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by Kevin Osborne 03.20.2012
 
 
exorcism

Morning News and Stuff

To help avoid a $43 million deficit, the Cincinnati Board of Education voted Monday to cut 40 staff positions for next year. The positions affected are central office staff and administrative employees. The board said some teacher layoffs are possible later, but it wants to see how many people plan on retiring after the school year ends.

A retired local judge told WCPO-TV's I-Team that his dismissal from a United Nations tribunal was the result of a “purge” because some U.N. officials disliked the reforms that he and his colleagues were implementing. Mark Painter, who is a former municipal court judge and appellate court judge in the Cincinnati area, served three years as the only American on a new tribunal that makes final judgments on internal United Nations disputes. But the committee that selects judges chose not to renominate him for a full seven-year term. Painter said it's because the tribunal made its decisions binding, but U.N. officials denied the allegation.

About 40 people attended an event Monday night at downtown's Piatt Park to mark Occupy Cincinnati's return to the plaza. As part of a deal signed last week with the city's attorneys, Occupy members are now allowed to remain in the park overnight as long as they are quiet and don't erect tents. Less than 10 people chose to stay until this morning.

In other protest-related news, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati gave permission for a Catholic priest in a Dayton suburb to perform an exorcism outside of a medical clinic that performs abortions. The Rev. Tim Ralston of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Kettering performed the rite Sunday at the Women's Med Center. About 300 anti-abortion activists attended the event.

Gov. John Kasich is trying to force out the leader of the Ohio Republican Party before November's elections. Party Chairman Kevin DeWine announced Sunday he wouldn't seek reelection when his two-year term expires in January, but Kasich wants DeWine gone now. Kasich wants to name his own appointee, and hopes to oust DeWine when the GOP’s newly elected 66-member central committee meets April 13.

In news elsewhere, public outcry has prompted the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation into the shooting of a black teenager by a neighborhood watch captain who escaped arrest. More than 435,000 people signed an online petition calling for the arrest of the shooter, George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was killed Feb. 17 while walking home after buying Skittles and iced tea at a nearby store.

More details are emerging about the past of the Norwood native who is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting spree. Before he enlisted in the Army, Robert Bales' career as a stockbroker came to an end when a court arbitrator ordered Bales and the owner of the firm that employed him to pay $1.4 million for taking part in “fraud” and “unauthorized trading.” The client, Gary Liebschner, a 74-year-old retired engineer, told The Washington Post that he “never got paid a penny” of the award.

Meanwhile, the shooting spree may lead to Afghan President Hamid Karzai winning a major concession from the United States. Officials are mulling whether to modify the use of controversial night raids by troops and giving Afghans more oversight. The Obama administration is discussing options with the Afghans including a warrant-based approach or possibly allowing Afghan judges to review raids before they took place, a U.S. official said Monday.

JP Morgan Chase is closing the Vatican bank's account with its Italian branch based on concerns about a lack of transparency at the Holy See's financial institution. Italian newspapers reported JP Morgan Chase informed the Vatican bank that its account was being closed because it had failed to provide sufficient information on money transfers. The institution has been accused of tax fraud and money laundering in the past.

The man who killed four people at a Jewish school in southwestern France on Monday had a camera around his neck and may have filmed the scene, France's interior minister says. Police have linked the attack to two shootings last week in which three soldiers of North African descent died. The same gun and the same scooter were used in all the attacks, they report. French schools held a moment of silence today to remember the victims.
 
 
by Danny Cross 03.15.2012
 
 
hoffman

Lakota Anti-Tax Spokesman Booted For Derogatory Remarks

Rich Hoffman loses control over the NoLakota website he created

Local angry guy Rich Hoffman should have stuck closer to the Glen Beck style that made Butler County Tea Partiers like him — too much Rush Limbaugh got the bull whip performer ousted today by the local organization he helped start.

The Enquirer reported this week that Hoffman recently ranted on his blog about a vague group of pro-school tax women in the district, calling them prostitutes and describing how their husbands “roll them over at night and insert their manhood” before leaving hundred dollar bills in their purses, and then defended the remarks when contacted by The Enquirer.

The Enquirer’s early report (updated once Hoffman got the axe) included the following:

The head of the anti-school tax group NoLakota wrote on his internet blog site that Lakota school mothers are “just prostitutes to their husbands who do everything they can to be away from them aside from the occasional sex.”

“Their husband’s (sic) roll them over at night and insert their manhood into these women of the bedroom and hundred-dollar bills find their way into their purses. The women don’t know what the man does to earn the money, nor do they care. They are busy saving the world one child at a time with howls of safety and more regulations as they rush to the polling places at election time,” wrote Hoffman, who is also a bullwhip performer and periodic guest on local radio talk shows regarding Lakota funding issues.

A photo of Hoffman wearing a cowboy hat and holding a whip had been presented on the homepage of The Enquirer for most of Thursday, when NoLakota Treasurer Dan Varney told the newspaper that Hoffman had been banned from further association with the group. Varney said the group’s decision wasn’t in response to the publicity of The Enquirer’s report.

Hoffman’s writings also include a reference to “crazy PTA moms and their minions of latte drinking despots with diamond rings the size of car tires and asses to match, (they) plot against me with an anger only estrogen can produce,” The Enquirer reported.

NoLakota says it has removed all references to Hoffman’s personal website, called "Overmanwarrior's Wisdom," (overmanwarrior.wordpress.com), where he writes lengthy diatribes against public school funding, teachers and political opponents and in one post compared the pressure he was under to that which Rush Limbaugh faced after calling a Georgetown University student a prostitute and a slut.

Hoffman wrote:

The progressive mode of attack they use to protect their positions which cannot withstand scrutiny is to attack people like Rush Limbaugh whenever he says something they believe they can use against him in an emotional argument. Conservatives typically are terrible at playing this game with progressives because they tend to operate on a belief system rooted in the truth. So they can easily be attacked because if they cross the line, they feel bad about it, and that guilt is used against them to change their behavior in the future.

Hoffman’s blog also includes numerous clips from the Glenn Beck TV show, a lengthy story about film production inspired by Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and more several Star Wars clips.

Hoffman as of Thursday afternoon hadn’t responded to a request from The Enquirer seeking comment, and CityBeat never tried to contact him out of fear of him thinking we were treading on him.

The following is an eight-minute video published on the Overmanwarrior site titled “A Whip Stunt to Save America,” wherein Hoffman uses his patio table as a metaphorical Constitution, a bowl of water as American civilization sitting on top of a cup (everything we put our tax money into) and then whips the cup out from underneath without spilling civilization all over the Constitution and then says, “I don’t really understand the progressive way of thinking — they don’t really belong in this country in my opinion.”

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.13.2012
 
 
greg harris

Harris Drops Out of Commission Race

Job will take him out of state often

A Democrat who was challenging Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann in this fall’s election has left the race due to work commitments.

Greg Harris, a West Sider who is a former Cincinnati city councilman, said Monday night that a contract awarded to his educational consulting firm means he will be spending a large amount of time outside of the region. Harris’ firm, New Governance Group, recently was awarded a major contract with a nonprofit group in Delaware that seeks to improve public education in that state.

“When I filed (to run for commissioner), I filed in all sincerity,” Harris said. “It was before I got this contract.”

He added, “I feel bad. This was a race I really wanted to run in, but with all the traveling, I’m not equipped to give it the time it deserves.”

Harris, 40, announced his candidacy in early December, when he filed paperwork to run against Hartmann, a Republican incumbent who is seeking his second term.

The Hamilton County Democratic Party now will be able to select a replacement for Harris on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Harris was appointed in January 2009 to Cincinnati City Council to fill the unexpired term of John Cranley, who was facing term limits. But Harris lost in an election that November, finishing 10th in balloting for the nine-member group, missing the final spot by about 3,400 votes. During his brief term, Harris angered the city’s police and firefighter unions by suggesting changes that he said would improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Through his consulting firm, Harris had served as public policy advisor for Cincinnati-based KnowledgeWorks Foundation, a national education philanthropy that seeds educational practices and policy reforms.

An Illinois native, Harris moved to the region in 1993 to attend graduate school at Miami University in Oxford. He stayed here after graduation and served from 2000-05 as executive director of Citizens for Civic Renewal, a nonprofit public advocacy group that promotes good government, volunteerism and civic involvement.

Harris ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) twice, in 2002 and 2004. He also was prepared to challenge Hartmann for the Hamilton County Commission seat in 2008 until Democratic Party leaders cut a deal with the GOP and asked Harris to step aside and let Hartmann run unopposed. A reluctant Harris complied.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 03.08.2012
Posted In: Education, Governor at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
kasich1

School Director Says Re-Testing Teachers Won't Help Schools

Kasich mandate to affect 10 percent of Ohio public schools, cost $2.1 million

Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan called for several large reforms to fill an $8 billion hole in the state budget, but it appears teachers are facing the brunt of Kasich’s larger changes. Aside from cutting funding statewide for K-12 education, the plan mandates a reform not seen by educators in any other state: required licensing tests for already-employed teachers at schools ranking in the lowest 10 percentiles of Performance Index (PI) score come September.

The PI of a given school is measured by its students’ achievement and Ohio General Test (OGT) test performance for grades 3 through 10. Schools with the lowest PIs (the scale ranks from 0-120) are designated on “Academic Watch” or “Academic Emergency,” which suggests that an overall student population is not meeting the state’s performance expectations. Core subjects examined include reading, English language arts, math, science, government, economics, history, fine arts, foreign language and geography. The next state report cards to monitor PI will be released in August.
Find old report cards here.

Kasich says that re-testing teachers is a way to hold them more accountable for their performance and help school administrators highlight ineffective teachers for removal. Those who oppose the reform say Kasich is placing too much weight on the teachers, when other factors in performance include community, family life and the students themselves. 


PACE High School, a charter school focused on dropout recovery in Bond Hill, is one of several Cincinnati schools ranking in that bottom 10 percent, meaning it will fall under Kasich’s mandate. PACE achieved a 20.9 percent graduation rate during that 2009-10 school year, which nearly doubled since 2007-08 year, when rates sunk to 10.9 percent. Still, every teacher at PACE will face re-licensing.

“If this testing is supposed to somehow automatically make our schools better, I don’t get that,” says Steven Hawley, Executive Director at PACE. "I know what it is politically — to look good. They think there must be some reason why these kids can't succeed."

Historically, Hawley says, schools with student populations of higher socioeconomic statuses and different demographics rank higher. And he has a point — schools with high performance index rates around Cincinnati include Mariemont City Schools, Indian Hill Exempted Village and Lakota Schools.


The Ohio Department of Education's State Report Card system compiles data from every school in a given district to create a district report card. PACE's Performance Index score in in 2010-11 school year was at 40.4. Cincinnati Public Schools earned an 87.3. Hawley insists PACE is full of wonderful kids, but that they're extraordinarily needy. Students come to PACE years behind schedule, he says. 

“Gov. Kasich is all about the ‘American dream,’ ” Hawley says. “Most of our kids don’t even know what the American dream is."

“There’s very little opportunity for people to have meaningful dialogue to talk about why [schools like PACE] aren’t succeeding. ... I’d invite the governor to live in the inner city. If we’re all going to be measured the same, we’re all going to live the same,” Hawley says.  

It’s still unclear whether the state of Ohio would pay for the tests or have districts and charter schools fund the testing, but the Ohio Education Association Teachers’ Union expects the tests to cost around $2.1 million to administer to about 6,000 teachers across the state.

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 03.06.2012
 
 
vote

Morning News and Stuff

Hey, I want to let you in on a secret: There's an election in Ohio today. Super Tuesday is finally here, with more delegates at stake in the race for Republican presidential nominee than any other single day in the 2012 campaign season. There are seven primaries (Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) and three caucuses (Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota) today. A total of 410 delegates – or 17.9 percent of the total – are up for grabs.

Officials at the Hamilton County Board of Elections are estimating that 30 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots today. Turnout probably will be low because the elections board only has received about 8,000 absentee ballots so far, compared to 26,000 by this time in 2010. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. If you're unsure where to vote, click here.

City Council is moving ahead with a plan to spend up to $100,000 to introduce priority-based budgeting in Cincinnati. The cash will fund a consultant to survey community leaders and residents to establish strategic priorities. City leaders would then try to align resources with what the community values the most, said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who heads council's Budget and Finance Committee. Council will convene a series of public forums in the next two months, and attempt to identify five to seven priorities based on the input.

Just two days after he said it was premature to ask the federal government for help, Gov. John Kasich has reversed course. A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will arrive today in Clermont County to survey storm damage and gauge whether the region qualifies for financial assistance. Kasich had a change of heart after he spoke with U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township), who told the guv that local officials wanted immediate federal aid. (So, when exactly is the next gubernatorial election?)

Little Miami Local School Board members want to meet with Ohio education officials after a commission rejected their plan to restore some services in the school district. The state Financial Planning and Supervision Commission unanimously rejected the district’s reconfiguration plan for 2012-13. Little Miami was placed in fiscal emergency by the state after several levies failed before a November levy narrowly passed.

Reductions to Medicare and other federal health-care programs could total $360 billion over the next 10 years, causing problems for hospitals that depend on the government payments, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. Medicare covered 39 percent of in-patient days at Greater Cincinnati hospitals in 2010, a market overview found. (I don't want to hear a single complaint about this from our conservative Republican readers, as this is what you've sought for years.)

In news elsewhere, Iran is starting to feel the impact of international sanctions as demand for its crude oil begins to drop. In January, China, South Korea and Singapore reduced their oil purchases from Iran, and Shipping Corp. of India last month canceled an Iranian shipment because its European insurers refused to provide coverage for the tanker. Traders say Iran's troubles only will increase once an European Union oil embargo begins July 1.

Crazy religious dude is at it again. No, not Rick Santorum – we're referring to Pat Robertson, the erstwhile host of TV's The 700 Club. On the program Monday, the aging pastor opined that the recent outbreak of tornadoes might not have occurred if people had prayed for divine intervention. “If enough people were praying, He would’ve intervened," he said. "You could pray, 'Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms.'” He also told viewers who live in areas prone to natural disasters that it’s “their fault, not God’s.” Way to show the compassion of Christ there, Pat.

If you're under the impression that the Constitution gives the rights of due process and equal protection under the law to U.S. citizens, Attorney General Eric Holder is going to set you wacky kids straight. In a speech Monday at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Holder tried to defend the practice of using automated drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas who have never been convicted of a crime. "The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen," Holder said to a mostly disapproving crowd.

Civic leaders in eastern Libya have called for semi-autonomy for the oil-rich region, saying their area has been neglected by the nation's central government for decades. The push for self-government is strong in the region of Cyrenaica, but the governing National Transitional Council says it could lead to Libya's demise as a unified nation.
 
 
by 02.29.2012
Posted In: Internet, Youth, Education at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
internet

Survey: Gen Y Benefits, Suffers From Tech

Millennials are nimble, but seek gratification

A survey of more than 1,000 technology experts, critics and students has revealed a split about how the Internet and other technological advances are affecting “Generation Y.”

The Pew Research Center’s survey, released today, found a majority of respondents believed the technology would create a generation of nimble decision-makers, while almost as many feared it would cause young people to become easily distracted and lack deep thinking skills.

Wait. What were we talking about?

The survey found 55 percent of respondents agreed with a statement that “in 2020 the brains of young people would be ‘wired’ differently from those over 35, with good results for finding answers quickly and without shortcomings in their mental processes."

But it also found 45 percent who agreed with a second statement “in 2020 young technology users would be easily distracted, would lack deep thinking skills and would thirst only for instant gratification.”

“A number of the survey respondents argued that it is vital to reform education and emphasize digital literacy,” a Pew summary stated. “A notable number expressed concerns that trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information, and some mentioned George Orwell’s 1984 or expressed their fears of control by powerful interests in an age of entertaining distractions.”

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, are generally considered to be composed of people born between the late 1970s and the early '90s.

Pew’s online survey questioned 1,021 people involved with technology and was conducted from Aug. 28 to Oct. 31, 2011, as part of Pew's ongoing project on the Internet and American life.

Respondents included industry insiders like Bruce Nordman, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Hal Varian, Google's top economist, along with university and high school students.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 02.14.2012
Posted In: Education at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
dohn

When Pizza Doesn't Work: Fixing Dohn Community High School

You've heard of prodigies who are offered full rides and stipends to attend universities, offered big money in hopes they'll become a golden poster child for the success of the school; a face of intelligentsia, promise and scholarship.

That's not the case for the the 170-some students at Dohn Community High School, who, as of Monday, are getting paid just for showing up to class. A new incentive program rewards seniors who arrive on time every day, stay productive and out of trouble with $25 Visa cards every week, while underclassmen can earn $10. When a student receives a gift card, $5 will be put into a savings account to be paid out upon graduation. Dohn, which is a charter school in Walnut Hills, is comprised of mostly drop-out recovery students from other schools and other at-risk students from nearby communities.

Read More

 
 
by Kevin Osborne 01.31.2012
Posted In: News, Education, Youth at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
library1

Library Gets a Top National Honor

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has been selected as one of the Top 10 Children’s Libraries in the United States by a national website.

Livability.com chose the main library as No. 10 on its list partially because of its Children's Learning Center, which features child-sized tables and chairs, a saltwater aquarium and multiple rooms for programs, along with a 9,200-square-foot children's garden.

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by Kevin Osborne 01.25.2012
Posted In: News, Education at 03:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
uc

UC Creates Journalism Dept.

Beginning Aug. 1, the University of Cincinnati (UC) will have its own Journalism Department.

The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a proposal Tuesday to create a separate, stand-alone Journalism Department at the institution.

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