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City schools’ rank is ‘nothing to celebrate’

Published: Thu, September 15, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Denise Dick



Though the city schools climbed out of academic emergency, the gains were minimal, Ohio Department of Education officials said.

“There’s this perception that there’s this big celebration to be had,” said Michael Sawyers, state deputy superintendent. “That’s not true.”

Stan W. Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction, Sawyers and other ODE staff members attended a Youngstown Academic Distress Commission meeting Wednesday and met with The Vindicator’s editorial board.

“Academic watch is nothing to celebrate,” Heffner said.

The district moved from academic emergency to academic watch on the last report card, but Sawyers pointed out that gain was because of improved attendance. The district remains in academic distress, he said.

“It hurts me to look at the data,” Heffner said. “It hurts me to think about those kids.”

While there have been improvements, Heffner wants things to progress faster.

“Every day you delay is a day you put children at risk for not getting an education,” he said.

Heffner said he wants the five-member academic commission to be more aggressive.

“They have a great deal of authority, and we expect them to exercise it judiciously,” he said.

Besides the academic-recovery plan, there are six other plans under which the district is operating, a district strategic plan, Ohio Improvement Plan and school-improvement plan among them.

Within a month, Heffner wants those seven boiled down to one.

Because the commission is the first and only entity of its kind in the state, members may not have been clear about what their authority was, he said.

By law, the commission may appoint school building administrators and reassign administrative personnel; terminate the contracts of administrators or administrative personnel; contract with a private entity to perform school- or district-management functions; and establish a budget for the district and approve district appropriations and expenditures.

The commission should require a relationship between the plan and dollars spent toward academics, he said.

Superintendent Connie Hathorn told the commission he’s not content with the academic-watch designation but believes it’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of school personnel.

“We’re celebrating moving forward because we know we can do this,” he said.


1Superstar7(122 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

The symptom is the regularity of the failing test results.
The problem is the parents of these disruptors making it impossible for the few that want to learn.
Punish these urban dwelling parents until their attention to their children is accomplished.
If they receive free housing, free schooling (they don't pay real estate taxes) free medical & are populating the gangs invading the suburbs, give them drug test regularily and a 9 PM curfew.
If they refuse, remove them from all forms of government aid & block them from using hospitals as their private doctors office.
Don't pay them for good grades-that is received through accomplishments in life. If thses classroom disruptors continue to fail in schools, charge the parent for each bad report card & homework ignored by reducing their government aid. Do you seek the system fixed or not?

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2DwightK(1384 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

The problem is too many one parent households. I can't imagine how a single mom helps one or more kids with their homework every night. Speaking from experience, it takes two parents in a home to successfully make sure kids are in school, have completed their homework and are in bed at a decent hour so they get enough sleep.

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3Education_Voter(933 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Good point Dwight.
Crispin, the teachers need to be judicious in their calling in of the parent. She will reprimand the child the first time, but if the child returns to the behavior, and the teacher calls repeatedly, then the parent will turn on the teacher instead.
So, teachers knowing this, do not waste their calls.
However, a parent can always be the one to initiate a call, to see how the child is doing. She can visit the school -- in Youngstown schools, she will be welcome.

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4Education_Voter(933 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Last year when attendance put YCS into Academic Emergency, it was important.
This year when they get the attendance measure, "it's only attendance."
If the state doesn't value the attendance measure, they should take it off the school report card.
It must be there for a reason.
And that reason is that they DO value it.
But they want to slap YCS.
They seem to misunderstand the meaning of "celebrate" in the YCS community. The superintendent uses "celebrate" to mean having a ceremonial opening, a ritural. So they use the terms: "This meeting will celebrate the beginning of the school year, who we are, our progress so far, and our intent to continue progress."
For instance, Catholics "celebrate" Mass. It doesn't mean they are breaking champagne bottles and pouring it over each other's heads while singing, "We Are the Champions."

ODE bureaucrats.......

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5cozmo(32 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The problem is that the Republican controlled Ohio Senate is trying to privatize public education and they see the city of Youngstown as being weak and look to privatize the district. (example John Kasichs senate bill 5)This is why they are going after Youngstown City and not all the other school districts that are worst performing. Education has been destroyed by these bureaucrats. People need to stand up and fight against these people.

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