OAGC Resources – Lists for Advocacy

For keeping up with gifted-specific issues, please see the latest Advocacy Update on the Ohio Association for Gifted Children web site. You might also consider signing up for GTAdvocate (or the wider, high volume, OhioGift) listservs, to receive email updates. These are on the on the OAGC Advocacy page. (You might even want to consider joining O.A.G.C., or at least your local affiliate – like P.A.C.E. – if you are not already a member.)

April 2013 Meeting – Conversation with School Board Candidates

Please join us for our April meeting:
Monday April 15, 2013 – 6:30-8:00 p.m.
at the Shepard Center, 873 Walcutt Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43219 (MAPS)

Join fellow parents of gifted students, and guests, as we have a unique opportunity for conversation with several of our candidates for Columbus City Schools Board.

While we had originally thought that this event would be a formal forum immediately before a primary election, it appears we will not have a primary in May. Thus we can share in a more casual and wide-ranging conversation. Given all the many things that have been happening lately in Columbus education, we are blessed to have this opportunity to explore with current and future leaders of our district issues pertinent to gifted education – as well as general concerns.

Please give some time to considering issues of particular interest to you, so we can make the most of this time. Bring your thoughts and questions for a productive meeting on April 15.

We will have child care at this meeting. Your child is welcome to bring a favorite book or game – or homework!


We are a community of parents, grandparents, guardians and families working to help gifted children shine. We know the frustrations, the joys and the intensity of raising a gifted child and we support all those who are on this difficult and wonderful journey.

Latest Flyer is available on the Resources page, in case you want to share with a friend!

Contact School Board Members – C.C.S. Cuts Crisis UPDATE

Despite what the Dispatch says about some relenting on the cuts (“Columbus Schools cancel big cuts as $25 million error found”), there is only a partial relenting. Gifted and talented stands to be more than decimated! On top of past years’ attrition, this would leave the department with half the number of staff it had several years ago!

Please contact your C.C.S. Board members, by phone and/or by email. (Contact information is below.) It is probably best to contact each one individually, to reinforce your message and to ensure that it does not get lost in communication.

I believe that they plan to vote on these proposals at the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting, 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 2013. You might also consider attending the Board Meeting.

(Most meetings are at 5:30 p.m., at the Columbus Education Center, 270 E. State Street. maps here)

THIS MEETING is at the earlier start time of 5:00 p.m.
at MAP:
Southwood Elementary School
1500 S. Fourth St.
Columbus, OH 43207

Remember that if you wish to make public comments, you must first sign up by calling the Office of Customer Relations at 365-8888 by [the scheduled meeting start time], on the day of the meeting.

C.C.S. Links:
Board InfoC.C.S. Board Agendas.

Some Points you may want to communicate:

  • There is no way that the remaining “Site Coordinators” (formerly known as Gifted Instruction Specialists) can fulfill all the coordination functions of the Regional Coordinators.
  • Regional Coordinators are the ones who put together all the Academic Options at the elementary and middle school level. These options can be the salvation of some students who are difficult to reach in the regular classroom. They are inspiration for those who do well in the classrooms as well, providing in depth experiences that reinforce classroom instruction. The ECLIPSE coordinator provides the same support for teachers and students in the ECLIPSE program.
  • Regional Coordinators also help provide support in identification, particularly at schools with fewer identified students.
  • Regional Coordinators support Site Coordinators, as well as other “regular” classroom teachers with in-services and collegiality that foster better instruction all around.
  • High School Coordinators are crucial in supporting the AP, IB, and other programs: encouraging students to participate, helping to create custom acceleration plans and WEPs, encouraging students to reach beyond to challenging summer and college programs. They also facilitate students’ in the difficult transition from Middle to High School.
  • While mundane testing functions might not be the best use of the the current Testing Coordinators, who could better use their wide range of skills in other teaching and coordination roles; someone in gifted and talented needs to coordinate testing, perhaps with other functions such as Arts coordination. However this coordination is accomplished, it is important it be done by a professional who understands GT, and the necessity of testing alternatives to “find” children whose promise may be masked by social and environmental factors. (N.B. Since C.C.S. lost a full time Arts Coordinator, state-mandated identification has plummeted! You can’t tell me that our kids are suddenly less artistic.)
  • When we lose these services, we risk encouraging families with gifted and talented “special needs” student to depart C.C.S. (At present, though we lose a number of such families (often when they cannot get a desired lottery program in one of the transitions; there are also families who move into Columbus, or seek to use open enrollment because Columbus has programs superior to many of the highly-touted suburbs.) When we lose these students, testing averages go down. Whatever you consider the problems with “high stakes” testing, it does have potential to adversely effect funding and reputation.
  • Many people have put in endless hours on a Task Force for the Future of Gifted and Talented, acting in faith and on behalf of our children to seek ways to extend and improve gifted and talented services at all grade levels. Given all the intersecting and overlapping factors, this proved an arduous task. When the going got tough, Dr. Gene Harris personally rolled up her sleeves and got involved to encourage this group to move forward. We are now nearing a strong, positive result, with recommendations for our students’ future opportunities. It would be profligate to throw these efforts out, and go back over twenty years to a smaller, weaker program. Our kids and community would lose so much, right when they stand to gain. It would be defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. … and pretty darned discouraging!

I’m sure you can think of even more points. Please feel free to share them with others through the comment option below.

While the way that this story developed in the news seems to make our district’s administrators look incompetent, the fact is that they are dealing with a “chameleon” in the ever-changing matter of state funding. We really don’t know what to expect from the legislature. They were set up for trouble with these uncertainties.

After the latest spin of the Ohio education funding roulette wheel, the gaps seems less daunting. With the gap now seemingly much smaller, it would be prudent to put off program destroying cuts until some levy or additional funding could be arranged. (Who knows, perhaps the corporations inspired by the CEC could even contribute funds to educate the best and the brightest, from whom potential future employees and leaders come?)

Encourage our board to put children first! Tell them to boldly take a strong positive attitude toward future possibilities. Tell them to have faith, and choose to fight for our children by maintaining and extending these important programs, and the people who make them happen for our kids!


To Contact Columbus City Schools Board Members

C.C.S. Links:
Board InfoC.C.S. Board Agendas.

C.C.S. – including Gifted – may face budget cut CRISIS!

I remember the foreboding I felt when I read in the Dispatch about $29 million in cuts for C.C.S.

Then I saw Dr. Gene Harris’ letter, I sensed the pain in her words — and I felt the pain — as she wrote:

Clearly, to extract another $25 million from an already lean budget means that the majority of the impact is going to be realized through staff reductions – equaling more than 300 positions across all levels of the organization.

This is unquestionably a very difficult time. While these recommended reductions fulfill our need to save money, they most assuredly do not make us better or enable us to more effectively support our schools or students.

(emphasis mine — This letter may be found in the March 8 eNewsletter. This may be found here. You can sign up for these here.)

I now have seen some specifics, courtesy of the Columbus Education Association. in their March 11 issue of their newsletter, the Voice, they included a link to a PDF:
DRAFT – Columbus City Schools Recommended Budget Reductions for FY2014 – 3/5/2013
.

It’s ugly!

“Highlights” include:

  • elimination of 5 regional GT coordinators
  • elimination 2 High School Coordinators
  • elimination 1 ECLIPSE Coordinator
  • elimination of 1 Testing coordinator
  • elimination of 1 Secretary

As one summary describes, “There will be no High School or Eclipse Coordinators remaining. There will be one Testing Coordinator that will be reassigned to the Office of Performance & Strategic Initiatives (OPSI). Redistribute work loads to remaining staff and Supervisor.” …
This will leave us with 28 GT positions, down from 55 a few years ago. Your favorite specialist may soon be be gone — or you’ll see him or her much less often.

And that’s only the specifically gifted and talented cuts! There is plenty of misery for all students with concurrent impact on GT kids.

  • reduce a class period in middle and high schools. … a seven-period day
    starting next school year. … seven years ago, (doing this) had a devastating effect on the academic program
    and minimized opportunities for our students.
  • cuts in arts, field trip transportation, library staff, athletics. … “Research shows that an
    increase in physical activity and participation in the arts result in improved academic performance. We can expect a rise in discipline referrals and a decline in student attendance and achievement when these programs are cut.” even for gifted kids

I lay a lot of blame in this to the Columbus Dispatch, who made it impossible to pass a levy last November (during a general election), by their constant churning of the enrollment “scandal” story, as well as constantly hammering the Board, Dr. Harris, and everyone down to the custodial staff. … Add the uncertainty of the C.E.C. (“Mayor’s Commission”) sometimes seeming to work at cross purposes to the Board as the later seeks a new superintendent, and we have a

CRISIS!

Now we need to deal with this ASAP, let our voices be heard, and seek ways to mitigate or reverse the impending damage. What can we do?

Some thoughts:

  1. We need a new superintendent ASAP — according to the Board’s original schedule. We cannot have C.C.S. under the care of an interim leader when action is needed. I do not believe the myth that we can’t get top people due to the “scandal.” On the contrary, we need strong leadership to resolve issues quickly, as well as deal with issues like this budget shortfall and the need to expedite a levy!
  2. We need a levy ASAP! Perhaps we could pass one in a Special Election?! We could cancel the cuts when it passes — or even hold off on them until such. (Implementing these cuts will irretrievably lose good teachers, as imperiled people accept positions elsewhere. They would be unavailable for reinstatement.) … We could press the board to seek an emergency levy. I’m sure Dr. Harris would fight for it until midnight on her last day … and a permanent successor would follow up.
  3. The truth is that cuts like this will hobble C.C.S. This could drive away superintendent candidates — as well as concerned parents of gifted and talented children, and many more.

Some of us (parents, teachers, administrators, Dr. Harris) have been working our tails off on the Task Force for the Future of Gifted and Talented, seeking to come up with some great ideas to extend and improve the programs at Columbus City Schools. These proposed budget cuts endanger everything.

We must fight.

What are your thoughts?

Scott

N.B. The amount of the shortfall roughly equivalent to the gap in funding expected from the state of Ohio.


This post will be cross-posted on OSApostle, but please send all comments here, on the P.A.C.E. Home.

Ohio Budget Bill impact on Gifted Education, and Education in general

Here are some resources if you are interested in the impact of the proposed Ohio Budget Bill (H.B. 59) on gifted education, and education in general.

For keeping up with gifted-specific issues, please see the latest Advocacy Update on the Ohio Association for Gifted Children web site. You might also consider signing up for GTAdvocate (or the wider, high volume, OhioGift) listservs, to receive email updates. These are on the on the OAGC Advocacy page. (You might even want to consider joining O.A.G.C., or at least your local affiliate – like P.A.C.E. – if you are not already a member.)

For those interested in sorting through other education-related issues in the bill, you may not want to sort through the 4206 pages of legalese. Check out StateImpact Ohio, A reporting project of local public media and NPR. Go directly to the article on What’s Inside Kasich’s Budget Bill: The Education Stuff. There you will find a view of the bill with many pertinent topics highlighted, and ways to navigate.

Of course, you can always download the entire H.B. 59, and search for “gifted.”

Let your legislators know what you think about House Bill 59! The latest Advocacy Update has a summary of key issues, as well as links to how to get in touch with legislators: Ohio House (Senate).

Superintendent Search – GT-specific focus group and survey added

P.A.C.E. has received an invitation to a special focus group for Gifted and Talented concerns conducted by the executive search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) to assist the Board with the Superintendent Search.

They wish to conduct this
Wednesday, February 13, 2013, at 9:30 a.m.
at 270 East State Street in the Board Assembly Room

(aka Columbus Education Center)

I realize this is a difficult time for many of us. Please attend if you can.

If you are unable to attend the focus group please know that you can also provide feedback via online survey. The
survey can be found on the Columbus City Schools website or accessed directly at the following link:
link in letter is wrong, use:
https://survey-admin.ecragroup.com/index.php?sid=39612&lang=en

FYI, here is the letter:
Supt Search GT Parent Invitation 013113

Should you wish to RSVP, contact Jason Smith in the District’s Board Services & Government Affairs
(614) 365-5790 at jsmith [at] columbus [dot] k12 [dot] oh [dot] us
(Please come even if you can’t RSVP; though it is helpful to do so.)

New Superintendent Search – Focus Groups and Survey

As you may know, Dr. Harris is retiring from C.C.S. at the end of June. As the search for her successor proceeds, it is important that we make our voices heard on the importance of continuing – and improving – services for gifted and talented students, as well as all students.

From the C.C.S. email:

Community Focus Groups for New Superintendent
The Columbus City Schools Board of Education extends an invitation to district community members, students, parents, and staff to participate in any one of five regional focus groups to identify the qualities and skills expected of the next district superintendent. The meetings are taking place as follows:

  • Monday, February 4, at 7 p.m. – Binns ES, 1080 Binns Blvd.
  • Tuesday, February 5, at 7 p.m. – Ohio Avenue ES, 505 S. Ohio Avenue
  • Wednesday, February 6, at 7 p.m. – East Columbus ES, 3100 E. 7th Avenue
  • Monday, February 11, at 7 p.m. – Colerain ES, 499 E. Weisheimer Road
  • Tuesday, February 12, at 7 p.m. – Oakland Park ES, 3392 Atwood Terrace

The feedback gathered from the focus groups, as well as an on-line survey, will assist the search firm to target specific individuals to recruit, as well as to assist in communicating the community’s desires and expectations to prospective superintendent candidates seeking information on their own. Visit the Superintendent Search Website for more information and to take the on-line survey.

Columbus Education Commission seeks comments!

The Mayor’s Columbus Education Commission is seeking comments and suggestions. Please give them reminders of importance of Gifted and Talented programs!

You can comment by use of the postcards, … or perhaps more conveniently, at the bottom of the “Tell us your good idea!” page on the Columbus Education Commission pages.

There are also public forums, as well as the meetings being open.

Ann Sheldon of O.A.G.C. gave insightful testimony to legislators Aug 22

Ann Sheldon’s testimony (10 pages) includes information about the history of funding and regulations regarding gifted education in Ohio. There are some shocking numbers about the decline of funding and services. There are also a number of illustrative links.

It may be found at: http://oagc.com/files/TestimonytoSpecialSchoolFinanceCommitteee.8.22.12.final_.pdf

see also:

OAGC Advocacy

Here you will find links to advocacy issues concerning gifted children and education as well as links to the OhioGift listserv, OAGC’s GTAdvocate email service and various other mailing lists.

Advocacy News and Alerts
OhioGift listserv
GTAdvocate
Mailing lists

Gifted and Talented Services Questionnaire

Administered by Parents for Academic Challenge and Enrichment. It is critical to have the best, most effective programs and services for our gifted and talented children. We want your feedback regarding the activities and programs your gifted student is receiving in the Columbus City Schools.

A link to the electronic Questionnaire is below. Submissions will be analyzed, compiled and reported by P.A.C.E. and presented to the Columbus City Schools.

All parents of Columbus City School students are welcome to participate. However, our target audience are parents of those students that have been identified as gifted and talented by the Columbus City Schools. Your feedback is very important and will be utilized during discussions with the Columbus City Schools Leadershipand their Gifted and Talented staff.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TVD9H37

Thank you for your support.