0 Comments · Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been at odds
with his own party during the past week over a battle for education
reform. On May 8, Republicans in the Ohio Senate pushed to slow down
Kasich’s reforms, which would call for tougher reading standards and
report-card rating systems in Ohio schools and districts.
by German Lopez
Kasich faces opposition from fellow Republicans
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been
put at odds with his own party during the past few days over a battle
for education reform. On Tuesday, Republicans in the Ohio Senate pushed to slow
down Kasich’s reforms, which would call for tougher reading standards and
report-card rating systems in Ohio schools and districts.
The tougher reading standards could potentially hold back 12
percent of Ohio third-graders, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
With the new rules, kids would be tested every year starting
in Kindergarten. Any kids who are below standards would receive special
tutoring, and any who fail to improve to “proficient” or above by the time of
the third-grade reading test would be held back.
Similar standards were passed in Florida a decade ago. While
it was rough at first with 13 percent of third-graders in Florida being held
back, scores have begun improving, Patricia Levesque, former education advisor
to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told The Dispatch.
However, research shows holding kids back hurts them more
than helps. After reviewing decades of research, the National Association of
School Psychologists found that grade retention has “deleterious long-term
effects,” both academically and socially.
Kasich has also proposed tougher grading standards for
schools and districts, which he hopes will hold schools more accountable.
Republican critics don’t necessarily oppose all the reforms,
but they would like to see the reforms implemented more carefully and slowly.
School officials, state education groups and teachers unions have repeatedly
asked for more time to tell parents and teachers about the upcoming changes.
The news comes at a time when states around the country are
moving to enact education reform after years of disappointment. In 2010, the
U.S. fell to a rating of “average” in the international rankings released by
the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. ranked No.
14 out of 34 OECD countries in reading, No. 17 for science and a below-average
No. 25 for math.
One bright spot was found earlier this year when a report
showed U.S. high school graduation rates had increased to 75.5 percent in 2009,
up from 72 percent in 2001.
President Barack Obama has tried to encourage widespread
education reform with his “Race to the Top” initiative. The program pushes
states to compete for funds with education reform plans. The states with the
best programs are then rewarded federal funds as they implement reform.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland won funds for Ohio with his
reform plan, and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan congratulated Ohio for
being on schedule with reforms earlier this year.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 9, 2012
In another effort to save tax dollars and
fill holes in the state budget, Gov. John Kasich and his health care
advisers will streamline the state’s Medicaid system by altering the
availability of care plans and condensing care regions.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Mayor
, Public Transit
, Urban Planning
at 09:35 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati is moving forward, despite the better attempts of state Republicans
In his State of the City address
last week, Mayor Mark Mallory called on Cincinnati to continue pushing for
improvements. After years of stalling, projects like Washington Park’s
renovation, the Horseshoe Casino and the streetcar are finally moving forward,
and Mallory wants to make sure that work continues.Politically and economically, it
makes sense. Not only have voters approved of both the casino and the
streetcar, but the projects will create jobs. Casino developers have already
begun to fill what they promise will be 1,700 permanent jobs, and city
estimates show the first segment of the streetcar will create 300 construction
jobs and 25 permanent jobs.But while voters and local
politicians may approve, some state Republicans are doing their very best to
tear the projects down. Gov. John Kasich, who dismantled Ohio’s passenger rail
project, tried his hardest to continue his anti-transit rampage by railing
against the streetcar in public speeches last year. He even ripped away more than
$50 million in state funds from the project.The casino has been a little
luckier, but not by much. Kasich has claimed both neutrality and approval of
casinos, but he has made building the Horseshoe Casino more difficult. Despite
the fact Ohio has the highest casino tax in the nation, Kasich pushed for
renegotiations for higher taxes and fees last year, ultimately delaying the
casino’s opening from late 2012 to spring 2013.For the governor, such actions
probably make sense. Kasich has been an ardent supporter of tax cuts — sneaking
them into every single budget even when Ohio had a reported $8 billion deficit.
When he found massive education and health care cuts weren’t enough to close
the gap he helped create, he moved onto casinos and transit projects.Still, the projects move forward. Kasich and other state
Republicans have not been successful in killing them off, largely thanks to
local voters and local politicians pushing back.Last year, voters rejected Issue 48, which tried to ban all
investments in rail transportation for the next decade. Last week, Mallory
announced CAF USA was already drawing up designs for the streetcar, and the
first car could be finished as soon as 18 months from now.Meanwhile, the casino’s construction is 35 to 40 percent
complete, according to developers. This is despite an accident in January that
resulted in the injury of 20 workers after a steel beam fell and caused a floor
to partially collapse.But what needs to be clear is that these developments are in
spite of state Republicans like Kasich. When these job-creating projects are
said and done, it’s important credit goes where credit is due — straight to
local voters and local politicians.
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Gov. John Kasich last week denied a
request for clemency from Mark Wayne Wiles, who was convicted in 1986 of
the murder of a 15-year-old boy in northeastern Ohio. Wiles was scheduled to be executed April
18, the day this issue is published, at the Southern Ohio Correctional
Facility in Lucasville.
by Danny Cross
Convicted murderer to be first execution since moratorium lifted
Gov. John Kasich today
denied a request for executive clemency from Mark Wayne Wiles, who
was convicted in 1986 of the murder of 15-year-old Mark Klima in the
northeast Ohio township of Rootstown.
Wiles is scheduled to
be executed April 18 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in
Lucasville. According to the clemency report, members of the Ohio
Parole Board on March 2 interviewed Wiles via video-conference from
the Chillicothe Correctional Institution, after which arguments in
support of and in opposition to clemency were presented. The board
voted 8-0 against recommending clemency.
Ohio was subjected to a
moratorium on executions from November of 2011 until April 4, 2012,
when U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost of Newark lifted the
moratorium he invoked for the state’s inability to follow its own execution
protocol. The moratorium was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court
CityBeat reported here
that despite lifting the moratorium, Frost expressed frustration with
the state’s problems carrying out executions, despite the errors
being largely minor paperwork technicalities, including “not
properly documenting that an inmate’s medical files were reviewed
and switching the official whose job it was to announce the start and
finish times of the lethal injection.”
Politics/Issues blog April 6:
moratorium, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has
allegedly scrutinized its procedural policies and implemented a new
"Incident Command System," which sounds like an initiative
for ORDC Director Gary Mohr to more closely micromanage the processes
during state executions. "This court is therefore
willing to trust Ohio just enough to permit the scheduled execution,"
Frost wrote regarding his rejection of Wiles' stay of execution. "The
court reaches this conclusion with some trepidation given Ohio's
history of telling this court what (they) think they need to say in
order to conduct executions and then not following through on
To date, Ohio has executed 386 convicted murderers. Click here for a schedule of upcoming executions in Ohio and here for recent clemency reports.
by Kevin Osborne
In desperate need to bolster his low popularity numbers, Gov. John Kasich visited Cincinnati Tuesday to praise a deal that allows a local company to expand downtown and add jobs. Dunnhumby USA, a retail branding firm, will move from Third Street to a long vacant site at Fifth and Race streets, where it will build a new complex and add 550 jobs. Dunnhumby is getting the maximum 15 years of state Job Creation tax credits to help with the move.The head of faculty at Xavier University is questioning the college president's abrupt, unilateral decision to stop offering birth control coverage in insurance for faculty and staff. Shannon Byrne, faculty committee chair, says President Michael J. Graham’s announcement Monday might violate XU's own rules about how such decisions can be made. She is scheduling a meeting April 12 so faculty can discuss the situation and decide how to respond.ARTIMIS signs are supposed to alert motorists to traffic congestion and missing persons, but area residents have said they've noticed a lot of them don't work. As a result, transportation officials say 29 malfunctioning ARTIMIS signs will be replaced as part of upcoming construction projects on Interstates 471 and 275. All of the upgrades will be completed by July.A Waynesville High School student is suing the school district for preventing him from wearing a T-shirt to class that depicted a pro-gay message. Maverick Couch wants to wear the shirt, which states “Jesus is not a homophobe,” to school on April 20 to show support for the Day of Silence, a national event that draws attention to the silencing of gay and lesbian students through bullying. School officials, however, initially told Couch the shirt was disruptive and later that it was too religious. Now they allege it violates rules prohibiting clothing that is “sexual in nature,” which Couch's attorney said is “absurd.”Yahoo! Sports has released the rankings of Major League teams with the most players claimed in fantasy baseball leagues, and some Reds are among the sought-after stars. The Yankees and Rangers tied for the top spot as most popular on Yahoo!. Both teams have 13 players owned in at least 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. But the Reds also make a good showing, with seven players owned in at least 50 percent of the fantasy leagues. In news elsewhere, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney left his rival, Rick Santorum, in the dust Tuesday. Romney won all three primaries that were held — in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia — and emerged with substantial gains in delegates.Despite widespread opinion to the contrary, a private investigator alleges in a new book that O.J. Simpson didn't murder his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, in 1994. Instead, William C. Dear said his inquiry revealed that O.J. was covering up for the real culprit: Jason Simpson, O.J.'s son from his first marriage. Dear said he discovered a knife in a storage unit that was rented by Jason that he believes is the murder weapon, along with a forged time card from the night of the killings. Dear alleges that Jason Simpson was working as a chef in a Beverly Hills restaurant that day and had put together a special meal for the family. Brown didn't attend, however, angering him. The P.I. said Jason was on probation for assaulting his previous employer with a knife and has spent time in a psychiatric unit.If you're an evangelical Christian, you might want to skip this next item. A new medical study finds that older adults who say they've had a life-changing religious experience — in other words, are “born again” — are more likely to have a greater decrease in size of the part of the brain critical to learning and memory. Researchers asked 268 people, ages 58 to 84, about their religious affiliation, spiritual practices and life-changing religious experiences. Over the course of two to eight years, changes to the hippocampus were monitored using MRI scans. The researchers suggested that stress over holding religious beliefs that fall outside of the mainstream may help explain the findings. Or they're just stupid.A major Chinese analyst said the senior leadership of the Chinese government increasingly views the competition between the United States and China as a zero-sum game, and believes the United States is a declining power that is trying to disrupt China's economic and military growth. Wang Jisi revealed his findings in a monograph published this week by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.Hafiz Saeed, the leader of a Pakistan-based group blamed for the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, has demanded proof after the United States announced a $10 million bounty on his head. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Saeed said the U.S. action was prompted by his organizing rallies against the reopening of military supply lines through Pakistan to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
by Kevin Osborne
Ending months of speculation about why a special prosecutor was investigating her, a Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleader was indicted Thursday for allegedly having sex with an underage student while she was a teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood. A grand jury indicted Sarah Jones on first-degree sexual abuse and a charge of unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual acts. The charges are felonies that are punishable by up to five years in prison. She resigned from her teaching job in November. Jones won $11 million in a default judgment in summer 2010 arising from a libel lawsuit she filed against Thedirty.com, a gossip website. An online post had claimed Jones had two venereal diseases and was having sex in her high school classroom. The website has asked that the judgment be dismissed, while Jones has appeared on TV shows like ABC’s 20/20 to discuss cyber-harassment.Cincinnati officials are touting how the violent crime rate in Over-the-Rhine has dropped in recent months, on the heels of the FBI and local police arresting five alleged gang members Thursday that are accused of committing crimes there. Police note there hasn't been a homicide in Over-the-Rhine in the past seven months, adding stepped up patrols partially are responsible..Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order Thursday that is designed to crack down on human trafficking. His order creates a task force to coordinate statewide rescue efforts, law enforcement investigations and prosecutions, and services for victims. The task force is scheduled to report back to Kasich within 90 days on the problem's scope and how best to address it.As The Enquirer's parent company this week sheds numerous employees by offering a voluntary “early retirement” severance deal, a union representing reporters at The Dayton Daily News are fighting efforts to replace older, more highly paid workers. The Dayton Newspaper Guild rallied outside the Cox Media Center on Wednesday, as the union resumes contract negotiations with the media company. Guild leaders said newspaper executives are seeking unlimited power to use freelancers to replace professional journalists, along with wanting to abolish job security for its most experienced workers by eliminating seniority-based layoffs. Cox also owns newspapers in Mason, West Chester, Hamilton and Middletown.A Columbus man is crediting his friend for saving his life after a freak accident involving a turkey. Ohio State University “super fan” John Chubb, who also is known as “Buck i Guy,” was recently driving home on Interstate 79 from Pittsburgh after the Buckeyes’ win over Gonzaga when a turkey crashed through his windshield and knocked him unconscious. Chubb's friend, a retired Columbus firefighter, grabbed the steering wheel and safely brought the car to a stop. (Shades of Arthur Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”)In news elsewhere, a group launching a $3.6 million advertising campaign criticizing President Obama for high gasoline prices is connected to the notorious Koch brothers. The American Energy Alliance is the political arm of the Institute for Energy Research, and sources told Politico that both groups are funded partly by industrialists Charles and David Koch and their donor network. In all, the brothers’ network is aiming to steer significantly more than $200 million to conservative groups for political advertising and organizing ahead of Election Day.A conservative think tank with ties to local politicians has been drawn into the controversy over Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's shooting death. The unarmed 17-year-old was killed last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer who is expected to use Florida's “stand your ground” law as his defense. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which drafts model legislation for state lawmakers, promoted "stand your ground" laws. A statement issued by ALEC said the law probably is being misapplied in Martin's case: “It does not allow you to pursue another person. It does not allow you to seek confrontation." State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) is among ALEC's leaders, as CityBeat has previously reported here and here.Meanwhile, the police reports from the two officers who first responded to the scene of Martin's shooting have been posted online. They reveal what the officers encountered and how shooter George Zimmerman reacted upon being confronted by police.Newt Gingrich's recent casual attitude toward his supposed presidential campaign might now have an explanation. The Washington Times has revealed that Gingrich secretly met with GOP rival, Mitt Romney, on Saturday. The ex-House Speaker said he has made no deal to end his bid for the Republican nomination, adding he hasn’t been offered a position in a potential Romney administration in exchange for dropping out. Curiouser and curiouser.The Human Rights Campaign has obtained confidential documents from a prominent anti-gay rights group that indicates its legislative strategy includes trying to divide African-American and gay voters and pit them against one another. The documents, from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), were unsealed this week in a Maine court case. “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,”the NOM report states. “Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.” Seems like that strategy worked with our local NAACP president, Christopher Smitherman.
by Kevin Osborne
Here they come again: the pigs, that is. Artists around Cincinnati are putting the finishing touches on another round of decorated fiberglass pigs that will be unveiled in May as part of the next Big Pig Gig. Co-sponsored by ArtWorks and C-Change, the event is modeled after the one held from May to October 2000 when local artists and schools decorated more than 400 statues and installed them throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The pigs eventually were auctioned off, raising money for area nonprofit groups. This year's pigs will debut at the Flying Pig Marathon in May and go on full display during the World Choir Games in July. The theme is the city's architecture, or as organizers call it, "pork-itecture."A decision is expected today in a lawsuit to stop a $12 million renovation project at the Anna Louise Inn. Western & Southern Financial Group wants to purchase the land on Lytle Street where the battered women's shelter is located and build upscale condominiums there. Union Bethel, the group that owns the shelter, have said they feel bullied by the powerful corporation.Gov. John Kasich is an odd man, so it should be no surprise that some items in his recent state budget proposal also are downright bizarre. They include reclassifying bottled water as a food so consumers no longer have to pay sales tax on it, and repealing a 2006 regulation that required all Ohio employers to have applicants fill out a form attesting that they weren't affiliated with any terrorist organizations. (Ahh, the early 2000s. Good times.)Trustees at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College have authorized bids to construct two 10-unit hangars at its Cincinnati West Airport in Harrison. The new structures would be built next to existing hangars, which house 22 planes and are leased to capacity.Longtime Reds sportscaster Thom Brennaman assessed the team's prospects for the upcoming season from its spring training camp in Goodyear, Ariz. The interview can be found at the website for WNKU (89.7 FM).In news elsewhere, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich appears to have conceded that he cannot win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to nab the party's nomination. The ex-House Speaker from Georgia is reducing his campaign schedule, laying off about one-third of his cash-strapped campaign’s staff and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy. Gingrich will now focus on winning in a contested party convention scenario in Tampa, Fla., when the party meets there in late August.If you like the fact that an insurance can't drop you for a preexisting condition under President Obama's health-care reform law, or that a company can't impose a limit on paying the cost of your medical care, then you'd better hope the Supreme Court upholds it. That's because Obama and Congress have few contingency plans about what to do if the high court strikes down the mandatory insurance requirement.A dispute is brewing in Israel over plans to prevent the Canaan, an ancient breed of dog mentioned in the Bible, from going extinct. In recent decades, many Canaan dogs were destroyed in rabies eradication programs, and now only a few hundred subsist in the Negev desert. But the Israeli government is threatening to close the operation that has been helping preserve the breed by collecting rare specimens in the desert, breeding them and shipping their offspring to kennels around the globe.Syria's tentative acceptance of a United Nations-backed plan to end the nation's violent uprising has triggered skeptical responses from U.S. and British officials, amid concern that President Bashar al-Assad is trying to buy time and divide his opponents.Neighbors of the west African nation of Mali have threatened to use economic sanctions and expressed a readiness to use military force to dislodge those behind last week's coup, urging them to quickly hand back power to civilian rulers. A summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has sent a team of diplomats to confront the coup leaders in coming days. Meanwhile, the United States has cut off aid to Mali in protest.