The summaries of chapters 1-14 for The Testing Charade are available for your use as you prepare for the book study, co-hosted by CAPEOhio and PEP. You might find it helpful to bring a copy with you on December 3, 2019 at 6:30 PM. The event will take place at the Bethel International Methodist Church, 1220 Bethel Road, Columbus, OH 43220. Click the link here to see the summaries.

Dr. George Wood’s Excellent Suggestions to Governor DeWine for Improving Education in Ohio


Column: How Gov. DeWine should truly thank teachers

George Wood

Posted Mar 12, 2019 at 4:15 AM


After eight years of, at best, benign neglect, it was a pleasure to hear the governor of Ohio speak kindly of teachers. In his first State of the State address, Gov. Mike DeWine paused in his prepared remarks “to thank all the teachers of Ohio.” The line even garnered applause from legislators who seem not to have noticed who does all the heavy lifting when it comes to the education of our state’s children.

Since actions speak louder than words, here are some suggestions on what DeWine could do now.

As the governor’s party holds all statewide offices, both houses of the legislature and a majority on the Ohio Supreme Court, he could help the General Assembly carry out its constitutional duty to fund a “thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state.”

The team of Reps. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and John Patterson, D-Jefferson, has come forward with a bipartisan proposal for a new way of funding our schools. While not perfect, it provides a starting point for getting at the core issues of equity, funding tied to genuine programming needs and reducing the reliance on property tax. DeWine should work with them to push this proposal into law.

The next item to take on is the over-testing of our children. Again and again it has been pointed out that these tests have never been linked to anything — not success in college, success on the job or even the ability to write a letter to the editor. But we keep on giving them and measuring the success of schools based on the results.

In his campaign, the governor called for reducing the number of tests. Ohio students take nearly two dozen more than are required in federal law.

Virtually all of them could be eliminated. A state Board of Education task force is calling for reducing high-school tests and replacing them with performance standards such as major projects and portfolios. DeWine needs to be a champion of these reforms.

Social and emotional learning received a shout-out in the State of the State speech. This refers to helping students develop the skills that make them successful in life in general — skills such as reflective thinking, teamwork, public engagement and often simply doing the right thing.

For decades, employers have been calling for such a focus on what are often called “soft skills,” knowing they make all the difference in the workplace. If the governor means what he says when he calls for “a much-needed focus on social-emotional learning,” his budget should reflect increased funding for such programs in public schools. That includes adequate counseling and guidance services for all school children.

Finally, the governor talked about the value of home-visitation programs for Ohio’s youngest residents — those from birth through age 5. In my school district, we agree. In fact, utilizing our own funds for the past seven years, we have carried out exactly such a program. An outreach teacher goes to the homes of preschool children, taking books, educational games, parent information and school-themed gifts (love those Federal Hocking Lancer onesies!) to families.

On their birthdays, children get a visit from the outreach worker with more learning materials and resources. Between visits we keep in touch with families about resources and opportunities via text and email. During the summer our mobile food bus, a free grocery-shopping experience with fresh produce and shelf-stable foods, heads out to these, and all district families, to provide an oft-needed supplement to their food budget.

We do this on our own, without help from the state, because we know it improves the chances of children in our community to live healthy, productive lives and come to school ready to learn. There is no need for the state to invent new programs here. Rather, the governor should direct funding to programs like ours and incentivize other school districts to start similar home-visit programs.

Saying thanks is nice; in fact, it was more than nice to be recognized.

I hope the governor follows up that thank you note with some action.

By the way, Gov. DeWine: You’re welcome.

George Wood is the superintendent of Federal Hocking Local Schools in Stewart, Ohio.


ECOT Scandal

June 10, 2018

Columbus, OH

ECOT Info Session: Background and Fallout from a Scanda

On Sunday afternoon, June 10, 2018, about 50 people packed the meeting room at Whetstone Library for a panel discussion, “ECOT Info Session: Background and Fallout from a Scandal,” co-sponsored by Indivisible Districts 3, 12, and 15, Public Education Partners, Plunderbund, the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, and Ohio BATs. Panelists included: Steve Dyer, Education Fellow for Innovation Ohio and former state legislator; Rachel Coyle, former aide to Sen. Joe Schiavoni, one of Ohio GA’s leaders in charter school reform; Denis Smith, former consultant to the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office; and Sandy Theis, former statehouse reporter for 25 years and ProgressOhio’s Executive Director. She has exposed a series of charter school scandals that have led to past reforms and inspired current criminal investigations.

Sandy Theis opened the discussion by reminding the audience that clear warning signs of disaster accompanied the birth and growth of the charter movement in Ohio. Republicans, in control of both the legislature and governor’s office from 1995 to 2006, enabled the siphoning of public tax dollars away from cash strapped school districts into the hands of privatizers like David Brennan and William Lager, founder of ECOT. The Ohio GOP gave support and cover to a charter system that has consistently committed educational malpractice on students – and parents – who were taken in by the promise of a better school experience. Overwhelmingly, charter schools in general, and ECOT in particular, have made a mockery of that promise. A case in point was the dismantling in 2005 of the Legislative Office of Education Oversight (LOEO), an agency created to produce independent analysis and recommendations concerning educational legislation and policy in Ohio. When LOEO findings began to question charter school outcomes, Republicans, led by John Husted, decided to eliminate the agency by sneaking an amendment into the budget bill. Husted, and many other Republicans, received substantial campaign contributions from ECOT founder Bill Lager, who styled himself a political player and kingmaker.

Steve Dyer emphasized the enormity of ECOT’s financial drain on public school districts. Since its inception in 2000, ECOT received $1.1 billion that would have otherwise gone to the districts from which students were recruited to the online charter school. $591 million of that $1.1 billion flowed to Lager and his associates in just the past six years. About half of the $591 million came from Ohio’s urban districts, perennially short of adequate funding. In addition, Dyer noted when districts that lost students to ECOT received less in state funding than the amount sent to ECOT, the difference came out of local revenue. For example, in 2016-2017, ECOT received $7288.00 per pupil. Per pupil state funding to public districts was $4749.00 that year. That’s a difference of $2539 that had to come out of local school district revenue, a total amount of $36,000,000 in 2016-2017.

Denis Smith’s presentation focused on the lack of oversight extant in Ohio’s charter industry. In fact, the original legislation passed in 1997-1998 that allowed for the creation of charter schools came out of a toxic political environment in both the statehouse and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Deregulation was supposed to create a competitive market in education that would force public schools to improve or lose students to charter schools, like ECOT. Public schools did, in fact, lose students to charters. Students who ended up in ECOT and most other charters, however, did not receive a superior education. In the vast majority of measures, public schools have outperformed charters across the board. That is perhaps the saddest part of the entire ECOT/charter school scam. Only about 40% of ECOT students graduated, and they left ECOT having received a demonstrably inferior education. Of the 40% who graduated, just 2% went on to college over a two-year period – a dismal record of achievement.

Rachel Coyle, once an aide to Senator Joe Schiavoni, called upon her experience in the charter wars to report on efforts made by Democrats to keep ECOT and its misdeeds before the public. Lacking numbers to pass meaningful reforms in the charter industry, Schiavoni and his fellow Democrats introduced legislation to create oversight and transparency in charter school governance. They were successful in scheduling public hearings on the bill, keeping the issue in the news, but did not have the votes to get the bill out of the Senate. Lager and his cohorts used their money and influence with Republican senators to successfully block passage. In fact, over the years, charter school backers have been able to enact some 150 exemptions to Ohio Revised Code that benefit charter schools and decrease accountability for their operators.

Thanks to  dogged efforts by Theis, Dyer, Smith, Coyle and many other public school advocates, ECOT, and by association the entire charter movement, have come under much closer scrutiny. Thankfully, ECOT is no longer miseducating students and draining already inadequate public school funding sources. Presumably, Bill Lager still has his $4million mansion in Key West. The question now remains whether the people responsible for this sad chapter Ohio’s educational history will be brought to account.

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Backpack Full of Cash – Free Screening


Backpack Full of Cash
Free Screening February 8 at 7:00 P.M.
Bethel International United Methodist Church
1220 Bethel Road–Columbus, Ohio 43220

Mark your calendar and get your free tickets now for a screening of the movie, Backpack Full of Cash. The film is a documentary that explores the impact of charter schools on public education. ‪Admission is free, but tickets are required.

Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, BACKPACK FULL OF CASH takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education – starved of resources – hangs in the balance.

Register Here

Columbus Board of Education Candidates Speak Out on Issues


CAPE Ohio invited the candidates for Columbus City School Board to send written responses to a set of five questions. Our intent was not to endorse, but to learn of each candidate’s views and plans for improving the quality of education for all children and for strengthening teaching, advising and supporting students and to post responses to the CAPE Ohio website.

To read candidates’ responses and CAPE Ohio’s responses to the candidates, go to https://capeohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/columbus-city-school-board-candidates-2017-v-2-15.pdf