Saturday, October 15, 2011

What one retired educator has to say to Ohio educators (and others) who vote Republican......

Educators--Are you still A Republican? Then read this list and consider what you are voting for today. If you disagree with the current GOP positions on even a few of these, then why are you voting for any Republican? This list was compiled by a former Republican, now an independent, from the words and actions of today’s Republican leaders. The figures come from the Congressional Budget Office.
1. Workers have no right to bargain for working conditions or wages.
2. Medicare and Social Security were a mistake and should be ended or at least privatized.
3. Government should have no role in our lives other than supporting big business and fighting wars.
4. Teachers, police, firefighters, and in fact all public workers are the cause of Ohio’s budget problems. Even in view of the fact that Bush crashed the economy and created no net private sector jobs in eight years, and tax revenues tanked along with the U.S. economy.
5. Medicaid helps the lazy and should be ended or greatly reduced. Destitute seniors have just lived too long, and should be taken care of by family members. Those without families are just out of luck. We can just go back to the way it was in the 1920’s. You want your country back--back to the turn of century.
6. The government should control a women’s reproductive life.
7. Women should not earn equal pay with men.
8. You love the fetus, but hate the child.
9. Government supported food and healthcare programs for children like CHIPS are a waste of our tax money. Kids are not the future of our country, corporations are.
10. Child labor laws are not needed today and should be reduced to allow for under-aged workers to work longer hours. Missouri and Maine have already done this, and other red states are thinking about doing the same. Will Ohio be next?
11. Our wars and military actions should be fought by kids from the lower and middle class because they need the jobs. The draft is unfair because wealthy families may lose their sons and daughters in combat.
12. Returning Veterans benefits need to be cut. They are just a drag on our economy and military pension should be switched to a defined contribution plan. Homeless veterans are just a myth—Bill O’Reilley.
13. Stealing wealth from the poor and giving it to the top 10% is a good American virtue. The last decade has seen the greatest shift in wealth to the top in our nation’s history, which is just great for the economy. Corporations are “people”--really wealthy ones, to say the least.
14. Corporate money should control our elections. After all, they have your best interest at heart even if you are in the middle class or poor. “Corporate takeover of our Democracy is good for America”, Steven Moore -- the Wall Street Journal.
15. The middle class did not create the economic boom in the 1950s, it was the wealthy. They were paying a top tax rate of 91% then and were fine with it.
16. The top 10% are the job creators in spite of the fact that there is no evidence to support this claim. Remember the Bush years?
17. The Bush years never happened, and all the debt that came due under Obama is his entire fault. Just like the depression was Roosevelt’s fault.
18. All government services should be privatized thereby draining public treasuries into profit for political cronies and CEO’s because they care about all of us. A totally free market would work like it did during the Robber Baron era.
19. We don’t need Nixon’s EPA or the Clean Water Act because Corporations will police themselves.
20. Rivers have never caught on fire in the U.S.
21. Republicans don’t drink the water or breathe the same air like the rest of us.
22. It’s OK that the U.S. healthcare system is ranked 41st. in the world, and at the bottom of western countries in terms of outcomes and coverage for its citizens. Yet we spend 10x more on healthcare than other nations ranked above us. It is OK with you that our for-profit healthcare system puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and kills thousands of Americans every year.
23. Only the wealthy should have healthcare. It is just the natural order of things. Healthcare is not a human necessity, certainly not a right.
24. You think Healthcare Insurance Companies should decide your treatment and not your doctor.
25. You like the Insurance Companies’ death panels. Remember pre-existing conditions, which the new healthcare act eliminates, but you want to go back to those days. It is OK with you if the pre-existing conditions clause in your policy is brought back. Obamacare eliminated it.
26. It is OK with you that in the U.S., the richest country in the world, you can lose your home if you or a family member gets truly sick. This happens in no other country in the western world.
27. It is OK with you if we have the highest infant mortality rate of any western country and on a par with some third world countries.
28. The eight years of Bush never happened.
29. Iraq was responsible for 9/11.
30. We should get away from support of public education and go to a charter school system run for profit. Schools are a business and kids are a product.
31. Only the rich should be able to send their kids to college.
32. There is no need for the minimum wage. Lower wages mean there will be more jobs. After all Bush said, “working three jobs is typically American.”
33. It is good for workers to give tax breaks to Corporations that ship jobs overseas. You are fine that your taxes were used to end your job.
34. You are fine with paying more taxes than GE. You think the corporate tax rate is too high even though most pay far less and the rate is at a 30 year or more low.
35. The defense budget has doubled since 1997, but we can’t cut it even though we pay more for defense than all the next 12 highest countries added together. US tax payers should keep paying to defend European Countries and support the 800+ military bases we have around the world.
36. The Military should be privatized whenever possible. Hallibuton etc. have done such a wonderful job. Sure it cost us ten times as much and soldiers were electrocuted in their showers (collateral damage).
37. The banks and Wall Street do not need to be regulated. They are all honest, and have the country’s welfare at heart, and should be able to do whatever they want. Remember the 1920’s or even 2008.
38. The new Consumer Commission is not needed. Are you in foreclosure yet? How is your 401k doing? Do you have credit cards and have you used a hand lens to read the fine print yet?
39. You believe the lie that the so called “Obamacare” is a government take of healthcare, and cost us too much money when in fact it turns even more healthcare over to Corporations and it actually saves us money and extends the life of Medicare 10 years.
40. You believe that there are death panels in the new Affordable Healthcare Bill.
41. You realize that Republicans wrote most of the Healthcare bill.
42. We don’t need a strong middle class.
43. Not all citizens should have the right to vote. Voter suppression is fine with you. Do you and all family members have a government ID? Passports only cost a little over $200. The founder of the Tea Party Nation believes that only property owners have the right to vote. What about women or minorities? I remember Jim Crow, do you?
44. Our food, medicines, and planes etc. don’t need to be inspected.
45. High-speed rail is a waste of money even though it is the most economic way to move people and goods. It’s also more environmentally friendly than your car. California thanked Kasich for all the money we sent their way when our Governor turned down the High Speed Rail funds.
46. Kasich thinks about the middle class and the poor before Corporations and his Wall Street cronies. Why are so many former Regan administration advisors and leaders speaking out against the current GOP lies that tax breaks and spending cuts will solve all our problems? Could it be that just maybe they feel that it is time to start to think what is best for the country and not just wealthy donors? Yes, there are some Blue Dog Democrats who are the problem also, but every single Republican thinks about their wealthy 1% handlers first. You know.... Wall Street, and Banks.
47. Medicare Part D should not be allowed to bargain with drug companies like the western European countries and our Veterans Administration does. It is fair that we pay the highest drug costs in the world. After all, we have to keep the big money going to Congress.
48. The US is now ranked 45th in income equity. Are you in the top 10% or 2%? Then maybe you should start to vote in your best economic interests.
49. The top 2% has more wealth than 50% of the rest of us. 30 years of conservative economics has driven us into a two class society.
50. You earn more than $250,000 a year. If not, you are voting against you own best economic reason.
51. You believe that the GOP is the Christian party. I mean, Christ taught us to steal from the poor and give to the rich, and to have charity and compassion for none.
52. Wages for the lower and middle class have flat-lined over the last 30 years while the curve for the increased wealth of the top 10% looks like the slope of Mt. Everest. This is Reaganomics at its best. David Stockton, the father of the trickle down theory, is now going around the country telling anyone who will listen that he was wrong.
53. The CBO credits the stimulus package, passed by Congress, with saving over 1 million jobs, yet you believe this is a lie even though you may be one of the teachers who were not laid off. You also did not notice all the road repairs that were done with the stimulus fund and the state budgets that were saved like those in Texas and Ohio. You don’t work in the American auto industry.
54. Obama has deported more illegals in three years than Bush did in eight. Yet you think he is soft on illegal immigration.
55. A family with an annual income of $22,350 or less is considered at or below the poverty level. Fox news and the Heritage Foundation were outraged that 99.6% of these families had a refrigerator. You don’t see this outrage as morally wrong or just perhaps the real class warfare.
56. Thanks to Obama you are paying the lowest taxes in 50 years. Yet you believe the lie that Obama raised and wants to raise your taxes raised even more.
57.47 million Americans can’t feed their families and 1 in 4 children live in poverty and 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty. Yet you voted for the people who want to do away with the free school lunch program which provides the only hot meal a child may get 5 days out of 7. As an educator I and I assume you have seen this, yet you support those who want to end the program. If so, I have to ask how do you sleep at night and why are you teaching?
58. For every dollar the U.S. spends on the food stamp program, the economy gets $1.08 back. Yet you want to cut or end the program--after all the poor are just lazy.
59. 54 million Americans are without healthcare insurance. 71% of private sector workers and 26% of all Texans are without healthcare--you know, the Texas miracle?
60. The problem with U.S. education today is there are so many bad teachers and administrators. Wake up, as they are coming after you. Experienced or tenured teachers are lazy and just too expensive.
The list could go on and on. When you vote Republican today you are aiding the people who want to do you harm if you are not in even the top 10% in terms of wealth. Stop and realize what has happened to the party I once belonged to and that you still think exists. If you earn over $250,000, you may have some reason to vote for the GOP in Ohio after all… the GOP now stands for Greed Over Principle.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's that , Rep. Ron Amstutz (R- Wooster), about why politicians are exempt from SB 5?

From John Curry, October 13, 2011
Wanna' see a healthy dose of HYPOCRISY? Watch Ronnie do his minute of pure sputter, stutter and convoluted reasoning! Thanks for the entertainment, Ronnie!!
STRS Board to meet October 19-20, 2011
Details here.

STRS Retirement Board to meet October 19, 20, 2011

From STRS, October 12, 2011
The State Teachers Retirement Board and Committee meetings currently scheduled at the STRS Ohio offices, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, are as follows:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Noon - Disability Review Panel (Executive Session)

Thursday, October 20, 2011
9 a.m. - Retirement Board Meeting, followed by Ad Hoc Committee for Retreat Review

The Retirement Board meeting will come to order on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, and begin with a Report From the Investment Department, followed by a Report From CEM Benchmarking Inc., the Executive Director's Report, public participation, a Report From the Finance Department, routine matters, old business, new business or any other matters requiring attention.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Massachusetts confirms that Ohio’s Education Director repeatedly provided false testimony: Plunderbund

From John Curry October 10, 2011
Massachusetts confirms that Ohio’s Education Director repeatedly provided false testimony
by on October 9, 2011
The Governor’s education director lied to me. No big deal, right? Well, before he lied to me, he lied to the Senate Finance Committee, but that was after he lied to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, and after he lied to a roomful of state superintendents, and after he lied to all of Ohio in the FY2012-13 budget.
Here’s the details of the lie and why you should be concerned.
During testimony on the voluminous House Bill 153, Ohio’s budget bill, I can only find evidence that three people specifically mentioned the Governor’s provision to retest teachers in Ohio’s lowest performing schools:
  • Dr. Robert Sommers, Director, Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education
  • Stan W. Heffner, Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Me
Remember, Ohio’s House Bill 153 was the biennial budget bill that included a full slate of educational reform efforts. This particular component would require all teachers in “core subject areas” in the lowest 10% of schools to retake Ohio’s teacher licensure exams. As our regular readers know, I opposed this provision in my testimony on the basis that it is a misuse of the tests and is not supported by the claims made in the Governor’s budget proposal. I have been vehemently opposed since the bill’s inception.
Heffner supported the provision, for which I filed a formal complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission over his pending employment with the company that currently provides the teacher licensure exams required by the law.
As for Sommers, the Governor’s education expert? He can be credited with creating the provision in the first place, and he specifically promoted the provision, even reiterating the original budget bill’s claim that this practice has been working in Massachusetts.
Sommers lied.
Sommers first lied in the original budget (page 7 of the Reforms Book):
Massachusetts successfully implemented a teacher-testing program that significantly improved student results. Teachers were tested on the content they were assigned to teach.
Sommers then lied to an audience of education professionals on March 21 (approx. minute 45), when he said:
Massachusetts has been doing this for years. They attribute a lot of their progress based on this.
Sommers lied again the next day to the House Finance and Appropriations Committee:
We are also going to test teachers in chronically failing schools. This process has been very successful for Massechuetts [sic] and is identified as a major factor in their educational system improvements.
When the bill moved to the Senate Finance Committee, Sommers took the opportunity to again lie to legislators who were relying on him for expert guidance:
We are also going to test teachers in chronically failing schools. This process has been very successful for Massachusetts and is identified as a major factor in their educational system improvements.
I first questioned the link to Massachusetts back on April 20, and have been writing letters and occasional posts since that time. I was unable to find any documentation on the Massachusetts Department of Education website even back then, curious for a practice that they have “been doing for years” and which is “identified as a major factor in their educational system improvements” according to Sommers.
Even more curious was the recent reply I received from Dr. Sommers in response to an email I sent a few weeks ago. In that email exchange that I posted on October 1, Sommers tried to defend his position and directed me to the apparent foundation of Ohio’s teacher retesting law:
Unfortunately, you are incorrect in your observations of Massachusetts laws. Please note the right afforded in Massachusett [sic] to retest teachers in chronically underperforming schools. Details can be accessed at the following site. See specifically the references to retesting in level 4 and 5 schools.
Thus his most recent lie about teacher restesting – to me.
Some points about the information available at this link could be debated to be connected, but are expressly less restrictive or punitive than the new Ohio law.
Sommers directed me to a regulation that applies only for Mathematics and that it is purely at the discretion of the superintendent or school operator:
Requirement of taking a mathematics content assessment The superintendent or the school’s receiver, if any, may
require all mathematics teachers at a Level 4 school to take a mathematics content assessment approved by the Department. The commissioner or the school’s receiver, if any, may
require all mathematics teachers at a Level 5 school to take a mathematics content assessment approved by the Department.
Further, this regulation has exceptions that would exempt the overwhelming majority of Ohio’s teachers:
(3) Exceptions
(a) A mathematics teacher who would otherwise be required to take a mathematics content assessment pursuant to 603 CMR 2.07(1) shall not be required to take it if the teacher:
1. has passed the Elementary Mathematics, Middle School Mathematics, or Mathematics test of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure or has passed or been deemed under 603 CMR 7.14(14)(g) to have passed the Mathematics subtest of the General Curriculum test of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure; and
2. is appropriately licensed for the mathematics the teacher is teaching.
Exception #1 would exempt any teacher who obtained their license in Ohio, and exception #2 would exempt any licensed math teacher. Of course, since this is only for mathematics, any other teacher would obviously be exempt from retaking the licensure exam.
This regulation also only applies to “Level 4? and “Level 5? schools in Massachusetts, a designation that requires the consideration of “school MCAS performance over a four-year period.” The Ohio law affects teachers in the very next year. And while Massachusetts has the restriction that “Not more than 4% of the total number of public schools may be in Levels 4 and 5, taken together, at any given time,” the Ohio law includes the lowest 10% of schools.
That completely encompasses the implementation of the Massachusetts regulations, and while the two are very dissimilar, I’d be hard-pressed to call Sommers a liar about these comparisons.
But remember that Sommers claimed that “Massachusetts has been doing this for years. They attribute a lot of their progress based on this.”
And that, my friends, is a lie. A lie he began telling in March 2011, and has continued to tell to Ohio’s legislators, reporters and taxpayers throughout Ohio.
In Massachusetts, the new law that created Level 4 and Level 5 schools (part of Massachusetts’ school improvement process) was not effective until January 19, 2010, only 15 months before Ohio’s budget bill was first crafted. And at this point, we have evidence that the parameters of the law were still being created. From page 7 of the State Board of Education minutes of January 26, 2010:
Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr said the Department is trying to move forward with draft criteria to identify Level 4 schools, and that federal Title I-G dollars would support Level 4 schools. Deputy Commissioner Baehr said the new legislation and regulations equate underperforming with Level 4. The deputy commissioner said this year performance would be used to identify the schools, while next year improvement will also be a factor.
The first list of Level 4 schools were identified in March 2010, in order to begin preparations for the beginning of their turnaround work in the 2010-2011 school year.
Follow that? The 2010-2011 school year; the year ending in June 2011, 3 months after Sommers began his parade of deceit claiming the this provision is touted by Massachusetts. In fact, if you scan ALL of the other documentation being used in this BRAND NEW process to help turnaround schools in Massachusetts, you will find no evidence of the regulation Sommers cites as evidence of Ohio’s need to implement this law.
I know what you’re thinking — perhaps they don’t update their website regularly, right?
I wondered that, too, so I called the Massachusetts Department of Education. Something that “they attribute a lot of their progress” to must be readily available somewhere, so I called and spoke with Ken Klau, an employee in the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Center for Targeted Assistance about the provision referenced by Dr. Sommers in his ongoing promotion of teacher retesting. Mr. Klau was completely unaware of the obscure regulation referenced by Sommers or any other teacher retesting practice and he confirmed that the entire process of Level 4 and 5 schools had just begun in 2010, meaning that no Level 5 schools would exist for 3-4 more years.
Being relatively untrusting of the Department, I needed to talk to someone who would definitively know if any teachers in the state had been required to retake licensure tests. I called and spoke to the president of the Boston Teachers Union, representing over 5,500 educators. President Richard Stutman unequivocally confirmed that no teacher retesting provision or practice exists in Massachusetts. And President Stutman would be one to know, considering that Boston is specifically affected by having 12 Level 4 schools in their school district.
Again, Dr. Robert Sommers has lied over and over and over and over and over again. Every time Sommers has claimed that it has been working in Massachusetts, he has lied. The Massachusetts practice that Sommers claims proves that Ohio needs teacher retesting simply DOES NOT EXIST.
What would cause Dr. Sommers to fabricate this provision, insert it into the Ohio budget, and then continue to lie about it time and time again? Is it merely a power trip?
And what will it take to convince anyone in the legislature to care?
Is there no one left with any integrity that will stand up and repeal this law?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rich DeColibus: Another take on the NFL and public education

October 10, 2011
NFL v. Public Education
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Fran Tarkenton [see post below] suggested teaching should be more like the NFL. Great idea. I'm all for it. For those of you from exotic foreign countries who are unfamiliar with football, a bit of explanation is appropriate. American football involves 22 players on a 100 by 52½ yard playing field moving a synthetic pig bladder around. Eleven of the twenty-two players attempt to move the bladder in one direction while the other eleven players attempt to knock them down. It is not, it is fair to say, a game which requires great intellectual capacity. Nonetheless, is has been deemed critical to the survival of the United States of America for reasons which, while murky, are stoutly espoused (loudly).
NFL players individually negotiate their contracts (or, more accurately, their agents do) and we should immediately move to a similar system. Staying with just Ohio, we have over 100,000 teachers which would require 100,000 agents to negotiate for them. Logic would suggest that maybe one agent could represent more than one teacher, which would diminish the agent problem. Actually, if teachers were grouped into cohesively geographic units, like school districts for example, one agent could represent large groups of teachers, further simplifying the representation issue. We used to have teacher unions that represented teachers in contract negotiations but the All-Wise State Government in Senate Bill 5 insisted teacher unions were evil, so we need to call them by another name, like Player Representative Facilitators.
To be fair, each Player Representative Facilitator group would need to be democratically elected by the teachers themselves, not picked by management, and the elections would have to be by secret ballot. There would need to be procedures in place to account for how the fees charged by Player Representative Facilitator groups are spent, along with appropriate accounting procedures. Now, this sounds suspiciously identical to existing teacher unions but is totally different. As soon as I figure out how it's totally different, I'll get back to you.
Moving along, the median salary for NFL players is $770,000 (2009 figures) which takes into account roughly six months of training, pre-season, and regular season work. This is an acceptable beginning salary for a teacher, as long as it is adjusted upward for the fact teachers work nine months a year instead of six months. As we all know, as football players age, and take repeated physical punishment, their ability diminishes over time, while as a teacher gains more experience through a thirty-year career, they only get better and better. Therefore, the median $770,000 salary is a starting point which should only go up as time goes on. Yessiree, that NFL analogue is looking better and better. Later, we can adjust the salary proportionately for the fact NFL players work, at the ultimate most, sixty minutes a week while teachers, at the very least, work one thousand, two hundred minutes a week.
Maybe the best part of a NFL contract is it's a contract. The management has to pay you no matter what. Twist an ankle and have to sit on the bench for five months, those paychecks just keep on rolling in. Just think: you're on the way to school, you slip on the path to your garage, oops, sprained knee. Can't possibly work this fall but, of course, management would still have to send you your $29,615 bi-weekly paycheck. Not bad for a first-year teacher. They may drop you after your contract runs out but, after 26 paychecks of $29,615 each, who cares; you'll just sign up with another district next year.
It goes without saying all health care and medical expenses are picked up by management, as well as all transportation costs associated with educational responsibilities and all clothing and attire expenses related to classroom teaching. Each teacher's name will be trademarked and cannot be used in any kind of public declaration without negotiated compensation between the teacher and management.
Well, anyway, like I said, a great idea but the reality is maybe Fran took one too many head hits.
Retired teacher Rich DeColibus is former president of the Cleveland Teachers Union.

Fran Tarkenton and a scenario: The NFL and teachers' rules?

What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules?
Imagine a league where players who make it through three seasons could never be cut from the roster.
Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2011
Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.
Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?
No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn't get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money.
Of course, a few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: "They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans." The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. But that just wouldn't help.
If you haven't figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real -life American public education system. Teachers' salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn't rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they've been teaching. That's it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be. And if you criticize the system, you're demonized for hating teachers and not believing in our nation's children.
Inflation-adjusted spending per student in the United States has nearly tripled since 1970. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we spend more per student than any nation except Switzerland, with only middling results to show for it.
Over the past 20 years, we've been told that a big part of the problem is crumbling schools—that with new buildings and computers in every classroom, everything would improve. But even though spending on facilities and equipment has more than doubled since 1989 (again adjusted for inflation), we're still not seeing results, and officials assume the answer is that we haven't spent enough.
These same misguided beliefs are front and center in President Obama's jobs plan, which includes billions for "public school modernization." The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We've been spending billions of dollars on school modernization for decades, and I suspect we could keep on doing it until the end of the world, without much in the way of academic results. The only beneficiaries are the teachers unions.
Some reformers, including Bill Gates, are finally catching on that our federally centralized, union-created system provides no incentive for better performance. If anything, it penalizes those who work hard because they spend time, energy and their own money to help students, only to get the same check each month as the worst teacher in the district (or an even smaller one, if that teacher has been there longer). Is it any surprise, then, that so many good teachers burn out or become disenchanted?
Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We've destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out. As one of my coaches used to say, "You don't get vast results with half-vast efforts!"
The results we're looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen—and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done. It's what we do in every other profession: If you're good, you get rewarded, and if you're not, then you look for other work. It's fine to look for ways to improve the measuring tools, but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Our rigid, top-down, union-dictated system isn't working. If results are the objective, then we need to loosen the reins, giving teachers the ability to fulfill their responsibilities to students to the best of their abilities, not to the letter of the union contract and federal standards.
Mr. Tarkenton, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants from 1961 to 1978, is an entrepreneur who runs two websites devoted to small business education.

RHJones on: Fw: STRS's Executive Director Mike Nehf writes write to the top...we have had our plans in place for months now......

From RH Jones, October 10, 2011
To Mike Nehf, the STRS Board and all:
Below, in the STRS "plans in place for months now" mentioned in John's message, Exec. Dir. Nehf did not mention a recommended 33 1/3 % cut in retired teacher's simple 3 % COLA. Since the COLA does not compound, there is already a sacrifice being made by retired teachers and I humbly ask that this hurtful cut be eliminated as part of the "fiscally responsible plans". Fiscally responsible to whom? It is certainly not responsible for our STRS, an organization that is supposed to supply a proper pension from the delayed income that we teachers paid into the fund, not to provide, at least, a partial inflation proof pension as with the present simple 3% COLA - it is, therefore, not proper. Why is it not proper you may ask? I bring your attention to "Reasons for inflation explained" in the "Guest Column" of the Norton Post of Oct. 8, 2011. If you would like to read it in it's entirety, I suggest that you click on to the newspaper's website. The article is written by Tom Martin, IT consultant, Wadsworth, Ohio. The following is my brief synopsis:
1) Exponential function is a very simple math function that shows how quickly things can grow. If you invest $100 at 7% in 10-yrs. it would double to $200. At 10 % it would take just 7-yrs. to double your investment.
2) Inflation is the direct result of watering-down our currency. The dollar today is worth just 3% of its value 100-yrs. ago. Today's dollar is only worth 10-cents compared with just 40-yrs. ago.
3) Real inflation today is 10%. In just 7-yrs. your dollar will be worth just 50-cents. Its not that prices are increasing, our dollar is decreasing in purchasing power.
The cause for this inflation is the 'discounting' of Fed money by selling Treasury bonds to banks and by using the Mandrake Mechanism to create money out of thin air.The banks then convert each dollar into $9 and then lend it. They then repeat this process 28-times, further diluting the money. This is called Fractional Reserve Banking. Our STRS should change the "plans in place for months now" as Tom Martin's article proves that retired teachers have already done their share of sacrificing by living in inflationary times unable to keep up financially. Also, please remember that our STRS used to put 4% of its total payout into the HC/Rx fund, and that has been dropped already to just 1%. The HC/Rx inflation, having risen far beyond the inflation rate, has been terribly hurtful to retired teachers as well as our STRS. Personally, I paid out of my pension income over $13,000 last year just for HC/Rx.
My message is not meant to be critical of our STRS but only to help explain the facts of the financial situation of retired teacher's modest pension to the STRS officials. The 33 1/3 % COLA cut sorely needs to be taken out of the recommendations to the legislature for reforms of our STRS pension.
Respectfully submitted,
Robert H. Jones, retired STRS teacher annuitant member

STRS's Executive Director Mike Nehf writes write to the top....we have had our plans in place for months

From John Curry, October 10, 2011
Ohio public pension systems' fiscally responsible plans await lawmakers' approval; what's the holdup?
Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 10, 2011
By Other Voices
I am writing in response to your Oct. 2 story "Public pension reform backers target overtime."

Each of the five statewide public retirement systems has its own laws in place regarding compensation increases that can be counted toward members' final average salary. For Ohio's public teachers, strict anti-spiking laws have been in place since 1991. The statute limits the amount of compensation increases during the educators' two highest years that can be included in their final average salary calculation. These prohibitions have helped ensure that the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio pays benefits that are not inflated during the final years of a member's working career.

In January, the State Teachers Retirement Board passed a pension-reform plan containing five steps designed to strengthen the financial condition of the retirement system. The plan was sent to the Ohio legislature and is currently on hold. The passage of this reform would further tighten the anti-spiking laws. STRS Ohio recommended a change in calculating the final average salary -- going to the average of the member's five highest years of earnings rather than the three highest years. That would further mitigate the impact of pension spiking, but that is not the main purpose for our change in the rule, since the practice is effectively governed by statute.

This debate underscores the importance of the pension legislation that now rests before the Ohio House and Senate. All five retirement systems have submitted reform plans designed to preserve the financial security of more than 1 million public servants and retirees. These changes would also benefit Ohio's taxpayers, since the proposals would help make the pension funds more financially sound and able to continue to pay benefits that help stoke Ohio's financial engine. The revised benefits should also enable public employers to continue to recruit and retain a skilled work force. We urge the General Assembly to act on these plans, which have been before them for many months.

Michael J. Nehf, Columbus

Nehf is executive director of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

RH Jones: The NAACP is right 'on the money' on this one!

From RH Jones, October 9, 2011
NAACP on our side

To all:

It is of great pleasure that I, as a Life Member of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA), report to you that the over 100-year-old organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is on our side and on our same page. I especially invite my fellow ORTA members and all of you to the read the article that appeared in the Beacon today, 10/08/2011, Community page, entitled: NAACP leader speaks of rights at fundraiser; Russell addresses controversial bills” by Beacon Journal staff writer Marilyn Miller.

As retired career teachers, we welcomed and loved all of our students regardless of race, nationality or color. They were all simply students to us. Not being able to except all children of all the people would exempt any of you of being able to survive your long years of teaching. Being prejudiced, you could not teach, nor be legally able to teach in our Ohio public school system. Therefore, as a person who strongly values the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you most certainly must agree 100% with the words of the keynote speaker Leon Russell, the vice chairman of the NAACP organization’s national director to move the nation forward.

Here is my brief synopsis of the Russell’s speech: We need a nation free of prejudice, however,

1) Recent efforts in Ohio to deny American dream by threatening civil rights

2) An Ohio effort to discourage people from voting and preventing workers the right to collective bargaining or having a voice in how a workplace operates

3) Schools more segregated now than before the 1954 Brown decision

4) Charters take away from public schools hurting there ability to educate the masses

5) NAACP working on education, criminal justice economic development, civic engagement and health.

6) There must be collaboration across party lines. Due to race, the NO vote prevails

7) We must demand accountability and “get over the fact that people have made the word compromise a dirty word.”

He goes on to state “the NAACP is nonpartisan, but not nonpolitical”. This is an ORTA model for change that would help the ORTA to go forward. I urge everyone to go on and look up this wonderfully enlightened article.

RHJones, ORTA member and proud member of the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators

Public Servants vs. Kasich's Friends

(Click image to enlarge.).......................................

Nancy Hamant re: hypocrisy when one considers Issue 1 and then Issue 2!

From Nancy Hamant, October 9, 2011
Subject: Comments on SB 5 and...public servants, I know where I will never buy
What makes a Judge's experience on the job more valuable than a teacher's? or a fire fighter's? or a policeman's or a clerk's?
I continue to be perplexed about the hypocrisy of two issues we are being asked to vote on this November in Ohio...Issue 1 and Issue 2!
In Issue 1, voters are being asked to let Judges who are 70 or more, continue to serve as judges or we will lose their years of wisdom. In Issue 2, voters are being asked to not pay educators and public workers based on their time teaching because as one advertisement states "it is just seat time". What makes a Judge's experience on the job more valuable than a teacher's? or a fire fighter's? or a policeman's or a clerk's?
The legislation being proposed is inconsistent and based only on conflicting political ideals!
Ohioans this is your chance to set the legislation straight. Know what you are voting on, and vote your convictions!
Nancy Hamant weren't kidding, were you?

From John Curry, October 9, 2011
[Fan or not of Michael Moore, this one's hard to refute.] [Note: there are many links in the online article; go to the website to access them.]
The Truth-O-Meter Says:
"Not a single banker, a CEO from Wall Street, anyone from corporate America — nobody, (there was) not one arrest of any of these people who brought down the economy in 2008." Michael Moore on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 in an interview on "Democracy Now"
No CEOs have been arrested for bringing down the economy, said Michael Moore
Share this story: Protests under the slogan "Occupy Wall Street" have spread from New York to cities across the United States, and their common theme is expressing anger at an unjust economic system.
But Occupy Wall Street isn't your typical protest action. The group has no list of demands, and it says it has no leaders. Rather, people are organizing through social media and making decisions by consensus. Protesters say they're following the model of Egyptian protesters and others who were part of the Arab Spring.
An Occupy Wall Street website proclaims, "This site has nothing to do with us." But it also states the one thing protesters have in common: "We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."
Independent filmmaker Michael Moore recently spoke to protesters in Lower Manhattan, and then discussed the movement on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now radio show. She asked Moore what he thought of police arrests of the protesters.
Here's what Moore had to say:
"Well, it's highly ironic that now over 100 of the protesters have been arrested and not a single banker, a CEO from Wall Street, anyone from corporate America — nobody, not one arrest of any of these people who brought down the economy in 2008. Who created schemes, financial schemes that not only destroyed the economy, but took away the future of this generation, of this young man and his children in the future. They have completely ruined it for people while they have become filthy rich. Not one of them arrested, but 100 of these people who have stood up non-violently against this madness, and they're arrested? This just boggles the mind."
We read the same sentiment repeated on Twitter from people supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement's protests.
We've noticed news reports before that have noted a general lack of prosecutions. But we wanted to know if Moore and others were right that not a single banker or corporate executive had been arrested. So we decided to check it out.
To summarize our findings, we found a few prosecutions, but not many. And we wouldn't describe the targets as the people who were responsible for bringing down the economy.
The most notable prosecutions
If you're looking for arrests and prosecutions against executives associated with the biggest banks, you won't find them. And we found no arrests of execs with the firms most widely associated with the financial crisis such as Countrywide, AIG or Lehman Brothers.
The highest-profile convictions we found were from Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, which was a mortgage lending firm based not on Wall Street, but in Ocala, Fla. Its former chairman, Lee B. Farkas, was convicted of directing nearly $3 billion in fraud that put thousands out of work and contributed to the collapse of Colonial Bank. The collapse was the sixth-largest bank collapse in U.S. history. A judge sentenced Farkas to 30 years in prison on June 30, 2011. Several other executives associated with the firm pleaded guilty in related cases.
There were also criminal charges brought against two hedge fund managers at Bear Stearns, who were accused of lying to investors and put on trial for securities fraud. But a jury acquitted them in 2009, and the two men were mid-level managers, not top executives.
There have been many other prosecutions of mortgage fraud and insider trading. The U.S. Justice Department pointed us to its website, and sent us a long list of other ongoing actions against mortgage fraud, investment fraud, insider trading and other corporate offenses.
But the cases have not involved the highly prominent executives Moore described as bringing down the U.S. economy. (We contacted Moore for comment but did not hear back.)
Why not more prosecutions?
In reviewing the research and talking to experts about why there have not been more prosecutions associated with the financial crisis, we found several reasons.
For one thing, such cases tend to be difficult, and it's not immediately clear what offenses executives could be charged with.
"You can't get up in front of a jury and say, 'These guys were responsible for bringing down the economy, so please convict them of a crime,'" said Samuel Buell, a professor of law at Duke University, who studies criminal law and the regulation of corporations and financial markets.
Criminal intent can be particularly hard to prove, and federal officials may be struggling to bring specific charges against individuals who believed they were following the law.
Buell dismissed the idea that the Obama administration is simply indifferent to corporate crime.
"There's no downside to putting a few people in prison and showing you're tough on corporate crime," he said. "You can only imagine that would be a political benefit to this administration, which makes me think the only thing holding them back is problems of proof. The last thing they would want to do is bring a big, splashy case against the banks, and then lose and be called incompetent."
William Black, a professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law who studies elite financial fraud, was involved in a string of successful prosecutions against savings and loan officials back in the 1980s. He said the problem now is that financial regulators are not working closely enough with prosecutors to investigate and bring charges against executives.
"It is hard, and it does take resources, and it takes expertise in fraud mechanisms so you can explain it to a jury," Black said. "But this is frankly easier than the savings and loan crisis. There's nothing complicated about a liar's loan."
Black said that back in the 1980s, financial regulators routinely referred information to prosecutors to prosecute savings and loan executives. That hasn't happened this time around.
Earlier this year, the New York Times published a detailed report on why there have not been more high-profile prosecutions; it's the single best report we've seen on the issue. Its investigation found stark differences between how prosecutors and regulators handled the S&L crisis and how the same authorities are handling the current crisis. (See this chart comparing the two eras.) It also included a list of potential crimes suggested by legal experts outside of the federal government.
As we were looking into this issue, President Barack Obama spoke about whether federal efforts have been strong enough when it comes to prosecuting crimes associated with the financial crisis. Jake Tapper of ABC News asked him to respond to the Occupy Wall Street protesters and their anger that the Obama administration hasn't been more aggressive with prosecutions.
"One of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehmans and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn't necessarily illegal, it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless. That's exactly why we needed to pass Dodd-Frank, to prohibit some of these practices," Obama said. (Dodd-Frank was an overhaul of the finance industry that Obama signed into law on July 21, 2010.)
"The financial sector is very creative, and they are always looking for ways to make money. That's their job. And if there are loopholes and rules that can be bent and arbitrage to be had, they will take advantage of it. So without commenting on particular prosecutions -- obviously that's not my job; that's the Attorney General's job -- I think part of people's frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren't necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact. And that's why it was important for us to put in place financial rules that protect the American people from reckless decision-making and irresponsible behavior."
Our ruling
Moore said, "Not a single banker, a CEO from Wall Street, anyone from corporate America — nobody, (there was) not one arrest of any of these people who brought down the economy in 2008." Well, there have been a few arrests. Certainly the executives of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker who were arrested would qualify as "corporate America."
But Moore's larger point is correct -- there have been very few arrests among executives of firms the public would associate with causing the financial crisis. Obama implied in his recent remarks that it was because many of their actions weren't criminal.
Whatever the cause, we rate Moore's statement Mostly True.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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