Tell us your good idea!

We want to hear your ideas about improving education in Columbus.

Postcards are being distributed throughout Columbus to collect your thoughts, but you can also comment on this page. Your ideas will be passed on to the commission. Thanks!

Join in and leave a comment below!

 

83 thoughts on “Tell us your good idea!

  1. Pingback: Next topics: measuring success/technology | Reimagine Columbus Education

  2. I attended the first meeting of the commission, but I wasn’t able to stay the entire day, so I didn’t hear the discussion on early childhood education. When I looked at the website follow up, I didn’t see any mention of Heard Start. Does Columbus have a Head Start program? It really does help, but some school systems have gotten discouraged because the results wear off abut middle school age. There are reasons for this – hormones start to kick in, school gets more demanding, parents become less influential and peers more so – what they need in middle school is another shot of support – specifically, classes in how to “do school” – more reading classes, how to take notes, how to summarize, and other study skills – also social skills. And, please, give serious consideration to single-sex classes in middle school – maybe even single-sex schools. There’s good evidence that kids benefit.

    • The strategies and everything you have listed has already been implemented in the middle school as RICA (Reading In the Content Area). It has shown to be successful in schools that are utilizing it for what you mentioned. Also, Columbus is proud to offer a City Prep School for Girls and one for Boys. Single-sex middle schools. Some middle schools even offer single-sex classes.

      • Thank you for the information – good to know. It’s hard for the general public to know how to make good suggestions, when we don’t know enough about what our schools are currently doing.

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  5. As the commission thinks about technology and conducts the business audit, please also give thought the processes for families that could be online. I’m a CCS parent…I would so like to be able to add money online to our lunch account. I’d like to see our kindergarten assistant taking attendance with an IPAD rather than a pen and pencil, and then be able to submit that to the front office without even leaving her classroom. My daughter’s teacher maintains a classroom blog which is really fun and is a good way to get a feel for what is going on in the the classroom. I’m sure that our teachers, principals and parents could think of many more examples of both things that they would like to do and things that are already happening.

    • This is another example of why we need to tailor schools to the communities they serve, rather than using a “one-size-fits-all approach. Technology can do a lot of cool things, but believe it or not, not all our parents are on-line. I would suggest that the schools which have the worst problems also have the fewest students with computers in their homes. We have got to give principals and staffs the authority to adapt their policies to their particular schools.

      • Totally agree with one size fits all being a bad idea–hope that we can move forward and not lose sight of that. Ms. Petruzella, you have great insights and I enjoy reading your comments. I am going to borrow your word–”tailor”. That’s exactly it.

        Chicago Public Schools has a Parent Portal for checking grades and attendance and communicating with teachers. As someone who works with underserved students, I know that we’ll need to provide access as they do in Chicago. I wonder how they are dealing with the digital divide. Kiosks in elementary school lobbies?

        • My daughter who attends Ridgeview uses “Engrade” as does ONE of my sons teachers at Centennial. It would be nice since there is a system already available to have the schools require teachers to use it. Rather than waiting for the system that was supposed to be working back in August/September 2012

        • I also used the Parent Portal in Illinois prior to moving to Columbus. It was a great communication tool. Which is why I don’t understand why CPS doesn’t require that all teachers use Engrade especially since it is being used by some already.

        • One size does not fit all. I think people are beginning to realize this thank goodness. I’ve spent the last six years tuning a program that does this. My first year as Administrator of the Life Skills High School of Columbus North, our Performance Index was 46.5….bottom of the barrel…we were labeled as being a school with an Academic Emergency . Of course we were an Academic Emergency if someone looked at our test scores as a gauge of how well our students tested on the Graduation Tests. What the grading system failed to take into account was that we started our school because their was an Academic Emergency….we sought out and enrolled the students who had dropped out of the traditional school. Our school’s effectiveness was gauged on how those kids performed on standardized tests that their home school was unable to prepare them for. That’s why we started the school. We wanted the kids that failed, for whatever reason, in their home school. We wanted a shot at helping them, but were vilified because of their poor performance of the OGTs or the attendance rate of the teen mom, or the failure of our Somali student to pass the written portion of the OGT.

          Challenge accepted….we have taken our school and our students to a new level through Innovation, Inspiration, and Love. The ODE rating that started out as an unfair judgment of our school and our students has flipped. Of the 28 High Schools in Columbus that have a 75% or higher economically disadvantaged student population, only three achieved “Effective” status. 25 High Schools out of the 28 fell short of that mark. We did not.

          It has been gratifying for us to have been able to help improve the lives of so many. The machinations, political posturing, and defense of the status quo (legislators voting with their teacher union pocket book) of those with the power to make significant change in our education system are the greatest impediment to the future success of our youth and community.

          Thanks Mayor Coleman for taking the lead on this.

          • Mr. Buckalew,

            Congratulations on Lifeskill’s achievement’s! I have always paid close attention to your growing progress. I am excited that we have schools that will give our students a second chance. Many times in our society we expect people to do everything right the first time. If we make mistakes we are just thrown away as a lost cause. So thank you for giving second chances here in Columbus. Who knows I could have needed a second chance when I was growing up and it would not have been available.

            On that note I have some questions for you…….

            Do you think that the majority of these students success is attributed to the realization that this is their second chance at high school completion? I guess I am thinking if I spent my entire K-12 career knowing that the end means is supposed to be a high school diploma. Then when I reach that end point where there is no more time to turn back the clock, yet I have no diploma. Does the realization hit me?? Do I ponder around for a bit growing more and more discouraged every time I can’t apply for a job because it requires a HSD? Could be a major factor in your students success? Or is it something in the delivery of the material? I am wondering what are all of the roles that play a part in the success at Lifeskill’s.

            Then tell me about the students that you have lost. I mean is it safe to say, with your performance index being roughly 64% that you may still lose students to whatever disparity that brought them there in the first place? I just want to know your thoughts on these topics. If we are to look deep into these students lives from pre-school to secondary education what are the factors?

            I’m sorry I didn’t mean to give you a essay question. lol I just would like to know what your prospective is considering you are face to face with these issues everyday.

            Thanks,

            Lolita Augenstein

          • I think your program is filling a very important need. The more I talk to teachers, the more it seems that part of the problem is ODE, which insists on measuring all students by the same yardstick. I’m sure there are good people at ODE, but I have the impression that their vision of school is largely theoretical, as is the case for many colleges of education…I really think ODE staff and perhaps Board of Education members ought to spend a certain number of days every year visiting in schools – all kinds of schools, perhaps especially schools where students come in the doors with significant impediments. Your success story is very encouraging, and I hope to hear more about how you achieved it.

  6. I appreciate Mayor Coleman and the committee investing time and energy into better serving the students in Columbus. I would like to propose that the city aide high-performing ‘choice’ schools, including some charters and private EdChoice scholarship schools, by helping to provide facilities and capital improvements to house the students who benefit from attending these schools.

  7. Please consider the needs of Gifted and Talented students when creating new education plans for the City Of Columbus. Gifted students have needs that are every bit as important as the needs of special education students and students with learning disabilities, yet gifted education is often cut, reduced or dismissed on the grounds that “bright” students do not need any help. The curriculum tends to be developed for students who fall on the middle of the spectrum, but the students at both extremes need individualized and specialized education that meets their unique needs. No one would suggest cutting education for students with learning disabilities or not providing individualized education plans that meet those students’ educational needs. Let’s make sure that the students at the other end of the spectrum are also receiving the individualized education plans that serve their needs so that all of our children can develop to their fullest potential! I hope Columbus City Schools will allow gifted students to have more pull-out time working with gifted specialists, as well as allowing subject compression so that students who are able to work more quickly are not kept from doing so. Other ideas include: individual study supervised by the classroom teacher for students who have the ability/desire to go more deeply into subjects, with gifted students being placed in cluster classrooms so the pace of the whole room is accelerated.

    In addition, I would love to see Columbus City School’s schedule become more globally competitive by copying the format practiced in countries where students consistently perform well academically. By extending the school day and allowing for more frequent breaks (i.e. unstructured recess time) for children, the children will be able to focus more easily and truly attend to their work. Extending the school day by even 30 minutes would allow teachers to work the “homework” into the school day itself, so that evenings can be spent recharging young brains and bodies for their next working day at school. By extending the school year, so that students are not off for nearly three months every summer, but attend school year-round with long breaks between sessions, students will find it easier to retain the information they have learned and teachers will not have to play catch up at the beginning of every school year. The entire first quarter largely is wasted on reviewing/relearning information that students learned the previous year. A new system where students attend school year-round benefits the student’s ability to retain information as well as working parents of both genders. Changing the academic calendar is a radical change, but our district needs radical change if we our children are going to become competitive with children internationally who have these types of systems already in place.

    • Sunny Killina also has a good point, in that we mustn’t neglect the kids who are above average in our zeal to help the ones who are behind. It seems to me that one of the glaringly obvious points is that we need to acknowledge that kids are different – they have different needs and different goals. Perhaps we need different kinds of classes or even different kinds of schools. We are dealing with human beings here, not making widgets in a factory. Ever since we started all this “proficiency testing,” we seem to have been trying to force all kids into the same mold, hold them all to the same standards -it just doesn’t work.

  8. Columbus City School’s has an Outstanding Early childhood education department. We have Pre K program in some elementary schools that is the best you can find, usually with a waiting list to fill 4 more classrooms than we have. We take 4 yr olds and get them ready for kindergarten. Knowing social skills in how to play with others, following rules, directions. Knowing ABC’s, what they look like, sounds like, writing them. Knowing numbers, how to write them what they mean, how to count, add and subtract numbers. Colors, knowing them, coloring in lines, drawing and coloring pictures that you can tell what they are. Writing and recognizing their names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and their Mom and Dad’s names. Pre K gets them ready for kindergarten and beyond. We get them so they are excited about coming to school and ready to learn. We give them a good healthy breakfast to get them started for the day, and a good healthy lunch for the afternoon, a good nap to regain their energy to go, go, go. We play outside and learn safety skills there too. If you spent a week in a pre k classroom you would be so surprised to what they learn and are able to do. We start the begining of the year with tears leaving Mom and Dad and end the year with tears they don’t want to leave us. This is a program you need to understand and realize that it is needed in every elementary school maybe even more than 1 class.
    Our Early Childhood Education Department is the best you will find.

    • Thank you Polly for this comment. I am a CCS Pre-K teacher and I absolutely LOVE my job! I think we definitely need more pre-k teachers in the district! We need at least two in every building. Some of my students come in not knowing how to hold a pencil or scissors let alone their abcs or colors. Currently we are learning about composting, growing rice, frogs, decomposing numbers and letter writing. My parents do a great job supporting their growth but the truth is we need more. Our students are at a disadvantage in some areas and need all the support and early learning skills to begin to grow a strong foundation for later learning!

  9. I agree, Lisha – at the first meeting of the commission, there were speakers as well members of the commission who seemed well-informed, but no one can speak more competently about the issues in Columbus schools than someone who is actually there, in the front lines, so to speak – like Polly Teeters, who just described what seems to be a great approach.
    At the second meeting, Mr. Brown from the Graham Schools commented that they get kindergarteners who can already read, and kindergarteners who don’t know their colors. I was hoping someone would ask, “Well, what do you do to help the ones who are behind, and how successful are you?”

  10. The current model of funding public charter schools at only a fraction of what is given to traditional public schools is a detriment to the Ohio (and Columbus) education community. This model of unequal funding seriously stifles charter school growth, and significantly impacts the quality of education that these schools can provide our students. Highly successful public charters (like Columbus Collegiate Academy, and KIPP Academy) should receive fair funding; or, in the alternative, performance bonuses to allow them to continue their efforts to increase the educational outcomes of our most under-served students!

  11. I attended the Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon yesterday and heard from leaders regarding the challenges and successes that have been realized. I applaud them for what they have been able to achieve for the students.

    My question is simple and it can be asked of anyone involved in this process.

    As a direct result of your involvement, experience and success YOU have now been promoted and are personally accountable for education reform in Columbus. What will you do and how will you achieve the same measure of success you have shared with this group for ALL of the students in Columbus and the surrounding area?

  12. Currently I am working on my doctorate in administration. I am in the beginning stage of my research for my dissertation. The topic for my research is: How are standardized assessments disconnected from educational theory of multiple intelligence and differenciated instruction. Why I am researching this topic is because teachers are told to differenciate instruction to individual learning styles. As a special education teacher differenciation is my world, however we make out students take a one style fits all assessment by forcing them to be visual learners that use pencils and paper. There is no differenciation on the Ohio Achievement Assessment. We are also asked to do STEM (project based learning), but there is nothing about projects on the OAA. Students with other learning styles and needs fail the OAA because it is Bias toward their learning styles and how they are being educated. I find it very disheartening to watch student take the OAA in tears because they are auditory learners or they are kinesthetic learners not visual. We need to make changes for the 21st learner now and the OAA needs to adapt to our students not students adapting to the OAA.
    Thank you,
    Joan Bucy NBCT, M.Ed

  13. One of the things that was mentioned briefly at the second commission meeting was the importance of good leadership in a school – a strong principal, who knows how to motivate and work with the staff. I worked with enough different principals in my three decades with Columbus Schools to know that this is, indeed, critical, and that we do not have enough good, strong, principals. Again, I realize that all our schools are not the same, but in the schools with the worst problems, the lack of discipline is the single biggest issue. Teachers are subjected to verbal abuse, students who cheat, who deliberately disrupt class, harass other students, refuse to do homework, refuse to follow dress codes, even refuse to sit down when the bell rings – and there are no real consequences for them. (Except of course, that nobody learns anything.) Charter schools and private schools can kick these students out – public schools can’t. (Can we?)
    Even the best teachers cannot teach in that atmosphere. This is why we lose some many of them – it is so discouraging to be young and idealistic and really want to teach, to work really hard and not be able to achieve a measure of success. School only works when students are reasonably cooperative – when they are at least willing to sit down and give the teacher a chance. I’m not sure why some principals have essentially given up trying to enforce the most basic rules of respect for other people – but some have told me that they are hamstrung by regulations imposed by ODE or even the state legislature. Someone on the commission needs to make it a point to speak with administrators about what tools they have (or don’t have) to deal with disruptive students. I noticed that so far, the schools on the list to be visited are all “good” schools. There is value in that – if all you knew was what you read in the Dispatch, you might not know that Columbus even has any “good” schools. BUT – Please, please – send some members to the “bad” schools as well – the ones with the biggest issues, where essentially NO education is happening to speak of. And please, don’t let the principal just give you the “guided tour,” where you will see only the best behaved classes. It is an unfortunate truth that when confronted with anyone from “downtown,” school personnel try to put the best possible face on things, even when they should be shouting, we are in trouble and we need help! They do this because they care about their kids, and they don’t want visitors to think badly of them, and because they have long experience of people in power blaming them for problems they can’t solve – like, for example, getting kids to school in the first place. There are many wonderful people in Columbus schools – please figure out a way to support them. We must recognize that students have to be invested in their own education.

    • Well said!! I couldn’t have said it better myself! I agree completely with the issue of discipline. So many of our students that come to us have been kicked out of charter schools because of the lack of respect and discipline. The parents are not held accountable and everyone is looking at us to change the world. Why can’t we get students reading at grade level? Because they are either being moved around, their home life is interfering with their studies and their parents are not supportive. Can you show me where a child who has no developmental delays or special needs and has supportive parents is failing in school? They are definitely rare. I work with some of the best teachers who work their butts off everyday just to try to keep the attention of their students. How do you keep the attention of a student who is worried about where he or she will get their next meal or worried about getting sleep without having their homes shot up by gunfire? I know I am preaching to the choir but I feel that the city and the state needs to stop blaming and try to solve the problem of their communities and work with us on teaching America’s youth!

  14. In March 2012, I moved my family to Columbus for an employment opportunity and I have be thoroughly disappointed that my children are in this district. My children attend Centennial, Ridgeview and Winterset. If these are the “cream of the crop” schools no wonder the CCS district is in trouble. I recently found out that my son has been “allowed” to sleep through his Math class that he is failing. The teacher’s excuse is that they cannot physically touch a student but what is stopping her from giving him a detention? What rule was stopping her from calling or emailing me?? I informed this teacher in the beginning of the school year that Math was the subject my son struggled with the most. His sleeping is a direct result of his frustration. My suggestion is to NOTIFY the parents, inform the School Counselor and/or Principal and at the very least have the school resource officer wake the kid up. Better yet, TALK to him/her. I know that his failing grades are his own fault, but to not be communicated with until it is too late is very frustrating especially when the school he came from had over 3000 students and the communication between teachers/parents was far better.

    Since the online tool that was supposed to be implemented in the beginning of the school year. Why not REQUIRE that all schools/teachers use ENGRADE? Only one of my son’s teachers use it and it is a great tool.

    My youngest son attends Winterset. I would like to suggest that the schools send out notifications of who the teacher will be for the student and a supply list early enough so that parents can take advantage of the back to school sales. This also gets the kids excited about going back to school. If mailing or emailing this information out is an issue then at the very least post it on the school’s website.

  15. Stacie, I am very sorry that you’ve had this experience – there really seems to be no excuse. Of course you should have been contacted, but what kind of nonsense is it to have a rule that a “teacher can’t physically touch a student? Rule or no rule, if that were my classroom, I’d have been gently shaking his shoulder and waking him up! The people on this commission really have their work cut out for them.

    • That was my point exactly!

      My newest annoyance with CPS is that I have requested that my son be REQUIRED to attend tutoring and notify me and/or give him a detention for not attending. Again, I am told that they are not allowed to do that since tutoring is voluntary. What happened to following what the parent is requesting?

      It appears that CPS does a lot of “talking” about communication and success but when it comes down to it, all I see is excuses!

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  17. Well, what ever happened to schools being able to REQUIRE students to do anything – even stay awake in class? School administrators tell me that there are too many “rules” prohibiting them from doing their jobs – I don’t know if that’s another excuse, or if this idiocy is coming from the Board or Ed. or ODE or where – but the mayor’s commission needs to find out, and put a stop to it – we have enough trouble with parents who don’t seem to WANT the school to enforce any discipline for their kids – when there is an involved, concerned parent like you, it seems just ridiculous for the school to be unwilling to work with you.

  18. Great Teachers produce great students! Have a higher standard for teachers that care deeply for students and not curriculum and have a desire to inspire them to dream, set goals, and excel in the classroom. Students can get experience in this by teachers making themselves readily available through phone, email, and meetings to offer help on assignments and setting up support peer study groups to assure the students are learning the material.

  19. Make a great Investment in training teachers. Provide a way for teachers to participate in trainings in order to prepare them to know how to discover and teach to the student’s true aspirations and not to pass assessment tests. We must change to purpose of school to inspire the mind of a child from passing tests to receive funding.

  20. How about a return to “critical thinking” which promotes learning and moving away from the “teaching to the test” that we have been pushing b/c of NCLB for that last few years?

    • http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/09/a-warning-to-college-profs-from-a-high-school-teacher/

      Above is a link to an article on the dangers of teaching to the test…VERY Interesting to say the least

      “……the constructed responses are called “free response questions” and are graded by a rubric that is concerned primarily with content and, to a lesser degree, argument. If a student hits the points on the rubric, he or she gets the points for that rubric. There is no consideration of grammar or rhetoric, nor is credit given or a score reduced based on the format of the answer. A student who takes time to construct a clear topic sentence and a proper conclusion gets no credit for those words. Thus, a teacher might prepare the student to answer those questions in a format that is not good writing by any standard. If, as a teacher, you want your students to do their best, you have to have them practice what is effectively bad writing— no introduction, no conclusion, just hit the points of the rubric and provide the necessary factual support. Some critical thinking may be involved, at least, but the approach works against development of the kinds of writing that would be expected in a true college-level course in government and politics.”

  21. Prepare or invest in interactive tests that show what type of learning style each child has on the first day of school and periodically throughout the school year. Teachers will know which students learn by audio, print, visuals, interactively, or by hands-on kinesthetic expereiments. Students should have access to all learning styles that help them learn best to assure each child’s academic success.

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  23. I think it would benefit children greatly to continue with there friends in a feeder pattern from elementary on up, unless they chose to leave. I feel it works against children to tear them away from the peer support when in Middle or High school after they have established strong ties to other children that they have known from kindergarten on up. I know how hard it was for several of my daughter’s elementary friends who did not get lotteried into Ridgeview and they have had to start over. It makes more sense to me to keep children together rather than tell them that their future is determined by a lottery which is out of their control.
    When we moved here in 2004 from Northwest Ohio I remember seeing pamphlets in several places urging parents to keep students in one school. Yet, it always baffled me how CPS would move the administrators, mainly principals, around so much, which did not foster building a community. They need to have time to understand the community they are now serving, time to build a solid foundation with the staff in that building, trust & respect with the parents and other members in the community. CPS also needs to work at fitting principals to the area that they will serve. Principals need to understand before going in what the traditions, expectations of the community & parents before they come in and begin making changes. Change needs to make sense and not for the sake of change.

    • I absolutely agree with you Mrs. Wolfe!! I have experienced a student being removed from their feeder pattern first hand. The results were horrific for that student. I am happy to say that he was reunited with his feeder of choice but will never forget his year away. Thanks for joining the conversation. I think I appreciate that you noticed that dynamic affect on our students.

      Lolita Augenstein

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  25. I am a parent who is very disappointed with the poor education children in Columbus have been receiving over the past decade or more. While I have completed the mail-in postcards, I am sending this in the hopes that my suggestions will be favorably considered.

    . Peace Training for all students, K through 12
    . Problem-solving training for teachers and students
    . Mandatory Diversity Training for all Teachers (bi-annually)
    . Performance Bonus Incentives for Teachers
    . Cursive Teaching Returned to elementary curriculums
    . Comparative Religion Taught, K through 12
    . Mandatory Physical Fitness for Healthy Students
    . Safety and Security Training for Teachers (bi-annually)
    . Vocational and Entrepreneurial Training added to high school curriculum
    . Create incentives for parental participation
    . Create incentives for senior and community participation
    . Mandatory Foreign Language added to elementary and middle school curriculum
    . African History taught from the 1400s to middle and high school students
    . Global World History added to middle and high school curriculum
    . World Civil and Human Rights History added to curriculum
    . “PEACE” TRAINING FOR ALL STUDENTS K-12

  26. As the immediate past President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, I applaud the Mayor for driving the initiative to improve our schools. Our kids are our future and we need to ensure they receive the best education they possibly can to be able to compete locally and globally. As part of a total education evaluation and future plan, I would urge the Commission to study and include the many benefits of strong well run After School programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and the benefits and re-enforcement that can be gained with a collaborative effort between CPS and After School programming (The Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus).

    Thanks for the work you are doing to give the kids every opportunity to succeed.

    Randy Randolph

  27. Eliminate the union! The fact that the union vs. best practice drives education is ruining our schools and robbing our children of a quality education!

  28. The Stem Academy should be moved or a second high school designated in a safer neighborhood. I would not send a child to Linden, the neighborhood is not safe.

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  30. My recommendations for improving the columbus public schools are as follows:
    * Revisit the role of the teachers union and make the neccessary revisions making it easier to fire incompotent and ineffective teachers.
    * Do whatever necessary to increase number of black male teachers in k-6. Passing a standardized test does not autmatically make you a good teacher. If you know that a higher percentage of People of color do not pass the Praxis test then we need to revise the test or throw it out. It is common knowledge in academia that Black people fail the test at a much higher rate than any other group so let’s not use this as an excuse.
    * Extend the school year with two weeks off during the summer. Extend the school day until 3:30PM and mandatory school uniforms.
    * Revise the school curriculum and include factual world history that is real African History, Native American History. There are several states practicing this already.
    * Reduce the number of District administrators to cut cost.
    * Revert back to neighborhood schools and ensure all schools are top quality, i/e. course offerings, textbooks, technology capabilities, clean facilities, etc.

    It is my sincere hope that this commission is legitimate and is about the business of overhauling the public school system here in columbus. Almost forgot you must engage the local colleges and universities to convince them to upgrade their teacher training programs. Thank you.

  31. I believe this panel should extensively study U.S. schools and countries that are succeeding in education and build a cohesive model to fit the challenges that face our students. How are countries like India, Sweden, China or Canada leading the way in education? How are charter schools such as the Harlem Zone educating children in spite of the the barriers that poverty presents? These questions and more can shape a new model that addresses all types of learners and ensures productive adults leading Ohio and our nation into a 21st century global economy.

    Our dropout rates (nationwide) reflect the the disconnect between our current educational model and its relevancy to young adults. The existing model only rewards a small percentage of learners. Each time a student drops out, Columbus and our nation loses untapped potential while creating a low wage earner. Columbus has the opportunity to develop and lead the way with small classroom sizes, innovative curriculums, early childhood education, longer class days and school buildings that provide wrap around services: i.e. dental, mental health services, GED classes, doctors, social workers; for both our students and their families. These interventions will allow teachers to do the job they were hired to do in an environment conducive to learning.

    • The Harlem Children’s Zone works for many reasons. Here are a couple: they educate parents to be in their Baby College program, have all day pre-k from 8-6 with a 4:1 ratio of students to teachers, they offer recreational activities after school like karate, dance and fitness, they have a single shop program to help families and communities where workers offer advice about securing public benefits, access to legal guidance, financial advice, debt relief counseling and domestic crisis resolution free of charge. They have the money to provide their families with these kinds of wonderful support and programs. CCS just doesn’t have the funds to do so. It would be great and I guarantee we would see our students succeed if we could implement this in the Linden area!

  32. Early Intervention is key to meeting the mandates of The Third Grade Reading Guarantee. CCS has a scientifically research based intervention, Reading Recovery, in place at nine schools. There needs to be discussion on expanding this intervention. Please go to readingrecoveryworks.org to see the results of the twenty plus years of data that has been collected.

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  34. There is a need to update the computer system and computers in the district. As well provide ALL teachers access and can have computers to support the student’s education. I am an elementary PE teacher and have been asking for years for just 1 computer to do my work on and to show the students of examples of how they can get online and improve their own fitness levels and many other programs that would be beneficial to them. I still have no computer.
    The computers in the library that the students use or that teachers can use, take almost 15-17 minutes to get online. You have to literally go through 5 pages to get to word processor. There is no real wireless, uneven though they tell us “parts” of the school are wireless. You can stand in the library in exactly the right spot on certain days and you “might” be able to get online. But this is never a given.
    You want the schools to operate and be successful like a business, then you need equip teh teachers with the supplies need, like you would any employee in a business.

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  36. I am both a Pre-Kindergarten teacher for CCS and a parent of a first grader who attends Clinton Elementary School in Columbus City Schools. I work in a lower performing school on the city’s east side. I been in my building for 7 years. My students have really succeeded from our pre-kindergarten program. Pre-K helps provide my students with the skills that they have not learned at home-like writing their names, their ABC’s, their numbers, etc. Currently we are working on kindergarten skills like letter writing, decomposing numbers, composting and garden growth. The problem is that because pre-k is not offered in many of our schools parents enroll their children and then the next year take them out due to the community and discipline of the students in the upper grades. We have a lot of transition within our families. The families who have stayed over the years have allowed us to build relationships with them and their children. Those children that have began pre-k or k with us and graduated from 6th grade are extremely hard workers and have strong skills that will help them succeed in middle and high school. The students that have transitioned to us are usually because they have been kicked out of charters or other CCS schools. We take their home life into consideration and try to get them the help they need to succeed but when you don’t have the support or parent accountability it doesn’t work.
    I totally agree with the new teacher evaluation system and that teachers need to be held accountable-knowing where each and every student is academically and developmentally but I think that there needs to be more parent accountability! Parents need to understand that they need to be responsible and help their children through school. They need to teach their children respect and peace. Our students are always fighting and so concerned with others that they can’t focus on themselves.
    My daughters school-Clinton Elementary has WONDERFUL teachers and we as parents help support the learning both at home and at school! Parents are constantly volunteering their time to help the teachers at Clinton.
    What the mayor needs to focus on is creating better communities. When we have better communities with parents who support and teach their children life values and morals and work together with teachers then all will be in balance!

  37. As a Columbus City School Teacher, I would like to recommend the following:
    • Provide equitable economic support for the purchase of technological equipment ( SMART boards, personal amplification systems (microphones), computers for computer labs that teachers do not have to reserve 3 weeks in advance, LCD projectors, ELMOs, etc.) to each school in the CCS. Some schools have these resources; some don’t
    • Stop allowing schools to purchase large “packaged” curriculum programs (LACES reading program, etc.) that are not supported by extensive research.
    • Stop allowing school systems to suddenly abandon programs that have not succeeded in 3 years’ time. Initiatives need more time to show if they are successful or not.
    • Also, please investigate new educational programs that are really recycled programs from years before. Remember Total Quality Management? Many characteristics of FIP (Formative Instructional Practice) and Mastery Learning are suspiciously similar. I have been a CCS faculty member for 25 years and have been retrained numerous times for the same initiatives that were/ are recycled and renamed programs from 15 years ago. The professional development costs alone constitute an enormous amount of money. It would be better to stick with one initiative for a while.
    • Provide individual schools with a greater number of BUILDING ADMINISTRATORS. CCS is too large. There are too many places to hide incompetence and malfeasance. The bureaucracy is cumbersome. There are too many downtown administrators who have not personally worked with children in many years. We tried Site Based Management (briefly) years ago, and one of our outside consultants maintained that this initiative would never work with so many system- wide layers of administration. We need more BUILDING ADMINISTRATORS and less “middle management” administration.
    • Equitably distribute funds for improvements made to the individual school buildings themselves. Our school was designed for air conditioning but it was never installed. My room was 94° for several weeks last year in the spring and this year in the fall (actual thermometer reading!) My windows are 3x 3 feet square and near the floor. They open onto a stone roof.
    • Institute a Discipline School. Years ago our union negotiated for a Discipline School, and this request was approved. The plan for it never came to fruition. The system-wide discipline measures (PBIS, I-Pass, etc.) that are currently in place are ineffective. Some schools have received students who have been previously “expelled” for very serious offenses from 4 different schools within our system. The amount of time spent on disruptive behavior within the classroom is incalculable.
    • Equally support programs that are not national initiatives (e.g. STEM) but are equally valuable for the development of employment skills (literacy, foreign language fluency, public speaking, interpersonal skills, etc.). The local business community could help in this case. We need more than periodic volunteer tutoring (which we do appreciate, incidentally). Our students need to see and come to appreciate the expectations regarding behaviors and standards common to a professional environment. Business internships would be most helpful here. Please visit the schools more frequently.
    • Hold local charter schools to exactly the same standards as the public schools. Publish their statistics more openly. Some of their retention rates are not very high, and this affects the distribution of tax-dollars.

    • This teacher makes many great points! This is worth reading. I think the district needs to be re-named and broken up into 3 or 4 smaller districts. Get rid of the bureaucracy and have a brand that sells. (See my complete post below).

    • Teachers or Administrators should never be permitted to determine if a child should be moved out of a building. The “disruption” should be dealt woth in the building with an emphasis of bringing the child bavk into the fold. When we send our children to school we expect every child to be educated. exclusion sets the child and society up for failurr. What we need are teachers who will trach every child, as they come.

  38. Pingback: What we learned: March 6 | Reimagine Columbus Education

  39. I just read in a newsletter from my oldest child’s school that the first step taken when a child fails to follow the rules is the loss of recess. I think this should be against school policy since many children in elementary schools are not cognitively developed enough to follow every rule every time, and those who are unable to sit still or constantly be effective listeners are more likely to need that kind of physical activety to “burn off” that excess energy to allow them to be more focused in the classroom. Taking away their recess will just make the problem worse.

  40. I believe Columbus Schools should become the model for future classrooms. On a grand scale, engage Columbus businesses to participate in partnerships for technology. Beginning with kindergarten, introduce classroom desks or workstations that include PCs, laptops, ipads as their learning tools. Almost every young child is familiar with a smartphone, and plays games on them. Why not continue their learning electronically? I understand that the program would have to start small, but we have to start to educate our children differently. Engage them in two way and peer teaching. Browsing the internet is teaching our children many problem solving skills, and finding the answers using their resources instead of relying on their teacher is a life changing coping skill. I realize that some schools have PCs etc. However, I am suggesting an entire classroom that operates using these electronic tools…no paper tests. Look up answers online. Instead of raising hand..IM teacher ! Draw and color online.. Expand games for learning..I believe OSU created a football game for students? Be Bold and Be A Game Changer !

  41. The issues at Columbus city schools are universal we need a model of education that is simple and able to be recreated at all schools in general in order to fix issues across the city and not at any single location.

    1. Block scheduling at middle and high school. 4 classes per day each 90 minutes long scheduled as semesters (2 quarters) just like college. Students now take 8 classes a year 4 core, 4 elective.

    2. Open summer school not just to kids who fail a class but also to kids who want to work ahead for either early graduation or just to keep sharp.

    3. There needs to be a required OGT Class to guarantee students pass the test and can graduate in the first place.

    4. Students who are a distraction/fail to control themselves need to be removed from general student population and placed in separate glasses with desk with patricians in-between to prevent distraction from neighbors, and needs both a teacher and a assistant to unsure student focus. Note this is not putting kids in a closet only able to see the teacher they are normal desks just reducing distraction same classroom setting

    5. Text books need to be made digital, possible in house, by teachers and geared to a universal curriculum, every class in the city should be teaching the same book and same guidelines so if a student relocates its the same material that they came from. Books should be printed from a PDF not bought bound. Save the district thousands of dollars.

    6. Teachers with high success rates and schools with high graduation rate need to teach other Teachers. We need best practices shared among each other.

    7. Multimedia experience; Website with class lectures available to watch to cover missed material or for mathematics alternative ways to arrive at the same conclusion (ex.FOIL works for binomial and binomial, but not binomial and trinominal so why start with faulty memorization). Online sample test and quizzes in covered subjects. Eventually work hand in hand with online school and allow students take courses online back and forth as necessary, a plus for working students which do exist and an excellent preparation for online college classes. If a school does not offer a class ie. a foreign language, students can go to a computer classroom and take the course online during their class period be graded, take test, and receive credit.

    8. Parents need to be informed, we cannot guarantee involvement by all or any parents especially those students who most need it but weekly emails or letters letting parents know what projects are going to be due, when and grades that have been completed and current grade in the class.

    • David –
      Thank you for your thoughtful contributions. We did try block scheduling in several Columbus schools for a number of years – I believe that teachers in those schools would say there were advantages and disadvantages, but over all, it didn’t seem to make any difference in student achievement. I’m afraid the problems in our schools cannot be fixed by changing the schedule.
      Also, every school I ever worked in made serious efforts to keeps parents informed, and the advent of email gave us new ways to keep in touch – I assume that commitment hasn’t changed, but if parents are feeling a lack of communication, that certainly needs to be addressed.
      You are certainly correct that we need better ways to deal with disruptive students than suspending them – many students who are discipline problems are not doing well in their classes, and suspending them just puts them further behind (although it does, perhaps, have the benefit of allowing the teacher to deal more effectively with the rest of the class). If we would stop passing kids until they had mastered necessary material, and required tutoring for students who aren’t making the grade, I believe we would have higher student achievement and fewer discipline problems all at once – the two issues are not unrelated – in my experience at least, students who are doing well in a class are seldom disruptive.

      • Thank you for your response,
        I actually went to a out of state High School with a block schedule. it was actually a preemptive measure in case the student population forced morning and afternoon sessions which did come to pass soon after I graduated, the 8 class year increased the graduation/early graduation rate. I have discovered that kids with high success rates are often just as disruptive due to their ability to surpass the material as those who can’t keep up.

        In all reality we need very detailed statistics following every student in the school system and the schools and classes with as much detail as possible as well as any individual programs so we can very accurately tell what is working and identify any trends. A detailed spread sheet, Mini Tab, and a statistician/political scientist could provide us with a wealth of useful information. I prefer to avoid educational Darwinism.

      • I had a thought concerning punishment/discipline. Suspending students is not the best thing period. So maybe a multilayer approach.

        1. Detention.
        2. Students who detention fails to be a proper deterrent need to be removed from general student population and placed in separate glasses with desk with patricians in-between to prevent distraction from neighbors, and needs both a teacher and a assistant to unsure student focus. Note this is not putting kids in a closet only able to see the teacher they are normal desks just reducing distraction same classroom setting.
        3. In school suspension: room, no speaking, assignments from missed classes and a teacher for questions.
        4. Suspension.
        5. Alternate learning environment; other school for children w/emotional or behavioral problems or online school.

        Adopt a mantra from private schools, students don’t have to go here and we are in the business of teaching, not baby sitting.

        Alternative schools, I have seen a completely Army JROTC high school excellent for children who like very structured learning situations both troubled and high achieving students do well. We could have this as half a school and another wing as a school for students with emotional and behavioral issues.

        Students who have no emotional issues and can’t handle normal school, JROTC, need to have a sit down and given some perspective about the rest of their life.

        A trade school would be nice to see offering certification in automotive, hvac, electrician, plumbing, and medical (gxmo, stna,phlebotomy, etc) available to high school Jr’s who have passed the OGT have recommendations from sophomore teachers and a clean behavior history may apply to the trade school.

        Another thing, I was once told and I have found it to be true between the grades of 1 to 5 children learn to read, from that point on they spend the rest of their lives reading to learn. No child should be allowed to pass the fifth grade without being able to read.

  42. More chances needed for high school students to take college classes and earn 2 year college degrees while in high school!

    Also troubled teens or bullies need to be placed in special classes to learn empathy.

  43. I find it interesting that I don’t see any comments on this site about a possibility that has been discussed in the newspaper – that the Commission might recommend doing away with the elected school board, in favor of some other form of management. One of my complaints, early on, was that schools in this country are run by people who are not educators (i.e., the school board), while doctors make rules for the medical profession, lawyers for the legal profession, corporations are run by businessmen, etc. On the other hand – in education we are dealing with people’s children, and an elected board does give parents some opportunity for serious input, and I suspect the public would be loathe to give up their right to vote for board members. On the other hand (yes, I know that’s three hands!) my experience in schools leads me to believe that school administrators would be sensitive to parental concerns, with or without a board…not least because levies and bond issues would still be voted on by the general public. Even though I taught in the public system for 30 years, it was never very clear to me how the balance of power between the board and the superintendent actually worked…could someone offer some intelligent input about this?

  44. Well, you make an important point – while many of us worry about the most problematic students, it’s true that teachers often spend so much time dealing with the”worst” kids that our better students get overlooked – and bored kids are apt to cause problems, at either end of the achievement spectrum. I think we are badly in need of more relevant curriculum to engage more students, especially the non-college bound, and also tracking, or ability grouping – although that’s a very unpopular concept with the academic community – by which I mean, colleges of education. I think there is a meaningful and useful place in society for every student, and we need to provide curriculum for all the myriad of possibilities – from skilled trades to rocket scientists.

  45. Columbus should implement Magnet Schools. Nashville, TN has a great magnet school program that I was fortunate enough to participate in. A lottery got me into the academic middle school initially, and I had to keep my grades up to continue on to the academic high school. There were also schools for literature, math/science, and the arts.

  46. Columbus Public Schools’ biggest problem (that impacts the city’s growth and makes people exit the city when they have children) is a BRANDING PROBLEM (I think most inner city schools have this same issue). There is a stigma associated with the large city school–and the name of the school district must change. That’s why real estate agents highlight “Worthington Schools” or “Westerville Schools” in their listings. The only way to get away from that stigma is to break up the district into 3 or 4 new smaller districts with NEW NAMES. Ex. Columbus Public Schools becomes… “Excellence Schools” and “Achievement Schools” and “Dynamic Schools”. Or break it up and find new leaders (so it won’t be so big and unruly to manage too) and give the new districts a happy brand such as “Sunnyview Schools” and “Morningside Schools” and “Great Day Schools”. Anything but the name “Columbus Public Schools” will work better than what we have now.

    Also, there should be personalized education plans for each student based on WHO they are and WHAT they want to do and HOW they learn the very best. If they like cooking or baseball or art, their education is geared around their own learning styles and interests. There is a way to work math into those interests. In health care there is a focused on “person-centered care” and “culture change”. That same idea needs to come to education now.

    Columbus should also consider partnering with Teach for America — an excellent program that I’ve heard brings dynamic teachers to the classroom. They shake things up because of the special training they go through.

  47. Does the school district offer summer camps to teach computer programming, robotics, advanced math, etc.? The only courses I have found for my 9th grade son are offered at Ohio State for $800+ for a week. Maybe these “extras” can’t be offered during the school year, but how about in the summer for $100 a week with public/private partnerships funding it. But you have to have the right educators ready to teach young people so…..
    Check out the “Digital Harbor Foundation” in Baltimore. In January, they turned an inner-city “rec center” into the TECH center and they are teaching kids how to use technology and how to become “makers” and creators! So summer programming at the city rec centers could go to a whole new level to help with education. Great example… http://www.digitalharborfoundation.org/

  48. I attended CCS K through 12 and have taught in the district for more than 15 years. I teach K and absolutely love what I do!!! However, the district really needs to reduce class size in K, 1st, and 2nd across the district. I’ve never had fewer than 25 students in my classroom and have had the maximum of 29 students many times. Our children enter school with a variety of skills, but generally are not prepared. Adding preschool is helpful, but I need fewer students, so I can really tailor my teaching to individuals and small groups. I see much waste throughout the district, such as too many administrators at 270 E State St. We need to put our focus back in the classroom and not on creating job titles for people. I felt like I couldn’t even sign my name to this for fear of retaliation from the higher-ups.

  49. As a retired educator who has always had a heart for at-risk children, I am passing along my dream for VERY early intervention to break the pattern of poverty parents waiting until their children enter formal education before their children are introduced to education. It is often TOO late when children of poverty reach preschool or school to impact them. They are already far behind because their single parent/parents don’t realize how critical their first years are, when their brains are like sponges. Both parents and children can learn positive things to break the unsuccessful parenting patterns of generations of poverty. An example would be if YOU were never read to as a child, then how can we expect you to know to read to YOUR child from the time they are newborns (as high socio-economic parents automatically do). We need to re-educate new parents so learning starts at birth.
    When children are born in Columbus hospitals, they are sent home with a package of freebees – diaper coupons, sample formula, etc., plus a letter from the mayor welcoming a new citizen. BUT how about if we included a GRAPHIC novelette that would teach parents how to be good parents? It could be called “My Kid is the Smartest Kid on the Block”! It could teach through pictures and easy text how to talk to your baby/small child and to encourage them to learn by constantly talking to them (not by swearing at them, ignoring talking to them, or degrading them). The book could teach new parents such concepts as reading anything to them, going to the library, counting the number of steps as they climb steps or walk from one place to another, singing an ABC song (include a DVD of learning letters and sounds songs), counting 1 to 1 items each time they eat cereal pieces or have pennies. (How about 2 pennies and 3 pennies make 5 pennies?) The names of coins and their value? Looking at a clock? There are so many early childhood organizations that could be tapped for ideas and possible funding – OSU, Early Childhood league, ANY early education organization, etc.. Involve Columbus College of Art and Design to create the graphics – maybe with a contest! This would go home with EVERY PARENT who has a child in our hospitals, no matter the socio-economic of the parent. I hope someone takes this idea and runs with it so that NO baby born in Columbus goes home without a chance to be the smartest kid on their block!

  50. I would like to propose using a dynamic assessment such as NWEA with mapping across the district, replacing many of the other types of testing being conducted. Since this is an assessment of student growth, teachers are easily able to make instructional decisions and track the achievement of students. The resources and specific data that are offered to teachers within a couple of days is extremely useful in targeting individual student needs. Implementing this testing program, which students take up to 3 times a year, would be incredibly valuable for our gifted students who often exceed the low ceilings of the other assessments currently used across the district. It would also replace many of the individual tests that are taking up so much instructional time in the classroom. In addition, it would familiarize students with taking assessments on the computer as opposed to the pen and paper. I have had much experience with this assessment program and found it unmatched in the information it provides students, teachers, parents, and administration.

  51. There is absolutely no way that I am voting for a schools referendum that funds charter schools.
    I will make sure that I remind all my friends and acquaintances of the enormous corporate gift that this funding package includes.
    This will be the first time ever in my voting life here in Ohio, that I have voted against a school levee, but this isn’t quite a Public schools levee, is it.

  52. I don’t think that CPS’s issue is strictly a branding issue. It is a competency issue. I have been in CPS since March 2012 and I have experienced enough aggravation and frustration to determine that I will get the hell out of this district ASAP!!

  53. Has anyone looked into STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education? My son is currently a student at Metro Early College High School, which is completely focused on STEM. Since those are the ares in which our children are lacking; being 47th in the world as far as education goes, shouldn’t we try the alternative? Are young black males in particular are suffering by leaps and bounds. I see too many of them dropping out of school to provide for their families by standing on corners. Let’s keep it real, Mayor Coleman, I realize that you have good intentions, but let’s see some real action. My son was an IEP student that was swept under the rug until the 8th grade. He was told that he could only read at a 5th grade level by then and now he is carrying a 3.0 GPA. He was told that he had reached a plateau and would never be able to excel. Thankfully, I am a steadfast parent who has the wherewithal to advocate for my children. Unfortunately, that is not the case always in the lower SES neighborhoods in which Columbus Public mostly serves. Let’s get aggressive, progressive, and staunch in our efforts to lower the statistics of ignorance in our communities, and schools. Let’s stop spending dollars on beautifying downtown for the upper 1%’rs of Columbus, and give our kids a fighting chance. After all the kids are the ones that we are all going to depend on when we can’t do it anymore. Are we really comfortable with that, knowing that we are failing them not only for our futures but theirs as well?

  54. I live in the Clintonville neighborhood. The CCS Board recently voted to demolish the Annex building at 10 Clinton Hts. Built in 1904, the Annex building has served as a school all of its life. Several years ago, Clinton Elementary was renovated. At that time, the public was told that there was no funds to renovate or demo the Annex. The renovation of the main building was completed. The newly renovated building was to host a Pre-K and grades K-5. At present, the renovated building is beyond capacity with NO Pre-K, four K classrooms, and 3 first grade classrooms. As more young families find Clintonville to be an attractive alternative to the suburbs, we can assume the population will grow. In the past, we would have handled the ebbs and flows of student population via the Annex. If we allow the Annex to be demo’d, we won’t have that option and will face mobile units or redistricting. Neither is desirable. How do we preserve this building until we know better how we will handle the overall needs of this area. Could this building serve the 4 and 5 grades while the other building houses Pre-k to 3? Could this building be Pre-K to all the other elementary schools in the area? Could this building be a focused “center” for gifted studies.

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