Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Criticism of Teachers Becomes Offensive

"A few other realities need to be discussed.  No one is going to become wealthy with an income of $51,000 a year.  The majority of the teachers I hired could not afford to live in the county where they taught.  The unmarried ones usually had roommates; those with children normally commuted more than thirty minutes to find affordable housing; some of my most talented teachers left the teaching profession for other, more lucrative careers.

Teaching is no more of a part time job than farming.  During the ten months classes were in session at my school the parking lot was full by 7:00 a.m. and the majority of those cars were still there at 4:00.  Evenings and weekends were often reserved for grading and lesson planning.  Summers were spent taking classes, refining classroom skills and networking with other teachers.  Some people had to find ways to augment their income by doing a variety of part time jobs.  Which leads to the question—how many bankers or lawyers must tutor or supervise recreation centers to help purchase a second car?"

Read the Entire Article:

What I Learned at School By Marie Myung-Ok Lee

"The tumult over state budgets and collective bargaining rights for public employees has spilled over into resentment toward public school teachers, who are increasingly derided as “glorified baby sitters” whose pay exceeds the value of the work they do"

Read the Entire Article:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30, 2011 Debate on Ohio Senate Bill 5

Anyone interested in Ohio Senate Bill 5 would benefit from listening to the debate that took place. This is the link to the Ohio Senate debate on Senate Bill 5 that took place on March 30, 2011. Senator Seitz begins at about 18:45. Senator Grendell begins at about 30:30 into the session.

"Community" Schools Receive More State Money Than Public Schools On Average

This post is was created by Greg Mild, an educator in central Ohio, on Sunday, March 20, 2011. (Greg testified on the problems with Ohio Senate Bill 5 in front of the Ohio House of Representatives Commerce and Labor Committee on March 14, 2011 which is available here:  Greg Mild's Testimony In Opposition to Ohio Senate Bill 5.) He graciously granted permission for me to share his analysis of Ohio's charter schools here.

"This note has been brewing ever since Governor Kasich's budget announcement.  This may seem like random statistics to some, but just think about how these all piece together to inhibit the positive growth of the local school districts in Ohio. From the skewed school funding model to the misapplied term "community" to the fact that taxpayers are being misled about where their money is being sent, the entire system is corrupt.  And when Republican legislators complain that school unions are "unelected individuals" making decisions about public monies, remind them of how the funding of community schools redirects your tax dollars to "unelected individuals." (The question of "unelected individuals" affecting tax dollars was repeatedly asked of witnesses by Representative Coley during the March 14, 2011 House Commerce and Labor Committee hearing.)

ALL statistics used in this note have been pulled directly from the Ohio Department of Education website unless otherwise noted.

First, let's talk about the community schools that exist in Ohio.  Some schools are sponsored by local districts allowing the district to fund unique initiatives with some more "flexibility" in state oversight. The large majority of community schools are sponsored by non-profit entities and managed by for-profit companies.

Total community schools in Ohio: 339
Number of counties with a sponsored community school: 37 (out of 88)
Number of counties with a sponsor that is not a local school district: 23
Number of community schools in eight counties: 265 (Franklin, Cuyahoga, Lucas, Montgomery, Hamilton, Summit, Mahoning, Lorain)

To recap, we have for-profit community schools in only 23 out of 88 counties in Ohio and 78% of those schools are concentrated in only eight of those counties.  Would you be surprised to find those counties surrounding our major cities?  Here's a map:

Let's look at some of our top sponsors:

Buckeye Community Hope Foundation: 39 schools in 9 different counties
"BCHF seeks to foster and nurture productive relationships with Ohio community schools, providing ongoing guidance and professional oversight geared toward the success of community schools and their students. Realizing that community schools must be both educationally and fiscally sound, BCHF brings to its sponsorship role an unparalleled understanding of both teaching and the business of teaching. It is uniquely qualified to assist operators of community schools in creating educational systems that are both effective and self-sufficient." (
Did you catch that?  Buckeye Hope doesn't actually operate the schools.  They sponsor other organizations to help run the schools.  Follow the money . . .

Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc.: 23 schools in 5 counties
ERCO was founded in February 2005. We are an educational consulting firm that specializes in authorizing community schools." (
That's it.  That's their complete history.  A member of their 6-man advisory board includes this information in his bio: "James Brown has been the administrator of Life Skills Center – Dayton since it was established in 2005 and this school was recently selected as the model school within the White Hat Management Organization."  You'll also notice that these consultants help get the schools up and running for an additional organization to actually run the schools.  Follow the money . . .

Kids Count of Dayton, Inc: 12 schools in 3 counties
"Wright Dunbar, a school in Academic Emergency the previous year was suspended during the year for violating the academic standards of Community Schools. The suspension was lifted in early 2007 however; the school did not reopen for the remainder of the academic school year. Kids Count, made continuous contacts to secure all records and assets of that school with no success." Kids Count of Dayton, Inc., Sponsorship Annual Report, 2006-2007
"Kids Count of Dayton, Inc., which sponsors nine schools around the state, was given 45 days by Taylor to submit a written plan to assist the school to prepare its documents for an audit. Kids Count also is prevented from opening any new charter schools as long as Montessori Renaissance Experience’s books remain unauditable." Dayton Daily News, 3/17/2008.
But rest assured:
  • "Kids Count of Dayton is a non-profit organization and therefore does not profit from its business."
  • "The office was staffed with an executive director, administrative assistant, and three consultants in the areas of curriculum, finance, and governance."
  • "Personnel Costs: $460,586; Benefits $92,117"
And finally, why does Kids Count of Dayton have half of its schools in Cincinnati and Columbus?  Follow the money . . .

Lucas County Educational Service Center: 67 schools in 16 counties

I repeat, the Lucas County ESC sponsors community schools in 16 different counties.  Only 10 of the schools are actually located in Lucas County.

There isn't much to add about this one except to once again point out the obvious that they do not operate these buildings.  Their staff of 12 consultants simply take their cut as they get permission from the state and then turn over the reigns of the school to any number of different companies (at least 16 by my count).  The most common company is Summit Academy Schools ( who incidentally also have three schools sponsored by the aforemention Kids Count of Dayton.  The Lucas County ESC website is devoid of meaningful information (

Ohio Council of Community Schools: 39 schools in 10 counties
"Ohio Council of Community Schools, established in 1999, is a not-for-profit organization responsible for issuing and overseeing charters for Community Schools throughout Ohio. These Charters serves as contractual agreements regarding school’s standards, budgets, and operating principles. We are proven and experienced, and provide charters to numerous Community Schools across the state." (
OCCS is based out of Toledo and partners with 8 school management companies, 6 of whom are based out-of-state.  Follow the money . . .

And finally, my favorite:

St. Aloysius Orphanage: 42 schools in 10 counties
I honestly was unaware that we had so many orphans in Ohio.

"St. Aloysius shares your desire to create a better life for children and families in our community through education. We can help you start a school without having to balance the needs of traditional school systems and teachers unions.
We contract with Charter School Specialists to provide you with a high quality team to address and meet the needs of existing and new community schools.  For more information about our charter school sponsorship program please contact us at 513-242-7600."  (

Charter School Specialists is a link that takes you to . . .
"Charter School Specialists was founded in 2004 by Dave L. Cash after working extensively at the Ohio Department of Education as an Education Consultant for charter schools throughout Ohio. Previously Mr. Cash served as a Principal for eight years working with urban at-risk children. Today, Charter School Specialists employs over fifteen experts in various education and financial disciplines specializing in charter schools.
At Charter School Specialists we assist developers, education management organizations, and school districts. Our team provides technical assistance related to the development of charter school applications and contracts; and guides developers through the charter school start-up process. We provide technical assistance to charter schools from pre-operation planning, through early operations, and ongoing school improvement and data management.
Charter School Specialists has assisted in the successful development and implementation of over 80 schools. We have a stellar reputation in the charter school movement and exist to provide value to the school choice public education system." (
For the record, Dave L. Cash does not hold any educator certificate or license in the state of Ohio.  This is easily verified through the Ohio Department of Education website.
Secondly, while the other sponsors I've mentioned sponsor a company that runs the school, St. Aloysius actually seems to sponsor a sponsor, who then sponsors a company to run the school.  St. Aloysius is a registered 501(c)3 (non-profit organization), but Charter School Specialists is a Limited Liability Company (LLC).  With the exception of ERCO which doesn't claim to be a company, but a group of consultants, all of the others I've mentioned are considered non-profits. In this last case, however, we have a for-profit company sponsoring for-profit companies.  Follow the money . . .

The Money
It is widely known that Ohio's school funding model has been ruled unconstitutional.  It is probably less widely understood that Ohio distributes tax dollars inequitably across school districts.  There is a state average, but the amount that is used to provide state funding has complex factors which include the ability of a local district to raise revenue and a mix of special education factors.  In FY09, for instance, the Olentangy Local School District received per pupil state revenue of $1,573.00, while the East Cleveland City School District received per pupil state revenue of $10,044.  I certainly think the case can be made on either side of that gap to question the fairness, but neither district represents the lowest or highest percentage of per pupil revenue in the state.  Likewise, it can get murky when trying to compare two districts that my be very different in terms of local economics.

Instead, let's look at the distribution of state tax dollars to community schools and their surrounding school districts. Dollar amounts are from Ohio Department of Education FY09.

Franklin County includes 16 local school districts with an average per pupil state revenue of $3,957.94.  New Albany-Plain Local SD is the lowest at $1,673.00 and Whitehall City SD is the highest at $6,254.00.

Community schools in Franklin County received an average per pupil state revenue of $9,416.81.  Life Skills Center of Columbus North is the lowest at $6,011.67 and Noble Academy-Columbus at $65,376.66.  That is not a misprint.  The Ohio Department of Education reports the as the per pupil revenue number for Noble Academy.  I'm willing to consider that number as being a data quirk, but what about the next five highest amounts?

$14,369.93 -- Scholarts Preparatory School and Career Center for Children
$15,471.46 -- Summit Academy Middle School-Columbus
$16,550.01 -- FCI Academy
$21,396.76 -- Summit Academy Transition High School Columbus
$28,902.61 -- Oakstone Community School

Could these all be quirks?  In fact, 49 Franklin County community schools are reported to have received state revenue in excess of Whitehall City SD's amount.  To clarify, on average, a Franklin County community school is paid $5458.87 more per pupil, over twice the amount that local school districts receive.  Where does that money come from?  It is deducted from the amounts the school districts receive.  The state sets the per pupil "foundation" funding amount and then reduces the amount paid to districts by imposing a charge off (accounts for growth in property value) that results in the district receiving approximately 40% of the foundation amount.  Community schools are funded in a slightly different way.
"Community school students are counted as part of the funded enrollment base for school districts and payments to community schools are deducted from the foundation payment of the school district where the community school student resides." (
What this means is that the community school is paid the full foundation amount for each student.  Have you heard the argument that community schools don't receive local taxes?  Technically that's true, but local districts are equally penalized by the state for receiving those taxes, so it''s essentially equalized through the state funding process.

Another very important piece of information that I don't want to lose is the flow of money.  Community school students are calculated into the full funding amount (enrollment base) allocated to a district.  Once that full amount is calculated, then the payments are made to the community schools and districts.  The state counts the funding against the local district.  While the community schools received 100% of the per pupil amount, districts only receive their funding after the charge off, approximately 42% of the per pupil amount.  These are state taxpayer dollars.  Follow the money . . .

As I mentioned above, East Cleveland City SD received the highest per pupil revenue amount in Ohio. By comparison, 45 community schools across the state received per pupil revenue in excess of $11,000.

Which sponsors are receiving the bulk of our taxes?  Average per pupil amounts  are listed below.

$9,891.35 - Buckeye Community Hope Foundation
$7,140.72 - Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio, Inc.
$11,656.79 - Kids Count of Dayton, Inc
$12,096.12 - Lucas County Educational Service Center
$7,901.98 - Ohio Council of Community Schools
$7,815.31 - St. Aloysius Orphanage

For comparison, the average for school districts in Ohio's major counties where these community schools operate.

$4,076.68 - Cuyahoga County school districts
$7,972.16 - Cuyahoga County community schools

$3,957.94 - Franklin County school districts
$9,416.81 - Franklin County community schools

$3,898.18 - Hamilton County school districts
$8,222.72 - Hamilton County community schools

$4,140.14 - Lorain County school districts
$10,563.52 - Lorain County community schools

$3,764.38 - Lucas County school districts
$10,674.71 - Lucas County community schools

$4,733.93 - Mahoning County school districts
$9,973.40 - Mahoning County community schools

$4,903.56 - Montgomery County school districts
$9,303.61 - Montgomery County community schools

$3,724.82 - Summit County school districts
$9,345.75 - Summit County community schools

These numbers represent YOUR state tax dollars at work.  Follow the money . . .

And finally, when someone challenges you by saying that community schools don't receive any federal funding, mention that the Ohio Department of Education distributed:

Federal Charter School Grant funds to community schools in Ohio:
$13,127,140.81 in FY08
$9,631,732.50 in FY09
$10,442,565.76 in FY10
Including a top award of $550,000.00 each to five different schools.

Consolidated Federal Title Funds
$78,347,226.27 in FY08
$92,282,995.69 in FY09
$105,835,747.65 in FY10

ARRA Federal Title Funds
$69,548,505.52 in FY10

Follow the money . . ."

Greg Mild

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When Standardized Test Scores Soared In D.C., Were The Gains Real?

"A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.'s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes' classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones....

In 2007-08, six classrooms out of the eight taking tests at Noyes were flagged by McGraw-Hill because of high wrong-to-right erasure rates. The pattern was repeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, when 80% of Noyes classrooms were flagged by McGraw-Hill.

On the 2009 reading test, for example, seventh-graders in one Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on answer sheets; the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than 1. The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians consulted by USA TODAY.

"This is an abnormal pattern," says Thomas Haladyna, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University who has studied testing for 20 years."

Read the Full Article:
USA Today Article on Testing Irregularities in DC Schools

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fremont City Council Opposes Ohio Senate Bill 5

"In other news, council passed a resolution that councilman James Melle wrote and presented to council at the March 3 meeting regarding Senate Bill 5 opposition. Councilman Richard Root was the only member to abstain from voting.

Ohio's Senate Bill 5, if passed, would reduce collective bargaining rights for public employees in the state.

However, the resolution council passed, states that in the opinion of council the changes currently in the bill nearly eliminate the legitimate rights of public employees to collectively bargain with their employer and it would prohibit binding arbitration, a process long accepted by both labor and management as a workable procedure for resolving employment issues. The resolution goes on to state that the existing collective bargaining law has worked well in the city. The resolution also states if this bill becomes law, it will lead to lower morale among employees and an unnecessary loss of employee rights."

Read the Full Article:
Fremont City Council Opposes Ohio Senate Bill 5

Senate Bill 5 Will Destroy Upper Arlington's Excellence

This was a letter to the editor written by Christopher Swartz, an outstanding social studies teacher at Upper Arlington High School. It appeared in the Upper Arlington News Suburban News Publication on Thursday, March 17, 2011.

"Since early February, firefighters, police officers, school employees and union supporters have been attacked relentlessly by the governor, several state senators and a local daily newspaper. These attacks have come as a result of Senate Bill 5, which in part, dismantles collective bargaining rights for public servants. The rhetoric from all sides is cacophonous.

The blueprint for a vibrant nation incorporates the unique spirit and customs of local populations. Yet staunch libertarians have discarded principle in a blind allegiance to the State of Ohio, instead of embracing local choice for their community.

John Stuart Mill laments over the loss of unique characteristics and the ascension of mediocrity within society in his classical libertarian essay, On Liberty: "All the political changes of the age promote it, since they all tend to raise the low to lower the high."

Don't denigrate Upper Arlington!

"Upper Arlington is the best place to live in Central Ohio." In part due to " excellent city services" and the schools "recognized nationwide as a leader in quality education. ... For quality city services, great location, exciting community events, a full service business community and state-of-the-art libraries, Upper Arlington is at the top of the list," according to Ohio Magazine.

As a resident and teacher in Upper Arlington, I know the importance of good schools and related high property values. Unfortunately, our schools will not be enhanced by Senate Bill 5. The morale of teachers and school employees is already degrading into malaise. As a result, dedicated, excellent teachers are facing the possibility of being forced to leave Upper Arlington, the state and the profession. Don't let bad law result in devastating such an outstanding community.

Some of our community leaders, school board members and business professionals have expressed privately their concerns over the implementation of Senate Bill 5. It is time for those voices to become public. Speak up! Be proud of UA's unique character and its accomplishments. Help retain and build upon its high standards. Set the bar to the heights to which other communities may aspire."

Christopher Swartz

Senate Bill 5 Will Not Work to Solve State's Many Ails

This letter to the editor appeared in the Upper Arlington Suburban News Publication on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. It was written by Joe Endres an outstanding social studies teacher at Upper Arlington High School

"I am a social studies teacher at Upper Arlington High School, the son and grandson of Ohio public school teachers and a UAHS graduate. I am firmly invested in education and this community's continued success. I love teaching.

UA citizens must be aware that Senate Bill 5 threatens to significantly reduce the incentives necessary to attract highly qualified educators and diminish the school environment. Pension is deferred compensation and health care benefits were offered in lieu of salary increases.

Funding for these benefits is deducted from teachers' salaries. Teachers are compensated less than those in the private sector, even when adjusted for educational level and hours worked. Teachers work evenings, weekends and summers doing grading, instructional preparation and professional development.

Throughout our district, teachers are already planning to leave. It's a matter of simple economics: Some teachers will not be able to take care of their families.

Supporters of Senate Bill 5 claim that it will reduce Ohio's $8 billion deficit. Senate Bill 5 will only reduce the state budget by $200 million and will significantly reduce middle-class spending. It won't work. Senate Bill 5 legislates evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores and value-added formulas that are not valid or reliable.

Education is a public good. Replacing our current system with free market principles will not work. Senate Bill 5 offers no constructive plan for education, other than to decimate the current system.

No child will profit from Senate Bill 5. It threatens to harm school systems, property values and the lives of public employees.

An equitable public education system powered by intelligent and caring teachers is the foundation of a strong republic. I have dedicated my life to this profession and this community. I am fearful. What will happen to UA when there is an exodus of irreplaceably great teachers? Do not underestimate what is at stake: Senate Bill 5 will harm UA and devastate Ohio.

The Upper Arlington Education Association works for everybody! I urge everyone to research Senate Bill 5 and communicate with elected officials and the school board."

Joe Endres

Senate Bill 5 Will Not Work to Solve State's Many Ails

Senate Bill 5 Will Transfer Power to Few

By MAUREEN REEDY, GUEST COLUMNIST for Suburban News Publication 
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 1:36 PM EDT 
Maureen Reedy is an Upper Arlington Schools teacher and the 2002 Ohio Teacher of the Year.

"One of the darkest days in our state's history occurred when Ohio's Senators voted to strip educators, policemen, firefighters, nurses and others of their right to collectively bargain under the guise of "fixing" the state budget.

Ohio's middle-class citizens are not the cause of the current fiscal crisis, yet they are being asked to bear the weight of the state's economic woes. Meanwhile the wealthiest Ohioans have received new tax breaks that cause the state to go further into debt. What is really going on here? Could it be that Gov. John Kasich is making good on his wish to "break the back of organized labor in the schools?"

Ohio's public employees have bargained in good faith and agreed to extend contracts with base pay freezes, implement higher deductible health care plans, reduce employees, address sick leave and workplace-improvement planning policies.

Why is collective bargaining so important? Because it provides all interested parties a seat at the table to come up with the best policies for our kids: class size, instructional resources, professional development, supports for special needs children, an extended school year and more. Without collective bargaining, educators with professional expertise and years of experience in the classroom are left out of the equation. It makes no sense to silence us."

Read the Full Article:
Senate Bill 5 will transfer power to few

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Are Private High Schools Better Academically Than Public High Schools?

"This study, commissioned by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) and conducted by researcher Harold Wenglinsky, was based on statistical analyses of a nationally representative, longitudinal database of students and schools (the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988-2000, or NELS).

Core Findings

The study found that low-income students from urban public high schools generally did as
well academically and on long-term indicators as their peers from private high schools, once key family background characteristics were considered. In particular, the study determined that when family background was taken into account, the following findings emerged:

1. Students attending independent private high schools, most types of parochial high schools, and public high schools of choice performed no better on achievement tests in math, reading, science, and history than their counterparts in traditional public high schools.

2. Students who had attended any type of private high school ended up no more likely to attend college than their counterparts at traditional public high schools.

3. Young adults who had attended any type of private high school ended up with no more job satisfaction at age 26 than young adults who had attended traditional public high schools.

4. Young adults who had attended any type of private high school ended up no more engaged in civic activities at age 26 than young adults who had attended traditional public high schools."

Read the Full Report:
Are Private High Schools Better Academically Than Public High Schools?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bad News for Charter Schools, Worse News for Corporate Charters [2006]

This information on Ohio's charter schools is from Wednesday, August 23, 2006.

"With the federal study just released yesterday [August 22, 2006] showing charters worse or no better than regular public schools, and corporate charters fairing worse than other charters, one need look no further than Ohio to see these findings validated. From the Akron Beacon-Journal:

About 30 percent of Ohio charter school students attend schools in the state's lowest academic rating.
That's an improvement from last year -- when about 63 percent were in schools in the bottom rank.

Still, charter-school critics on Wednesday said the results are unacceptable."


In 2005, Percy Jenkins, Jr. conducted this research as part of his degree requirements at Miami University.

"The results from this study may provide the rational for ODE to review the number of charter schools authorized in Ohio, the criteria used for approval, and the methods currently used for accountability. Further, these results may also prompt school psychologists and other 31 educational intervention specialists to examine: achievement gaps between charter and traditional public students, instructional strengths and weaknesses in charter versus traditional schools, consultative advice offered to families, and modes of assessment to use with charter versus public school students to determine knowledge gaps."

Effective or Not: The Plight of Ohio's Charter Schools

Link to State of Ohio Cuts to Education by District

Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, has obtained the Kasich Administration’s district-by-district breakdowns of school funding cuts, including the reimbursement losses districts will incur from the discontinued business taxes contained in the Governor’s budget proposal. The information is in a spreadsheet layout in .pdf files.

Link to State of Ohio Cuts to Education by District

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Greg Mild's Testimony in Opposition to SB5 - March 14, 2011

[The following testimony was given by Greg Mild of the Columbus Education Association. He granted permission for me to share it here.]

Written Testimony
Ohio House of Representatives
Commerce and Labor Committee, Joseph W. Uecker, Chair

Testimony in Opposition to Senate Bill 5 by:
Gregory P. Mild, Educator, Columbus Education Association

Chair Uecker and members of the committee,

The omnibus amendment of Senate Bill 5 replaced the word merit with performance measures as a means of determining a teacher's salary.  Due to the short timeframe during which the final bill was passed through the committee and the full Senate, I was not permitted to speak to these changes.  Therefore, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my two main concerns with you today.  First, I intend to share facts about the five performance measures in an effort to convince you to remove them from the bill.  Second, I will explain why the use of merit pay in the context of this bill is misguided and will ultimately require additional funding, not less.

In Senate Bill 5, as passed on March 2, section 3306.01, number three, states Each city, exempted village, local, and joint vocational school district shall pay teachers' salaries based upon performance as required under section 3317.13 of the Revised Code. (p.113)
Section 3317.13 first provides the definition of a teacher, reiterates the requirement of a performance-based salary, and then item C reads as follows: 
For purposes of this section, a board shall measure a teacher's performance by considering all of the following:
(1) The level of license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code that the teacher holds;
(2) Whether the teacher is a "highly qualified teacher" as defined in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code;
(3) The value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher's classroom;
(4) The results of the teacher's performance evaluations conducted under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code, any peer review program created by an agreement entered into by a board of education and representatives of teachers employed by that board, or any other system of evaluation used by the board;
(5) Any other criteria established by the board.
(pp. 151-154)

For starters, please note that (C) states "shall measure a teacher's performance by considering all of the following." Not some, not those that apply, but all.

Performance measure number one: “The level of license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code that the teacher holds;”

As of August, 2011, the vast majority of full-time teachers will hold one of seven licenses or certificates: a four-year Resident Educator license, an Alternative Resident Educator license, a five-year Professional license, a five-year Senior Professional Educator license, a five-year Lead Professional Educator license, an eight-year Professional certificate, or a Permanent certificate.  The progression of licenses under updated state law includes limitations that set minimum years of experience. As a result, the inclusion of licensure as a performance measure implicitly places a value on years of experience. A teacher cannot obtain a professional license with fewer than four years of experience (regardless of performance).  A teacher cannot obtain either the Senior Professional or Lead Professional licenses with fewer than 9 years of experience (regardless of performance or credentials).  A teacher holding an 8-year certificate (last issued in 2006) will have at least 17 years of experience, while a teacher who holds a permanent certificate (last issued in 2003) will have at least 20 years of experience.  Therefore, by applying varying values to these licenses, the bill is assigning a value on experience, a specific provision the bill was supposedly intended to remove.
Many teachers hold multiple licenses, but are typically (and technically) only teaching under one at a time (for example, a high school counselor who also has an English license). There are many more iterations that make licensure an extremely complex problem to address.  I spoke with a principal a few weeks ago who was renewing NINE unique licenses.  How will educators who hold multiple licenses be measured if their licenses are assigned different values?
Other licensure components address experience in their own way.  The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards requires a minimum of three years of teaching experience before one can apply for National Board Certification, and to become licensed as a principal in the state of Ohio, one must hold a valid teaching license and have completed three years of teaching experience under that license.  State and federal systems already in place reinforce the idea that experience matters.

Performance measure number two: “Whether the teacher is a ‘highly qualified teacher’ as defined in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code;”
If I didn't know better, I would think this sounded like a reasonable measure.  Unfortunately, it's not what it appears to be.  Being "highly qualified" has an established definition at the federal level.  Teachers are required to report their Highly Qualified Teacher status for the courses they teach.  To clarify this point, only one teacher can be credited for teaching a class.  Immediately, this excludes many educators. In Columbus, nurses, social workers, counselors, resource teachers, some intervention and gifted specialists, and other assorted coordinators do not qualify for reporting purposes. As a result, many of these educators would be unable to meet ALL of the performance requirements. More importantly, consider this text from the Ohio Department of Education's Highly Qualified Teacher Toolkit: "Newly hired and veteran teachers must satisfy the definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT). Veteran teachers must have been [highly qualified] by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Federal regulations require that new and newly hired teachers be highly qualified at the time of hire."   Again, it is against FEDERAL REGULATIONS to employ teachers that are not highly qualified. This performance measure is irrelevant.

Performance measure number three: “The value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher's classroom.”

I want to state up front that I have few qualms with value-added data as an informational tool for school improvement efforts.  However, value-added measures should not be recommended for use in the evaluation of teacher performance.  In Ohio’s current value-added system, only about 30% of all educators receive value-added data. Three zero - thirty percent.  And this data reports gains at the district, school, and grade levels only, not at the individual teacher classroom level.  This past year, Ohio was forced to basically revamp the entire value-added reporting system because the results over the past several years were highly skewed and inaccurate.  We cannot be assured that this system will accurately and fairly provide results for the educators who would be held accountable.  Even if Ohio tried to expand standardized testing to all grades and subjects, we would still be excluding all non-core educators already mentioned in the Highly Qualified Teacher information. I sincerely doubt that the creation of assessments for all grades and subjects is in the state budget for implementation this year, especially in light of the fact that Ohio will be adopting all new tests when we switch to the Common Core standards in Autumn 2014.  This upcoming change would cause any performance-based salary measures implemented now to be completely revised just three years down the road.
For supporting research, I recommend a report by the Economic Policy Institute released in 2010 titled Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.  I have a copy of that report that I can leave with you today.
I'd prefer to offer a different look at why the use of standardized testing does not make sense.  My oldest son, Zach, has always struggled in school.  He was diagnosed with dyslexia after fifth grade and, with the help of dedicated teachers, he is now a junior at Olentangy High School and is also in the Delaware Area Career Center's Fire Service Training program with the goal of becoming a firefighter.  Last summer, he passed the Science Ohio Graduation Test on his second attempt, completing his OGT requirements.  I was incredibly proud of him, and I have another point.  Which single teacher receives credit for their performance in Zach’s success on the OGT?  At that point in his educational career, fourteen different teachers had taught him science, including some co-teaching situations and one educator who retired midyear.  And, of course, he could not have read the test without his reading teachers and tutors.  Nor thought critically and creatively without the influence of all of his math teachers and art teachers.  Trying to assign a value to his performance at a single point in time to any single adult does a disservice to every educator who has ever had the opportunity to work with my son.  A standardized test should not be used to calculate salary.

Performance measure number four; “The results of the teacher's performance evaluations conducted under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code"
Dig deeper into this item and you'll find that section 3319.111 only applies to teachers on a limited contract. So, only teachers on limited contracts would need to undergo a performance evaluation as a part of determining their salaries. Considering other provisions throughout this bill, this evaluation could be solely determined by the local board of education. But even if the board works with teachers and implements a peer-review model or principal-review model, we should have reservations about the legitimacy of either in terms of criteria for salary.  If a premise of the bill is that we do not trust teachers or unions to responsibly negotiate salaries, what sense does it make to have teachers evaluating teachers for the purpose of determining salary?  And just imagine the time and exorbitant cost associated with implementation at the present time. And project down the road when Columbus has over 4,000 educators involved in this process (since continuing contracts will no longer be issued). The peer observation method is an outstanding procedure for helping improve practice through collaboration, but it is not something that should in any way be linked to base salary. It begs the system to corrupt itself, and the cost to properly implement it on a district-wide scale is prohibitive.

And performance measure number five: Any Other Criteria Established by the Board.”  As long as this means a salary based on education and experience, I think it's a great idea. Otherwise, this opens the door for any unproven fad to become a significant factor in determining salary. This could also open the door for favoritism, nepotism, and any other bad -ism. With this fifth measure as a part of the bill, there is by default no reason for 1-4 to be included.  When I see a catch-all item like this thrown in at the end of a list, it makes me question how much time was spent creating it.

So if we take these out and we simply revert to merit as the sole basis, then I have not yet accomplished my goal.  Merit is such a nebulous term.  It would place an enormous burden on our local governments as they work to craft pay scales out of thin air.  Our reality is that education and experience matter and instead of attacking that idea, we should be embracing it and using it to improve.
Ask my favorite firefighter, my brother Lieutenant Jim Mild of the Upper Arlington Fire Department if he was better in his 15th year than in his first.  Experience matters.
Ask one of our valued Ohio highway patrol officers if they were better prepared before or after the academy.  Education matters.
Ask Speaker Batchelder if he thinks he's a better congressman now or as a freshman?  Experience matters.
Do you think anyone could just hop on a school bus, pick up 30 energetic children, and navigate through the hordes of rush hour drivers racing to work?  I find it hard to believe, yet it happens over and over again, every single day.  But not without education and experience.  Because education and experience matter.

Ask the firefighters, the police, the teachers.  Ask all the public sector employees if they will somehow give more if we offer them incentive-based merit pay.  Merit pay doesn't work in the public sector because money is not a motivator when committing yourself to a life of helping others, whether it's providing educational opportunities for the 1.9 million public school children in Ohio, or putting your life on the line every day.

Another significant problem with this bill is the use of merit as the only basis for determining pay.   Merit is defined as "excellence; worth; something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation."  This creates a conundrum for implementation.  How does one create a starting salary for a new employee with no experience?  Is minimum wage our recommendation?  Isn't a starting salary inherently based on  experience?  For new teachers, will we create scales that provide different merit values for different universities?  Will we differentiate between a Teach for America teacher who has only 50 hours with students and no educational courses and a traditional education major who has 460 hours with students and three year's worth of coursework?  In Columbus alone, I counted 207 unique job titles, including teaching and non-teaching positions, that would require merit pay scales to be developed from scratch.

We are also experiencing a unique confluence of events will decrease take home pay and disposable income.  I'll talk about a teacher example, though all public employees will experience their own version of this scenario.

As I talk about dollar amounts, I'll use them as they presently exist -- I'm not going to include changes in tax rates or  any projected increase in the overall cost of medical coverage.

To begin, I already contribute to health benefits and my employer has negotiated wisely, so the change in SB5 to me, the employee, covering 15% will result in a modest decrease of 1% of my take home pay.  This is the explicit SB5 effect.  Layer on the 3% increase coming via House Bill 69 in my STRS contributions, and my take home pay drops by a cumulative total of 4.4%.  Finally, I wanted to factor in the rhetoric of reducing pay through this bill and the projections of a 15% cut in education funding at the state level.  Since Columbus receives only 32% of its funding from the state, a 15% reduction equates to a 5% salary reduction.

The combined effect of these 3 simple changes result in a 9.3% decrease in my take home pay, my "disposable" income.  To put some numbers on this, a person with annual take home pay of $30,000 will experience a decrease of $2,789 per year, or $232 per month.  Annual take home of $40,000 means a loss of disposable income of $3,719 per year and $310 per month.

Of course, if both a husband and a wife are in the public sector, these amounts will be doubled.  What would you cut back on to the tune of $600 per month?  I've had people tell me they are worried about keeping their homes with these numbers.  And this would be considered a conservative estimate.

Since there is a website that publishes the salary for all of us public employees, I thought I'd run a number you might better relate to.  A gross salary of $80,000 would roughly experience a loss in take home pay of $5802 per year or $483 dollars per month.

And if Senate Bill 5 cuts disposable income even deeper for public sector employees, it still does nothing to increase income for other Ohioans.  This bill does not decrease our sales tax, our state income tax or our local property taxes.  The reality is that our private businesses will suffer, too.  If consumer spending decreases, private business income decreases, resulting in a cycle of cuts in that sector, too.

Businesses will have to cut back on perks such as in-office bottled water, individuals and businesses alike will delay purchases on large items such as furniture, and any extra personal income that might exist will be hoarded instead of trying to finance luxury items such as backyard pools.

You don't need a bachelor's degree in economics or finance, nor an MBA from Notre Dame or the Wharton School of Business to understand the effects of a decrease in consumer spending.

And the domino effects of these cuts are not partisan.  We will see decreased donations to community organizations such as the Shelby County United Way, Ohio Right to Life Society, the Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts.  Churches can expect to experience a drop in contributions from parishioners. Churches such as St. Ann's, St. Gertrude's, St. John’s, St. Mary's, Sts. Peter & Paul, St. Stephen's, Church of the Incarnation, Saint Paul Lutheran Church, and LIFEhouse Church will be unable to maintain their present level of outreach and charity for those in need; their local benevolence ministries will suffer, as will the recipients.
We could also reasonably expect to see our fellow Ohioans non-renew their paid memberships in organizations such as the National Rifle Association or the Ohio Farm Bureau.
And as the these public sector workers add second jobs, their participation as volunteers in our communities will decline, too.  Tutors, parishioners who help in food banks, scoutmasters, big brothers and sisters, science fairs, PTAs, marching bands, kids' sporting events, organizers and fundraisers for schools, -- these are all valuable things that will suffer.

I'm very appreciative of all the lawyers and legislators who sort through the language of this bill, but even if you are Legislator of the Year, it doesn't make you an educator any more than an Educator of the Year award makes one an expert legislator.

Specialization exists in this world for a reason.  This quote from the Technical Employment Services, Inc website expresses it well.
"If you have heart problems you look for a good physician specializing in cardiovascular medicine. If you have legal problems dealing with real estate issues you look for a good Title Dispute Attorney. If you need assistance to quickly recruit the best engineers available you look up a good engineering recruiting firm. The right firm can save you huge blocks of time."

Talking about education?  Talk to an educator.  Better yet, find someone with experience in both.  If you have access to someone with a bachelor's degree in education and a Master's of Public Administration degree, very good.  Throw in some special education experience and you've got a winner.

And I do have this one random piece of data about severance that I feel I must share with you.  In Columbus, the current teacher's contract provides for a teacher to receive 20% of their daily rate for any accumulated sick leave upon retirement.  The financial effects of this are as follows:

A teacher with 30 years of experience and a Master's degree has a salary of $86,001 and a per diem of $414.  The severance would then be paid out at $83 per day.  If that teacher has accumulated 195 days, the equivalent of a school year, then they receive a severance for those days of $16,185.

For each sick day the teacher uses, the district incurs a cost of approximately $135 to hire a substitute.  If the teacher was sick for that entire year, the substitute cost would be $26,325, over $10,000 greater than the severance.  But since this teacher would still be employed, you would have to add the salary in, too, making an actual difference of $96,141 over the course of that year.  In practice, severance pay is a significant cost and organizational savings to the district.

I heard claims on Thursday that employees received severance payouts equal to nearly three years' worth of salary.  In order for that to be true in Columbus, a teacher with a PhD would had have to work 130 years and NEVER miss a single day of work to accrue that much severance.  (87 years for 2 years' of severance).

Chair Uecker and members of the committee, our state is not prepared for this bill.  If we think the use of education and experience are outdated compensation models, then we should be working together to research better ways to solve them instead of adopting a method that has been demonstrated to be ineffective.

I have an outstanding union president in Rhonda Johnson of the Columbus Education Association.  Rhonda is not a thug.  She works hard at maintaining the collaborative environment that exists in our district.  Does my union agree with every decision the district makes?  Of course not.  And is the district always happy with the union?  Probably not.  The fact is, we won't always agree on everything, but it is the relationships that make it work.

The Chapel in Akron has a unique Peacemaking Ministry that aims to resolve conflicts.  The ministry's materials state the concept well: "While it is inevitable that conflict will arise, we should not ignore or avoid it, but rather encounter it head-on with biblical tools to aim for peaceful resolution."

So instead of annihilating the relationship between management and unions, we should be embracing it.  We should be recommending marriage counselors, not divorce attorneys.  We should be providing more assistance to those involved in contentious negotiations, not less.  And instead of rebuilding the walls between us, we should be tearing down what few walls exist.

Chair Uecker, I don't want Ohio to be like Wisconsin where the entire state is being ripped apart over partisan politics.  How long is it going to take them to restore any level of trust in one another?  Passing Senate Bill 5 will irreparably divide Ohioans in the same way.

If you are going to pass this bill as has been stated publicly, so be it.  But let's get it fixed in order to truthfully help local governments instead of leaving them drifting in the wind.  I don't support this bill, but know that I am 100% willing to assist in improving its inconsistencies and some of the unmanageable components.  If you're going to hang me, at least let me properly tie the noose.

Ohio does not need Teach for America -- Here's Why

[The following post was created by Greg Mild, an educator in the state of Ohio. He gave me permission to share it here.]

House Bill 21 & Senate Bill 81 propose that Ohio grants 4-year Resident Educator Licenses to qualifying Teach for America participants. I cannot support the decision to do so for individuals who do not meet the qualifications that are clearly spelled out in Ohio Administrative Code for teacher preparation programs in the State of Ohio. These rules are put in place to ensure the quality of the teachers we put in front of children should not be taken lightly. I have detailed the specific requirements for the two different processes below.

House Bill 21 & Senate Bill 81 lower the quality of teaching for future children by lowering these current standards for teacher preparation. Teach for America is touted as bringing the best and the brightest to the classroom, but we have always done so in Ohio through existing state law requiring universities to provide rigorous teacher preparation programs.

House Bill 21 & Senate Bill 81 would require the Ohio Department of Education to issue a Resident Educator license to all TFA participants, including those who have never set foot in an Ohio classroom.

A Comparison of the TFA Program vs. Ohio's Higher Standards

Field Experience
Teach for America
Corps members teach summer school students for approximately two hours each day [five weeks long], under the supervision of experienced teachers. For the first hour, most corps members work directly with four to five students to build skills in math and literacy, to gain experience in facilitating group work. For the second hour, corps members lead a full class lesson, which builds skills in delivering lessons and managing a classroom.

Current Ohio Law: 
A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching [7.5-hour days] and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching. (

Ohio State University Secondary Math, Science Technology program:
M.Ed. students are placed for field experiences (observation, participation, internship) in schools in fall, winter, and spring quarters for increasingly richer experiences. These placements collectively provide 700 clock hours in the schools spread over 150 days (of the typical 180-day school calendar). The placements are in public middle and high schools in Franklin County with each student experiencing urban and suburban and middle and high school classrooms. STEM M.Ed. students have program classes in fall and winter quarter in the late-afternoon and early evening in addition to being in their schools each morning. Spring quarter is a twelve-week student teaching experience with students in the schools all-day every day. During that spring students complete the action research for their Capstone Project which is then completed that second summer.

Teach for America:
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • 2.50 Minimum Cumulative GPA
  • US Citizenship or National/Permanent Resident Status
  • The online application consists of:
    • Personal, academic, and/or professional information
    • Resume
    • Letter of intent
Ohio State University Secondary Math, Science Technology program:
  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum 3.0 overall GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in all previous undergraduate course work and a minimum 3.0 overall GPA in all previous graduate course work (may not be combined)
  • Minimum 2.7 GPA in mathematics, science, or technology content courses. 80% of the content should be completed prior to admission. (Include a plan for completing content courses, that are not completed by the application deadline) A plan document is located online at
  • Experiences working with adolescents in a learning situation
  • Official scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within five years of application
  • TOEFL score for international students, if required (minimum score 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 iBT)
  • Statement of Intent: See “Application Checklist” for format and instructions, located online.
  • Three letters of recommendation (four preferred), from persons acquainted with your academic performance, your experiences with adolescents, and your potential as a teacher. Include at least two letters from professors or instructors who have had you in class. Recommendations written on letterhead stationery should be attached to the Graduate School Reference Form.
  • Resume listing academic accomplishments, paid or volunteer experiences working with adolescents, related extracurricular experiences, and honors or awards (limit two pages for fellowship)
  • The M.Ed. is a competitive program. Meeting the minimum standards does not guarantee admission. Applicants who have completed most or all of the content courses will be given preference for admission. The admissions committee also considers diversity in the range of students related to gender, race/ethnicity, and life experience.

Ongoing Support

Teach for America
Teach For America provides professional development to corps members throughout their two-year commitments to ensure that they are set up to succeed at helping their students achieve at high levels.

Current Ohio Law: 
Ohio teacher residency program, which shall be a four-year, entry-level program for classroom teachers. The teacher residency program shall include at least the following components:
(1) Mentoring by teachers who hold a lead professional educator license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code;
(2) Counseling to ensure that program participants receive needed professional development;
(3) Measures of appropriate progression through the program.
(B) The teacher residency program shall be aligned with the standards for teachers adopted by the state board of education under section 3319.61 of the Revised Code and best practices identified by the superintendent of public instruction.

Ohio Department of Education:
A four-year Resident Educator program of support and mentoring for new teachers will provide Ohio educators just entering the profession with quality mentoring and guidance essential for a long and flourishing career. [ -- This site includes more training materials and tools than can be listed here. Each Resident Educator will be mentored by another teacher (trained for this specific purpose) within the school district for the full four-year period and must successfully meet all of the criteria in order to qualify for a professional educator license.]
At a time when education in Ohio is under intense scrutiny, why would we seek to LOWER the standards for becoming a teacher? 

Consider this peer-reviewed study that examined the effect of Teach for America corps members on student performance, both in prior studies and through independent analysis. This paper compares apples to apples by thoroughly identifying all participants.

Regarding TFA'a highly-publicized study by Mathematica:
"The Mathematica study, using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, found that there were statistically insignificant differences in reading achievement for students in the TFA and control classrooms. In math, students in the TFA classrooms faired slightly better—equal to one month’s extra teaching. The Mathematica study also found, however, that TFA teachers “had no substantial impact on the probability that students were retained in grade or assigned to summer school.”
"A closer look at the math and reading results shows that neither the TFA group nor the control group was even beginning to close the achievement gap. In math, the TFA teachers bumped their student math scores from the 14th to the 17th percentile. The control group stayed flat at the 15th percentile. In reading, both the TFA and control group teachers marginally raised reading scores, from the 13th to the 14th percentile for the control group, and from the 14th to the 15th percentile for the TFA recruits. This, as Center for Teaching Quality head Barnett Berry notes, “is essentially virtually no gain at all. These [TFA] students were still reading more poorly than 85 percent of their peers nationwide, and well below grade level.” Teach for America boasts about its impact, noting on its webpage: “[O]ur  
corps members and alumni work relentlessly to increase academic achievement.” Yet in a study touted by TFA, the students of corps teachers remained far below their national peers and made only marginal gains."

--- Barbara Miner (
If we truly believe that the Teach for America program creates teachers who are more effective, then why would you limit its influence to so few students and only allow placement in urban areas (per TFA)?

If we truly believe that this is in the best interest of students in the state of Ohio, then shouldn't we make this the standard process for teacher preparation?

Start by eliminating OAC 3301-24-03.C.6. ( which states:
(C) A college or university which seeks state board of education approval to prepare teachers shall request approval to offer a program leading to a specific type of license as designated in rule 3301-24-05 of the Administrative Code. Approval by the state board of education shall be based on evidence of coursework and experiences designed to include the following:
(6) A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching.
While Teach for America only requires 50 hours of cooperative teaching during a summer school program, Ohio state law requires that prospective teachers complete a minimum of 460 hours of field experience, including 12 weeks of teaching, with typically 6 of those weeks being full days of independent instruction, under the supervision of a university professor(s). These university programs come at a huge price to both students and universities, and if they produce less effective educators, then you need to propose that we eliminate this requirement statewide. Such a change would accelerate the process for all future educators to get into the classroom in all schools, not just a select few in the urban areas. Will you take this program into the suburbs of Upper Arlington, Westerville, Olentangy, and Bexley? I know you only want what is best for our students, too, and if that means teachers with less practice in the actual teaching of students means better results, then you need to move this forward.

Know that there is already a process in place in Ohio for students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in a content area who then wish to become teachers. This graduate school program is the process by which secondary educators now obtain their teaching license at quality universities such as The Ohio State University. Ohio State's program for Math, Science and Technology can be found here:

Look at the admission requirements and note that they are more rigorous than those required by the Teach for America program.

Teach for America has only a two-year commitment that includes continued mentoring. Ohio just adopted a similar mentoring process as a part of the new Resident Educator license. Since you support this bill, then you obviously know that the Resident Educator license is a four-year program. You will most certainly need to work to revise that recently adopted change (ORC 3319.223; to reduce the requirement down to two years.

Senate Bill 81 sponsor Senator Cates, in his email response to me stated:
"Research has shown that TFA has a proven record of success in teaching students in hard-to-staff urban and rural schools. Researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a study of teacher impact of TFA versus UNC graduates of its own teacher preparation system. Researchers found that TFA teachers had a larger impact in high school math, science and English and UNC grads The state of Tennessee studied all 42 teacher preparation programs in the state. They found that TFA members outperformed the average new teacher across all subject areas and grade levels making TFA the top performing new teacher preparation program in the state"
I appreciate that the Senator is referencing studies in his response. He mentioned that Teach for America members were found to have outperformed their University of North Carolina counterparts. Since he did not cite the report, I was unable to specifically address the reporting methods and data sets used. So, giving Senator Cates the benefit of the doubt, let's ask why North Carolina might have reported success with Teach for America corps members and examine whether or not it changes the fact that we should not welcome Teach for America's lower-standard program into Ohio.

Let's compare North Carolina's and Ohio's Teacher Preparation programs.

Consider the following information from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). NCATE is the profession’s mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation. Through the process of professional accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education, NCATE works to make a difference in the quality of teaching and teacher preparation today, tomorrow, and for the next century. NCATE’s performance-based system of accreditation fosters competent classroom teachers and other educators who work to improve the education of all P-12 students. NCATE believes every student deserves a caring, competent, and highly qualified teacher. The accreditation covers all educator preparation programs. (
North Carolina has 42 accredited institutions.
Ohio has 39 accredited institutions.
Listed below are the number of institutions that have Nationally Recognized Programs in the specified content areas:
English (As recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English)
North Carolina - 0
Ohio - 28
Foreign Language (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
North Carolina - 0
Ohio - 19
Math (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
North Carolina - 1
Ohio - 31
Science (National Science Teachers Association)
North Carolina - 0
Ohio - 28
Social Studies (National Council for the Social Studies)
North Carolina - 1
Ohio - 33 
Despite having more accredited institutions, North Carolina's subject-specific teacher preparation programs fall short of Ohio's high standards. In these five areas alone that cover the majority of secondary education programs at Institutions of Higher Education, Ohio has received National Recognition for 139 programs while North Carolina has been recognized for 2. Why would Ohio use North Carolina's teacher preparation programs as a benchmark? Ohio's universities already produce high quality educators, demonstrating no need for a decrease in standards as would be introduced by Teach for America.

Now consider some statistics from the United States Department of Education (The Secretary's Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality: A Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom,
Number of individuals completing Traditional Route Programs
North Carolina: 3,909
Ohio: 8,154
Number of individuals completing Alternative Route Programs
North Carolina: 749
Ohio: 547
Total number of individuals completing programs
North Carolina: 4,658
Ohio: 8,701
North Carolina has fewer than half as many individuals completing traditional programs than Ohio does, yet over 200 more individuals completing alternative route programs. 
Number of tests given for teacher certification
North Carolina: 21
Ohio: 42
Ohio has implemented twice as many post-education teacher exams to ensure program fidelity across the state and ensure that teachers are properly prepared in their respective specialty areas.
Percentage of teachers certified who were trained in another state
North Carolina: Greater than 40%
Ohio: Less than 10%
Total number of teachers receiving initial certification or licensure
North Carolina: 13,047
Ohio: 11,199
Number of teachers and number of teachers on waivers (to enable them to teach)
North Carolina: 100,484 total 1,641 on waivers
Ohio: 107,702 total 244 on waivers
These numbers demonstrate the lack of quality teacher preparation programs in North Carolina and demonstrate the state's desperate need to try and attract teachers from elsewhere (i.e., Teach for America). By contrast, Ohio is self-sufficient in preparing and retaining high quality teachers and is a place where other states recruit to fill their teaching vacancies.

And finally, what is the effect of all of this on the performance of students? How do students fare after their years of learning in their respective states?

North Carolina appears to favor the SAT test, while Ohio appears to favor the ACT. Both states have data on each test.

SAT (score out of 2400)
North Carolina had a participation rate of 71% and an average composite score of 1485 and ranked 39th nationally.
Ohio had a participation rate of 27% and an average composite score of 1608 and ranked 22nd nationally.

My argument in defense of North Carolina would be that they have nearly all of their students participate in the SAT and therefore have numbers that represent all students, whereas the Ohio students must represent the top-tier of students, those who are taking both SAT and ACT to widen their college options. So all this would prove is that Ohio's top students achieved higher scores than North Carolina's average students. So let's look for the opposite effect in the ACT results.

ACT (score out of 36)
North Carolina had a participation rate of 16% and an average composite score of 21.9 and ranked 21st nationally.
Ohio has a participation rate of 66% and an average composite score of 21.8 and ranked 24th nationally.

Where's the expected opposite effect? Unlike the SAT results, when North Carolina's best and brightest students were compared to Ohio's average students, there was no discernible difference. North Carolina's best students are Ohio's average students.

And about Senator Cates' reference to Tennessee? They reported 100% participation on the ACT and ranked 47th nationwide with average composite score of 19.6.

At a time when education in Ohio is under intense scrutiny, why would we seek to LOWER the standards for becoming a teacher?

Vote NO on House Bill 21 and Senate Bill 81.

Greg Mild

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Video: Mental harm from too much screen time?

Too much screen time can psychologically harm kids

"More than two hours a day spent watching television or playing computer games could put a child at greater risk for psychological problems, suggests a new study.

...The odds of significant psychological difficulties were about 60 percent higher for children spending longer than two hours a day in front of either screen compared with kids exposed to less screen time, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. For children with more than two hours of both types of screen time during the day, the odds more than doubled.

...Dr. Thomas N. Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said the new research was not enough to decipher whether the relationship between screen time and psychological wellbeing was truly cause-and-effect.

 ...Robinson noted that his own related research, conducted in this way, found that limiting screen time reduced weight gain, aggression and consumer behaviors in kids.

"There are already lots of reasons to reduce kids' screen time and this is potentially another," said Robinson. "In our studies we find that giving children a screen-time budget and helping them stick to that budget is the most effective way to reduce their television, video game, computer and other screen time, and to improve their health as a result."

"Parents as well as kids tell us that budgeting kids' screen time has profound positive effects on their families' lives," added Robinson.

Read the Entire Article:

A Study of the Effects of Texting and Social Networking on Teens

"...But research has shown that the more time kids spend in front of screens — whether it's TV or instant-messaging — the worse their school performance. "That doesn't mean it's true for every kid, but it makes sense, that for every hour a kid is playing video games, it's an hour that they're not doing homework or reading or exploring or creating," he said.

[Douglas Gentile is a child psychologist and associate professor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, who studies the effects of media on children.] Gentile, who admits that his own teenager crossed the "9,000 texts in one month barrier" last summer, acknowledged that parents are struggling to adjust to a world in which kids would rather look at words on a cell phone screen than have a conversation.

...He admits, though, that there are some frightening aspects to the dependence today's teenagers have on technology. "They are so emotionally connected to being tied in with their friends 24 hours a day, if they get a text, they feel obligated to respond in seconds," he said. He recalled a group of girls showing up for a birthday party at a restaurant, and "everyone of them had their head down, texting."

The explosion in teen screen time is well-documented. A recent Associated Press-mtvU poll found that one-third of college students use computers, cell phones or gaming consoles for six or more hours daily. A Kaiser Family Foundation study published in January found that total media use among 8- to 18-year-olds, including TV, music, computers, video games, print and movies has increased from six hours, 21 minutes daily in 2004 to seven hours, 38 minutes in 2009.

...The Kaiser study also found that the more time kids spend with media, the lower their grades and levels of personal contentment are.

Gentile said the impact of screen time on school work can be mitigated by what he calls "protective factors." Those might include good teachers and a high-performing school, love of reading, coming from a family where education is valued, and exposure to experiences that are culturally and intellectually enriching. "If you had all these protective factors," said Gentile, "then that one little risk factor (screen time), who cares?"

"Multitasking is not really good for anyone," he said. "Your reflexes speed up, you're quicker to look over your shoulder and notice little noises or lights. This is not what they need when they get to the classroom and you're supposed to ignore the kid next to you. Scanning to see when the next message comes, this may not be good for kids. The more distractions you have, the worse your performance is." Getting kids to turn off their phones, iPods, and computers in order to concentrate on homework and reading, he said, "I think that's a fight worth having."

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Myth of Charter Schools

"...For many people, these arguments require a willing suspension of disbelief. Most Americans graduated from public schools, and most went from school to college or the workplace without thinking that their school had limited their life chances. There was a time—which now seems distant—when most people assumed that students’ performance in school was largely determined by their own efforts and by the circumstances and support of their family, not by their teachers. There were good teachers and mediocre teachers, even bad teachers, but in the end, most public schools offered ample opportunity for education to those willing to pursue it. The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

Waiting for “Superman” and the other films appeal to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if American kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to blame. At last we have the culprit on which we can pin our anger, our palpable sense that something is very wrong with our society, that we are on the wrong track, and that America is losing the race for global dominance. It is not globalization or deindustrialization or poverty or our coarse popular culture or predatory financial practices that bear responsibility: it’s the public schools, their teachers, and their unions.

...Some fact-checking is in order, and the place to start is with the film’s quiet acknowledgment that only one in five charter schools is able to get the “amazing results” that it celebrates. Nothing more is said about this astonishing statistic. It is drawn from a national study of charter schools by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond (the wife of Hanushek). Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school. The proportion of charters that get amazing results is far smaller than 17 percent.Why did Davis Guggenheim pay no attention to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money? Why propound to an unknowing public the myth that charter schools are the answer to our educational woes, when the filmmaker knows that there are twice as many failing charters as there are successful ones? Why not give an honest accounting?

...The propagandistic nature of Waiting for “Superman” is revealed by Guggenheim’s complete indifference to the wide variation among charter schools. There are excellent charter schools, just as there are excellent public schools. Why did he not also inquire into the charter chains that are mired in unsavory real estate deals, or take his camera to the charters where most students are getting lower scores than those in the neighborhood public schools? Why did he not report on the charter principals who have been indicted for embezzlement, or the charters that blur the line between church and state? Why did he not look into the charter schools whose leaders are paid $300,000–$400,000 a year to oversee small numbers of schools and students?

...The movie asserts a central thesis in today’s school reform discussion: the idea that teachers are the most important factor determining student achievement. But this proposition is false. Hanushek has released studies showing that teacher quality accounts for about 7.5–10 percent of student test score gains. Several other high-quality analyses echo this finding, and while estimates vary a bit, there is a relative consensus: teachers statistically account for around 10–20 percent of achievement outcomes. Teachers are the most important factor within schools.

But the same body of research shows that nonschool factors matter even more than teachers. According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60 percent of achievement is explained by nonschool factors, such as family income. So while teachers are the most important factor within schools, their effects pale in comparison with those of students’ backgrounds, families, and other factors beyond the control of schools and teachers. Teachers can have a profound effect on students, but it would be foolish to believe that teachers alone can undo the damage caused by poverty and its associated burdens.

Guggenheim skirts the issue of poverty by showing only families that are intact and dedicated to helping their children succeed. One of the children he follows is raised by a doting grandmother; two have single mothers who are relentless in seeking better education for them; two of them live with a mother and father. Nothing is said about children whose families are not available, for whatever reason, to support them, or about children who are homeless, or children with special needs. Nor is there any reference to the many charter schools that enroll disproportionately small numbers of children who are English-language learners or have disabilities.

...Today, charter schools are promoted not as ways to collaborate with public schools but as competitors that will force them to get better or go out of business. In fact, they have become the force for privatization that Shanker feared. Because of the high-stakes testing regime created by President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, charter schools compete to get higher test scores than regular public schools and thus have an incentive to avoid students who might pull down their scores. Under NCLB, low-performing schools may be closed, while high-performing ones may get bonuses. Some charter schools “counsel out” or expel students just before state testing day. Some have high attrition rates, especially among lower-performing students.

Perhaps the greatest distortion in this film is its misrepresentation of data about student academic performance. The film claims that 70 percent of eighth-grade students cannot read at grade level. This is flatly wrong. Guggenheim here relies on numbers drawn from the federally sponsored National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). I served as a member of the governing board for the national tests for seven years, and I know how misleading Guggenheim’s figures are. NAEP doesn’t measure performance in terms of grade-level achievement. The highest level of performance, “advanced,” is equivalent to an A+, representing the highest possible academic performance. The next level, “proficient,” is equivalent to an A or a very strong B. The next level is “basic,” which probably translates into a C grade. The film assumes that any student below proficient is “below grade level.” But it would be far more fitting to worry about students who are “below basic,” who are 25 percent of the national sample, not 70 percent.

Guggenheim didn’t bother to take a close look at the heroes of his documentary. Geoffrey Canada is justly celebrated for the creation of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which not only runs two charter schools but surrounds children and their families with a broad array of social and medical services. Canada has a board of wealthy philanthropists and a very successful fund-raising apparatus. With assets of more than $200 million, his organization has no shortage of funds. Canada himself is currently paid $400,000 annually. For Guggenheim to praise Canada while also claiming that public schools don’t need any more money is bizarre. Canada’s charter schools get better results than nearby public schools serving impoverished students. If all inner-city schools had the same resources as his, they might get the same good results.

But contrary to the myth that Guggenheim propounds about “amazing results,” even Geoffrey Canada’s schools have many students who are not proficient. On the 2010 state tests, 60 percent of the fourth-grade students in one of his charter schools were not proficient in reading, nor were 50 percent in the other. It should be noted—and Guggenheim didn’t note it—that Canada kicked out his entire first class of middle school students when they didn’t get good enough test scores to satisfy his board of trustees. This sad event was documented by Paul Tough in his laudatory account of Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, Whatever It Takes (2009). Contrary to Guggenheim’s mythology, even the best-funded charters, with the finest services, can’t completely negate the effects of poverty.

Guggenheim ignored other clues that might have gotten in the way of a good story. While blasting the teachers’ unions, he points to Finland as a nation whose educational system the US should emulate, not bothering to explain that it has a completely unionized teaching force. His documentary showers praise on testing and accountability, yet he does not acknowledge that Finland seldom tests its students. Any Finnish educator will say that Finland improved its public education system not by privatizing its schools or constantly testing its students, but by investing in the preparation, support, and retention of excellent teachers. It achieved its present eminence not by systematically firing 5–10 percent of its teachers, but by patiently building for the future. Finland has a national curriculum, which is not restricted to the basic skills of reading and math, but includes the arts, sciences, history, foreign languages, and other subjects that are essential to a good, rounded education. Finland also strengthened its social welfare programs for children and families. Guggenheim simply ignores the realities of the Finnish system.

In any school reform proposal, the question of “scalability” always arises. Can reforms be reproduced on a broad scale? The fact that one school produces amazing results is not in itself a demonstration that every other school can do the same. For example, Guggenheim holds up Locke High School in Los Angeles, part of the Green Dot charter chain, as a success story but does not tell the whole story. With an infusion of $15 million of mostly private funding, Green Dot produced a safer, cleaner campus, but no more than tiny improvements in its students’ abysmal test scores. According to the Los Angeles Times, the percentage of its students proficient in English rose from 13.7 percent in 2009 to 14.9 percent in 2010, while in math the proportion of proficient students grew from 4 percent to 6.7 percent. What can be learned from this small progress? Becoming a charter is no guarantee that a school serving a tough neighborhood will produce educational miracles.

Another highly praised school that is featured in the film is the SEED charter boarding school in Washington, D.C. SEED seems to deserve all the praise that it receives from Guggenheim, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and elsewhere. It has remarkable rates of graduation and college acceptance. But SEED spends $35,000 per student, as compared to average current spending for public schools of about one third that amount. Is our society prepared to open boarding schools for tens of thousands of inner-city students and pay what it costs to copy the SEED model? Those who claim that better education for the neediest students won’t require more money cannot use SEED to support their argument.

...It bears mentioning that nations with high-performing school systems—whether Korea, Singapore, Finland, or Japan—have succeeded not by privatizing their schools or closing those with low scores, but by strengthening the education profession. They also have less poverty than we do. Fewer than 5 percent of children in Finland live in poverty, as compared to 20 percent in the United States. Those who insist that poverty doesn’t matter, that only teachers matter, prefer to ignore such contrasts.

If we are serious about improving our schools, we will take steps to improve our teacher force, as Finland and other nations have done. That would mean better screening to select the best candidates, higher salaries, better support and mentoring systems, and better working conditions. Guggenheim complains that only one in 2,500 teachers loses his or her teaching certificate, but fails to mention that 50 percent of those who enter teaching leave within five years, mostly because of poor working conditions, lack of adequate resources, and the stress of dealing with difficult children and disrespectful parents. Some who leave “fire themselves”; others were fired before they got tenure. We should also insist that only highly experienced teachers become principals (the “head teacher” in the school), not retired businessmen and military personnel. Every school should have a curriculum that includes a full range of studies, not just basic skills. And if we really are intent on school improvement, we must reduce the appalling rates of child poverty that impede success in school and in life.

There is a clash of ideas occurring in education right now between those who believe that public education is not only a fundamental right but a vital public service, akin to the public provision of police, fire protection, parks, and public libraries, and those who believe that the private sector is always superior to the public sector. Waiting for “Superman” is a powerful weapon on behalf of those championing the “free market” and privatization. It raises important questions, but all of the answers it offers require a transfer of public funds to the private sector. The stock market crash of 2008 should suffice to remind us that the managers of the private sector do not have a monopoly on success.

Public education is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. The public schools must accept everyone who appears at their doors, no matter their race, language, economic status, or disability. Like the huddled masses who arrived from Europe in years gone by, immigrants from across the world today turn to the public schools to learn what they need to know to become part of this society. The schools should be far better than they are now, but privatizing them is no solution.

...In the final moments of Waiting for “Superman,” the children and their parents assemble in auditoriums in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley, waiting nervously to see if they will win the lottery. As the camera pans the room, you see tears rolling down the cheeks of children and adults alike, all their hopes focused on a listing of numbers or names. Many people react to the scene with their own tears, sad for the children who lose. I had a different reaction. First, I thought to myself that the charter operators were cynically using children as political pawns in their own campaign to promote their cause. (Gail Collins in The New York Times had a similar reaction and wondered why they couldn’t just send the families a letter in the mail instead of subjecting them to public rejection.) Second, I felt an immense sense of gratitude to the much-maligned American public education system, where no one has to win a lottery to gain admission."

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