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Columbus City Schools Levy Proposal 2013

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Columbus City Schools Levy Proposal 2013

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    Mercurius said:
    There was a scandal–but now there is new leadership. Thus far, I’ve been impressed with Dan Good.

    There was lack of accountability–but this would create another independent auditor.

    Pre-K has shown blatant results in improving long term achievement and reducing the opportunity gap. I think everyone agrees that the current system isn’t working for the majority of kids. I think it’s insane not to attempt to change it. Imagine if no families were moving to the suburbs for schools…

    I wish Dr. Good the best … CCS needs a turnaround manager to come in and kick a**. However, listening to him say he thinks the schools could be in A/B status by 2015 just struck me as the talk of somebody willing to say anything. He is clearly better than the last (anybody would have been), but he is an interim, and career people laugh at interims — they know they have staying power — so I would hold judgment on short-term reforms.

    The Internal Auditor was the only thing that worked in this whole ten year debacle. An Auditor is not independent when s/he reports to 5 politicians as Issue 51 proposes. The Dispatch reported that Mayor Coleman had talks with the County Commissioners about delaying announcement of the county sales tax hike until after the election, b/c it might hurt Issue 50. He would be overseeing this “independent” auditor … can’t you easily imagine the most powerful politicians in Columbus putting pressure to delay the release of an audit until after the election, or to not look so closely at an issue. Then to top it off, you have presumably Andy Ginther and Carol Perkins overseeing the “Independent” auditor — Andy who ignore and helped fire the CCS Internal Auditor who was set to investigate data scrubbing in 2004 and Carol who has done everything she could to cover up the wrong-doing. People matter, and this just shows they want control over the “Independent” Auditor. I would suggest that Independent Auditors are elected by the people, like Hugh Dorrian (City), Clarence Mingo (County), and David Yost (state). Calling this an Independent Auditor seems to be a slap in the face that just seems to illustrate that they think the people are stupid.

    It is almost universally acknowledged by educators that any gains of pre-K wear off by third grade, and that seems to be the case in Columbus. If it is working, CCS should provide the data. They have kid-level data and should easily have done an analysis of effectiveness by now (they run 31 pre-K sites today). But we don’t hear any statistics that tell us their pre-K is doing any good in student outcomes.

    I dunno … everybody has a right to their beliefs and votes, but when you dig a little deeper than the glossy mailers featuring irrelevant local celebrities (Urban Meyer and Ted Strickland for God’s sake!), the justification for a 24% tax increase seems really shaky to me.


    I’d really like to see some meaningful changes, in terms of what happens to children in Columbus City Schools. While I see zero probability of improvements stemming from issues 50 & 51, I thought this team had some really practical, effective suggestions. I’d like to vote on their plan.



    NDaEast said:
    My friend, with all that minimizing, you should run for school board, you’d fit right in! You researched this? We have just learned about the biggest political scandal in Columbus’s history — it is more than just “fudging attendance.” It was purposefully disenrolling low-test scoring children (electronically) just before submitting their test scores to the state, so their low scores would not be counted against the school district. It was administrators (not teachers) changing thousands of failing grades to passing after the school year was over and kids and teachers had left for the summer. It was paying tens of thousands of dollars to tutors who never saw children. It was falsely elevating school performance scores which then made students ineligible for the free supplemental tutoring. The list of incompetence and outright deceit that hurt families and children goes on and on.

    East High “fudged” over 42,000 attendance records in one year alone (2010-2011), and it was only one of the fifteen high schools that “fudged” attendance. And each and every one of the ten middle schools audited by the state Auditor also “fudged” attendance records. The fraud was widespread, pervasive, and significant in its effect — defrauding the state and federal government of money based on per-head student counts and falsely inflated performance (i.e., Race to the Top federal grant). This is why the FBI is now investigating Columbus City Schools, and why the state auditor found “mal intent” and said indictments are likely.

    But even worse than that, the Board of Education still says that what it did was permissible. In a lawsuit (mine, which documents that the East High data manipulation denied my family access to the Ed Choice scholarship program), CCS has said they will call Toledo and Cleveland as witnesses to back their story that the state allowed data scrubbing (oops — how untimely — the state just ordered Toledo and Cleveland to re-submit accurate data for 2010-2011). The have hired a lawyer to review all documents requested by the state auditor (something no other investigated school board has done), which caused such delays that the auditor was forced to issue subpoenas and get the records from 20 schools with a police escort.

    WTF … and these are the people you want to give a 24% tax increase to? Why in the world would anybody want to reward deceit, incompetence and corruption? Remember, even though the million dollar ad campaign doesn’t show it, this money goes to the scandal-plagued Board of Education — not the Mayor, not the shiny-faced children (at least some of whom are paid actors), nor the celebrity endorsers who are the face of the campaign because the school board is so completely discredited. The people who get the money won’t even raise their heads to ask for it — using surrogates instead — hiding behind children and local celebrities (WTF does Ted Strickland who showed up on a glossy flyer know about Columbus Schools … am I supposed to agree with him just because he is a Democrat?).

    If elections aren’t about accountability … when do we ever hold public agencies accountable? Don’t we, as citizens, have a responsibility to enforce good governance? — you don’t do that after you give them more money, you do it before and make them change first.

    And with the recent announcement that the schools have enough money through June 30, 2016, why in the world shouldn’t voters wait for the other shoe to drop — indictments. Why in the world shouldn’t voters expect a complete disclosure of what happened, who was responsible, how they were held accountable, and what steps have been taken to ensure this never happens again before voting any more money? Shouldn’t the school board issue a report to the public instead of hiring a lawyer to keep relevant information from the public?

    That’s my rant for today.

    I hate standardized testing, too. I’ve also been arrested for civil disobedience before, so I can relate.



    [b]Columbus School Leaders Stress: “Levy Is The Reform”[/b]
    October 21, 2013
    by Mandie Trimble
    89.7 NPR News Reporter

    [i]All this week, WOSU is taking a critical look at the Columbus School Levy district voters will decide next month. Proponents of the levy say the money is needed to improve the school system’s effectiveness. WOSU takes a look at some of the reforms district and city officials pledge if voters pass the levy.
    [i]After nine months of soul searching and numerous public hearings – supporter of the school tax increase say the “Levy is the Reform.”


    These quotes are the making of some sort of skit:

    “Just how progress toward these goals will be measured remains unclear.”

    “No one we talked with could provide a formula or an outline as to how progress will be tallied.”

    “Columbus City School Board president Carol Perkins says the district will provide its own progress reports, but she would not give details”

    “Perkins could not elaborate on what the “consequences” may be.”

    If I knew how to do those word cloud things, It be interesting to see how many times “could” and “possible” come up. Maybe details aren’t a big deal for a group that started out “Reimagining” things. I’m sort of a concrete person, so the charm is lost on me.



    Sounds like the commission’s plan is to come up with commissions to come up with plans. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like there is absolutely no concrete plan except to increase your taxes.





    [url=]Citizens Against Issues 50 & 51[/url] call for Columbus City Schools to release a report on data scrubbing and other misdeeds of the past decade.

    “CITIZENS AGAINST ISSUES 50 & 51 today announce our opposition to the proposed Columbus City Schools ballot issues.

    We are standing here today as a group of long-time Columbus community leaders, in solidarity with the other citizen and civic groups who oppose this proposed wasteful spending of public dollars. We stand in support of It’s Okay to Vote No; No Cheaters, No Charters Columbus; and other groups of school-involved parents and residents who are urging votes against these ballot issues. As taxpayers and citizens, our group demands accountability first, from what appears to be a scandal-ridden and corrupt school system.

    We stand here as supporters of our public schools and our children, but after research and deliberation we are certain the 24 percent property tax increase for Columbus City Schools is unfair and inappropriate for citizens of Columbus, and the need for the vague and untested Columbus Education Plan is not justified by the facts…”

    “… We call on Board President Carol Perkins and Vice President Shawna Gibbs to immediately redirect attorney Robert “Buzz” Trafford from his work defending the district and hiding its misdeeds, and to have him align with the interests of the people of Columbus in promoting transparency and an understanding of what went wrong over the past decade.

    Thus, we call today for Ms. Perkins and the school board to direct Mr. Trafford to compile a comprehensive report to the public on behalf of the Board of Education about the data scrubbing and other misdeeds over the past decade. This report should detail exactly what went wrong, who was responsible, what the consequences were, and what has been put in place to ensure this breach of the public trust never happens again. Complete disclosure to the public is a necessary precondition before a return to the ballot once Issue 50 is rejected.

    We ask for Mayor Coleman to support our call for complete transparency from this scandal-plagued and corrupt school system, before he advocates for any more money from the citizens of Columbus. We note that the sense of crisis being promoted is one that is more invented than real – that the education of children in the district has not changed dramatically for the worse, but that the Department of Education merely changed its method of rating the state’s school systems. We further note the recently announced school district budget surplus, and that there is no financial crisis created by rejection of this proposed levy and a return to the ballot in 2014 or even 2015 to maintain the current operating expenses of the district.

    Finally, we note that Issue 51 does not create an “Independent” Auditor, but an auditor beholden to five politicians – some of whom have conflicts of interests in the current investigations. An Independent Auditor would be elected by the people of the district, just as the City Auditor is elected by the people of the City, the county auditor is elected by the people of the county, and the state auditor is elected by the people of the state. The current Internal Auditor, Carolyn Smith, has performed admirably in her position by exposing the district’s misdeeds to the Board of Education and thus to the public. We see no reason to change the one position that appears to be working well within Columbus City Schools.”
    (follow link above for the full release)



    An article from The Columbus Dispatch outlining ongoing reforms, regardless of the levy:

    [quote]“Dr. Good has taken significant and immediate steps to clean up the mess he’s inherited,” Yost said recently during an interview. “He went far beyond the Band-Aid that Gene Harris trotted through the school board… The controls and processes outlined in your drafts are comprehensive, robust and may fairly be characterized as model policies for other districts… We have no further advice to offer,” Yost said in his letter. “Had these policies been in place and executed in prior years, it is likely that unlawful changes in attendance reports would have been detected and prevented.”[/quote]



    I’m actually of two minds on this. I don’t really want to reward Columbus city schools for their scandalous behavior in the past few years, but at the same time it wasn’t hard to predict exactly this outcome when Ohio moved to standardized testing. And as Ohio moves to Common Core testing in 2014-2015, the incentives for teachers to find creative ways to make their schools look better will only increase.

    I’m not saying that schools shouldn’t be held accountable for educational outcomes. I am saying, though, that as long as the current trend toward outcome-based education keeps increasing, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if these sorts of scandals continued to happen. If that’s true, whether or not the levy passes is pretty immaterial. The school system is powerless to change the constraints within which it operates, so a “no” vote on the levy might be punishing people who can’t do much to change outcomes.



    And a Yes vote does absolutely nothing to put money into the classroom. Columbus teachers make $10,000 – $15,000 less than suburban teachers with similar tax rates.



    joev said:
    And a Yes vote does absolutely nothing to put money into the classroom. Columbus teachers make $10,000 – $15,000 less than suburban teachers with similar tax rates.

    I’m not sure what to make of that. If the tax rates are similar, then teachers’ salaries [i]should[/i] be at least somewhat lower in areas with less income, just because there’s less income to tax.



    If they’d like to increase our taxes, I’d prefer they use the money to hire attract and retain great teachers. I’m not sure how that happens when great teachers can go to suburban districts with fewer problems and higher pay. The very low detail that we’ve heard for what the district intends to do with any new money does not make it sound like this will happen.



    No Cheaters No Charters Columbus is a grassroots organization, and we obviously don’t have the Mayor’s million dollar budget as he promotes his 24% tax hike, but we do have a PayPal link set up on [url=]Our Website[/url]

    Demand has been hot for yard signs and we ran out, but a group of landlords got together today to make a donation and we will be placing a new order for signs to arrive by October 30th.

    Anyone interested in helping defeat the Mayor’s tax hike, please feel free to give on-line to this Board of Elections registered ballot committee. Remember, you can donate a little now, or pay a lot forever. Any additional funds will be used to fund those lovely robo-calls that we all like to get.



    Keep up the good fight NDaEast!

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