OTES, Grade-3 Guarantee among new approvals

The U.S. Department of Education just approved Ohio’s plan to ensure that low-income students have equitable access to high-quality teachers. Ohio’s plan is one of 42 approved so far as part of the federal “Excellent Educators for All Initiative,” proposing steps to eliminate access gaps with strategies and innovative solutions “to challenging problems that meet local needs.” In Ohio, the plan involves elements you already have been working on:

  • Third Grade Reading Guarantee
  • Early intervention for students at risk of dropping out
  • Multiple new pathways to graduation
  • An expanded career-technical education system
  • College Credit Plus
  • OTES

Read more here about the federal plan.


Congress closer to passing new ESEA

A Congressional conference committee has approved a bill to revise the No Child Left Behind law signed by President George W. Bush 14 years ago. News media report that the bill allows states to decide whether or how to use student test performance data, especially as they apply to teacher evaluations. It also prohibits the federal government from requiring the use of a particular set of standards, such as the Common Core. It does, however, retain a provision allowing states the power to intervene in the operations of the nation’s lowest-performing 5 percent of schools.

Get your MLK tickets now

Tickets will go fast for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Banquet. This year’s event is Jan. 14 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Our keynote will be Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. The evening also features two awards made to those who have demonstrated efforts to keep alive the ideas and spirit of the late Dr. King: the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award and the Helen Jenkins Davis Award. Tickets to this event are $30 each with tables of eight at $240. To reserve yours, call CEA.

Feds request Ohio charter data

Following the suspension of additional charter school funding, the U.S. Department of Education has told the Ohio Department of Education that it must verify and provide information about its program. A letter from the federal director of the charter schools program stipulates ODE must provide:

  • A report summarizing the status of seven years’ worth of findings in all state-conducted charter school audits
  • A list of and corrections to any information in its grant application that is out-of-date, inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading
  • An explanation of changes to its process for reviewing charter-school authorizers and any additional systems to ensure integrity

Ohio has plans to use federal aid to provide grants of up to $700,000 to applicants seeking to open new charter schools. However, the USDOE suspended the funding and media coverage across the country has focused on the inaccuracies and questionable claims included in the state’s grant application, written by former Ohio school choice director David Hansen. His application claimed that the state had no “poor-performing” charters in the 2012-2013 school year, even though one-third of them didn’t meet a single standard on state report cards that year. He also omitted grades of failing online school, boosting their ratings.

State School Chief will step down

Richard Ross, 65, has announced, via the The Columbus Dispatch, that he will step down Dec. 31 after almost two years as Ohio’s public school superintendent. His announcement comes as the Ohio Department of Education continues to deal with revelations that David Hansen, who ran the charter school program, rigged school data to boost the schools’ ratings. Hansen, whose wife is Gov. John Kasich’s presidential  campaign manager, resigned. The U.S. Department of Education has temporarily halted administration of a $71 million Ohio charter school grant until ODE can assure it the dollars will be spent responsibly. The Ohio Education Association, Youngstown Board of Education, Youngstown Education Association and other education associations also recently filed a lawsuit against Ross, ODE and the State of Ohio to stop the scheduled state takeover of Youngstown City Schools.

Chicago teachers embattled over funding

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Chicago Teachers Union advised its members to prepare for a possible “protracted strike” next year, and the union was expected to take a practice strike vote. The union and Chicago Public Schools are reportedly threatening to strike in response over funding, as the $480 million of the CPS budget that comes from government assistance is still lacking. The paper reported that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged the Chicago Teachers Union not to strike, but rather to unite with Chicago Public School officials in a concerted effort to influence the state to disperse the pension assistance required to avoid layoffs.

The debate over police roles in schools continues

The national debate about the role of police officers in school continued days after a school resource officer in Columbia, South Carolina forcibly removed a student from her desk. The Christian Science Monitor reported that many states give school resources officers “broad authority for charging students with minor offenses”, but more states have begun passing legislative changes to narrow their role in school discipline. The U.S. Department of Education recently hosted a summit for school leaders to discuss best practices in school discipline. The article quotes Janel George of the NAACP who argues for removing “willful defiance” as a cause for suspensions and school discipline.

Rethinking teacher evaluations

The Hillsborough County (Fla.) schools are dismantling the teacher evaluation system developed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Superintendent Jeff Eakins announced that he has formed a committee to transition away from the $100 million Gates program in favor of a structure that has the strongest teachers mentoring others at their schools. This move comes after a report published Sunday in the Tampa Bay Times showed that the Gates program “fell short of many of its goals and cost more to sustain than the district could afford.” Meanwhile, relations between the district and its teachers union “imploded” on Thursday as salary negotiations for the current school year broke down.

The President: Let’s limit testing

President Obama on Saturday called for a cap on standardized testing as his Administration conceded partial responsibility for the over-reliance on the examinations. Media reporting – including two minutes on CBS – is sympathetic toward the new policy, but also focuses on the previous White House push for the testing as being a significant reason that the education system’s reliance on the tests reached the current level.

Former Cleveland, Chicago schools CEO pleads guilty

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former head of Chicago Public Schools, pleaded guilty to fraud on Tuesday, “admitting she steered $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for more than $2 million in kickbacks,” according to ABC World News. Associated Press reported that Byrd-Bennett “faced 20 fraud counts, each with a maximum 20-year prison term.” Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported that “Byrd-Bennett faces up to about 7 1/2 years in prison” for a single fraud count that her plea agreement required. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Byrd-Bennett issued a “tearful apology” following her plea, in which she said Chicago’s children and educators “deserved much more, much more than I gave to them.” Byrd-Bennett served as CEO of the Cleveland Municipal School District from 1998 to 2006.

Ohio charter schools: Questions continue

Education Week reported that “state and federal leaders, along with some advocates, are raising concerns that the state’s beleaguered charter sector may not deserve, or be ready for, such a windfall.” The article describes years of “scandal-ridden headlines” about Ohio’s charters, and notes that voices on both sides of the charter question “point to the Ohio charter sector as an example of the dysfunction that can arise from lax oversight.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Democratic members of Ohio’s congressional delegation are asking Education Secretary Arne Duncan “pointed questions about the $71 million grant Ohio just received to expand charter schools in the state.” (NEA Opening Bell)

False pretenses?

Ohio Department of Education officials applied to the U.S. Department of Education for a boost in charter school funding despite the schools’ poor performance. A number of news outlets reported that federal lawmakers are investigating the details of Ohio’s $71 million charter expansion application because State Superintendent Richard Ross apparently waited until the application was submitted before addressing evidence of charter-school score scrubbing. Meanwhile, the Ohio legislature has sent to Gov. Kasich a bill overhauling charter school regulation.

Deconstructing Duncan’s decisions

From the NEA’s “Morning Bell” newsletter: Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s surprise announcement on Friday that he is stepping down generated a large amount of media coverage over the weekend, with reports focusing on the abrupt nature of Duncan’s departure, on his legacies as education secretary, and on President Obama’s decision to tap John B. King Jr. to serve as acting secretary for the remainder of his term. The Associated Press reported that Duncan’s seven years in office were “marked by a willingness to plunge head-on into the heated debate about the government’s role in education.” The Hechinger Report offers insight into Duncan’s “aggressiveness and urgency” as he pushed for more preschool funding and for performance-based teacher evaluations. It notes, however, that the tide is turning toward stronger state control over public education.

More charter money, despite failures

The U.S. Department of Education will distribute $157 million to create and expand charter schools throughout the nation, despite criticisms that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools. Read more here.

In related news, the North Carolina Senate voted 25-19 to share with charter schools more sources of funding that were previously available only to public schools. Read about it here.

Celebrating Five Years Toward Reform

On Sept. 16, CEA celebrated the progress made through five years of funding from the  National Education Association Foundation’s “Closing the Achievement Gaps” project. With more than $1.25 million in seed money to grow partnerships in the community, we initiated the pilot “100% Project” in the 14 schools of the Briggs and Linden-McKinley high school feeder patterns. With CCS and the United Way of Central Ohio, we brought teachers and families closer together; inspired more teachers to grow professionally; expanded teachers’ opportunities to collaborate; and significantly increased third-grade reading and math scores, gains on high school student performance and improvements in the graduation rate.

cea 100 percent

Pictured at our celebration on Sept. 16 are (left to right): W. Shawna Gibbs, Columbus Board of Education; Tracey D. Johnson, CEA President; Harriett Sanford, CEO of the NEA Foundation; Daniel Good, Columbus City Schools Superintendent; and Gary Baker, President of the Columbus Board of Education.

OTES changes now in effect

Your recent issue of the CEA Voice detailed the changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) that begin this year. We want to remind you of their importance.

The process of calculating and including value-added ratings for inclusion in the evaluation process is NEW. This year, ALL teachers must do two Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) at the beginning of the school year.

The Ohio Department of Education has also clarified that any employee who works with students 50 percent or more of the work day must be evaluated using OTES. That means that now, all tutors and part-time hourly teachers will be included in the teacher evaluation process.

Pertinent details of the CCS-adopted format for this school year include:

Half of the teacher rating is based on summative evaluation of performance, while the entire rating for Licensed Support Professionals (LSPs) will be based on performance.

  • Teachers will develop student growth measures for half of their rating. They will have either professional growth or improvement plans, which they will discuss with administrators at their scheduled conferences. Conferences should be held by Sept. 30, 2015.
  • Teachers will need to submit two (2) student learning objectives (SLOs) to the student learning objectives portal by Oct. 16, 2015, for approval by building assessment leaders.

Evaluations are at these intervals, depending on your rating:

See www.ccsoh.us/Downloads/2015-16_FULL_revised_August_2015.pdf.

Teachers new to CCS will be evaluated by their PAR Consulting Teachers. Teachers who have moved from an LSP position to a teaching position, or vice versa, will move through the full annual evaluation cycle in their new capacities.

The CCS ILEAD Portal will have up-to-date information regarding the CCS teacher evaluation process. If you have specific questions, contact Teri Mullins, CEA (253-4731) or Greg Mild, Office of Learning and Licensure (365-5039).

Seattle teachers on strike

After failed negotiations, Seattle teachers formed a picket line today. The first day of school has been canceled for all of the district’s 53,000 students. The National Education Association shared that teachers are also going on strike in southeast Washington in Pasco while the state legislature struggles to increase funding for education due to a state supreme court order that sanctions the state $100,000 every day that the lawmakers failed to “adequately pay to educate the state’s 1 million school children.”

The Seattle School Board has voted to take legal action against the striking teachers. The strike in Seattle is the first in 30 years. Read more here.

Register for regular NEA education updates here.

Step up the oversight

Fun facts for our new school year:

  • Classrooms are busy.
  • School buses are back on the road.
  • Ohio legislators still have not enacted tougher charter school regulations.

OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro spoke publicly about this issue just as we were getting ready to welcome our students. House Bill 2 was tabled just before summer recess.  The bill includes widespread reform for charter schools. It holds sponsors accountable for the schools’ successes and failures. It requires sponsors to monitor each school’s progress and provide technical assistance, including ensuring each has a plan to improve performance. Some legislators and officials want more fiscal transparency as well and some have called for key accounting changes to make it easier to monitor how the schools’ tax dollars are spent.

DiMauro said: “We’re troubled that the opportunity was lost to start a new school year with an improved system, and hope that members of the House will act swiftly to pass the Senate bill and resist pressure from some who profit from the current system to water down the legislation. Given the scandal around the Ohio Department of Education’s failure to enact charter sponsor ratings in a clean and lawful way, the urgency for action is greater than ever.”


Left behind no more

The people have spoken:

  • 216,000 emails
  • 15,000 phone calls to Congress
  • 32,000 tweets
  • 26,000 petition signers

The result: The U.S. Senate voted 81-17 on July 16 to pass the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act.

Among other things, it provides more opportunity for all students, and reduces the high-stakes associated with standardized tests. The NEA declared that it “returns decision-making to the people who know the names of the students they educate — a paradigm shift from No Child Left Behind that will help restore the original focus on providing opportunities for all students, especially those most in need.”

The House of Representatives passed its own version (voting 218-213), the Student Success Act. The House tweaked it with help from educators, with an amendment to protect schools from being punished when parents choose to opt their children out of standardized tests.

Now members from the Senate and the House will meet in conference to hammer out a final bill that, if approved by both chambers, will then be sent to the White House. You can read more here and here.

He cheated. He’s out.

Last week, the top official governing the state’s charter schools — School Choice Director David Hansen — resigned after admitting that he simply left out failing grades for some charter schools in their evaluations. He said that the “F” grades of those schools would “mask successes elsewhere.” Read some thoughts from a fellow educator on the Ohio Education Association’s blog.

PARCC is out and AIR is in

Ohio will spend $23.6 million to replace PARCC with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) as its Common Core test provider. AIR will give Ohio’s math and English tests next year, along with the science and social studies tests AIR already gave this past year. Read more about AIR here.

Kasich erases some school funding

The Ohio Education Association has expressed great disappointment in Governor Kasich’s decision to veto the Tangible Personal Property (TPP) provision. The TPP supplemental foundation aid in FY 2017 was intended to guarantee that districts do not receive less funding (state foundation aid and TPP replacement) than FY 2015 levels. This veto reduces approximately $78.3 million in FY 2017 for nearly 100 districts that are reliant on theses TPP replacement payments – most of them higher-wealth districts.

Legislators sent the governor a budget that included $955 million more in basic state aid for K-12 schools than the last two-year period. But Kasich’s pen stroke – that sealed vetoes on 44 items within the $71 billion budget – cut public school funding by a total of $84 million. Read more here. Read about the state budget here.

The Ohio budget: Getting closer

Summer break has started – but not at the Statehouse. As the budget deadline nears, the Ohio Senate Finance Committee adopted its own version of the House’s Bill 64, the state budget bill. This version includes fewer dollars for K-12 education than the House version On June 16, the Committee adopted an omnibus amendment with its suggested changes. After the Senate approves of the changes, a conference committee will begin its work to address differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The OEA has compiled an analysis here.

We’re on a reading roll

In case you didn’t hear about it, Columbus has had good news about its reading scores: 87 percent of third-graders met the state’s reading requirements and will move on to the fourth grade, compared with about 74 percent last school year. Our strategies are working, and we are not about to stop now. Thirteen percent of our third-graders still are at risk of failing. An extra-special thanks to our social workers, who in recent days have begun going door to door in the district to let families know that their children get another chance to take the reading tests, in July.

We have their ear about testing

As we told you in the May 11 issue of The CEA Voice, the Ohio Senate Advisory Committee on Testing completed its recommendations to improve state testing for next school year:

  • Shorten and scale the new tests back to once a year.
  • Improve the accommodations for children with IEPs and inform parents.
  • Train intervention specialists and paraprofessionals who assist students with IEPs.
  • Return test results in a timely manner.
  • Add more time to review the tests for standards alignment.
  • Preserve the option for paper/pencil tests for at least the next two school years and provide needs-based funding for technology.

The 30-member panel, which included CEA member Kimberly Jones (Mifflin MS), took only two months to complete its task.  Read the full report here. The Senate is expected to review the proposals.

Schools could receive less money

Under Gov. Kasich’s budget plan, more than half of Ohio’s school districts would receive less funding than in the previous budget. The reason? Formulas that determine which districts are “needy,” and which have the “capacity” to generate more local revenues. Charter schools also receive state funding, and according to a recent study, that funding affects the allocation to school districts. OEA is tracking the developments. See the full story here.


Testing Scrutiny Begins

The Ohio Senate’s Advisory Committee on Testing has laid out its plan to address complaints about the time spent on, stress imposed by, and evaluative use of Ohio’s plethora of standardized tests. CEA Governor Kim A. Jones is on the 28-member panel of school teachers, administrators and policy experts. The first meeting, held March 18, focused on the next steps: review of the PARCC and AIR tests, and a review of the testing schedules across the state. The committee recently sent a survey to principals, teachers and superintendent asking them to describe amounts of time spent on testing versus instruction, technology issues they have experienced with the tests, and for any other comments. Jones said she believes the committee will conduct a thorough review. Its report is due later this spring. Learn more here. The committee’s website includes a public comment area.

OEA weighs in on state budget

The Ohio Education Association testified on House Bill 64 (Ohio’s proposed 2016-2017 budget) on March 5 regarding a number of changes to education policy. Among their concerns:

  • The funding formula remains inadequate, with too much going to unaccountable charter schools.
  • Use of shared attribution to evaluate teachers may not be the best route.
  • De-regulation in hiring for high-performing schools is a slippery slope.
  • Establishment of a Senate advisory committee is a positive first step to fixing problems with excessive student testing.

Read more here.

2014-2015 CEA Staff Survey results released

The annual CEA Staff Survey is administered prior to the Article 211 selective interview process in the spring of every year. The results are published prior to Round One postings so that our members can use the survey ratings to help guide any Article 211 decisions they might make. To access the results, go here.


Kasich’s budget: More? Or less?

On Feb. 2, Gov. John Kasich presented his proposed budget for 2016 and 2017.  It sets limits on standardized testing time and eliminates the fall Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Kasich claims it will provide an additional $700 million in state foundation support to schools. However, the approximate $235 million cut in business’ tangible personal property tax reimbursements to school districts would result in a significantly lower amount. Read OEA’s analysis here.



Advocating for ourselves

CEA is offering a wonderful opportunity to learn how you can leverage your CEA membership by getting involved in the issues. We are holding an Organization and Activist Training session from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, March 7 at the OEA headquarters, 225 E. Broad St. There are so many issues that impact our abilities to make a difference on the job: election results, poverty, the availability of mental health resources for our students, OTES, SLOs, PARCC – and so much more. This event includes CEUs. Register at http://bit.ly/orgactivist.


PAR Consulting Teacher applications due Feb. 27

The deadline to apply to become a PAR Consulting Teacher has been extended to Friday, February 27, 2015 at 5pm. Eligible teachers must hold a bachelor’s degree in education, an active teaching license, and a minimum of five years of teaching experience, three of them with CCS. Submit a letter of interest, resume and three reference letters (from your current building administrator, a current CEA member and another professional) to CEA President Tracey D. Johnson, 929 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205.

List of principal placements for Article 211 announced

To download a list of the principal placements for Article 211, click here.

Please note: Article 211 of the Master Agreement permits members to request to staff reduce themselves from schools, programs or buildings for health or safety reasons or for philosophical differences (i.e. instructional program, teaching assignment, etc.). The reduction must be mutually agreed upon by Human Resources and CEA.

If you want to make a request to be staff-reduced from your current teaching assignment based on philosophical differences, you must write a letter that clearly states the reason(s) for your request. Letters should be sent to Victoria Frye, Human Resources, Columbus City Schools, 270 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215. You should hand deliver the letter and ask for a copy to be time stamped for your records. The deadline to request to be staff reduced is Friday, Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. Emails and faxes will not be accepted. You will not be allowed to make requests for staff-reduction status after Friday, Feb. 13.

The PAR program needs you

CCS is looking for Consulting Teachers (CTs) to join the Peer Assistance & Review (PAR) program. PAR CTs provide consulting, coaching and support services to intern and intervention teachers who enter the PAR program. Eligible teachers must have five years of teaching experience, including three in CCS.

PAR is a nationally recognized program that has become a model throughout the country. CTs also serve as evaluators for the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System.  Submit a letter of interest, a resume and three reference letters (from your principal, a current CEA member and one other professional) to CEA President Tracey D. Johnson, CEA, 929 E. Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43205.


Feb. 13: Staff reduction deadline

The deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 13 for voluntary staff reductions.

Submit signed written requests – with the specific reasons for your request – to Victoria Frye, Human Resources, Columbus City Schools, 270 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215. Emails and faxes will not be accepted. CEA strongly suggests you hand deliver your letter and request a time-stamped copy.

This is likely the last opportunity for additional voluntary staff reductions until after the Feb. 13 deadline.


Columbus charter school teachers to CEO: We want a union

Under the gray skies of a cold January afternoon in Franklinton, a new chapter was started in the book of Columbus labor history. On Thursday, Jan. 22, three charter school teachers at the Franklinton Preparatory Academy (FPA), housed at the former CCS Chicago Avenue Elementary School, stood up for their students, their families and their profession. They read a letter to Marty Griffith, the school’s founder, principal and CEO, informing him of their intent to make FPA the first unionized charter school in Central Ohio.

FPA teachers Geral Leka, Ryan Marchese and Julie Pfeifer took turns reading the in the hallway of the school. The teachers were joined by a delegation of supporters, including OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro, OEA Organizers Jeremy Bainman and Matt Ides, Central Ohio Labor Council Executive Director Walt Workman, CEA Vice President Phil Hayes and other community and labor members.

“Today we will file authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board,” read FPA teacher Ryan Marchese, “representing the overwhelming majority of our educators and non-management staff, triggering a representation election to certify Franklinton Preparatory Academy Education Association (FPAEA) as our bargaining agent.”

These three teachers spoke out because they know that their teaching conditions are their students’ learning conditions. Specifically, the teachers addressed the need for a comprehensive discipline policy, adequate educational resources and the respect they deserve as education professionals.

“Educational resources are an important part of every school,” read FPA teacher Julie Pfiefer, “and in order to do the best job possible for our students and administrators we need certain items. These items include textbooks, manipulatives, a fully stocked school library with both fiction and non-fiction books, and videos, just to name a few.

FPA occupies several floors of a former district school– Chicago Avenue ES. CCS opened Chicago Avenue ES in 1897 and closed it 1982, along with Central HS. FPA opened in August of 2013, under the sponsorship of St. Aloysius. Charter School Specialists LLC, a for-profit consulting and operations firm that contracts with numerous charter schools is a partner with FPA.

The National Labor Relations Board will supervise an election to certify the FPAEA as the teachers’ exclusive bargaining representative in about a month and a half. You can read the full letter from the FPA teachers regarding their intent to unionize here.