Arts on Line Education Update April 4, 2016

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
April 4, 2016
Joan Platz



131st Ohio General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate will meet in joint session on April 6, 2016 at the Peoples Bank Theatre in Marietta for the annual State of the State Address presented by Governor John Kasich. The annual address will provide a preview of the governor’s legislative and policy initiatives for 2016.

Also happening this week, the Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEO), created in HB64 – Biennial Budget, will meet for the first time on April 5, 2016 at 10:00 AM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.  The committee will discuss the purpose of the committee, members’ goals, and the executive director’s job description.

The 10-member committee is permitted to review any education program that receives state financial assistance, and assess the uses of state funds and the success of state education program and pilot programs, and issue a report.  The committee also has the authority to investigate any school district, other public school, or state institution of higher education.

Membership of the committee includes five members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker, three of whom are members of the majority party and two of whom are members of the minority party; and five members of the Senate appointed by the President, three of whom are members of the majority party and two of whom are members of the minority party.


Bills Introduced

-SB302 (Schiavoni – Gentile) Property Tax Exemption-Military Veterans-Disabled:  To exempt from property taxation the primary residence of military veterans who are disabled.

-HB498 (Kunze) Explusion-Threat of Violence: With respect to the expulsion of a student from a school district, community school, or STEM school for communicating a threat of violence to occur on school grounds.



State Board Structure Should Change:  The Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board on April 3, 2016 called for state lawmakers to support a new governance structure for the State Board of Education, one that would insulate the department of education from politics, restore stable leadership, and allow education experts to design long-range policies based on best practices.

According to the editorial, the current hybrid state board of education, with eleven elected members and 8 members appointed by the governor, has contributed to a dysfunctional and scandal ridden department of education, a politically controlled state board of education, and constant churn in the superintendent’s office.  Since 1995, when the hybrid state board of education was created, the average tenure of superintendents in Ohio dropped from 4.6 years to 1.8 years.  Before 1995 the average tenure of superintendents was 12 years.

The editorial does not specifically call for an all elected state board of education, which was the case before the law changed in 1995, but does call for “… a return to a governance structure of the Ohio Department of Education that insulates the department from politics and that allows the department’s leadership and staff the freedom to implement long-range policies…”

See “End the chaos at the top tier.  Education governance needs a fix.” Editorial Board, The Columbus Dispatch, April 3, 2016 at


School Officials Petition SBE and State Lawmakers:  About 24 school superintendents, five school board presidents, the Ohio Education Association, and two school district PTA presidents have signed a petition requesting that the Ohio Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and lawmakers institute the following changes in Ohio’s education system to address a number of concerns raised over the past year.

-Local stakeholders need a greater voice in decision making.  According to the petition, the Ohio Department of Education, State Board of Education, General Assembly and governor are “one in the same” when it comes to setting education policy.  There is a concern about a lack of “checks and balances” in the system, and the lack of input from local education officials and educators.  “Ohio desperately needs a new state superintendent who is a credible leader capable of balancing the perspective of all the groups that are advocating for high quality public education.”

-On creating thoughtful legislation.  The petitioners request that lawmakers collaborate more with educators in the field when drafting legislation in order to reduce the need for “correction” bills to address the unintended consequences of poorly written education laws.  The petitioners cite recent problems implementing the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee law, College Credit Plus program, and online testing.

-On the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The petitioners believe that ESSA has the potential to re-establish local control of education policy, but are disappointed that the ODE hired a “charter school advocate and former legislator” to serve as the ODE’s Senior Policy Advisor.  (The petition is referring to former House Representative Colleen Grady, who now works for the ODE, but has worked as a consultant for White Hat LLC and as an education advisor for the Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives.)

The petitioners request that the ODE take time to develop Ohio’s ESSA plan, which they believe should be the responsibility of the next superintendent of public instruction. They believe that the plan should be developed and implemented by someone who is trusted by school districts.  Local school officials should have more meaningful input to avoid the creation of more ineffective rules and laws, and teachers should be more involved in the process.

-On Testing.  Limits should be placed on state tests rather than local tests, which is primarily used to prove and inform instruction.  The over-emphasis on testing should stop, because it has narrowed the curriculum, reduced classroom instructional time, increased time for test preparation, and has hampered the ability of teachers to be innovative and creative in the classroom.  The petitioners believe that Ohio’s students should be prepared to be critical thinkers, collaborative, communicative, and creative — not better test takers.

The petitioners also believe that the public has lost confidence in Ohio’s assessment and accountability systems.  Assessment results are reported back too late and in the wrong format to impact instruction.

Problems with the testing format also need to be fixed.  The overall lower test scores for schools using online tests versus paper tests has raised concerns across the state.  According to the petition, “The state should consider a moratorium on issuing accountability ratings for districts until it has been proven that the format that is used to take the test does not unfairly impact the accuracy of achievement performances.”



Update from OERC: The Ohio Education Research Center (OERC), a collaboration among researchers at six Ohio universities and research institutions, has updated its website and has added new features.

The collaboration publishes research on a number of topics, including PreK-12 education, higher education, and workforce outcomes.  Recently the OERC published articles on the results of the “Ohio High School Financial Literacy Education Survey – Fall 2015” and “Investigating the Pathway to Proficiency from Birth through 3rd Grade”.

The collaboration includes Battelle, Battelle for Kids, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Community Research Partners, Miami University, The Ohio State University, Wright State University, The University of Cincinnati, Strategic Research Group, and Ohio University.



Update on Youngstown City School Lawsuits: The Youngstown Academic Distress Commission was created in July 2015 with the passage of HB70 (Brenner-Driehaus) to oversee the Youngstown City Schools.  The commission was to begin its work in October 2015, but lawsuits were filed first challenging the law that created the commission, and then challenging an appointment made to the commission by Brenda Kimble, who is the president of the Youngstown Board of Education.

Two appellate courts in Ohio will hear oral arguments for the lawsuits over the next weeks.

The first lawsuit, Youngstown City School District, v. State of Ohio,, was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas by the Youngstown Board of Education, the Youngstown Education Association, the Ohio Education Association, and others, who allege that the law creating the commission is unconstitutional, because it was not related to the subject of the bill, HB70. Judge Jenifer French denied the request to declare the law unconstitutional, causing plaintiffs to file an appeal in the 10th District Court of Appeals.  The court will hear arguments on April 14, 2016.

The Seventh District Court of Appeals will hear on April 7, 2016 an appeal that the appointment of Carol Staten to the commission by Brenda Kimble, violated the statutory requirements that the board president appoint a district teacher.  The Youngstown Teachers’ Union filed a lawsuit in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas and won. This prompted Ms. Kimble to appeal the decision to the 7th District Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments on April 7, 2016.

Statewide education organizations are closely following the progress of these lawsuits and the actions of Youngstown’s Academic Distress Commission, because similar commissions could be established in other school districts in Ohio that are struggling academically.




Commission Will Recommend Federal Data Policy: Education Week reports that President Obama signed on March 30, 2016 a bipartisan bill, The Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (H.R.1831), sponsored by GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray, creating a commission to determine how to coordinate and use federal data, while maintaining security and protecting individual privacy, to help agencies become more effective and efficient.  One of the outcomes of the commission’s work might be a process to reauthorize the Family Educational Rights and Protection Act (FERPA), which was approved in 1974, but hasn’t been reauthorized since that time due to privacy concerns.

The commission will include three members appointed by the President, three members appointed by House Speaker Ryan, three members appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and three members appointed by the Senate majority and minority leaders. President Obama will appoint the chairman of the commission and House Speaker Ryan will appoint the co-chairman.

According to Education Week, the 15-member commission will have 18 months to do the following:

-Inventory all federal data and tax-spending information from all federal programs, including the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE).

-Determine how to evaluate agencies.  It has been suggested that the commission might evaluate agencies using the evidence standards program evaluations that the U.S. DOE will use per the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

-Determine the feasibility of creating a clearinghouse of federal data across agencies, and protocols for releasing the data to the public or private researchers for program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses.

-Ensure that structures and policies to protect personal data are in place during the evaluations.

See “New Federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking Approved by Obama” by Andrew Ujifusa and Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week, on March 31, 2016 at


Draft ESSA Regulations Released: The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) released on April 1, 2016 draft regulations created through the negotiated rule-making process on Title I, Part A of ESSA: assessments, and the requirement that federal funds supplement, and not supplant, state and local funds. The negotiated rule making committee will review the draft regulations when it meets again from April 6-8, 2016.

The draft rules for assessment cover computer-adaptive testing, advanced math tests for 8th graders, the local high school test, assessments for students in special education, testing for students with severe cognitive disabilities, tests for English-learners, and tests for English-language proficiency.

The rules were developed through the negotiated rule process, and are based on the comments of hundreds of meetings with stakeholders, including parents, teachers, school leaders, state and local officials, and civil rights groups.  Many stakeholders requested that the rules provide further clarification in key areas, especially regarding civil rights and the equity and excellence goals.

The U.S. DOE also expects to begin the regulatory process for state accountability systems and reporting; submission of state plans; and the Title I, Part B innovative assessment demonstration authority, in which states will be able to try out new tests in a handful of districts.

In a statement accompanying the draft rules, the U.S. DOE also announced that it would not be proposing additional regulations on any new areas of ESSA this year, but would seek input on other areas where guidance and technical assistance would be helpful.

See the draft rules for assessment at

See the draft rules for supplement not supplant at

See “Ed. Department Releases Draft ESSA Regulations on Testing, Spending Issues”  by Alyson Klein, Education Week, April 1, 2016 at

See ”Education Department to Release Some Draft ESSA Regulations Later This Week” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, March 31, 2016 at


Friedrichs Case Resolved:  The U.S. Supreme Court rendered on March 29, 2016 a 4-4 decision in the case of Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, allowing the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court to stand and public sector unions to continue to charge “agency fees” to non-union employees.

The Ninth Circuit Court had ruled in favor of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, so no new national precedent has been declared.

The untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia weighed heavily in the 4-4 decision, because most court watchers believed that Justice Scalia would have supported the plaintiffs, who opposed the requirement that non-union employees pay “fair share agency fees” to unions for the benefits they received from unions, which negotiated on their behalf.  The plaintiffs allege that being required to pay the “fair share” fee to the unions violates their rights under the First Amendment.

See “After Friedrichs, What’s Next for Teachers’ Unions in the Supreme Court?” by Mark Walsh, Education Week, April 1, 2016 at


Voter Rights Under Attack:  Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot: Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America” warned audiences in Ohio last week that more states are imposing restrictions on voters to account for changing demographics in the U.S. and the increase in the number of Hispanic and African American voters.

Between 2011-12 forty-one states made it harder to vote by cutting back on early voting or requiring stricter identification.  In Arizona, for example, state officials reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent in Maricopa County, forcing voters to wait up to five hours to vote last week.  Arizona was one of the states that the U.S. Supreme Court released from federal supervision under the Voting Rights Act of 2013.

The most recent voter flap in Ohio was resolved before the March 15, 2016 primary election, when Secretary of State Jon Husted backtracked on prohibiting 17 year olds, who will be 18 before the November 8, 2016 election, to vote in the primary.

See “Laws enacted with goal of restricting voting, progressive author says,” by Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, March 27, 2016 at


Researcher Finds Link Between School Climate and School Measures: Chalkbeat N.Y reported on March 24, 2016 that economist Matthew Kraft at Brown University has identified a measurable link between school climate and student expectations and teacher turnover.

His study tracked student test scores and teacher retention rates with the results of over 31,000 surveys about school climate in New York City middle schools between 2008-2012.  School climate was measured in four areas: school safety and order, leadership and professional development, high academic expectations, and teacher relationships and collaboration.

According to the article,

“The study found that if a school improved from the 50th percentile across the study’s four measures of school climate (leadership, expectations, relationships, and safety) to the 84th percentile, teacher turnover would decline by 25 percent, or 3.8 percentage points.”

“A similar percentile increase in measures of school safety and high academic expectations alone boosted math scores enough to account for an extra month and a half of instruction. (Improvements in school climate also boosted language arts scores on state tests, but those gains weren’t statistically significant.)”

The research was supported by NYU’s Research Alliance for New York City Schools, which will continue to examine the results to develop strategies to improve school climate.

See “School conditions matter for student achievement new research confirms” by Alex Zimmerman, Chalkbeat NY, March 24, 2016 at


New Assessment Learning Project: The U.S. Department of Education announced on March 23, 2016 the states that will receive $2 million in grants through the Assessment Learning Project (ALP), an initiative to develop assessments that accommodate personalized learning.

ALP is supported by a national group of partner organization, led by the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at the University of Kentucky in partnership with Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) at EDUCAUSE.  Technical assistance will be provided by a team of researchers, including Professor Linda Darling Hammond and David Conley.

The focus of ALP is to determine how assessments can support a broader definition of student success; identify assessment practices that empower students to own and advance their own learning; build educator capacity to gather, interpret, and use evidence of student learning to enhance instruction; identify ways in which assessments inform accountability systems; and identify ways to ensure equity.

Receiving grants are the Henry County School District in Georgia; the Hawai’i Department of Education; the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) and school districts in Rhode Island; the Del Lago Academy Campus of Applied Science; Fairfax County Public Schools; Summit Public Schools; The Colorado Education Initiative; Two Rivers Public Charter School; WestEd; Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium; Learning Policy Institute; and the New Hampshire Department of Education.




Voucher and Tax-Credits Further Segregate Schools: Steve Suitts, a senior fellow with the Southern Education Foundation, published on March 29, 2016 a new report entitled Race & Ethnicity in a New Era of Public Funding of Private Schools: Private School Enrollment in the South and the Nation.

According to the report, there are 19 states that currently have programs that provide public funding for students to attend private schools either through vouchers or some kind of tax credit program.  In 2015 about $1 billion in state funds was diverted to private schools through these programs in all regions of the nation, but especially in the South.

The report examines enrollment trends nationally and in the South, and indicators of racial demographics and segregation in public and private schools nationally and in the South, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics from 1998-2012.  The indicators used are over-representation of white students; disproportionate white enrollment rates; virtual segregation (90 percent or more white student population); and virtual exclusion of students of color.

According to the report, “This study includes four different measurements for illuminating racial patterns in private schools across the United States, and each measurement provides clear support for a single, overarching finding: white students across most of the 50 states are significantly over-represented in private schools, often attending virtually segregated private schools, and usually attending private schools in which under-represented students of color — African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans — are virtually excluded. These overall racial patterns among America’s private schools are more severe in the South and especially extreme in the six Deep South states (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina) that in the early 1960s both financed private schools and were foremost in blocking governmental mandates for significant public school desegregation. These “freedom of choice” states currently are among the nine Southern states providing public funding to private schools.”

The purpose of the voucher and neo-voucher tax credit scholarship programs is often described as a way to offer better or more opportunities to students of color and low-income students.  But an examination of the demographics of the schools participating in these programs shows that 75 percent of all white students in private schools attend schools where 90 percent or more of the student body is white.  That is because despite laws against segregation, private schools, with and without public funding, are able to select the students they want to admit, and often exclude African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students.

The segregation that exists in private schools affects the demographics of public schools, which are becoming increasingly more diverse.  This new segregation has also caused the reemergence of “separate but unequal” education systems, 62 years after the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional “separate but equal” systems in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

See “Research Report, Race and Ethnicity in a New Era of Public Funding of Private Schools:  Private School Enrollment in the South and the Nation,” by Steve Suitts, Southern Education Foundation, March 29, 2016 at


More Effective Uses of Title 1 Funds:  A new policy paper was released last week by the Hamilton Project to examine how Title I funds could be used more effectively to help low performing schools improve.  The report was published by Professor Nora Gordon at Georgetown University and is entitled,  “Increasing Targeting, Flexibility, and Transparency in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to Help Disadvantaged Students.”

According to the paper, federal education policy was in a holding pattern, because of the failure of Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.  Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has been enacted, and more control has been returned to state and local officials, there will be more opportunities to use Title I funds more effectively at the local level.  But local and state officials will need more expertise, guidance, and technical assistance in order to upgrade systems to better monitor how Title I funds are being used, and determine the most effective ways to use them in the future.  The information gathered over the next years about Title I spending and the effectiveness of Title I programs can be used to set the stage for a needed review and update of the Title I funding formulas in the future.

The author recommends that the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) create a current, concise, comprehensive, and comprehensible Title I compliance document with state and local input.  The document should include examples of how Title I compliance can be met.

In addition, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education should create a public, online, searchable database of all official correspondence regarding Title I compliance.  Often states correspond informally with the U.S. DOE about compliance issues, which means that some of the U.S. DOE’s recommendations are not shared with other states that might have the same questions.

To help improve technical systems, the U.S. DOE should offer competitive pilot grants to SEAs and LEAs to convert to simpler and more-flexible forms of fiscal compliance, emphasizing the supplemental funds test, fiscal consolidation, and direct cost allocation.

Efforts should also be made to gather data to develop new Title I distribution formulas, which would require changes in federal law.

Currently four formulas are used to distribute Title I aid.  The author recommends that “concentration” and “education finance incentive” grants be eliminated, basic grants be retained, and “targeted” grants be expanded, with a greater emphasis placed on poverty rates in districts, rather than the number of students in poverty.

The author also recommends removing the state-level spending per pupil from all remaining formulas; eliminating the small state minimums; and phasing in the changes with a temporary hold harmless provision.

Making these changes would shift Title I funding from smaller less populated states, such as Vermont and Wyoming, to states with high areas of concentrated poverty.

See “Increasing Targeting, Flexibility, and Transparency in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to Help Disadvantaged Students” by Nora Gordan, The Hamilton Project, March 2016 at



Arts Education Focus of Cleveland Foundation: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported last week that the Cleveland Foundation, Ronn Richard CEO, is donating $500,000 to expand the Cleveland Public Theatre’s Brick City program for children from low income families.  The program currently serves 300 children ages 5-14 at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Lakeview Terrace and Woodhill Homes.  The grant will make it possible to serve 700 children over the next two years at additional sites in their local neighborhoods.

The grant will also be used to expand the Cleveland Public Theatre’s Student Theatre Enrichment Program for at-risk teens.  In this program teens have the opportunity to write and perform their own plays.

The Foundation also intends to expand its arts education project grants in visual arts, photography, music, and dance in future years, to “infuse the arts into every neighborhood”.

According to the article, the new initiatives are not “small interventions,” but rather a comprehensive effort to address an injustice:  the lack of access to the arts by so many poor children throughout the city.

The Foundation is seeking additional partners to expand these programs throughout communities, and will ask other foundations and corporations for support to fund this long-term commitment

See “Cleveland Foundation funds arts education,” by Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer, April 2, 2016 at


Ohio’s Schools Recognized by the Best Communities for Music Education:  Congratulations to the 32 Ohio school districts selected this year for the 2016 Best Communities for Music Education in the United States and the three Ohio schools selected to receive the 2016 Support Music Merit Awards.

The Best Communities for Music Award and the Support Music Merit Award recipients were announced on March 23, 2016 by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).  The awards recognize school districts, communities, and schools, that meet high standards for music education programs, and ensure student access to music education.

Receiving the Best Communities for Music Awards this year are 475 school districts in the U.S., including the following Ohio school districts: Archbold, Avon Lake, Bay Village, Beachwood, Bera, Boardman, Canfield, Carey, Clark-Shawnee Local, Cuyahoga Heights, Firelands Local, Indian Hills Exempted Village, Jackson City Schools, Kettering City, Lebanon City, Mayfield City, Mount Vernon City, New Philadelphia City, Norwayne Local Schools, Oak Hill Union Local, Oberlin City Schools, Olmsted Falls City Schools, Perrysburg Exempted Village,  Princeton City Schools, Solon City Schools, South Central Local Schools, Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools, Strongsville City Schools, Sycamore Community, Troy City Schools, Upper Sandusky Exempted Village, and the West Branch Local.

Receiving the 2016 Support Music Merit Awards are the Athens Middle School, Monclova Christian School, and St. Albert School in Kettering.


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 (


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, 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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