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

Should More School Districts Be Consolidated?

For years now – and especially since the Great Recession – the idea of consolidating local government services, and even governments themselves, has been pushed by some as a necessary step toward greater efficiency and savings. That idea can be applied to school districts too, and has been in the case of two northwest Ohio districts that will welcome back students this fall under a single banner. In its Friday editorial The Toledo Blade calls it a prudent move, and argues for more such mergers in the future.

In the past two decades, decreases in state aid, depressed property values, and anti-tax sentiments, among other things, have forced local governments and school districts to do more with less. Communities have tried to operate more efficiently by sharing administrative duties and police, fire, and other services.

Read more at: www.toledoblade.com

New U. of Akron President Brings New Expectations To Senior Administrators

Along with a new president of the University of Akron comes a leadership style that, on its surface, appears to differ markedly from that of former President Luis Proenza. Carol Biliczky of the Beacon Journal writes that President Scott Scarborough distributed a two-page list of “leadership and Management Principles” to senior leaders about two weeks into his tenure and asked them to sign it. The document defines “success” in 15 bullet points, and “teamwork” in another nine.

If you don’t pick up trash or get to meetings on time, there might not be a place for you at the University of Akron. New President Scott Scarborough has distributed a blueprint on how he wants 38 senior leaders – administrators, academics and students alike – to behave.

Read more at: www.ohio.com

Tech Jobs: What Opportunities Are Out There, and Where To Train For Them

Brad Nellis, Executive Director, NEOSA

Brad Nellis, Executive Director, NEOSA

Earlier in July StateImpact Ohio spotlighted the Software Craftsmanship Guild, a private company that teaches people looking for a new career direction the skills they need for jobs as entry-level computer software developers.  There are thousands of such jobs available, and there are also many jobs as network technicians and administrators.  Brad Nellis, head of the Northeast Ohio Software Association, is well-versed about the differences between those two employment tracks  and what kind of training they entail.  He shares his insights in this interview.

Q: Colleges and universities across the country turn out computer science grads every year.  But what I’m hearing is that there are not nearly enough of them.

A: It’s absolutely true.  There are thousands of un-met jobs in Northeast Ohio, or unfilled openings, if you will.   If you look at OhioMeansJobs.com and if you look at information technology you can sort it by software development or network technician and so forth, the different categories.  There are thousands of job openings within 50 miles of Cleveland.  Its…  I don’t know if it’s amazing but it’s incredibly strong.

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Former Horizon Science Academy Teachers Reported To Authorities After Testimony

Four former charter school teachers who testified Tuesday alleging possible attendance manipulation, sexual misconduct and other misdeeds could face discipline after being subsequently reported to law enforcement by Ohio Department of Education officials. The four gave their testimony at a hearing before the Board of Education, saying they reported the alleged incidents to the DOE but were ignored. The teachers’ defenders say by reporting them, the department is exacting retaliation for whistleblowing.

Ohio law requires teachers to report claims of possible child neglect and abuse to local children services officials and law enforcement. So, after officials of the state Board of Education heard sweeping allegations of test cheating, attendance tampering, sexual misconduct and other misdeeds from four former charter-school teachers this week, Department of Education officials reported them to law enforcement and children services agencies.

Read more at: www.dispatch.com

U.S. Kids Lagging In Understanding Money Management And Finance

dollar bills

Khaled Elfiqi / Landov

In 2012, The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) financial literacy exam was given to about 29,000 15-year-olds in 18 countries and economies.  An analysis of results by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that U.S. students ranked 8th (tied with Latvia, although the U.S. students scored a few points below their Latvian counterparts and just below the mean score for all countries.)

Students from Shanghai, Estonia and the Flemish Community of Belgium led the pack, while Italy and Colombia’s scores trailed at the bottom.

A closer look at the U.S. results revealed a number of useful insights into students’ understanding of financial knowledge and skills.

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Ohio University Moves Toward Complete Campus-Wide Smoking Ban

Ohio University is considering a complete campus-wide smoking ban and possibly requiring students who repeatedly violate it to take smoking cessation classes, according to a story in the Athens News. Currently the school has designated smoking areas, but those would be eliminated. The use of e-cigarettes on campus would also be banned. Ryan Lombardi, OU vice president for student affairs, says the school is serious about eliminating smoking on campus, but he reportedly hedged on whether the classes would be absolutely mandatory for violators, saying the university plans to use a “community, Good-Samaritan kind of model” to enforce the smoking ban.

An Ohio University official confirmed last week that the university plans to fully implement and enforce a campus-wide ban on smoking in the 2015-2016 academic year. For now, that ban includes use of cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes on any campus property.

Read more at: www.athensnews.com

Federal Statistics Show Young Adults Gaining In Education Over Past Generations But Facing Greater Economic Challenges

Ed Attainmentfederal report released Friday shows young adults (age 18-24) have made significant gains in educational attainment over the last two generations.

The report is a special young adults issue of the annual Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics – a project of the federal Office of Management and Budget.

Among its findings:

  • High school completion increased from 79 percent to 84 percent among young adult women from 1980 to 2013, and from 75 percent to 81 percent for young men during the same period.
  • College enrollment among all young adults – men and women combined – increased by a wider margin, from 26 percent in 1980 to 41 percent in 2012.

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Judge Orders ODE To Sponsor Cincinnati Charter School

In a possibly precedent-setting move, a Hamilton County judge has ordered the Ohio Department of Education to sponsor a charter school that was slated for closure after its sponsoring agency declined to renew its contract. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports VLT Academy had asked the ODE to pick up its sponsorship. When the agency declined, VLT appealed, arguing its previous sponsor was unfairly pressured to close the school.

VLT Academy, a 600-student charter school in Pendleton, will remain open next year thanks to a judge’s ruling Monday. In a potentially precedent-setting decision, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Nadine Allen is forcing the Ohio Department of Education to sponsor the school next year, thereby saving it from closure.

Read more at: www.cincinnati.com

IRS Deems Ohio University President’s Free Residence Is A Taxable Benefit

Ohio University will foot the income tax bill for the school’s president on the home where he lives rent-free. The Columbus Dispatch reports during an on-going audit of OU, the Internal Revenue Service decided Roderick McDavis should be taxed for his use of the university-owned home because it is considered a benefit. The paper reports it is not clear why the IRS does not consider McDavis exempt from being taxed on the residence. Other Ohio public university presidents are living in furnished homes rent-free and have not been taxed. .

When Roderick J. McDavis became Ohio University’s president a decade ago, he moved into 29 Park Place, a 7,000-square-foot, 2 1/2-story home at the heart of OU’s campus in Athens. The rent is free, and McDavis’ contract says he has to live in the house.

Read more at: www.dispatch.com

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