Sage advice from a former State School Board member, A.J. Wagner

Most of this post is lifted with permission from a Facebook post by former State School Board Member and former Judge, A.J. Wagner.

This is as the State just boosted the State School Superintendents pay to over $200,000. More than the governor by over $50K

Ohio schools superintendent remains among the highest paid public servants after getting a raise, bringing his annual earnings to $210,000.

The State Board of Education gave schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria a raise Thursday, bringing his annual salary to $210,000.

While DeMaria remains among the highest paid state employees, his new paycheck is about average among state school chiefs and middle of the pack compared to leaders of local school districts in central Ohio.

At its monthly meeting in Columbus, the board voted 11-5 to award DeMaria the pay boost. He has led the Department of Education since 2016. This year he was paid $189,571, plus a $20,000 bonus members approved Thursday.

Source: Ohio schools chief gets pay raise to $210,000 – News – The Columbus Dispatch – Columbus, OH

District test results were released yesterday, and as usual, Dayton Public Schools are still among the worst in the State, despite paying Dr. Lolli over $200K a year, while she’s already retired and collecting a pension. The amount of money she’s spending on defending lawsuits is epic. The school funding formula still hasn’t been fixed. Here’s what AJ had to say:

When I left the Ohio Board of Education three years ago to be with my grandchildren in Pennsylvania, I stated a number of recommendations for education. It has been three years now. Time to repeat them lest they become lost and forgotten.

For those not wanting to read on, I summarize with this: Reduce childhood poverty and education will vastly improve.

The overall outline of what I recommend is taken from a December 2015 study by the Southern Education Foundation authored by Leigh Dingerson, a consultant with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

1. Access to high quality early childhood and Pre-K education including programs that assist parents of infant children ages zero to three. Although Ohio is contributing more to pre-school for four year olds, the problems of education begin before birth. A child raised in poverty will be far behind her counterparts in middle and upper socio-economic classes by the time she is three years old. Lack of exposure to positive reinforcement, vocabulary, intellectual stimulus, medical care, and sleep, combined with over exposure to stress, violence, negativity, poor nutrition, and poor health beginning in utero requires the earliest of interventions with parent and child. Programs are available from around the country that demonstrate the positive effects of early childhood intervention. James Heckman, Ph.D., a Nobel Prize winning economist from the University of Chicago, has established that for every dollar spent on such programs, we can save seven dollars in future expenditures on health care, remedial education, criminal justice, and public assistance.

2. Inclusive school leadership committed to creating strategic plans that include authentic
input from teachers, parents, community partners, non-instructional school staff, youth, and other stakeholders. Most importantly, leadership must include the development of caring relationships with and among each of these groups.

3. Quality teaching including professional development focused on the needs of struggling students. Teacher development, especially in areas of high poverty, should include training on how to deal with the stresses experienced by their pupils.

4. Positive discipline practices such as restorative justice, social and emotional learning supports, and a student-centered learning environment. Funding that allows a return of counselors in sufficient numbers to deal with improper behaviors with the goal of eliminating suspensions.

5. A strong curriculum that is rich, culturally relevant, and developmentally appropriate for each child. More and more our schools are being divided along racial and ethnic lines. This makes it imperative to have culturally appropriate materials, and where possible, teachers that look like their students. College preparatory standards are great and useful for a child with the desire and ability to attend college, but standards must be flexible for those without the talent or money needed for college success. I repeat, more than 40% of jobs in the Dayton area do not require any college. Students who are capable of performing these jobs should not be denied a diploma because they are not college ready.

6. Wrap-around supports such as health care, nutrition services, mentoring, and social and emotional services that support students and their families.

7. Investment, not divestment. School funding must come into constitutional compliance. We must stop raiding the public school share of state and local funding to finance non-transparent, private entities that fail to follow full academic and operational standards without full accountability to the public. Change in governance has never resulted in significant educational improvement. Witness Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago, all taken over by the state with disastrous consequences.

I also add this cautionary note from “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education,” by Diane Ravitch. Copyright 2016. Available from Basic Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, a division of PBG Publishing, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.:

“Poverty matters. An exceptional school here or there may break the pattern for a tiny number of students—usually with the benefit of extra private funding and extended time—but the pattern will persist so long as social conditions remain unchanged, so long as there are districts and schools with intense concentrations of students who are both ra­cially segregated and impoverished. We must set national goals to re­duce poverty and increase racial integration.

“Schools, too, must certainly improve. The status quo today is in­tolerable. After many years in which the nation has placed its highest priority on test-based accountability, we have little to show for it other than small increments in test scores, billions squandered on testing and test preparation, and vast numbers of teachers and administrators demoralized by utopian goals and harsh sanctions.

“No other high-performing nation in the world tests every child in grades three through eight every year. We should not either.

“No other high-performing nation in the world evaluates teachers by the test scores of its students. We should not either.

“No other high-performing nation in the world welcomes non-professionals to assume the roles of teachers, principals, or superinten­dents. We should not either.

“No other high-performing nation in the world has abandoned its public school system and turned public dollars over to private entre­preneurs, amateurs, and religious organizations. We should not either.

“Never before in our own history have we allowed for-profit corpora­tions to operate schools with public dollars. This must stop.

“Never before in our history have investors and entrepreneurs targeted the public schools as profit centers. This must stop.

“Never before in our history have public schools been forced to make standardized testing their main mission and purpose. This must stop.

“The status quo today is promulgated and funded by the US Department of Education, major foundations, hedge-fund managers, and ideologues at right-wing think tanks. It consists of high-stakes testing, rewards and punishments, and privatization. We must reject the status quo. We must dramatically improve our public schools to meet the needs of all children. We must preserve public education for future generations of children.”

If you wonder how we have 608 school districts in 88 Counties, not counting the County ESC’s – where retired superintendents go to collect fat paychecks on top of their retirements, a good person to ask is this overpaid clown, Paolo DeMaria and the folks who think he’s doing anything.

In the meantime, AJ had some pretty solid ideas, the most important is to stop thinking amateurs like the Reverend William Harris or Mohamed Al-Hamdani have any clue about how to run an education organization.

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