The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 27, 2013

Kasich schools bill could bear key reformers’ marks

COLUMBUS — The education overhaul that Ohio Gov. John Kasich unveils this week is likely to bear the marks of several of America’s best-known — if not universally popular — school reformers.

Among big names whose ideas have stirred the Republican governor’s interest as he crafted the proposal are: education finance pioneer Eric Hanushek; former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee; the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s Marguerite Roza; and Google’s Sebastian Thrun, a digital education innovator.

While Kasich has remained close-mouthed on details of the legislation, he has signaled interest in some of the big ideas these individuals helped develop.

A look at their research areas may provide clues as to what Kasich’s education overhaul will look like. The bill marks the latest attempt by an Ohio governor to address an unconstitutional school funding system that the courts have said is overly reliant on property taxes.

ERIC HANUSHEK: Using student performance to measure teachers.

Hanushek, an author and research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is regarded as the father of education economics.

He has advanced a variety of seminal school-funding theories that Kasich’s plan is likely to embrace, including the outcome-based approach to measuring teacher effectiveness. This would be a departure from former Gov. Ted Strickland’s evidence-based model, which sought to define an adequate education and then fund its components.

Hanushek is credited with pioneering the concept of measuring teacher quality by the learning gains of students.

The idea is divisive and disliked particularly by teachers’ unions, whose members argue such an approach disregards demographic variations among students, in classrooms, at buildings and in districts.

Hanushek is a frequent expert witness in school funding lawsuits, including one in Texas this month. He says his research has proven that spending more on schools doesn’t necessarily improve student achievement.

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