Arts on Line Education Update October 17, 2016

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
October 17, 2016

131st OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Pupil Transportation First Issue JEOC Tackles: The Joint Education Oversight Committee (JEOC), chaired by Senator cliff Hite, met on October 13, 2016 to approve a list of research projects and receive testimony about pupil transportation issues.

The JEOC was created in the biennial budget bill, HB64 (June 2015), to provide lawmakers with a way review and discuss critical education issues facing Ohio’s schools.  Committee members include Senators Cliff Hite, Randy Gardner, Peggy Lehner, Tom Sawyer, and Sandra Williams, and Representatives John Patterson, Andrew Brenner, Bob Cupp, Teresa Fedor, and Ryan Smith. Lauren Monowar-Jones serves as the JEOC executive director.

The committee approved a list that includes research projects about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), educational choice, assessments, accountability, early childhood education, value added, and career technical education.  The committee will release reports after studying the issues, and might add more projects to the list.

The committee also received testimony from a number of school district leaders about pupil transportation issues in the state.

School representatives told the committee that they need funds to buy new buses, which are more efficient and cheaper to maintain.  A new bus costs $90,000, and so some school districts cannot afford to replace a bus, but are using permanent improvement funds to repair old buses.

The state stopped providing separate funds for bus purchases about ten years ago.  Districts still receive some state aid for transportation through the line item for Pupil Transportation in the budget, but the presenters said that the pupil transportation formula needs to be updated, and more money needs to be put into the budget.

See http://jeoc.ohio.gov

Update on School District Ballot Issues: According to the Secretary of State’s website, there will be 150 school tax issues on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

About half of the school districts are asking voters to approve new money, while others are asking voters to renew or continue existing levels.

The Columbus City School District is among 70 school districts that are asking voters to approve a combination levy/bond issue for school safety and security, permanent improvements, and current operating expenses.

There are also 35 districts seeking voter approval for emergency levies and 10 school income tax issues on the ballot.

The number of levies on ballot is higher than last year’s number of 110, but lower than in years past.

See http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/elections/Voters/aboutThisElection.aspx

Tax Revenue Drops But the State’s Budget Should be OK: As state departments and agencies prepare budget recommendations for 2018-19, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM), Tim Keen executive director, reports a $34.6 million drop in total tax revenue for the first quarter of FY17 when compared to FY16.

Lower than expected collections for the personal income tax, corporate franchise tax, public utility tax, cigarette tax, and other tobacco taxes are contributing to the shortfall.

The current revenue shortfall is not expected to cause any budget woes for the FY17 budget cycle, however, because the state has a sizeable carryover and has budgeted conservatively.

Still, the shortfall could affect budget negotiations going into FY2018-19, especially if state leaders want to expand early childhood education, career tech, or increase funding for the Straight A Fund and other programs.

See http://www.obm.ohio.gov/budget/monthlyfinancial/doc/2016-10_mfr.pdf

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

The State Board of Education (SBE), Tom Gunlock president, will meet on October 16, 17 & 18, 2016 at the Ohio Department of Education, 25 S. Front Street, Columbus, OH.

The SBE’s Standards and Graduation Requirements Committee approved last month changes for academic honors, International Baccalaureate, and career-tech diplomas, and added new honors diplomas for the arts, STEM, and social science/civic engagement. This month the full SBE will consider a resolution of intent to adopt the new criteria for awarding honors diplomas.

The SBE will also consider resolutions to adopt cut scores for the third grade reading test; approve the FY2018-19 biennial budget recommendations; adopt alternative performance standards and criteria to close charter schools primarily serving students with disabilities; and appoint eleven members to the Educator Standards Board.

The SBE’s Achievement Committee will continue discussions about OAC Rule 3301-51-15:  Operating Standards for Identifying and Serving Gifted Students, and the Standards and Graduation Requirements Committee will discuss OAC Rule 3301-41-01:  Standards for Issuing an Ohio Certificate of High School Equivalence and the revised English language arts and mathematics standards. The final drafts of the revised standards for mathematics and English language arts are posted on the ODE’s web site at

http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Ohios-Learning-Standards/Standard-Revision-Overview/Standards-Revision-English-Language-Arts-and-Mathe

NATIONAL NEWS

School Choice is not a Constitutional Right in MA: The Suffolk, Massachusetts Superior Court dismissed on October 4, 2016 a lawsuit, Jane Doe v. James A. Peyser, as Secretary of Education, & others, filed by the parents of five school age children in Boston, Massachusetts.  The lawsuit was filed on September 15, 2015 by the law firms Paul F. Ware, Jr., Michael B. Keating, and William F. Lee.

The lawsuit argued that the children were denied their “constitutional right to an adequate public education because of a cap limiting the number of charter schools in Massachusetts and a cap limiting the amount of funding that can be allocated to those charter schools.”

The plaintiffs also claimed that the students had been denied equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, because of the failure of the Commonwealth to treat similarly situated persons alike.

The decision, written by Associate Justice Heidi Brieger, dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument that the children had been “deprived of a constitutionally adequate education,” because they were assigned to lower performing schools, which had “failed to teach a significant portion of students to be “proficient or higher” on Massachusetts state exams (MCAS).

Instead, the judge found that schools identified as low performing in Massachusetts are targeted by the state for extra assistance, which is a policy decision by the state to ensure that the Commonwealth is fulfilling its constitutional requirement to provide a “public education system of sufficient quality”.

The judge also found that school choice is not part of Massachusetts’ constitutional, “public education obligation”.

According to the decision, the state constitution “obligates the Commonwealth to educate all its children,” but, “This obligation does not mean that Plaintiffs have the constitutional right to choose a particular flavor of education, whether it be a trade school, a sports academy, an arts school, or a charter school.”

The judge left it up to the state legislature to decide the details about school choice options “amongst the multitude” of possibilities.

Regarding the violation of the equal protection clause, Judge Brieger found that the Massachusetts Constitution does not guarantee each individual student the fundamental right to an education.  Therefore, the court needed to examine the rationale for the state to cap funding for some charter schools.

The court concluded that the Massachusetts legislature caps state funding for certain charter schools, because there is a limit to state funds for education, and spending more money on charter schools leaves fewer state funds for non-charter schools.

The court determined that there is a rational basis and a legitimate state interest for capping charter school funds, and therefore there is not a violation of the equal protection clause.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs intend to file an appeal of the decision.

The decision might have an immediate effect on Massachusetts voters.  Advocates for charter schools were successful in placing Question 2 on the November 8, 2016 ballot in Massachusetts.  Question 2 would raise the cap on certain types of charter schools in future years, but does not include additional funding.

See “Judge dismisses lawsuit aimed at lifting Massachusetts charter school cap,” AP, October 4, 2016, at https://www.boston.com/news/education/2016/10/04/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-aimed-at-lifting-massachusetts-charter-school-cap

Final Teacher Preparation Program Rules Released: The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released on October 12, 2016 final rules for assessing the performance of teacher preparation programs under Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965.

According to the USDOE, the reporting requirements will provide the public, prospective teachers, employers, and state policy makers with information about the quality of the teacher preparation programs.

The rules regulate traditional, alternative, and distance learning teacher preparation programs, and would require states to rate the programs as effective, at-risk, or low performing based on certain indicators of quality.  The regulations require states to develop measures for assessing teacher preparation performance based on quality indicators, and establish the actions that states must take to improve low-performing or at-risk programs.

The indicators to assess teacher preparation programs include student learning outcomes, employment outcomes, and survey outcomes.

States will have flexibility in measuring student achievement, which could be based on student growth, a teacher evaluation measure, another state-determined measure that is relevant to calculating student learning outcomes, or a combination of all three.  (See page 670 of the rules.)

When the teacher preparation program rules were first proposed in 2014, stakeholders opposed linking student test scores back to the effectiveness of the programs, but it is not clear if there is enough flexibility in the proposed rule to placate those concerns.

The rules go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.

The USDOE also released changes in the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program under Title IV of the HEA to align with the new rules for teacher preparation programs.

Eligibility for TEACH grants will now be linked to the assessment of the teacher preparation programs. The TEACH grants will be limited to teacher preparation programs that have been identified as “effective” for two years in a row.

Reaction

-Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, released a statement on October 12, 2016 in response to the final rules, saying that the USDOE was taking a “one-size-fits-all approach that will lead to unintended consequences.”

He called the rules a “vast regulatory scheme” that might lead to fewer teachers.

He called upon policymakers to discuss and resolve the issues raised in the rules through reforms of the Higher Education Act, rather than actions taken by the USDOE.

See http://edworkforce.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=401114

-Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, criticized the regulations and called the framework flawed.

According to a press release, she said, “The final regulations could harm students who would benefit the most from consistent, high-quality standards for teacher preparation programs. The regulations will create enormous difficulty for teacher prep programs and place an unnecessary burden on institutions and states, which are also in the process of implementing ESSA.”

See http://www.aft.org/press-release/afts-weingarten-teacher-preparation-programs-regulations

-Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said that his group is pleased with the new regulations which reflect the feedback from stakeholders.

See http://www.ccsso.org/News_and_Events/Press_Releases/CCSSO_Releases_Statement_on_Higher_Education_Act_Regulations.html

See the final regulations starting on page 651 at http://www2.ed.gov/documents/teaching/teacher-prep-final-regs.pdf.

See “Test scores get less emphasis in final federal teacher-preparation rules,” by Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week, October 12, 2016 at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2016/10/test_scores_less_emphasis_teacher_preparation.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=campaignk-12.

OHIO NEWS

Are State Graduation Standards Too High?:  Butler County superintendents are speaking out about the state’s graduation requirements, which they believe will be difficult for some students to meet.

In an article in the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News school district administrators from Hamilton City Schools, Middletown City Schools, and Fairfield City Schools say that they are worried that some students will not be able to graduate starting in 2018, because of the new state graduation requirements.

Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, Ohio students will be required to earn 18 points on seven tests covering English, math, social studies, and science in order to graduate.  The points will be awarded based on how well the students do on the tests.

Students can by-pass earning the graduation points by scoring a “remediation free” score on the ACT or SAT college entrance tests, or earning an approved job credential and a passing score on the job readiness test in career tech programs.

Although the students can take the tests over, school leaders are concerned that students are not prepared, because of the changes in expectations and the amount of time devoted to testing rather than instruction.

The school administrators say that they are working on an alternative graduation framework.  About 200 superintendents plan to meet with lawmakers in Columbus to lobby for changes.

See “High school seniors heading for a cliff warns Hamilton school leader,” by Michael D. Clark, Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News, October 9, 2016 at http://www.journal-news.com/news/high-school-juniors-headed-toward-cliff-warns-hamilton-school-leader/DPDOYyx4BE1pKmrWD8YZEI/

Most Charter School Sponsors Rated as “Ineffective”:  After months of debate and controversy, including the rejection of a proposed rule by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCAAR), the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released on October 13, 2016 ratings for 65 out of 67 charter school sponsors for 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The new evaluation rates charter school sponsors as exemplary, effective, ineffective, or poor based on three measures: academic performance, compliance with laws and rules, and quality practices.

According to the 2015-16 evaluation report on the ODE website, no sponsors were rated exemplary; five were rated effective; 39 were rated ineffective; and 21 sponsors were rated poor.

The list of effective sponsors includes the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, St. Aloysius Orphanage, ESC of Central Ohio, and Jefferson County ESC.

Charter school sponsors are responsible for overseeing the operations and quality of community schools.  Sponsors rated ineffective are not allowed to sponsor new charter schools and must develop a plan to improve effectiveness.  If rated ineffective for three years in a row, the sponsor will lose its authority to sponsor charter schools.

Sponsors rated poor will no longer be able to serve as sponsors, unless they are reprieved through an appeals process.  The ODE is gearing-up to take over the sponsorship of charter schools now being sponsored by the 21 sponsors rated poor.

The measures and rating categories for the new evaluation were developed by an independent panel after the USDOE threatened to withhold a $35 million federal charter school grant awarded to Ohio in 2015.   The USDOE questioned Ohio’s grant application, after it became known that data from certain online charter schools and dropout recovery charter schools were omitted from charter school sponsor evaluations included in the grant application.  The ODE had to assure the USDOE officials that it would implement a new charter school sponsor evaluation and report the results in October 2016, and meet other requirements to eventually receive the grant, which was awarded last month.

The sponsor evaluation process was almost derailed in August 2016 when the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) rejected a proposed rule that outlined how charter school sponsors would demonstrate compliance with laws and rules.  Instead of revising and resubmitting the rule, which would have delayed the evaluations, Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria opted to use a current rule, to meet the October 15, 2016 deadline.

See http://education.ohio.gov/Media/Media-Releases/Community-School-Sponsor-Evaluations-Released#.WAKDIDKZNMY

Complaint Filed Against Charter School Network:  A law firm representing the Turkish government filed a complaint on October 11, 2016 asking State Auditor David Yost to investigate 17 charter schools allegedly linked to Fethulluh Gulen, a Turkish spiritual leader, who has been living in seclusion in Pennsylvania for years. The charter schools operate in Ohio under the brands Horizon Science Academies and Noble Academies, and are affiliated with the Concept Schools management company.

The schools are allegedly associated with a global organization known as the Gulen movement. The network includes about 150 schools throughout the United States operating under a variety of names.  For example, in California the schools are called Magnolia Science Academies, while in Texas the schools operate under the name Harmony Schools or Science Academies.

The Turkish government hired Robert Amsterdam and his Washington-based law firm, Amsterdam and Partners, to conduct an investigation of the Gulen network, and turn the Ohio results over to Ohio State Auditor David Yost.  The results of the investigation were shared at a news conference held in Columbus and hosted by ProgressOhio on October 11, 2016.

The investigation found examples of fraud, conflicts of interest, and misuse of tax dollars at the charter schools.

According to the law firm’s report, the schools in Ohio generate $19 million in profits from taxpayer revenue through real estate deals and other business transactions. The investigation found that some of the members of the schools’ governing boards have ties to the real estate company, and serve on multiple school governing boards.

The Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has asked the U.S. government to extradite Fethulluh Gulen, who the government believes is behind a failed coup in Turkey last summer.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Auditor Yost said that his office will review the complaint, in the same manner as they do all complaints.

See “Lawyer for Turkey refers Ohio charter schools to auditor,” by Julie Carr Smyth, The Washington Post, October 11, 2016 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/lawyer-for-turkey-refers-ohio-charter-schools-to-auditor/2016/10/11/e4be116a-8fbe-11e6-bc00-1a9756d4111b_story.html

See “Turkey wants schools in Ohio investigated,” by Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch, October 12, 2016 at http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/10/11/charter-school-chain-fleecing-taxpayers-attorneys-for-the-turkish-government-alleged.html

ECOT Files Appeals: Lawyers for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), an online charter school in central Ohio, appealed last week a recent court decision and the results of an attendance audit conducted by the ODE.

The court ruling was appealed to the 10th District Court of Appeals and the audit was appealed to the State Board of Education.

The Ohio Department of Education released on September 26, 2016 the results of an attendance audit, which found that the school was overpaid $64 million for 9,000 students that were not in attendance.

Judge Jenifer French with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas denied on September 30, 2016 ECOT’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt the ODE’s attendance audit of the school.

See “ECOT online charter school appeals two rulings that threaten $60 million in funding,” by Patrick O’Donnell, The Plain Dealer, October 12, 2016 at http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/10/ecot_online_charter_school_appeals_two_rulings_that_threaten_60_million_in_funding.html

FYI ARTS

Makerspace Includes the Arts: Patrick Waters, a science and math teacher at the Monarch School of Houston, Texas, writes about creating a space for his students with disabilities to learn by creating and experimenting.

He created a makerspace called STEAMworks, that integrates the arts and STEM subjects.  For example, one of his students designed and made prototype chocolate bars using a 3D printer.  Then working with students in a graphic arts class, the students collaborated to design the labeling and packaging for the chocolate bars.

Working with a theatre company the students created props and puppets for a performance and a 15 minute video.

According to the article, “Maker education, and makerspaces in general, open up incredible avenues for STEAM education.”

The article includes tips and resources for learning more about maker education.

See “Tips for taking STEM to STEAM,” by Patrick Waters, SmartBrief, October 10, 2016 at http://smartbrief.com/original/2016/10/stem-steam


Arts On Line serves 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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