Saturday, July 19, 2008


The STARK EDUCATION REPORT (The Report) has learned that some Stark County school officials are privately saying that The Repository's refusal to endorse the March, 2008 MRDD levy issue was the reason it lost and may cause huge economic damage to non-MRDD Stark County school districts.

The thinking among area school officials must be that if MRDD cannot get its financial house in-order, the financial burden will ultimately shift to each of the 17 Stark County school districts.

Costs for providing MRDD-like services are much more expensive than services that schools normally provide students in their respective communities.

The Report believes that the editors at The Rep were so focused on the MRDD financial picture, they did not see the elephant in the room - the potential adverse consequences that the MRDD levy defeat could have on the already financially strapped Stark County local school districts.

Although the school officials may be overstating the consequences of The Rep's failure to endorse (an 11,000 plus vote loss), theirs is a plausible assessment in a close election as this one was.

Just look at the defeats that Stark County school levies took in March. Can these districts afford to absorb the extraordinary costs of MRDD-esque services?

The Rep frequently admonishes others for being irresponsible in not looking at all the consequences of an action.

Question: Did The Rep Editorial Board act irresponsibly in not considering the probable adverse financial consequences of a MRDD levy defeat on the budgets of the 17 Stark County school districts?

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Retired Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge W. Don Reader, who is now president of the Stark Education Partnership, was a highlight of the Q&A session at Chancellor Eric Fingerhut's presentation of Ohio's "Strategic Plan for Higher Education (2008-2017).

Reader complained about the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) contradictory ways of doing business. On the one hand the ODE says, according to Reader, that a waiver of the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) can be requested by school districts. But on the other, ODE says - if asked for - it will be rejected.

As reported previously in these pages, the glaring weakness of the Fingerhut's presentation was that while questions were taken; answers would have to wait because Fingerhut had a prior commitment he needed to get to. What kind of planning is this?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT will be following up with Fingerhut on Reader's question.

Question: Do you agree or disagree with Reader? Should ACT results supplant the OGT as the measuring rod in Stark County school districts?

Friday, May 30, 2008


There were about eight questions posed to Ohio Board of Regents (OBR) Chancellor Eric Fingerhut at the Stark State College of Technology this morning.

Because the chancellor was scheduled to be elsewhere later in the day, Fingerhut took one question after another without responding personally or via one the panel members. Fingerhut did have four of the five panelists respond in general to the questions posed by audience members but not in detail that each question merited.

Fingerhut implied that specific answers would be provided by the OBR and the panelist on a follow up basis in weeks to come.

Stark Countians should hope that Fingerhut and the OBR did a better job planning for its ten year Ohio plan for improving higher education than was done with the Stark State College of Technology (SSCT) presentation.

Question: If you would have been at the meeting (or were at the meeting); wouldn't you expect to have your question answered for having taking the trouble to attend the meeting?


The STARK POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has been puzzled over the high Stark County retention rate phenomenon.

The Report has quizzed public school official after public school official only to be met with a confused look or what The Report thinks is a silly answer.

Silly answer? Yes. Some officials say that the reason for Stark's high rate is that the school systems have not had access to the test that area colleges administer in order to assess a inbound student's need for remediation.

Isn't this "teaching to the test?" The Report agrees, if a student knows how to "fool" the test, then the student will not need remediation. But the result is an exercise in fooling oneself. Surely, Stark County's educators are not into doing this?

A better explanation is one made by the Ohio Board of Regents (OBR). In essence, the OBR says that too many college bound Ohio graduating seniors have had an inadequate "core" curriculum.

Question: What should Stark County educators be doing to rectify this problem?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


As a member of the Stark County Schools' 21st Century Action Team (School Design Committee), yours truly was privy to a presentation by the Canton Local Schools of its 5 R's Academy.

5 R's? Rigor, Relevance, Respect, Responsibility, Relationships make up the 5R's.

This program which was started in 2007 with 50 freshmen, will eventually grow to 180 to 200 students by 2010.

The STARK POLITICAL REPORT - EDUCATION (Stark Education Report) is pleased to recognize this very promising program.

Character development is what jumps out to an observer as to the essence of the academy which is a "community school" sponsored by Canton Local Schools (CLS).

A key to the Academy's success? Students taking ownership of their learning.

The Stark Education Report buys into the personal development philosophy of Stephen Covey of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey makes the point that personal development is "inside-out." In other words, it is the internal qualities of a human being which determine the effectiveness of the person.

Commitment is another key to the CLS approach. Branching out from there, one hears terms/expressions like "listening," "befriending," "this is a goal I believe I can attain," as the language of student participants. Moreover, each 5 Rs class member has to complete 50 hours of community service each year.

5 Rs Academy demonstrates in results living examples of a changed student approach to learning.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Retire/Rehire is not setting well with many Stark Countians these days.

Most people who object merely talk about it. But not Jan Kishman of the Minerva Board of Education.

Kishman who runs an IGA (grocery store) business with her husband in Minerva, has been elected to the board twice. In November, 2003 she was the high vote getter (1,655) as she was in 2007 (1,698).

Yesterday, The Repository reported on Kishman's effectiveness in getting a retire/rehire high school principal to quit.

The vote was 3 to 2 in favor of the retiree/rehiree. But that was not good enough for him. The administrator is quitting early. He says:
I am ... tired of the nonsupport with the vote. That eats at me, especially after putting in over 38 years with this district."
In Stark County we have Sheriff Tim Swanson (Democrat) and Judge William B. Hoffman (Court of Appeals - Democrat) who have announced plans to retire before their new terms so that they can collect their retirement and the regular stipend that goes with the job. In Hoffman's case it will be the better part of $250,000.

Will Stark Countians follow the spunky Kishman's lead (who has consistently voted "no" on retire/hire) and vote "no" on Swanson and Hoffman?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


It appears that many community schools are fighting for their very survival.

In a recent piece authored by The Repository's Columbus Bureau Chief (Koystyu), Bill Sims, president/chief executive officer of Ohio Alliance For Public Charter Schools (OAPCS), candidly articulates the fight for funding in light of $101 million in budget cuts mandated on the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Sims focus on the dollars belies his "apparent" point that charter/community schools do not hurt the finances of public schools.

We remember from the Watergate era the admonition to "follow the money!"

Sims implies in his comments to Koystyu, in the opinion of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT, that urban school are not making an effective use of public monies but that community schools are.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT says that this fight generated by the Ohio community school movement is not about quality of education but staying in business.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

EDITORIAL: Canton Chamber Task Force Effort Will Hurt Stark County Public Education Funding

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT has learned that the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is besieging the Stark County Educational Service Center (formerly known as the Stark County Board of Education) with record requests. In fact, the Chamber has hired former Repository editor David Kaminski to assist in formulating the requests.

What is becoming apparent from the nature of the requests is that the Chamber is looking for data as a basis to insist that further cuts be made in county administration costs and presumably by Stark County's 17 school districts. Recently the Ohio Department of Education ordered cuts that will cost the ESC about $250,000 in state funding next year.

Is one of the Chamber's targets the health care program administered by county superintendent Larry Morgan for the area teaching force and administrative staffs.

Would it be cynical to suggest that the Chamber may be trying to break up this program to benefit its members who are in the business are selling health care insurance? Perhaps. But the Chamber bears watching.

One member of the task force has told the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT that the leadership of the task force have assured members that its overall effort is not to undermine local school levy efforts by suggesting that further county administration and local school district cuts need to be made.

The Chamber task force leadership represents that its motivation is to verify that Stark County educators are highly efficient with public funding and that its study will support the need for future local school district levy funding requests.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT is skeptical of the announced reasons that the Chamber gives for its search of records. One hopes that the Chamber realizes it is playing with fire in this undertaking.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT believes that this Chamber effort is likely to end up hurting local school districts.