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NEPC Review: Yearning to Break Free: Ohio Superintendents Speak Out

The report, Yearning to Break Free: Ohio Superintendents Speak Out, describes findings of a survey of 246 Ohio school superintendents about critical issues facing the state’s educational system. In particular, the intent of the study was to examine how superintendents might do more with fewer resources. The authors conclude that Ohio districts need increased managerial authority and control over state revenue streams and other funds; transformed collective bargaining rights; and repeal of automatic increases in teacher salaries. Such efforts, they argue, are imperative to improve the educational opportunities of all children in the state. But the authors do not provide evidence to support this latter claim. The combined effects of non-representative sampling, loaded or inappropriately worded items, and the conflating of opinion and fact make the report’s conclusions problematic. Myriad factors contribute to student achievement, including home and community effects, campus resources (material and non-material), as well as teacher competence which are not examined or considered. And, despite the reported finding that superintendents prefer greater autonomy in personnel and school policies over increased funding, the majority of superintendents also contend that they would see a trade-off of more autonomy with a decrease in funding as undesirable. While the report’s main thrust is to justify flat or reduced spending, the report lacks sufficient rigor to make it useful to guide policy or practice.

Suggested Citation: Horn, C. & Dworkin, G. (2011). Review of “Yearning to Break Free: Ohio Superintendents Speak Out.” Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from


Note that Steve Farkas, an author of the Fordham report, replied to the review, available at…

Horn and Dworkin responded to this reply, available at…

Document Reviewed:

Yearning to Break Free: Ohio Superintendents Speak Out

Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the FDR Group
Thomas B. Fordham Institute