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Ohio Teachers Union Worried About Common Core Tests

Bruce Ackerman / Ocala Star-Banner /Landov

Tea Party members like Beverly LaCross, right, hold signs to protest the Common Core in Florida.

From the East Coast to the Midwest and beyond a backlash is developing to the Common Core – a new set of national education standards that schools in many states are already in the process of implementing.

Opposition began with Tea Party groups.

But now teachers unions in Ohio say they have their own concerns, mostly about the tests that will accompany the new curriculum.

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Watch Your Head! Concussion Awareness Law Now in Effect

jedIII / Flickr

A new Ohio law aimed at protecting student athletes after they’ve received a concussion goes into effect today.

Last fall, of the more than 46,000 high school football players in the state, 175 were pulled out of games because they got concussions. Of those, 14 were cleared and sent back into play.

Under the new law, coaches aren’t allowed to send those kids back into the game.

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Why It’s So Hard for Rural Schools to Pass Levies

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

There are no walls or doors between classrooms at Warren Local schools. Instead, the school has put up bookshelves and lockers as makeshift walls.

Carrollton Schools in rural Carol County hasn’t passed a levy since 1977. Union Local Schools in rural Belmont County hasn’t passed an operating levy since 1976. And the mid 1990′s was the last time officials at Warren Local Schools in rural Washington County managed to pass a levy for new funds to run the district.

Tom Gibbs, the superintendent at Warren Local, says he’s tried to pass six levies in the last four years, and failed each time.

In fact, since 2000, Washington County has passed just 20 percent of its schools requests for new local money.

Compare that to Franklin County, which includes Columbus. It has passed 51 percent of all new school levy requests. Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, has passed 43 percent of theirs over the last 13 years.

Ohio has a rural-urban funding gap, and it shows.

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Touts Cleveland Plan, Learns to Plant Beans

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited a Cleveland school today to tout the Cleveland Plan, the district's effort to turn around its struggling schools.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Ohio today to talk about education reform efforts and meet with area superintendents.

He used his visit to Cleveland to tout efforts to turn around the failing district, known as the Cleveland Plan.

Duncan’s first stop was a preschool classroom at Anton Grdina elementary school, where he learned to plant beans along with several Cleveland preschoolers.

When asked by a teacher to identify the day’s big visitor, the students responded “Mr. Duncan, Barack Obama the President’s friend.”  Continue Reading

Ohio House Moves Away from Kasich’s School Funding Plan

Image courtesy of Ohio House Republican Caucus.

A map released by the Ohio House Republicans shows districts that would get increases in state aid (in green) or no increase (in yellow) under the House's plan.

When Governor John Kasich announced his new school-funding proposal, most superintendents around the state were relieved to hear no one would get a funding cut. Then there was a lot of cheering when Kasich said his new formula would mean rich schools got less and poor schools got more.

As it turned out, the Governor’s description of his plan didn’t fit with the numbers. Projections showed many poor districts would not get an increase, while many districts that are well off would see more in state aid – sometimes a lot more.

Now, the Republican controlled House has come up with its own formula.

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State Takeover Begins in Lorain; Cleveland Schools Granted Exemption

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross announces the takeover of Lorain City Schools. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District was granted a waiver.

The state’s top education official was in Northeast Ohio today to announce the fate of two local school districts: Cleveland and Lorain. Both were slated for state takeovers following years of poor academic performance, but the state will only take over only one district.

After years of getting Fs on its state report cards and failing to make progress, the Cleveland school district was due for a state takeover. That means forming an Academic Distress Commission of people appointed by the state schools’ chief and the local school board to oversee the district’s progress. That commission gets to hire and fire some district employees and establish the district’s budget, among other things.

But Cleveland school officials applied for a waiver exempting the district from a takeover, arguing that the passage of the Cleveland Plan last year would make a state takeover unnecessary and redundant.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross agreed. Continue Reading

Ohio Charter School Serves as Safe Place for Gay Students

Molly Bloom / StateImpact Ohio

ACPA students wait backstage at the school's drag show.

At her old school, 16-year old Katie Johnsen says she couldn’t walk down the hallway without someone calling her a “dyke.”

After she cut her hair off, things just got worse.

Johnsen is now a student at Arts and College Preparatory Academy, a Columbus charter school where about a third of the students identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.

The school had gained a reputation as a place welcoming to gay students, and to other students who don’t quite fit in. It offers classes in gay history, and students write and perform plays about tolerance.

Founded in 2002 with about 60 students, Arts and College Preparatory Academy, or ACPA, now has 240 students and an”A” rating from the state for its academic performance. Continue Reading

Rural Schools Struggle to Prepare for Common Core’s Online Tests

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Students at Union Local MIddle School work on PowerPoints in a computer class. The district says they don't have nearly enough computers to meet the tests to be administered by the Common Core curriculum.

Testing in schools is moving quickly from pencil and paper to computers.

That’s kind of a problem for rural schools; many don’t have the technology.

But a new curriculum, called the Common Core, is pushing districts in many states – including Ohio – into the Internet era.

That’s because the new standardized tests that accompany the Common Core will be given online.

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Rural Schools Hope to Tap into Oil and Gas Drilling Boom

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

A drilling site in Carroll County, not too far from Carrollton Exempted Schools. The district will see a similar site on their property once drilling starts.

Carroll County in east central Ohio is at the center of the oil and gas drilling boom, and the local school district wants to tap into that boom – literally.

After all, rural schools are no longer as poor as they once were because of the discovery of oil and gas in the state, and often on school property. At least that’s the assumption made by Governor John Kasich in his new school funding formula.

“We’re in hopefully a prosperous time where there will be the oil and gas boom and it will impact positively our school district,” says David Quattrochi, superintendent of Carrollton Exempted Schools in Carroll County.

But he says money won’t start flowing from those wells for a couple more years. Continue Reading

Why Rich Districts Get More but Poor Districts Don’t Under Kasich’s New School Funding Plan

Ida Lieszkovszky / StateImpact Ohio

Outside of Carrollton Elementary School hangs a bell that once signaled the change of class when it was still just a one-room school house. The district is poor and rural, and school officials were disappointed to see no funding increases in Governor Kasich's new school funding plan.

“If you are poor you’re going to get more, if you’re richer you’re going to get less,” Governor John Kasich said when he first introduced his new school funding formula.

But a week later, when the administration released estimates of how much money each district would receive, many poor districts saw nothing extra.

But some rich districts saw more.

In some cases a lot more.

So what gives?

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