Governor Kasich released his proposed 2018-19 budget on Monday and, as always, it includes his priorities for reforming the educational system. While the specific details won’t be known until the actual language in the budget bill is introduced, the Governor has put out a brief list revealing that his political agenda remains unchanged – testing, privatization, and minimal funding, with some slight evidence that he may not actually know what is already taking place in Ohio.

Here is the list from Kasich’s budget recommendations with our commentary following:

Agency Priorities

  • Provide the basic education funding necessary to support student success and achievement.
  • Promote and support quality school choice options for all students.
  • Implement academic standards, which are the cornerstone of a strong educational system, and set the expectation for what all students should know and be able to do.
  • Align student assessments with the academic content standards to determine that students are meeting expectations.
  • Hold educators and students accountable for performance and provide data that are used to inform educational decisions.
  • Initiate school improvement programs that improve the school learning environment, engage parents in the learning process, and support student intervention programs that offer those students who are performing below expectations a chance to succeed.
  • Provide focused, high quality professional development for educators.

Funding Recommendation for 2018 and 2019

  • GRF: Funding for fiscal year 2018 is $8.1 billion (or a 1.8% increase from fiscal year 2017). Funding for fiscal year 2019 is $8.2 billion (or a 1.7% increase from fiscal year 2018).
  • All Funds: Funding for fiscal year 2018 is $11.2 billion (or a 1.2% increase from fiscal year 2017). Funding for fiscal
    year 2019 is $11.4 billion (or a 1.4% increase from fiscal year 2018).

The Executive Recommendation will fund the following objectives:

  • Funding for traditional, joint vocational, and community schools. Maintain funding for chartered nonpublic schools to support the purchase of secular services and materials as well as to reimburse nonpublic schools for mandated administrative and clerical costs.
  • Provide funding for early childhood education and opportunities for economically disadvantaged students to enroll in high quality preschools. Fund early literacy activities to support schools and ensure teachers and students are prepared for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
  • Continue the Community Connectors mentorship program to bring together families, community organizations, faith-based and value-based organizations, and businesses to support schools and mentor students.
  • Continue funding the Straight A Fund allowing schools to implement innovative instructional models to inspire learning and student growth; pursue efficiencies and shared services delivery to promote effectiveness, sustainability, and scalability; and replicate other successful Straight A Fund grants.
  • Support school improvement activities focusing on the state’s lowest-achieving schools. Support includes assistance with improvement planning, creation of an improvement culture in schools, support for building principal and teacher development, and resources to promote effective practices.
  • Continue funding adult education programs to help Ohioans earn a high school diploma, a high school equivalency program, and industry recognized credentials.
  • Direct funding for technical assistance and more effective oversight of Ohio’s school choice programs and community schools. Continue facilities funding for community schools and STEM schools. Increase funding for the EdChoice expansion program, allowing economically disadvantaged pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade access to additional school choice options.
  • Fund professional development and outreach efforts related to the implementation of Ohio’s rigorous academic content standards and model curricula. Continue Ohio’s assessment system and maintain the state’s accountability system and measure student success through local report card. Increase funding for the Education Management Information System to support development, internal and external processing, and data quality.
  • Provide assistance to districts in fiscal distress, including funding advances to school districts in fiscal emergency and grants to school districts that suffer unforeseen catastrophic events. Support planning, coordination, funding simulation, and analysis for all districts.
  • Provide oversight necessary to issue educator permits and licenses annually, support teacher and principal evaluations, manage educator licensure investigation and revocation process, and support the Resident Educator Summative Assessment.

Testing

The first reference to Kasich’s desire to buck the Federal trend and maintain Ohio’s extensive standardized testing system is in the 4th bullet under Agency Priorities where he states “Align student assessments with the academic content standards…” (more on that loaded statement later), but Kasich truly doubles down on testing under the objectives that his budget recommendations will find when he states “Continue Ohio’s assessment system and maintain the state’s accountability system and measure student success through local report card.”  It is evident that Kasich believes that testing is helping to turn around the state’s educational system despite Ohio’s continued drop in national rankings.  Even though the latest federal legislation, ESSA, allows states to cut back, Kasich is putting our money firmly in the testing basket.  The Third Grade Reading Guarantee gets a shout-out, too, meaning Ohio’s youngest learners will continue to be assessed repeatedly and extensively.

Privatization

Where to begin…   Let’s go with the entire bullet point that states “Direct funding for technical assistance and more effective oversight of Ohio’s school choice programs and community schools. Continue facilities funding for community schools and STEM schools. Increase funding for the EdChoice expansion program, allowing economically disadvantaged pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade access to additional school choice options.”  Or maybe the second item on the entire list, “Promote and support quality school choice options for all students.”  Yes, the devil will be in the details, but it is clear that Kasich intends to continue to work to push the privatization of Ohio’s school funding dollars be further expanding re-direction of money away from the public school system and toward private or privately-run charter schools.

Funding

Basic.  That’s the exact word that John Kasich has used to open his list to describe the level of commitment to funding education in Ohio.

“Hello parents, what type of educational support would you like for your child?”

“Oh, we’ll just take the basic plan, thank you.”

While Kasich reports an overall increase of 1.2% in all funds for 2018, a deeper dive into the line-item funding categories unveils a 3.4% increase in the “Curricula, Assessment, and Accountability” category, with a notable 42.1% increase for Accountability/Report Cards and a 12.1% increase in funding for “State Assessments”.  FYI – those are not funds that go directly into classrooms or schools to help students learn.

Additionally, the largest percentage increase can be found going to the “School Choice” category – a total increase of 14.6% for those programs, with significant funding increases allocated to Community (charter) Schools, the expansion of the EdChoice school voucher program, and more money dedicated to charter school facilities.

Is Kasich Serious?

The top of Kasich’s budget lists his overall priorities of the Ohio Department of Education.  It’s fair to believe that these must be the most significant items that Kasich wants to see the agency take action on in the next two years.  Basic funding was first, and school choice was listed second.  It’s the third and fourth bullet points that leave us scratching our heads a bit:

  • Implement academic standards, which are the cornerstone of a strong educational system, and set the expectation for what all students should know and be able to do.
  • Align student assessments with the academic content standards to determine that students are meeting expectations.

First of all, I’m fairly certain that Ohio has had academic standards for well over a decade and, while they have been revised and updated over the years, teachers have been “implementing” these standards for a very long time – well before Kasich was even elected to lead the state.  Additionally, I’m pretty sure that the “expectation” for students has been set as low as grade 3 (and below) via the Third Grade Reading Guarantee (pass a test or be retained) and in the form of the newest version of Ohio’s high school graduation requirements that are clearly and firmly laid out despite the fact that a large percentage of students are not on track to graduate in 2018.

Secondly, and even more appalling to me, is Kasich’s statement that it is a top priority of Ohio Department of Education to “aliogn student assessments with the academic content standards…”  WHAT???

Is the Governor stating that we are currently testing our students using assessments that are not aligned to the content that teachers have been instructed to use – BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION – to ensure that all students are properly prepared to demonstrate said knowledge and attain “proficient” scores?  And aren’t these non-aligned assessments what are being used to determine whether or not a third grader advances to fourth grade, to determine whether a student is eligible to receive a diploma, to label schools and districts as successful or failing, and to subsequently determine when a district must be taken over by the state (like Youngstown and Lorain)?

On a serious note – is he kidding right now?  Is this an admission that Ohio’s assessments are not aligned to the standards and that the entire assessment system tied to a million high-stakes decisions about students, teachers, schools, and districts is a complete farce?

If this is true and not simply an ignorant statement, then Kasich should immediately call for a reversal of state law that bars the release of previous test items and allow experts (i.e., every educator across Ohio) analyze the flawed assessments and have the opportunity to re-evaluate their curricula to best prepare students for success (or, as it’s called in Ohio, “pass the tests”).

 

 
  • Greggyb

    The Kasich education agenda: continuing on the quest to be worse than Louisiana and Mississippi by every possible measure.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!