Teacher leaning over showing something to small child

Columbus City Schools has had its share of issues and most local media love to kick our city schools while they’re down.

Recently, our region’s conservative radio station 610 WTVN and its most prominent local personality, Joel Riley, criticized Columbus City School teachers about how many sick days they take. He repeatedly cited recent research by Ohio State professor Vlad Kogan who found on average, each city school teacher took 14 sick days per school year.

So, who exactly is Vlad Kogan? He’s a father of two children who attend Columbus City Schools and he regularly shows up to school board meetings.

He’s a professor, as mentioned, but he’s also a researcher for The Education Governance & Accountability Project at OSU, something he doesn’t reveal to local media when presenting unflattering data about city school teachers.

The Education Governance & Accountability Project is funded with a $630,000 grant from the Chicago-based Spencer Foundation, which is committed to supporting high-quality investigation of education through its research programs.

The Spencer Foundation claims to be bi-partisan, but a closer examination suggests otherwise. For starters, it has funded studies such as “Marginalized on Campus? A Study of Conservative Students on Two Notoriously Liberal Universities.”

It has also funded Adam Laats’ book “Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education”. Adam Laats’ personal website by the way is weirdly titled “I love you but you’re going to Hell.”

The Spencer Foundation has in the past also said this about charter schools: “There is very little evidence that charter and traditional public schools differ meaningfully in their average impact on students’ standardized test performance.”

That’s news to many of us here in Columbus, still stinging from the utter failure that was ECOT, because we’re familiar with a lot of national data showing charter schools in comparison to public schools actually do worse.

For instance, Stanford University found “students in Ohio charter schools perform worse in both reading and mathematics.” We also know some Ohio charter schools steal from Ohio taxpayers as ECOT did to the tune of $200 million, according to the thinktank Innovation Ohio.

Vlad Kogan, who teaches two classes a semester at OSU not including summers, told the Free Press the Spencer Foundation has paid him $10,000 per year for the previous three years.

“I have no idea whether the Spencer Foundation is pro charter school,” says Kogan. “They don’t have a huge influence on the research I do.”

As many are painfully aware, Columbus City Schools and 16 Franklin County charter schools received an overall grade of F for the 2017-2018 school year from the Ohio Board of Education. If Columbus City Schools receive two more F’s a state-appointed CEO will take over, as has happened in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland.

The CEO takeover was born out of House Bill 70 passed in 2015, also known as “The Youngstown Plan”. A plan and law spearheaded by former OSU football coach Jim Tressel and Gov. John Kasich’s office.

A lawsuit filed by Youngstown city schools is now before the Ohio Supreme Court contending the legislation was crafted in secret without the necessary scrutiny of state lawmakers.

What everyone knows is that former Gov. Kasich is a privatization zealot who believes teachers should be paid $9-an-hour without benefits. Any state appointed CEO under “The Youngstown Plan” or House Bill 70 has the power to change city schools to charter schools.

“I don’t have to tell anyone that there’s a whole move to privatize public education. There are people who hate public schools,” says Carol Burris, executive director for Network for Public Education in New York City. “The Kasich’s, the Betsy Devos’s, the Republican right. They don’t like what they teach and they think the teachers are bunch of liberals. Even though nationally teachers are split between Democrat party and the Republican party.”

Burris says don’t forget these same union-hating right wingers receive a lot of money from Wall Street. “Wall Street loves charter schools. Hedge fund managers love charter schools.”

Burris believes this about hedge fund managers who are drooling for more for-profit charter schools: “At the heart of their beliefs most brown and black children are just not worth it.”

The Columbus Education Association (CEA) union represents 4,300 city school teachers who are dealing with an increasing number of state mandates demanding more testing and more paperwork. CEA president John Congelio says the solution isn’t more testing because the more we test the less we teach.

“When we go into testing season [starting this month] everything shuts down. School libraries shut down. Computer labs shut down. I heard this quote recently, ‘You keep wanting me to weigh the cow, but you never want me to feed it,’” says Congelio. “Every day the pressure is on us. The teachers are concerned about the state report card and they want their kids to do well, and the solution isn’t more testing.”

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