The Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
February 22, 2016
•131st Ohio General Assembly: The Ohio House and Senate will hold hearings and sessions this week. Lawmakers are expecting some bills to be introduced this week at the request of the Kasich administration, but not through the previously used mid-biennial review process (MBR). The administration will limit legislative requests this session, because the House and Senate are expected to recess in late May or early June so that members can campaign for the November 2016 General Election. The early recess will shorten the time lawmakers have to approve legislation. Bills that have not passed by the recess could be considered in the fall, if sessions are held, or after the November election, during a lame-duck session of the General Assembly.
-The House Community and Family Advancement Committee, chaired by Representative Derickson, approved on February 17, 2016 HB425 (Hayes) Student Religious Liberty Act of 2016 by a vote of 9-3. The bill would ensure a students’ right to express his/her faith in school.
-The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Brenner, met on February 16, 2016 and accepted a substitute bill for HB410 (Rezabek-Hayes) Truancy. The law changes truancy law to reduce the number of children in the justice system for truancy, and emphasizes early intervention strategies and collaborations with community resources to address truancy. The following changes were made in the bill:
-Delays for one year the implementation of the law to the 2017-18 school year
-Retains the requirement that court adjudications for truancy only be used as a last resort
-Retains the requirement that schools cannot expel students solely for repeated unexcused absences on or after July 1, 2016.
-Requires courts to offer alternatives to adjudication and report the status of the habitual truant students annually.
Under the bill, a student is defined as a habitual truant and an unruly child if the student is absent from school without a legitimate excuse for 30 or more consecutive hours, 42 or more hours in one month, or 72 or more hours in a school year.
•This Week at the Statehouse
-The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Brenner, will meet on February 23, 2016 at 9:00 AM in hearing room 121. The committee will receive a presentation from the Ohio Department of Education about standards and assessments, and testimony on the following bills:
-HB441 (McColley) Interscholastic Activities: Permits a student enrolled in a nonpublic school to participate interscholastic activities at a school district that is not the student’s resident district under certain circumstances and prohibits a student who participates in the College Credit Plus program from being denied the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics solely due to participation in the program.
-HB383 (Hagan, C. – McColley) Informed Student Document: Requires one-half unit of economic and financial literacy in the high school social studies curriculum; requires the Chancellor of Higher Education to prepare an informed student document for each state institution of higher education; and requires the State Board of Education to include information on the informed student document in the standards and model curricula it creates for financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
-HB401 (Brinkman) Chartered Nonpublic Schools: Changes the requirements for chartered nonpublic schools.
-HB410 (Rezabek-Hagan) Truancy: Makes changes in the law regarding habitual and chronic truancy and compulsory school attendance.
-SB3 (Hite-Faber) Higher Performing School District Exemption: Exempts high-performing school districts from certain laws. Several amendments are expected, including one that would hold charter school sponsors harmless from certain consequences for poor performance in the 2014-15 and 2016-17school years as the state implements new tests. A vote is possible.
•The 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission will meet February 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM in the South Hearing Room. The topic will be tax expenditures.
•Audit of ODE Requested: State Board of Education member A. J. Wagner requested last week that the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) support an independent audit of the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) charter school sponsor evaluations to facilitate receipt of a $32 million charter school grant from the federal Charter Schools Program office. The U.S. DOE had suspended in November 2015 a federal charter school grant awarded to the ODE until it responded to questions about some inaccuracies in Ohio’s grant application, which was submitted by David Hansen, before he resigned from the ODE in July 2015.
The letter was directed to Stefan Huh, director of the federal Charter School Programs at the U.S. DOE, and raises questions about the capacity of the ODE to be accountable for the federal grant, which could amount to $71 million over the next five years.
According to the letter, at issue are former Superintendent’s Richard Ross’ secret involvement in the development of a plan to expand charter schools in Youngstown; former ODE employee David Hansen’s failure to include poor performing charter schools in charter school sponsor evaluations; the failure of the ODE to release public records requests in a timely manner; a directive to members of the state board to adhere to certain protocols when seeking information from ODE staff, and the failure of the ODE staff to respond to the requests; and recent corrections to the charter school grant application.
The letter states that a majority of the elected members of the state board have requested an independent audit to determine if the grant can be “objectively administered” by the ODE, but that request has been blocked, leading Mr. Wagner to seek the support of U.S. DOE to conduct an audit.
•Status of Court Cases After Justice’s Death: The status of lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court might change as a result of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association in January 2016, with the decision expected this summer. The lawsuit asks the Court to allow employees to forgo agency fees which unions charge to nonmembers to compensate for negotiating contracts on their behalf. According to Court watchers, Justice Scalia would have probably sided with those who oppose the mandatory fees, dealing a huge set-back for unions.
But now the case is likely to be tied at 4-4, letting the appellate court decision stand, which favors the union fees. But, since the lower court ruling does not create a national precedent that a Supreme Court ruling would have made, the decision is restricted to the lower court’s jurisdiction, and open to future litigation. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of union agency fees in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, but since that time conservatives on the court have suggested that the decision in Abood infringed on the free speech of non union members, and should be overturned.
•”School Walk-Ins” to Support Public Schools Held Across Nation: The Washington Post reports that thousands of parents, students, teachers, and community leaders marched in support of public schools in a national school “Walk-In” held on February 17, 2016.
The “walk-ins” were organized in 30 cities by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, which is a coalition that includes Journey for Justice Alliance, the Center for Popular Democracy, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers.
According to a statement issued by the Alliance, “The future of public education in the United States stands at a critical crossroads.” The threat comes from “a web of billionaire advocates, national foundations, policy institutes, and local and federal decision makers” working to “dismantle public education and promote a top-down, market-based approach to school reform.”
School “walk-ins”, as opposed to school “walk-outs,” were first held in North Carolina and St. Paul to draw attention to concerns about adequately funding public schools.
Last week “walk-ins” were held in Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Boston, Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, La Crosse, St. Paul, Patterson, and other cities, where participants called for an end to budget cuts, charter school expansion, and school and district take-overs.
The rally supported an expansion of community schools, which are schools that provide more services to meet the needs of individual students; charter school accountability and transparency; positive discipline policies; full and equitable funding for all public schools; and racial justice and equity.
•Organizations Define a Quality Education: The ASCD and Education International (EI) released on February 17, 2016 a joint statement defining a “quality education that places the needs of a child at the fore.”
The statement also supports the United Nations, which approved a stand alone education goal as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 25, 2015. SDG Goal 4 states: “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.” According to the ASCD/EI statement, the adoption by the United Nations of a stand alone goal for education was a victory, because in the past education has not been considered a human right.
Furthermore, the goal raises the stakes by requiring more than basic literacy and numeracy, but a “quality education” that helps each child reach their full potential. ASCD and EI define a quality education in the following way:
“A Quality Education is one that focuses on the whole child—the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. It prepares the child for life, not just for testing.”
“A Quality Education provides resources and directs policy to ensure that each child enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle; learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults; is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community; has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults; and is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.”
“A Quality Education provides the outcomes needed for individuals, communities, and societies to prosper. It allows schools to align and integrate fully with their communities and access a range of services across sectors designed to support the educational development of their students.”
“A Quality Education is supported by three key pillars: ensuring access to quality teachers; providing use of quality learning tools and professional development; and the establishment of safe and supportive quality learning environments.”
The ASCD/EI statement goes on to say that “Education advocates have a responsibility to promote policies that integrate schools, communities, and nations into a system that supports the development of the whole child, ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.”
•Court Declares Unconstitutional Parts of the School Takeover Law in Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found on February 16, 2016 that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC), an entity created in 2001 to oversee the Philadelphia City Schools, had exceeded its authority and ignored state law. In a 4 to 2 decision, the Court found the special powers exerted by the SRC unconstitutional.
The lawsuit is West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School v. The School District of Philadelphia and School Reform Commission, and alleges that the SRC illegally capped the enrollment of charter schools in Philadelphia in 2013. The lawsuit also asked the court to rule on the constitutionality of the 2001 school district take-over law, which the SRC used to suspend parts of the Pennsylvania Code.
The court declared unconstitutional a portion of the law that the SRC used to implement a variety of initiatives, such as closing city schools; limiting charter school enrollment; and cancelling certain provisions of the teachers’ contract.
See “State Supreme Court rules against SRC; fallout unknown” by Martha Woodall and Kristen A. Graham, The Inquirer, February 17, 2016 at
•Other Strategies Available to Turnaround Poor Performing Schools: An Op-Ed by Edward B. Fiske and Helen Ladd in the Raleigh, North Carolina The News and Observer describes some of the school reforms that have increased elementary and secondary student achievement in London since 1990.
According to the article, London has a high concentration of low income families and ethic-minority students in its 13 inner boroughs, similar to urban school districts in the U.S. But educators and policy-makers there have used different strategies to address the effects of poverty on student learning, and have begun to see progress.
What are those strategies?
-Increased school funding and better distribution of funds to reduce inequities within the district.
-Established a culture of cooperation and mutual responsibility throughout the district and community, so that stronger schools helped weaker schools, and resources could be distributed in flexible ways to meet student needs at the district level.
In comparison, some states in the U.S. have triaged schools, focusing on the poorest performing schools, while ignoring the overall needs of the district.
States have also diverted resources to charter schools and voucher programs, creating a “hodgepodge” of educational programs that are not accountable to the communities they serve, and have increased tensions, rather than collaboration, between traditional public schools and privately operated schools.
-Supported an inspection-based accountability system that focuses on processes as well as outcomes. Each school in the United Kingdom is visited by professional inspectors, who provide feedback to school leaders about successful practices.
In comparison, state accountability systems in the U.S. have been based on test results under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. While the new federal education act, Every Student Success Act, gives states more flexibility to create better accountability systems that can include other measures of success, the federal law still requires that 95 percent of students be tested. It is unclear what the consequences would be if a state failed to meet this standard.
-Directed significant resources to students from low-income families, to mitigate the negative impact of poverty. Teachers diagnose the learning needs of each child, and organize individual and group tutoring, including before and after-school programs, and enrichment programs.
-Focused on strategies that worked. According to the Op Ed, ”Rather than experimenting with governance or structural changes that have little direct impact on what happens in classrooms, they focused their attention on time-honored fundamentals of good education.”
Edward B. Fiske, is a former education editor of The New York Times, and Helen F. Ladd is professor of Public Policy and Economics at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke.
•Kansas Court Keeps Pressure on Legislature: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on February 11, 2016 that a temporary school funding law passed in March 2015 is biased against poorer school districts, aligning with a lower court’s decision. The lawsuit was filed by four school districts which alleged that the state’s block grant funding law short-changed poorer school districts by $54 million.
The temporary formula was developed in response to a 2014 Kansas Supreme Court decision in Gannon v. State, that declared the Kansas school funding system unconstitutional, and ordered the legislature to create a new school funding system. Now the Court has given the state lawmakers until June 30, 2016 to find a better solution that complies with the state’s constitution. Without a solution, the schools in Kansas will be unable to operate after June 30, 2016, because, according to the decision, there will not be a legal or valid way “through which funds for fiscal year 2017 can lawfully be raised, distributed, or spent.”
•Parents Support STEM Careers: A survey by Harris Poll of 644 parents found that 90 percent would encourage children to pursue careers in STEM. The poll was sponsored by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), which promotes a “culture of quality” in segments of the economy.
Half of the respondents said that they preferred their children to pursue careers in engineering; 41 percent medical doctor; 27 percent computer analyst; and 9 percent teacher in STEM. Low salary was reported by 77 percent of respondents as a reason that they would not promote STEM teaching as a career.
•Columbus Selected for White House Initiative: The White House and the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) announced on February 19, 2016 the selection of the Columbus City Schools and nine other school districts to participate in the Success Mentors Initiative, which is part of the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative also sponsored by the White House.
The project, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and Johns Hopkins University, focuses on reducing chronic student absenteeism among African-American males in grades six to nine, by pairing at-risk students with trained mentors. The project will eventually serve over one million students in 3-5 years in the cities of Austin, Boston, Columbus, Denver, Miami-Dade, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Antonio, and Seattle.
•Update on the Youngstown Distress Commission: The 7th District Court of Appeals declined Attorney General Mike DeWine’s request to allow the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission to meet while a lawsuit challenging the appointment of one of the members of the commission proceeds in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas.
Youngstown Board President Brenda Kimble filed an appeal on January 28, 2016 of a ruling that blocked her appointment of Carol Staten to the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission (ADC). Judge Lou D’Apolito, Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, had affirmed on January 27, 2016 the decision by Dan Dascenzo, a magistrate of the court, that President Kimble’s appointment was not legal, because it did not meet the requirements in law (HB70) that the board of education president appoint a district teacher to the commission. Carol Staten is the cousin of Brenda Kimble, and is currently a substitute principal in the school district. The judge’s ruling had directed President Kimble to appoint a new member to the commission by January 29, 2016, but a hearing on the lawsuit before Judge Lou D’Apolito is scheduled for February 23, 2016.
A lawsuit to overturn HB70 and the ADC is currently before the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. (Youngstown City School District, et. al. v. State of Ohio, et.al.) The plaintiffs include the Youngstown City School District Board of Education, the Ohio Council 8 AFSCME, the Youngstown Education Association, the Ohio Education Association, and Jane Haggerty.
•Ohio Superintendent Selected Superintendent of the Year: Princeton City Schools Superintendent Thomas Tucker was named 2016 AASA National Superintendent of the Year on February 11, 2016.
The AASA is a national association of school superintendents, and has been selecting a national superintendent for the past 29 years based on leadership, communication, professionalism, and community involvement.
Superintendent Tucker has worked in school districts in Kansas and Ohio for 26 years, and was formerly the superintendent of Licking Heights Local School District and the Worthington City Schools.
The AASA honor also includes a $10,000 college scholarship in the winner’s name to be awarded to a high school student in the high school from which the winner graduated, or a high school senior in the winner’s current district.
•Louisiana Voucher Program Results Disappointing: Researchers Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parang A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters published in December 2015 a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) examining the achievement of about 1,400 students who participated in the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP) in the first year after the program expanded statewide in 2012. The study is entitled “School Vouchers and Student Achievement: First-Year Evidence from the Louisiana Scholarship Program.”
The LSP provides public funds for students from poor-performing schools in Louisiana to attend eligible private schools. About 6,000 students participated in the program at 126 private schools.
Because there is a limit on the number of vouchers available, the program allocates them through a lottery. The study compared the test scores of students who received a voucher and students who applied for a voucher, but did not receive one.
The researchers found that “LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement.” The math scores of students who attended private school were 0.4 standard deviation lower than the comparison group of students, which increased the likelihood that the students would receive a failing score by 50 percent.
According to the study, “Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large. The negative impacts of vouchers are consistent across income groups, geographic areas, and private school characteristics, and are larger for younger children.”
The study also found that private schools participating in the program experienced a decline in enrollment prior to entering the program, “indicating that the LSP may attract private schools struggling to maintain enrollment. These results suggest caution in the design of voucher systems aimed at expanding school choice for disadvantaged students.”
See “School Vouchers and Student Achievement: First-Year Evidence from the Louisiana Scholarship Program” by Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag A. Pathak, Christopher R. Walters, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 21839
, Issued in December 2015, at http://www.nber.org/papers/w21839
•MFA Programs in Social Practice Art Increasing: Daniel Grant, author of “The Business of Being an Artist” and “The Fine Artist’s Career Guide”, describes an increase in the number of Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in art and social practice or “social practice art” in an article in The New York Times.
The first master’s level program in the field dates back to 2005 at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, but since that time 10 other institutions have established degree programs in social practice art, also called community engagement, contextual practice, or socially engaged art-making.
According to the author, defining social practice art is difficult, but Mark Tribe, chairman of the M.F.A. Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York, describes it as a way for artists to collaborate with people in their communities to increase awareness about societal, cultural, ecological, or political issues. The skills needed for social practice art are communication, organization, presentation, negotiation, and facilitation.
More artists, faculty, and students are interested in social practice art, because it goes “beyond the aesthetics of their art and just the making of their art.”
According to the article, some of the themes for social practice art today are food security, violence against women, clean and available water, and ecology.
See “Social Practice Degrees Take Art to a Communal Level,” by Daniel Grant, The New York Times, February 5, 2016 at