School labels fail common sense test

Published 9:25 am Thursday, March 21, 2013

The problem with labels is they rarely tell the whole story. In the case of the Ohio Department of Education’s newest label, the story of school performance has become muddled.

This past week, the state unveiled its new label, “persistently poorly performing,” and applied it liberally to school buildings across the state. …

The state’s rationale for this is it’s going to a more stringent set of rules when it comes to grading school districts. In some ways, that’s good ‚Äî our standards should continue to get higher. But the new label isn’t based on new standards; rather, it rearranges a few scores on individual parts of the state report card in the past several years and ranks them accordingly. This is information school districts already have and, in many cases, already have been penalized for on past report cards. Why, then, did it need to be created again?

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The existing system is confusing enough. Districts can be considered excellent one year, improve upon test scores and fall to “effective” the next year if one standard, adequate yearly progress, isn’t met. How does that make sense? …

It’s time to settle on standards, stop changing targets, and quit worrying about what labels can be applied to schools, retroactively or otherwise.

The Lancaster Eagle Gazette


Time for state to cleanup flaws in open records laws

At every level of government, secrecy – sometimes, seemingly, solely for its own sake – often is the watchword of public officials. That is why states and the federal government have open meetings and records law – to ensure the public is not shut out of its own business.

Too often, however, freedom of information laws are enacted and forgotten, except by those intent on circumventing the statutes’ intent. That seems to have been the situation in Ohio.

An open records law was enacted in Columbus in 1963, and it was very straightforward. Only one type of information, that contained in medical records, was exempted from mandatory disclosure rules.

But in the half-century since then, the closed government crowd has brought the ceiling down on Ohio’s open records law. Since 1963, legislators have approved 29 different categories of documents that do not have to be released to the public. That is just in the open records statute itself.

Elsewhere in state code, nearly 400 more exemptions to the open records rule have been put in place.

Thoughtful Buckeye State residents should be telling their legislators they want a review – and a housecleaning – of the open records law.

Warren Tribune Chronicle