Saturday, December 19, 2015


This past week, some members of our group put together some information about the amount of money that every district in Lorain County has sent to charter schools over the past fifteen years. As you can see on this chart, 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 the resolution to invoice the state of Ohio for money lost to charter schools over the past fifteen years along with the following 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 ElyriaKeystone 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). At the time this letter was written,NINETEEN 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?

1. Woodridge

2. Logan-Hocking

3. Troy

4. Elyria*

5. Parma

6. West Clermont

7. Cardinal

8. Keystone*

9. Northmont

10. Jackson

11. Streetsboro

12. Firelands*

13. Lake Local  

14. Bowling Green   

15. Belpre

16. LaBrae

17. Southington

18. Beaver Local

19. Northridge

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.


Lorain County Parents Supporting Our Children and Teachers

****Lorain County Parents Supporting Our Children and Teachers is a grassroots group of 1000+ parents and teachers concerned about current and proposed educational policies.  Our mission is to protect public education, educate and encourage parents to stand up for their parental rights and to partner with Lorain County District Leaders to take back local control.****

You can find an updated list of districts (with links to articles and school websites) that have adopted the resolution to bill the state for money lost to charter schools here.

We also felt it worth noting 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. As you can see, and was noted in our email, the Lorain City School District is forced to send almost one- quarter of their funding to charter schools.                         

Total State $ % Sent to
Districts FY16Charters
Elyria$37,849,730 17.80%
Lorain$74,504,866 22.80%
North Ridgeville$9,568,482 14.10%
Oberlin$3,542,891 8%
Shef/Shef Lake$4,662,916 14.90%
Amherst$14,641,882 4.30%
Wellington$5,203,238 6.60%
Avon$3,950,343 12.80%
Avon Lake$2,361,209 19.20%
Clearview$8,105,981 9.90%
Columbia$2,195,000 11.40%
Firelands$6,900,181 4.70%
Keystone$6,156,453 5.40%
Midview$10,628,919 8.10%
County:$190,272,090 16%

In addition to supplying this information to the Lorain County superintendents, we also gave this information to some local news sources including the Chronicle-Telegram. You can read all about their take on this as well as some more information about the Firelands School District adopting the resolution to invoice the state for money lost to charters here.

If you are as disgusted as we were with what we found, you can send this information to your school board making sure to include the sample resolution (which we can email to you) and urge them to adopt the resolution as well. It is imperative that as many districts as possible adopt this resolution as not only will it make the public more aware of how charter schools are funded at the expense of our traditional public schools but it will 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.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ohio Graduation Requirement Nightmare

by Mandy Jablonski

Let’s say you are a tenth grade high school student in the state of Ohio. You probably got all or some (or perhaps none) of your state test scores back last week. Did you get any information about how many points your scores count for in order to fulfill the new graduation requirements for anyone in the class of 2018 and beyond? It appears that the ODE did not have the foresight to include this information with the toolkit that they provided local school districts nor did they bother to include this information on the test results themselves. Luckily, some districts took the time to search through the maze that is the Ohio Department of Education website to provide this information to their students even as the whole points system remains unclear to many.
In addition to being required to take and complete a state minimum of 20 required credits (or in some cases more, depending on the district), any student that was in ninth grade last year (and subsequently any new high school students) will be expected to “earn a cumulative passing score of 18 points using seven end-of-course state tests.” As of right now, they must receive four of those points on English tests (English I and English II), four points on Math tests (Algebra I and Geometry or Integrated Math I and II), and a combined total of six points on Science (Biology), and Social Studies (American History and American Government). The remaining four points that are required can come from any combination of these tests. A student can earn anywhere from 1 to 5 points toward graduation depending on the scores they received on each test with one point signifying “limited” knowledge of the subject, a two is “basic” knowledge, three is “proficient’, four points is “accelerated”, and five is “advanced”.
For any student taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes in certain subjects they will be able to use this handy conversion chart to see how many points they will receive toward graduation. What AP or IB classes qualify depends on where you look on the ODE website as I found three different answers depending on where I looked. The link I just provided says that AP or IB Physical Science, Biology, American History, and American Government exams can be used while another area of the website mentions  Biology, American History, and American Government. Yet a third location only mentions AP or IB American History and American Government exams fulfilling the requirement. I suspect they may not have included AP or IB Physical Science in two of these examples because the state has already decided to phase out the Physical Science end-of-course exam. That test will only be made available to a student, who is currently taking Biology, that would like to retake it for a better score.
It is worth noting that some districts are recommending that students who got a 1 or a 2 on any portion of their state tests should retake them. Yet there are some that have yet to receive their test results. Retakes are Nov. 30- Jan 8 for Science and Social Studies and Dec. 8- Jan. 8 for ELA and Math. You may also note on the above retake link provided by the ODE that they make reference to any student that took Biology last year, but will be taking Physical Science this year. To my knowledge, no school does that as it would essentially be like a child going backward in their education because students always take Physical Science before they take Biology.  You will find the same confusion when trying to figure out what College Credit Plus classes meet the requirements for graduation points (which, by the way, depends on the grade you get in the class and not on any scores on an end-of- course test). Any student that took a class before the end-of-course test was available, for example a student that took Biology prior to the Fall of 2015, can also receive points toward graduation based on their grade in that class.  
I received permission from a parent of a tenth grader to use her child’s results to illustrate just how convoluted, and therefore stressful, this whole system is as it stands right now. This student took Algebra I as an eighth grader. Originally the ODE was going to allow any child that took a class in middle school for high school credit to receive three points toward graduation. Because the ODE recently decided to change the rules and now allow a student in that situation to receive points toward graduation based on their final grade in that class, this student now has five points toward graduation because she received an A in the class. In her freshmen year she took Geometry. She scored well enough on the Geometry PARCC test to earn three points toward graduation. So she now has eight points toward graduation and has fulfilled her four point Math requirement.
Because the ODE also recently decided to change their stance from high school students receiving three points toward graduation if they took a class before the end of year test was available, to one based on their final grade in the class, this student has five points toward graduation for receiving and A in the Biology class that she took in ninth grade. This takes her total points up to 13 and she now has five points toward the requirement of six points in Science and Social Studies. She did very well on the English Language Arts PARCC test to earn four points toward graduation. This also satisfies the requirement of four points on the ELA portion of testing. This now takes her total up to 17. She needs one more point in Science or Social Studies to fulfill the six point requirement for those subjects and she is also only one point away from the 18 total that she needs to graduate. All tenth graders take American History and therefore take the end of year test in that subject. She will only need to score a one on this test and she will have fulfilled all of the point requirements for graduation by the end of this year.
That seems like a lot to figure out, doesn’t it? Even though the state created this mess they are insisting that each individual district figure out the points for themselves. This is a task that is primarily the responsibility of school guidance counselors. School guidance counselors have not only taken on many new roles in recent years but also have an average caseload of 480 students per counselor in the state of Ohio (which is higher than the national average of 471:1 and nearly double the “ideal” amount recommended by the American School Counselors Association). Imagine the amount of time it will take them to figure all of the points out for each individual student, what tests they may want to retake, how many points in each category they still need to fulfill, etc. This is time that would be better spent dealing with the very serious, very adult problems many children deal with today.
As if all of this were not confusing enough, there are two other pathways to graduation being made available to students. There is the “career path” in which students can earn twelve points through an industry- recognized credential or group of credentials in a single career field, and receive a workforce readiness score on the WorkKeys assessment. More information about the acceptable industry recognized credentials can be found here. The required workforce readiness score on the WorkKeys assessment, which consists of three sections including reading, applied mathematics, and locating information, is a combined total of thirteen for all three sections for any student in the class of 2018 and 2019. Students in the class of 2020 and beyond must score a total of 14 points on all three parts of the WorkKeys assessment.
The third path to graduation requires students to get a remediation-free score in English and Math on a nationally recognized college admission exam. Which exams and what scores will be acceptable will be determined later this year by the State Board of Education so students can take them in their junior year (starting in 2017) should they choose this path to graduation. The state will pay one time for students to take the WorkKeys assessment or the college entrance exam.
Because the ODE did not have all of the details worked out before this all went into effect, some things have already changed within the last year. This has resulted in a lack of cohesion of the ODE website as I have already demonstrated here. I learned to look for the newest information on the website and assume it is the most accurate but that still is not a perfect system because it is difficult to know if there is any other information on the topic in other areas of the website.The state school board is currently mulling over the idea of replacing the Algebra I exam with an Algebra II exam for students that enter ninth grade on or after July 1, 2016 which will be yet another change. Maybe they should make sure what they are currently asking of people is more clear before they rush to change things again. Add to that the fact that we are now dealing with two different testing vendors in as many years for ELA and Math because the state dumped PARCC and chose AIR (who already supplied the Science and Social Studies state tests last year, as well as the OGTs and OAAs before that). And even though the state is busily patting themselves on the back for shortening testing times in most cases, there is still a total of a three month testing window at the high school level that will continue to unnecessarily disrupt the learning process.
All of this, and so much more, disproportionately affects any student currently in tenth grade. While the ODE is working to iron out all of the kinks in this system they obviously put in place before it was ready, these children, their parents, and local school districts are left scrambling to make sense of it all. This is supremely unfair to all of them, but most importantly to these children who have so much riding on the results of these tests.