regarding truants and develop ways to prevent students from missing school. The bill seeks to improve data collection and help schools create individual intervention plans for students with excessive absences.  The bill also changes the definitions of chronic and habitual truant, and prohibits a school district or charter school from suspending or expelling a student for missing school without a legitimate excuse.  Some of the provisions were originally included in HB2 (Dovilla-Roegner) Charter School Reform, but were removed for further stakeholder review, and now will be addressed through this separate bill.



Grace Commission Meets: A commission created through the biennial budget bill (HB64 – Smith) met on December 10, 2015 to review its charge.  The commission is named the Grace Commission, after a federal commission established by President Reagan in the 1980s to identify ways for the federal government to increase efficiency.  The commission also is required to identify ways to enhance managerial accountability and administrative controls, recommend short and long term operating improvements, and specify areas for further study and potential savings.

The commission is co-chaired by Senator Coley and Representative Kirk Schuring and includes Representative Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville); Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville); David Johnson, CEO of Summitville Tiles; Bret Dixon, Director of Economic Development and Business Development for Clinton County; Ohio Manufacturers’ Association President Eric Burkland; Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing; Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer; former GOP Senator Mark Wagoner; and former GOP Representative Lynn Wachtmann.

The commission expects to meet monthly, and is required to submit a report to the General Assembly and Governor by May 29, 2016.



Bills Introduced:

  • HB410 (Hayes-Rezabek) Truancy:  With regard to habitual and chronic truancy and compulsory school attendance.
  • SB250 (Schiavoni) Charter Schools-State Money:  Prohibit community schools from using state moneys to pay for advertising, recruiting, or promotional materials.




The OFT Offers Advice About Selecting A New Superintendent: Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), urged the State Board of Education in a Columbus Dispatch “Letter to the Editor” on December 12, 2015, to remove politics from the process to select the next Superintendent of Public Instruction to replace the current Superintendent, Richard Ross.

According to the letter, the children of Ohio deserve an education leader with a vision for the future, who will advocate for traditional public schools, promote respect and provide support for teachers, seek input from stakeholders, be transparent, believes in a well-rounded education, and recognizes the importance of meeting the nonacademic needs of students.

A strategy to improve low performing schools, the community-learning center model, was developed in Cincinnati, and has been duplicated in other cities successfully.  The model is based on a transparent process to help a community rebuild its schools, yet, according to the letter, this model was overlooked when the current superintendent created a new academic distress commission, which could transfer public resources from public schools and communities to private entities.

According to the letter, “The selection of a new state superintendent must be made by looking beyond the political bubble to choose a new leader who will put students first.”

See “New state leader can revitalize schools” by Melissa Cropper, The Columbus Dispatch, December 12, 2015 at


Straight A Board to Meet: The Straight A Fund Governing Board will meet on December 14, 2015 at the Ohio Department of Education to review 140 grant applications for the first round of grants this biennium.  Lawmakers included in the biennial budget (HB64-Smith) $15 million to support the program.  Schools and education organizations can apply for the grants to support projects that increase student achievement, increase financial efficiency, direct more resources to the classroom, or promote shared services.



State Board of Education to Meet: The State Board of Education, Tom Gunlock president, will meet on December 13-15, 2015 at the Ohio Department of Education, 25 Front Street, Columbus, OH.  This month the State Board will select an interim superintendent and a search firm to find a replacement for Superintendent Richard Ross, who is retiring at the end of December 2015.  The ODE announced last week that the only candidate to be nominated for the interim position is Dr. Lonny Rivera, who is currently an Associate Superintendent at the ODE.



More on Charter Schools: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) submitted last week to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) a second response to an inquiry made by USDOE Charter School Program Director Stefan Huh about Ohio’s charter school grant application submitted in July 2015.  The USDOE put a hold on a five-year $71 million Charter School Program grant awarded to the ODE in September 15, 2015 until Superintendent Richard Ross provided additional information.

The grant application came under scrutiny, because it included misinformation about the status of charter schools in Ohio.  The application was prepared by the former director of the ODE Office of School Choice and Quality Charter Schools, David Hansen, who resigned in July 2015 after the State Board of Education learned that he had omitted data from poor performing charter schools in sponsor evaluations.

In November 2015 Superintendent Ross submitted a preliminary response to the USDOE correcting the inaccuracies in the grant application.  In this letter and report Superintendent Ross details how Ohio’s Auditor of State will review charter schools, and how the ODE will monitor them based on a new evaluation system developed by a special panel appointed by the superintendent, and released on November 20, 2015.  In the report to the USDOE Superintendent Ross states that state audits between 2008 and 2014 have identified about 40 charter schools that owe the state $6 million in “findings for recovery” due to misspent or misappropriated state funds.

See “Charter Schools Still Owe State $6 million” by Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch, December 13, 2015 at


“Thorough and Efficient” Clause Retained: The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission (OCMC) voted on December 10, 2015 to retain the “thorough and efficient” clause in Article VI, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution.  The OCMC Education, Public Institutions, and Local Government Committee, chaired by Chad Readler, told the commission that the committee reviewed last spring some alternative language, but in the end agreed to retain the clause.  Education stakeholders strongly opposed a proposal by Chad Readler to eliminate the “thorough and efficient” standard for public education programs in the state constitution.

The full committee also agreed to keep Article VI, Section 1, which states, “…funds arising from the sale, or other disposition of lands, or other property, granted or entrusted to the state for educational and religious purposes, shall be used or disposed of in such manner as the General Assembly shall prescribe by law.”




Government Shutdown Averted: Congress and President Obama extended on December 11, 2015 a temporary spending bill for FY16, giving lawmakers more time to finalize a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending plan for FY16 and keep government offices and agencies open.   A budget extension that Congress had worked out in September to temporarily fund the federal government expired on December 11, 2015. But lawmakers needed more time to work through a number of controversial issues that they want to add to the bill regarding women’s health care, environmental regulations, financial services reform, Syrian refugees, gun control, and a separate bill to extend tax breaks on certain items.



ESSA Now Law: After years of debate Congress and President Obama agreed on December 10, 2015 to a rewrite of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and an end to the contentious No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

The new federal education law is entitled the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177) (ESSA), and, in a major policy change, limits the federal role in K-12 education, the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Education, and allows states more autonomy to rate and improve schools and evaluate teachers.

The bi-partisan legislation was largely worked out by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives John Kline (R-MN) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) over the past year.  NCLB was enacted in 2002, and should have been reauthorized in 2007, but neither the House nor Senate could agree on its provisions until now.

The new law covers fiscal years 2017-2020.  Existing state plans with the USDOE will stay in effect through August 1, 2016. Existing state waivers will end on or after August 1, 2016.  New state plans based on ESSA will take effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

-How will the new ESSA affect schools? Well, states are still required to adopt challenging academic standards in math, reading, and science; annually test students in math and English language arts in grades 3-8 and once in high school; test students in science at least once in elementary, middle, and high school; report testing results according to race, income, ethnicity, disability, and English-language learners; test 95 percent of students; and intervene in the lowest performing five percent of schools.  States are still required to develop improvement plans in consultation with stakeholders and policy-makers, and the plans need to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for review in order to receive Title 1 grants.

But the law drops the requirement that schools meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) and the definition of highly qualified teachers.  The law allows states to develop laws to allow parents to opt their student out of state testing; define “lowest performing” schools; and identify the consequences for lowest performing schools.  And, in a huge policy change, states will decide how to evaluate teachers and whether or not to use student test scores in those evaluations.

-What’s new?  In addition to adopting challenging academic standards, ESSA requires states to “demonstrate” that the standards are aligned with the entrance requirements for state institutions of higher learning and “relevant” state career and technical education standards.

And AYP is replaced with state-defined “ambitious” long-term goals and interim progress measures that will continue to apply to all students and individual subgroups of students.

The law also allows states more control about how test results are used in state accountability systems and ratings, and allows states to include other factors in their accountability systems, such as school climate, teacher engagement, and access to advanced coursework.

The law also enshrines in law the Preschool Development Grants program to provide preschool for low and middle-income families. The program will be jointly administered by the USDOE and the Department of Health and Human Services, where is it housed along with Head Start.

What programs are replaced?  The law keeps the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which supports after-school programs; Promise Neighborhoods, a full-service community schools program; Arts Education; gifted education; and Ready to Learn television.  But funds for another 50 programs are consolidated into a block grant.

The $500 million School Improvement Grant Program (SIG) has been consolidated into Title 1, but to make-up for the lost funds, states would be able to set aside up to 7 percent of all their Title I funds for school improvement efforts.  Currently states can use up from 4 percent in Title 1 to improve schools.

Investing in Education (i3) is also replaced by a new Education Innovation Research (EIR) program.

What are the controversies?  Civil rights groups advocated for stronger accountability provisions in the law to ensure that states were serious about educating all students, including students in poorer schools, those in special education programs, students learning English, and minority students.  They also wanted the federal government to have the power to intervene in low performing schools.

Other stakeholder groups are frustrated by some unclear language requiring the federal government to approve state school improvement plans in order for the states to receive Title 1 funding.

Some stakeholder groups also oppose the testing requirements; capping alternative assessments for special education students at one percent; Social Impact Bond (Pay for Success) in which entities are paid for lowering the percent of children who are identified for special education services; “personalized learning” and “competency-based learning”, which some say legitimizes putting a student in front at a computer screen all day; alternative routes to certification, which some believe is included to support Teach for America and other quickie teacher preparation programs; merit pay for teachers; and increasing funding to expand charter schools, including for-profit charter schools.

A little more on the charter schools provisions:  The law reauthorizes through FY20 the charter school grant program, which provides grants to states to expand quality charter schools through subgrants to charter school developers.  The reauthorized program requires fiscal audits of charter schools; requires charter schools to improve community engagement; and reserves 12.5 percent of the charter school program funding for charter school facilities.  Also included are incentives for authorizers to improve practices, and priority funding to support new charter schools that are racially integrated or serve low income students. The U.S. Secretary of Education is also required to address the recent findings of the Office of Inspector General’s audit of the Charter School Program.

See “ESEA Rewrite Passes Senate, Heads to President’s Desk” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, December 9, 2015 at

See “ESEA Reauthorization: The Every Student Succeeds Act Explained” by Alyson Klein, Education Week, November 30, 2015 at


Charter School Operator Being Sued: The Akron Beacon Journal reports that a British law firm, Amsterdam & Partners LLP, has filed suit against the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen for human rights violations in Turkey.  The cleric has lived in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, but allegedly runs a parallel government in Turkey known as the Gulen movement.  The law firm filing suit was hired by the Republic of Turkey and its President Tayyip Erdogan.

Fethullah Gulen is head of several corporations that operate about 150 charter schools in the U.S., including 19 in Ohio under the name Horizon, Noble, and Concept schools.  According to the article, the Gulen schools received $50 million last year from Ohio tax payers to operate. The Gulen movement also operates schools in other countries, and over 1000 schools on the continent of Africa.

The schools have been under investigation by the FBI and recently by the Ohio Department of Education, but allegations have not been substantiated. The law firm alleges that the Gulen schools bring over Turkish workers, who are expected to give a portion of their salaries to the movement, which constitutes human trafficking.  Since 2009 about 325 workers have been brought over to work in the schools, according to the article.

See “Ohio charter schools among network accused of ‘human trafficking’ and teaching Islam” by Doug Livingston, Beacon Journal, December 9, 2015 at



Report Examines How Charter Schools Operate: A new brief by Professors Bruce Baker and Gary Miron details ways that “..individuals, companies, and organizations secure financial gain and generate profit by controlling and running charter schools.”  and, as a result, serve private rather than public interests.

According to the researchers, lucrative management fees, rental agreements, and other financial arrangements that charter school operators work-out with school governing authorities are creating “substantial inefficiencies” by redirecting expenditures intended for educational services for students to personal gain and profit.  Without rigorous investigations, whistleblowers, or litigation, legal and ethical violations and bad policies are difficult to identify, even with disclosure requirements.  As a result, public assets are “being unnecessarily” transferred to private hands, at public expense, risking the future of “public education” and counter to the interest of the public.

The researchers recommend that states include in their statutes a “broad declaration that charter schools are public” and that students, parents, and taxpayers waive no rights if they attend charter schools.  Financial reporting requirements should also be in law, and obligate the reporting of operator revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Charter schools should follow all public records and meeting laws, and make available to the public all contracts, including those with employees. In addition, states should enact laws to ensure the independence among charter school parties, including authorizers, governing boards, operators.

In terms of finances, charter school funding should be tied to relevant costs and needs, which should be reported.

When it comes to public lands and facilities, districts or other local public or governmental authorities should maintain control and serve as centralized managers and stewards.

And, charter school authorizers should be required to approve contracts between charter school boards and operators. Authorizers should make sure that contracts with operators are in the best interests of the public.  There should be a requirement that operators submit bids for a contract that should not last longer than the school’s charter; governing boards should be independent and able to fire operators; and there should be full disclosure of financial information and test scores results.

See “The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit” by Bruce D. Baker and Gary Miron, National Education Policy Center, December 10, 2015 at



More Appointments to the Ohio Arts Council:  Governor Kasich announced on December 8, 2015 the appointment of Caprice H. Bragg of North Olmsted and Dr. Farid Naffah of Cortland to the Ohio Arts Council.

Caprice Bragg is the Vice President of Development for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and formerly Executive Director, External Relations at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.  She is a native of Akron, graduated with honors from Oberlin College, and earned her JD from the New York University School of Law. Her term began on December 8, 2015 and ends on July 1, 2020.

Dr. Naffah’s term began December 8, 2015 and ends on July 1, 2018. He is a gastroenterologist in Warren, OH and a member of the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra’s Golden Anniversary Committee.  He also supports many charitable and philanthropic causes in Trumbull County.





NEA Grants Announced:  The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Jane Chu chairman, announced on December 8, 2015 awards totally $27.7 million during the first round of funding for FY16.

This is the 50th year celebration for the NEA, which has awarded more than $5 billion in grants to arts organizations and artists in all states over the years.

During this funding round for FY16, the NEA will make grants to 1,126 projects, including 50 awards in a new category, “Imagine Your Parks.”

Twenty-three grants have been awarded for projects in Ohio, totaling $517,000.  Recipients include the Akron Art Museum; Cleveland International Film Festival Inc.; Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts (ArtsWave); Cincinnati Opera; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Clifton Cultural Arts Center; Contemporary Arts Center; Art House, Inc; Cleveland International Film Festival; Cleveland Play House; Cleveland Public Theatre Inc.; Cuyahoga Community College Foundation, The Cleveland Orchestra; Sculpture Center; SPACES; Zygote Press Inc; BalletMet Columbus; Gothan Dance, Inc.; Wexner Center for the Arts; Kenyon Review; Clark State Community College; Otterbein University; and YS Kids Playhouse.

See “$27 Million Awarded for Arts Projects: First Round of FY 2016 Funding Inaugurates Next 50 Years of National Endowment for the Arts Support, National Endowment for the Arts, December 8, 2015 at

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 theOhio Alliance for Arts Education (


About OAAE

It is the mission of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education to ensure that the arts are an integral part of the education of every Ohioan. We believe that: * All children in school must have quality arts education provided by licensed arts educators * All Ohioans have the right to expect quality arts education * All arts programs must have adequate resources * All arts and cultural organizations and artists have a critical role in arts education Learn more at
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