Ohio Public School Advocacy Network

Encouraging Parents to Contact Their Legislators

The statewide initiative to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping education policy in the Buckeye state continues to grow.  In a recent email blast to parents, Avon Lake City Schools Superintendent Bob Scott explained that he recognizes the need for assessments and accountability and knows that it is important for families and community members to have information about how their schools are performing:  “However, Ohio is currently struggling to find the right balance.  Like many of you, I think we need a more balanced approach to improving accountability and equity.  Today, there is simply too much state testing.  That’s why I’ve been recommending (and will continue to strongly advocate) that Ohio reduce the subjects being tested at each grade level.  The state tests do not improve student learning and instruction.  Instead, we use our own local assessments to monitor student progress and modify instruction when data show we have areas for improvement.”  In his letter, Bob also encouraged parents to help deliver the message that it is time for a more balanced approach to assessments – that our children need testing relief and local school… Continue reading

A Small Group of Thoughtful, Committed Superintendents

This past week, I had an opportunity to meet with some of the superintendents who are helping to lead the statewide initiative to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping education policy in the Buckeye state.  As in any effort that is this ambitious, the challenges can sometimes appear to be a bit overwhelming.  In discussing some of these challenges, I recalled one of my favorite quotes from the highly acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead who stated:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Throughout my career of trying to help educational leaders pass tax issues and meet other difficult challenges, I’ve observed how small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world education in their own school districts. Today, I’m observing how a growing number of thoughtful, committed superintendents are changing the world of education throughout Ohio.

Starting Point for a Much-needed Conversation

Bath Local Schools Superintendent Dale Lewellen has joined a growing number of superintendents who are leading a statewide initiative to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping education policy in the Buckeye state.  Tuesday night, he shared the education documentary, “Rise Above the Mark,” with the members of his Board of Education.  The documentary was created by Rocky Killion, superintendent of the West Lafayette School Corporation in West Lafayette, Indiana, to alert the general public about what he calls the “corporate takeover” of our nation’s public schools.  In addition, Dale gave his Board members copies of America’s Schools at a Turning Point:  And how we THE PEOPLE can help shape their future and will lead a book discussion with them this spring or early summer.  He explained that “this is simply a starting point for a much-needed frank and open conversation with the citizens of our school district about how the education reform movement is impacting our school system and community.”

Strong Support from His Community

In a recent blog, I shared the testimony of Deer Park City Schools Superintendent Jeff Langdon before Ohio’s Senate Education Committee regarding student testing.  Jeff is one the leaders of the statewide initiative to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping education policy in the Buckeye state.  In his written testimony, he stated that “our teachers and students are exhausted from the test prep and test anxiety.  Our parents are growing more and more frustrated.  To be very direct, parents have had enough of excessive, state-mandated testing and they want their children to receive an education that is innovative, creative and engaging, not one that requires them to take a barrage of assessments to appease state mandates.”  When Jeff returned to his district, he shared his testimony with his school staff, posted it on his district’s website, Facebook and twitter, and emailed it to 1,500 email addresses in his district’s database and to every business in his community.  “The reaction to my testimony was phenomenal,” he said.  “We had nearly 4,000 responses from my community and throughout the state, and they were overwhelmingly supportive of the need to… Continue reading

Discussing His Concerns with Parents and the Community

In a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross, Little Miami Local Schools Superintendent Greg Power shared the sentiments of many superintendents throughout Ohio:   “As an advocate for the children of the Little Miami Learning Community, I can no longer remain silent regarding the legislated testing and assessment madness that has been thrust upon our schools.  What has been occurring over the last several years and what is about to be unleashed upon our students and staff is nothing short of government malpractice.”  I recently spoke with Greg and asked him if he planned to discuss his concerns with his parents and community.  He said yes and provided the following update:

“I met with our District PTO parent reps, reviewed the contents of my letter to the state superintendent and discussed more specific details of our concerns with state assessment.  In addition, each PTO rep received two copies of America’s Schools at a Turning Point (one for themselves, and one to give to a friend).  As a result of this meeting, I am now meeting with our individual building PTO’s in evening meetings that are being promoted to parents.  … Continue reading

Superintendents’ Efforts Appreciated

The fact that a growing number of school superintendents are taking a stand on high stakes testing and its impact on both students and teachers isn’t going unnoticed.  A Cincinnati Enquirer article published last Thursday reports that more area school parents are taking a “none of the above” stance and yanking their kids from what they say is excessive new testing and some area school superintendents are joining them by taking rare, public positions in opposition to state education officials’ backing of new Common Core-inspired testing for grades three through 12 in Ohio.  Lakota school parent Ann Becker, who has opted her three children out of the testing in the Butler County district, praised superintendents’ recent criticisms.  “I’m very encouraged by it and I think more superintendents will start to step up,” said Becker, who is also President of the Cincinnati Tea Party and a long-time critic of Common Core.  The more people talk about the testing, the more people are realizing it doesn’t benefit kids and the opposition is starting to snowball,” said Becker.


Re-gaining Control of Our Public Schools

Add Todd Schmutz to the growing list of Ohio superintendents who are sharing with their communities how the education reform movement is impacting their schools and communities.  Superintendent of the Pandora-Gilboa Local Schools, Todd wrote in his district’s February newsletter and posted on his school district website that he “understands the need for public schools to be held accountable; however these increasing accountability measures are interfering with the actual instruction of our students.  Accountability of public schools has shifted from local oversight to state control.”  He said he believes our communities need to begin discussing how we re-gain control of our public schools.


When Is Enough, Enough?

In a frank and open letter recently posted on his school district blog, Firelands (Ohio) Superintendent Bob Hill wrote that “in the last several weeks, some of my colleagues across the state have publicly expressed concern pertaining to the legislated testing and assessment lunacy.  I write today to echo this concern and to provide our community, our state board of education, our state superintendent, and our education policy makers with feedback from the front lines of education in the form of this open letter.”

Testimony to the Senate Education Committee

Vandalia-Butler City Schools Superintendent Brad Neavin is one the leaders of the statewide initiative to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping education policy in the Buckeye state.  With his permission, I would like to share his testimony to the Senate Education Committee on February 3.

*          *          *

Good afternoon, Chair Lehner, Vice Chair Hite, and Ranking Member Sawyer.  My name is Brad Neavin, Superintendent of the Vandalia-Butler City School District in Montgomery County.  Go Aviators!  I wish to thank you for this opportunity to offer testimony on the subject of the assessments currently being used in our district.  Specifically, I wish to address how testing impacts our District’s locally developed mission which is to “empower students with knowledge, creativity, and skills to enrich their families, communities, and careers.” 

It is my hope that my testimony will provide you with a glimpse of the perceptions of our community, our educators, and most importantly, our students.  And, I want to keep the focus of my concerns on the question of testing and not Common Core.  In fact, I think… Continue reading

Now Available