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Lawmakers Should Collaborate With Local School Superintendents

February 3, 2017

School leaders have so much education, experience, and knowledge to offer our lawmakers for the benefit of sound educational policy-making.

According to Bill Phillis, of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding: Governors and legislators should depend heavily on boards of education and their employees when formulating education policy. Prior to the last three decades, school personnel had substantial and consequential involvement in education policy formulation. Since the early 1990s in Ohio, governors and legislatures have depended more heavily on edicts from Washington, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), anti-public education think tanks and major foundations such as Gates and the Walton family for advice and direction in education policy development. Currently, ODE does not encourage local school leaders to frequent the Statehouse. https://publiceducationpartners.org/2016/11/07/importance-local-school-leaders-standing-together-education-policy-issues/

Many local school district superintendents have formed coalitions to address the problems caused by poorly-developed educational legislation. In November, Ohio school superintendents went to the Statehouse for a Public Education Rally, joined by a crowd of 400 other concerned citizens asking that educational leaders be involved in creating school policy. School superintendents need to be involved in the process, not just left to figure out how to comply. http://networkforpubliceducation.org/2016/11/the-day-the-supers-came-to-the-ohio-statehouse/

Re-engagement of local school district leaders is essential for the improvement of public education and for ending the encroachment of the privatization of public education. This rally was the first step to returning public policy regarding education back to the professionals who are on the front line of educating children on a daily basis. (Bill Phillis, Ohio E & A)

Imagine how helpful school superintendents could be if they were invited to collaborate with their elected leaders!

Ohio’s Greene County school superintendents recently met with their state legislators and recommended a list of logical solutions to problems facing Ohio public school districts. Their letter, printed below, is a forward-thinking approach that every organization of county superintendents should consider.

 

Please share this article with your local school superintendents and ask that they send a similar letter to your state representatives. The following text is an easy-to-use template that they can copy, paste, and personalize to get the process started:

Dear (Legislators’ Names):

Thank you for collaborating with the __________ County school superintendents by considering their input, concerns, and plausible solutions relative to public schooling.

Below, you will find our suggestions for improving education in the state of Ohio:

* Limit state testing. ESSA does not require as many tests as we have had in recent years. Ohio should lead the nation in reducing testing, not increasing it, and this aligns with the interest of parents.

* The new graduation requirements need to change. The _________ County superintendents suggest that graduation requirements be a local decision and should be established by each respective Board of Education.

* Eliminate the College Credit-Plus (CCP+) program. Focus on Advanced Placement (AP) classes which are much more rigorous, and allow for the Post-Secondary Educational Option (PSEO) to be reinstated.

* College and career opportunities to be defined more clearly and funded adequately to address the needs and goals of Ohio and based upon workforce requirements of each region.

* Reconsider Ohio’s return on for charter schools in the state and require the same video of accountability as the manager schools. We feel the use of public funds currently being offered to consistently unsuccessful charter schools could be better invested as a way to offer incentives finding success in so many of Ohio’s public school systems.

* Examine the state’s responsibility to the safe transportation of students. Funding for busing has nearly evaporated, yet the districts must absorb the rising costs of new bus purchases.

* Keep the teacher performance rubric side of OT ES as it is. Eliminate the student growth measure portion – the 50% based on either testing or student learning objectives is extremely inconsistent, statistically in accurate, and unreliable. Legislators should move to eliminate the 30% student growth measures from requirements for the teacher evaluation.

* Multiple studies and much research support the need for preschool and all day every day kindergarten for students. The state of Ohio should seek solutions to adequately fund this program in all school districts.

In closing, we recommend that our legislators consider this list and extensive list of unfunded mandate that face public schools in Ohio. This list is a small sample of challenges facing Ohio students, and we are happy to share additional input that would provide more information and for clarification. This is a defining time in the history of Ohio’s educational system. 0DE has a chance to be a leader again – instead of a compliance monitoring agency and we support that role.

Again, thank you for reading our thoughts and considering our suggestions. We look forward to enriching future discussions through continued effective communication with all of you.

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Voices

Mandy’s Story

I am Mandy Jablonski, a parent and public education activist from Lorain County Public Education Defenders. Toni Jones, a dedicated parent activist, and I did some research and put together information about the amount of money that every district in Lorain County has sent to charter schools over the past fifteen years.

Over $239,000,000 has left public schools in Lorain County, the majority of which came from the Lorain City School District!

We sent this information, a charter school resolution template, and a sample resolution from the Logan- Hocking District, to every superintendent in Lorain County urging them to join the three Lorain County districts, Elyria, Keystone, and Firelands, that have already adopted a resolution to invoice the state of Ohio for money lost to charter schools over the past fifteen years. Read our email:

Dear Lorain County Superintendents:

Is your school board RESOLUTIONARY?

In accordance with Public Education Partners Call To Action and in conjunction with the ongoing public declaration by Lorain County Superintendents to take back local control of our school districts, the leadership of Lorain County Parents Supporting Our Children and Teachers has taken the liberty of calculating the amount of state funding that each district has unscrupulously been forced to hand over to educational thieves, more commonly known as Charter Schools.

As shown on the attached spreadsheet, since fiscal year 2002, a grand total of $239,062,557 has been stolen from our Lorain County public school districts. Lorain Public Schools have incurred the largest loss of funding with a 13 year total of $125,563,241. These figures were extrapolated from data supplied by the Ohio Department of Education on their website.

Are you aware that Lorain gives almost one-quarter of their state funds to charters? They are in academic distress and in danger of a full state takeover. How are they supposed to help children if they do not have the resources they need? Think of all of the support staff and new programs that money could be spent on. You might also be surprised to know that Avon Lake will give 19.20% of their state money to charters in fiscal year 2016.

Lorain County Parents Supporting Our Children and Teachers is painfully aware of the potential of the “Youngstown Plan” unfolding in our own backyard and we feel strongly that Lorain County civic leaders, school districts and taxpayers need to unite and refuse to allow such an educational atrocity to happen to the children of Lorain City Schools on our watch. Exposing this loss of funding to charter schools in Lorain and county-wide is a vigilant step that needs to be taken to uncover these unethical practices and rally EVERY taxpayer within EVERY Lorain County district to fight against the reformers.

In addition to the spreadsheet, also attached is a resolution template, as well as a sample resolution and invoice that Logan-Hocking School District sent to the ODE to demand repayment of funding that their district and children lost to charter schools. We have included everything for you so as not to drain any of your resources and enable you to execute this Call to Action in the most swift and efficient manner.

Thank you Elyria, Keystone and Firelands for having already boldly answered this Call To Action, as requested by concerned parents in your district (Mandy Jablonski-Elyria and Toni Jones-Firelands). Twenty-Nine school boards have already passed resolutions to call attention to how, year-in and year-out, money is being taken away from traditional public school systems to support charter schools that traditionally have much lower academic achievement rates than public schools. When will your district be added to this elite list?

It is our sincere hope that each of you will take advantage of the tools we have shared with you today and take urgent and immediate action. We welcome the opportunity to partner with you, as the voice of the parents, for any future endeavors related to regaining local control.

Sincerely,
Lorain County Parents Supporting Our Children and Teachers

Our group also noted the amount of money that each district in Lorain County received from the state for Fiscal Year 2016 and what percentage of those funds went to charter schools. The Lorain City School District is forced to send almost one-quarter of its funding to charter schools!

Lorain County Public Education Defenders encourages other activists to send this information to their school boards, and urge them to adopt the resolution as well. Adopting this resolution will make the public more aware of how charter schools are funded at the expense of traditional public schools. It will also send a strong message to the state that they must, at the very least, change the way that these poor performing charter schools are funded.

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