August 22, 2014

Elyria
Hazy moonlight
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Letter: Straight A or F?: The Perpetuation of a System of Winners, Losers

To Whom It May Concern,

The Lorain County Superintendents would like to congratulate the 24 Straight A Grant recipients on a job well done! However, we are writing to express our deep concerns regarding the perpetuation of a system of winners and losers in the state of Ohio.

It is our professional opinion that the state picked winners and losers with our state tax dollars rather than focusing on and diverting dollars to systemic improvements that could benefit all of the boys and girls in Ohio. It is clear that the chosen 24 districts are among the “winners,” while the Lorain County districts that submitted grant proposals, as well as the 569 other applicants throughout the state are the “losers.” Further, an analysis of the chosen few recipients provide great insight into a cadre of interesting networks that exist among the highest award “winners.”

It is also curious that ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow — a for-profit charter company) received more than $2 million while their graduation rate has been 35% over the past five years. At the same time as the “chosen” few receive millions of tax dollars in state funding, the majority of Ohio students receive nothing.

As an example of how tax dollars can be used to make up for some of the $500 million in net funding cuts Ohio schools have received in the last two biennial budgets, Innovation Ohio states that the $400 million savings achieved by Medicaid expansion equates to the following:

  • $400 million exceeds the total amount spent by the state on economically disadvantaged aid ($369 million)
  • $400 million is over 6 times more than what the state spends on K-3 literacy ($64 million)
  • $400 million is more than what the state spends on the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, Gifted Education, Career Tech Education, Limited English Proficiency Education and half of the state’s six Special Education categories ($399.7 million).
  • $400 million exceeds the entire amount spent by the state on school transportation ($357 million).
  • Indeed, the only education line items on which the state spends more than $400 million are Charter Schools, the state’s basic aid amount, targeted assistance parity aid) and Special Education. Everything else gets less money.

(Innovation Ohio, 2013, The Impact of $400 Million on Ohio Schools)

Further, according to Innovation Ohio, the $400 million dollar investment would have the following impact on our public schools:

  • Double funding for Gifted, ELL, Career Tech and K-3 literacy funding.
  • Double funding for Transportation – while also nearly doubling funding for the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Double the amount of economically disadvantaged funding.
  • Pay for All-Day Kindergarten or universal preschool in our most economically distressed areas
  • Triple the funding for the most profoundly challenged special needs children in the state

(Innovation Ohio, 2013, The Impact of $400 Million on Ohio Schools)

We realize that the Straight A fund allocation was $250 million. However, rather than allocating the $250 million dollars to improve the overall system of education for ALL students in Ohio, we are once again forced to participate in a system of “winners” and “losers” that pits Ohio’s schools against each other. The utilization of public dollars to perpetuate a system of “winners” and “losers” is wrong on many levels. When will it end?

The following Lorain County Superintendents signed this letter:

Amherst Exempted Village Schools, Superintendent Steve Sayers; Avon Local Schools, Superintendent Michael Laub; Avon Lake City Schools, Superintendent Robert Scott; Clearview Local Schools, Superintendent Jerome Davis; Columbia Local Schools, Superintendent Graig Bansek; Elyria City Schools, Superintendent Paul Rigda; Firelands Local Schools, Superintendent Dr. Robert Hill; Keystone Local Schools, Superintendent Jay Arbaugh; North Ridgeville City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Jim Powell; Lorain City Schools, Superintendent Thomas Tucker; Lorain County ESC, Superintendent Greg Ring; Lorain County JVS, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Faircloth; Midview Local Schools, Superintendent Scott Goggin; Oberlin City Schools, Superintendent John Schroth; Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Will Folger; Vermilion Local Schools, Superintendent Phillip Pempin; Wellington Exempted Village Schools, Superintendent, John Nolan.

  • SniperFire

    After-the-fact whining is just sour grapes. Celebrate excellence and do better next time.

  • CharlesMartel732

    What a shame, they didn’t get to throw down the race card. But they didn’t miss the chance to show the kids how to whine about not getting their cut of tax money.

    Disgraceful.

  • BuckeyeGuy

    While our Lorain County public schools and many others in the state were denied funding through the Straight A Fund, the online charter school ECOT was awarded their entire Straight A Fund grant request of $2,951,755. ECOT received $88,000,000 (yep, that’s millions!) in public funds last year and is expected to receive $92,000,000 this year, despite earning F grades on the state’s Performance Index. Owned by William Lager, ECOT itself is classified as a “non-profit” entity for tax purposes. However, it takes the public funds it’s given and immediately contracts for curriculum and operations services with two for-profit companies, Altair Learning Management Co. and IQ Innovations, which are both owned by Lager. He draws a salary from the non-profit ECOT as their CEO and then collects on the back end as CEO for the other two companies. Oh, and Lager has donated nearly $1-million to Republican lawmakers in Ohio since 2010. It’s easy to see why our Lorain County schools were among the Straight A Fund “losers”—they don’t have the money necessary to grease the palms of the ruling party in Columbus. It’s a shame but it takes money to get money in this case.

    • SniperFire

      A Liberal complaining about public education palms getting greased.
      What a a riot!

  • Phil Seguin

    Why don’t we let parents decide where their tax dollars for education go? We need a statewide full voucher system for everyone. I’m more troubled by Paul Rigda drawing a pension and salary simultaneously then I am by how the fuding was given out.

  • Film the Police

    As an experiment, put all the kids with parents who care in one school, all the kids with parents who don’t in another. Fund the ladder with a 5 to 1 ratio over the kids with parents who care. I think you will find money doesn’t matter.

  • Zen Grouch

    “The utilization of public dollars to perpetuate a system of “winners” and “losers” is wrong on many levels. When will it end?”

    The labels “winners” and “losers” confuses the subject.

    I believe a more accurate description of those involved would be “achievers” and “non-achievers.”

    And I see nothing wrong with rewarding the achievers and letting the non-achievers know that they need to do better.

    If not, why bother grading the children who attend our schools. When they hit a certain age, pass them up another grade, then pat ‘em on the back and wish ‘em luck when they graduate.

    …yes, I see the light now. THIS would be a more humane and easier way of dealing with a child’s education.

  • Joe Sandor

    Do the Supt’s want some cheese for their whine?
    They deserved to be passed-over.
    They made CRAPPY proposals. Little innovation. Little sustainability.
    Like many systems they wanted something for nothing – money without change.
    s if this money was an entitlement instead of an incentive.
    Maybe their next communal letter will detaldetailthey failed to get bucks.

  • CeeJay Cook

    The money isn’t going where there is the greatest need or the best planning. It is going where there are political connections and agendas.

  • oldruss

    It’s not the amount of money that is spent on education that determines outcome. Last week the news of the most recent scores on the International Student Assessment were released. Earlier news articles examined the question of whether or not spending on education results in better test scores? It does not.

    In an article from June 2013, from CBS News is the following:
    “As a share of its economy, the United States spent more than the average country in the survey. In 2010, the United States spent 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product on education, compared with the 6.3 percent average of other OECD countries. Denmark topped the list on that measure with 8 percent of its gross domestic product going toward education.

    “Spending, of course, only tells part of the story and does not guarantee students’ success. The United States routinely trails its rival countries in performances on international exams despite being among the heaviest spenders on education.” — US Spending Tops Global List, CBS News, June 25, 2013, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-study-shows/

    We also know that the Lorain City School District, for example, spends more per pupil than does any other district in Lorain County, and yet the scores on all standardized tests leave the LCSD students lagging behind. The problems lie in the underclass, which does not value education, and not on the quality of the school or the quality of the teacher.

    “Nations with more lower social class students will have lower overall scores, because these students don’t perform as well academically, even in good schools.” — Jonathan Rabinovitz, “Poor rankings on international tests misleading about U.S. performance”, Stanford University Graduate School of Education, January 15, 2013, https://ed.stanford.edu/news/poor-ranking-international-tests-misleading-about-us-performance-new-report-finds

  • schoolfraud

    It’s unfortunate that none of the school grant applicants won any of the award funds, but perhaps the taxpayers might be more concerned about the fact that all seventeen of the Lorain County superintendents that signed the letter are male. It’s difficult to believe that there are no qualified women capable of being a school superintendent in Lorain County.

  • Joe Smith

    Yea, why give the money to the kids who bust their butt in school?