Corky O'Callaghan

Bringing Us Together

As we all know, we live in a politically divided nation where the level of trust has fallen to a dangerously low point.  However, there is a silver lining and reason for hope.  It is our children.  When we focus on the needs of our children rather than the needs of adults, we come together as citizens.  I’ve observed this happening time after time over the past 30 years as citizens have come together to pass school tax issues in order to meet the educational needs of the children in their communities.  With the creation of the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network, once again, children are the focal point of this grassroots movement to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy.


Some Food for Thought

Here is some food for thought from a veteran school teacher:  “Students crank out endless final products every day and night.  Teachers correct volumes of such low-quality work; it’s returned to the students and often tossed in the wastebasket.  Little in it is memorable or significant, and little in it engenders personal or community pride.  I feel that schools need to get off this treadmill approach and shift their focus from quantity to quality.”  This quote is from Ron Berger in his book, An Ethic of Excellence:  Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students.  A public school teacher in western Massachusetts for 25 years, Mr.  Berger works with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Local Forum Created to Discuss Education Policy

Citizens in the Talawanda City School District are being given the opportunity to help shape statewide education policy in Ohio.  Two-hundred and thirty-three residents have already joined the Talawanda Community Advocacy for Public Education (T-CAPE) Facebook Group which was launched in August by the Talawanda School District Community Advisory Board.  T-CAPE is a voluntary group of citizens who receive regular news updates about public education legislation and then meet to discuss how it impacts the students in their school district.  The next meeting of T-CAPE will be November 27.

Would Mean More Local Control

The sponsor of newly introduced Senate Bill 216 told WOSU Radio on Wednesday that he wants to roll back almost a hundred requirements on Ohio’s public school districts.  These requirements range from mandates on school personnel to directives for students in classrooms.  The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Matt Huffman of Lima, said it would mean more local control – and he wants to go further.  “Frankly, if we could eliminate all state requirements and have to do what the federal government is making us to, that’s where I would want to go.”

Bill Introduced to Roll Back Mandates

Arguing that superintendents are often better positioned to make judgment calls than state lawmakers and policymakers, a state senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to roll back nearly 100 mandates imposed on schools, according to a story reported yesterday in the Toledo Blade.  “The problem is really the disconnect from the folks in tall buildings…who have a good idea, and it makes sense on paper, and then you try to apply it,” said Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who introduced the bill based on input from a group of 40 west-central school superintendents who are helping to lead a grass roots movement (the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network) to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy.

Positive Reaction from His Staff

Last Wednesday, I posted a powerful interview reported on with North Olmsted City Schools Superintendent Mike Zalar who spoke out with great clarity about the impact of Ohio’s testing and accountability system.  He followed up by sharing the interview with his school district staff.  Here are some examples of the positive feedback he received:

  • This is phenomenal and I appreciate you further sharing your views, providing background and additional resources, and for speaking up for the education system.  Seriously, thank you!!
  • Very well said – and hurray for those who can finally say the Emperor has no clothes.  Enough is enough and making our staff, kids and parents feel inadequate through an arbitrary and politically motivated system of “grades” is educationally unsound and morally wrong.  Let me know how I can get actively involved as this is EXACTLY the reason I left the private sector world and joined our district.
  • Wow.  Thank you!  I agree with all of your sentiments and I am impressed that you had the courage to go on the record with such strong statements given your position as our superintendent.  Hopefully this opens the door… Continue reading

Working Together for a Common Pupose

For the past 25 years, I’ve seen firsthand how concerned citizens will drop whatever else they are doing and come together to pass tax issues and address other challenges facing their schools and communities.  This willingness to step up and make a difference is the engine now driving the grass roots movement being led by the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network to give citizens a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy.  In her new book, Who We Choose to Be, Margaret Wheatley explains why citizens relish the opportunity to work together for a common purpose:  “In a world preoccupied with meaningless tasks, people are ever more eager to engage in work that offers a chance to contribute, to remember how good it is to be a thinking, contributing colleague.  These days, having one good conversation can reintroduce us to what it feels like to be in a satisfying human relationship.  The same is true when we have the opportunity to think together and come up with a solution to a troubling problem.”