29 September 2007

Public Library Displays Playboy Magazine

Braille Edition

28 September 2007

Mural at Race and CP


Obama's anti partisan message

As others attack, Obama is sticking to the high road. Not sure if this is the way to win, but maybe he thinks voters are tired and want reconciliation. Or maybe it is just what he really believes.
Obama's message to early causus voters:My guess is that he is offering himself as the opposite of Clinton. He is saying, look, I can win the general election, Hillary cannot, A Clinton / Guiliani fight would be polarizing and greusome. Additionally both Clinton and Guiliani have committed to keeping troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. To me the choice is obvious: Obama.

27 September 2007

Orion Students in Bus Fight


Three 6yr old boys got in a fight on the bus and the police were called. They were on their wasy to Orion Charter School. I don't think a minor event like this should make it on the TV news, however, it is hard to see how a school bus driver cannot handle three 6yr olds. I mean they are only six years old!

Every parent whose kids use the yellow bus service will give you a litany of complaints on the service, mostly centered on the drivers. Riggs and Peterman, who provide the service to CPS have problems keeping to a regular schedule. They allow their drivers to play rap music, and you can forget about getting to school on time if your regular driver calls in sick. The substitute driver usually can't figure out where and when to pick you up.

By the way, Orion is located on the site of the former grand St. Bonaventure Church in lower Fairmount:

Dads Happier than Moms

An article says mothers are working more out of the home, husbands are not picking up the slack, homes are dirtier. Family gatherings are stressful for mothers and they are relaxing for dads. I definitely think all of this is true:

... For a woman, time with her parents often resembles work, whether it’s helping them pay bills or plan a family gathering. “For men, it tends to be sitting on the sofa and watching football with their dad,”

.... Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more.

... women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past.

... women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did ...They can’t possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.

... the average time devoted to dusting has fallen significantly in recent decades. ... I imagine that the new American dustiness affects women’s happiness more than men’s.

...Her mother’s goals in life, ... were to have a beautiful garden, a well-kept house and well-adjusted children who did well in school. “I sort of want all those things, too,” the student said, as Ms. Stevenson recalled, “but I also want to have a great career and have an impact on the broader world.”

...American society hasn’t fully come to grips with the change. The United States still doesn’t have universal preschool, and, in contrast to other industrialized countries, there is no guaranteed paid leave for new parents.

..men still haven’t figured out how to shoulder their fair share of the household burden...

Here is the original study.

Here is a cartoon showing how when at work, we are wishing we were with our family, and when we are at home, we are often thinking we should be working.

26 September 2007

Too Many Events This Weekend!

I am not going to try to list all that is going on, but really, there is way too much stuff to choose from downtown and nearby this weekend including:

Downtown Tour of Homes: Enquirer article on the event.

Great Outdoor Weekend, with lots of events in city parks for kids. I definitely plan on doing some of these events.

Midpoint. Washington Park Music Festival. Downtown Hop Around. The Reds are in town, Final Fridays, and on and on, etc, etc..

25 September 2007

Crime Declining in OTR

The following graph shows that Part I crime in OTR have decline 33% over the past 3 years:

This graph shows that Part II crime has also declined, albeit at a slower pace:

The following Police memo states that 611 Part II arrests have been made in the Washington Park area so far this year:

Velveteen Rabbit


This 1922 classic at 31 pages can be read at one sitting. And kids will ask for it over and over. Somehow I missed this as a child, and read it myself for the first time as I read it to my son last year. Instead of the dinseyesque fairy tale I was expecting, it was a touching, almost believable story that makes childhood seem more real than adulthood.

Since it is a "classic" and about a stuffed animal, I'm a bit suprised that our 6yr old boy, who normally wants stories of superheros or even doesn't listen to stories, will get quiet and concentrate on every word as this book is read to him. The story just touches something deep in children.

We have the classic version which is available on Amazon for one cent (plus $3.50 Shipping), however there is a 1989 version with illustrations by Michael Hague that may be better than the original. Either one is fine, because the words are what really matter in this children's book.

Ed Moss and Pam Ross

Ed Moss, jazz pianist, and Pam Ross, vocalist, are continuing their Tuesday night shows at a new, more public location: The Jackson Street Underground. This is the lower level of the Know Theater, and should be a good time for all. They will be there every Tuesday in October except the 16th.

When: Tuesday, October 2, 8:00PM, Phone: 513-919-3498

Pam Ross and Ed Moss invite you to our "Tis Autumn/Tis Jazz" show at the Jackson Street Underground (lower level of Know Theater) in downtown Cincy on Tuesday, October 2nd. We will be joined by one of Cincy's hottest bass players, Mike Sharfe.

Some of our favourite tunes are those inspired by the Fall season, so we will be covering tunes such as "Autumn in NY", "Autumn Leaves", "September in the Rain", "Early Autumn" and, well, "Tis Autumn to name a few.

Please note that the Underground has a bar (with a liquor license), and drinks are extremely reasonably priced -- some of the lowest prices I've seen in town. There will be a $10 cover charge (to help pay band).

[where: 1120 Jackson Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

SCPA Construction Site

Work so far has included digging out all the old foundations from old buildings on the site.

24 September 2007

Proposals Requested on Hughes Street


The City is awaiting proposals to purchase and develop 25 parcels (about 1.6 Acres) across the Street from Rothenberg School, between Sycamore and Hughes Street. As per the OTR Comprehensive Plan, they want proposals for Medium Density Infill Housing. There was a mandatory meeting Sept 10th for developers interested in submitting a proposal, and only 2 people showed up. Since the meeting was mandatory, only those 2 people are allowed to submit proposals.

This site was controlled by Cincinnati Recreation Commission for many years, but for lack of use, was tranferred to the Development and Planning last year. The staff tried to aquire adjacent properties to make the site more developable, but were unsuccessful.

This site is adjacent to, but does not include the existing Community Garden and Basketball courts. Proposals are Due October 4th, 2007.
[where: 1724 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202]

1425 Elm Street

I am trying to find some before and after photos of the many deteriorated Over-the-Rhine buildings that have been rehabbed. This has been kinda hard for me, because I never was much into photography, and the photos I have taken were with film, and are in boxes or lost. My effort was triggered by my meeting with the Freestore's CEO and their architect. Lots of people look at a vacant row house here and think it is hopeless. But there are developers and contractors who have made their livelihood saving these buildings. They know how to do it, and they have the process down to a science. Our neighborhood is better for their efforts.

Here is another historic building that many people had given up on.

In 1990, even for OTR, this building looked pretty bad:
(Notice the building to the left was also vacant.)

In 1992, the roof going on:

Inside the rear left side, this part was the worst:

Finished shots:


This has been providing decent housing with a small backyard for 3 families for about 14 years now. [where: 1425 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202]

22 September 2007

New Spa Salon Opening

I just met the owner of this building. They are rehabbing the storefront and 3rd floor for a new Hair and Nail Salon with Spa called "Deviate". It is Aveda affiliatted and aims to be upscale.

Should open in mid-November. First floor will be hair and third floor will be the Spa.

[where: 1010 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

Fall Festival in College Hill Oct 6

There will be a Pumpkin Patch Fall Festival at Town Hall Park in College Hill, Ocotber 6th from 10 am to 4 pm.

The $4 admission for each child includes pony ride, mini pumpkin, treat bag, games petting zoo, and craft activities. College Hill Farmer's Market vendors will be selling fresh produce including pumpkins and gourds.

I plan on going. If anyone wants to meet up, email me.

[where: 1805 Larch Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45224]

Rabbit Hole

Saw Rabbit Hole last night at Ensemble Theater. I was not really looking forward to seeing it, because the storyline revolves around a 4 year old boy accidentally killed. However, it turned out to be a fantastic play.

Today I woke up thinking that the people in the story were real, and that a little boy really had died. That's how real this play is.

Highly recommended. It shows for one more week.

20 September 2007

St. Peter in Chains


I was busy at work yesterday, and my wife calls on her cell phone while walking with stroller downtown, running errands, and in the background over the phone, there is all these city sounds, prominent among them ... church bells. She was relating how she had just bumped into several old acquaintances, and at that moment I really wanted to be there too.

Charlie Hustle II

What candidate for council has the most energetic, purposeful, and spirited campaign? What candidate has called me with robo-messages at least half a dozen times, starting this past summer? What candidate has the most straightforward (some might say simplistic)campaign themes? What candidate for years, lead chanting group demonstrations in front of drug dealer's houses? Who is at every church festival and community meeting shaking hands and giving his spiel? What candidate pays people to stand in front of EVERY SINGLE VOTING location to hand out his literature (not party literature, his stuff)? In short which candidate hustles the hardest?

Charlie Winburn .... is the new Charlie Hustle. He just does not stop. What a passion.

Too bad he:
1. is a Republican,
2. is pastor of the Encampment Church, which is fine, except I assume that is why he has not supported equal rights for gays.
3. has made crime is his only issue.

19 September 2007

Green Parenting

Not really my thing, but Grist has assembled a trove of information on environmental concerns and raising children.

School Equity Within District?

I have wondered about inequality between schools within a school district. An article in the Columbus Dispatch says a politician is suing to make the Columbus School District spend equally at different schools:

...The district spends thousands less per student at some of its schools, the suit says, and that violates the Ohio Constitution's guarantee of "thorough and efficient" funding for public education.

... School board members... called the lawsuit a political stunt.
Boyd said per-student spending takes teacher salaries into account, so building-to-building numbers are skewed by transfers of higher-paid, more-experienced teachers to better-performing schools. Board members have discussed an incentive program to keep those teachers in poorer schools, he said.
Todd offered an example yesterday. At Winterset Elementary School on the Northwest Side, the district spent $12,507 per student last year, he said. At Liberty Elementary School on the Far East Side, the district spent $7,779 per student.

Winterset was rated "effective" on the latest state report card; Liberty is on academic watch.

"We have to change what's happening in Columbus Public Schools today," said Todd, who also has called for a mayoral takeover of the district in his campaign against incumbent Democrat Michael B. Coleman.

My sister is a Cincinnati Public School teacher. The more years she teaches, the higher her salary goes. But also, she can apply for positions in better schools within the district. A better school not only attracts better students, but also better teachers. The problem is that these more experienced teachers also get paid more, so that even with the same teacher/student ratio, the expenses can be much more at the better school.

Equality could be reached by funding per student, and and letting the principal decide how to budget.

Hanna Park Mural


[where: 226 Stark Street, Cincinnati, OH, 45202]

17 September 2007

See Saw Sighting

Is this the last see-saw in SW Ohio? I have been to lots and lots of playgrounds over the past few years, and this is the only see-saw to be seen. This is at a Yellow Springs, OH elementary school. The playground was totally old-fashoned and enjoyable.

[where: 200 S. Walnut St., Yellow Springs, OH 45387]
Note: If you know of any other public see-saws in the area, let me know, I think I would like to document them!

16 September 2007

Concession Stands Rarely Open

In the city, instead of a private yard, we have city parks. Fortunately, Cincinnati has some wonderful parks, so instead of spending my weekends cutting grass, or other yard maintenance, we spend hours biking and playing in our local parks, and we appreciate them very much. However, after spending so much time in them, we also notice the faults.

One such fault is that the concession stands are rarely open. For example, a few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday at the lovely, 1,000 hands playground and sand volleyball court (that we use as a sandbox), at Sawyer Point Park:

[where: 815 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

I didn't take lots of pictures of the people here, as I don't like to take lots of pictures of other people's kids, but it was quite crowded. Despite this, the private contractor vendor, next to the playground was closed, as usual:

We were looking for a cool drink and maybe lunch, so we took a longish, but very pleasant walk along a shaded path, with pavers marking geologic time, towards the other end of the park:

When we arrived, we found another closed concession stand:

Then, famished, we decided to walk across the Purple People Bridge to see if Kentucky offered any relief:

There, we found a simple information stand with cold drinks and snacks:

I go to one of the local parks usually a few times a week, but rarely see one open. I have seen the stand at Eden Park Twin Lakes open once, and it was swamped with kids getting snacks. I have seen the one on the Serpentine Wall open several times, especially during festivals. But they don't keep regular hours.

I get the impression that the stands are only open when they can be guaranteed of a profitable day. But they have a monopoly on sales in the park. If the private contractor cannot guarantee to be open minimum hours, then the park should be opened to competition from other vendors.

14 September 2007

Struggling Ohio Schools Removing Recess

I have heard grumblings about how short recess is at my son's school, and now I see an article about the same issue throughout Ohio. Schools feel they need every minute of the school day to try to improve student scores.

MANSFIELD -- Newman Elementary School secretary Janice Henson said about 20 parents have withdrawn their children from the Central Avenue school since opening day Aug. 28.
"On the first day of school, my son came home and said, 'Mom, we don't get any recess here,' " Osborne said. "When I asked why, Ryan said, 'The principal said we are too far behind.' "
Osborne said the lack of recess was the only reason she withdrew her son. The News Journal talked to the parents of three other children who were withdrawn because of the recess issue.
"In the rudest voice, Mrs. Hinson said, 'I got an e-mail this afternoon that said you wanted a response on recess. We are academically behind. Now what would you rather do -- be academically behind or have recess?' " Osborne said. "I asked her if she realized the kind of poor behaviors she was going to cause and she said, 'Well, we'll deal with that when it arises because I have zero tolerance for behavior issues.' "

Osborne said Hinson told her children at recess also must be allotted time for a drink and a bathroom break, taking away even more classroom time. According to Osborne, Hinson said time is better spent on instruction for a school in academic watch.
"The principal came over the loudspeaker and said there will be no more recess forever," said James, 7.
"She said until test scores improve, there would be no recess at Newman school."

State Attempts to Close 2 Charter Schools

It looks like the new Democrats in the Statehouse are moving fast on their promised attack on Charters. An article in the Dayton Daily News caught my attention:

DAYTON - Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann filed suit Wednesday seeking to force the two city charter schools to close, arguing that they have failed to live up to their obligations to educate children.

The schools are Colin Powell Leadership Academy, 834 Randolph St., and New Choices Community School, 601 S. Keowee St.
The move was hailed by teachers unions as an overdue step toward accountability. They have long been critics of charter schools but assailed by supporters of the charter movement as a declaration of war on charters.

Dann's lawsuits target the schools' status as "charitable trusts" under state law. He argues that by operating schools that produce consistently poor academic results, the trusts are not living up to the law's requirements.
Ron Adler, president of the Ohio Coalition for a Quality Education, said the move was an attempt to circumvent state law.

Ohio has just implemented new rules that will close charter schools rated in the lowest state category for three straight years.

"I'm not opposed to closing schools, but you have to do it orderly and you have to follow the law," he said. "It seems like they're trying to expand the powers of their office."

13 September 2007

Electric Power


Cemetery Wall


Nobby Back Door


12 September 2007

1111 Spring Street

This building was not saved by the Local Historic District, because at the time, Over-the-Rhine had only National Designation as a historic district. A National Designation does not stop demolition.

The struggle over this building in 1988 explains a lot about the recent (past few decades) history of OTR. The following is my understanding and recollection, without doing research. If anyone wants to correct or add to this, please do so.

A lot of project-based Section 8 Rehab occurred in the Pendleton area in the 70's. About this time, a plan deveoloped to renew the area around the Old St. Paul's Church. Spring Street was re-routed, and buildings were demolished to create a new plaza, and the church was adaptively re-used by Verdin Bell. After this "urban renewal" process, one vacant building, 1111 Spring Street was somehow left in the City's posession, just south of the plaza. I don't have easy acces to any old pictures, but the building was a deteriorated shell, just like many in OTR.

A map of the area, with the building highlighted:

[where: 1111 Spring Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]
Notice the open space, mostly parking all around it?

In 1988, (was it bastille day?) buddy gray and several housing activists took the boards off the 1111 Spring Street and occupied it, demanding that the city not demolish it, but rehab it into housing.

When he heard what was going on, Jim Tarbell came over and attempted to remove buddy himself. They had a physical fight, involving wrestling and allegedly attempts to push each other out a window. I don't know the details, and they don't really matter, but it was a significant moment in the history of OTR.

The protestors were forcibly removed by police. However, eventually City Hall relented and the building was transferred to the newly formed, OTR Housing Network, and after several years of hard work, restored into decent housing for several families, which it remains to this day. The fight unified the activist community, but also unified the opposition, represented by the OTR Chamber. It would be an extreme understatememt to say it was polarizing. There were battles before and after this one, but this one marked a tipping point.

Here is a picture of the building today:

I am writing about this to help people understand the battles fought to save buildings, and save OTR. On thing that always struck me: despite the disagreements over who would live-in or control the buildings, most people on both sides did agree on one thing: The buildings should be saved.

Today, this is not always the case. The Community Council is a smaller institution with a full plate of issues. The OTR Chamber of Commerce has younger leadership that doesn't see demolition as a major concern. There are groups like the Cincinnati Preservation Association and the OTR Foundation, as well as individuals who speak up now and then, but what good is their voice if a building collapses from neglect or is emergency demolished by the City?

Much seems to be in 3CDC's hands right now, including some buildings that will be a challenge to rehab. They have stated that they intend to save anything that is salvageable. We will soon see.

School for 4yr Olds?

A recent article in the Cincinnati Post had some interesting tidbits about preschool education.

Only three states - Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma - offer all-day, pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds.

Will Ohio's neighbor to the south be the fourth?

That's the long-term goal of a coalition of Kentucky education and social service groups, who will attempt to advance their cause in the coming months.

The groups don't expect to win full funding all at once. Instead, they'll work to expand state support for more families, and build toward the longer-term goal of voluntary pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds in Kentucky, with parents paying a portion of the cost.
Under existing law, Kentucky public school districts are required to provide pre-K services for every 4-year-old in a family with an income 150 percent of the poverty level, which in Kentucky is $20,650 for a family of four...

...Covington School Superintendent Jack Moreland said the success of his district's five-year-old program for all-day kindergarten showed that more pre-K programs could work, too. In January 2006, the district moved to all-day pre-K. At the end of their kindergarten year, the 132 students who had attended at least four months of all-day pre-K were tested for first-grade reading readiness.

The standard test is called Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. In one subtest, 89 percent of the students scored at grade level. In a second subtest, 90 percent were at grade level.

"The data shows youngsters coming out of those two programs are at or above reading levels, and that was our goal," Moreland said.
The report was unveiled at the annual conference of Pre-K Now, a public education and advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

Pre-K Now evaluates states' status in offering preschool. Kentucky, for example, has pre-K services for 29 percent of its 4-year-olds, while Ohio has services for only 4 percent. However, in rating the political climate for advancing the pre-K cause, Ohio outscores Kentucky with six of ten criteria met versus four of 10.

One huge benefit of the Cincinnati Public Schools Montessori Programs is that they offer full day classes for 4yr olds. By the way, all Cincinnati Public Schools have full-day kindergarten, something still not offered to children in some nearby school districts!

In the Montessori programs, the 4 and 5 year-olds share the same classroom. It is not free for the 4yr olds, ($5,400 full day, 2,800 half day, free for Head Start qualifying families), but it is a great curriculum that helps transition the kids to kindergarten.

11 September 2007

City Districts See Enrollment Decline

Large urban districts continue to see enrollment declines as per this article in the Toledo Blade.

Enrollment in Ohio’s largest school districts appears to have declined again, continuing a trend of diminishing numbers in urban systems that started more than a decade ago.

School leaders blamed charter schools, vouchers, low birth rates, and suburban migration for the declines.

The number of charter schools in the state, for example, increased slightly over last year and the number of private-school vouchers that were awarded more than doubled.
Across the state, the largest school systems have reported declines in each of the last five years.

Although thousands of students have made the switch to charter schools since 1998 and now some parents are using taxpayer money for private school tuition for the second year statewide, the decline in urban districts started well before either program existed in Ohio.


Six Years Ago

It is amazing to see the difference in public attitude over the past six years. Six years ago today, in my family, we had a little baby, that had been born in the tumult of the April riots. Six years ago today, in the morning, after midnight feedings, a drowsy morning, the normal family juggle, and office routines, we all went to the nearest TV to see the towers collapsing.

The terrorist attacks immediately changed the mood in our troubled neighborhood and also removed the national spotlight. It was weird how fast the sentiment changed.

Fast-forward to now. Here we are, close to the disastrous end of this presidency, and we are looking forward to more democrats in office, and more revitalized cities. I heard Roxanne Qualls on the radio yesterday, and she was saying that there are many people who want to live in a city like Cincinnati. The tone was so positive. However, it made me a bit nervous as to what the next turn of events will entail for our city. Could the foreclosure problem change everything? I think it definitely could, and the effects could extend for years.

10 September 2007

Leis: OTR Patrols May End

In a recent meeting with the newly formed, Washington Park Homeowners Association, Simon Leis stated that if the jail levy doesn't pass, the extra patrols in Over-the-Rhine will most likely end. He said that the County just doesn't have the money. He said that he visits OTR everyday, and he knows the problems here well.

He also said that the litter in OTR bothers him a lot, and that is why he has inmates cleaning the sidewalks.

Second in command, Chief Donovan, also was very knowledgeable about the neighborhood, even knowing many of the Park regulars by name. Donovan owns a small business downtown and I believe lives downtown.

When I went to the meeting, I was surprised by a couple of things. First, is it typical that the Sheriff has his office in the jail building (Justice Center) and not the courthouse? The offices were very modest, and unassuming. There were lots of articles on the wall demonstrating the long history of the Hamilton County Sheriff's office, including the Courthouse Riot of 1884. Leis is 73 years old, and shows it. He served in Beirut in the Marines, and is a St. X high school grad. I think it is worth noting, that when Leis attended St. X, it was downtown, near the courthouse, and the tuition was under $100 per year. My impression is that he grew up in a very different Cincinnati.

I just googled the jail tax, and only found the site opposed to the tax. Is there a site that supports the tax?

Another Building Saved by Historic District

15 years ago, these two buildings were run-down slum housing. The buildings were occupied, but had never been rehabbed. They had been bled by slumlord after slumlord, and they were in very rough shape. I wish I had photos, because you wouldn't believe it by looking at them today.

In the early 1990's the owner, Mr. Cliff Rydell, had a plan, a beautiful plan: He wanted to demolish them for parking. Wow what a unique idea!

By the way, these buildings are on the southern edge of Over-the-Rhine, and they face Broadway Commons, which is acres and acres of parking. There are also large parking lots to the west and north. This corner of OTR was in a precarious position. Would our neighborhood turn into a parking lot for the Central Businsess District, or would it stay a residential neighborhood?

Mr Rydell applied for demolition permits and was denied. He then, evicted all the people. Then he made holes in the roof and removed parts of the rear of the building. He claimed that the missing wall made the building unstable. The Historic Conservation Board however, stood firm and stopped him from further demolition. Eventually Mr. Rydell gave up and left.

Later the buildings were sold to Urban Sites, who renovated them into condos selling anywhere from 100k to 338k.

Here are the buildings today:

[Where: 404 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45202]
Would you rather live in a neighborhood with this or with another parking lot?

09 September 2007

Kids Art at Findlay Market

We had a lot of fun with the kids Saturday at Findlay Market. Here are a few photos:

Art Tables were set up to the right and entertainers and Enjoy the Arts Booths to the left:

Kids Watching an Entertaining Magician

Kids Playing Music with Steel Drum

More Kids Playing with Steel Drum Player

08 September 2007

Vacant Building on Vine

I was suprised to see this building vacant and boarded up today. There are two buildings here on Vine Street in Avondale (across the street from the cemetery) and they always seemed OK on the outside. Each one must have at least a dozen apartments.


Building Department records show that it was occupied earlier this year, and started suffering from severe neglect with electrical problems, the water being turned off, trash, and then on March 19th, a fire in one of the buildings. J & P Real Estate has owned them since 1999. This stretch of Vine is in terrible shape, and I can't imagine any redevelopment here anytime soon. What a mess.
[where: 3784, 3790 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45217]

A before photo:

06 September 2007

Magnet Schools Work

I just read a great article, about how successful de-centralization and magnet school choice programs are. Here are some tidbits:

Imagine a city with authentic public school choice—a place where the location of your home doesn’t determine your child’s school. The first place that comes to mind probably is not San Francisco. But that city boasts one of the most robust school choice systems in the nation.

... it was conventional wisdom in San Francisco that there were only five decent public schools in the city; if you couldn’t get your child into one of them, it was time to move to the suburbs or to find a private academy. But a lot has changed since 1996. Today Grannan could send her child to any school within the city...

San Francisco is one of a handful of public school districts across the nation that mimic an education market. In these districts, the money follows the children, parents have the right to choose their children’s public schools and leave underperforming schools, and school principals and communities have the right to spend their school budgets in ways that make their schools more desirable to parents. As a result, the number of schools parents view as “acceptable” has increased greatly in the last several years...

...public schools in San Francisco now have an incentive to differentiate themselves from one another. Every parent can look through an online catalog of niche schools that include Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog language immersion schools, college preparatory schools, performing arts schools that collaborate with an urban ballet and symphony, schools specializing in math and technology, traditional neighborhood schools, and a year-round school based on multiple-intelligence theory. Each San Francisco public school is unique. The number of students, the school hours, the teaching style, and the program choices vary from site to site.

...Parents can select up to seven schools on their enrollment application. In the 2005–06 school year 84 percent of parents received one of the schools they listed, with 63 percent receiving their first-choice school. More than 40 percent of the city’s children now attend schools outside their neighborhoods.

Decentralized school management is a growing trend in the United States. To date the weighted student formula has been implemented in Cincinnati, Houston, St. Paul, San Francisco, Seattle, and Oakland...

.. Cincinnati’s high school open enrollment system allows students to apply directly to 26 different high school programs on a first come, first served basis. Such systems stand in stark contrast to the form of choice embedded in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Under federal law students in failing schools are guaranteed the right to transfer to a school that isn’t failing. But districts have not made a good-faith effort to implement public school choice...

... The only true local control occurs when the principal controls the school budget.

... in 2005 Cincinnati public schools, where 70 percent of students are African-American, improved their state rating from “Academic Watch” to “Continuous Improvement,” and test scores were up for most students in most grade levels....

As a result of these changes, parents are returning to public schools. In Seattle, the public school district has won back 8 percent of all students from the private schools since implementing the new system. In Edmonton, where it all began, the public schools are so popular that there are no private schools left....

... they still must comply with the No Child Left Behind Act and abide by silly state laws, such as the ... statute that forbids parents from bringing home-baked cupcakes to school to celebrate their children’s birthdays with classmates.

... schools need not be linked to real estate. ...

05 September 2007

Kids Stuff at Findlay Market this Saturday

A Family Arts Celebration
Findlay Market and the Arts Education Directors of Greater Cincinnati present A Family Arts Celebration at Findlay Market on Saturday, September 8, 2007. The event runs from 10:00am to 2:00pm and features hands-on activities and performances.
This event is free and open to the public.

Hands-On Activities: 10:00am – 2:00pm
offered by the Cincinnati Arts Association, Cincinnati Art Museum and the Contemporary Arts Center, take place in the roll-up door spaces on north Elder Street, close to the Elm Street esplanade.

10:00am – 10:30 am Madcap Puppet Theatre
10:45am – 11:15am Bi-Okoto Drum & Dance Theatre
11:30am – noon Garrett Sprague - Juggler
12:30pm – 1:00pm Matthew Brian Taylor – Magician
1:15pm – 1:45pm Brian Malone, Bacchanal Steel Drum Band

There will be a table providing information about educational and family arts programs offered through Cincinnati arts organizations.

Mark your calendars to bring your family to the market, win prizes and enjoy a day of art at Findlay Market.

Arts Education Directors of Greater Cincinnati fosters and communicates the importance of the arts in the lives of all people through collaborative educational opportunities, advocacy and programs that present high-quality, diverse arts experiences.

Book Signing with Leslie Isaiah Gaines
On Saturday September 8th, Judge Gaines will be at the Market to sell and sign his popular book, Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine: A Positive Look. This positive and uplifting book calls for unity and love to S.T.O.P the Violence - to Stop Taking Out People! Judge Gaines is a long-time Market shopper and looks forward to meeting and greeting everyone.

Courtship of Eddie's Father

Does anyone else remember this?

I remember watching the show alot as a kid, but I especially remember this opening scene and song. I haven't thought of it for many years. Weird how those memories are still there to be recalled. Is there anything on TV today that is similar or a derivative of this?
Father: Bill Bixby (later The incredible Hulk)
Son: Brandon Cruz (later a Punk Rocker)
Music: Harry Nilson (did the music for Midnight Cowboy??)

Offender Notification Update

The 1,000 foot restriction on sex-offendors has been shot down.

See Citybeat blog and Enquirer article on this.

Greg Korte follows-up with an entry about the offenders that refuse to register.

I touched on this issue a couple weeks ago here.

The more I think about it, the more I think the residency restrictions are folly. I remain convinced that registration is probably a good idea though, at least for the child molestors and serial/violent rapists.

The 1,000 foot rule was only shot down for people convicted before the law was enacted. It should be revoked for all offenders.

Low Scores for Charter Schools

Local charter schools get low ratings
By JENNIFER KOVACS Tribune Chronicle

WARREN — At the 10th anniversary of charter schools, statewide criticism is echoed here at home as report card data shows that local community classrooms failed to make the grade.
In a news release issued by the Coalition for Public Education, the organization claims that a decade after the inception of charter schools, traditional public schools in Ohio continue to provide the best opportunity for children to learn and succeed.

‘‘If your child attends a traditional public school, he or she has an 80 percent chance of receiving an effective or excellent education. Those are pretty good odds,’’ states CPE chair Barbara Shaner.

The numbers used by the CPE come from state report card results released in August by the Ohio Department of Education for the 2006-07 school year. CPE claims that, according to that data, public schools have outperformed charter schools 10 years in a row.
In Mahoning County, ODE shows that there are 12 charter schools in operation in Youngstown, with more than 2,700 students enrolled. Nine of of those schools are in academic watch or academic emergency. Three have been rated to be in continuous improvement.
If some charter schools go as many as three to four years in academic emergency, the state pulls the plug and they’re closed. To date, more than 25 community schools are in jeopardy
‘‘Unfortunately, charter school students are more likely to be worse off this year than they were last year, according to an analysis of ODE data. Of the 213 charter schools that received report cards in each of the last two years, more moved down in the ratings than up — 68 received a lower rating this year,’’ the CPE’s release states.

Analysis by OEA and CPE states that, ‘‘Among economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, those attending traditional schools performed better than those enrolled in charter schools on all 28 of the state tests.’’

Hat Tip: Schools Matter Blog

UPDATE; the much anticipated McKinsey report was released today, and it states that CPS administration is dysfuncitonal. I think Rosa Blackwell knew this was comming and that is why she resigned a few days ago. Note, the report does not say that the teachers or students or the learning environment are dysfunctional, only the upper management.

04 September 2007

Non-profits allowed to demolish historic buildings

The City of Cincinnati has 21 locally designated Historic Districts. Construction in these districts is regulated by law. Of these districts, the Over-the-Rhine district is by far the largest, and is certainly the most important. Demolition of a contributing structure, such as 1606 and 1608 Walnut is definitely not allowed.

However, there are 4 exemptions, which allow for demolition:

1. Demolition has been ordered by the Director of Buildings and Inspections for public safety because of an unsafe or dangerous condition which constitutes an emergency. See Section 741-21(c).
2. The owner can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Historic Conservation Board that the structure cannot be reused for any use or a reasonable economic return from the use of all or part of the building or from the sale of the property proposed for demolition cannot be realized. See Section 741-13(h)(2).
3. The owner is a non-profit corporation or organization and can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Historic Conservation Board that the denial of the application to demolish would also deny the owner the use of the property in a manner compatible with its organizational purposes and would amount to a taking of the owner’s property without just compensation. See Section 741-13(h)(3).
4. The demolition request is for an inappropriate addition or a non-significant portion of a building and the demolition will not adversely affect those parts of the building which are significant as determined by the Historic Conservation Board

There is a fifth reason which I don't compltely understand, but it is basically to make way for new construction under a City-approved plan. Here, in PDF format, are the OTR Historic Guidelines if you want to read them yourself.

If you are a private joe, or for-profit corporation, and you own 1606 Walnut Street, you would not be given a permit for demolition.

Most of the demolition in OTR over the years has been because of #1. Very few (if any)have been because of financial distress. The Board regularly denies such applications.

Below are pictures of three buildings, that at one time, the Historic Conservation Board denied demolition permits. They were shells, and now they are all restored. There are many, many others, but these are a few that come to mind, that I know about from personal experience:

1106 Main Street, The Hanke Building:

The Sun Building, 1102 Sycamore:

This one, very similar in size and scale to 1606 Walnut. 111 E. Thirteenth Street:

If it hadn't been for the Historic District regulations, these would be parking lots.


Purple bridge, blue sky


Photo - pool obsession


Millennium Hotel Roof

01 September 2007

Review: Movies on the Square

I was one of the skeptics. I really thought the old square was fine, and I believed it was a misplaced priority to spend millions of dollars to re-arrange the square. But, I like it more each visit. Mostly it seems to be because of the programming, and the bigger crowds that are there everyday. I am not sure if the programming could have happened in the old square, but that is a discussion for another day.

Last night, I spent what I would call a perfect urban evening on the square. I call it perfect because it was stress free to be in a public space like this, with little kids. I didn't have to hold their hand all the time. It wasn't too loud so that I couldn't talk to them in a normal voice. And when they played loudly, it just added to the mix; it didn't disturb others.

There were people in formal dress, and people who were probably homeless. But they all mixed fine. Kids ran around, young couples took photos of each other at the fountain, old men smoked, college kids sat and had a beer together and this mixed up group had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The things that help make it work:
1. Free movie: Nemo
2. Lots of kids. Some in pajamas and sleeping bags. They had a blast.
3. Lots of playing in "The fountain", and the newer squirting fountain.
4. Free iced coffee.
5. Popcorn and beer, for a couple bucks.
6. Diverse, laid-back crowd.
7. Perfect weather, clear, cool, mist from the fountain.
8. Kids meeting new friends, playing, even dancing, laughing and giggling.
9. Clean, easy to use restrooms. (The old ones were underground and hard to find).
10. Downtown Ambassadors, taking care of business.

I don't like a public space to have a giant TV. I don't like to go to the square and see a bunch of people looking up at a screen. But somehow the screen is not obtrusive to me in the daytime. I think because the sound is not too loud, and it is up high. Yet, for a movie is works smoothly. Easy to hear and see. People can be walking around and kids can be playing at the periphery, cars are driving by on the street, but it is not distracting, if you really want to watch.

We got there a little early, and people were hanging out, some watching football, others getting settled for the movie. Kids are tossing coins (and barbie dolls) in the fountain:

A perfect example of the diversity of the crowd. Here is Melvin Wilson, with his free Caribou Iced Coffee. He is the kind of guy, I would never meet at an event that had paid admission. He is a Vietnam vet, lives in some kind of group home, but a sincere guy, who loves to yuk it up with kids. We sat and talked for half and hour. I'll probably never see him again, but it was fun.

The crowd, settled and watching the movie and illuminated by some weird blue lights, that kind of make the granite sparkle:

Our beautiful fountain:

After the kids movie, the "more adult crowd" started taking over (for Jaws). And they looked like a fun group too.

Harsh Evening Sun


It was just blinding half an hour before sunset.

Staking out a good view


36hrs before the fireworks show, these nuts are staking out their prime spots. Seems like a waste of time to me. It is only a fireworks show.

I remember going to one of the first fireworks shows when I was 12 or 14 (1978?) and there were some long-haired kids diving off those ice-breakers. Seemed kinda dangerous, and I haven't seen anyone jump off one since.