Monday, September 5, 2016

Ohio's ESSA Stakeholders Meeting Takeaways

I sent this email to DEA members in my school...

ASKHOLE:  Definition - Someone who asks for your input and then does what they want anyhow.

Wednesday night Donna O’Connor and myself attended the Department of Educations ESSA stakeholders meeting at the King Arts Complex.  When I first entered the ESSA “stakeholders” meeting I was excited.  About 200 people were there.  I thought, ”Whew, they are finally listening.”

The tables were packed with people.  One person at each table was a recorder from ODE who was taking notes on what was said.  I didn’t like the questions.  They missed the point entirely.  We went around the table and introduced ourselves.

Kevin Griffin, classroom teacher.
Donna O’Connor, DEA President, 23 years classroom experience.
Jen Stack, Dublin parent, Senate aide, zero teaching experience.
SomeLady 1, House Rep aide, zero teaching experience.
SomeGuy 1, House Rep aide, zero teaching experience.
SomeGuy 2, Represents the Ohio Charter School Alliance, zero teaching experience.
SomeGuy 3, Software Engineer, zero teaching experience.
SomeGuy 4, Accountant, zero teaching experience.
SomeGuy 5, a Representative to the Educational Service Center (ECS), zero teaching experience.

This is who ODE is collecting info from regarding the future of our schools.  Of the eight people at our table, TWO have taught.  I wonder what that conversation would have looked liked had Donna and I not been there.

To be fair, Jen is well informed and put forth relevant statistics and antidotes about poverty and school diversity.  After Donna, Jen, and I started talking the other 5 irrelevants pretty much sat there and nodded their heads the rest of the time.  (Actually Charter School guy chimed in here and there and was OK.)

And then there are the questions that were asked. If you look at page two of the pdf, each question was asked and answers were recorded.  I'll spare you a detailed lashing, but it boils down to this:

Student support was at the end (least important) and didn’t really address student supports.  Do you wonder why?  I don’t.  We know what works: lower class sizes, relevant tests that give immediate feedback to inform instruction, time for teachers to collaborate and share ideas.  Give students these three things and schools will improve.  (Not to say we aren’t already going great.)  But these things cost money, so instead of actually addressing the problem we continue to cake lipstick on our proverbial pig by focusing our conversations on problems created by our legislature and ODE like school report cards, standardized testing, Common Core, OTES, accountability, rigorous curriculums and various other smoke screens and quick fixes.

So here is the link to take an online ODE survey regarding ESSA.  Don’t get caught up in the details of their questions like “basic components of evidence-based improvement systems.”  Redirect your answer to what is important to you.  Hopefully they are actually listening.  I’m sure a public info request will be following at some point in time.

Maybe if every teacher in the state says we need lower class sizes and have less testing they can’t be askholes.

And in case you were wondering, it's been 7,105 days since Ohio's school funding system has been ruled unconstitutional.  But we're the ones who need "evidence-based improvement systems" right?

Have a day. ;-)


PS - OEA put together a Commission on Student Success.  They created an awesome document that could/should lead the conversation about the future of education.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

ECOT can't use poverty as an excuse anymore.

Copied from

Cyber charter schools, like ECOT, can't claim their failures are because of poverty anymore.  Even though they try.

Lobbyist Neil Clark, spokesman for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, is throwing to the wind the mantras of "all kids can learn" and "stop making excuses for failure" that prevailed during the birth of Ohio's charter schools.

A recent CREDO report on e-schools shows that e-schools have the same poverty problems as common public schools, but ECOT's graduation rate is still the lowest in the country.
From the CREDO study:

ECOT's advertising campaign obviously kicked in, starting in 2008, and has been drawing in students from all over Ohio.  So now that the poverty level is similar between ECOT and public schools, what is their excuse for 62% of their students not graduating?

So much for "every student can learn," and how about that whole accountability thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

ECOT Exposed - The ECOT Report Card


ECOT's Value-Added score was 842nd out of 843 schools and districts ranked in Ohio.  The only other school to score worse was the Ohio Virtual Academy, another online charter school.  A recent study showed that online charters, like ECOT, had student growth that was "as if students didn't go to school at all."

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why teaching is so hard: the Sweet Spot and the Troubled Spot

This morning I was sitting at Panera Bread grading some timed writings.  My phone buzzed with a twitter notification that so-and-so and so-and-so liked a pic.  Needing a quick break I looked at it.

At first glance I really liked it.  Seeing what is typically running through my mind in an organized and concise chart brings me an odd sense of, I don't know, approval?  I saved the chart to look at later.

I began looking at the chart with my students in mind.  Which kid would fit into which area.  Mark would be here, Amy over there, Samamtha...  Oh, what about Samantha?

Then I realized what is missing from the chart.  What about the students who lack all three of these traits?  There needs to be another area outside the three circles.

"The Troubled Spot?"  Na, too negative.  At-risk is what this group is typically called.  These are the students who are at, or who lack, the very basic needs of Maslow's Hierarchy.

One of the great things about teaching is the challenge and the reward of seeing your students grow.  At times, it's also the most frustrating and saddening part.

Look at the chart.  This is what we must do.  But remember the students who need us more those those who can be placed in these areas.  The ones who are hungry, cold, lonely, neglected, and worse.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Gene V. Glass

Gene V. Glass is a well known education statistician.  I just read his 25 page pdf called "Advancing Democratic Education: Would Horace Mann Tweet?", which was forwarded by Education guru William Phillis of Ohio Education & Advocacy.

I won't pretend that any of you will read his pdf, but here is my synopsis to entice you to take a look:
Pages 1-4 explain why and how the United States education crisis is a myth and that it started with "A Nation at Risk."

Pages 5-25  What is driving Ed Reform?  1.  Economic Self Interest of the White Middle Class, 2.  Racial/Ethnic Apathy, 3.  Corporate Profits.

Page 9 - The Billionaire Boys - Gates, Zuckerberg, Koch, Walmart, etc.

Page 11 - A pretty cool thing on Warren Buffett

Page 16 - ALEC - In my opinion, a must read.

Page 18 - Value-Added is a "stupid idea."

Page 21 - Why parents should opt-out of common core standardized tests.

Page 23 - About Pearson 
So a little gem that was stated in the section about Microsoft/Gates:
Microsoft admits keeping $92 Billion in offshore accounts to avoid paying $29 billion in U.S. taxes.  This equates to TWO MILLION DOLLARS FOR EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THE COUNTRY.

Now, a bit of perspective...

Not every school district is the same.  Columbus has many more students than Madison Plains Local Schools.  So two million to Columbus is different than two million for MP.  But, that is JUST FOR MICROSOFT!

What if every U.S. corporation that is currently avoiding taxes in offshore accounts was no longer able to?  (Can we even consider them U.S. companies?)  How many millions would go back to our schools and communities?

Who is really on your side?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Email to OCMC

Dear Members of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission,

I am dismayed and disappointed by the fact that our government is trying to silence the voice of voters by making the State School Board even more rooted in political ideology then it already is.  Clearly the testing/accountability and charter/privatization experiment on hundreds of thousands of Ohio's students is not having the desired effect, and the move make the State School Board 100% Governor appointed is an obvious move to give this failed experiment a new life.

Ohio is going in the wrong direction.  We have fallen from 5th in the country to 23rd in national education rankings because of governmental intrusion in our classrooms.  To fix our schools we need a board whose only goal is to do what is best for our children.

Please keep politics out of our classrooms by making the State School Board an independent, nonpartisan, panel who can truly put the needs of students and communities first.

Kevin Griffin
Dublin, Ohio