Ohio Public School Advocacy Network
The frank and open community conversation about the Deer Park City Schools (Ohio) that led to the overwhelming passage two years ago of a major operating levy is evolving to address two separate but related current concerns. Faced with an important decision about the district’s elementary school, Deer Park Superintendent Jeff Langdon is preparing to build upon his district’s levy discussion and engage his community in another important conversation regarding both the future of that elementary school and the loss of local tax dollars to privately owned charter schools. Jeff explains that he has been discussing these issues with a dozen or so key citizens in his school district for the past few months and that this core group will be scheduling 30 to 40 coffee discussions beginning in January 2016 to address these concerns.
On September 30, officials from the Vandalia-Butler City School District, Butler Township and the City of Vandalia met to discuss how the increase in government intrusion and resulting loss of local control are impacting not just their schools but their entire community. “We’ve all been hit hard by reductions in local funding from the state,” reported Vandalia-Butler Schools Superintendent Brad Neavin. He added that: “As a result of our recent meeting, the city manager, township administrator and I will be working together to create a comprehensive list of unfunded state mandates that are impacting our entire community.” The plan then is for city, township and school district officials to hold a series of coffee discussions regarding these unfunded mandates with citizens throughout the community.
In one Ohio school district, the growing desire to take back local control is no longer just an educational concern. On September 30, officials from the Vandalia-Butler City School District, Butler Township and the City of Vandalia will be meeting to discuss how the increase in government intrusion and resulting loss of local control are impacting not just their schools but their entire community. “Local public officials here are beginning to realize that we have a lot in common when it comes to our concern about the loss of local control,” stated Vandalia-Butler Superintendent Brad Neavin, one of the leaders in a grass roots initiative to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping statewide education policy. “Whether it is reducing state funding, instituting burdensome EPA rules and regulations or implementing some other government mandate, the ultimate impact is the continuing erosion of local control of our communities.”
On Monday, a newly formed coalition of superintendents from southwest Ohio held a news conference announcing the formation of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network. The mission of this network of 41 school districts is to launch a grass roots initiative to help take back local control of the public schools in the Buckeye state. The link to the coverage of this announcement by the Cincinnati Enquirer is below:
Tomorrow, a newly formed coalition of superintendents from southwest Ohio is holding a news conference to announce the formation of the School Advocacy Network. The mission of this network of nearly 40 school districts is to launch a grass roots initiative to help take back local control of the public schools in the Buckeye state. To accomplish this goal, citizens will be engaged in frank and open conversations about how the education reform movement is impacting their school systems and communities. These conversations will include parent meetings, discussions with community leaders, informal coffee conversations in people’s homes and district-wide state of the schools meetings. Deer Park City Schools Superintendent Jeff Langdon is one of the superintendents who will be speaking at Monday’s news conference and he summed up why the School Advocacy Network was formed: “Our students are being over tested, our teachers are being overwhelmed by the burdens being placed upon them by the state and our tax dollars are being siphoned away from our public schools to charter schools. It is time to let our communities know what is happening.”
On May 6, the North Olmsted City Council passed a resolution urging Ohio’s Governor and General Assembly to ensure both greater accountability for the state’s charter schools and responsible funding for traditional public schools. Below is the full text of the resolution.
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CITY OF NORTH OLMSTED RESOLUTION NO. 2015— 36
By: Council Member Kearney and Council members Barker, Brossard, Hemann, Limpert, Schumann & Williamson
A RESOLUTION URGING THE GOVERNOR OF OHIO AND THE OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CHANGE OR ENACT STATE LAW THAT ENSURES GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY FOR OHIO’S CHARTER/COMMUNITY SCHOOLS AND RESPONSIBLE FUNDING FOR TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY, AS AMENDED.
WHEREAS, good local schools are critical for attracting and retaining residents and employers in Ohio’ s communities; and
WHEREAS, a fully funded system of public education is mandated by the Ohio Constitution; and by $515 million dollars in 2014 2015 compared to aggregate state funding in 2010 2011; and
WHEREAS, aggregate state funding for Ohio’ s traditional public school districts remained relatively flat from 2010 to 2014 while aggregate state funding for … Continue reading
On November 21 of last year, 60 superintendents met in Columbus to kick off an initiative that I believe will prove to be historically significant for the children who attend Ohio’s public schools. The initiative is to provide citizens with a stronger voice in shaping the statewide education policy impacting them and their local schools. In a day-long meeting hosted by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators this past Tuesday, the superintendents leading this grass roots effort provided an update on their work to their colleagues. Included in the update were:
- videos produced by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County highlighting how high stakes teting, the charter school movement and the loss of local control are impacting our schools and communities,
- a resolution passed by the Vandalia-Butler City Schools Board of Education to take back local control,
- a progress report on how superintendents in southwest Ohio are engaging their citizens in discussions about how education policy in the Buckeye state is impacting them and their local schools,
- tips on how to generate successful coffee discussions – which is the subject of my next blog,
- the results of county-wide surveys reporting on how citizens view statewide… Continue reading
In January of 2014, the public school superintendents in Lorain County, Ohio, launched an initiative to engage their citizens in a frank and open discussion about how our nation’s education reform movement is impacting their local schools and communities. To help stimulate that discussion, they have created videos documenting how the proliferation of charter schools and high stakes testing is affecting the students, teachers and taxpayers in their school districts. These videos are right on target and well worth taking the time to view.
On May 15, the 16 public school superintendents in Lorain County convened with local business leaders to discuss the issues of local control, testing and charter schools. Here is a link to the report on what was discussed.
In my last blog, I shared the resolution passed by the Vandalia-Butler Board of Education to take back local control of its public schools. I would like to follow up by reporting on what the local newspaper editor had to say about it.