by German Lopez
School funding changes soon, prison union wants more security, drug abuse costs employers
School superintendents will hear
about Gov. John Kasich’s school funding proposal Thursday. The
proposal, which will change how all of Ohio’s schools are publicly
funded, will be released to the wider public Feb. 4. Many school
officials are bracing for the worst, according to Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Rob Nichols previously told CityBeat
that the proposal is “a big undertaking”: “Many governors have tried
before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s something
we have to take our time with and get it done right.” Ohio’s largest prison staff union is asking Kasich’s administration to increase the amount of prison security officers
following a late December report from the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction. The report found a correlation
between rising prison violence and a decrease in prison security staff,
affirming a position the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has
held for years.
A Journal News report found substance abuse comes at a heavy loss
for Ohio employers, including more workplace injuries, higher medical
costs, more absenteeism and reduced productivity. Some experts advocate
for drug testing to lower the costs, while others
argue drug testing can often affect innocent, responsible drug users.
Employers are much more likely to test for marijuana over alcohol, even
though multiple studies show cannabis is less addictive and
The flu epidemic may be leveling off in Ohio. The state
health department revealed the amount of hospitalizations involving the
flu have plateaued, but the department cautions the calm could be temporary.
The women’s sections of county and regional jails are facing higher levels of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is a result of a 2011 law that enables fourth- and
fifth-degree felons to be held at county jails instead of state prisons.
A new online tool reveals the salaries of public school teachers and staff.
The extensive audit of Ohio schools and their attendance information will be released Feb. 11. The preliminary reports found Cincinnati Public Schools were clean. The investigation into attendance fraud began when Lockland schools in Hamilton County were caught falsifying attendance data.
A new poll found an overwhelming majority of Kentucky parents favor raising the school dropout age to 18, up from the current age of 16.
Ohio gas prices are still rising.
Researchers made super-realistic lung tissue with levitating cells. The development allows researchers to better study how toxins affect the lungs.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Democrats are calling for the resignation
of Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, who compared
President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post.
by German Lopez
Terhar compares Obama to Hitler, Cincinnati unemployment drops, Portman's deficit plan
Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar posted an image
of Adolf Hitler on Facebook that said, “Never forget what this tyrant
said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
But the Cincinnati Republican, who was referencing President Barack
Obama’s gun control proposals, now insists she was not comparing Obama
to Hitler. It’s pretty obvious she was, though.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate
dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November.
The drop is largely attributed to a decrease in the civilian labor force,
which could imply less people are looking for work or seasonal changes
are having an impact. Whatever the case, the amount of people who are
employed and unemployed both dropped. Hamilton County’s seasonally
unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down
from 6.4 percent in November, but that drop was also attributed to a declining labor
force or seasonal factors. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was unchanged from 6.4 percent, despite 2,600 less
people working. In comparison, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted
rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from 6.5 percent in November, and
the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, suggested the Dollar-for-Dollar
Deficit Reduction Act. The plan requires debt ceiling increases to be
matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. Increasing the debt ceiling
is essentially Congress agreeing to pay its bills. During the budget
process and while passing other legislation, Congress agrees to a
certain amount of spending. Increasing the debt ceiling just makes it
possible for the president to pay those bills, even if it means
surpassing a set debt level. If the debt ceiling isn't raised by May 18,
the United States will default on its debts, plunging the country into
depression. But the threat of destroying the U.S. economy has not
stopped Republicans from using the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool to
get the spending cuts they so badly want.
Public employees are avoiding changes to Ohio’s public pension system
by retiring before the changes kick in. The changes make it so any teacher who
retires before July 1 will get a 2 percent cost of living increase to
their pensions in 2015. Anyone who retires after July 1 will not get the
increase until 2018. After that, retirees will get a pension increase
every five years. Experts are also expecting a rush of retirees in 2015,
when age and years-of-service requirements for full benefits are set to
A new report found Ohio’s graduation rate is still improving.
The U.S. Department of Education report found the state’s graduation
rate was 81.4 percent in the 2009-10 school year, higher than the
nation’s rate of 78.2 percent, and an increase from 78.7 percent rate in
the 2006-2007 school year.
A study found a link between hourly workers at Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center and intestinal cancer.
As Ohio cuts back its solar program, Canada is shutting down the rest of its coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013.
The Cincinnati Reds may get to host the 2015 All-Stars Game.
Scientists are rushing to build robots that save lives in disaster zones. Will John Connor please stand up?
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
When an Ohio charter school consistently
fails to meet academic standards, the state automatically shuts it down. But a report from Policy
Matters Ohio found some charter schools might be evading the rule
by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 12:18 PM | Permalink
State maintains B-, falls to No. 12 spot
For the third year in a row, Ohio has dropped in Education
Week’s annual ranks. The news comes despite the state slightly bumping
up its grade from 79.5 percent to 79.6 percent. The state was ranked No. 12, down from No. 11 in 2012 and No. 10 in 2011.
Ohio did best in standards, assessments and
accountability, where it got a 96.1 percent, or an A. It did worst in
K-12 achievement, which measures student progress and equality,
with a 71.2 percent, or a C-.
The only major category in which Ohio performed below the
U.S. average was transitions and alignment, which gauges state standards
for preparing Ohio students for moving from kindergarten to elementary
school to middle school to high school to college. In the category, Ohio
got a 78.6 percent, or C+, while the national average is 81.1 percent.
Maryland was ranked No. 1 for the fifth year in a row with an 87.5 percent, or a B.
“We’re pleased to be rated No. 12 in the nation … but our
overall score of a B- reassures us what we already know: We can do a
better job of educating Ohio’s children and preparing them for future
success,” said John Charlton, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of
Charlton says the state is taking steps to make
improvements, particularly in the transitions and alignment category.
Ohio has already adopted the Common Core standards and is replacing the state’s standardized tests with new assessments, which CityBeat covered here.
Ohio colleges and universities have also adopted uniform
remediation-free standards, which Charlton says will make it easier to
prepare students for college. Remedial courses are classes
that don’t count toward college credit; they’re typically required for
students who are under-prepared in certain subjects, particularly
English, math and science.
But some have pushed back toward the Republican-supported
education initiatives. The Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which forces
schools to hold back third-grade students who are not proficient in
reading, has faced a lot of criticism from Democrats and education
experts. Research shows holding kids back hurts more than helps. After
reviewing decades of research, the National Association of School
Psychologists found grade retention has “deleterious long-term effects,” both academically and socially.
Gov. John Kasich vowed to rework Ohio’s school funding
formula in the 2014-2015 budget. In a previous interview, Rob Nichols,
spokesperson to Kasich, said it was a big undertaking: “Many governors
have tried before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s
something we have to take our time with and get it done right.”
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:55 PM | Permalink
Cincinnati facility closed down, reopened under new name
When an Ohio charter school consistently fails to meet
academic standards, the state automatically shuts it down. It’s an
aspect of Ohio law that’s touted as one of the toughest standards for
charter schools in the nation, but a report from Policy Matters Ohio
found some charter schools may be evading the rule altogether.
In Cincinnati, the W.E.B. DuBois Academy was put on the
Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) closure list in 2009. According to
the Policy Matters report, the same school and some of the staff remain, but under a
different name: Cincinnati Speech and Reading Intervention Center
Before 2009, Dubois Academy was CSR's sister school. Dubois Academy focused on grades four to eight, and CSR took up kindergarten through third grade. But when Dubois Academy was asked to shut down, CSR suddenly decided to expand to
teach kindergarten through eighth grade, and it conveniently moved to
the Dubois Academy building in the process.
The report also found some staff remained at the former
DuBois Academy facility. Out of eight teachers from Dubois Academy,
three still work at CSR.
Still, the school did change its sponsor from Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio to Richland Academy — a sign of some institutional changes.Before it was placed on ODE’s closure list,
Dubois Academy gained three straight “Academic Emergency” ratings.
Between 2007 and 2010, it received more than $3.6 million in state
funds. In the preliminary 2011-2012 report card, CSR gained a rating of
“Continuous Improvement” after receiving an “Academic Emergency”
rating in the 2010-2011 report card.
The story of Dubois Academy and CSR is apparently being
replicated around the state. Six other facilities reopened under new
names shortly after state-mandated closure. Some schools, including the
Eagle Heights Academy in Youngstown that reopened as Southside
Academy, even kept the same sponsors.
An eighth school in Cleveland — Hope Academy Broadway —
shut down one year before the state mandate kicked in,
citing an inability to find a sponsor. A year later, it reopened under a
new name — Broadway Academy. In the process, the school retained 11 Hope Academy Broadway staff members.
In a statement, Piet van Lier, the report’s co-author, called the loophole
a “systemic flaw” that undermines Ohio’s education system: “Until Ohio strengthens its charter-closure law, the state
will continue to fall short of the goal of improving public education
for all Ohio’s children.”
The report suggests legislators revamp charter school
closure laws and strengthen ODE’s oversight of charter schools. It also
wants legislators to direct ODE to refuse the kind of expansions and mergers that
keep closed facilities open and hold charter school companies more
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 9, 2013
With 2012 in the past, it’s time to start
preparing for a brand new year of politics and policy. From what’s been
hinted at so far, progressives could have another big year in 2013, but
only if they work for it.
by German Lopez
Local unemployment unchanged, schools could open enrollment, 2013 challenges schools
Facing tight budgets, Ohio schools, including Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), are considering open enrollment.
The move would open school doors to neighboring communities. It was
previously considered by CPS a decade ago, but the plan didn’t have
enough support from the district’s board. It might now.Next year could be challenging for Ohio schools.
Butler County schools will begin the year by implementing a transition
to the Common Core Curriculum, new evaluations for teachers and a new
method of rating and grading schools. The state is also expected to
change the school funding formula.Cincinnati’s
seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate remained relatively flat at 6.9
percent in November, according to data from the Ohio Department of Jobs
and Family Services. The city’s unemployment did not tick up or down
from the 6.9 percent rate in October, but about 1,300 dropped out from
the civilian labor force as it shrank from 145,600 in October to 144,300
in November. Hamilton County also remained flat at 6.3 percent as 3,500
left the labor force. Greater Cincinnati ticked up to 6.2 percent from
6.1 percent, with about 6,900 leaving the labor force between October
and November. In comparison, the state had a seasonally unadjusted rate
of 6.5 percent and nation had a seasonally unadjusted rate of 7.4
percent in November. Unemployment numbers are calculated through a
household survey. The unemployment rate gauges the amount of unemployed
people looking for work in contrast to the total civilian labor force.
Since the numbers are derived from surveys, they are often revised in
later months. Federal and state numbers are typically adjusted for
seasonal factors.Police in Kentucky are now using playing cards to catch suspects.
Trooper Michael Webb says the effort has helped crack three out of 52
cases so far. That may not seem like a lot, but Webb puts it in
perspective: “Two of the cases were double homicides so that's four
families that have gotten closure and have had some kind of ability to
deal with the situation. The third one was a single murder and obviously
that family has been able to have closure. So we've got five families
that have been able to have closure as a result of this initiative.”Another casualty of the fiscal cliff: milk. It turns out milk prices could soar to $7 a gallon as Congress fails to adopt a farm bill. President Barack Obama and legislators are expected to discuss a fiscal cliff deal today.As some companies shift to social media, Facebook may topple CareerBuilder for job opportunities.On Christmas Day, 17.4 million smart devices turned on for the first time. In the first 20 days of December, only 4 million Android and iOS devices were turned on.What does 2013 hold for science and technology? Popular Science takes a look. Expect more supercomputers and less solar activity!Here is the dorkiest, cutest marriage proposal ever.
by German Lopez
CPS helps rework school funding, cuts mean less teachers, judges against double-dipping
Cincinnati Public Schools seems to be playing a big role in reforming Ohio’s school funding formula.
Superintendent Mary Ronan got a call from Gov. John
Kasich’s office about the per-pupil funding formula CPS uses to
distribute funds to its schools. It seems the state might adopt a similar
method, but Ronan is cautious: “I do think it's one of the ways you
could do it, a per-pupil funding, but I have to say, we were always
tweaking every year ... because sometimes those formulas can be a bit off
and any time we saw one school getting a lot more than another ... we
tried to refine it every year over probably the 15 years we have used
it.” She also notes schools are getting “bare minimum” funding right
now. CityBeat covered budget problems at CPS here.
In general, state budget cuts have led to fewer teachers in Ohio schools. Gov. Kasich previously urged schools to focus on classroom instruction, but it seems the words aren't being followed up with proper funding.
Southwestern Ohio judges are clashing over double-dipping.
The practice involves government workers retiring and getting rehired
so they can collect pensions and a paycheck at the same time. At a
meeting, Hamilton County Judge Melba Marsh said she wants to allow
Magistrate Michael Bachman to retire and then be rehired so he doesn't
lose a 3-percent increase to his retirement, which is otherwise being
eliminated by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System after 2012.
But the move has been met with resistance from other judges.
For Cincinnati hospitals, Medicare changes mean some loss and some gain.
The online campaign urging Macy’s to dump Donald Trump circled a “Dump Trump” billboard around Macy’s headquarters. The anti-Trump movement has gained about 680,000 signatures since it started.
On Christmas Eve, some spent time with family, while Butler County Deputy David Runnells helped deliver a baby in the back of a car during an emergency call.
Ohio will use $20 million out of $200 million in casino funds to train incumbent workers. Gov. Kasich says the program could help avoid layoffs.
It seems Mitt Romney's presidential campaign really thought they were going to win.
In campaign memos leading up to the election, campaign staff said the
race was “unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney’s direction,” and the
campaign ridiculed the possibility of losing Ohio due to the Romney
campaign’s “better ground game.” But President Barack Obama had a much larger
ground game for one-on-one interaction, which is one of the factors
former Romney staff now say led to their demise. But whatever. Romney didn't want to be president, anyway, says son Tagg Romney: “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to ... run.”
Fiscal cliff talks aren’t going well. President Obama cut his vacation early to work out negotiations.
If Republicans and Democrats can’t work out their problems, a series of
spending cuts and tax hikes dubbed the “fiscal cliff” will kick in
throughout 2013. But it’s looking more and more likely the nation will head
off the cliff, considering U.S. Speaker John Boehner can’t even pass tax hikes on people making more than $1 million a year.
Ever wonder what dinosaur meat would taste like? Well, Popular Science has that covered.
by German Lopez
School report card reform passed, governors call for bridge tolls, casino to open March 4
School report card reform is about to head to Gov. John Kasich, who is likely to sign it. The bill, which places higher grading standards on
the Ohio Senate yesterday with some minor tweaks. The Ohio House is
expected to approve the bill again, and then Kasich will need to sign it
for it to become law. In an early simulation
of tougher report card standards in May, Cincinnati Public Schools
dropped from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current
system to a D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School
retaining its top mark with an A.
The governors of Ohio and Kentucky agree tolls will be necessary
to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project. The governors also said there
will be a financing plan by next summer and construction will begin in
2014. Kasich and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear met yesterday with U.S.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to discuss funding for the bridge
The Horseshoe Casino will open in Cincinnati on March 4. What can Cincinnatians expect? According to one Washington Post analysis, casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy and even suicide.
Sewer rates in Hamilton County will go up next year, but not as much as expected.
Cincinnati has 1,300 properties awaiting demolition.
With same-sex marriage likely coming on the ballot in
2013, a Quinnipiac University poll found Ohio voters thinly oppose its
legalization 47 percent to 45 percent, but it’s within the margin of error of 2.9 percent. A Washington Post poll in September found Ohioans support same-sex marriage 52 percent to 37 percent — well outside of the poll’s margin of error of 4.5 percent. CityBeat recently wrote about the same-sex marriage legalization in Ohio here.
The same poll found Ohio voters deadlocked on whether
marijuana should be legalized with 47 percent for it and 47 percent
against it. The results are slightly more conservative than the rest of
the nation. Washington state recently legalized marijuana and same-sex
marriage in the same day, and the world didn’t end.
Ohio gained approval
on a coordinated Medicare-Medicaid initiative that will change funding
for low-income seniors who qualify for both public health programs. With
the go-ahead from the federal government, the plan will push forward in
coordinating Medicare and Medicaid more efficiently to cut costs.
But on the topic of a Medicaid expansion, Ohio will not make a final decision until February.
As part of Obamacare, states are encouraged to expand their Medicaid
plans to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. If they do it, the federal
government will pick up 100 percent of the tab through 2016. After that,
federal funding drops annually, eventually reaching 90 percent for 2020
and beyond. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid improved lives.
Another study found Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saves states money
in the long term by reducing the amount of uncompensated health care.
Cleveland's The Plain Dealer says Gov. Kasich will not privatize the Ohio Turnpike, but he will ask for a toll hike to help finance new projects. Kasich will officially announce his plans later today.
With opposition from law enforcement, a Senate committee is pushing ahead with a bill that lessens restrictions on gun-carrying laws.
Redistricting reform will soon be taken up by the Ohio Senate. The measure passed committee in an 8-1 vote. Redistricting is often used by politicians to redraw district borders in politically beneficial ways.
Gov. Kasich signed into law a measure that cracks down
on dog breeders in Ohio. The measure has long been pushed by animal
advocates, who say lax regulations for puppy mills have made the state a
breeding ground for bad practices. CityBeat previously wrote about how these bad practices lead to abusive dog auctions in Ohio.Homosexuality may not be in our genes, but it may be in the molecules that regulate genes.