by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:58 AM | Permalink
Amazon drones may be buzzing this way; Ohio lawmakers mull making execution drug provider secret; driver's license test turns epic
I’m sure the big old lumps of snow are a bummer for those of you who drive to work, but it was super cool walking from Mount Auburn to CityBeat HQ this morning. Seeing the hillsides shrouded in white and downtown poking out of the mist on my way down reminded me how much I love this city. It also netted me a bunch of likes on Instagram, which is the main thing I’m excited about, of course.Anyway, on to the news. Because ordering things from the Internet takes so, so long and just doesn’t have the wow factor it used to, Amazon has been considering using drones to deliver items to your door for about a year now. What’s more, the Greater Cincinnati area could be one of the first places to get that service if changes to aviation laws expected next year make it a possibility. The company is currently hiring drone pilots, engineers and other folks with relevant experience to help build its drone delivery program. Who wouldn’t want flying robots speeding toward your house with all that stuff you bought during your last stoned 2 a.m. shopping spree? • It’s getting harder and harder to live on what you earn at jobs requiring few specialized skills, both in the area and in the country as a whole. That’s lead to a push in Greater Cincinnati to create new routes for workers who want to get high-skill jobs in the manufacturing and tech industries. Many companies offering these jobs can’t find enough qualified applicants, leading them to establish or support training and apprenticeship programs for low-skill workers and recent high school graduates. • I learned a lot about sex trafficking doing our cover story a couple weeks ago on sex workers. The problem is real and huge. Here’s a terrifying story about captivity, sex trafficking and abuse at a house in Avondale, where as many as a dozen women were held by a Colerain man for an indeterminate amount of time. Christopher Hisle, who has been in trouble for running unlicensed sex-oriented businesses in the past, is charged with sex trafficking and faces up to 15 years in prison. • If you’re looking to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act but are somewhat befuddled by the process, you’re in luck. An enrollment assistance center contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services is open in the city to help folks with navigating the healthcare exchanges. The center is at 4600 Wesley Ave. Suite C, Cincinnati OH 45212. You can give them a call as well at 513-802-8092, or visit them on Facebook and Twitter. • Some conservative lawmakers in Ohio’s General Assembly are pushing a new bill that would make secret the details about those who supply lethal injection drugs to the state. Ohio hasn’t been able to find a source for lethal injection drugs because no companies want to be associated with supplying it. Making suppliers secret would solve this problem, Republican lawmakers say. Ohio has had to suspend executions due to the prolonged death of Dennis McGuire last January. McGuire was killed using a new combination of two drugs. Ohio has had to resort to such mixtures because the company that manufactures the original drug the state used has refused to sell it for use in executions. As McGuire died, witnesses say he was gasping for breath. The state says he was asleep and did not experience discomfort, but his 25-minute-long execution prompted a federal judge to issue a temporary stay on executions. The next scheduled lethal injection will take place Feb. 11 unless federal courts order more delays. In response to the drug dilemma, some lawmakers are calling for alternative execution methods, including returning to the electric chair, to be considered. • Also in the State House, the House Education Committee is considering legislation today that would reduce the amount of time public school students spend taking standardized tests. House Bill 228 proposes limiting testing to four hours a year and has been greeted with enthusiasm by lawmakers, some school officials and education groups. • Finally, here's a pro tip: don't drive yourself to your driver's license test, then lead cops on a car chase when they ask why you're driving before you have your license. Or do, if you want a really epic story about why you walk to work every day. I just walk because I'm too lazy to find a parking space. This guy's excuse is way more interesting.
Questionable management and low performance bring scrutiny on Ohio’s charter schools
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 29, 2014
As quasi-private schools funded with public money across Ohio face scrutiny, some say they need to be held to a higher standard.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 03:15 PM | Permalink
District fails in multiple categories
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) got six F’s, one D and two C’s in the 2012-2013 school report card released today by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
The school district got an F for state test results, closing gaps related
to income, race, culture and disabilities, progress among gifted
students, progress among students with disabilities and both categories
for graduation rates, which measure how many students graduated within four
or five years.
CPS also got a D for progress among
students who started out in the bottom fifth for achievement, and it got
a C for progress among all
student groups and how many students passed state tests.
The grades come with a big caveat: CPS is still being investigated for scrubbing data, which could be favorably skewing the school district’s results.
This is the first year ODE is using the new A-F grading system, which is more stringent than how schools were previously scored. No school district earned straight A’s this year, according to StateImpact Ohio.
Because the system is new,
some of the categories that schools are graded on are missing and will
be added in the next few years. Specifically, the report card won’t
measure overall results for the district, test scores, gap closing, K-3
literacy, progress, graduation rates and preparation for college and
careers until 2015.Under the old system, CPS dropped from “effective,” which
made it the best-rated urban school district in Ohio for the 2010-2011
school year, to “continuous improvement” for 2011-2012. Those results
are also under review based on data-scrubbing investigations.CPS has recently gained national recognition in The Huffington Post and The New York Times for its community learning centers, which turn schools into hubs that can be used by locals for resources ranging from education to dental care.In November 2012, Cincinnati voters approved a levy renewal for CPS in a 65-35 percent vote, which kept local property taxes roughly $253 higher on a $100,000 home.The official website for the school report cards can be found here, but it’s been having technical problems for most of the day.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 04:29 PM | Permalink
Tougher tests seek to prepare students for college, careers
The Ohio Graduation Tests will soon be no more. The
Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Board of Regents have agreed to
tests with a focus on preparing students for college and beyond.
Michael Sawyers, acting superintendent for ODE, praised
the agreement in a statement: “This is a major step forward in our
reform efforts to ensure all Ohio students have the knowledge and skills
necessary to leave school remediation-free and ready for their
post-secondary experience in higher education or workforce training.”
Private companies will soon be able to
compete for a contract to design and help implement the new
standardized tests. The tests are expected to kick in during the
2014-2015 school year, but state officials acknowledge they could be implemented in time for the 2013-2014 school year if competitive bidding goes well and funding is sufficient. Once the tests are active, high school sophomores will take end-of-year tests to gauge
college and career readiness. The tests will cover English, algebra,
geometry, biology, physical science, American history and American
The reform is part of a bigger effort that reworks Ohio’s education system with higher standards for schools and
students. As part of the broader changes, Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards,
which are a commitment to raise the bar on English and math standards
for grades K-12.
The overall idea behind the reform has relatively bipartisan support, says Kelsey Bergfeld, a
legislative service commission fellow for Ohio Sen. Tom Sawyer.
Sawyer, a Democrat, is the ranking minority member in the Ohio Senate’s
The problem is in the details — specifically, the details
in a new school report card system established by HB 555, which will be voted on in the Ohio House
next week. Bergfeld says the current proposal by Ohio Republicans is
too harsh, which could make schools look worse than they are in reality.
That problem could be exacerbated by the new tests, she says: If the new tests are too tough, they could make schools and students look bad “because grades
are going to drop.”
An early simulation of tougher report card standards in May
found Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) would fall under the new system.
The simulation showed CPS would drop from the second-best rating of
“Effective” under the current system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking
but Walnut Hills High School retaining its top mark with an A.
by James McNair
Posted In: CPS
at 04:27 PM | Permalink
Scores down after controversial ascension from "academic emergency" to "excellent"
years of racking up an excellent rating on its state report card, Robert
A. Taft Information Technology High School appears headed for a lower
school report cards released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of
Education show an “effective” rating for Taft, a technology-magnet
school for grades 9-12 in Cincinnati’s West End. Taft had won accolades
nationally for its steady climb from academic futility during the past seven
years. In that span, Taft went from “academic emergency” in the 2004-05
school year to excellent in 2009-10 and 2010-11, mainly on the strength
of Ohio Graduation Test pass rates that were the highest of all public
high schools in Southwest Ohio. The U.S. Department of Education gave it
a coveted National Blue Ribbon Award.[Download the Ohio Preliminary Report Cards spreadsheet here.]
CityBeat called those achievements into question in a February article ("Miracle or Mirage," issue of Feb. 22). CityBeat
found that the same graduating classes (2009-10 and 2010-11) that were
posting regionally high OGT pass rates had average composite ACT test
scores of 15, or the 10th percentile in Ohio. CityBeat also took
the first hard look at an independent audit showing that, of 1,707
erasures on Taft OGT exams in 2006, 88 percent resulted in correct
answers, an outcome one nationally prominent testing expert called “not
logical.” Cincinnati Public Schools, then led by former superintendent
Rosa Blackwell, refused to investigate the matter, and ODE let the
district get away with it.
2011-12 school year, Taft still posted high pass rates on the OGT, but
its graduation rate of 82.1 percent (down from 91.4 percent in 2010-11)
and attendance rate of 91 percent (down from 96.7 percent) were below
state benchmarks, leading to the effective rating on its interim report
fell from excellence among the city’s public schools, another school,
James N. Gamble Montessori High School in Spring Grove Village, received
its first-ever excellent rating. And Walnut Hills extended its
long-running streak of excellent ratings. Winners of effective ratings
were Clark Montessori and Withrow University high schools.As for the
district, Cincinnati Public Schools itself fell one notch on its state
report card. Last year, CPS was rated effective, making it the
highest-rated urban school district in Ohio. For 2011-12, it dropped to
“continuous improvement.” Said CPS spokeswoman Janet Walsh: “We really
would have loved to have gotten effective again, but the fact remains
that overall performance, as rated by the state performance index, did
reach 88.5, which is our highest score ever, and we continue to
by German Lopez
at 08:44 AM | Permalink
Petitions for the redistricting amendment being pushed by Voters First are about to reach their Friday deadline. If Voters First does not obtain enough signatures, the redistricting amendment will not be on the November ballot. CityBeat has previously covered the petition issue here and the GOP attempt to redraw state districts to its advantage here.The Beach landed a new operator for the 2013 season: Adventure Holdings LLC. The new operator is expected to make more than $1 million in investments in the park.An Ohio Department of Education investigation found Lockland School District has been reporting false attendance data. The district’s rating has been bumped down to adjust for the real data.Some political pundits are saying Cincinnati will play a pivotal role in the 2012 presidential election.The 2012 Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found Ohio has the sixteenth highest child poverty rate in the United States with nearly 1 in 4 children in poverty.The Obama campaign will be setting up headquarters at the Hanke Building in Over-the-Rhine.County officials across Ohio are complaining casino tax money is not making up for losses in state funds.Forty economists of varying political and ideological beliefs have concluded that the Republican Party has abandoned economic reality.Mayors Against Illegal Guns has put together a website that demands Barack Obama and Mitt Romney release a plan to end gun violence.Eye scanners may not be all they’re cracked up to be in movies and TV shows. New research has found a way to completely fool them.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Governor
at 12:45 PM | Permalink
State funding will continue to be reduced despite $771 million in lottery profits
Ohio schools expecting more funding from record lottery profits may want to hold off.
Last week, it was reported that the Ohio Department of Education had hit
the jackpot with a record $771 million in lottery profits. By state
law, lottery profits are supposed to go to the Lottery Profits Education
Fund, which funds schools in Ohio. At first, it seemed like a great
opportunity to increase education funding.
Maybe not. In a joint statement this morning, the Ohio School Boards
Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the
Ohio Association of School Business Officials explained the money does
not mean more money for schools.
“While it is true that all Ohio Lottery profits are used by the state to
fund education, the profit from increased sales was simply used to free
up other state funds that had previously been set aside for schools,
allowing more money to be transferred into the state’s rainy day fund,”
OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said in the statement.
Despite the lottery profits, funding for Ohio’s school foundation
payment program remains at $7.2 billion — exactly as established by Gov.
John Kasich’s 2011 budget plan.
In other words, no gain for schools, but some gain for the state’s rainy day fund.
The news comes as a bit of a buzz-kill to schools that are already
feeling cuts from the two-year state budget plan passed by the
Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Kasich.
For the 2012 fiscal year, Kasich’s budget cut funding to the Department
of Education down to $10.3 billion, a 4.9 percent reduction from the
year before, largely due to the loss of federal stimulus dollars. But
another 4.9 percent cut is planned for the 2013 fiscal year, lowering
funding to $9.8 billion, which is even lower than the amount of funding
the Department of Education received in 2008 and 2009 — before the state
received federal stimulus dollars.