Ohio Alliance for Arts Education Arts on Line Education Update

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update
Joan Platz
March 30, 2015
1)  Ohio News
•131st Ohio General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate are on spring break until April 14, 2015. Committee meetings will begin again on April 16th.
•Update on the House Finance Committee:  The House Finance Committee, chaired by Representative Smith, completed public hearings last week on HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget for FY16-17.  The chairman expects to use the next two weeks to consider amendments and develop a substitute bill, which is expected to be introduced the week of April 14, 2015.  House Finance committee members have discussed changing Governor Kasich’s school funding proposal to adjust for the way the Current Agricultural Use Valuations (CAUVs) affect the school funding formula for lower wealth rural school districts.  Lawmakers are also expected to make changes in proposed tax cuts and increases in the sales tax, CAT tax, and severance tax on oil and gas production.
•Senate Advisory Committee on Testing:  Hannah News reports that the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing, chaired by Senator Lehner, met on March 25, 2015 to review the results of a survey of educators, principals, and superintendents about testing in Ohio.  According to Matt Williams, who is facilitating the work of the committee, over 17,000 surveys have already been returned completed.  Most of the respondents reported having some problems with testing this year.  The committee is also discussing the purpose of testing, and will develop questions to present to representatives of PARCC, Pearson and AIR at an April 15, 2015 meeting.  The committee has created a web site to collect public feedback about testing at http://sact.ohiosenate.gov.
•ODE Issues Guidance on 2014-15 Safe Harbor Provisions:  The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released on March 24, 2015 information about the impact of changes in recent laws regarding accountability and consequences for the 2014-15 school year.
Some of the changes provide a “safe harbor” as Ohio’s schools transition to new assessments based on the Common Core State Standards.  These provisions, approved in 130-HB487 (Brenner) and 131-HB7 (Buchy), waive some of the accountability measures, such as issuing an overall composite letter grade and component grades on the state report cards for schools, and certain consequences for schools, students, and teachers.
2)  National News
•House and Senate Approve Budgets:  Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate adopted 2016 budgets last week along party lines, setting the stage for the Republican majority in both houses to negotiate a final spending plan by an April 15, 2015 deadline.  The final budget would be used to guide the development of appropriations measures for government agencies and departments for FY2016, which starts on October 1, 2015, including allocations for the Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
With Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, most of the budget negotiations focused last week on how much to cut entitlement programs and how much to boost defense spending without raising taxes and exceeding the strict spending caps (sequestration) approved in 2011.  Both the House and Senate budgets total over $3 trillion, and eliminate government deficits in 10 years by cutting domestic programs, but provide few details about how to accomplish that. The Senate budget would cut $236 billion and the House budget $759 billion from nondefense agencies.
If the Republican majority in both chambers can work-out a budget compromise by the April deadline, it will be the first time that Congress has adopted a budget since 2006.  It would also set-up a parliamentary process called “reconciliation” which would enable the Senate to approve legislation without worrying about a Democratic filibuster.  Senate Republicans want to use this procedure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact tax reform legislation, but to do so Republicans would also have to overcome a presidential veto threat.
See “House Republicans Propose Budget with Deep Cuts” by Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, March 17, 2015 at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/18/us/politics/house-republican-budget-overhauls-medicare-and-repeals-the-health-law.html?_r=0
See “Senate passes budget as negotiations with House loom ahead” by Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade, Politico, March 27, 2015 at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/senate-budget-vote-gop-116419.html#ixzz3VmgVr7NZ
•Update on Student Privacy Bill:  Politico’s Morning Education reported on March 23, 2015 that student privacy experts are already questioning a bipartisan bill entitled the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 introduced in the U.S. House last week, and its ability to protect students from educational technology companies and online data mining.
The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Representatives Luke Messer (R) and Jared Polis (D), and has been developed in collaboration with the White House. The bill aims to tighten-up the data industry’s ability to collect and sell to vendors personal information about students when they use online textbooks, tutorials, games, quizzes, or conduct research at school and at home.  The information collected is not part of a student’s “official record”, and therefore not protected under the 1974 Student Privacy Act.  According to the article, the educational technology industry earned nearly $8 billion last year by collecting and selling this “unofficial” data.
The bill is an effort to fulfill President Obama’s commitment to hold the educational technology companies to standards that would guarantee that data collected about students would be used only for educational purposes. But the article says, “The bill lets education technology companies continue to collect huge amounts of intimate information on students, compile it into profiles of their aptitudes and attitudes — and then mine that data for commercial gain. It permits the companies to sell personal information about students to colleges and employers, and potentially to military recruiters as well.”
Opponents of the draft bill include the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. They want parents to have the right to “opt” their children out of any type of commercial data collection.
See “Privacy bill wouldn’t stop data mining of kids” by Stephanie Simon, Politico, March 23, 2015 at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/privacy-bill-wouldnt-stop-data-mining-of-kids-116299.html
3)  Update on Senate Bill 3:  The Ohio Senate approved SB3 (Hite/Faber) mainly on party lines on March 25, 2015.  The bill includes a mixture of provisions about limiting testing, deregulation for high performing school districts, and teacher evaluations.
Most Democrats opposed two provisions that permit boards of education of certain high performing school districts to employ individuals who do not meet state teacher licensing standards, although one of the provisions was amended to say that teachers must be licensed to teach in the subject area, but not necessarily for a particular grade level.  The Senate Education Committee also removed the term “high performing” from the bill, but maintained the criteria.
The following is a summary of SB3 as passed by the Senate.  New provisions added to the bill as “introduced” are labeled with a “*” .
Senate Bill 3 As Passed by the Senate
•Section 3301.079 (D)(3) Diagnostic assessments:  Requires schools to continue to administer reading, writing, and math diagnostic assessments to kindergarten students, and reading assessments to students in grades one through three, but beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, eliminates the requirement that school districts administer the diagnostic assessments for grades one or two in writing and mathematics, or for grade three in writing.
•Section 3301.0711(B)(1)(a)(b) Reading assessments:  Removes the requirement that school districts administer the English language arts assessment to students in the third grade twice a year starting in the 2015-16 school year.
•NEW Section 3301.0728 Limits on Testing:  Requires that beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and college preparatory board schools limit the cumulative amount of time spent on the administration of state assessments to 2 percent of the school year. The state assessments included in this limit are achievement assessments administered to students in grades three through eight, the end-of-course examinations required in high school under the College and Work Ready Assessment System, and any assessment required by the district or school to be administered district-wide or school-wide to all students in a specified area or grade level.
-Limits the cumulative amount of time used for taking practice or diagnostic assessments used to prepare for the state assessments described above to 1 percent of the school year.
*States that the time limitations do not apply to the following: administration of assessments to students with disabilities; any related diagnostic assessment for students who fail to attain a passing score on the third-grade English language arts achievement assessment; additional assessments administered to identify a student as gifted; the administration of substitute examinations for end-of- course examinations in American history, American government, and science;  Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate examinations.
-Authorizes a school district or school to exceed its prescribed assessment time limitations through the adoption of a resolution, but requires the district board or school governing authority to conduct at least one public hearing on the proposed resolution.
•Section 3302.02 Third Grade Reading: Prohibits the superintendent from establishing any performance indicator for passage of the third or fourth grade English language arts assessment given in the fall beginning in the 2015-16 school year. (Conforming language.)
•Section 3302.03 (b) Third Grade Reading:  Requires the cumulative totals from both the fall and spring administrations of the third grade English language arts achievement tests for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school year.
*Section 3302.034 Extra curricular activities. Eliminates the requirement that the state board of education report extra curricular services on the report card.
•Section 3302.13 Third Grade Reading:  Aligns this provision with changes in the administration of the third grade guarantee, including the development of an improvement plan for reading.
NEW Section 3302.16 (A) Exemptions for School Districts:  Allows school districts that qualify to be exempt from the following:
-The teacher qualification requirements under the third-grade reading guarantee. This exemption does not relieve a teacher from holding a valid Ohio license in a subject area and grade level determined appropriate by the board of education of that district. (License means the same as section 3319.31 of the Revised Code.)
-The mentoring component of the Ohio teacher residency program, so long as the district utilizes a local approach to train and support new teachers.
-Any provision of the Revised Code or rule or standard of the state board of education prescribing a minimum or maximum class size.
*Any provision of the Revised Code or rule or standard of the state board requiring teachers to be licensed specifically in the grade level in which they are teaching, except unless otherwise prescribed by federal law. This exemption does not relieve a teacher from holding a valid Ohio license in the subject area in which that teacher is teaching, and at least some grade level determined appropriate by the district board.
-Allows the superintendent of a school district that qualifies under division (D) of this section to employ an individual who is not licensed as required by sections 3319.22 to 3319.30 of the Revised Code, but who is otherwise qualified based on experience, to teach classes in the district. Requires the board of education of the school district to approve the individual’s employment and provide mentoring and professional development opportunities to that individual, as determined necessary by the board. As a condition of employment under this section, an individual shall be subject to a criminal records check and will be subject to Chapter 3307 of the Revised Code, which is the State Teachers Retirement System.
*Section 3302.16 (D) Criteria for Exemptions:  Requires a city, local, or exempted village school district to meet all of the following benchmarks on the most recent report card issued for that district under section 3302.03 of the Revised Code to qualify for an exemption from certain laws and rules:
-At least eighty-five percent of the total possible points for the performance index score
-A grade of an “A” for performance indicators met
-A four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of at least ninety-three percent
-A five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of at least ninety-five percent.
Section 3313.46 (A)  Threshold for Contracts:  Increases the threshold to fifty thousand dollars regarding certain requirements governing the bidding for contracts by the board of education of any school district, when any such board determines to build, repair, enlarge, improve, or demolish any school building,
*REMOVED:  Section 3313.72 Health Services: Allows the board of education of a city, exempted village, or local school district to enter into a contract with a health district, a hospital, an appropriately licensed health care professional, or an educational service center for the purpose of providing the services of a school physician, dentist, or nurse.
Section 3314.03, 3326.11, and 3328.24 Compliance: Requires community schools, stem schools and college preparatory schools to comply with Section 3301.0728 Limits on Testing.
*Section 3319.02 Principal evaluations:  States that beginning with evaluations conducted for the 2015-2016 school year, if the state board prescribes a framework for the evaluation of principals and assistant principals, student academic growth shall account for not more than thirty-five per cent of each evaluation.
*Section 3319.114 Alternative teacher evaluation:  Makes changes in the alternative teacher evaluation.  States that beginning with the 2015-16 school year the teacher performance measure, will account for fifty percent of each rating rather than 42.5 percent. The student academic growth measure will account for thirty-five per cent of each rating. The remainder of the evaluation can include one, or any combination of student surveys; teacher self-evaluations; peer review evaluations; student portfolios; any other components determined appropriate by the district board or school governing authority.
-States that the ODE shall compile a list of approved instruments that districts and schools may use, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year for teacher evaluations.
*Section 3319.223 Ohio Teacher Residency Program: Changes the requirements for the Ohio Teacher Residency Program.  States that if the state board of education prescribes an assessment for participants in the third or fourth year of the program, each school district or school may either: require each participant to pass the assessment to successfully complete the program; or during the third and fourth years of the program, assess each participant’s progression by using the participant’s annual evaluation.  Each evaluation shall be conducted by qualified individuals.  (Section 3319.111 (D))
*Section 3319.26  Alternative resident educator license:  (C) States that rules adopted under this section shall require applicants for the alternative resident educator license to satisfy certain conditions prior to issuance of the license, but they shall not require applicants to have completed a major or COURSEWORK in the subject area for which application is being made.
Section 5 (A) CFAP:  Requires the School Facilities Commission (SFC), by December 15, 2015, to develop and submit to the General Assembly a proposal regarding the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP). The proposal should include legislative provisions under which school districts that have not received assistance under CFAP may, upon becoming eligible for assistance under the program, apply for and receive a portion of the state funds for which they are eligible, to be used for technology, building expansion, and physical alterations to improve school safety or security.
4)  Update on House Bill 2 – Charter School Reform:  The Ohio House approved on March 26, 2015 by a vote of 70-25 HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), which includes several provisions that will change charter school law and increase accountability requirements for charter schools.  However, during the floor debate several Democrats suggested that the bill did not go far enough to ensure that charter schools operate in the public interest, rather than for profit makers, and are held accountable to tax payers.
The bill adds provisions that further clarify the roles of the ODE, sponsors, governing authorities, and operators.  The ODE will have the authority to oversee all sponsors; sponsors will have more requirements to meet to ensure charter school accountability; governing boards will have more responsibilities and requirements to meet; operators will be evaluated by the ODE; and there are more requirements to close loopholes about charter schools complying with the sunshine and ethics laws.
Not included in the bill are some provisions recommended by State Auditor David Yost, such as requiring charter schools to follow Governmental Accountability Standards for financial reporting and stricter truancy and student attendance laws, and repealing the authority of the ODE to sponsor charter schools.  The debate also continues between those who want to hold private operators accountable and responsive to the tax payers for spending public funds, verses those who believe that private companies should not be required to “open their books” to the public.  AND, still not included in the bill is a better way to fund charter schools, rather than as a deduction from traditional public school accounts.
The following is a summary of the bill as passed by the Ohio House.  New provisions that have been added to the bill “as introduced” are labeled with a “*”.
House Bill 2 (Dovilla/Roegner)
-Sections 3301.52 (O) and Section 4 Preschool Programs: Permits high-performing charter schools to operate a preschool program and permits exemplary sponsors to authorize a new charter school to operate a preschool program.
(H) (j) Requires that a preschool program operated by a charter school complies with current laws and minimum standards prescribed in rules.
States that dropout recovery charter schools are prohibited from operating a preschool program.
States that if the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE, admission to the school may be open to individuals younger than five years of age, but the school shall not receive funds for those individuals.
A similar provision is included in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
*Section 3302.03 Report Cards: Requires after July 1, 2015 that the ODE count the academic performance of students attending dropout recover conversion community schools on the sponsor’s school district report card, but states that only the scores of those students who would be assigned to the school district will be included.
*NEW Section 3313.131: States that no person who is a member of the governing authority of a community school established under Chapter 3314 of the Revised Code shall be a member of a board of education.
*Section 3314.011 Governing Authority Fiscal Officer: Requires that the fiscal officer of a charter school be employed by the governing authority, but permits a governing authority to annually waive the requirement by resolution with sponsor approval.  In the bill as introduced the governing authority was required to hire the fiscal officer without the exception. Requires the fiscal officer to meet with the governing authority annually.
*Section 3314.015 ODE oversight of community school sponsors: States that the ODE may add additional years to any renewal agreement, not to exceed a total of twelve years, if, on or after the effective date of this amendment, the sponsor is rated as “exemplary” under section 3314.016 of the Revised Code, and the sponsor continues to meet all the requirements of this chapter.
-Section 3314.016 (D)(1)ODE Rating Sponsors:  Allows the ODE to establish additional incentives  based upon a sponsor’s overall rating, to the incentives included in the bill.  Sponsors with an overall rating of “exemplary” may take advantage of the following incentives:
-The ability to extend the term of the contract between the sponsoring entity and the community school beyond the term described in the written agreement with the department;
-An exemption from the preliminary agreement and contract adoption and execution deadline requirements prescribed in division (D) of section 3314.02.
-An exemption from the automatic contract expiration requirement, should a new community school fail to open by the thirtieth day of September of the calendar year in which the community school contract is executed.
*NEW Section 3314.019 Auditor of State:  States that a community school’s sponsor shall be the party responsible for communicating and meeting with the auditor of state regarding an audit of the school or the condition of financial and enrollment records of the school, regardless of whether the sponsor has entered into an agreement with another entity to perform all or part of the sponsor’s oversight duties.
*Section 3314.02 (E) (5) Governing Authority Membership Requirements:  Removes the provision in the bill as introduced prohibiting a vendor from serving on the governing authority board. The bill now prohibits employees of school districts or educational service centers from serving on a governing board of a charter school sponsored by the district, but would permit a vendor of a school district or educational service center to serve on a charter school governing authority.
(6) Requires each member of the governing authority of a community school to annually file a disclosure statement with the names of any immediate relatives or business associates employed by any of the following within the previous three years: the sponsor or operator of that community school; a school district or educational service center that has contracted with that community school; a vendor that is currently engaged in business or has previously engaged in business with that community school.
(7) States that no person who is a member of a school district board of education shall serve on the governing authority of any community school.
-Section 3314.02 (E)(8) Sponsor Verify Findings for Recovery:  Requires sponsors to annually verify that a finding for recovery has not been issued by the auditor of state against any member of the governing authority of that community school.
-Section 3314.023  Sponsor Monitoring and Technical Assistance: Requires that when a representative of a sponsor meets monthly with the treasurer or governing authority, that copies of financial and enrollment records be furnished to the community school sponsor, members of the governing authority, and the fiscal officer.
States that if a community school closes or is permanently closed, the designated fiscal officer shall deliver all financial and enrollment records to the school’s sponsor within thirty days of the school’s closure. If the fiscal officer fails to provide the records in a timely manner, the sponsor has the right of action against the fiscal officer to compel delivery of all financial and enrollment records of the school.
-Section 3314.025 (A) Sponsor Expenditures: Requires that each sponsor of a community school shall annually submit a report describing the amount and type of expenditures made to provide oversight and technical assistance to each community school it sponsors.
Section 3314.025 (B) Requires the state board of education not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, to establish requirements and a reporting procedure.
-Section 3314.026 Operator Replaces Governing Authority:  Repeals a statute that prescribes an appeal procedure in cases in which the governing authority has notified the operator of its intent to terminate or not renew the operator’s contract. This provision allowed the operator to replace the members of the governing authority in certain cases. Repeal of this provision is also included in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.029 Office of School Sponsorship: Permits the ODE to establish the format and deadlines for applications to the ODE Office of School Sponsorship.
Permits the state board to establish additional criteria necessary for approval for sponsorship by ODE not later than December 31, 2015.
Permits an appeal of a denial of an application under divisions (A)(2)(a) and (b).  These provisions are similar to provisions in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.029 (A)(5) Transformation Alliance School District:  States that if the ODE receives an application for direct authorization under this section for a school to be located in an alliance municipal school district, the transformation alliance of that district may offer a recommendation regarding that application. The ODE shall notify the transformation alliance of an application within fourteen days after receipt of the application.
-Section 3314.03 ODE Contract Between Sponsor and School (A)(4):  Includes all applicable report card measures as performance standards in the contract with the school.
*REMOVED Approve Financial Plan:   Clarifies that ODE shall approve financial plans of new charter schools, and that the plan shall stand as approved if ODE fails to make a decision within 14 days of submission.
-Section 3314.03 (A)(9) and NEW 3314.032 Contract with Sponsor – Facilities: Requires that the contract between the charter school governing authority and the sponsor include an addendum outlining the facilities to be used and their locations, and include the annual costs associated with leasing that are paid by or on behalf of the school, the annual mortgage principal and interest payments, the name of the lender or landlord and relationship with the operator.
-NEW Section 3314.03 Contract/Preschool Programs (A) (11) (j): States that if the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE, the school shall comply with sections 3301.50 to 3301.59 of the Revised Code, and the minimum standards for preschool programs prescribed in rules adopted by the state board under section 3301.53 of the Revised Code.
*NEW Section 3314.03 (A) (27) Contract/Records: Requires the school’s attendance and participation policies and records be available for public inspection.
-NEW Section 3314.03 (A) (28) Contract/Blended Learning Model:  States that if a school operates using the blended learning model, the school must supply the following information in the contract: an indication of what blended learning model or models will be used; a description of how student instructional needs will be determined and documented; the method to be used for determining competency, granting credit, and promoting students to a higher grade level; the school’s attendance requirements, including how the school will document participation in learning opportunities; a statement describing how student progress will be monitored; a statement describing how private student data will be protected; a description of the professional development activities that will be offered to teachers.
*Section 3314.03 (A) (29) Contract/Loans:  Requires that all moneys the school’s operator loans to the school, including facilities loans or cash flow assistance, must be accounted for, documented, and bear interest at a fair market rate.
*NEW Section 3314.03 (B) (5) Internal financial controls:  Requires the school to submit copies of all policies and procedures regarding internal financial controls adopted by the governing authority of the school.
-NEW Section 3314.031 (A)  SBE/ODE Records for Operators: Requires beginning December 31, 2015 that the ODE maintain an accurate record of the names and identifying information of all entities that have entered into a contract with the governing authority of a charter school to manage or operate that school.
-Section 3314.031 (A) (2) Contract:  Requires that the ODE receive from the governing authority of each charter school a copy of the contract between a governing authority and its operator.
-Section 3314.031 (B) SBE/ODE Performance of Operators: Requires the ODE not later than July 1, 2016, to develop and publish an annual performance report for all operators of charter schools in the state. The report will be made available on the department’s web site.
(C) Requires that the performance of management companies and organizations be reported and included in the annual charter school report required under 3314.015 (A)(4).
NEW 3314.032 (A) Contract Operator Early Termination – Who Owns Facilities: Requires that on and after the effective date of this section, any new or renewed contract between the governing authority of a community school and an operator shall include the criteria to be used for early termination of the operator contract; requires notification procedures and a time line for early termination or non renewal of the operator contract; and a stipulation of which entity owns all community school facilities and property including, but not limited to, equipment, furniture, fixtures, instructional materials and supplies, computers, printers, and other digital devices purchased by the governing authority or operator.
*NEW 3314.032 (B)  Leases Fair Market Value:  States that the operator with which the governing authority of a community school contracts for services shall not lease any parcel of real property to that community school for an amount that exceeds the fair market rental value of that property by more than five per cent. For each lease of a parcel of real property that is entered into by the operator of a community school on or after the effective date of this section, the sponsor of the school shall verify that the lease does not exceed the fair market rental value of that property by more than five per cent.
*NEW Section 3314.034 ODE Approve Sponsor Contract Low Performing Schools: States that on and after December 31, 2015, any community school that has had more than one sponsor in the previous five years must first receive approval from the ODE before it may enter into a contract with a new sponsor, if the following apply:
(A) The community school has received a grade of “D” or “F” for the performance index score, and an overall grade of “D”or “F” for the value-added progress dimension or another measure of student academic progress if adopted by the state board, on the most recent report card issued for the school pursuant to that section.
(B) The community school is one in which a majority of the students are enrolled in a dropout prevention and recovery program, and it has received a rating of “does not meet standards” for the annual student growth measure and combined graduation rates on the most recent report card.
-Section 3314.035 Governing Authority Membership Posting: Requires the names of charter governing authority members to be posted on the school’s web site; and requires the names and addresses of governing authority members to be provided to sponsors and ODE.
Section 3314.036 Governing Authority Independent Council: Requires that a charter school governing authority retain independent counsel for purposes of negotiating the contract with their sponsor and operator.
-Section 3314.037 Governing Authority Training: Requires governing authority members, administrative and supervisory staff of charter schools to receive annual training regarding public records and open meetings.
-Section 3314.038 Student Residence:  Requires each community school to annually submit to the ODE and auditor of state a report of each instance under which a student who is enrolled in the community school resides in a children’s residential center.
*Section 3314.039 Changing Sponsors:  States that beginning on the effective date of this section, no community school shall change sponsors within its first four years of operation, unless the ODE authorizes the school to do so.
Section 3314.06 Admissions procedures for preschools:  States that If the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE, admission to the school may be open to individuals younger than five years of age, but the school shall not receive funds under this chapter for those individuals.
-Section 3314.07 (3) Sponsor Non-renewal: Requires sponsors to notify schools by December 1, rather than February 1, of non renewal.
-Section 3314.074 (D) Consolidated Charter School Assets:  States that a charter school that engages in a merger or consolidation and becomes a single public benefit corporation will not be required to distribute assets provided that the governing authority of the charter school created by the merger or consolidation enters into a contract for sponsorship with an entity rated as “exemplary” by the ODE.  A similar provision is included in HB 64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.08 Funding for Preschool Programs for Community Schools:  Specifies the funding requirements for preschool programs for special education.
-Section 3314.19 (N) Sponsor Examines Blended Learning:  Requires sponsors to examine in detail charter schools that plan to use the blended learning model, and report certain information to the ODE.
•Section 3314.23 (C) Sponsor Monitor Internet or computer based school: Requires that the sponsor of each internet- or computer-based community school be responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the online learning standards, and report a school’s failure to comply with these standards to the ODE.
-NEW Section 3314.46  Sponsor selling goods and services: Prohibits a sponsor from selling any goods or services to any charter school it sponsors. States that If the sponsor of a community school entered into a contract prior to the effective date of this section that involves the sale of goods or services to a community school it sponsors, the sponsor shall not be required to comply with this division until the expiration of the contract.
Section 3 Children with Disabilities. Requires the State Board of Education not later than December 31, 2015, to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding performance standards for community schools in which a majority of the enrolled students are children with disabilities receiving special education, and if it is possible, to remove the exemption from permanent closure.
Section 4. Early Childhood Education:  States that for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the ODE shall distribute funds appropriated for early childhood education in accordance with this section.
5)  Bills Introduced: 
•SB 136 (Tavares) School Seclusion:  Prohibits the use of seclusion on students in public schools. Section 3319.46 ORC.
•HB130 (Hagen/Duffey) DataOhio Board:  Creates the DataOhio Board, to specify requirements for posting public records online; requires the Auditor of State to adopt rules regarding a uniform accounting system for public offices;  establishes an online catalog of public data at data.Ohio.gov; establishes the Local Government Information Exchange Grant Program, and makes an appropriation. Sections 149.43 and enacts sections 117.432, 149.60, 149.62, and 149.65 ORC.
•HB136 (Young/Rogers) STEM Pilot:  Funds the Lake County Educational Service Center pilot project to support STEM initiatives for middle school students and makes an appropriation.
FYI ARTS
•Talks Begin on NEA Funding for FY2016:  As the House and Senate negotiate an overall spending plan for our national government, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, chaired by Representative Ken Calvert, held a Public and Outside Witness Hearing on March 18, 2015 on appropriations levels overseen by the subcommittee.
According to Americans for the Arts three witnesses requested that the subcommittee increase support for the National Endowment for the Arts to $155 million.  This would be $9 million more than the current level of funding.
Testifying on behalf of the arts were Karen Hanan, Executive Director of the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA); Melia Tourangeau, President and CEO of the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera; and Anita Stewart, Executive & Artistic Director of Portland Stage in Portland, ME.
•NAMM Foundation Announces Best Communities for Music.
Congratulations to Ohio’s BCME and SMMA Recipients!
The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) and the University of Kansas announced on March 18, 2015 the 388 school districts recognized as among the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME), and the 120 individual schools recognized with the Support Music Merit Award.
This is the 16th year for the NAMM program, which recognizes the efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community leaders to make music part of the core curriculum.
The BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction. A comprehensive survey requests information that reveals statistical and factual information about music education and related opportunities for students to learn music. Researchers at the Center for Public Partnerships & Research, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) led the data review.
The BCME designation has helped raise local awareness of quality music programs, and earning the designation has assisted communities in securing funds for music programs threatened by budget cuts.
According to the press release, “News of past winners being recognized nationally often leads to local media coverage, community recognition and even billboards trumpeting the local school music programs.”
The following school districts in Ohio are recipients of the BCME for 2015:
-Archbold Area Schools, Archbold, OH
-Avon Lake City School District, Avon Lake, OH
-Bay Village City School District, Bay Village, OH
-Beachwood City Schools, Beachwood, OH
-Bera City Schools, Bera, OH
-Boardman Local Schools, Boardman, OH
Clark-Shawnee Local School District, Springfield, OH
-Cuyahoga Heights Local School District, Cuyahoga Heights, OH
-Firelands Local Schools, Oberlin, OH
-Forest Hills School District, Cincinnati, OH
-Indian Hills Exempted Village School District, Cincinnati, OH
-Jackson City Schools, Jackson, OH
-Kettering City Schools, Kettering, OH
-Lebanon City Schools, Lebanon, OH
-Oberlin City Schools, Oberlin, OH
-Olmsted Falls City School District, Olmsted Falls, OH
-Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools, Perrysburg, OH
-Shaker Heights City School District, Shaker Heights, OH
-South Central Local Schools, Greenwich, OH
-Stow-Munroe Falls City School District, Stow, OH
-Strongsville City School District, Strongsville, OH
-Sycamore Community Schools, Cincinnati, OH
-Upper Sandusky Exempted Village School District, Upper Sandusky, OH
-West Branch Local School District, Beloit, OH
-Winton Woods City School District, Cincinnati, OH
-Wyoming City Schools, Cincinnati, OH
The following schools in Ohio are recipients of the 2015 SMME:
-Allen East High School, Harrod, OH
-Athens Middle School, Athens, OH
-Monclova Christian Academy, Monclova, OH
-Saint Albert the Great School, Dayton, OH
-Troy Christian Schools, Troy, OH
See “Where are the Best Community for Music Education?  2015 Best Community Designations” NAMM Press Release, March 18, 2015 at
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ARTS EDUCATION ADVOCACY CALL TO ACTION!

Hi All!
Please see important pending legislation in SB3 immediately below and CONTACT THE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE TODAY!  Also scroll through Joan’s detailed legislative report to see most current status of the Rule 5 of 8 that saw testimony in JCARR on March 16th.
It has been a hectic first quarter on the board!  I am on a pretty steep learning curve!  Eight of us on the State Board have formed the Pro Public School Caucus and continue to meet to develop united messages on behalf of high-quality public education.I continue to work to communicate effectively with all of you. I am posting research and updates on my Facebook page at Pat Bruns for State Board of Education. Please friend me and tell all your friends to do the same!
Currently, I am scheduling Meet and Greets with superintendents and other agencies that work to provide high-quality educational environments for our students, such as the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and other early childhood education agencies such as 4c for Children and Head Start. I am receiving many communications about testing frustrations from superintendents and parents.
Please feel free to contact me with your questions/concerns! IN THE MEANTIME….
WISHING YOU AN ARTFUL DAY!
🙂 Pat
Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Arts on Line Education Update 
Joan Platz
March 23, 2015
TAKE ACTION
Please contact the members of the Senate Education Committee and request that SB3 (Hite/Faber) Testing/High Performing Schools be amended to eliminate the following two provisions for high performing school districts regarding teacher licensing:
-Section 3302.16 (A)(4) exempts high performing school districts from requiring teachers to be licensed specifically in the subject area or grade level in which they are teaching.
-Section §3302.16 (B) (1) allows the superintendent of a high performing school district, with board approval, to employ an individual “who is not licensed as required by sections 3319.22 to 3319.30 of the Revised Code, but who is otherwise qualified based on experience, to teach classes in the district.”
Both of these provisions could lead to individuals who are not appropriately qualified to teach the arts in Ohio classrooms.
Ohio already has a provision in current law allowing non-licensed instructors to teach for up to twelve hours per week (§3319.301 ORC).  Ohio also has an alternative licensing program, which provides a different pathway for individuals to become licensed teachers.  These provisions provide flexibility for individuals to become licensed teachers, and for school districts to hire individuals with special skills on a temporary basis.
SB3 could undermine the great track record that Ohio school districts have made to hire highly qualified and licensed teachers in the arts.  These teachers meet the graduation requirements of their institutions of higher education in their arts discipline, and also meet Ohio’s rigorous standards for beginning teachers, including passing a national assessment for teachers in their content area, and fulfilling all requirements for earning a permanent license.
Request that the Senate Education Committee eliminate the provisions that exempt high performing school districts from teacher licensing standards, to ensure that Ohio students continue to receive the highest quality of instruction from licensed teachers.
Senate Education Committee Members:

Senator Peggy Lehner, chair sd06@ohiosenate.gov

Senator Cliff Hite, vice chair  SD01@ohiosenate.gov

Senator Troy Balderson          SD20@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Bill Coley  SD04@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Randy Gardner  sd02@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Kris Jordan sd19@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Gayle Manning            sd13@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Bob Peterson     sd17@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Chris Widener    sd10@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Tom Sawyer                 sd28@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Cecil Thomas     sd09@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Sandra Williams            SD21@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Kenny Yuko                   SD25@ohiosenate.gov
BACKGROUND
The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Peggy Lehner, has been holding hearings on SB3 (Hite/Faber) Testing/High Performing Schools, and expects to consider amendments to the bill this week.
The bill includes provisions that limit testing in Ohio’s schools in response to the increased frustration about over-testing.  The bill also establishes criteria to identify high performing school districts, and exempts those school districts from certain provisions in law, including provisions regarding teacher licensing standards.
Based on the proposed criteria in the bill, about 125 districts would be consider high-performing this year. According to testimony provided by Ann Sheldon, executive director of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children, “Of those districts 73 have a third-grade reading proficiency rate of less than 95% (the rate required for high-performing in the governor’s budget bill); 37 districts have grades of “D” or “F” either for the overall or a sub-group value-added measure, and, finally, 93 of those districts have ACT remediation free rates of less than 50%.”
SB3 could undermine successful efforts in Ohio to ensure that all students have access to qualified teachers in the arts.  According to OAAE data for the 2012-13 school year, there were 8,990 arts teachers in Ohio’s traditional public schools.  Ninety-seven percent of those arts teachers were certified to teach courses in the arts, holding the appropriate multi-age license in an arts discipline.  In addition, 98.2 percent of arts courses were taught by a certified arts teacher in the 2012-13 school year.
Thank you for contacting the Ohio Senate Education Committee with this important request.
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1)   Ohio News
•131st General Assembly:  The Ohio House and Senate will hold hearings and session this week.
•House Bill 7 Signed Into Law:  Governor Kasich signed HB7 (Buchy) into law on March 16, 2015.  The law prohibits individual student scores from certain elementary and secondary achievement assessments administered for the 2014-2015 school year from being used to determine promotion or retention or to grant course credit; allows students who opt-out of taking state assessments to keep a voucher; and makes changes regarding the administration of high school end-of-course examinations. The requirements of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee are not affected by HB7. The law became effective immediately with the governor’s signature.
•Inhaler Bill Advances:  The Ohio House approved HB39 (Duffey) School-Camp Inhaler Permit, by a vote of 96 to 0. The bill would permit schools and camps to procure and use inhalers for alleviating asthmatic symptoms, and exempts the schools and camps from licensing requirements related to the possession of inhalers.
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•Operating Standards Move Back to State Board:  The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) allowed Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3301-35-05 Faculty and Staff Focus, also known as the ‘5 of 8’ rule, to move forward on March 16, 2015, after a motion to invalidate the rule failed.
The rule is among ten rules being updated by the State Board of Education, and referred to as Operating Standards for Ohio’s Schools in Grades Kindergarten through Twelve, Rules 3301-35-01 through 10, JCARR tabled the ‘5 of 8’ rule last month, and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) re-filed the rule in early March 2015.
During the JCARR hearing Representative Debbie Phillips made a motion to invalidate the rule, saying that it conflicted with “legislative intent”.  The proposed new rule eliminates the requirement that school districts employ five educators in eight areas for every 1000 students.  The areas include school nurses, counselors, library media specialists, school social workers, visiting teachers, and elementary art, music, and physical education.  Representative Phillips explained that the intent of the legislature is for school districts to provide these opportunities for students as part of the public education system.
The panel received testimony opposing the rule change from Susan Yutzey with the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, Steve Mitchell with the Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and George Edge with the Ohio Music Education Association. The witnesses said that without the ‘5 of 8’ rule school districts facing a budget crisis could cut these teachers, diminishing the quality of eduction for all students, and conflicting with the legislative intent to provide a high quality education.
Speaking in favor of the rule was Tom Ash with the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and Keith Horner, Superintendent from Wapakoneta City Schools.  They said that school districts should have the ability to make employment decisions at the local level.
The motion to invalidate the rule failed, because the opposition was unable to prove a clear conflict with legislative intent, and, as explained by Representative Duffey, who chaired the panel, the State Board of Education has the authority to change its rules.
But, several members of the panel expressed their support for school districts to continue to provide the learning opportunities and services included in the rule.  And, there was support from Senator Frank LaRose and others to seek a legislative remedy.
The State Board of Education is expected to take final action on the revised Operating Standards at their April 2015 meeting.
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•Senate Testing Panel Meets:  The Columbus Dispatch reported that the new Senate Testing Advisory Committee, chaired by Senator Peggy Lehner, met for the first time on March 18, 2015.  The committee was created by Senate President Keith Faber, in response to concerns raised by students, parents, and teachers about over-testing.  The committee includes teachers, administrators, representatives from the State Board of Education, senators, and testing experts. Its charge is to evaluate the tests created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the American Institute for Research (AIR), and make recommendations to the Senate by May 2015. The committee will also review during the summer the goals for testing in Ohio’s schools and the overall quality of assessments. Matt Williams, vice president of policy and advocacy for KnowledgeWorks, will facilitate the work of the committee.
See “Panel gets to work on testing in Ohio”, by Catherine Candisky, The Columbus Dispatch, March 19, 2015 at http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/03/19/state-panel-on-testing-gets-to-work.html
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2)  This Week at the Statehouse
•The House Finance Committee will meet three times this week to continue hearing testimony on HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
The committee will meet on March 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM in hearing room 313; on March 25, 2015 at 9:00 AM in hearing room 313; and on March 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM in hearing room 313.
•The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Hayes, will meet on March 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM in hearing room 121 and on March 25, 2015 at 8:00 AM in hearing room 017.  The committee will consider amendments to HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner) Charter School Sponsorship.  No testimony will be received.
•The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, will meet on March 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.  The committee will receive testimony on SB3 (Hite/Faber) High Performing School District Exemption, and is expected to consider amendments.
3)  House and Senate Committees Consider Charter School Bills:  Charter schools were first established in Ohio in FY99. They have grown from 15 schools educating 2,245 students (0.1 percent of public school enrollment) in FY99 to 388 schools educating 120,826 students (7 percent of public school enrollment) in FY14. According to the Legislative Services Commission (LSC) charter school funding will reach nearly $1 billion ($990 million) annually by FY17.
Recent investigative reports in the newspapers, studies conducted by CREDO of Stanford University and Bellwether Education Partners,  and audits conducted by State Auditor David Yost  have intensified scrutiny of charter school operations.  These investigations and reports have identified a number of problems plaguing Ohio’s charter school industry, including conflicts of interest, misappropriation of funds, poor accounting practices, unrecoverable funds, student attendance irregularities, closed schools reopening, and an unprecedented number of school closures.
In response to these reports and investigations, the following four bills have been introduced in the 131st General Assembly to increase accountability and transparency for charter schools:  Governor Kasich’s Executive Budget, HB64 (Smith); HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), SB20 (Schiavoni) Record Keeping, and SB59 (Skindell) Defines Public/Private Funds.
In addition, Senator Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee, is expected to introduce legislation that includes recommendations that she has gathered from groups representing the charter school industry and advocates for more charter school accountability.
The following is a review of the provisions in the four bills:
•Charter School Bills in the Ohio Senate
Last week the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Lehner, heard testimony on two charter school bills: SB20 (Schiavoni) Record Keeping and SB59 (Skindell) Defines Public/Private Funds.
SB20 would require the state auditor to audit accounts, reports, records and files regarding the receipt or expenditure of public funds for every community school, sponsor, and operator.
SB59 states that any state funds that are paid to a charter school and are used as payment for services rendered by an operator or management company shall maintain their status as public money once transferred to the operator or management company.  The bill states that property, furniture, books, computers, etc. purchased with public funds are not the property of an operator or management company.
•Charter School Bills/Provisions in the Ohio House
There is one bill addressing charter schools in the House, HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), but HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget, has a number of policy changes that would affect charter schools.
•House Bill 2 (Dovilla/Roegner):  The House Education Committee, chaired by Representative Hayes, approved several amendments for the charter school reform bill, HB2 (Dovilla/Roegner), on March 17, 2015.
Some of the amendments incorporate the charter school provisions included in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget, into the bill, including the provisions for charter schools that consolidate and charter schools that offer preschool programs.
But, several recommendations presented to the committee by State Auditor David Yost on March 4, 2015 in the areas of accountability, finance, and governance, were not included.  Auditor Yost recommended, for example, that charter schools follow Governmental Accounting Standards Board practices for financial reporting, and that operators submit a more detailed footnote on their spending in the schools’ financial statements.
The following is a summary of HB2 and the recent amendments to the bill:
Conversion Schools
-Section 3302.03 Performance Ratings (I): Requires that the grades of dropout recovery and prevention conversion charter schools be included with other report card indicators for the school districts sponsoring those schools on and after July 1, 2016.
The bill was amended by the committee to clarify that only the performance of students in a conversion dropout recovery charter school residing in the district will be included on the district report card.
Responsibilities of the State Board of Education/ODE 
-NEW Section 3314.031 (A): Requires beginning December 31, 2015 that the ODE maintain an accurate record of the names and identifying information of all entities that have entered into a contract with the governing authority of a charter school to manage or operate that school, and receive from the governing authority of each charter school a copy of the contract between a governing authority and its operator. Requires that the performance of management companies and organizations be reported and included in the annual charter school report required under 3314.015 (A)(4)
-Section 3314.031(B): Requires the ODE not later than July 1, 2016, to develop and publish an annual performance report for all operators of charter schools in the state. The report will be made available on the department’s web site.
•NEW Section 3314.034:  Requires the ODE to approve charter school contracts with new sponsors on and after December 31, 2015, if the charter school has received a grade of “D” or “F” for the performance index score, and an overall grade of “D“ or “F” for the value-added progress dimension on the most recent report card, or the charter school is one in which a majority of the students are enrolled in a dropout prevention and recovery program, and it has received a rating of “does not meet standards” for the annual student growth measure and combined graduation rates on the most recent report card.
Section 3. Requires the State Board of Education not later than December 31, 2015, to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding performance standards for community schools in which a majority of the enrolled students are children with disabilities receiving special education, and if it is possible, to remove the exemption from permanent closure.
Amendments Added for State Board of Education/ODE
-Section 3314.029: Permits the ODE to establish the format and deadlines for applications to the ODE Office of School Sponsorship. Permits the state board to establish additional criteria necessary for approval for sponsorship by ODE. These provisions are similar to provision in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Section 3314.03 Clarifies that ODE shall approve financial plan of new charter schools, and the plan shall stand as approved if ODE fails to make a decision within 14 days of submission.
•Section 3314.016 Exemplary Sponsors:  Adds incentives for sponsors rated exemplary.
•Section 3314.031: Requires the ODE to include the performance report in the department’s annual report on charter schools.
Responsibilities of Charter School Sponsors
-NEW Section 3314.46: Prohibits a sponsor from selling any goods or services to any charter school it sponsors. States that If the sponsor of a community school entered into a contract prior to the effective date of this section that involves the sale of goods or services to a community school it sponsors, the sponsor shall not be required to comply with this division until the expiration of the contract.
-NEW 3314.025 (A): Requires that each sponsor of a community school shall annually submit a report describing the amount and type of expenditures made to provide oversight and technical assistance to each community school it sponsors. (B) Requires the state board of education not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, to establish requirements and a reporting procedure.
-Section 3314.023 Sponsor Monitoring and Technical Assistance:  Requires that when a representative of a sponsor meets monthly with the treasurer or governing authority, that copies of financial and enrollment records be furnished to the community school sponsor, members of the governing authority, and the fiscal officer.
-Section 3314.19 Sponsor assurance to ODE before school opens: New (N) Requires sponsors to examine in detail charter schools that plan to use the blended learning model, and report certain information to the ODE.
•Section 3314.23 Internet or computer-based school: (C) Requires that the sponsor of each internet- or computer-based community school be responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the online learning standards and report a school’s failure to comply with these standards to the ODE.
Amendments Added for Sponsors
-Section 3314.07 (3): Requires sponsors to notify schools by December 1, rather than February 1, of non renewal.
-Section 3314.02 (E)(7): Requires sponsors to annually verify that there are no outstanding findings for recovery against any governing authority member.
-Sections 3314.023 and 3314.019: Requires that a charter school sponsor, not a contracted agent, is responsible for communicating and meeting with the Auditor of State regarding the condition of enrollment, financial records, and audits of schools authorized by the sponsor.
-Section 3314.025: Clarifies that expenditures by sponsors for oversight and technical assistance shall be reported according to the ODE.
Amendments Added for Exemplary Sponsors
-Section 3314.074 (D): States that a charter school that engages in a merger or consolidation and becomes a single public benefit corporation will not be required to distribute assets provided that the governing authority of the charter school created by the merger or consolidation enters into a contract for sponsorship with an entity rated as “exemplary” by the ODE.  A similar provision is included in HB 64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
-Establishes other incentives for exemplary sponsors including an extended contract.
Responsibilities of the Governing Authorities
-Section 3314.03 (9) and NEW 3314.032: Requires that the contract between the charter school governing authority and the sponsor include an addendum outlining the facilities to be used and their locations, and include additional information. Requires clear agreements with sponsor and operating companies about ownership of facilities, equipment, supplies, computers, etc.
Amendments Added for the Governing Authority
-Section 3313.131: Prohibits any member of a charter school governing authority from serving on a district school board and vice versa.
-Section 3314.035: Requires the names of charter governing authority members to be posted on the school’s web site; and requires the names and addresses of governing authority members to be provided to sponsors and ODE.
-Section 3314.011: Requires that the fiscal officer of a charter school be employed by the governing authority, but permits a governing authority to annually waive the requirement by resolution with sponsor approval.  In the bill as introduced the governing authority was required to hire the fiscal officer.
-Section 3314.02 (E) (5):  Removes the provision prohibiting a vendor from serving on the governing authority board. The bill now prohibits employees of school districts or educational service centers from serving on a governing board of a charter school sponsored by the district, but would permit a vendor of a school district or educational service center to serve on a charter school governing authority.
-Section 3314.02 (E) (6): Requires each member of the governing authority of a charter school to annually file a disclosure statement with the names of any immediate relatives or business associates employed by the sponsor or operator of that charter school, school district, or educational service center, that has contracted with that charter school, or a vendor that is currently engaged in business or has previously engaged in business with that charter school. Clarifies that the governing authority members’ disclosure for vendors is limited to the “past three years.”
-Section 3314.035: Requires that a charter school governing authority retain independent counsel for purposes of negotiating the contract with their sponsor and operator.
-Section 3314.035: Requires governing authority members, administrative and supervisory staff of charter schools to receive annual training regarding public records and open meetings.
Contracts
-Section 3314.03 Contracts between schools and sponsors:  (A)(4) Requires sponsors to evaluate the performance standards by which the success of the school will be evaluated, including, but not limited to, all applicable report card measures.
-Section 3314.03 (9): Requires that the contract between the charter school governing authority and the sponsor include an addendum outlining the facilities to be used and their locations, and include additional information.
•NEW 3314.032 Requires that on and after the effective date of this section, any new or renewed contract between the governing authority of a community school and an operator shall include the criteria to be used for early termination of the operator contract; required notification procedures and time line for early termination or non renewal of the operator contract; and a stipulation of which entity owns all community school facilities and property including, but not limited to, equipment, furniture, fixtures, instructional materials and supplies, computers, printers, and other digital devices purchased by the governing authority or operator.
Amendments Added for Contracts
-Section 3314.03: Clarifies the information that should be included in the contract, such as details about facilities, blended learning model, accounting for outstanding loans, internal financial controls, financial plans for new schools, and more.
-Section 3314.031: Requires school-operator contracts to be posted on the ODE web site.
Amendments Added for Preschool Programs
-Section 3301.52 (O) and other sections:   Permits high-performing charter schools to operate a preschool program and permits exemplary sponsors to authorize a new charter school to operate a preschool program.  (H) (j) Requires that the preschool program operated by a charter school comply with current laws and minimum standards prescribed in rules.  A similar provision is included in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.  Dropout recovery charter schools are prohibited from operating a preschool program. States that if the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE admission to the school may be open to individuals younger than five years of age, but the school shall not receive funds for those individuals.
Amendments Added for the Cleveland Transformation Alliance
-Section 3314.029 (5): Permits the Transformation Alliance to offer a recommendation regarding an application for a new charter school to be located within a municipal school district received by ODE’s Office of Sponsorship.
House Bill 64 (Smith) Biennial Budget
Several provisions are included in HB64 to change laws regarding charter schools, and require all community school sponsors to be subject to the approval of the ODE. The following is a summary of the provisions:
Responsibilities of the State Board of Education/ODE
-Section 3314.015  Sponsor Criteria:  Establishes conditions for sponsors of charter schools to meet with the ODE to obtain an agreement to sponsor charter schools, including educational service centers, Lucas County (Section 3314.027), and universities. Reduces the initial agreement from seven to five years.  The first two years of the initial term will be for training, planning, and collecting the resources required to carry out high quality sponsorship practices. Allows agreement to be renewed for a term of up to twelve years based on the academic performance of the schools and the sponsor’s adherence to quality practices. Removes the provision that allowed a sponsor to sponsor up to 100 schools, and leaves that up to the agreement. States that if a sponsor’s agreement is revoked under 3314.016, a hearing is not required.
-Section 3314.016 Criteria for Rating Charter Schools:   Requires the ODE to evaluate and rate sponsors based on annual academic performance and adherence to the quality practices, and annual compliance with applicable laws.  In developing the evaluation system, the ODE will differentiate categories of sponsors based upon at least the total number of community schools to be sponsored, the geographic proximity of the school or schools to the sponsoring entity, and the entity’s organizational capacity. The ODE will rate all sponsors as either exemplary, effective, ineffective, or poor.  A separate rating will be given for each component of the evaluation system according to the established time line. The ODE will also assign an overall rating, at such intervals to be determined by the department.
-Section 3314.016 NEW (C)(1) Provides a list of incentives for exemplary sponsors. Entities that receive an overall rating of “ineffective” will be prohibited from sponsoring any new or additional charter schools and will be subject to a one-year quality improvement plan with time lines and benchmarks that have been established by the department. Entities that receive an overall rating of “poor” shall have all sponsorship authority revoked. Within thirty days after receiving a rating of “poor” the entity may appeal the revocation of its sponsorship authority to the superintendent of public instruction, who will appoint an independent hearing officer to conduct a hearing in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code. If, after the hearing, the state superintendent determines that the revocation is appropriate, the revocation will be confirmed.
-Section 3314.016(E) (2): Allows the Office of Ohio School Sponsorship to assume sponsorship of any schools sponsored by entities that have lost their authority to sponsor charter schools.
-Section 3314.016 (F): Requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code prescribing standards for measuring an entity’s compliance with applicable laws and administrative rules.
-Section 3314.029 Ohio School Sponsorship Program:  Allows the Office of Ohio School Sponsorship to promulgate the form, format, requirements, procedures, deadlines, and ratings for the submission and processing of applications for approval, and for entering into written sponsor contracts. Requires the office to assign each applicant school a rating. States that the department may, in its discretion, limit the number of approvals in any given year, taking into consideration the standards for quality authorizing, capacity requirements, financial constraints, or any other criteria it determines are necessary and appropriate.
-Section 3314.029 (A)(5): Allows the Office of School Sponsorship beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, to solicit applications for up to five new start-up charter schools that meet at least the following criteria: Locational parameters; Academic requirements;
Fiscal considerations; Any other criteria as determined by the department.
-Provides access to exemplary sponsors to a new $25 million charter school facilities grant program to be administered by the Ohio School Facilities Commission in collaboration with the ODE. The purpose of this fund would be to increase the supply of seats in effective schools and serve specific un-met student needs through charter school education.
-Section 3314.35 Charter School Closures:  Adds the early literacy component to the criteria for closing a charter school.
Contract
-Section 3314.03 (28): Requires that all moneys the school’s operator loans to the school, including facilities loans or cash flow assistance, must be accounted for, documented, and bear interest at a fair market rate. Requires each contract between a sponsor and a governing authority to contain a statement that all moneys an operator loans must be accounted for, documented, and based on fair market lender rates.
-Section 3314.03 (11)(d): Adds 3301.0728 (limits on testing) and 3313.721 (health care providers) to the list of laws that charter schools must comply with.
-Section 3314.03 (11) (f):  Adds that each school will comply with the plan for awarding high school credit based on demonstration of subject area competency, and beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, with the updated plan that permits students enrolled in seventh and eighth grade to meet curriculum requirements based on subject area competency adopted by the state board of education under division divisions (J)(1) and (2) of section 3313.603 of the Revised Code.
-Section 3314.03 (27): Requires that, if the governing authority contracts with an attorney, accountant, or entity specializing in audits, the attorney, accountant, or entity shall be independent from the operator with which the school has contracted;
Responsibilities of the Sponsor
-NEW Section 3314.46: States that no sponsor of a charter school shall sell any goods or services to any charter school it sponsors, but allows services to continue until the expiration of the contract.
-Section 3314.07 (A): Removes a provision that allowed a school to appeal to the state board of education when a sponsor terminated its contract.
-Section 3314.07 (5): States that any charter school whose contract is terminated or not renewed shall close permanently at the end of the current school year or on a date specified in the notification of termination or non-renewal. Any charter school whose contract is terminated or not renewed for failure to meet student performance requirements stated in the contract, or for failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management under this division will not enter into a contract with any other sponsor.
-Section 3314.07 (E): States that a sponsor is not liable for harm arising from a (3) failure of the community school or any of its officers, directors, or employees to meet the obligations of any contract or other obligation entered into on behalf of the community school and another party. A sponsor who prevails in an action for a failure to meet contractual obligations as described in division (E)(3) of this section shall be awarded, upon request, reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses of litigation to be paid jointly and severally by the governing authority of the community school, individual members of the governing authority, or from any other plaintiff the court considers necessary and appropriate.
The Responsibilities of the Governing Authority
-Section 3314.011 Fiscal Officer:  Requires the fiscal officer of charter school to be employed by the governing authority and be independent from the school’s operator.
-REPEALS Section 3314.026 Appeal Process:  Repeals a statute that prescribes an appeal procedure in cases in which the governing authority has notified the operator of its intent to terminate or not renew the operator’s contract.
Consolidated Charter School
-Section 3314.074 Community School Assets:  NEW (D) States that a charter school that engages in a merger or consolidation and becomes a single public benefit corporation shall not be required to distribute assets provided that the merger or consolidation satisfies all of the following:  At least one of the charter schools involved in the merger or consolidation is sponsored by an entity rated as “exemplary” by the ODE; the governing authority of the community school created by the merger or consolidation enters into a contract for sponsorship with an entity rated as “exemplary” by the department pursuant to section 3314.016 of the Revised Code; the community schools being merged or consolidated are located in the same county or school district.
Preschool Program
Permits a charter school sponsored by an entity that is rated “exemplary” by the ODE to be licensed by the Department to operate a preschool program and to admit individuals who are general education preschool students (preschool students who are not receiving special education) to that program.
-Section 3314.06 Preschool Program (A): States that if the school operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE the school must comply with the same licensing and operational standards that apply to preschool programs operated by school districts, eligible nonpublic schools, and county DD boards under current law. Specifies that a charter school that operates a preschool program that is licensed by the ODE may not receive state charter school operating funding for students enrolled in that program, but authorizes the program to apply for early childhood education funding.
-Section 3314.08 EMIS Reporting:  Requires charter schools to report the number of students enrolled in preschool programs operated by the school who are not receiving special education and related services pursuant to an IEP.
Transportation
-Section 3314.091 Transportation Charter School:  Removes the requirement that a charter school governing authority that enters into an agreement to transport students or accepts responsibility to transport students must provide or arrange transportation free of charge for each of its enrolled students who would otherwise be transported by the students’ school districts under those districts’ transportation policies. However, the bill retains this requirement for the enrolled students who are required to be transported under current law. Clarifies that payments made to a charter school for transporting students must be calculated “on a per rider basis.”
FYI ARTS
•Arts Advocates Support More Funding for the OAC:  The House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education, chaired by Representative Duffey, held a hearing on March 17, 2015 at the Ohio Theatre to learn more about the status of the arts in Ohio as the committee considers the provisions to fund the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) in HB64 (Smith) Biennial Budget.
HB64 includes $24.4 million in General Revenue funds (GRF) to support the OAC.  According to previous testimony, this appropriation equals less than 0.04 percent of the state’s total GRF appropriations.  The OAC grants are matched by grant recipients, so that every OAC dollar is matched with local and private funds at a ratio of 53:1 during the last grant cycle.
Arts advocates are requesting that the subcommittee increase the OAC GRF appropriation to $30 million. The current funding levels of the OAC are the same as 1991, 25 years ago, and raising the amount to $30 million would still be below funding levels in 2001.
The witnesses represented statewide and community arts organizations and institutions, including Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council; George Barrett, chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health; Larry James, a partner at Crabbe Brown James and president of the Lincoln Theatre; Edward Liang of BalletMet Columbus; Jim Sweeney of the Franklin Development Association; and Erin Hoppe, executive director of VSA Ohio. They spoke about the impact of the grants from the Ohio Arts Council on individuals and in revitalizing their communities.
Tom Katzenmeyer, President of the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC), explained to the committee the impact of funding from the Ohio Arts Council, and how it has enabled GCAC to strengthen current programs and launch new programs for artists and organizations. According to the testimony, last year the GCAC hosted visits from national leaders in the arts: Jane Chu, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and Bob Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts.  Both leaders acknowledged the amazing contribution that the arts have made in central Ohio to increase the economic and cultural growth of the community.
The Chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health, George Barrett, told the committee how important the arts, especially music, was in his life, and that he actually moved to New York at one time to be a singer.  The qualities and skills that children learn through the arts are just what it takes to be successful in business, and they are the qualities that he and other business leaders look for when hiring.  The arts also bring vitality to a community.  He said that without a vibrant artistic community in central Ohio it would be harder to attract the best talent in the world.
Representing the Board of the Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, Larry James, said that he is grateful to the Ohio Arts Council for their support of several programs at the theatre, but especially for the Expand Your Horizon Program, which nurtures emerging performing artists.  The program covers subjects “that are integral to the process and business of art, such as production value, marketing, managing social media, fund raising, copyright, legal contracts, insurance, taxes, finances.” Citing those who participated in the program, it provides information about resources, networks, making career decisions, and keeping talented young people in central Ohio.
Jim Sweeney with the Franklinton Development Association & Franklinton Arts District, also thanked the Ohio Arts Council for their support in revitalizing the Franklinton Community in downtown Columbus.  After years of neglect the community came together and identified ways to use the arts to bring the arts, people, and businesses back into the area.  One of the major projects has been the Idea Foundry, which will be the “largest ‘maker space’ on the planet when completed”.  The Glass Axis has also moved into the area, and has become a “civic hub for art creation and learning, and a place of cultural equity that continues to adapt and grow.”
Speaking for VSA Ohio, Executive Director Erin Hoppe described the impact that funding from the Ohio Arts Council has on her organization, which works “…to make the arts and arts education more accessible for people of all different disabilities across the lifespan, and across artistic mediums.”  The most recent statewide initiative supported by the OAC is called the Arts & Autism in Ohio Initiative.  The purpose of the project is to increase access to the arts for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.   According to the testimony, “Art may be one of the strongest keys to unlocking the thoughts, emotions, and needs that a person with autism often struggles to convey. It will require preparation, partnership, and flexibility for the creative sector to embrace this underserved community. The Ohio Arts Council is now a leading convener in the effort to prepare the cultural field and families to connect with creative opportunities designed specifically to meet the needs of someone on the spectrum.”
Director Hoppe requested that the House increase funding for the OAC to $30 million “to continue to make our communities great places to live and work.”
The testimony is available at http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/education# for March 17, 2015.
###

Testing under Fire: Republicans may consider slashing the number of federally required tests.

 

FRANCE-EDUCATION-BACCALAUREAT

Republicans on the Hill are finding unusual common ground with teachers unions about an overthrow of the annual testing mandate embedded in No Child Left Behind.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is making reauthorization of the law one of his biggest priorities — and testing is expected to take center stage. He plans to tackle the issue during a hearing early in the new year. Under serious consideration: slashing the number of federally required tests or even doing away with them all together.

This political alliance is part of a larger nationwide movement, buoyed by a grass-roots crusade led by parents and teachers who reject the testing regimes that they say have come to dominate public schools for the past decade.

“We are actively exploring the question of whether the federal mandate on annual tests is warranted,” one GOP aide said. The goal is to give states more flexibility in how they track student progress, report those results to the public and hold schools accountable for all kids.

bipartisan bill gaining momentum among lawmakers would give states grants to audit their testing regimes — and weed out unnecessary exams.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/testing-under-fire-113807.html#ixzz3NWkwUxTb

A LINK TO OHIO LEGISLATION TO CUT THE NUMBER OF TESTS REQUIRED IS AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE……

Nurture vs Nature: Why Talking to Babies Matters!

seven-month-old-twins-615

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/baby-brains/bhattacharjee-text

The First Year

A baby’s brain needs love to develop. What happens in the first year is profound.

By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
Photographs by Lynn Johnson

The revelation prompted the researchers to turn their focus from what differentiated the two groups toward what they had in common: being raised in poverty. To understand the children’s environment, the researchers visited their homes with a checklist. They asked if the parents had at least ten books at home for the children, a record player with songs for them, and toys to help them learn numbers. They noted whether the parents spoke to the children in an affectionate voice, spent time answering their questions, and hugged, kissed, and praised them.

The researchers found that children who received more attention and nurturing at home tended to have higher IQs. Children who were more cognitively stimulated performed better on language tasks, and those nurtured more warmly did better on memory tasks.

Many years later, when the kids had entered their teens, the researchers took MRI images of their brains and then matched them up with the records of how warmly nurtured the children had been at both four and eight years old. They found a strong link between nurturing at age four and the size of the hippocampus—a part of the brain associated with memory—but found no correlation between nurturing at age eight and the hippocampus. The results demonstrated just how critically important an emotionally supportive environment is at a very young age. Read on…

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/baby-brains/bhattacharjee-text

KNOW YOUR CHARTER…KNOW WHERE YOUR TAX $$$ ARE GOING!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DEC. 16, 2014
Contact: Keary McCarthy, 614-425-9163

NEW STUDY: LOCAL TAXES BEING USED TO SUBSIDIZE CHARTER SCHOOLS WHEN STATE AID IS INSUFFICIENT TO COVER THE COSTS

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: http://www.KnowYourCharter.com.

NEW POLL DATA BUOYS PUBLIC ED ADVOCATES

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: http://www.democratsforpubliceducation.com/category/press-releases/] <http://www.democratsforpubliceducation.com/category/press-releases/%5d> 

— 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.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-28/the-teaching-tool-topping-the-app-store

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.  http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U

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!