The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 27, 2013

Kasich schools bill could bear key reformers’ marks


COLUMBUS — MICHELLE RHEE: Increasing parental control.

Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Rhee is an aggressive reformer whose latest advocacy venture, StudentsFirst, has identified Ohio as a key battleground for its 37 policy goals. The group has fought tenure and “last in, first out” seniority systems for teachers, and promotes handing greater control over school dollars to parents.

Rhee told The Associated Press her group wants to see Kasich’s bill include a weighted funding formula that takes into account the challenge, and presumably expense, of educating certain subsets of kids. That could take the shape of an expanded voucher program for students in low-performing schools, making funding less “overly bureaucratic” and more flexible. However, Rhee has withheld her support from the idea of providing a funding that follows every child.

Rhee said StudentsFirst is also advocating more public reporting — including for-profit charter schools — on what schools spend, as a way of reining in waste.

MARGUERITE ROZA: Money that follows the student.

Roza is director of the fiscal analytics unit at Georgetown University, and a fellow with the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Roza focuses her research on the classroom impacts of particular federal, state and district fiscal policies and, on the flip side, on the effects different education policies can have on school budgets and spending.

In hiring her for as a senior data and economic adviser in 2010, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “Her calculations of dollar implications and cost equivalent trade-offs have prompted changes in education finance policy at all levels in the education system.”

Roza’s work has focused on the idea that money for educating a student should follow them if they choose to leave a struggling public school for a different education option, say a public or for-profit charter school.

How much goes with the pupil has been a bone of contention with public school districts, which argue that certain overhead costs — such as buildings or buses — can’t be eliminated when students leave.

Roza has found that offering educational alternatives works best when those options are sufficiently funded.

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