Ohio Public School Advocacy Network
In a recent Cincinnati Enquirer article entitled “How much money do we send to charters?” superintendents in the greater Cincinnati area expressed their concern that Ohio’s charter schools are not doing better than traditional public schools and in many cases are doing much worse. They asserted that charter schools should be held to the same transparency and accountability as traditional public schools and the rules should be changed to ensure that no local levy money goes to charters. These Cincinnati area superintendents are members of the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network which is leading a grass roots movement to provide Ohio’s citizens with a stronger voice in shaping education policy and return local control to their public schools.
Last Wednesday night, West Clermont Local Schools Superintendent Keith Kline didn’t mince any words in sharing with his community how the education reform movement is impacting the teachers, students and taxpayers in his Ohio school district. In a public meeting designed to kick off West Clermont’s Public School Advocacy initiative, Keith told it like it is: “As you know, public education has been under fire for a long time now. Funding continues to dwindle, we send more and more of our resources to poorly performing, for-profit charter schools and the entire teaching profession continues to be demeaned…Enough is enough!…Quality education has a direct impact on the quality of life in our country. Our kids deserve better.” He explained that while there has been some movement in Columbus around charter school accountability, there are still major issues around funding, evaluation of teachers, the burden of assessments and the destruction of public education as we know it. On Thursday following his Wednesday night meeting, I spoke with Keith and asked him how it went. He said “it couldn’t have gone much better…most of the 75 people in attendance which included a good cross-section of the… Continue reading
One of the reasons why I wrote America’s Schools at a Turning Point and do this blogging is my deep passion about the pressing need to engage the American people in a frank and open discussion about how the education reform movement is impacting their public schools, their communities and them, personally. Having worked in many school districts throughout Ohio and Arizona, I am convinced that if our citizens were aware of what is really happening to their schools many would storm the halls of their state’s policymakers and demand they put a stop to it. Some hard evidence that our communities are primed and ready to take some action can be found in the results of an opinion survey conducted this spring (May 6-8, 2015) in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren Counties, Ohio. Here are some of the highlights generated by the survey:
- When asked what level of government should have the most control over the direction of their public schools, the majority (50.7%) of citizens in these four counties said locally elected school boards. Only 36.5% believe policy decisions made at the state level are in the best interest of students.
- The vast… Continue reading
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