Within the blitz of publicity and debate around Governor John Kasich’s education improvement plan over the past week is a gem of an idea that is worth calling out for its tremendous potential to move Ohio’s public schools boldly into the future.
The Straight A Innovation Fund proposal calls for $300 million in state funds over two years to support innovative projects that improve efficiency and performance in local schools and districts. These one-time grants, to be offered in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015, are designed to modernize operations and achieve cost savings that can be invested in the classroom.
In about a week, Ohio Governor John Kasich is expected to introduce a state budget proposal for FY 2014-15 that will include a new school funding formula for primary and secondary education. His administration has indicated that the state will be paying closer attention to making sure students get the resources they need to be successful. If so, that would be a significant accomplishment, and one that is long overdue.
We noted that this high school redesign, led by KnowledgeWorks, focused on creating learning conditions that allowed for personalized education – teachers and other adults who could get to know their students and have time in the school day to engage in deep learning. Educators had high expectations for their students, and they had the professional development and on-site coaching to keep focused on relevant instruction.
Sadly, due to a lack of follow-through by successive administrations, the focus on high school dropouts waned and this work – as well as the success in Cincinnati – was never spread around the state. Under a federal Race to the Top grant, the state is attempting to focus again on the worst “dropout factory” high schools, and progress is promising thus far
Ohio Governor John Kasich’s new FY2013 mid-year budget package continues to encourage school districts to do more with less – a call we made more than a year ago in our Ohio Smart Schools initiative.
The budget proposal released Wednesday moves forward proposals to encourage more digital and blending learning in the classroom and to provide tools for schools and districts to share services in order to improve services and reduce costs.
Ultimately, Ohio has to pursue education reform strategies that it believes are the right ones for Ohio students, and our hope is that direction will be worthy of a grant award in the Race to the Top competition.