Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Akron Education Association summarizes how SB5 will affect teachers

From RH Jones, April 30, 2011

Here, at a glance, is how Senate Bill 5 will affect you, your job security, your family, and your effectiveness as a teacher:
• Salary schedules are gone. No requirement to increase pay based on experience; pay based on ranges; merit is the only basis for progression through pay ranges.
• Seniority will no longer be used to determine the order of layoffs.
• Annual sick leave accrual reduced from 15 to 10.
• Fringe benefits cannot be bargained. Employer will design health plan and determine how much premium it will pay, up to a maximum of 85%. Teachers will pay minimally 15% of the premium.
• No more continuing contracts or "tenure."
• Board decides leave policies.
• Contract cannot require that art, music and phys. ed. specialists teach those subjects.
• Contract cannot restrict Board to assign teachers to schools and classes.
• Contract cannot set class size maximums, such as North Central standards in secondary academic classes.
• Contract cannot restrict a principal's authority to assign workloads and responsibilities.
• No restriction on Board to suspend salary and benefit increases if district is in "fiscal watch."
• No restriction on Board to terminate, modify or renegotiate an agreement if in "fiscal emergency."
• Cannot strike; severe penalties for ignoring an injunction to return; can be fired.
• No restriction on board's right to sub-contract services.

Substitute HB and weep!

From John Curry, April 30, 2011
The Ohio House has just released their Substitute House Bill 153. It's contains many of the provisions found in SB5, and in some cases, provisions that are even worse. Here are some of the items that now appear in the budget bill.
Teacher Pay
Replaces the Executive provision with a provision that requires school districts, community schools, STEM schools, ESCs, and county DD boards, beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, to pay teachers according to a performance-based schedule,
Replaces the Executive provision with a provision that requires the schedule be based on a teacher's level of license, whether the teacher is "highly qualified" under federal law, and evaluation ratings.
Requires the schedule provide for annual adjustments based on evaluations.
The bill eliminates the salary schedules and steps in place for teachers and nonteaching employees and instead requires teachers to receive performance based pay.
The bill requires a board to measure a teacher’s performance by considering all of the following:
(1) The level of license (a resident educator license, professional educator license, senior professional educator license, or lead professional educator license) that the teacher holds;
(2) Whether the teacher is a "highly qualified teacher" as defined in continuing law;
(3) The value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher's classroom;
(4) The results of the teacher's performance evaluations or any peer review program created by an agreement entered into by a board of education and representatives of teachers employed by that board;
Permits payment of additional compensation to teachers who agree to perform duties that the employer determines warrant additional compensation.
Teacher pay can be decided by any other criteria established by the board.
Both Budget and SB5:
Specifies that provisions on teacher pay prevail over collective bargaining agreements entered into on or after the provisions' (immediate) effective date.
Continuing Contracts for Teachers (Tenure)
Prohibits awarding a continuing contract (tenure) to a teacher who was initially licensed after January 1, 2011.Limits an employment contract with a classroom teacher entered into by a school district, community school, STEM school, or ESC on or after the provision's (90-day) effective date to a maximum of three years, and specifies that any subsequent contracts must be for terms of two to five years.
The bill abolishes continuing contracts for teachers, except for those continuing contracts entered into prior to the effective date of the bill. The bill instead requires classroom teachers to receive limited contracts.
A limited contract for a classroom teacher has a term of five years if the contract was entered into prior to the effective date of the bill.
The term of an initial contract cannot exceed three years if the contract is entered into on or after the effective date of the bill and for subsequent contracts the term is not less than two years or more than five years.
Teacher Evaluation
Repeals the requirement for the State Board, in consultation with the Chancellor of the Board of Regents, to establish guidelines for the evaluation of teachers and principals for optional use by school districts, and instead requires the state Superintendent, by December 31, 2011, to develop a framework for the evaluation of teachers.
Requires the Superintendent (1) to develop standards and criteria for teacher and principal evaluations that distinguish between four levels of performance: "highly effective," "effective," "needs improvement," and "unsatisfactory" and (2) to designate a standard of student academic growth that must be met to achieve each of the ratings.
Specifies that the framework require each evaluation to consider: (1) quality of instructional practice, (2) communication and professionalism, and (3) parent and student satisfaction.
Directs each school district, community school, STEM school, and ESC, by July 1, 2012, to adopt a teacher evaluation policy that utilizes the framework and that specifies the relative weight of each factor in (1) to (3) above and how each of those factors will be assessed.
Requires the policy be approved by the Superintendent.
Requires at least 50% of each teacher evaluation be based on student academic growth for students assigned to the teacher during the three most recent school years, except that if less than three years of data is available, permits the portion of the evaluation based on student performance to be reduced to 40%.
Requires student academic growth to be measured by value-added data derived from the state achievement assessments when applicable and by other assessments selected by the employer when not applicable
Requires the employer's teacher evaluation system to (1) use multiple measures of teacher's skills and students' progress, (2) be aligned with the Educator Standards Board's standards for teachers, (3) provide statements of expectation for professional performance, (4) require observation of the teacher on at least two occasions for at least 30 minutes each time, (5) assign ratings in accordance with the state Superintendent's standards and criteria, and (6) require the teacher to be given a written report of the evaluation results, including specific recommendations for improvements
Requires employers to evaluate each teacher annually.
Requires employers to use teacher evaluations to inform decisions about compensation, nonrenewal, termination, reductions in force, and professional development.
Specifies that if a teacher receives a rating of "unsatisfactory" for two consecutive years or two of three consecutive years, a rating of "needs improvement" for three consecutive years, or a combination of ratings of "needs improvement" and "unsatisfactory" for three consecutive years, the teacher loses a continuing contract if the teacher has one.
Requires employers to submit aggregate teacher and principal evaluation results to ODE. Grants civil immunity to the board of education (or other governing body), its members, and evaluators for conducting evaluations in accordance with the adopted policy
The evaluation on which a teacher's pay must be based is a new evaluation under the bill. No later than April 30, 2012, the Superintendent of Public Instruction must develop and submit recommendations for a framework for teacher evaluations to the State Board of Education.
The recommended framework must require all of the following:(1) At least 50% of each evaluation must be based on measures of student academic growth specified by the Department of Education.
When applicable to a teacher, those measures must include student performance on the assessments prescribed under continuing law and the value-added progress dimension prescribed under continuing law.(2) Each evaluation must consider the following additional factors, but the recommendations cannot designate the weight of any factor or prescribe a specific method of assessing any factor:(a) Quality of instructional practice, which can be determined by announced and unannounced classroom observations and examinations of samples of work, such as lesson plans or assessments designed by the teacher;(b) Communication and professionalism, including how well the teacher interacts with students, parents, other school employees, and members of the community;(c) Parent and student satisfaction, which may be measured by surveys, questionnaires, or other forms of soliciting feedback.
Also, no later than April 30, 2012, the Superintendent must develop and submit to the State Board recommendations for a framework for the evaluation of principals. The framework must require at least 50% of each evaluation to be based on measures of student academic growth specified by the Department. When applicable to the grade levels served by a principal's building, those measures must include student performance on specified assessments and value-added progress dimension. The framework for the evaluation of principals must be based on principles comparable to the framework for the evaluation of teachers but must be tailored to the duties and responsibilities of principals and the environment in which principals work.
Reduction In Force
These are less identical than the other provisions but have considerable overlap and pertain to the same sections of ORC.
Includes a provision that requires school districts, community schools, STEM schools, and ESCs to lay off teachers in order of their evaluation ratings, starting with teachers who receive "unsatisfactory" ratings first.
Includes a provision that prohibits giving preference in retention based on seniority.
Specifies that these provisions prevail over conflicting provisions of a collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after the provision's effective date.
Eliminates the requirement that, in rehiring tenured teachers when positions become available, the order of rehiring be based on seniority
With regard to teaching and non-teaching employees, the bill removes the authority of school districts and school district financial planning and supervision commissions to give preference to those employees who have greater seniority.
Teachers and non-teachers with continuing contracts receive preference under continuing law.
The bill states that after giving preference to continuing contracts, the board of a city, exempted village, local, or joint vocational school district is required to consider the relative quality of performance the principal factor in determining the order of reductions.
With respect to teachers, the board is required to measure the quality of performance by considering the level of license that the teacher holds, whether the teacher is considered a "highly qualified teacher," the value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher’s classroom, the results of the teacher’s performance evaluation, and any other criteria established by the board.
Teachers and non-teaching employees whose continuing contracts are suspended by a city, exempted village, local, or joint vocational school district, however, have the right under continuing law to be brought back in the order of seniority.
Forbids school district decisions on reduction in force to be inhibited by a collective bargaining agreement.

CORE's Duke Snider makes Cincinnati Chan. 12 (WKRC) Newsmakers re. Ohio elected officials sweetheart perk and SB 5!

Please click on this link below and then click on "Newsmakers - April 24" Duke is on the first segment of this one.
Way to go, Duke...well done.....and, does a dog have a tail?
Watch the Clip.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Breaking news: That 2% shift the gov wanted is now history!

From STRS, April 29, 2011
The proposed state budget no longer includes language that would set the contributions for public employers and their employees to 12% from each. On April 28, Substitute House Bill 153 (commonly referred to as the "budget bill") was presented at the House Finance and Appropriations Committee meeting with the proposed contribution change removed. This now enables any discussion of contributions to be held within the context of the pension reform package proposed by the five Ohio statewide public pension systems.

STRS Ohio's proposed pension reform plan calls for a 3% increase in member contributions, to 13% from 10%, and no change in the current 14% employer contributions as a way to help the pension fund meet the 30-year funding requirement. STRS Ohio was on record as opposing the 12-and-12 scenario, noting that the resulting decrease in revenue would require additional cuts in benefits for STRS Ohio's active members and retirees and/or even more in contributions from members. Many STRS Ohio members also voiced their concerns with legislators about the budget bill language.

This most recent step in the House committee helps allow any proposed changes to STRS Ohio's plan to be discussed and their actuarial impact analyzed in conjunction with the other plan components. We will continue to monitor Sub. H.B. 153 as it moves through the legislative process.


Earlier this week, some STRS Ohio members may have read articles about a study released by the Pew Center on the States, titled "The Widening Gap: The Great Recession's Impact on State Pension and Retiree Health Care Costs." Unfortunately, much of the report relies on 2009 data, plus does not take into account the actions many states have taken to preserve or restore the affordability and sustainability of their pension plans. In Ohio, all five pension systems have been proposing changes since 2009 that are designed to "close the gap" on funding levels. The introduction of House Bill 69 and Senate Bill 3 on Feb. 1, 2011, at the Statehouse finally brought this important discussion to the Legislature.

Information about changes public pension plans throughout the country have made or are proposing can be found on STRS Ohio's Web site under "Legislative News" on the home page ( Also, Web site visitors can access a joint response to the Pew study from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators and the National Council on Teacher Retirement on the home page. (STRS Ohio is a member of both of these organizations.) Just click on "Additional Information Resources" that can be found under the "Special Pension Plan Reform Coverage" section (

A one-hour live webcast titled "Retirement Countdown 2011" will premiere on May 11. This program is targeted to members who have already met with a benefits counselor and have current retirement estimates, but need help completing their service retirement application and health care program enrollment. Viewers will be able to submit questions to the webinar speakers in "real time." The one-hour webinars will start on Wednesday, May 11, and are offered each Wednesday thereafter through June 29, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. To register for one of the sessions, go to the STRS Ohio Web site home page where instructions can be found at: Registrations can be taken up to 4 p.m. on the day of the session.

A white hat doesn't always guarantee pure intent!

From John Curry, April 29, 2011

David Brennan and his immediate family members gave $431,721 to Ohio Republican politicians in the last election cycle.

And a good deal of that money went directly to the people responsible for this budget:

$46,681 John Kasich, Governor
$83,000 William Batchelder, Speaker of the Ohio House
$52,700 Tom Niehaus, President of the Ohio Senate
$47,500 Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee

[...and how much did public schools donate to either party in the last election cycle? A. is illegal. No wonder the charter schools are taking over Ohio!]


For-profit charter operator's contributions pay off in new GOP Budget
By Joseph On April 29, 2011
As we work our way through the revised budget bill that came out last night one thing is painfully obvious: Kasich and Ohio’s GOP are trying to privatize Ohio’s education system at the expense of teachers, students and, ultimately, all Ohioans. Period.

And the only plausible reason I can see for the GOP’s privatization effort is pure ideological hatred of the public education system and its teachers and/or a straight up pay back to their campaign donors.

We will delve into the details of the budget in a series of upcoming posts, but for now take my word that this budget removes nearly all restrictions on for-profit charter schools and the companies that manage them in Ohio. It removes important rights from anyone who works at a charter school. It eliminates financial oversight and transparency from for-profit charters. It eliminates the need for charters to have an in-state sponsor for their schools in Ohio. And it lets schools just start up as for-profit companies that will receive millions in state funding without any obligation to actually educate their students.

Ohio’s charter school system has been, and continues to be, a complete failure for two main reasons that we’ve covered many times before. First, Charter schools cost the state 250% MORE TO OPERATE than public schools. And second, Charter school perform WAY worse than public schools. As Innovation Ohio points out: “only 21 percent of charter schools rate effective or better … Meanwhile … 72 percent of traditional school buildings and 88 percent of traditional school districts rate effective or better on the state report card.

So you have to ask yourself why, in the middle of a huge budget crisis, would a Governor and GOP-controlled legislature decide to pursue an education agenda that will ultimately end up costing more money to provide a crappier level of education to Ohio’s students?

One of the simplest answers comes from looking as where that extra money is going to go: Charter School Management Companies.

Companies like White Hat Management and it’s owner David Brennan, who operate dozens of poorly performing, financially irresponsible and downright evil charter schools throughout Ohio, will directly profit financially from the budget bill released by the Republicans yesterday.

And the guys who put this budget together absolutely know this. Kasich knows this. House Speaker Batchelder knows this. Senate President Niehaus knows this. And Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee, knows this.

Not only do they know it, but I believe THIS WAS THEIR GOAL. To take money away from public schools and to send it to for-profit charter schools.

And here’s why:

David Brennan and his immediate family members gave $431,721 to Ohio Republican politicians in the last election cycle.

And a good deal of that money went directly to the people responsible for this budget:

$46,681 John Kasich, Governor
$83,000 William Batchelder, Speaker of the Ohio House
$52,700 Tom Niehaus, President of the Ohio Senate
$47,500 Ron Amstutz, Charman of the Finance Committee

I have a lot more to talk about on this issue, but let’s consider this our starting point for further discussion:

Large, for-profit charter school operators gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP in Ohio and the GOP returns to the favor by putting out a budget that hurts students, costs the state more money and fills the pockets of their biggest campaign contributor.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Survey sez......

From John Curry, April 27, 2011
Survey shows public pensions recovering and adequately funded
April 25, 2011

NCPERS member funding survey shows public pension funds are experiencing a robust recovery from the historic market downturn of 2008-2009 – reporting strong investment returns, growing assets and more than adequate funding levels to meet their obligations. The survey is one of the most comprehensive study of public pensions. In all, 216 public pension funds were surveyed, the vast majority – 83 percent – were local pension funds, while 17 percent were state pension funds.

Among the survey's key findings:

  • Despite weak short-term investment experience in 2008 and 2009, the long-term investment discipline of fund managers has produced an average one-year return of 13.5 percent, based on the most recently reported data. Funds participating in the study reported a 20-year average return of 8.2 percent.
  • Investment returns are the single most significant source of plan funding, comprising about 66 percent of fund revenue. Individual plan members are a significant source of plan funding, contributing 10 percent of plan revenue. Employer contributions comprise only 24 percent of plan revenue.
  • The vast majority of plans are managed responsibly and maintain strong funding levels. On average, public pension plans are 75.7 percent funded and continue to work toward full funding. According to its February 2011 report Enhancing the Analysis of U.S. State and Local Government Pension Obligations, Fitch Ratings considers a funded ratio of 70 percent or above to be adequate.

Hey, Ann, is it true?

John Curry to Ann Hanning, April 27, 2011
I hear that ORTA recently had a meeting of ORTA legislative representatives and they finally developed the courage to inform you and other "non-believing" ORTA officials that it is IN THE BEST INTEREST of ORTA's members to take a position against SB 5. Is there any truth to this? If so, it sure has been a long time coming. What was the hold-up?
P.S. There are things more important in this world than mashed potatoes and green beans, aren't there?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hey, Governor, this school treasurer says that you are using fuzzy math!

From John Curry, April 27, 2011
He says that your figures were off by 782%!
"This data is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Mohr said.
Senate Bill 5 savings data off by $3M, district treasurer says
Springfield News-Sun, April 27, 2011
By Tiffany Y. Latta, Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD — State data released last week claiming Senate Bill 5 would save Springfield City Schools nearly $3.5 million is “grossly inaccurate,” school officials said Tuesday.

Treasurer Christopher S. Mohr said his analysis shows the district would save just under $400,000, making the state’s numbers off by 782 percent or more than $3 million.

“To be more than 700 percent off means that most of all the assumptions made in this data are wrong,” Mohr said.

Mohr also analyzed the state’s estimated cost savings for Clark Shawnee Local, Southeastern Local, Northwestern Local and Northeastern Local schools and found that the state figures were way off on all of them, he said.

The Ohio Department of Administrative Services released an analysis April 20 that area districts would save thousands and in some cases millions from a law restricting public employee compensation and collective bargaining rights. The analysis was based on the assumption that requiring district employees to pay 15 percent of their health insurance premiums and eliminating step and longevity increases would save the district $3,566 per employee.

But Mohr said the state’s numbers are flawed.

He and other Clark County school officials say the state relied on inaccurate numbers of employees and other information for every school district to come up with estimates and never asked any of them to review the data.

The state’s findings show that Northwestern Local would save more than $670,00. But Mohr’s findings indicate the district would save about $345,000.

Northwestern Superintendent Tony Orr said the state’s inflated numbers could hurt area districts at the polls May 3.

“It’s a dangerous thing to put numbers out there that could cause the community to question what’s accurate,” Orr said. “When we have so many school districts with levies on the ballot this will cause the community to question whether the need is real. But I will tell you, the need is real.”

Springfield City Superintendent David Estrop agreed.

Estrop said it’s critical that the district’s 9.573-mill, seven-year renewal levy for operations passes.

But he fears the impact of the community being inundated with inaccurate information.

“This kind of misinformation can confuse people, and in some cases it can be dangerous because they’re painting a false picture of our funding needs,” Estrop said.

He also said the state’s failure to ensure that the numbers released last week were accurate was irresponsible.

“These numbers are so off the mark its absurd,” Estrop said. “They said they didn’t have time to check. But these are the numbers they gave to us to use and they don’t even come close.”

Mohr said the state estimates the five Clark County school districts he analyzed would save just under $7 million combined.

According to his analysis, the districts would actually save about $1.4 million, a difference of more than $5.4 million.

“This data is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Mohr said.

Great news! ORTA finally sees the light.

From RH Jones, April 27, 2011
To all:
It is with great joy that I pass onto you the info that I have received from SummitCRTA Legislative Chair, Dr. K. Fluke, this afternoon: “ORTA Past President, Bob Dengler, as one of his last acts for ORTA, went down to Columbus yesterday afternoon and talked to the ORTA Legislative Committee and convinced them that SB 5 indeed will impact retired teachers income status and that ORTA should work for its repeal. Response was positive by the ORTA Leg CMTE and they voted to do so. Bob Dengler is to be commended for doing this for the members at a time when his dear wife is seriously ill. I offer my prayers and I hope you do too.
Also, Dr. Fluke mentioned that of those present at the SummitCTRA meeting voted 100% to “kill the bill”. A couple die-hard far-right Republican Board Members were absent. At least that saved Dr. Fluke some stress.
After today’s meeting, he asked the AkronEA about when the referendum to “kill the bill” referendum would be available to sign and they said they would have them there the first of next week. Ohio Senator, Tom Sawyer will have them at his local office to sign also. Now, Do your duty, SIGN THE REFERENDOM!!!!!!!!!!!
Readers, I never thought this day would come. Those of you that bothered to bother your ORTA representatives to fight SB 5 are to be commended! The ORTA finally listened to their members, a little late, but nonetheless GREAT!
However, because of the past inaction of ORTA by not supporting the maintaining of our 3% fixed COLA, if a change is not forthwith, we should still continue to think of forming a new union for retired teachers only – no administrators. The ORTA is not “off the hook” yet!
My personal opinion,
RHJones, Life Member of ORTA and a Proud Member of CORE (a union that early on knew that SB 5 harms retired teachers.)

It looks like a rush to retire at Ohio STRS

From John Curry, April 27, 2011
Ohio looks to fill void left by grown-up baby boomers
By Lia Armstrong

The Lantern, April 26, 2011

"Baby boomer" often describes someone born between 1946 and 1964, but for teachers of that generation, it now means one more thing: retirement.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and The Pew Research Center, baby boomers currently account for 26 percent of the population. Starting in 2011, about 10,000 boomers will reach the age of 65 every day for the next 19 years.

This means a large portion of the population will be leaving the workforce nationally, adding a burden to the quality and availability of teachers in many fields.

Charles Wilson, a Worthington school board member and associate professor at the Ohio State Moritz College of Law, said within the next five years, 50 percent of all teachers who are of the baby boomer generation will come to retirement age.

Charles Wilson

Though there is a surplus of teachers in Ohio, Wilson said the majority of them are not set to fill the positions that need it most.

"The problem is right now, even with a so-called lut of teachers,' we can't find foreign language teachers, we can't find special-ed teachers, we can't find science or math teachers," Wilson said.

Baby boomers largely occupy these hard-to-staff subjects, Wilson said.

"If all of our teachers in those areas are in retirement age, when they retire, I shudder to think how we're going to replace them," Wilson said.

There is some attempt to drive teaching students into the harder-to-fill fields with Project Aspire, a federal grant-based program through the College of Education and Human Ecology at OSU that encourages students studying teaching to work in high needs areas in Columbus City Schools.

Jessica Mercerhill, the director of the curriculum and program planning for Project Aspire, said the project helps guide students into the emptying fields, but only reaches the students who are already interested in going to these areas.

"For us it's based on what they already want to do," Mercerhill said. "We're only working with people who have been accepted into secondary education in science and mathematics and some foreign language."

Mercerhill said she did not know of any programs that pushed students into these fields.

Zach Jensen, a third-year in middle childhood education, said he has been advised of his career options, but was never strongly persuaded to go into an area other than middle school education.

Even with advice, Jensen said it wouldn't change his plans.

If these positions the retirees leave are not filled, this could mean programs being eliminated, much larger class sizes and unqualified teachers, Wilson said.

"K-12 education is going to be in a crisis if the baby boomers retire," Wilson said.

Ohio teachers might also be more likely to take early retirement based upon recent legislative developments in Senate Bill 5 and the current pension reform under consideration in House Bill 69 and Senate Bill 3. The proposed plans would increase the minimum years of service needed from 30 to 35, would not allow for a cost of living increase for five years and would cap pension.

Those teachers who are at retirement age will see a reduced pension after 2012, Wilson said. For these teachers, retiring will make little financial sense.

"Pension reform is going to encourage more people to retire sooner so their pension doesn't get smaller by staying on," Wilson said.

Even though Ohio Department of Education representatives were unable to say if the rate of projected teacher retirements is as high in Ohio as it is nationally, Laura Ecklar, communications director for the State Teachers Retirement System, said she has seen a larger number of teachers applying for retirement this year than ever before.

"We are starting to see an increase in applications," Ecklar said. "But it will be difficult to tell if that pattern continues, because a whole lot of people are waiting to see what happens with the proposed pension plans that are in legislation."

Pension changes aside, many Ohio teachers feel the recent SB5 decision belittles their profession and they don't want to stay in a career with little public and political support, Wilson said.

"For serious teachers, it's a 24/7 job, and this notion that somehow it's easy work rubs people the wrong way," Wilson said. "Who wants to go into a job where your elected officials are saying every day that you're worthless?"

Recent legislation is only adding to the discontent of teachers, but Wilson said the real problem lies in officials' lack of effort to actively fill these less desired positions.

"Colleges of education don't admit people based on where the needs are," Wilson said. "They just have this attitude that a teacher is a teacher and mostly what they're turning out are elementary school teachers. The last thing we need in Worthington is another first grade teaching applicant, we had hundreds for our last opening. But we didn't have a single applicant for our last Spanish teacher opening."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bob Jones to principals: You may be evaluated on staff morale!

From RH Jones, April 26, 2011
Subject: Principals to be evaluated on staff morale
To all principals, and supervisors over teachers:
When I was in the Army ROTC back in 1950, I learned that Gen. Eisenhower, who later became the U.S. President, emphasized that all officers would be evaluated on one thing and one thin only: troop morale.
As you know your Ohio Governor Kasich, the GOP controlled legislature and senate are for merit pay and doing away with negotiations for teacher unions; and, the fact that teacher morale has been reported to be at an all-time low due to SB 5 (the union busting legislation). Therefore, if SB 5 is allowed to become Ohio Revised Code, you may be evaluated on the morale of your staff members. I find that ironic, as I know the most of you may have voted for John Kasich and his team “hell bent” on privatizing traditional public schools.
Also, as you know, tenure, class size and other negotiated items are under attack. That creates an atmosphere of poor working conditions for teachers and their students. Low morale will become the norm, and you know it.
Therefore, I strongly suggest, in your own interests and those of other administrators, teachers, students and parents, to take a strong position to rid our great State of Ohio of those politicians who would destroy our traditional public school system. I urge you to become proactive before your superiors evaluate you on how happy your staff happens to be.
Good-faith negotiations are the product of a mature civilized society.
This is the opinion of a retired teacher,

A must read for every Ohio taxpayer....and especially every public servant!

Bob Evans can’t afford to improve its benefits, eh Governor?

"It looks like they could take the taxpayers off the hook and still make $50 million in profits."
How Bob Evans' "shabby benefits" cost taxpayers money
By ModernEsquire On April 26, 2011
During his 100 day celebration, after declaring his need to avoid “unforced errors,” Governor Kasich suggested that part of what SB 5 did was bring state government benefits more in line with the “shabby” benefits of private workers like a waitress at Bob Evans. By bringing Ohio’s public employee union benefits, to the “shabby” benefits of minimum wage, non-union jobs like the waitress at Bob Evans saves the State money, Kasich argued.

(Source: Marc Kovac @ Ohio Capital Blog)

So, would the State of Ohio save money if it provided benefits like Bob Evans does? No.

In fact, you can argue that even before you consider the $8 million corporate welfare giveaway the Kasich Administration is giving the corporation to move its global HQ from Columbus to nearby New Albany, taxpayers have been subsidizing Bob Evans’ employee benefits for some time.

Looking at just one month of data from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (July 2010), Ohio Policy Matters was able to see that roughly 13% of Bob Evans employees in Ohio received some form of government assistance to make ends meet. Roughly 4,800 Bob Evans employees and their family members relied on Medicaid to provide them with health care coverage. A little over 4,000 relied on the government to provide their families assistance buying food. And almost 250 made so little working at Bob Evans, they qualified for cash assistance under the Ohio Works First program. What’s worse is that over the last six years, the number of Bob Evans employees relying on government food assistance programs has grown nearly 49% while the number of employees employed by Bob Evans has shrunk by nearly 4%.

If what Policy Matters observed in July ‘10 was reflective of what is seen every month, how much does Bob Evans’ “shabby benefits” cost federal and Ohio taxpayers?

Based on statistical program averages for per-recipient program costs provided by ODJFS, it appears that these annual subsidies could amount to more than $20 million.

In other words, we just gave $8 million in corporate welfare to an Ohio company to rebuild a new corporate headquarters with $70 MILLION in profits last year that pays their workers so little it may cost us $20 million a year in welfare benefits to help their workers meet their families' basic needs. It is an utter farce for Governor Kasich to suggest that companies like Bob Evans simply cannot afford to provide better benefits for their employees and stay in business.

Bob Evans can’t afford to improve its benefits, Governor? It looks like they could take the taxpayers off the hook and still make $50 million in profits. The problem with Kasich’s assumption is that he believes that the private sector pays the most in benefits they can afford. This is laughably untrue as Bob Evans, Walmart, and countless other businesses demonstrate. Thanks to day trading and the investor class, businesses are under enormous pressure to maximum revenues and minimize costs. They are, after all, for-profit entities. One way businesses are able to keep their cost down, like Bob Evans demonstrates, is by having the government pick up part of their tab in giving their employees a sustainable support system. In other words, welfare for the working poor is another form of corporate welfare.

Government can’t do that. If government pays “shabby” benefits that forces their employees to rely on the social safety net to make ends meet, all you're doing is transferring payroll expenses to welfare rolls. On a per employee basis, it would appear that companies like Bob Evans that pay their employees “shabby benefits” substantially cost the State more money than even the rosiest of projects by the Kasich Administration suggests SB 5 could save the State. If Ohio provided to its State employees the kind of benefits Bob Evans did, it would cost the State an additional $220 million in new welfare costs. That’s more than the Administration claims SB 5 will “save” Ohio taxpayers using what most consider highly questionable and incredibly rosy “math.”

As Policy Matters Ohio pointed out in their press release:

“People who work should be able to support themselves and their families,” said Wendy Patton, the author of the report. “The plight of these workers and their families illustrates a basic problem in our economy.”…

“The answer is not that more Ohioans need lower earnings,” said Patton. “More people in Ohio need a living wage and benefits that are not shabby.”

Not all rehired retirees attempt to 'game' the system

From Ron Baker, April 25, 2011
Subject: HB 202
Dear Kathie,
I read your blog tonight about HB 202. I hope you are against this law! I retired, after thirty years, from teaching in 2006. Six months later, I returned to the field because there was a need for teachers at a DD school near me. To meet requirements, I took additional college classwork and earned masters degrees in Special Education and in Early Childhood. If HB 202 passes, then I am not sure if I can keep my job. I have invested a great deal of time and money to get trained for the job I now hold. My retirement will not pay for my student loans, house payment, and car payment. I probably don't need to tell you that a retired teacher does not earn that much money. After 34 years of teaching and three masters degrees, my current salary is $39,000. I pay into the retirement system 10% from this salary. I am very worried about the future of education in Ohio.
Please reply to my email. Thank you.
Ron Baker
On April 13, Rep. Richard Hollington introduced House Bill 202. This bill includes provisions dealing with reemployed public employees. Basically, it would require anyone who is receiving retirement benefits from one of the Ohio systems, including STRS Ohio, to forfeit $1 of their retirement benefit for each $2 earned above an annual threshold amount of $14,160. This threshold amount, or "excess earnings base" as it is referred to in the bill, would be adjusted each year by the actual average increase, if any, in the consumer price index (CPI).

Here's an example of how a reemployed retiree's pension could be reduced: Assume a retiree is receiving a yearly pension of $38,000. This individual returns to work in a public position covered by one of the Ohio retirement systems and receives an annual salary of $35,000. This salary exceeds the threshold amount of $14,160 by $20,840. The retiree's pension would be reduced by $10,420 (one-half of the excess amount). The bill's language does not detail how this new rule would be implemented, monitored or enforced.

RHJones re: ALL EDUCATORS SHOULD READ THIS ONE....a couple of area Supers exposed...I'd hate to teach under them!

RH Jones to Lenora Wood, April 25, 2011
This is the very reason retired teachers do need separate representation, free of better paid school administors. May I exclude college professors and anyone who did not teach in traditional public schools, as well. We should form a separate traditional public school district retired teacher union. One that ONLY retired teachers may join. Our ORTA allows administrators membership and they control the board. Is it no wonder that ORTA is so weak in regard to maintaining and improving our retired teacher benefits? The OEA-R must go along with the OEA constitution so their hands a tied when retired teachers ask for help. They must serve their active teacher interests, retired teachers are secondary. With the exception of Columbus, the OEA is controlled by rural associations that tend to be Grab Our Pension (GOP) voters. Our CORE, God Bless them, has been working for us very well but still administrators can belong.
The Independent Akron Education Association is not an option, either; for they have their active teachers interest to serve most. To me, that is as AEA should be. It and the OEA are active teachers associations and that is fine; but, we need a totally independent retired teachers union that serves the interests of retired teachers only, PERIOD.
I wonder if some of the retired AEA union leaders would be interested in forming such an association. I would send in my dues immediately. Two past AEA presidents, Bill Siegfreth, and John Gondorchin, are now retired teachers and would be great to lead such a union. If anyone reads this that knows their e-mail addresses, please forward this message to them. We need them now more than ever.
Please read Lenora's message below.
Bob Jones
From Lenora Wood [no date]
Subject: FW: ALL EDUCATORS SHOULD READ THIS ONE....a couple of area Supers exposed...I'd hate to teach under them!

Akron Education Association newsletter: School boards, administrators and SB 5

Random Notes
March 28, 2011
Jeff Moats, President
Michael Rusnak, Vice President
Visit our Website at
School Boards, Administrators AWOL in the Fight Against Five
The list of those who have spoken in opposition to SB 5 before the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee and its sister committee in the Ohio House is completely devoid of administrators and school board members. That shouldn’t surprise—the bill liberates both from the interference, restrictions and obstructions they’ve suffered at the hand of employees armed with the right to negotiate. Individually, they’ve maintained silence, opting for the easy way out by allowing their respective state organizations [Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO), Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA)] to serve as their collective (no pun intended) mouthpieces in Columbus.
OASBO and OSBA issued joint testimony on Senate Bill 5. Describing themselves as, “one of the oldest and most basic forms of American public service and democracy,” they support removing health care from the bargaining process and capping their share of premium costs. They favor the “flexibility” that being their own judge and jury allows them in contract impasses; they appreciate the broad authority they’ve been granted to fire and layoff teachers. They blame the bargaining law for “a significant erosion of management rights” that has made it “extremely difficult for local boards of education to effectively manage schools,” but in the same breath they vow support for collective bargaining, boasting that how, since 1983, “…boards of education and their administrative staff (sic) have negotiated literally thousands of contracts.”
BASA’s testimony is not posted on their website and they declined our request for a copy. It’s a safe bet their position is as supportive of 5 as OASBO’s and OSBA’s, if not more so.
The disconnect between what these groups and their members have said in the past, and the position they’ve taken on 5 is hypocrisy at its finest. They’ve talked about the importance of partnering and collaborating with their teachers toward reaching our common goal of improving student achievement. They’ve acknowledged how critical teacher buy-in is to experimenting with promising reform initiatives designed to improve teaching and learning. Districts across the state have praised their teachers’ organizations for showing restraint at the bargaining table in cash strapped districts, applauding unions for settling for no pay increases and taking on more of the cost of health care. Nowhere is the hypocrisy more evident than in the praise management espoused for Race to the Top state guidance that requires labor and management to “negotiate in good faith to continue to achieve the overall goals of the State’s Race to the Top grant.” To our knowledge, not one school board member and not one school administrator has questioned lawmakers about how Race to the Top objectives can be met under the draconian bargaining restrictions in SB 5.
Given their stance on the bill, all of management’s expressions of allegiance to their teachers appear to be nothing more than lip service, unsupported by real conviction or action.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

CORE minutes for April meeting

From CORE, April 23, 2011

Minutes for the April 14, 2011 CORE Meeting

On sunny April 14th at 12:45 p.m. in the Sublett Room of STRS, President Dave Parshall opened the April meeting of the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators (CORE). Kathie Bracy moved that the minutes from the March CORE Meeting be approved; Donna Thorpe seconded the motion. The minutes were unanimously approved.

There was no treasurer’s report this month; however, President Parshall has been in contact with the IRS, trying to rectify an error. (He has been told to wait several weeks to be sure we’re still in the system.) For those members who were curious, Parshall informed those in attendance that CORE is a 501C4 group.

Turning his attention to Senate Bill 5, President Dave encouraged CORE members to become involved in the petition drives against SB5 – either by training to circulate one of these bi-partisan petitions or at least by signing a petition in their home county. He stressed that what happens to active teachers does affect retirees. (It is imperative that we all protect our profession as well as our pension!)

President Parshall, now a trained petition circulator, read information about the petition and those who plan to carry one. Carole DePaola, also a circulator instructor, and Kathie Bracy added a few instructional points to Dave’s pointers. Parshall wrapped up his commentary by stressing that CORE members must keep working and not give up!

The meeting ended at 1:25. The next CORE Meeting will be on Thursday, May 19th.

Respectfully submitted,

Marie M. Fetters

CORE Secretary

Additional information from Dave.......

Since the April CORE meeting, CORE has joined the We Are Ohio organization and twenty-five CORE members have asked me to send them anti-SB 5 petitions for signature gathering. It is still not too late to send me your name and U.S. Postal mailing address to join the list. Additional instructional materials will be sent along with the petitions. E-mail me at my following e-mail address for petitions:

Dave Parshall
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