Here’s our take on the six education stories to watch in 2012:
1. School funding. School funding. School funding. Look for a new K-12 school funding model from Columbus in the first part of 2012. The previous model was scrapped in 2011, with the promise of a new formula for distributing state money to Ohio’s public schools by the end of the year. Now, Gov. John Kasich’s office say’s they’ll release it when the time is right. Now, school district leaders sit and wait and try to plan for the future with little idea of their state funding. Good luck with that.
2. College-readiness. Early this year, expect to see Columbus focus on increasing the number of high school graduates who are actually ready to take English and math courses at a four-year university or their local community college — And efforts to align what students study with the kind of graduates colleges want. Wondering what that translates to in the real world? So are we.
3. The feds. Ohio expects to apply for a waiver from some of the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act in February. Schools and districts are in the midst of actually doing the real work called for in the state’s $400 million Race to the Top plan. (Look for a report card from the U.S. Department of Education on Ohio’s progress in early 2012.) And Ohio’s going to start work on putting the $70 million it got to improve early childhood education into action.
4. “School choice.” A bill that would have expanded vouchers — publicly funded scholarships for private school students — to every district in the state faltered in late 2011. But its sponsor says he’ll try again. And a bill that would give companies tax credits in exchange for donations to fund private-school scholarships is still alive.
5. Charter school accountability. Today, the 79 Ohio charter schools that mostly serve students who have previously dropped out of other schools can’t be closed for poor academic performance. But that could change: The Ohio Department of Education is developing rules for evaluating those schools. Let’s see if the state legislature takes action.
6. Teachers rising. Hey, remember when Issue 2 was defeated? Ohio teachers financed a large part of that defeat. With the Democrats running a group of teachers for state House seats and the We Are Ohio campaign group still operational, we may see more from teachers outside of the classroom. And teachers are facing changes inside the classroom too: New evaluation systems, preparation for new curricula to be used in 2014-15, performance pay for some — oh yeah, and they’ve still got to teach our children.
What else is on your edu-horizon for 2012?
Note: A previous version of this article misstated the amount of Ohio’s early childhood education Race to the Top award. The correct amount is $70 million. It also mischaracterized the contemplated college-readiness agenda. The idea is to have more college-ready high school graduates. We apologize for the errors.