Eye on Education

Michelle Kanu

Reporter and Producer

Michelle Kanu is a reporter and producer for WCPN 90.3, Cleveland Public Radio. She's spent the last three years covering education, natural gas drilling, and anchoring the evening newscast. Michelle's first journalism job involved writing a weekly column for the Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley. After college, she spent a few years working with youth in tutoring and college access programs before moving to Cleveland in 2009.

Chain of Charter Schools Realizes Computers May Not Turn Dropouts Into Graduates

Dropout Recovery Schools that cater to the most at risk students largely involve low cost, computerized instruction and a flexible schedule. After White Hat Management opened their first dropout recovery school in 1998, the model spread like wildfire. But as the Akron Beacon Journal reports, fifteen years later, those schools are churning out more dropouts than graduates, and some competing schools are reconsidering the computerized approach.

Behind the storefront window at Life Skills Center of North Akron on Brittain Road, a flat-screen television cycles through promotional advertisements. One ad features Principal Steve Garton’s face on a $10 bill. Garton gives the funny money, which can be exchanged for snacks, to students who excel.

Read more at: www.ohio.com

Some Background on Ohio’s Pre-K Spending

green and red apples

msr / Flickr

Last week, Cuyahoga County Executive and governor candidate hopeful Ed FitzGerald announced a plan to roll out universal preschool education if he’s elected this fall.

The concept of pre-k for all is an idea that educators largely believe pays off in setting kids up for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Ohio already provides over half a billion in funding for early education programs, and Governor John Kasich recently beefed up state spending by $32 million for pre-k in his latest budget.

Here’s what you need to know about state funding for pre-k in the 2013-2014 school year. Continue Reading

How Ohio’s Big Urban Districts Intervene To Prevent Dropouts



For decades, districts have struggled to address the needs of the students considered most at risk of never graduating.

In 1963, the Ohio Department of Education developed two programs to give those students work experience since they were likely leaving school to get a low-skilled job anyway.

Over the years, those programs morphed into what’s now called Career Based Intervention.  Eric Landversicht, a state level administrator of CBI, says the program still arms students with employment skills and exposure to career opportunities, but it now also includes targeted academic tutoring.

Landversicht says today, some 20,000 students are enrolled in more than 250 districts, and the program looks very different across the state.  Some are held during the school day, others after hours.  All have their own criteria for flagging students to participate, and all are aimed at keeping students from dropping out.

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Suburan Districts Reignite Fight For More School Funding

Ohio’s formula for funding schools has long drawn ire from all types of districts that argue they don’t receive enough state dollars to provide students an adequate education. This time, suburban, growing districts say they should receive at least the same amount of dollars as private schools. The Columbus Dispatch reports Republican State Senator Jim Hughes is trying to get $30 million added into the governor’s budget bill to accommodate their plea.

Some of Ohio’s wealthier and fastest-growing public school districts are again pressing lawmakers that, in the name of fairness, they at least deserve as much per-pupil funding as the state’s private schools. Prompted by area districts including Hilliard, Dublin, New Albany and Olentangy, Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, is pushing to get $30 million put into Gov.

Read more at: www.dispatch.com

How Career Tech Education Helped One Student Parlay A Hobby Into A Salary

Spencer Wolf is now a student at Sinclair Community College.

Spencer Wolf / Wolf Graphic Design

Spencer Wolf is now a student at Sinclair Community College.

For most high school students, the idea of being held back a grade is pretty discouraging.

But when now 20-year-old Spencer Wolf was told he’d have to repeat the tenth grade, he says he was grateful.

As a student at Fairmont High School in Kettering near Dayton, Wolf says he felt the classwork in his core math and English classes was too easy.  By tenth grade he says he was so bored he stopped doing homework and mentally checked out.  His GPA dropped below 1.0.  He spent most of his free time playing or designing video games, a big hobby of his since he was a kid.

Although Wolf says he never considered really leaving school, academically he was at risk of dropping out.

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Student Surveys Among Changes House Proposes For Evaluating Teachers

report card marsmet tallahassee


The new teacher evaluation process that schools just started using this year is under review yet again by lawmakers.

Senate Bill 229 would allow districts to evaluate teachers less often and would reduce the amount of a teacher’s evaluation that’s based on his or her students’ test scores and growth measures.

That’s a marked change from the new process, which requires more frequent teacher evaluations, and for half of that evaluation to be based on a student’s academic growth.

That bill passed the Senate back in December and recently, lawmakers in the House Education Committee proposed adding student surveys as 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

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Gubernatorial Candidate Pushes To Expand Preschool As Nationwide Enrollment Dips

preschool barnaby wasson

Barnaby Wasson / Flickr

Cuyahoga County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald says he wants to make universal preschool one of his top campaign priorities.

Pending he defeats Governor John Kasich this fall, FitzGerald says his Pre-K All the Way plan calls for legislation to fund preschool for all Ohio three and four-year-olds beginning in fall 2016 with full implementation by 2018.

All new pre-k teachers would be required to have a bachelor’s degree, and class sizes would be capped at 25.

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Random Drug Testing Will Begin At Select Northeast Ohio High Schools

Three Cleveland area private schools will implement mandatory drug testing for students just weeks before summer vacation begins. The Plain Dealer reports administrators say Northeast Ohio’s growing heroin epidemic prompted them to consider screening students for drug use. School officials say the testing will continue at random during the upcoming academic year, and is an effort to connect students with appropriate counseling and treatment services as needed.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Students at three area Catholic high schools found out this morning that they will each have to part with a bit of their hair for drug testing when they return to class in the fall. At the same time that administrators broke the news of the mandatory drug testing to students in special assemblies at Gilmour Academy and St.

Read more at: www.cleveland.com

Report Fuels Debate About Ohio’s Method For Funding Charter Schools

cash kristiewells


A new report adds to the ongoing tension between publically funded, but privately operated charter schools and traditional public schools.

Innovation Ohio’s recent analysis shows that half of the money transferred from school districts to charter schools in the 2012-2013 school year went to charters with lower performance ratings on the state report card.

The report also finds that all of the money transferred to charters results in six percent less money for kids in traditional districts.

Stephen Dyer, a fellow with the left leaning think tank, says the report points to what he thinks is a fundamental flaw in the way that charter schools are funded.

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Steubenville Coach Found Guilty For Role in Rape Case

Matthew Belardine has been found guilty for holding a party at his home in 2012 where underage drinking led to a 16-year-old girl getting raped. The Plain Dealer reports Belardine has been sentenced to serve 10 days in jail, pay a $1000 fine, and complete 40 hours of community service. Belardine was indicted along with a handful of other school officials for their knowledge of and involvement with the party where the rape occured.

CLEVELAND, Ohio –A former volunteer Steubenville football coach accused of allowing underage drinking at a 2012 party attended by a 16-year-old girl and two high school football players convicted last year of raping her, was sentenced today to serve 10 days in jail.

Read more at: www.cleveland.com

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