The author of The Pitfalls of Reform, John Tanner believes that we need to build a better mousetrap if we are ever to get past this era of test-based accountability. In a recent podcast, he talks about his work in helping to create statewide “true accountability” systems. John has been in Ohio several times and is currently engaged in discussions about kicking off a true accountability initiative here.
Has the exponential growth of EdChoice school districts for the 2020-2021 school year created enough concern that Ohio’s lawmakers will mitigate the damage that school vouchers inflict on public school budgets? In a recent guest editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Susie Kaeser addresses this pivotal question. A long-time community supporter of public education, Susie is co-founder of the Heights Coalition for Public Education, a community support organization for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District. She also serves as the education specialist for the League of Women Voters of Ohio and on the transition team for the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network’s initiative to bring citizens together to make a difference for public education.
Yesterday, superintendents representing different regions of Ohio met in Columbus to discuss challenges and opportunities facing their public schools. One of the topics that was addressed is the grassroots initiative of the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy. As a result of yesterday’s discussion, the groundwork was laid for expanding this grassroots initiative from 10 to 20 school districts this coming year.
As we approach the close of what has been a politically turbulent year, there is hopeful news to report. A newly released national opinion survey reveals that 73% of the public believes there is more common ground among the American people than the news media and political leaders portray. If this is true, and I think it is, it bodes well for the future of the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network which is being built upon a foundation of finding common ground within our communities to discuss important statewide policy concerns impacting our local schools.
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is getting slammed by Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program. According to Heights School Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, nearly 1,300 students in her school system have taken vouchers and scholarships to attend private schools. She said the district is footing much of the bill for their tuition which amounts to a loss of $4.2 million for the last fiscal year and an estimated loss of $6.8 million this fiscal year.
According to one nationally recognized sleep expert, the research is clear. Schools should start later for teens. At first glance, the solution to the negative consequences of teen sleep deprivation is clear. Just move start times up. Unfortunately, it is not that simple or easy. Changing school start times impacts families and the community in many ways, and without public discussion and support, the push back to later start times can be severe. The degree of push back may now be tested in California where the Governor signed into law on October 13 a bill requiring many California middle and high schools to start classes later in the morning.
Acknowledged as a world leader in education excellence, Singapore has taken a major step in enabling its students to focus on learning rather than on how they compare with one another. A year ago, it abolished school exam rankings.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Philip Jackson, Robert Boostrom and David Hanson wrote a book called The Moral Life of Schools. In it they made the following observation: “To anyone who takes a close look at what goes on in classrooms it becomes quickly evident that our schools do much more than pass along requisite knowledge to the students attending them (or fail to do so, as the case may be). They also influence the way those students look upon themselves and others. They affect the way learning is valued and sought after and lay the foundations of lifelong habits of thought and action. They shape opinion and develop taste, helping to form liking and aversions. They contribute to the growth of character and, in some instances, they may even be a factor in its corruption.”
In his book, Beyond Test Scores: A Better Way to Measure School Quality, Jack Schneider reports that, by the time he or she finishes high school, the average American student will have sat through 10 standardized tests a year for at least seven years.
In Hawaii, educators are shifting their focus from producing good schools to finding ways for schools and communities to share ownership of public education. For example, local environmental groups are working as full partners with Hawaii’s schools to jointly design curricula and teach students. Working as full partners is a major paradigm shift in the traditional relationship between our public schools and their communities.