DECA makes the NY Times- Husted makes an idiot of himself

The Dayton Public Schools have some succes stories- unfortunately, DPS doesn’t know how to leverage the good news- instead running a levy campaign based on fear.

The New York Times writes about DECA- as if it is a dead man walking. Of course, Jon Husted- who would prefer every school to be a charter school, tip-toes around the fact that if the State would do what the State Supreme Court ordered over 10 years ago- DPS wouldn’t be in this mess. School funding is the root problem- as are the lasting vestiges of court ordered busing.

Ohio School Fears Cuts Will Rewrite Its Success Story – New York Times
DAYTON, Ohio, May 30 — The 32 students who graduated from the Dayton Early College Academy on Wednesday evening were mostly from low-income families. Few of their parents went to college.

But every member of the graduating class, the school’s first, will attend college in the fall on the strength of their academic achievements and $2 million in scholarship offers, a remarkable success story in a school district plagued by budget shortfalls and challenges endemic to urban schools.

That success, however, may not be enough to save the experimental public high school. Voters rejected a school tax levy on May 8, forcing the school district to cut $30 million from its budget. That could result in the academy’s reverting to a more traditional model.

With more than 200 layoffs planned in the district, many of the teachers who have developed the academy’s curriculum through trial and error are likely to lose their jobs to teachers with more experience because the teachers’ union requires layoffs to be made according to seniority. Some positions would probably be eliminated.

“For us to lose teachers would be catastrophic,” said Judy Hennessey, who resigned as superintendent of the affluent school district in nearby Oakwood to become principal of the academy, which has 225 students who are required to begin taking college-level courses by their junior or senior year.

The school, which is in an office building owned by the University of Dayton, was founded and operated in part with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, based in Cincinnati.

Some supporters want to convert the academy into a charter school, which would free it from dealing with the teachers’ union and help it retain its staff. The student-teacher ratio at the academy is 14 to 1, compared with the district average of 33 to 1, Ms. Hennessey said.

Representative Jon Husted, a Republican who is speaker of the Ohio House and whose district includes the academy, said he was willing to sponsor a bill allowing it to become a charter school if the teachers’ union does not exempt the academy from layoffs by seniority.

“I want them to keep this as part of the public system,” Mr. Husted said, “but if they’re unwilling to do that, I think preserving the school is more important.”

Patricia Lynch, the president of the teachers’ union, was on the planning committee that formed the school but said it could not be exempt from cuts. “There are going to be setbacks in every school,” Ms. Lynch said.

Thomas J. Lasley II, the dean of the School of Education at the University of Dayton and a founder of the academy, said the school and others like it were desperately needed. “If you’re going to educate urban kids, you’re going to need niche places,” Dr. Lasley said. “We can’t be losing this much intellectual capital and expect cities like Dayton to survive too long.”

The point that Lasley makes at the end is critical. We’re losing social capital- and we have to do drastic measures to change that equation.

We have DPS programs that work. What we don’t have is a public that believes our school leaders can be trusted with their hard earned money.

It’s not just a new budget we need- we need a leader’s voice to guide this mess forward. Any volunteers?

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3 Responses

  1. Joe Lacey May 31, 2007 / 6:08 pm
    Making DECA a charter would mean more cuts in some other schools that are successful and are attracting students to DPS, Stivers School of the Arts is an important example.

    DECA is a great program, and it shows the success of putting a lot of resources into education, 14 to 1 student teacher ratio, free courses at area colleges, but it’s not the type of program that can be expanded district wide.

    It should be continued, but not at the expense of other schools.

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  2. David Esrati June 2, 2007 / 8:19 am

    A school board member speaks! Joe Lacey is a member of the Dayton School Board. DECA is an amazing program- as is Stivers- as is Horace Mann Elementary- the problem is that Dayton Public Schools hasn’t done enough to tell the public how they are succeeding- maybe now they will realize they are a retailer in a highly competitive field- and need to approach many of their issues the same way Best Buy does.
    It’s all about customer service, competitive advantage and perceived value now.

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  3. Bruce Kettelle June 2, 2007 / 9:38 am
    Over here in Trotwood we have some great programs too that quite often seem to be overshadowed by other criticism. This fall all students will be in new buildings except the middle school. The new middle school will be complete for a fall 2008 opening.

    Trotwood is producing some outstanding students with a growing percentage going on to college. Test scores have improved especially at the high school. Has anyone noticed? I agree it is time for public schools to agressively market their positives, the charters are doing it with our tax money, why shouldn’t the public schools be doing it too?

    (PS: Joe, thanks for posting, its good to have your views here.)

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