Eye on Education

Molly Bloom

Digital Reporter

Molly Bloom left StateImpact Ohio in December 2013 to serve as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has covered education and other topics for the Austin American-Statesman and the Newark Star-Ledger. A New Jersey native, she has a bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton University.

  • Email: OHIO_molly@stateimpact.org

Columbus Dispatch: Taxpayers’ $1.2 Million Propped Up Owner’s Second Charter-School Bust”

Earlier this year, James McCord resigned as superintendent of Virtual Community School of Ohio, an online charter school sponsored by the Reynoldsburg school district that is facing financial and management troubles — such as suspected nepotism . The school also faces federal censure after failing to properly educate students with disabilities.

McCord went on to open eight new charter schools this school year, all managed by a for-profit company he founded. Those schools closed last month–after collecting more than $1 million in state funds.

By the time the Olympus schools closed, one had only four confirmed students; another had five; another, six. In all, the eight schools had a total of 128 students show up.

In a way, McCord’s venture was no different from many start-up companies that don’t make it, except for one thing: Ohio taxpayers helped fund this business failure. The state paid Olympus schools about $1.2 million, most of it for students it couldn’t confirm received schooling, the state Department of Education said.

Read more at: www.dispatch.com

Legislators Already Want to Change Ohio’s New Teacher Evaluation System

Empty classroom

Stacey Shintani / Flickr

Schools across Ohio are using a new way of evaluating teachers this year — and state lawmakers already want to make changes.

A bill introduced earlier this month by state Sen. Randy Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green, would change the new teacher evaluation system. It would allow teachers to be evaluated less frequently and have less of their evaluation based on their students’ academic growth.

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Former Miami University President Says the “Country Clubification” of College Has a Dark Side

Former Miami University President James Garland led successful efforts to recruit more out-of-state students to Miami University by marketing the public college as a market “a kind of elite public university.” Those efforts included using merit aid and borrowing heavily to upgrade the school’s recreational facilities and dorms.

But he tells Pro Publica that while those efforts paid off for Miami University financially, they had a downside. Garland says he wishes he had been more aware of how things like installing climbing walls in gyms and serving sushi in dining halls can hurt a school’s academic rigor and standards.

I just think there’s a movement these days among universities that are able to do this, to turn themselves into country clubs. But inevitably that comes at expense of academic rigor and the quality of the academic program.

In my tenure we certainly contributed to this trend. And there’s a price you pay for that. For every dollar you put into building a student sports facility –- workout rooms and exercise rooms and squash courts and things of that sort — every dollar you put into that is a dollar you’re not spending on improving classrooms or paying your professors a high enough wage that you can recruit from higher up in job pool…

The problematic thing is that it loads the universities up with debt and with everyone doing it, the competitive advantage of doing it is quickly lost. If everyone is trying to recruit from the same pool of students, then there are no winners. Everyone just spends a lot of money and gets the same number of students.

Read more at: www.propublica.org

Ohio Online Charter School Didn’t Follow Laws on Educating Students with Disabilities

boys finger on computer keyboard

John Watson / Flickr

An Ohio online charter school was cited by the U.S. Department of Education for failing to serve students with disabilities, the department announced this week.

The school agreed to make a host of changes in response to the federal findings.

That agreement marks a “first-of-its-kind resolution” that promises “equal access to educational opportunities for students with disabilities in virtual charter schools,” according to the department.
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Why the Columbus School Levy Failed

This week Columbus school district voters rejected a 9-mill levy that would have increased local property taxes by 24 percent. The levy would also have sent some local tax dollars directly to charter schools.

Rhonda Johnson, head of the Columbus Education Association, and a vocal supporter of the issue, said Wednesday on All Sides with Ann Fisher that she thought voters had lost confidence in the school system.

“I think it boils down to the trust because when the community puts their trust in us we do better at the polls and I just think there was a lack of trust,” Johnson said.

Read more at: wosu.org

In Ohio First, Career-Technical Education Teacher Named Teacher of the Year

Ohio 2013 Teacher of the Year Deb McDonald

Ohio Department of Education

Ohio 2013 Teacher of the Year Debra McDonald

For the first time, a vocational education teacher has been recognized as Ohio Teacher of the Year.

The 2013 Ohio Teacher of the Year is Debra McDonald, 53.

McDonald teaches high school at Wayne County Schools Career Center in northeastern Ohio. She also operates a preschool at the career center where her students work as assistants.
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Infographic: Everything You Want to Know About November 2013 School Levy Results

levyinfographicthumbnailThere were nearly 200 school tax issues on the ballot in the November 2013 general election.

Nearly two-thirds of those issues passed — but some kinds of issues were more likely to pass than others.

Check out this infographic to explore the data and trends behind this election’s levy results. And search district-by-district, state-wide levy results here.

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Ohio School Levy Results for Nov. 5, 2013 General Election

voting sticker november 2013

Molly Bloom / StateImpact Ohio

Nearly two-thirds of school tax issues on the Nov. 5 ballot were approved by voters, according to unofficial election results.

Voters rejected most requests to increase taxes by approving new taxes or replacing existing levies.

But voters approved nearly all requests to renew existing tax levies.

That initial pattern is in line with results from recent off-year elections.
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Youngstown State University President: Under New Performance Funding Formula, Open Enrollment is a Liability

The state budget Gov. John Kasich signed earlier this year ties funding for public colleges and universities to graduation rates and other performance measures.

Now the president of Youngstown State University says the school is moving away from its open-enrollment policy. Under that policy, the school accepted every student who applied.

Besides doing a disservice to the student, admitting students who aren’t prepared for college hurts the university, [President Randy Dunn] said.

Under a new funding formula, about half of the university’s state support is driven by its graduation rate. YSU’s most recent six-year graduation rate is about 37 percent.

Students dropping out negatively affects the rate.

Read more at: www.vindy.com

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