Friday, June 08, 2012

Question of the day

What's the difference between an investment staff member who does poorly at JP Morgan Chase and an investment staff member who does poorly at STRS? (Highlight the white space immediately below to see the answer.)
The investment staff member at JP Morgan Chase gets fired and the investment staff member at STRS gets a bonus check (and an OPERS pension to boot!).

Thursday, June 07, 2012

ORTA: Social gatherings, but no clout (RH Jones)

From RH Jones, June 7, 2012
Subject: ORTA progress - NOT!

What progress do you see ORTA making? The ORTA has not made any since the molasses slow response to SB 5. Our STRS is now at risk because politicians do not respond to those who make no waves.

Dr. Fluke and I have been trying for over 25 years to get proper retired teacher representation out of the ORTA. All they appear to want is social gatherings; so, therefore, they have no clout. I did not join ORTA for life for social gatherings on my dues! I joined for dynamic representation, politically and at the STRS - I see neither has happened, sadly.

RH Jones

From: Bob (RH) Jones, June 6, 2012

To: [xxx]
Subject: Re: Hi
Hi [xxx],
Being an optimist, I think that with very astute investments by our STRS investment experts and with an increase in the employer contribution, we will overcome the down market as our country has done since its founding. Also, in your studies, I am sure that you may have read about the many who were made millionaires during the Great Depression of the 1930's. I personally know an individual who did just that. Money can be made by astute investors during down times.
Our STRS staff has received generous bonuses for their efforts during this time of the Great Recession of 2007, just after the STRS board voted to award the 88%/35-yr benefit to active teachers who retired at that time, and since then (some have a 100% retirement formula). Those of us who retired before that time received no such increase. I agree with you in that changes have to be made; but, I must say not for us pre-2007 retirees. We have already given up so much by not being able to keep up with inflation while having only a simple 3% COLA and HC/Rx cuts.
Yes, in time, all the other educators will be hit by not keeping up with inflation. This is because in the past so many trusted union and STRS officials, to keep us secure in our pension. All the while the STRS staff and board were partying lavishly on our money. Active and retired teachers have failed, and are failing, to monitor both the staff and board. Most educators are so busy with all the pressures of the modern world to think of having to keep track of our STRS. That is why we paid dues to our unions. And everyone knows union membership numbers are falling all over the country. Look at the sad failure of the recall of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin just yesterday. Too many union members have been voting GOP and I think, from your letter, perhaps you, [xxx], may have mistakenly voted for this mess that we are in presently. I voted for Reagan and both Bushes, and have been sorry ever since. I will not make that mistake again.
Not only I, but others in CORE feel that our ORTA has deserved the bashing, for if ORTA officials had been doing the job they were elected to do, our CORE would not ever have had to be formed. The ORTA has been part of the problem. It still is. As a member, I have a right to bash them if I feel they are not going public with positive support for maintaining and improving our pension. Personally, there is no way that I can run for office for any union. I do not have the skills to do so. Over almost 30 years of retirement, I feel that I have been helping by being a critic for the benefit of my fellow professional retired teachers. Also, I do not wish to represent administrators unless they are heroes like Dr. Conrad Ott and Dr. Dennis Leone. As a retired teacher, I work mainly on behalf of only retired and active teachers.
Concerning the Virginia Gay Fund, I think it should be opened up for male teachers as well as female. It should be solely on income, not one sex or the other. If this is not possible then, hopefully, one of our retired teachers, who may have become wealthy since retirement, could create a fund only for males. However, if our STRS does its job, that would not be necessary.
Respectfully yours,

From: [xxx]
Sent: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Subject: Hi
Hi Bob,
This is [xxx]. I saw your last e-mail about STRS and the changes in the pension. I want to talk about it with you. There do need to be changes or our pension will not last. The down market and its lasting so long has cut into our funds. Dennis Leone was right when he kept trying to tell them that this would happen. No one would listen.
The COLA is by far the largest amount of money that is paid out that can be changed to balance things. STRS has no choice but to make changes. They have been ordered by the governor and it also need to be done for the benefit of the retirees. I agree with you that the retirees have been hit for quite a while with the changes in cost of insurance etc. This time, all will be hit. Yes, it is necessary. Do I like it? No. Do I think that it must happen? Yes.
There are two programs in place to help our older retirees. One is, unfortunately, only for females. It is called the Virginia Gay Fund The second thing is no cost [for] health care if you meet certain criteria. I realize this is not a lot but it is something.
I have been trying to suggest more equitable ways to provide a COLA but with little success at this time. I was a member of CORE for quite a few years. It fact, since it originated in 2003. I began to think that the only way to change ORTA was to become an active member of it. That is where I am today.
I feel that ORTA needs to speak out more but that is slowly happening and will continue with the people that we now have on the executive board. I am hoping that you will take an active part in ORTA and help to make these changes. Bashing does no good!!! Help us instead. You can find out more about the insurance help at STRS or the Virgina Gay fund from Barbara Madison at

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

CORE member Shirlee Zerkel re: bonuses

From John Curry, June 6, 2012
Lima News
Letter: Retirement system forgets its purpose
June 6, 2012

The State Teacher Retirement System is seeking bonuses for its investment staff while cutting benefits for its members.
STRS also calls for a 4 percent increase in active teachers' contributions if teachers to work longer with cuts to retirement benefits. STRS also calls for retirees to experience a Cost of Living (COLA) freeze for 2013 and a 2 percent or less COLA in years to follow. Retirees will be paying more in health premiums and will receive fewer benefits.
Mr. Nehf, executive director of STRS, stated in testimony to the Ohio Senate and House that the above changes will be requested because STRS will not be able to pay future benefits if changes are not made to the system. This was also mentioned by Mr.Tim Myers, STRS Board member, in The Lima News on May 27th. He stated, “If we don't do something, the future funding of the system would be in question.”
Yet, on April 19, the STRS Board voted to award some of the investment staff with potential bonuses equal to 100 percent of their base pay even in negative earning years. In 2012, this same investment staff will receive their 2011 bonuses that range from 1.4 percent to 82.4 percent of their base pay. The total cost to the system for 2011 bonuses is $4,9 million. The potential cost for 2013 is even greater.
If the above issues concern you, I ask you to please write or contact your representative as the Ohio House has not yet voted on the changes.
— Shirlee Zerkel, Lima

Ohio's teachers, are you ready to give up your jobs to these '5 Week Wonders?'

From John Curry, June 6, 2012
Governor Kasich and those in his circle think so! After all...where else can you take a 5 week crash course on how to become a teacher and find yourself in a paid position in an Ohio public school with a valid Ohio teaching certificate?
How can this be? Ask those in the Ohio Republican party....a party which was responsible for promoting TFA (Teach For America) and the changes to Ohio law that now allow this to take place.
"Neale said the corps members will earn the same salary as any beginning teacher in the school at which they are hired, and will be alternatively certified to teach in the state of Ohio."
Teach For America members get 1st look at Dayton
By Jill Kelley, June 5, 2012
DAYTON — More than 30 Teach for America corps members started studying in Atlanta this week, days after visiting the Dayton region as part of their “induction” into the local educational landscape.
“This week really marks the beginning of our Southwest Ohio corps members’ Teach for America commitment,” Rebecca Neale, Teach for America spokeswoman, said Friday. “This was an induction week. Our corps members are learning more about the communities in which they’ll be teaching. They also are working with each other, and building relationships.”
TFA will debut in Ohio this fall as a result of legislation passed in 2011. The nonprofit organization recruits and develops corps members for two-year teaching positions at high-need schools and in needed subject areas.
The more than 30 members that visited last week will serve in either Dayton, Cincinnati or Covington, Ky., as part of TFA’s three-year commitment to place 90 teachers in the region.
Neale said the corps members will earn the same salary as any beginning teacher in the school at which they are hired, and will be alternatively certified to teach in the state of Ohio.
Critics of TFA cite the lack of a traditional four-year education degree for corps members, but it was noted that the members are provided with instructional coaches and online resources, are part of regional learning teams led by experienced teachers, and often take part in certification and master’s programs through university partnerships.
It also was mentioned that nearly two-thirds of the nearly 24,000 TFA alumni continue to work full time in education.
As part of their Dayton visit, corps members met with area students, local high school and university educators, parents and clergy, and spent time in the Oregon District.
The members also toured the Dayton Early College Academy, which is one of three charter systems in which the members will work, and began the interview process for teaching positions.
Superintendent Judy Hennessey said DECA plans to hire one of the two teachers who interviewed for the school’s open Spanish teaching position last week.
She said both candidates who interviewed for the job were very impressive.
“They were energetic, very inquisitive and ready to go; really pretty indicative of Teach for America,” Hennessey said. “They also were a pretty diverse group.”
TFA also is working with the Dayton Leadership Academy and National Heritage Academies.
In Atlanta, the corps members have just begun five weeks of intensive training at the TFA institute.
There, they’ll be teaching summer school and really delving into the mechanics of teaching: lesson planning and classroom management,” Neale said. “After Atlanta, they’ll come back up to Dayton.”
Once here, they will continue to interview as needed and prepare for their teaching positions in the fall.
Neale said that more than half of the more than 30 corps members who will teach in Southwest Ohio attended school in Ohio or Kentucky, and nearly 40 percent were raised and/or educated in Ohio.
Teach for America has been in existence since 1990 and has helped educate more than 3.5 million students.
Staff writer Kyle Nagel contributed to this report. Contact this reporter at (937) 225-7325 or
STRS board to meet June 13-14, 2012
Details here.
CORE will not meet this month.

STRS board to meet June 13-14, 2012

From STRS, June 6, 2012
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, June 13, 2012
...11 a.m. Disability Review Panel (Disability Reviews will be conducted in Executive Session)
Thursday, June 14, 2012
...8:30 a.m. Disability Review Panel (Disability Reviews will be conducted in Executive Session)
...9 a.m. Retirement Board Meeting
The Retirement Board meeting will come to order on Thursday, June 14, 2012, and begin with a Report From the Investment Department followed by a Report From the Finance Department, the Executive Director's Report, public participation, a Report From the Member Benefits Department - Health Care, routine matters, old business, new business and any other matters requiring attention.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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