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State superintendent disappointed with Youngstown schools’ lack of progress

Published: Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 12:10 a.m.

Youngstown district ‘hasn’t gotten done what needs to get done,’ official says

RELATED: State reviewers recommend training for Youngstown school board, staff

By Denise Dick



Ohio’s state superintendent isn’t happy with the progress of Youngstown City Schools, and he is asking the community to step forward and help.

“I’m disappointed with the lack of progress,” Richard Ross, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a telephone interview Thursday with The Vindicator. “Whether it be the school board, the administration or staff or the academic distress commission, the bottom line is they haven’t gotten done what needs to get done.”

The Youngstown School District Academic Distress Commission was appointed four years ago after the city school district failed to meet adequate yearly progress for four consecutive years on the state report card.

It was the first district in the state to operate under an ADC. Lorain schools now also has one.

Ross briefly served as chairman of the Youngstown ADC before leaving to work as Gov. John Kasich’s director of 21st Century Education. Kasich later appointed Ross state superintendent after the resignation of Stan Heffner.

“The community at large, the faith-based community, the business community has to say, ‘Enough. We have to make dramatic change, whether that’s open enrollment or community schools, we have to make dramatic improvement,’” he said. “My call to action to the broad community is we need your help. We’re asking them to step forward.”

He said he has no date in mind.

Connie Hathorn, Youngs-town schools superintendent, said he would support such an effort.

“The schools belong to the community,” he said. “As long as what they want is what’s best for the kids, I would support it.”

Ross called it a “philosophical predisposition” he has that formulas for lasting change are more effective when they come from a community that’s bonded together than from a prescription written by another entity.

“I’m not pleased with the progress in Youngstown,” he said.

The closest model in the state for the type of action he’s talking about is the Cleveland Plan, Ross said.

Although he’s said he’s not looking for a copy of that city’s plan, community groups in that city got together because they weren’t happy with what was happening with the schools and made changes.

That city’s plan, which required state legislation, involves a system of district and charter schools under the leadership of a chief executive officer and nine school board members who are appointed by the Cleveland mayor. At least four of those members must have expertise in education, finance or business.

The board members hire the CEO.

“The bottom line is this has to be for the boys and girls,” Ross said. “There’s got to be a change and improvement for the opportunities for these young people. If they’re limited by what their opportunities are in education, then shame on us.”


1euclidadult(33 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Seriously? Fix the education problem in Y-town by having a "Board," the minority of which has some sort of qualifications? How well did that work in Cleveland?

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2handymandave(474 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

If you think the school system is a failure just wait. They'll be even more disappointing once the school year starts.

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3glbtactivist(249 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

This goes to show everyone how uneducated and unprofessional are the people that Gov. Kasich has put in charge in Columbus. Everyone in the State except this guy knows what is wrong with all inner city schools. It is the parents and community. Nothing to do with the schools. Struthers and Boardman schools are almost identical to the Youngstown schools in terms of what they teach and how educated and experienced the staff is. The difference in the schools is the kids. The difference in the kids is the parents. Stop waisting everyone's time pretending that the schools can perform miracles. Stop blaming the wrong people for political points. The only inner city program that ever worked was the one in New York City that took the kids away from the parents and community and put them in boarding schools. Then they did as well in school as kids in the suburbs.

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4123goz(580 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Were PARENTS not singled out because they were supposed to be in one of the other groups? There is your problem. Maybe I should have omitted the 's'. Maybe that's the problem.
This guy is Supt and parents don't enter his equation? But charter schools do so they can siphon more money into the pockets of some cronies?
It's other districts open enrollment that let any decent kid that wants to learn out of YCS. They are not coming back and you sure won't get many from South Range to come in.

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5DwightK(1256 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Parents need to step up. It's their responsibility to make sure kids arrive at school on time, fed, clean, well rested and ready to start the day. If your kid is failing, especially young kids, you better look in the mirror and ask yourself what your problem is.

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6Hoo(5 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

The performance of YCSD is being determined by a system of metrics that produces results based on poverty-wealth of the students. Ross is nothing more than a shill for Ohio’s totally misleading and inaccurate school accountability system. The metrics are rigged. YCSD is actually performing extremely well when we consider the amount of poverty students are mired in. For more research about the Ohio system of pseudo accountability see my website at Teacher-Advocate. com .

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7goodoldboystown(14 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Excuse me if I misunderstand you HOO, but what does poverty have to do with doing well in school? Is that another excuse not to do well in school and fail in life? Poverty will just continue generation after generation if you excuse poverty for inability for succeeding. There are several problems in the school system. Including the teachers in the problem solving process is a start. Holding the parents of the failing students accountable is the next step. Solving the discipline problems and holding the parents of the disruptive students responsible for their children is another issue. I would never send my child to Youngstown Schools and I will not vote for another levy to support a failing system.

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8123goz(580 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

From Hoo's site
"because the most significant factor affecting their test performance is their lived experience."
Could you explain? How does it become more important than school?
I understand how a hard life can relate to student performance. Are you saying no matter how good the school or teacher, the poor kid is doomed?

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9123goz(580 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Isn't school part of the 'lived experience' ?

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10Maggie_Pentz(86 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

I don't really know where to start to address these comments. Let me just say that it's not "poverty" alone that necessarily affects achievement, rather the risk factors that accompany living in poverty in modern society.

Today's poverty is different in many ways from poverty experienced by previous generations. As is the student population - in previous generations, poor kids often dropped out or never attended school and thus were not included in any assessments of "school quality".

Some links to research you should consider while pondering this topic:





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11steivo(511 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

The web-site is nothing more than Teacher Union propaganda. There is nothing wrong with the tests. Until you admit what the problem is, you will never solve it.

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12123goz(580 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

You might expect 'poor' to be maybe uneducated, thus not being able to help the child much, but doesn't mean they don't care and are not doing what they can. A crack ho looking for a fix won't help the child much. A non-existent daddy is no help.
Poverty could be quite the motivator for some, no matter the home life. The assumption is rich people are more educated and the child is brought up in a more nurturing environment. No crime, violence etc.

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13Education_Voter(858 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

These comments are just ridiculous because the speaker, Superintendent Ross, is criticizing the schools that he HIMSELF IS IN CHARGE OF! What kind of CEO tells patrons that his organization is failng and that they should go to the competitor??!!
ANSWER: a corrupt CEO who works for the competitor.
This man is in charge of ALL Ohio schools, particularly in Youngstown and Lorain where the state removed local control.
All the state has done so far is insist on outrageous spending paid out to consultants in Columbus.

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14Education_Voter(858 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Why is Superintendent Ross afraid to tell the parents to step up? For example, be at school on the first day, instead of creating your own "first day" a week or a month later with an excuse like "We didn't have a chance to get new shoes yet."

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15SAVEOURCOUNTRY(470 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

All the major research shows the only factor that is a measure of success and lack of success in school is socio economic status. Thus if one is poor like most in Youngstown, the success rate WILL BE lower than those that come from higher socio economic level. To blame teachers for the lack of success shows someone that knows not of what they speak of simply because it's easier to place blame one anyone but the individuals most responsible........the life givers( some may call them parents, but I do not) and the student.
"life givers" take no responsibility in the equation of education. The teacher is one third of the equation yet the state wants to make them 100 percent responsible for the results when they turn out poorly. If we held the John kaSICKs of the world to that same standard, perhaps we would have livable wage jobs in this country making education a priority for lower income people.
Education isn't important in high poverty communities because they are poor and stand to loose to much if they are educated enough to get a job that makes just enough that they lose government assistance. That is the true problem! That bad teachers! There are bad teacher, don't get me wrong. But there are fewer bad one in the city than in every other district in mahoning county combined. I would willingly have my son educated by any city school teacher if not for the negative environment the administration at 20 west wood st allows to happen because they want their 100,000 plus a year salaries.......his cox, Greene, hathron, just to mention a few

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16goodoldboystown(14 comments)posted 2 weeks, 4 days ago

SAVEOURCOUNTRY..I am at a loss as to why you directed your rant to me. I did not blame the teachers. Read my words as they are written and keep me out of your grandstanding. Put your money where your mouth is. Send your son to school in Youngstown.

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