Elections, Gun Violence, Public Schools, Schools, seniors, Uncategorized

But, What Have They Really Done?

student-walk-out-gun-violence-protest

As an education activist, I have teacher friends and connections from all states across our country. As I was home today shooing the flu away, I had a chance to really soak in an entire day’s worth of seeing student activists growing or most noticeably, newly being formed. The National swirl of Walkout activities which dually recognized the one-month mark of the Parkland shooting and served as an expression of solidarity with the student-led demands for gun law reform, were powerful, to put it mildly. I would love to elaborate on my emotions related to the students encircled around the 14 empty desks and 3 podiums with the 17 doves released, or the gong which sounded 17 soul-echoing times as students did a die-in across all 100 yards of a football field while their bodies spelled out a giant #Enough. I am so grateful for the young woman, and the young man, along with the second grader (and his mom) who walked out of each of their schools as lone voices and I am so glad that their stories are already going viral. What bold bravery.

But instead, I feel compelled to answer the 3 or 4 audacious folks I saw in a variety of media spaces asininely asking “But, what have they really done or accomplished? What have they changed?” I hardly know where to start, but I will just dive in, in no particular order, and assuredly in a raw and incomplete manner. I will say, the fact that they influenced you towards even asking such a question in the first place, lets me and others know, that they have done well to send out ripples of resistance even to the most resistant, critical, or apathetic of viewers. Sometimes the questions tell us more than the answers ever will.

As an activist, I have written ahead to a slew of news sources, made posters, and then stood or marched with hundreds of others regarding a huge crucial issue related to legislation that would affect hundreds of thousands; all done in vain to only MAYBE have one or two newspapers write up a little blurb which they sunk somewhere in the middle of the paper. These kids today, set helicopters in every major city into motion. I have yet to find a news outlet NOT COVERING IT. They are on every channel local to national and back again. Reporters and journalists are scrambling to get THE INTERVIEW or COVERAGE that they might claim an exclusive.  More and more detailed stories are surfacing as the evening dawns.

These youth have AT LEAST five or six hashtags simultaneously trending on Twitter (and have been retaining top trending topics for a solid month now). We, my adult activist friends and I, have in deliberate action, held coordinated, planned tweet campaigns, and let me tell you it is harder than the old Asteroids game to keep a hashtag trending for any certain length of time. Prominent folks, with 100s of 1000s followers are commenting to the student activists by name and by their hashtags. They are seeking these youth leaders out. It is nothing for them to see 1000s of retweets on any given message in a matter of hours truly. All day today, and I am sure well into this evening as folks are arriving home, pictures of the Walkouts are dominating Twitter (and I am sure Snapchat and Instagram also). To amplify their cause in this way almost seems effortless for them. They are highly effective at drowning out so much status quo static that is out on Twitter. Their truths are evident, loud and clear.

They directly attracted and engaged local, state, and national politicians to a level that I do not think any recent movement has been able to do at such elevated numbers, in such a vast amount of places, in the same given hour or day. Senators and Representatives came out to them in DC. I have marched or protested in DC numerous times. I have lobbied on ‘the hill’. And the most we gleaned attention from were some of the legislative aides or a very few curious staff members on their lunch breaks. Can you imagine the honorable Congressman John Lewis speaking at your event??? Well, he did so at their event!!! That fact alone should be humbling to those who question what they have accomplished.

I typed “Walkouts” in Google searchbar just now and came up with 6,490,000 results in .66 seconds. CNN, NYTimes, LATimes, MSNBC and many more are right on top with articles that are an hour or even 14 minutes old. 1000s upon 1000s upon 1000s of passionate kids’ faces are plastered all over the internet. And right along with them are scores of headlining quotes of THEIR POSTERS, THEIR WORDS, THEIR CHANTS, THEIR THOUGHTS, THEIR IDEAS, THEIR UNIQUENESS, and THEIR UNITY!

It seems districts and schools all over each had their own reactions to the appeals of the students to be able to participate. Students had to choose if they were going to comply or seat the consequences that came with some of the schools’ warnings against the students walking out. I read one post that said 100 students will have detention for their participation. Others mentioned suspensions of more than a week. One school (probably more) went on lockdown so the students could not walkout BUT those students peacefully ‘took a knee’ in the hallways. Students everywhere had to weigh out their individual stances on the matter and prioritize it despite penalties that were handed down. By the way, the ACLU is seriously examining situations in which students were severely silenced.

I am sure that many, many, many a student found themselves at odds with members in their own classrooms, schools, communities or even their own families. Those ones would have had to mentally practice their wording of why they were walking out and what it meant to them. I am an extroverted, outspoken adult and I still at times have found it difficult, dare I say downright fearful, to explain my stances on certain issues with a room full of people I absolutely love who do not agree with my point of view. It is an acquired art to be able to put controversial beliefs into words strong enough and accurately enough, without being defensive or offensive in any antagonistic crowd, but when you eat, and live with those who may not see eye to eye or flat-out oppose your views, it is extremely difficult. I can almost hear the back and forth dialog of some parents and some children as they hash out their personal differences about guns, school shootings, and now a rash of protests. Those students will not likely make the headlines, and yet they have initiated necessary conversations. They have planted seeds of thought. They are the ones I see as the overcomers. The tradition breakers. The peace takers.

Speaking of peace, these students had to seriously rein in a ton of emotions. They were tapping into huge, long-building, collective anger, fear, sadness, and now determination, and had to do it all with tremendous self-control. The media would have had a hey-day if violence broke out. It would have been a major mar in the overall message. Thus far, I have only heard of successful PEACEFUL protests the whole day long. This is a great testament to the teens and others who let them lead. The students, in this manner, garnered trust. As a mom of five (grown children), I put a high value on being able to trust my children, especially in particularly trying situations. This is where the roots and wings balance comes to fruition in parenting and yes, in teaching. These kids that walked out today, in my eyes, all passed a tremendous test. They are to be trusted with future public outcries against social ills.

To pull such events together in such a short time frame was an amazing feat. Some student protests scheduled speakers. Many did the math, prep work, and coordination to make birdseye images of enormous numbers, words, or images, and set into motion the plans for those to be photographed from the air via drone cameras, high vantage points, or hopes that helicopters would see. The students took it upon themselves to plan and relay the plans to stand in silence, to sit-in a field or bleachers, to march to a destination, to chalk around the outlines of their bodies, to wear armbands, to wear certain colors, to sing specific meaningful songs, to paint murals, to tape their mouths, or create banners, and on the lists go. Tons of students wrote to legislators, and actually made literal plans to meet today in state houses all across the United States, and managed to get to those numerous meetings in huge numbers. Again, as outgoing as I am, I still experience intimidation and nervousness in the “formal” settings of meeting with members of congress at any level, and I abhor the back and forth phone tag or emails that it takes to be able to try and schedule appointments. Some students, had to put a plan B quickly in place, as a snow day closed their school. Still they had a tremendous showing which I imagined involved quite the amount of text messages and carpooling plans. These mature youth rose above and beyond the challenges and complications that can arise when trying to pull-off something this connected on a calendar or clock, or which have such underlying serious and somber origins. It is not fun and games. It requires intelligent energy.

They will always remember March 14th, 2018. Even if they never do anything similar to this type of activism again, they will remember this day for all of their lives. It will stand out in a very impressionable corner of their minds. They now own a story to tell their children and grandchildren.

In addition to the Walkouts, and the memorial ceremonies, many took today as an opportunity to register new voters. I daresay, these participants when they realize how many more did what they did on this momentous day, are going to be empowered by numbers. My children and their peers (all 20 somethings) are horrid at making it to the polls. They insist that money buys the elections and their votes won’t change anything. I bet the graduating class of 2018 does NOT believe that after seeing how many other like-minded groups exist. They are now extremely motivated voters. There will be a historical swell of 18-year old voters this year. Those in the pockets of NRA, don’t stand a chance with them. I believe it.

We out here… especially those who dared to question what was accomplished … we all just watched history in the making. The ones who walked out … please walk on further, get even more involved; be the change that you already are.

by: Kelly Ann Braun
in leadership in the Badass Teachers Association
http://badassteacher.org
https://www.facebook.com/BadassTeachersAssociation/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BadAssTeachers/
@BadassTeachersA
#TBATs

#MarchForOurLives March 24th
National Day Against Gun Violence April 20th

#NotOneMore #NeverAgain

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Education, Elections, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board, Schools, Uncategorized

Joe Schiavoni: The Education Candidate

I strongly urge you to vote for Joe Schiavoni for Governor in the Ohio Primary this May. Joe Schiavoni has been fighting for public education, teachers, and children since he took office as a Senator representing the 33rd district in 2009. He played an integral role in the fight against SB 5, which was an attack on teachers, firefighters, police officers, public workers, and their unions. He was very vocal in his opposition when the bill was introduced and worked tirelessly to inform the public about what they could do to fight it when a referendum was put on the ballot.

After SB 5 was roundly defeated, Joe Schiavoni warned that the fight was not over. He believed that parts of the bill would be introduced in new legislation. One of the most controversial examples of this was House Bill 70 (also known as the Youngstown Plan, after the district that would be affected by it first). Much like SB 5, HB 70 was crafted in secret and introduced and passed quickly with very little time for consideration by legislators or input from the public. This resulted in a  lawsuit being filed by the Youngstown School district, YEA, OEA, and AFSCME citing the unconstitutional nature in which the bill was passed. Two years later, the lawsuit has been sent back down to the lower courts and a second district, Lorain, has been taken over by the state. House Bill 70 will allow for an appointed CEO, who need not have any experience in education, to have the power tochange or suspend any rules in place in union contracts, so long as they do not lower the pay and benefits of employees” by year three of a district takeover (among other things). Senator Schiavoni responded by holding more than 20 public meetings in Youngstown to gather feedback from community members so he and Rep. Lepore-Hagan could introduce companion bills based on concerns from the public about the plan. Both bills were sent to committee where they did not get the hearings they deserved before the end of the 131st General Assembly.

Joe Schiavoni also has a long history of introducing and re-introducing bills that will hold charter schools accountable for the tax dollars they receive and the children that they teach. Most recently, he has sponsored  Senate Bill 39, a bill that would insist on stricter guidelines for the reporting of attendance data in e-schools. Senate Bill 175 would allow for a return of state funds to local districts from charter schools, should an audit find that an overpayment was made. With the recent closure of Ohio’s largest e-school, ECOT, and the state still exploring other avenues to recover the money lost to the school now that it has closed, this legislation is timely and desperately needed.

As senator, Joe Schiavoni tried to get an amendment into the budget bill that would have given our current seniors a safe harbor from the new graduation test requirements. He met with some members of the Ohio BATs this past Summer to hear our concerns about the thousands of kids who were not on track to graduate this year due to poor implementation of the requirements and several changes that were made throughout their high school career. While the amendment did not stay in the bill, and there is uncertainty that the alternative pathways that the legislature did accept in the budget bill will be enough to help those students, this is one more example of Senator Schiavoni’s willingness to listen to the concerns of educators and education advocates and act on them. Anyone who supports public education should join me in supporting Joe Schiavoni by voting for him in the Primary next May and the General election next November. I strongly believe that he is the best choice for the next Governor of the state of Ohio. He will continue to fight for our kids, our teachers, and our schools. If you would like to see where he stands on the issues, or would like to get involved in his campaign, you can visit his website at https://joeforjobs.com/.

– Mandy Jablonski

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Education, Gun Violence, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools, Uncategorized

jc

I am a 3rd grade teacher. 19 8-or 9-year-olds walk in every morning. It is not easy. See, they have to pass a reading test to move on to 4th grade, and a lot of energy and time is devoted to this, and they want to be what they are, kids, and play and talk, and goof off, and it’s really, really hard to move them.

Nevertheless, I persist.

My school is a typical urban elementary, K-6, with all the pressure from the government to raise scores, tweak lessons, always striving for more bang for less buck.

My background included guns from an early age. I shot trap, skeet, sporting clays, and blackbirds in cornfields with a Remington 1100 12 gauge shotgun. I shot cans and bottles with a 22 pistol and quite the array of BB guns. I hate to brag, but I’m a decent shot.

Throughout the year, my school has a variety of drills. We have fire drills, in which the objective is to get kids out quickly, tornado drills, in which the objective is to get the kids to the lowest level of the building quickly, and we have lockdown drills, in which the objective is to get the kids to an area in the classroom which is the least penetrable by bullets and keep them absolutely silent.

Our staff received A.L.I.C.E. training a couple of years ago. We were taught how to teach students to throw books or marbles at an active shooter. We learned to barricade our doors, things we could use as weapons in our classrooms, such as creating a puddle of dish detergent on the floor in front of the door to make the shooter slip, how to throw children out of windows, which would not work in my current building at all, by the way, and the overriding theme was simply, “It’s not IF, but WHEN.”

I have to go to school on Tuesday. The latest slaughter was on Wednesday, and I went numb to school Thursday and Friday.

Thus far in 2018, we are averaging a shooting on school property somewhere in the U.S. every 60 hours.

After tomorrow, we will be due for another.

It would be helpful to have some guidelines from the government here. After all, the government has no issue with making up requirements for promotion to 4th grade, who should graduate, or which teachers are great, mediocre, or should rework their resumes to seek employment outside of education.

I keep checking, but I find nothing.

In the latest incident, there was a smoke-producing device, a fire alarm pulled, and students slaughtered as they followed protocol and filed out of classrooms.

Some legislators (or their unelected but vociferous spouses) ((Sara Marie BRENNER, but not naming names; however, there is a screenshot below the article)) apparently found it in their tainted souls to bring up the fact that murderers can use pressure cookers or cars to slaughter others. And then to ask if we should ban fire alarms. And then to suggest that teachers should arm themselves with handguns to protect their students.

This is a terrible thought. Who in their right mind would want their child taught by a commando? And for many other reasons.

I am sure that one who is intent on murdering others can creatively use a sharpened pencil, a computer cart, a frayed electric pencil sharpener cord, or sundry other available implements to murder. We are rather frail, after all.

My question was, “What should I do for the NEXT fire drill?”

I am still having trouble falling asleep, see, because I think about the fact that, in the latest, but certainly not last, slaughter of schoolchildren on 2-14-2018, teachers like me followed protocol, at least at first, and SENT CHILDREN TO DEATH UNKNOWINGLY.

This awareness is going to haunt me for some time. I grieve for the children, their teachers, their parents, who sent them to school that morning with maybe extra money for a rose or some candy because it was Valentine’s Day, never to see them again except in the morgue. I grieve for innocence. I grieve for what I was before and what I am becoming. I am definitely not my happy-go-lucky self today. All of us share a collective soul, and I grieve for that.

I am not looking forward to Tuesday. I dread the next fire drill.

I want someone with more authority than me to fix this and make it NEVER happen again, but the math part of me knows we are due for another soon.

~Jackie Conrad

sara

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools, Uncategorized

Ohio BATs Agree with OSBA, BASA, & OFT’s Amicus Brief about HB70

signatures of support

Ohio BATs extends its sincere gratitude to the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Federation of Teachers for their joint filing of an amicus brief in opposition to state takeovers via House Bill 70. As amici explain so well, the process and the intent of the amendment, that ultimately was introduced and passed on the same day, was an affront to the entire democratic process of our governance.

 

We completely agree with their statement: “Amici share a keen interest in preserving the local, community-centered autonomy of local school boards. Voters elect the members of their districts’ school boards from their own communities, and school districts, in turn, have authority over their districts. But R.C. 3302.10, enacted in Am.Sub.HB 70, upends this system by unconstitutionally usurping the powers of school boards and, by extension, the will of the voters who elected the board members. And it does so in violation of Article VI, Section 3 of the Ohio Constitution as well as the Equal Protection clause.” Read the full brief here: http://vindy.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/news/documents/2017/12/07/Amicus_Brief.pdf


When we see amici representing Ohio’s school board members, superintendents, and educators against the state, then it is clear there was an egregious and corrupt attempt to disregard the voices of experts through HB 70. The bill’s intent is an entrepreneurial endeavor designed by the elite. One that is most costly to children and cold to communities. One that indiscreetly discriminates and racially divides. One that has no empathy for the socio-economically disadvantaged. One that is morally bankrupt and intentionally moot about the ill-effects and failures of this greed-driven educational experimentation thus far.  

Our signatures below are a strong stance in solidarity with the amici’s legal challenge put forth in the brief and in unity with all other groups of public school primary stakeholders who are also vehemently opposed to HB 70 and its broad destructive future plans.

 

Kelly A. Braun, 30 years in some form of education-related jobs; currently a pre-K teacher

Brittany Alexander, 21 year educator

Karen Linch, 18 year educator

Linda Englert Kennedy, 35 years, since 1983

Gary Gilbert, father of two, educator in some form for 30 years.

Debra Testa Fedyna, 35 years elementary teaching, 6 years University of Mount Union adjunct professor, supervisor of student teachers

Michelle Amber Clark, 7 year educator

Sherm Koons, 20 year educator

Tucker Kari MacDonald Tucker, 22 year educator

Rania Fowler, 20 years

Kelly Modlich, 19 years public school educator, 8 year pre-school educator

Wendy Duke, 22 yrs now retired

Laura Valendza, 15 years

Karen Dodson-Glanzer, 21 year educator

Teresa Brown, 35 year educator

Marti Franks, 44 years in secondary education, retired but still an activist.

Mary Reed, 20 year educator

Ana Chapman, 25-year educator and 4-year school board member

Elizabeth Evans, 9 years teaching

Beth Egbert, 19 years

Brandon Parsons, 13-year educator, parent for 13 years

Julie Cohan, educator and parent for 25 years

Melodie Larsen, 31 years teaching in urban public education

Jackie Conrad, 25 year educator

June Krayer, 16 years in education

Rhonda Chartier, Elementary education 13 years

Billie Sarich, 31 years, elementary education

Carrie Preston, teacher, 20 years, mother of 3 grandmother of 5

Stephani Itibrout, 21 years high school teacher

Marty Perlaky, 27 years secondary education

Danielle Carey, 23 year educator

Dawn Neely-Randall, 28 years teaching in public education

Jocelyn Weeda, PhD., 23 year educator

Douglas Edwards, 34 year public school educator

Isabel Bozada, 3 year educator

Geoff D. Mize, 19 years public school educator

Rebecca Kleinhenz, 18 years public school educator
Shannon Brazzil, 21 years 8th Grade Special Education

Travis Pennell, 10 years

Eckhart Marylouise Eckhart, 30 years in public schools now retired

Larry Ellis, 17 year public school educator

Mary Palmstrom, 35 years in public schools, retired

Andrea White, Ph.D., 25-year-educator

Becki Schwab, 14 yrs public school educator

Hauer Katie Hauer, 28 year educator

Tom A. Traut, 30 years in public school – retired

Abby Vaile, 39 years as an educator

Myra Keller, 9 years

Laurie Maravetz, 25 years public school educator

Beth Wilson-Fish, 34 years in education, 2 years on public School Board
Charlandra Lundy, public school educator, 23 years

Jeanne Melvin, educator – 3 years corporate-owned private school and 36 years public school district

Amy Fihe, 23 years

Paula Garfield, Retired- 32 years in public schools, Behavior Intervention Teacher/Specialist

Linda Limbach, 35+ years as public school educator and 3 years as an educational consultant

Stephanie Jordan, 16 yrs public educator

Mandy Jablonski, parent, supporter of public education

Matt Jablonski, 18 years public school teacher

Vickie Briercheck, 30 years

Soozie Kish-Hetterscheidt, 17 years

Jo Guido, 33 years

Dan Heintz, 15 years teaching in public education

Jane Barnes, 14 years in public education

Anita Beck, retired 37 yr public school educator

Denis Smith, Retired 36 years public school teacher and administrator

Diane Valentino, 28 year public educator

Rhonna Smith, 25 year public school Intervention Specialist

Matthew Smith, 31 years public school educator-retired

Ruth V. Spanos, 14 years public school Speech-Language Pathologist

Chris Thomas, Retired public school teacher-28 years

Jessica Bosak, parent/home preschool educator, public school supporter

Jinnifer Roach, public school teacher for 21 years

Margaret Moschell, public school teacher for 19 years

Maureen Reedy, retired educator, 36 years of experience, Ohio Teacher of the Year, 2002, Upper Arlington Teacher of the Year, 2001

Stacey Higgins, 22 years experience

Brenda Moran Schaefer, 20 years experience

Sarae Pacetta, early childhood educator, 21 years experience

Pamela Sneary Spadaro, 21 years of teaching

Melissa Marini Švigelj-Smith, 20 years teaching

Penny Parish-Brown, 34 years, 14 as a teacher and 20 as a School Psychologist

Rachel Rowen, public school teacher, 9 years

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Charters, ECOT, Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools, Uncategorized

Teacher Stance with Senator Schiavoni and Ohio Democratic Caucuses

signature ECOT

Ohio BATs stands in solidarity with members of the Ohio Senate and House Democratic Caucuses whose amicus brief defends the Ohio Department of Education in its review of funding for electronic schools – the basis of a lawsuit stemming from the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). We applaud our minority party legislators for standing up on behalf of students, families, schools, and taxpayers, who are all being bilked by ECOT.

 

We agree with the amici that compulsory education, in all its forms, requires documentation beyond mere learning opportunities offered by electronic schools. To receive any portion of state tax dollars, all schools must ensure that students are participating in their learning through required attendance procedures and policies.

 

“In its gradual approach to adding funding oversight to e-schools, the General Assembly recognized the core experimental nature of community schools and balanced it against responsible stewardship of public funds and the obligation to ensure children are educated.” We concur with this assessment of intent behind legislative changes regarding e-schools. Read the full brief here: https://supremecourt.ohio.gov/pdf_viewer/pdf_viewer.aspx?pdf=834613.pdf

 

We sincerely thank Ohio’s Democratic Caucus legislators for defending our children, protecting public education, and safeguarding our tax dollars, with special recognition to Senator Joe Schiavoni for leading this effort. The signatures below show our support of these amici.

 

Kelly A. Braun, 30 years in some form of education-related jobs; currently a pre-K teacher

Brittany Alexander, 21 year educator

Karen Linch, 18 year educator

Linda Englert Kennedy, 35 years, since 1983

Gary Gilbert, father of two, educator in some form for 30 years.

Debra Testa Fedyna, 35 years elementary teaching, 6 years University of Mount Union adjunct professor, supervisor of student teachers

Michelle Amber Clark, 7 year educator

Sherm Koons, 20 year educator

Tucker Kari MacDonald Tucker, 22 year educator

Rania Fowler, 20 years

Kelly Modlich, 19 years public school educator, 8 year pre-school educator

Wendy Duke, 22 yrs now retired

Laura Valendza, 15 years

Karen Dodson-Glanzer, 21 year educator

Teresa Brown, 35 year educator

Marti Franks, 44 years in secondary education, retired but still an activist.

Mary Reed, 20 year educator

Ana Chapman, 25-year educator and 4-year school board member

Elizabeth Evans, 9 years teaching

Beth Egbert, 19 years

Brandon Parsons, 13-year educator, parent for 13 years

Julie Cohan, educator and parent for 25 years

Melodie Larsen, 31 years teaching in urban public education

Jackie Conrad, 25 year educator

June Krayer, 16 years in education

Rhonda Chartier, Elementary education 13 years

Billie Sarich, 31 years, elementary education

Carrie Preston, teacher, 20 years, mother of 3 grandmother of 5

Stephani Itibrout, 21 years high school teacher

Marty Perlaky, 27 years secondary education

Danielle Carey, 23 year educator

Dawn Neely-Randall, 28 years teaching in public education

Jocelyn Weeda, PhD., 23 year educator

Douglas Edwards, 34 year public school educator

Isabel Bozada, 3 year educator

Geoff D. Mize, 19 years public school educator

Rebecca Kleinhenz, 18 years public school educator
Shannon Brazzil, 21 years 8th Grade Special Education

Travis Pennell, 10 years

Eckhart Marylouise Eckhart, 30 years in public schools now retired

Larry Ellis, 17 year public school educator

Mary Palmstrom, 35 years in public schools, retired

Andrea White, Ph.D., 25-year-educator

Becki Schwab, 14 yrs public school educator

Hauer Katie Hauer, 28 year educator

Tom A. Traut, 30 years in public school – retired

Abby Vaile, 39 years as an educator

Myra Keller, 9 years

Laurie Maravetz, 25 years public school educator

Beth Wilson-Fish, 34 years in education, 2 years on public School Board
Charlandra Lundy, public school educator, 23 years

Jeanne Melvin, educator – 3 years corporate-owned private school and 36 years public school district

Amy Fihe, 23 years

Paula Garfield, Retired- 32 years in public schools, Behavior Intervention Teacher/Specialist

Linda Limbach, 35+ years as public school educator and 3 years as an educational consultant

Stephanie Jordan, 16 yrs public educator

Mandy Jablonski, parent, supporter of public education

Matt Jablonski, 18 years public school teacher

Vickie Briercheck, 30 years

Soozie Kish-Hetterscheidt, 17 years

Jo Guido, 33 years

Dan Heintz, 15 years teaching in public education

Jane Barnes, 14 years in public education

Anita Beck, retired 37 yr public school educator

Denis Smith, Retired 36 years public school teacher and administrator

Diane Valentino, 28 year public educator

Rhonna Smith, 25 year public school Intervention Specialist

Matthew Smith, 31 years public school educator-retired

Ruth V. Spanos, 14 years public school Speech-Language Pathologist

Chris Thomas, Retired public school teacher-28 years

Jessica Bosak, parent/home preschool educator, public school supporter

Jinnifer Roach, public school teacher for 21 years

Margaret Moschell, public school teacher for 19 years

Maureen Reedy, retired educator, 36 years of experience, Ohio Teacher of the Year, 2002, Upper Arlington Teacher of the Year, 2001

Stacey Higgins, 22 years experience

Brenda Moran Schaefer, 20 years experience

Sarae Pacetta, early childhood educator, 21 years experience

Pamela Sneary Spadaro, 21 years of teaching

Melissa Marini Švigelj-Smith, 20 years teaching

Penny Parish-Brown, 34 years, 14 as a teacher and 20 as a School Psychologist

Rachel Rowen, public school teacher, 9 years

thank you

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools, Uncategorized

SB39 Proponent Testimony – Brianne Kramer

Statement to the Senate Education Committee in favor of Senate Bill 39

Chair Lehner, Vice Chair Huffman, Ranking Member Sykes, and members of the Senate Education Committee:

I am sharing this written testimony in favor of Senate Bill 39 because I believe more accountability is needed for e-schools in Ohio. I have been in education for the past 14 years as a high school teacher, part-time college faculty, and now as an Assistant Professor at Southern Utah University. From November 2013 to November 2014, I worked as a high school advisor for Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA hereafter). In addition to my various teaching and educational experiences, much of my doctoral level research has focused on Ohio’s charter and virtual/e-schools.

Upon accepting the position at OHVA, I did not hold any concrete opinions about virtual schools and their operation. I believed at the time that virtual schools could be excellent opportunities for students who were unable to attend their local public schools for various reasons. After working in the school for a year, my opinions drastically changed. As an advisor, my position required me to manage a caseload of students in order to track attendance, check grades, and keep open lines of communication with the family. Advisors were required to check student attendance logs weekly to make sure families were logging in the required hours per week. If there was a discrepancy and hours were missing, I contacted the family to alert them of the missing hours and, if the student had not completed those hours in the system, discuss a plan to make up hours and complete work that was missing. If the hours did not get entered, once the student was missing 25 hours of attendance, I initiated the truancy process by filling out a report and sending it to the truancy officer and others who oversaw the truancy process. Once the student was missing 105 hours, as the advisor, I would request the student be withdrawn for truancy. Again, once initiating this process, the truancy officer and other individuals processed it.

Shortly before leaving the school in November 2014, there were 487 K-12th grade students who had not yet logged attendance hours, and only 89 of those students were currently in the truancy reporting system after 11 weeks of school. There were also 1,826 students who were missing 25 or more hours of attendance, and of those students, only 594 had begun the truancy process, amounting to 19% of OHVA students who were eligible for the truancy process. These numbers also assume that proper truancy reporting was followed and that families did not alter attendance hours to avoid truancy charges. During my year working in the school, I found both of these things to be true at various times.

Despite changes to their reporting process or to the attendance policy that may have been made at OHVA and similar schools recently, I believe e-schools should be required to provide education to each of their students that totals the state-imposed 920 hours. All of Ohio’s public school students who attend a traditional public school are required to be in classrooms with their teachers for 920 hours each year, so e-school students should be held to the same standard. For this to occur in a way that can be measured, all 920 hours should be spent in the online classroom platform, which is not currently happening. OHVA’s 2016-2017 Parent Handbook states:

“Most K-5 Learning Coaches and students spend 50% of their day online and the rest of their time working off line in workbooks, printed lessons, or other related activities. Middle school students and Learning Coaches may spend between 60% and 70% of their time on their computers, while high school students will spend between 75% and 85% online. Attendance documentation of online and offline work is required by OHVA parents. Submission of student work samples is required to demonstrate consistent engagement, and will vary by grade” (p. 3).

Traditional public schools cannot provide 460 hours of instruction for grades K-5, 644 hours of instruction in middle schools, and 782 hours of instruction at the high school level and make up the remaining hours with homework. Virtual schools, who academically perform at a much lower level than the majority of public schools in Ohio, should not be allowed to loosely interpret the current attendance policies.

Senate Bill 39 would close this gap and provide greater accountability for virtual schools. If passed, the bill requires the Ohio Department of Education to be notified of truancy and attendance figures. This greater accountability places pressure on the virtual schools and their sponsors to maintain correct attendance records and uphold state policy. These proposed requirements only serve to benefit the students and families in virtual schools. Students who are not attending class are not learning to their full potential, and schools are required to make sure students are in attendance daily. Traditional public schools take attendance every morning, and in high schools, each class period. When students attend their classes, the teachers work to keep them engaged throughout the lesson through constant interaction and face-to-face engagement that cannot be replicated in an online classroom despite any technology that may be used. A 2015 study by the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found virtual school students lost 72 days of learning, on average, in reading, and lost 180 days of learning in math. Low attendance could contribute to this loss of learning.

Virtual schools also need to have greater transparency in order for the general public to better understand the structures of such schools and their operation. Virtual school board meetings should be live-streamed after appropriate notice has been provided statewide in the cities the virtual school students and their families reside. Parents and the general public have a right to be able to attend (in person or virtually) each board meeting, just as if they were attending a board meeting in their local traditional public school district. Virtual school advertisements, which have been paid for using taxpayer money funneled from local school districts, should contain the most recent state report card grades. Taxpayers deserve to understand what their money is being used for. In a traditional district, taxpayers have a better understanding of what their taxes are being used for as they see building improvements happen, hear about new teachers being hired, or see the new textbooks and curriculum coming home in their child’s backpack each day. Finally, the state report cards for each virtual school in the state should contain an area that indicates the school’s mobility rate. While mobility rates are not an issue solely for virtual schools, the mobility rates remain higher for virtual schools than many of the traditional public school districts.

My final point refers to the funding component of SB 39. For the past 17 years, since the inception of ECOT in 2000, virtual schools have siphoned money from local school districts. While supporters of virtual schools may claim that only state funds are transferred from traditional public school districts to the virtual schools as the money “follows the student,” many Ohio school districts are subsidizing virtual schools with a portion of local taxpayer money. In my hometown of Napoleon, the per-pupil funding amount is $4,205; however, the per-pupil funding amount for ECOT and OHVA is slightly above $7000. Where does that remaining $2,795 come from? According to The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project, out of the $237,539 transferred to charter schools (3 of 4 being virtual schools), $99,562 was through local taxpayer subsidy. Napoleon Area City taxpayers have been subsidizing virtual schools who have consistently demonstrated lower academic achievement and graduation rates than their local district.

I urge you to pass Senate Bill 39 to better serve the students and families who seek out this type of education. All students in the state of Ohio are entitled to a quality education. I believe it is our duty to ensure the proper policies are in place to ensure this for all children. It is also important that taxpayers understand the structure, operation, and funding of virtual schools in the state of Ohio.

Chair Lehner and members of the committee– thank you again for the opportunity to provide written testimony in favor of Senate Bill 39.

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Small Local Group Uncovers Widespread Opposition to Confirmation of DeVos as U.S. Education Secretary

What a frustrating time in education; but, what an exciting time to be able to join with so many voices all saying the same thing! Ohio BATs thank Tom Schmida and the Cleveland Heights Coalition for Public Education, for including Ohio BATs in the ability to sign on to this letter!

janresseger

On Tuesday, January 3, as everybody crawled out from under holiday cooking, gifting and celebrating, leaders of our local Heights Coalition for Public Education met to consider mounting some kind of local response to the existential threat of a Betsy DeVos-led U.S. Department of Education. President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy Devos alarms us because her only connection with public schools has been a lifelong commitment to using her billionaire philanthropy to privatize education. We’ve all personally sent letters or signed petitions to protest Trump’s nomination of Devos to be our next education secretary, and we looked for a way to expand our advocacy to include our broader community.

We crafted a sign-on letter for organizations and assigned different people to reach out to leaders they knew to see of their organizations would consider signing on. On Wednesday, we learned there was some time pressure: DeVos’s hearing before the Senate…

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