Saturday, March 26, 2011

Check out this Montgomery County schools settlement with the teachers......

From John Curry, March 26, 2011
It sorta' shoots a hole in STRS's projected payroll growth figures, doesn't it?
Northmont employees agree to three-year pay freezes, increased insurance contributions
March 26, 2011
By Marilyn MConahay
For the Independent
In a move that may surprise other school districts, the Northmont School Board ratified a three-year contract with the Northmont District Education Association (NDEA) and the Northmont Classified Employees Association (NCEA) following an executive session during a special meeting held March 17 at Union Elementary School. Northmont employees had voted two days prior to adopt a total freeze on steps and salary for all employees and to accept increases in hospitalization and insurance contributions.
Over a three-year period, insurance contributions will phase into an 85/15 ratio and as early as next year, co-pays will increase for all employees as well.
One reason the contact agreement was remarkable is that the district's teacher pay is ranked13th of 16 Montgomery County districts for lowest pay.
The average teacher salary for Northmont is listed as $55,838 on the Ohio Department of Education Web site.
"Starting pay for teachers at Northmont is $35,000," said NDEA President Nicole Bouas.
The NDEA, which represents about 370 teachers, had one year remaining on its contract and the NCEA had two years remaining.
"The NCEA represents 285 employees who are bus drivers, bus assistants, multi-media people, secretaries, education assistants, maintenance employees and mechanics, custodians and food service employees," said Lynn Boldman, president of the NCEA.
"As has been our heritage, the Northmont support staff and teachers have once again put the district, our students and colleagues in the forefront throughout the process to arrive at these contracts," said Superintendent Dr. Sarah Zatik.
"Once again the collaborative spirit enjoyed between the Northmont Board of Education, the administration, support staff and teachers has been demonstrated," said Board President Linda Blum.
"We all collaborate in the Northmont District," Bouas said. "We're odd this way, I know, but it has never been 'us against them.' "
"There is always some fear of a new superintendent. But, Dr. Zatik called me prior to her start date and set up a meeting during her first day or two of work and met with us to address our concerns," Bouas said. "That call eased my mind a lot. She took the time to understand our issues - she is very communicative."
"She and Linda Blum came to our meeting (last) Tuesday night before our vote when we made our proposal agreement. When we excused them, they received a standing ovation. That was very unusual," Bouas said.
Zatik said the district would have had to lay off the equivalent of 60 employees - teachers, administrators and staff.
"But with teachers stepping up to help with saving positions, that number will drop to around 45," Zatik said. 'With retirements and resignations, it could mean even fewer. Even though we're losing 45 positions, we may not have to lay off that many people."
"However, if the state adds any further cuts, we'll have to have even more reductions," Zatik added,
Zatik said that with the new contracts, the district is able to budget in at least three years, rather than two.
"I'm very pleased with this outcome. In only two days' time, they agreed," she said.
Linda Thomas of the NDEA, a math department chair at the high school, said some people may go ahead and retire now.
"People who were at the end of their careers were looking at retiring, but who would not have done so, indicate they now may do it to save jobs for the youngsters," Thomas said.
"Our administration believes collaboration is important enough to sit down with us. They trust us - which is why it took only two days to come to agreement," Bouas said.

Kasich goes to Confession.....

Some good can be found in all people, can't it?
(Click image to enlarge.)

Curryism by John................................................................

And so......they are going to try to rush SB 5 through as quickly as possible!

If passed, it would make strikes illegal
Toledo Blade, March 26, 2011
COLUMBUS — A key vote has been set for Tuesday in the Ohio House on a controversial bill that would make strikes by public employees illegal and limit what they can talk about at the bargaining table.
But before the House Commerce and Labor Committee sends Senate Bill 5 to the full chamber, it is expected to make some changes, particularly as it applies to police and firefighters.
There had been some discussion among House majority Republicans about pulling public safety employees out of the bill altogether, but that is not expected to happen.
In the end, the bill that could come to a vote as soon as Wednesday in the Republican-controlled House is expected to look a lot like what squeaked through the Senate by a 17-16 vote early this month — at least as the bill applies to teachers and other nonpublic safety workers.
The goal is to ensure that the bill reaches Gov. John Kasich's desk in time to be signed during the first few days of April so that any repeal effort would have to be on this November's ballot instead of the 2012 presidential ballot.
"I understand that, in typical heavy-handed fashion, they have scheduled a committee meeting Tuesday morning with the edict that there be no testimony," said Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon), a committee member. "I think this approach is not in the best interests of public policy. I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to review the changes that they're going to make, but that's unlikely."
The committee meeting is set for 9 a.m.
House Republicans are ­expected to continue talking through the weekend.
"We're still talking about a number of issues," said Rep. Louis Blessing (R., Cincinnati), the second highest-ranking Republican in the chamber. "How close we are is in the eye of the beholder. I think the House and Senate Republican caucuses are on the same page as far as direction on the issues, but there are 50 ways of addressing each of those issues.
"We are certainly not going to do anything that would risk safety forces as far as their own safety," he said. "We will make sure the bill doesn't do that."
As it passed the Senate, the bill would prohibit all of the roughly 350,000 public employees in Ohio from striking, limit talks to wages and terms and conditions of employment, allow government to implement a single health-care plan for all its workers, and require those workers to pay at least 15 percent of the cost of those premiums.
It would prohibit the practice of the government picking up part of the employee's share of his pension contributions and establish a final dispute resolution process that would end with a public hearing and the government manager voting whether to pick the union's final best offer as the contract or choose its own.
Part of the dialogue among House Republicans has been about the ability of police, firefighters, paramedics, and other public safety employees to negotiate about equipment, training, team size, and other issues related to safety in the field.
There has also been discussion about changing the alternative method devised by the Senate to bring final resolution to labor disputes given the bill's prohibition against strikes by any public employee. Critics of the current bill, including some of the defecting Senate Republicans, contend that putting the final contract decision in the hands of management, such as a city council or school board, would eliminate any incentive for that government to negotiate in good faith.
Alternatives offered behind closed doors have included having a three-judge panel, some type of citizens' panel, or even voters at the ballot box decide the final contract.
Mr. Kasich has been adamant that the current practice of final binding arbitration must end. Currently used to settle disputes involving police and firefighters, who are already barred under law from striking, binding arbitration puts the decision in the hands of a third-party conciliator who picks and chooses between the last best offers put on the table by both sides.
The governor has argued that this puts decisions directly affecting taxpayers in the hands of unelected officials.
There has also been talk of coming up with an alternative that would apply only to public safety employees, leaving teachers, state workers, and other public employees to fend for themselves when talks fall apart.
The House GOP has had to carefully balance the interests of its members with those of the Senate, knowing that the bill had no votes to spare in that chamber.
"We don't want to do anything that will cause [the Senate] to turn the bill down or not take it up,'' said Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon), a committee member. "There are efforts to address some mutual concerns of senators who voted ‘no,' so we may garner more support."
Republicans hope to avoid a conference committee to work out a compromise between the two chambers' versions, a move that would delay getting the bill to Mr. Kasich's desk and allow more time for protests like those that at one point brought 8,500 to the Statehouse.
Mr. Wachtmann and some other Republicans would prefer to go even further with the bill. He would like to see "paycheck protection'' language added for union members who may not like how their leadership spends their dues money in support of certain issues and candidates.
Contact Jim Provance at: or 614-221-0496.

Hey, Supers, are you ready for some CONSOLIDATION? Somebody lied to you, didn't they??

From John Curry, March 25, 2011

by ModernEsquire on March 25, 2011 · The issue of school consolidation came up in the final weeks of the campaign as Kasich as the Strickland campaign raised the issue in rural and suburban districts. Kasich was, reportedly, incensed at the notion that he supported school district consolidation, not because the allegation was untrue, but because Kasich’s campaign knew that the idea was politically unpopular in rural and suburban areas that were key to Kasich’s victory.

So John Kasich threw a hissy. In fact, in order to try to bury any notion that Kasich was tied to school consolidation policies, Kasich continued to throw a hissy even after the election. Remember how Kasich demanded that the teachers’ unions take out a full-page apology ad for the “vicious smears" they told about him during the campaign? Well, that was mostly to do with the allegation that Kasich supported eliminating school districts through consolidation.

Here’s what the Plain Dealer reported Kasich’s response to allegations he supported school consolidation was before the election:

Kasich has denied that he told a group of education leaders in September that, if elected, he would pare down Ohio’s 613 public school districts by one-third, to about 400.

"John has never talked about consolidating schools. John has talked about sharing services," Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told the Toledo Blade on Wednesday.

Kasich, at a campaign stop later that day, noted it was Halloween season and accused the Strickland campaign of making things up to "scare people."

The campaign repeated on Friday that Kasich never made such a claim.

Except one problem. Four individuals produced by the Strickland campaign said that in September, Kasich addressed them at a meeting of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials and said:

"Congressman Kasich said he favored school consolidation as a way to reduce state spending," the statement reads. "Congressman Kasich’s claim that he does not support consolidation, just shared services, directly contradicts what we heard him say during the September meeting."

The statement was signed by Chris Mohr and Dolores Cramer, both past presidents of the OASBO, Cathy Johnson, South-Western City Schools board member, and Sharon Manson, Waverly City Schools board member.

The school officials said Kasich told them he was basing his plans on a Brookings Institution report that suggested consolidation as a means to trim costs.

But for the most part, the media dropped the story under the glaring heat of the election. It ended as a Kasich denies he supports consolidation even though four people who don’t seem to have an ax to grind claim he flat out told them otherwise. Interestingly enough, nobody else from that meeting was ever produced by the Kasich campaign to dispute the four members’ allegation, only Kasich denied it personally. But it pretty much ended as a he said/they said controversy.

Why am I bringing this up? Because during Kasich’s budget roll out to the media last week, the Akron Beach Journal reported the Governor made this comment in discussing his education funding plan in his budget:

”Do we really need six school districts in Hancock County?”

Kasich said he can only ”take so much on,” but he would like to have Democrats and Republicans do an analysis of local governments and possibly form a ”base-closing” type of commission. (emphasis added.)

Then yesterday, the Dispatch reported that Kasich’s education czar, Robert Sommers, testified to the House Finance Committee:

Sommers suggested that in a "blended learning environment" class sizes could go to a 50-to-1 ratio. "We have schools, both in the urban centers and in other settings, that have found how to get high-performance results, treat staff very well and do it for less than what we currently do."

50:1 student-to-teacher ratios! We should “thinking in terms of the creativity we already have in place across the country,” Sommers says. Then Kasich talks about there being too many school districts in Hancock County and how we need to have a “base closure” type commission on local governmental units, like, I dunno, school districts, perhaps?

Again before the campaign:

“John has never talked about consolidating schools.”

After the campaign:

“Do we really need six school districts in Hancock County?”- Gov. Kasich

SB 5 hearing next Tuesday?? Once again, Plunderbund has it covered!

by ModernEsquire on March 25, 2011 · View Comments

Start clearing your Tuesday morning calendar now. The House Republicans just announced that they are scheduling SB 5 for amendments and a possible committee vote on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. in Room 114 of the Statehouse (the House Commerce and Labor Committee).

The Dispatch is reporting that a final product is not yet ready and that the Republicans will continue to work on the bill over the weekend, but they suspect that some of the changes will be liked by organized labor. Of course, they won’t even hint at what those changes might be.

I’ll be surprised, and frankly, a little disappointed if the House Commerce and Labor Committee actually votes on the bill on Tuesday. Even the Senate Committee gave members 24-hours to review the bill and to take some questions about the changes before holding a committee vote.

If they give it that kind of delay, I guess that means the Committee could approve it Wednesday morning vote with a House floor vote that afternoon. The Senate would probably not be able to hold its vote to confirm the House’s changes to the bill (avoiding sending the bill to a conference committee) by Thursday afternoon session. Kasich, if he keeps to his word, will hold a private bill signing “ceremony” to sign the bill into law. Then the referendum work can begin.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A 50 to 1 class ratio ought to solve Ohio's school budget crisis, right? You know, a "blended learning environment"...

From John Curry, March 25, 2011
....isn't that a cute phrase?
Sommers suggested that in a "blended learning environment" class sizes could go to a 50-to-1 ratio. "We have schools, both in the urban centers and in other settings, that have found how to get high-performance results, treat staff very well and do it for less than what we currently do."
Schools can adjust to cuts, Kasich education official tells lawmakers
More money, hiring not the solution, Kasich official testifies
Columbus Dispatch, March 24, 2011
By Jim Siegel
Ohio schools are looking at potentially significant funding cuts over the next two years, but Gov. John Kasich's top education adviser told lawmakers yesterday that doesn't mean they should have to increase class sizes or head to the ballot for new tax revenue. Robert Sommers, director of the Office of 21st Century Education, testified for more than two hours about the governor's education plans, which include a major expansion of vouchers and charter schools, a new way to evaluate school districts, and a new process for parents to take over failing schools.
Schools are facing at least a $1.3 billion funding cut in basic state aid over the next two years. A number of lawmakers pressed Sommers about the reduced revenue, part of Kasich's effort to fill an $8 billion budget shortfall.
Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Clintonville, relayed the message he got from Columbus City Schools officials, who anticipate losing $60 million in reimbursements the state is no longer covering. That, he said, could push high-school class sizes to 36 students.
"It would appear we're going to be putting school districts in a position where they're either going to have to go back to the voters early, or they're going to have to start firing a lot of (teachers) to make the budget work," Carney said.
Sommers said schools must learn to adjust to a tough budget and argued that class size "for the most part" does not correlate with student performance.
"Whenever I hear conversations around schools saying they either have to raise taxes or (go to) larger class sizes, I would suggest those people are not thinking in terms of the creativity we already have in place across the country," he said.
"What we face is this notion that the only way we can get better results is spend more money or hire more people. In the last decade, we've spent more money but have not gotten any better result," he said, pointing to factors such as ACT scores.
Sommers suggested that in a "blended learning environment" class sizes could go to a 50-to-1 ratio. "We have schools, both in the urban centers and in other settings, that have found how to get high-performance results, treat staff very well and do it for less than what we currently do."
School-district funding is hit in two major ways: loss of federal stimulus money, which totaled $457 million in basic aid payments this year, and a major cut in reimbursements for the elimination of the tangible personal-property tax, which totaled nearly $1.3 billion this year.
Districts also are losing hundreds of millions in federal stimulus money that was earmarked for poor and disabled students. Local leaders were told to use that money only for short-term expenses, such as bus purchases, said Barbara Mattei-Smith, assistant policy director of education for the governor's office.
"There are districts that put in long-term programs, and they may not be able to continue those," she said.
Kasich wants to increase the number of vouchers from 14,000 to 60,000 by 2013 and will remove the current statewide limit on the number of districts where students are eligible to attend a charter school. His plan allows parents to take over a district that for three years ranks in the bottom 5 percent of student achievement in the state, potentially transferring the school to a charter school operator with a "proven-track record."
"The one thing we know about these schools is they're failing children in a big way in the current structure," Sommers said. "At the very worst, we give them the chance to try something different."

The "pickup" and ........."“If someone were to come here as a new principal, I think they would be expecting to get that benefit.”

LIMA — When someone becomes a school administrator in Ohio, it is almost a given that the school board will pay the administrator's share of retirement contributions.

It's not even something negotiated, said area school and state education officials.

“It is 100 percent common. It is an accepted common practice across the state for administrators,” said Hollie Reedy, chief legal counsel for the Ohio School Boards Association. “It's been around for a long time. ... If someone doesn't get it, they are getting something else.”

The practice is getting some recent notice as schools struggle with financial issues and with the news surrounding Senate Bill 5. Along with curtailing rights of unions to engage in collective bargaining, the bill would take away employers' ability to pay employees' share of retirement contributions.

More discussion has revolved around Lima schools, which needs to reduce $3.8 million from its budget. The board spent $356,125 in fiscal year 2010 to pay the expected retirement contributions for 44 employees. It includes the district's top three administrators, anyone under an administrative contract and an executive secretary.

Board President C. Ann Miles said not paying it hasn't been discussed by the board, pointing to increases in health care costs all employees are dealing with. Allen County schools saw a 17.6 percent jump in insurance costs this year.

“It is not something we talked about. We were more concerned with the insurance hit,” said Miles, adding that the district has always paid the retirement.

Lima is not alone. Bluffton Superintendent Greg Denecker said it has always been part of the compensation package for school administrators.

“Instead of giving more salary, you did this instead,” he said, adding that it is expected. “If someone were to come here as a new principal, I think they would be expecting to get that benefit.”

The amount of the payment depends on where the employee is on the salary schedule, Denecker said. Bluffton administrators took a zero percent increase on their base pay this year. Lima administrators are doing the same.

Elida schools began the practice in the late 1990s after administrators had taken a wage freeze. The board added it as a way to catch up instead of adding to salaries, Treasurer Joel Parker said. The program was phased in. It currently costs the district $150,000.

A very few schools in the state have stopped doing it, including Coldwater schools in Mercer County. The district had also paid a small portion of teacher retirements but stopped both five years ago in an effort to be more transparent. It didn't save the district any money.

“There was a concern by the board that people did not know what the true salaries were,” Treasurer Sherry Shaffer said. “Now what they see is what we are getting. It is the same dollar amount, just all up front now.”

Even if Senate Bill 5 becomes law, Reedy doesn't expect districts to see great savings from the retirement pay piece. Administrators know what other schools pay and will expect their salaries to compare.

“Frankly, if a superintendent has received the pick up for five years of employment with the district, when he re-negotiates his contract and the board is no longer able to pay that, he is probably going to ask for that in some other way,” she said.

You can comment on this story at

It's about those Senate hearings yesterday....some people were put on the hot seat!

From John Curry, March 25, 2011
From what I hear yesterday in the Ohio Senate hearings re. Ohio's retirement systems......
1. OPERS and STRS got hammered for painting a too rosy picture for investment earnings and payroll growth.
2. Senator Faber said, "The only actuaries we're hearing from are their actuaries."
3. Senators were unhappy about the long phase-in times of STRS's proposals to meet the 30-year liability.
4. A private investment firm president president submitted a written statement to the committee which said that STRS was too optimistic about the projected 8% investment returns over the long term.

ORTA President Karen Butt speaking on behalf of ORTA to the House Health and Aging Subcommittee on Retirement and Pensions re. HB 69

From John Curry, March 24, 2011
"Even though we are not truly happy to sacrifice a reduction in our COLA, we do support the reduction (from 3% to 2%) as part of the STRS Ohio plan to bring stability to our retirement program."
~ ORTA's Karen Butt
Note from John....I'm glad I'm not an ORTA member as I don't support taking ANY percentage of COLA away from current retirees.....IT CAN BE GRANDFATHERED AND SHOULD BE GRANDFATHERED! I wondered if Bill L., of the OEA, wrote Karen's speech?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shannon Jones, SB 5 sponsor, goes to Confession!

Click image to enlarge.


Let's take a John Kasich trip to the OSU milk parlor for a system milking!

From John Curry, March 24, 2011

"As we reported back in August John Kasich spent seven years ‘working’ for OSU. He was paid $50,000 a year and his assistant was paid $20,000 a year – and all he had to do was show up once a month and give a lecture."

"You heard that correctly. John Kasich and his long-time Chief-of-Staff Don Thibaut were paid MORE than the average OSU professor – and they worked fewer hours in the entire year than a professor works in a single week. "

Kasich milks OSU for years, now claims professors don’t work hard enough

by Joseph on March 24, 2011

Kasich’s budget proposal is full of overreaching, poorly-informed and incompletely thought out “reforms” this one that forces college professors to teach more classes in addition to their already heavy workload.

According to a recent survey at the Ohio State University, faculty members work an average of 57 hours a week and, as we’ve reported before, full-time assistant professors at Ohio State had an average base salary of $64,410.86

Now here’s the part where you get to see what an obnoxious, self-centered and completely hypocritical human being our new Governor is:

As we reported back in August John Kasich spent seven years ‘working’ for OSU. He was paid $50,000 a year and his assistant was paid $20,000 a year – and all he had to do was show up once a month and give a lecture.

You heard that correctly. John Kasich and his long-time Chief-of-Staff Don Thibaut were paid MORE than the average OSU professor – and they worked fewer hours in the entire year than a professor works in a single week.

And in John Kasich’s mind professors at the same university are getting paid too much and working too little? College professors at public universities, to John Kasich, are nothing more than overeducated, lazy, mooching civil servants.

It’s crap like this that keep me wondering which is greater: John Kasich’s contempt for people who actually work for a living or his own exaggerated and undeserved sense of self-importance.

CORE's Nancy Boomhower says she 'opposes the cost-of-living adjustments' but it appears ORTA's Karen doesn't?

From John Curry, March 24, 2011
Thank you, Nancy, you are on OUR side!
HB69 - STATE RETIREMENT SYSTEMS (Wachtmann L) Regarding the state retirement systems.
Karen Butt, a retired teacher from Johnstown who testified on behalf of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association, said her group supports the legislation, with the understanding that all affected groups need to contribute to help the State Teachers Retirement System retain solvency. She emphasized the benefits of having a defined benefit plan rather than a defined contribution plan, including that retirees can't outlive their savings and thus stay off public assistance, and the benefits of pooling risk and professional asset management.
Nancy Boomhower, a retired teacher from Medina County, said she supports some elements of the bill but opposes others. She said she understands that changes to retirement eligibility age, delays in the start of cost-of-living adjustments and changes to final average salary calculations all make sense as ways to help ensure system solvency in light of longer life expectancy. But she said she opposes reducing cost-of-living adjustments, saying it will only exacerbate a current "rich get richer" situation whereby the percentage rate of cost-of-living adjustments grants more benefits to higher-pension teachers. She instead proposed paying the same flat amount in cost-of-living increases to all teachers who worked the same number of years. "They all pay the same price for a loaf of bread," she said. Boomhower also reminded committee members that public employee retirees don't collect Social Security and thus can't rely on it as a supplement to their retirement savings as people with private sector pensions can.
(Summary of a Hannah News Service report)

Thank you, Marion Superintendent James Barney!

From John Curry, March 24, 2011
James Barney, superintendent of Marion City Schools, said he also has concerns about the lack of longevity.
"Teaching is a profession; it's not something you try as a hobby for two years," Barney said.
He also is concerned about the lack of training.
"If we're going to tell our current teaching staff that you have to have a master's (degree), why would we bring in someone else that doesn't have the same skills?" he said.
Ohio House backs Teach for America plan But educators have doubts
Written by JESSICA ALAIMO, March 24, 2011
Ohio lawmakers are on their way to approving a new source of teachers for troubled Ohio schools, but not without opposition.
The Ohio House approved a bill Tuesday to allow Teach for America participants to be certified in Ohio. If it passes in the Senate, it already has the support of Gov. John Kasich.
Teach for America is a national organization of recent college graduates willing to teach in low-income and underperforming schools. The graduates must have a college degree, although not necessarily in education, and must undergo a screening process. They also attend an intensive five-week training course and must commit to their school for at least two years.
Proponents of the bill said this is an opportunity to get fresh faces and motivated individuals from a variety of backgrounds into Ohio schools. Opponents are concerned about the candidates' lack of experience and short tenure in the district.
If enacted, the program would be optional for all school districts.
State Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta and a co-sponsor of the legislation, said Teach for America participants go into the toughest teaching assignments possible.
"They take on these challenges, and they've really had some amazing results with these students," Thompson said.
Rebecca Neale, a spokeswoman for Teach for America, said the organization operates in 39 regions in 29 states chosen through a formal site selection process. They are most active in Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi.
The group starts by reaching out to school districts to determine where there's an interest.
Program participants are paid and treated as school district employees. In addition, Neale said, the district sometimes pays Teach for America a stipend for training costs.
Thompson defends the program's selection process.
"They have a very vigorous screening process to determine who has the aptitude and the ability," he said.
A study by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice in 2010 showed mixed results for the program, recommending that Teach for America only be used when the only other options are uncertified and emergency teachers or substitutes.
On the House floor, 32 representatives, all Democrats, voted against the Teach for America bill. Their concern was Teach for America participants are unqualified and because they are only required to stay for two years they never will have the experience needed.
State Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Athens, voted against the bill.
Teaching is extremely demanding, she said on the House floor.
"It takes a lot of attention and it takes a lot of skill to keep the attention of a variety of different students who have different learning styles. ... It is a very serious profession."
Spokespeople for the Ohio Education Association and the Buckeye Association of School Administrators said they were neutral on the legislation.
Tom Ash, director of governmental affairs for BASA, said some of the group's members support Teach for America and others do not.
"We're talking about an effort to staff hard-to-staff schools," Ash said. "While these individuals do not have the traditional (educational training), there is a sincere effort to train them."
Two central Ohio superintendents have hesitations about the program.
Terry Martin, superintendent of Zanesville City Schools, said he would need to do more research and speak with other superintendents who had used the program.
"I'm always going to do what's best for the kids," he said.
He is concerned about the lack of consistency and constant turnover, he said.
James Barney, superintendent of Marion City Schools, said he also has concerns about the lack of longevity.
"Teaching is a profession; it's not something you try as a hobby for two years," Barney said.
He also is concerned about the lack of training.
"If we're going to tell our current teaching staff that you have to have a master's (degree), why would we bring in someone else that doesn't have the same skills?" he said.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

YSU faculty take stand against neutral stance by university president on SB 5......sound familiar?

From John Curry, March 23, 2011
"The group says by her taking a neutral stance, it's allowing the bill to move forward, even though they feel it steals the rights of YSU employees of a basic human right, the right to negotiate on what's critical to their jobs."
After reading the quote above from the article below I ask you.......who else that should be involved (because it affects both educators AND STRS) DIDN'T TAKE A STANCE ON SB 5?
Answer: ORTA!
Faculty members taking stand over president's silence on Senate Bill 5
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Faculty members at Youngstown State University are taking a stand and wearing buttons in a show of unity and to make a point.
YSU faculty members and others are wearing buttons that say "No Neutrality on Human Rights." The reason? The group, including members of the Ohio Education Association, says it's a protest of University President Dr. Cynthia Anderson's neutral stance on the collective bargaining bill, or Ohio Senate Bill 5.
The group says by her taking a neutral stance, it's allowing the bill to move forward, even though they feel it steals the rights of YSU employees of a basic human right, the right to negotiate on what's critical to their jobs.
"This is a human rights issue. People have the right to stand up for their rights in the work place. And so we believe that remaining neutral on that, again while I understand that there may be political expediency, that's a moral problem. We need people to be standing up to say that workers matter and that worker's rights matter," said YSU professor Sherry Linkon.
The Director of Communications for YSU tells 21 News that Dr. Anderson "has not and will not do interviews or give any statements on the collective bargaining bill and really has no position.

CORE member writes to the editor.....

From John Curry, March 23, 2011
Letter: Public sector workers not responsible for state budget woes March 16, 2011
UPON READING THE Advocate's editorial March 2, headlined "Generous benefits impetus for S.B. 5," I must respond.
I believe S.B. 5 is a "career killer" for public school teachers. It allows school boards and superintendents to arbitrarily "reduce in force" veteran teachers simply because they're further into their careers and earn a higher salary than younger ones.
Some may say, "Well that's what happens in the private sector," which is true. The big difference is private sector employees can move on to other jobs.
Veteran teachers won't have that ability. As a rule, most districts won't hire a teacher with more than seven years of experience. This will have a domino effect at the State Teachers Retirement System.
As I write this letter, H.B. 69 and S.B. 3 -- placeholder bills that were created to deal with financial issues at STRS -- would require teachers to teach to age 60 and have 35 years in the classroom. With S.B. 5 as law, that will never happen. Teachers will be terminated before they can complete their careers.
The Columbus Dispatch reports 2010 was the second year to see a reduction in the state payroll of 3.2 percent to a tune of $105 million. This was due to agreements made by labor unions and former Gov. Ted Strickland.
Furlough days, no pay raises, step freezes and a freeze on personal leave time were negotiated to save the state money. Here is the key word: "Negotiated" -- at the bargaining table between employer and employee.
The National Association of State Retirement Administrators reports that retirement benefits are 2.9 percent of state spending. But the current governor and state politicians continue the rhetoric that public sector employees are largely responsible for budget problems.
I don't think so.
Debbie Rudy-Lack

HB 69 & ORTA

RH (Bob) Jones to John Curry, March 23, 2011
To John and all:
Here is where ORTA has been: My ORTA officials have abandoned working for retired teachers in their blind and meek response to the active teacher-dominated STRS board. They back putting the STRS 30-yr funding goals on the backs of retirees; we who can least afford it! Many retired teacher members, like myself, contacted the ORTA officials to inform them that we were aghast at their going along with the 1% cut -- some CORE members calculated it to be, in reality, greater than a 1% take-away.
Until our HC/Rx cut, never in the ORTA history had they ever spoken out against take-aways. How sad that we members have to do our own fighting, which should be done by our ORTA officials. A couple of days ago, I received a letter from Ann Hanning, the hired Director of ORTA, extolling me to buy insurance that I do not need, yet, she cannot write letters to the legislature on the members' behalf to try to save our COLA -- at a time when we have already had, perhaps illegal, cuts to our HC/Rx. As a consequence, they have failed their membership.
When Mr. Wade Underwood was the director of OEA, he was thrown out of office because of accepting kickbacks from the many companies he was endorsing for so-called discounts. Rather than focusing on insurance, all the while ignoring us, the leaders of all our unions need to, spend their time improving on their membership’s welfare; such as, keeping what we retired members have fought so hard acquire.
My opinion,
RHJones, retired teacher and sorry to be a Life Member of ORTA

What's ORTA up to today?


Minnesota state court hears arguments on reductions to current retirees’ future COLAs

From John Curry, March 23, 2011
Bloomberg March 22, 2011
Six former Minnesota public employees claiming to represent 130,000 others asked a court to invalidate cuts in their retirement benefits.
The state Legislature last year reduced cost-of-living increases the workers say they were guaranteed by contract. They sued the governor and three pension plans, seeking class-action, or group, status for the case. In court today, both sides asked state Judge Gregg E. Johnson in St. Paul to rule in their favor.
“I cannot find any other case where the court has allowed the government to cut the vested benefits of a group of retirees,” workers lawyer Stephen M. Pincus of Pittsburgh’s Stember, Feinstein, Doyle & Payne LLC, told Johnson.
Assistant Attorney General Rita Coyle Demeules told the judge active employee pension terms too were altered to spread the burden and that the retiree cuts should be upheld. “The benefits they cite are future and speculative,” she said.
The summary-judgment hearing in St. Paul, the state capital, comes as state governments nationally are coping with reduced revenue and pressure to cut spending.
In neighboring Wisconsin, the state government is battling workers over enforcement of a law that would curb state employees’ ability to unionize and engage in collective bargaining.
“Minnesota law demands balanced protection for the pension interests of all plan members,” the state said in a September filing. The retirees, state lawyers said, “urge the court to sacrifice the interests of active employees, or taxpayers, merely to protect their future, anticipated increases.”
Lawyers for the former workers disagree.
“Defendants could have taken other actions to shore up the retirement systems’ funding levels without breaking their promises to retirees,” the former workers said then.
“You’re deferring salary partly in agreement that you’re going to get that money back when you retire,” Pincus said today.
The reductions to retirees’ cost of living increases are projected to expire in about 25 years. Pincus said that time frame is too long for those he represents.
“For any of these people who are retired, already in their 60s and 70s, they will not live that long,” the attorney said.
Demeules, the state’s lawyer, said the reductions were necessary because projected pension insolvency dates were otherwise within the lifetimes of current retirees.
“Contributions were changed, vesting periods were changed. This was a measured response,” the assistant attorney general said. “Everyone’s suffering.”
Johnson said he would render a decision within 90 days and instructed both sides to submit proposed orders to him not later than May 13.
The case is Swanson v. State of Minnesota, 62-cv-10-5285, Ramsey County, Minnesota, District Court, Second Judicial District (St. Paul).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Governor, your budget will cause 5,000 Ohioans to lose their public service jobs and make their pension funds insolvent but....

....that's OK in your mind, isn't it?
Shouldn’t a fiscally conservative budget render pension funds more solvent, not less?
And shouldn’t a “Jobs” Budget be predicted to create jobs, not cost 5,000?
Dispatch: State pension fund calculates Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget will cost Ohio 5,000 jobs, make state pension funds insolvent

by ModernEsquire on March 22, 2011 ·

So the Dispatch has a story about how Kasich’s “Jobs” budget is running into the Law of Unintended Consequences. For example, Kasich’s budget calls for 2% of employer pension contributions to be shifted over to employees. How does this create jobs? Kasich doesn’t even offer an explanation. It just help Kasich balance the budget by, again, simply mandating that someone else pick up the State’s spending.

Anyways, the pensions have a requirement that they can pay off their obligations within thirty years. If not, they have to make adjustments to their contributions and/or benefits, which, after the battering the Lehman Brothers-inspired collapse on Wall Street has done, they all just did.

And now, Governor Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget shift of the pension contributions throws that out of whack. Why is that? Well, the Dispatch reported on Friday that the Administration hadn’t considered at all whether the change would impact the solvency of the pension funds. To them, they thought such a change would only impact how much the employee contributed to what the employer contributed. But the Dispatch explains why that doesn’t work:

That’s because when employees leave the government payroll before they are vested, they are entitled to receive their share of the pension payments but not the government’s share. Since the employees’ share would now be higher, the share that they would be withdrawing also would be higher.

Today, the Dispatch reports that the PERS, STRS, and Ohio Police & Fire Pension funds all project that Kasich’s budget change would put the pensions out of compliance with Ohio’s statutory requirement that they be able to pay their obligations within thirty years. Kasich’s budget change is particularly hard on police and firefighters because their contribution share will be the most affected by Kasich’s budget change as the budget change actually mandates that the employee share equals the employer share. Police and fire have the largest employer shares because the years of service in that field before retirement is drastically below other fields for obvious reasons.

This is what lead Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols to call the end of furloughs “a raise” on Friday. Kasich’s solution isn’t to rethink the budget proposal. According to the Friday’s Dispatch, it just means a new round of lower benefits while employees pay more. As far as the Kasich Administration is concerned, problem solved.

In other news, the Dispatch has this little buried nugget:

The PERS calculation includes one additional year because of an assumption that 5,000 state- and local-government workers would lose their jobs under Kasich’s budget.

Shouldn’t a fiscally conservative budget render pension funds more solvent, not less?

And shouldn’t a “Jobs” Budget be predicted to create jobs, not cost 5,000?

John Kasich’s “Jobs” Budget “isn’t getting the jobs done.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Active had to work hard to become qualified to look what's happening to your profession.....

From John Curry, March 21, 2011
...thanks to these Ohio House of Representatives members. To read this bill in its entirety, click on this link:
HB 21
Sponsor: Representative Combs (R)
Cosponsors: Representatives Roegner (R), Newbold (R), Stebelton (R)
"At a time when education in Ohio is under intense scrutiny, why would we seek to LOWER the standards for becoming a teacher?"
How HB21 lowers the standards for becoming a teacher in Ohio

by Joseph on March 21, 2011

John Kasich and the Republicans in the legislature have decided to go to war with teachers on multiple fronts – all of which have the potential to seriously hurt our state’s education system and impact the quality of education our kids receive.

There is a good deal of analysis out there regarding the damage that Kasich and the legislature will be causing in the name of “reform” but some of the best I’ve read lately has come from Greg Mild, an educator from Columbus who has been fired up by the attacks on teachers and the education system as a whole.

Over the past few weeks Greg has posted his analysis as notes on Facebook and I urge everyone to check it out, especially if you are interested in how the new administration’s policies are going to impact education in Ohio.

Greg has graciously allowed me to reprint some of his analysis here at Plunderbund and I thought I’d start off with his comments on House Bill 21, one of many bills the GOP is trying to rush through the legislature while everyone is distracted by SB5. HB21 seeks to change the rules for certifying teachers to allow Teach for America participants to circumvent the existing teacher certification process and to automatically receive a resident educator license.

Here’s Greg’s take on the bill:

House Bill 21 lowers the quality of teaching for future children by lowering current standards for teacher preparation. Teach for America is touted as bringing the best and the brightest to the classroom, but we have always done so in Ohio through existing state law requiring universities to provide rigorous teacher preparation programs.

House Bill 21 would require the Ohio Department of Education to issue a Resident Educator license to all TFA participants.


Field Experience

Teach for America:
Corps members teach summer school students for approximately two hours each day [five weeks long], under the supervision of experienced teachers. For the first hour, most corps members work directly with four to five students to build skills in math and literacy, to gain experience in facilitating group work. For the second hour, corps members lead a full class lesson, which builds skills in delivering lessons and managing a classroom.

Current Ohio Law:
A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching [7.5-hour days] and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching.

Ohio State University Secondary Math, Science Technology program:
M.Ed. students are placed for field experiences (observation, participation, internship) in schools in fall, winter, and spring quarters for increasingly richer experiences. These placements collectively provide 700 clock hours in the schools spread over 150 days (of the typical 180-day school calendar). The placements are in public middle and high schools in Franklin County with each student experiencing urban and suburban and middle and high school classrooms. STEM M.Ed. students have program classes in fall and winter quarter in the late-afternoon and early evening in addition to being in their schools each morning. Spring quarter is a twelve-week student teaching experience with students in the schools all-day every day. During that spring students complete the action research for their Capstone Project which is then completed that second summer.


Teach for America:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • 2.50 Minimum Cumulative GPA
  • US Citizenship or National/Permanent Resident Status
  • The online application consists of: Personal, academic, and/or professional information, Resume, Letter of intent

Ohio State University Secondary Math, Science Technology program:

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum 3.0 overall GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in all previous undergraduate course work and a minimum 3.0 overall GPA in all previous graduate course work (may not be combined)
  • Minimum 2.7 GPA in mathematics, science, or technology content courses. 80% of the content should be completed prior to admission. (Include a plan for completing content courses, that are not completed by the application deadline) A plan document is located online at
  • Experiences working with adolescents in a learning situation
  • Official scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within five years of application
  • TOEFL score for international students, if required (minimum score 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 79 iBT)
  • Statement of Intent: See “Application Checklist” for format and instructions, located online.
  • Three letters of recommendation (four preferred), from persons acquainted with your academic performance, your experiences with adolescents, and your potential as a teacher. Include at least two letters from professors or instructors who have had you in class. Recommendations written on letterhead stationery should be attached to the Graduate School Reference Form.
  • Resume listing academic accomplishments, paid or volunteer experiences working with adolescents, related extracurricular experiences, and honors or awards (limit two pages for fellowship)
  • The M.Ed. is a competitive program. Meeting the minimum standards does not guarantee admission. Applicants who have completed most or all of the content courses will be given preference for admission. The admissions committee also considers diversity in the range of students related to gender, race/ethnicity, and life experience.

Ongoing Support

Teach for America:
Teach For America provides professional development to corps members throughout their two-year commitments to ensure that they are set up to succeed at helping their students achieve at high levels.

Current Ohio Law:
Ohio teacher residency program, which shall be a four-year, entry-level program for classroom teachers. The teacher residency program shall include at least the following components:
(1) Mentoring by teachers who hold a lead professional educator license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code;
(2) Counseling to ensure that program participants receive needed professional development;
(3) Measures of appropriate progression through the program.
(B) The teacher residency program shall be aligned with the standards for teachers adopted by the state board of education under section 3319.61 of the Revised Code and best practices identified by the superintendent of public instruction.

Ohio Department of Education:
A four-year Resident Educator program of support and mentoring for new teachers will provide Ohio educators just entering the profession with quality mentoring and guidance essential for a long and flourishing career. Each Resident Educator will be mentored by another teacher (trained for this specific purpose) within the school district for the full four-year period and must successfully meet all of the criteria in order to qualify for a professional educator license.

At a time when education in Ohio is under intense scrutiny, why would we seek to LOWER the standards for becoming a teacher?

Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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