Contact: Keary McCarthy, 614-425-9163


COLUMBUS – Local taxpayers are being forced to subsidize charter schools, many of them with poor academic records, according to a new study by the Ohio Charter School Accountability Project. Education Policy experts and school superintendents came together today to explain how an underfunded state mandate can force school districts to use local tax revenues to subsidize the cost of sending students to charter schools.

“In many cases, far more money follows the student to the charter school than the state would have sent to the local school district for the same student,” said Innovation Ohio Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer. “When that happens, local tax revenue, in many cases, ends up subsidizing these larger state payments to charter schools.”

Instead of money raised through school levies going to the local public schools, some of it is being used to subsidize the cost of paying for students to attend charter schools – many of which are performing poorly. The report identifies the districts that are forced to pay the most, in a further erosion of local control.

“This study is a good example of why we launched the Know Your Charter website and the importance of having a greater understanding of how Ohio charter schools are operating and being funding,” said Ohio Education Association President Becky Higgins. “In this case, we are shedding light on part of the state mandate for funding charter schools that has received too little attention – namely, the unfair burden it places on local communities. It’s time to re-examine the state law, particularly given the sorry performance of so many charter schools in Ohio.”

The report shows that the average school district last year received $4,149 per pupil, which is $1,596 less than the $5,745 base amount paid to charter schools. This means that local school districts have to make up that $1,596 state funding shortfall by using local revenue or reduce educational opportunities for children.

“When the taxpayers vote for a local levy they expect the dollars generated to stay with their local traditional public school,” said Greg Ring, Superintendent of the Lorain County Educational Service Center. “Six of the county’s 14 districts actually pay more in local dollars to charters than is deducted from the district’s state foundation on a per pupil funding basis. In one of those districts, three times more local dollars leave the district when compared to its state deductions to charters.”

The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project is a joint venture of the Ohio Education Association and Innovation Ohio. The Ohio Education Association represents more than 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities. Innovation Ohio is a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus. For more information, please visit:



NEW POLL DATA BUOYS PUBLIC ED ADVOCATES: With a month to go before midterms, the activists at Democrats for Public Education are urging candidates to speak up — loudly — about their support for neighborhood schools. DPE gave Morning Education a sneak peek at new poll data that shows voters strongly back liberal priorities such as increasing funding for public schools, lowering class sizes and expanding programs to help low-income children overcome the disadvantages of poverty. Voters also express strong support and admiration for public school teachers — who have been popping up in candidates’ campaign ads for months, precisely because they’re seen as such trusted emissaries. Read more:] <> 

— The national poll of 1,200 active voters, conducted by Democratic polling firm Harstad Strategic Research, found that 79 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of independents and 45 percent of Republicans support increasing funding for public schools. By contrast, voters express serious doubts about reforms such as online learning, private-school vouchers, parent trigger laws and handoffs that let private companies take over management of public schools.

— Candidates across the country have already been playing up education as a theme; the adequacy of school funding is a key issue in the gubernatorial races in Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan and in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. DPE President Steve Rosenthal said he hopes more candidates take the poll data to heart and start beating the drums for public education. “This information could, and should, be used as a road map for those who want to speak out loud and clear in support of neighborhood schools and public education,” he said.

Stay connected as kids and teachers go back to school…There’s an APP for THAT!

The Teaching App at the Head of the Class

Businessweek                                                                      8/29/2014

As kids head back to school, a relatively unknown mobile app is rocketing toward the top of

the most-downloaded lists for both Apple’s and Google’s app stores.

Power of the Arts!

As an art educator deeply committed to teaching integrated curriculum through the arts, I believe that the creative art process encourages students to think critically and creatively about an issue/idea. Being able to find common threads of understanding and synthesizing the seemingly unrelated into new meaning that has value to the creator and the greater audience is the Power of the Arts.  As the following article suggests, learning without being able to put it into a context that students can understand, will not give our students the skills they will need to face 21st century challenges yet revealed to us.  Please read on…..

STEM is incredibly valuable, but if we want the best innovators we must teach the arts

By Justin Brady September 5 at 7:00 AM

Math and science matter, but that’s not all. (Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post)

We’ve all heard it before, we are facing another crisis. This time it’s one of mammoth proportions, and not the wooly kind. Public education isn’t making the cut as high-tech jobs across the nation go unfilled. What’s a country to do? Knowing this challenge will only compound with time, policy leaders have acted.  To compete in a global market place, our leaders are doing everything in their power to push a focus on STEM education. Sure, it’s great to see our leaders unite under a common goal, but are they going the wrong way down the field?

In 2011 the governor of my home state of Iowa, Terry Branstad, signed anexecutive order creating a STEM advisory council.

“An increased focus in science, technology, engineering and math will lead to higher achievement and better career opportunities” Branstad said. He’s not alone. Within the last few years, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill furthering STEM education and governors in Utah and Oklahoma have also got in on the action. Some states like Massachusetts announced initiatives as early as 2009.

President Obama has put a focus on STEM education with the White House’s Educate to Innovate initiative. The campaign is more than just a federal initiative, but has the combined effort of non-profits, corporations and science and engineering societies, garnering $700 million in public-private partnerships, getting 100 top CEOs on board and launching a new non-profit called Change the Equation and others.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is believed to be the answer for our high tech job shortage. It’s refreshing to see so many of our leaders finally uniting under a common goal. They see the value of developing our students into leaders who will solve challenging problems in our world and that’s a good thing.

“Making things faster, cheaper, better, bolder is what STEM does to many industries. The computer industry is the one we look to today most commonly, but before that it was the automotive industry, the defense industry and any industry involving the business opportunities inherent to achieving economies of scale,” said John Maeda, a graduate from MIT, former President of Rhode Island School of Design, author of Laws of Simplicity and partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.

But STEM leaves out a big part of the picture. “It misses the fact that having multiple perspectives are an invaluable aspect of how we learn to become agile, curious human beings,” Maeda said. “The STEM ‘bundle’ is suitable for building a Vulcan civilization, but misses wonderful irrationalities inherent to living life as a human being and in relation to other human beings.”

A foundation in STEM education is exceptional at making us more efficient or increasing speed all within set processes, but it’s not so good at growing our curiosity or imagination. Its focus is poor at sparking our creativity. It doesn’t teach us empathy or what it means to relate to others on a deep emotional level. Singapore and Japan are two great examples. “[They] are looked to as exemplar STEM nations, but as nations they suffer the ability to be perceived as creative on a global scale.” Maeda said.

Is the United States completely misinformed and heading down the wrong track? Not entirely. Science, technology, engineering and math are great things to teach and focus on, but they can’t do the job alone. In order to prepare our students to lead the world in innovation, we need to focus on the creative thought that gives individuals that innovative edge.

To learn where that edge comes from, the University of Michigan observeda group of its honors college graduates from 1990 to 1995 who majored in the STEM fields. Their research uncovered that of those students, the ones who owned businesses or filed patents had eight times the exposure to the arts as children than the general public. The researchers concluded that these results are important to note in our rebuilding of the U.S. economy. “Inventors are more likely to create high-growth, high-paying jobs in our state and that’s the kind of target we think we should be looking for” said Rex LaMore, director of Michigan State’s Center for Community and Economic development.

The arts being the major brain booster and spark behind creativity is overwhelming and shouldn’t be a complete shock. It should be obvious, the arts need to take a seat at the table in this national education reform effort and bright students such as Sarah Pease are attempting to pull that seat up closer. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she led the STEM to STEAMclub at RSID. Leaders like Sarah aren’t suggesting we completely do away with STEM, instead they are suggesting only that we add a letter to the acronym. Adding an “A” spells STEAM and includes the element that has gone unnoticed in this education reform discussion.

“Our contemporary world craves empathy and understanding in the face of an intensified onset of technological advances and a decline in direct interpersonal communication. Art and design can offer just that,” Pease told me.

Are the problems of tomorrow ones that can be addressed from STEM or STEAM? Ask South Korea. Often praised for its sky-high testing scores, beating the United States in math and science, they may know a thing or two about education. Despite testing well however, their students had a lack of interest in the fields that they were leading. Suddenly, with their own crisis on their hands, they sought out to find why was happening. They discovered the science and math fields, while beneficial, were too far removed from any real world application. Their kids were bored. By integrating science and technology with the arts, in 2011 the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology adopted STEAM.

Just as Michigan State has demonstrated alongside countless studies, students involved in quality music programs have shown higher participation with lower drop out rateshigher scores on standardized testing, 22 percent better English scores, 20 percent better in math and have demonstrated better problem solving skills.

Pease’s efforts among many others are apparently working. The STEM to STEAM movement has legs and is getting some much deserved attention. Pease informed me there is already a bipartisan Congressional caucus with about 20 House members, with the sole purpose of integrating the arts into STEM. Texas Instruments recently committed five million dollars to launch a STEAM academy in Plano, Texas and other companies have seen the light as well. “Industry leaders such as Boeing, Nike, Apple, Intel, 3M, and many more cite design and/or creativity to be a priority for their companies when seeking innovative solutions,” said Pease. She even has the numbers to back it up broken down by region.

Focusing on STEM as a tool to fill high-tech jobs and grow innovation is insufficient. The arts are more than just an activity that students enjoy at school, or a fun activity that can keep students occupied. The arts are more than entertainment or enjoyment, and certainly provide more opportunity beyond professional musicianship. The power of the arts (and yummy Raisin Brahms) may be the very thing we are missing.

As the kiddos go back to school, knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math are certainly important, but their imagination, creativity and how they interact with others is critical. Like any flower, the stem is valuable but the bloom on top inspires our imagination — and that’s what people connect to.

Brady is a writer and speaker focused on cultivating creativity. He founded the Iowa Creativity Summit and lives in Des Moines, where he owns Test of Time Design. He contributed to The Laws of Subtraction. Find him on Twitter, @JustinBrady.

Students are NOT Test Scores!

On August 14, 2014,  I had the opportunity to attend Cincinnati Public School’s State of the School Event.  CPS laid out a bold plan, My Tommorow*ed, that envisions, within six years, 100% of all seventh graders will graduate prepared to actively pursue their chosen path. My Tomorrow reimagines schools in a way that they believe will fuel an enhanced student experience by combining increased rigor, the latest technology and supportive adult relationships.  The aim is to do the best job possible preparing our students for success in the real world.

This YouTube link was shown at this event.

I could not have drawn the conclusions any better!

Let’s put critical and creative thinking back into our schools!

Let’s give our teachers the time and resources to truly treat students as individuals, not merely a test score!




Health Barriers to Learning, Birth to 3rd Grade

This link will take you to a report that was prepared by the United Way Research Council. The report is intended to inform the leadership and volunteers of UW and the community at large about the critical connection between health and education.  It also provides suggested ways to reduce the health barriers through programs and policy making.

 Health Barriers to Learning

ECOT Founder Finds Unflattering “Fact Sheet” At Pro-Charter Event

Charter school advocates attending a luncheon at the Ohio Statehouse last Thursday received some unexpected information from some uninvited guests when volunteers from the Ohio Friends of Public Education (OFPE) and Moving Ohio Forward (MOF) arrived to distribute handouts to the group.   One of the attendees and scheduled speakers was millionaire ECOT founder William Lager.

According to MOF, the volunteers “provided luncheon guests with a ‘fact sheet’ that highlights both ECOT’s record of failure in educating Ohio students —and its record of success in obtaining millions of dollars in funding from Ohio taxpayers. The fact sheet also summarizes the campaign contributions ECOT founder William Lager has lavished on Ohio public officials.”


A reader sent us this picture of an attendee reading the flier.

Some key points on the fact sheet (full document here):

  • ECOT’s graduation rate on the latest report card was 35.3%. The average for traditional school districts is 91.4%. The lowest traditional district is 49.7%.
  • ECOT’s Performance Index score of 68.1 was worse than even the lowest rated of Ohio’s 613 school districts.
  • Since the time John Kasich office in 2011, William Lager has contributed $658,225 to candidates and political parties here in Ohio.
  • In his first year in office in 2011, Kasich spoke at the ECOT graduation ceremony

You can read more about Lager and ECOT

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