Eye on Education

Bill Rice

Senior Reporter and Producer

Bill Rice is Senior Reporter and Producer for StateImpact Ohio, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Bill has served in various public media roles in five U.S. cities over 30 years, including music recording engineer and producer, classical and jazz host, station operations director, news reporter and producer and, most recently, as Associate Editor of News at WCPN ideastream. He spent three years covering education following his move to Cleveland in 2000.

  • Email: bill.rice@ideastream.org

Department of Education Accuses ESC of Flaunting State Law on Charter Schools

empty classroom

Jenlight / Flickr

An educational service center in Northeast Ohio is in trouble with the state Department of Education after trying to open a charter school in southern Ohio.

Department of Education spokesman John Charlton says the Portage County Educational Service Center violated at least three rules in sponsoring what was being called Hope4Change Academy.

First, Portage County ESC isn’t authorized to sponsor new charter schools because of the poor performance of its existing ones.

Second, state law only allows an ESC to sponsor charter schools in its own territory or adjoining counties, and the Hope4Change location is more than 250 miles away, in Cincinnati.

And third, administrators at Portage County ESC tried to open the school using the facilities and identification number of a previously closed charter school, VLT Academy.

Charlton says the school had already recruited about thirty students before the department stepped in.

“We’ve ordered that school now to make sure that they share that information with the Cincinnati schools and Cincinnati diocese and other schools in the area, so that these students can be placed into legitimate schools,” he says.

An ODE press release says Portage County ESC has “ so completely disregarded” state law that it is reporting the superintendent, Dewey Chapman, and vice president Cheryl Emrich to the state’s Office of Professional Conduct for investigation.  ODE has ordered the ESC to cease all activities already being undertaken, such as hiring teachers and staff.   The ESC has not returned phone calls seeking comment.



Reynoldsburg City Schools Files Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Against Teachers Union

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education accuses the Reynoldsburg Teachers Union of engaging in bait-and-switch tactics in their ongoing negotiation of a new teachers contract. The district wants to implement a merit pay system that would tie teachers’ raises to their annual state evaluation ratings, something teachers in districts across the state have strenuously resisted. Talks are set to resume in September with a federal mediator.

The Reynoldsburg school board has filed unfair-labor-practice charges against the teachers unions for the district and the state. The board says negotiators for the Reynoldsburg Education Association backtracked after agreeing to some provisions and used a bait-and-switch tactic to make changes in the teachers’ salary schedule.

Read more at: www.dispatch.com

“Cafeteria Man” Speaks Up For New School Nutrition Standards

"Cafeteria Man" Tony Geraci transformed school lunches in Baltimore.

"Cafeteria Man" Tony Geraci transformed school lunches in Baltimore.

A school nutritionist making a national splash for bringing healthier meals to school cafeterias says bowing out of the federal school lunch program because of new, more stringent nutrition requirements is a disservice to kids.

Tony Geraci was a guest Monday morning on the Cleveland public radio talk show The Sound of Ideas on 90.3 WCPN.  He says it takes kids time to adjust to new menus being rolled out across the country, but schools should stay committed to the new standards.

It’s about access,” Geraci says.  “It’s about making sure that kids have better choices.  And I think if you surround them with better choices, they make better choices.”

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Teach For America Enters Third Year In Ohio

Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, speaking in 2009

Tulane Publications/FLICKR

Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, speaking in 2009

Teach for America has been around for 24 years but was only given entre into Ohio’s classrooms in 2011, at the urging of Governor Kasich.

TFA teachers are chosen for being high college achievers, and are able to bypass the state’s standard licensing process.

This year’s TFA corps grew slightly over last year, and is more diverse.

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New Concerns Over the Blurring of Science and Religion

The current attempt by some statehouse Republicans to repeal the Common Core education standards has raised new questions about whether creationism might be presented in Ohio’s science classes. The school of thought known as “Intelligent Design”, which holds that life could not have come into existence without the influence of a conscious “designer,” is held up by adherents as a credible alternative theory to evolution. It was inserted into the state’s science standards in 2002, only to be eliminated four years later after strenuous objections from the scientific community and a Pennsylvania court ruling saying that Intelligent Design is not science.

A bill to repeal the Common Core education standards in Ohio has ignited a new debate about an old issue: whether schools should be allowed to teach creationism. The debate stems from a few sentences about science standards contained in House Bill 597. The language is vague and, sponsors thought, fairly innocuous.

Read more at: www.cincinnati.com

New Poll Finds Declining Confidence In Common Core

As legislative debate continues over the implementation of Common Core standards, a recently-released poll shows that public support of Common Core is waning. Although the shared standards are still backed by the majority (53 percent) of Americans, the opposition has doubled in size from 13 percent in 2013 to 26 percent this year. The two groups with notable changes over the past year are teachers (40% oppose, up from 12% last year) and Republicans (37% oppose, up from 16%).

Results of a poll released on Tuesday show strong public support for the idea of shared academic standards, but much weaker support for the standards that have been put in place by 43 states and the District of Columbia: the Common Core State Standards.

Read more at: blogs.edweek.org

Two Ohio Cities Where More Families Favor Private Schools

Cincinnati and Cleveland are both included in a top ten list of major cities where high percentages of kids attend private school. According to a study by the real estate journal Trulia, Cleveland ranks seventh, with 17.5 percent of Kids going attending private schools. Cincinnati comes in ninth in the ranking, at 16.9 percent. New Orleans has the highest percentage, at just over 25 percent.

One reason for the high private school enrollment in these cities is that they have large Catholic populations: of the 80 percent of private schools that are religiously affiliated, half are Catholic schools. Another correlation involves the quality of public school districts – the better the quality of schools in a neighborhood, the fewer residents will opt to pay extra for private school.

The Trulia study also compares the cost of sending a child to private school vs. a good public school, and finds that public isn’t necessarily cheaper when you consider the higher taxes and higher home prices in neighborhoods with better schools.

More than two-thirds of adults with children under 12 say that the neighborhood school district is among the most important considerations when choosing a ho…

Read more at: www.trulia.com

Ohio Receives nearly $350,000 to Defray AP Exam Costs



Ohio is among 40 states receiving a cut of more than 28 million dollars in federal money to help low income students pay for advanced placement exams.

Students who take AP courses in high school earn college credit if they score well on the exam.  And that can reduce the time and cost required to complete a college degree.

Ohio will get just under $350,000 this year to help reduce the cost of advance placement tests for low income families.

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Surge In Teacher Retirements Means Added Costs, Plus Loss of Experience and Wisdom

Ohio teachers are retiring at their highest rate in years. 7,915 veteran teachers retired at the end of 2013 – a twelve percent increase over 2011. One of the main reasons for the uptick is that many older teachers decided to remain in their jobs through the economic uncertainty that set in with the Great Recession, and now they’re ready to make the move and retire. Discontent with the new Common Core learning standards may also be a factor. The growing retirement pool cost Ohio public schools over $60 million in replacement and recruitment expenses last year.

Your children will see more new faces at the front of their classrooms when schools open this month as veteran teachers continue the race to retirement. The impacts will be many, school officials warn. Former Lakota school parent and veteran school board member Ray Murray worries about what the exodus of veteran teachers means for the students and schools they leave behind.

Read more at: www.cincinnati.com

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