Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Night at the Movies with John Kasich....and Michelle (with a motive) Rhee..... Grab your popcorn and...don't forget your erasers!

From RH Jones, May 21, 2011
To all:
You can see a short movie that counters Kasich's attack on public schools on the "ProgressOhio.ORG" below. I contributed some money to the; I hope you will too. The Beacon reported that Kasich is raising millions to fight the referendum of SB 5 and the November vote, If and when we get enough signatures. If you haven't yet, please sign the referendum.
From Tom Curtis, May 20, 2011
Subject: A Night at the Movies with John Kasich....and Michelle (with a motive) Rhee..... Grab your popcorn and...don't forget your erasers!

Ohio schools are facing a $3.1 billion funding shortfall, yet Gov. John Kasich is inviting all of Ohio to the movies tonight.

Kasich is encouraging people to watch a pro-charter school movie tonight in an attempt to provide cover for his plan to divert $800 million out of our public schools. Kasich’s plan is dangerous because Ohio’s charter school system is poorly implemented. Many of our state’s charter schools have poor performance and are managed by for-profit operators that don’t always put students first.

Even more outrageous is his special guest, Michelle Rhee. She’s currently at the center of a storm over a cheating controversy, in the school system she oversaw.

We’ve put together our own very, very short movie for you to watch this evening.

[YouTube video:]

We hope you find it educational…

Public servants....we need to know our enemies they of them is a "Flasher!"

From John Curry, May 21, 2011
No, not this kind............


"Sources told The Dispatch that veteran Statehouse lobbyist and political consultant Vaughn Flasher has been tapped to lead the campaign to keep Senate Bill 5, which would significantly weaken collective bargaining for about 360,000 public employees in Ohio."

(Note from John...additional info on Mr. Flasher and his group follows this story below.)
GOP operative will lead defense
Labor coalition says it's halfway to signature goal
Columbus Dispatch, May 21, 2011

As the coalition seeking to overturn Senate Bill 5 continues a robust signature-gathering effort, a coordinated defense of Ohio’s new collective-bargaining law is beginning to take shape.

Sources told The Dispatch that veteran Statehouse lobbyist and political consultant Vaughn Flasher has been tapped to lead the campaign to keep Senate Bill 5, which would significantly weaken collective bargaining for about 360,000 public employees in Ohio.

Republican Gov. John Kasich, who signed the bill, and GOP lawmakers who passed

it through the General Assembly also are expected to have a presence on the yet-to-be-named defense team.

Flasher worked with Republicans when they took control of the House in the 1990s and has directed campaign efforts for the Senate GOP since 2006, helping the party to a 23-10 majority, its largest in more than 40 years.

The group will file soon with the secretary of state’s office. Sources said the committee is expected to file in a manner in which all donors will be disclosed.

This week, a poll released by Quinnipiac University showed that 54 percent of Ohioans favored repeal of Senate Bill 5. Yesterday, Kasich denied that the repeal effort was a referendum on his administration and predicted that voters eventually would warm to the law.

“I think that most people don’t really know what it even is,” Kasich said. “When people find out what it is, I think they’ll say, ‘Look, why am I paying twice? Why am I paying for my own health care and for somebody else’s?’

“But we’ll see. It’s a long way to November.”

We Are Ohio, the coalition of union supporters that is attempting to overturn the law, reported yesterday that it has collected 214,399 signatures. The group has until June 30 to collect the more than 231,000 valid signatures of registered voters needed to place a referendum on the November ballot.

We Are Ohio spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas said a sampling has shown a signature validation rate of about 60 percent. If that holds true, the group will have to collect about 400,000 signatures to have enough to make the ballot — although she is confident of getting 450,000 to 500,000.

Fazekas declined to comment on the group’s fundraising efforts. The Ohio Education Association will assess active members $54 apiece and support-staff members $25 to generate $5 million. State police and firefighters unions are expected to raise about $1 million each.

The group is using an army of volunteers that Fazekas said numbers 10,000, along with paid circulators. They’ve been collecting signatures for about a month.

“This is an unprecedented level of support from communities all across the state,” Fazekas said. “We continue to struggle to keep up with demand for petition (forms).”

Senate Bill 5 would eliminate binding arbitration as a way to settle contract disputes for safety forces and would ban strikes by all state and local government employees. It sets up merit-based pay, new requirements for what employees must pay for pensions and health insurance, and allows the governing body to select its own last offer to settle a contract.

The referendum might not be the only statewide ballot issue facing voters in November. The group seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the same ballot in an attempt to repeal a key portion of President Barack Obama’s health-care law says it has collected 330,000 signatures.

Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Reform, said he expects between 550,000 and 600,000 signatures will be collected before the July 6 deadline.

The group, now a partnership between tea party sympathizers and Ohio Republicans, needs 386,000 valid signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would try to eliminate a requirement in the health-care law that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance.


Here is a link to Flasher's company:

A little more info:Vaughn R Flasher
Male - Early 40's
Address: 5320 Ainsley Dr
Location: Westerville, OH 43082
Phone: (614) 523-3090
Capitol Strategies Group Llc
37 West Broad St # 405, Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614.221.6408
Fax: 614.221.6452
Category: Lobbyists
Transit: E Broad St & N 3rd St (103 ft E)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Click image to enlarge.


TFA aka "Five Week Wonders".......How did it do in Hawaii?

From John Curry, May 20, 2011

King Kasich wants to inject Teach for America "instant" teachers into Ohio's educational landscape at a time when Ohio is laying off other educators! Let's see how TFA worked out in Hawaii. John
Lammerman: The dark side of Teach For America
May 18, 2011
(Reader Opinions Disclaimer: This column allows members of the community to share their opinions and views, which do not necessarily reflect those of Hawaii 24/7, its staff, sponsors or anyone other than the writer. Hawaii 24/7 reserves the right to refuse any column deemed to be misinformation, of an unethical nature, a personal attack, or a blatant commercial pitch.)
By Eric Lammerman
For the past five years, the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) has been using recruits from an organization called Teach For America (TFA) to fill out its teaching ranks on Oahu and the Big Island. Since TFA’s contract with the DOE expires at the end of the current school year, it’s time to evaluate the program’s impact in Hawaii.
On the surface, TFA seems shiny: They take “high-achieving” college graduates and place them in “hard to fill” teaching positions. Of course, TFA is a $38 million national nonprofit with a slick, well-oiled PR machine. I have discovered some serious problems with TFA in Hawaii that deserve consideration as we evaluate the organization.
Problem No. 1: TFA drains a lot of money from our education system.
In April, First Hawaiian Bank awarded Teach For America (TFA) a grant of $50,000. First Hawaiian has contributed more than $300,000 to Teach for America Hawaii since the program’s inception in 2006. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs awarded a grant of $100,000 to the organization in 2009. And the DOE has paid $577,000 over five years to Teach For America.
TFA has accrued at least $977,000 since 2006. With 122 TFA recruits currently teaching in the state of Hawaii, the organization has siphoned over $8,000 per recruit out of the system.
Problem No. 2: TFA recruits drain energy from the education system.
The DOE invests in each teacher it hires through professional development. TFA recruits require a higher degree of professional support, which is one of many hidden costs of TFA in Hawaii. New teachers work with mentor teachers, who provide hands-on support and guidance.
Since TFA recruits enter the classroom with no experience and only five weeks of teacher training, their mentors have their work cut out for them. Mentor teachers working with TFA recruits have less time and energy to focus on a) their own students, b) mentoring new teachers with superior training, and c) their personal lives.
TFA hacks would have you believe that TFA recruits are as well-prepared as anyone when they first enter the classroom: Ask a teacher mentor if they agree with this.
Problem No. 3: TFA recruits represent a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
TFA recruits generally leave Hawaii once they complete their two-year teaching commitment. The state spends several thousand dollars per TFA recruit, and invests a fair amount of time and energy in their professional development.
What is the return on the state’s investment? When one experienced, trained TFA recruit departs, the DOE gets to hire an inexperienced, untrained TFA recruit. And overpay him or her for their work.
Problem No. 4: TFA creates inequity in terms of teacher pay.
If it weren’t for the provisional licenses granted TFA recruits, these young men and women would have to compete for their jobs against teachers with experience and valid out-of-state teaching credentials. Not only do TFA recruits get a competitive advantage they do not deserve, they get paid more than the state should be paying them.
TFA recruits earn roughly $41,000 per year. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree that have not completed a state approved teacher education program (SATEP) are supposed to be paid about $33,000 per year, according to the DOE’s teacher salary schedule.
Why do we pay TFA recruits (who have not completed a SATEP) $8,000 more per year than we should be paying them? With 122 TFA recruits in place, the DOE is spending $976,000 more in wages than it ought to be this year. In the five years that TFA has been in Hawaii, the DOE has employed 504 recruits: Multiply this number by the $8,000 “bonus” TFA recruits receive every year, and you get more than $4 million.
Problem No. 5: TFA has taken 122 job opportunities from local teachers.
TFA recruits generally enter the classroom with no prior teaching experience, and five weeks of teacher training; but the DOE gives them provisional licenses to teach. With these provisional licenses in hand, TFA recruits are interviewed and hired ahead of many local teachers.
While TFA would like you to believe that its recruits are simply sliding into empty positions, positions for which there are no qualified applicants, I can tell you for a fact that this is not true.
For example, I have over four years of teaching experience and have completed 35 weeks of teacher training through UH Manoa; but I am “emergency hire,” and the DOE’s hiring policy places TFA recruits two tiers above me.
Are TFA recruits given preferential treatment by the DOE because they are such “high achievers?” Since I completed a Masters degree and graduated with a 3.94 GPA, I’m going to rule that out.
I’m not the only one with an axe to grind when it comes to TFA costing local teachers jobs. I know a woman with a valid California teaching credential and years of experience who is looking for work: TFA recruits get priority over her, too.
I also know two young men from Big Island who completed teacher certification programs last Spring: One of them had to move to Oahu to find work, and the other is still looking for a full-time teaching position.
While newly certified teachers are supposed to get jobs before TFA recruits, it takes several weeks for the DOE to process certification. By the time the paperwork is done, TFA recruits have already been placed.
Furthermore, there is financial incentive for administrators to favor TFA recruits over probationary teachers: Probationary teachers costs $2,000-$5,000 more per year than TFA recruits, a gap that would widen as the “probies” gain experience. Cost-conscious administrators might be tempted to compromise the quality of their school’s teaching staff (while maintaining the same number of “highly qualified teachers”) in order to balance their budgets.
Problem No. 6: TFA undermines teacher professionalism.
A standard teacher preparation program requires two years to complete. TFA uses the adjective “intensive” to describe its five-week teacher “boot camp.”
No matter how “intensive” this training might be, there is absolutely no way it is equal to a state-approved teacher education program: To pretend otherwise is to devalue the quality and importance of teacher education programs across the country.
Thanks to an “anomaly amendment” passed by congress this past December, however, TFA recruits are now “highly qualified teachers.”
Does anyone really believe that you can become a highly qualified teacher in five weeks? If so, I recommend that you volunteer in a classroom for a few days.
Problem No. 7: TFA intensifies tension in the teaching ranks.
When you consider the problems listed above, you would think this a natural consequence. Of course, teachers working alongside TFA recruits are in an awkward position: they value collegiality, and they have a job to do that requires successful cooperation.
The Hawaii State Teacher’s Association (HSTA) is also in an awkward position, because it is obligated to represent the interest of its dues-paying members — which includes TFA recruits. Sadly, according to my source in the union, the HSTA did not participate in creating the labor agreement between the DOE and TFA (I’m not sure how the state managed to circumvent the union in this process; but that’s a separate issue).
Various teacher unions, individuals, and community organizations on the mainland have sued TFA over the years: TFA has been booted out of several school districts, including Detroit and Seattle in the 2010-2011 school year.
Problem No. 8: TFA is playing with a stacked deck.
First Hawaiian Bank, as mentioned above, has given $300,000 to TFA over the past five years. Don Horner is the CEO of First Hawaiian and also the chairman of the nine-member Hawaii Board of Education, which will help determine whether or not TFA will retain its presence in the state of Hawaii.
From my perspective, this is pretty clear conflict of interest: Horner should recuse himself of any decisions he might make involving TFA.
Also, since TFA recruits count as “highly qualified teachers,” they artificially boost school/state numbers…which might help schools/the state to secure additional Federal funding. Counting an inexperienced teacher with five weeks of training as “highly qualified” is absurd, and this loophole should be closed out of respect for teachers who actually earn this distinction.
Given all of these drawbacks, it’s hard to imagine how the state’s policy-makers could justify continuing their relationship with TFA.
TFA has drained millions of dollars as well as substantial energy from Hawaii’s education system. It offers a short-term solution to our state’s long-term need for qualified teachers, and in the process creates inequity in terms of teacher hiring and pay.
In these hard economic times, policy-makers should be careful to preserve job opportunities for local teachers that deserve them — and to make sure that local teachers are paid fairly. TFA also undermines teacher professionalism, and intensifies tension in the teaching ranks.
Please join me in writing a letter to each member of Hawaii’s Board of Education: Let them know how you feel about wasteful, short-sighted, and unjust policy in our schools. The health of the state’s educational system is at stake, and we need to make sound decisions to ensure that the children of Hawaii receive a quality education.
Hawaii Board of Education
P.O. Box 2360
Honolulu, HI 96804
Board Office Phone: (808) 586-3334
Board Members:
Donald G. Horner (Chairman)
Brian DeLima (Vice Chairman and Big Island Rep:
Kim Gennaula
Wesley Lo
Keith Amemiya
Nancy Budd
Jim Williams
Charlene Cuaresma
Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui
(Eric Lammerman is a Kailua-Kona resident who has taught for over four years, working in schools in California, Oregon and Hawaii. He earned his master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon (2002), and is currently working on his teacher certification through UH Manoa.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Report on May, 2011 STRS Board meeting

From STRS, May 19, 2011
This week, the State Teachers Retirement Board held its monthly meeting. Following the regularly scheduled meetings, a report titled "Board News" is posted on the STRS Ohio Web site, as well as mailed to a number of members and education organization representatives who have requested it. As a member of STRS Ohio with an e-mail address on file, you will also receive this report each month. The May report follows.


Taiyia (Tai) L. Hayden was reelected to the State Teachers Retirement Board in the recent election. The term for this seat begins on Sept. 1, 2011, and ends on Aug. 31, 2015.

During the May 12, 2011, meeting of the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC), Sen. Keith Faber, who chairs the committee, announced that he is creating a subcommittee to develop a request for proposal for an independent actuary and policy advisor in regard to pension reform issues. This consulting expert will be asked to help the ORSC members analyze the plans the five public pension systems have developed to strengthen the solvency of their pension funds and other potential retirement-related changes. Faber noted he wants someone who can advise on reform trends in other states and the private sector. Through media reports, he indicated the Senate is not likely to proceed with any pension legislation until this review is completed. It is expected that this process will take pension reform discussions into the fall.
The members of the ORSC subcommittee, which will be chaired by Rep. Kirk Schuring, are Sen. Scott Oelslager, Rep. Dan Ramos and Lora Miller, who was recently appointed by the governor to the ORSC.
Faber has also been quoted as saying the Senate will be giving strong consideration to restoring the contribution shift (12% and 12% versus 10% and 14% from members and employers, respectively) in the budget bill, which is Substitute House Bill 153. STRS Ohio Executive Director Michael Nehf testified at the May 12 meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, which is holding hearings on the bill, reiterating that any discussion of contributions should be held within the context of the pension reform package proposed by the five Ohio statewide public pension systems. This would help allow any proposed changes to STRS Ohio's plan to be discussed and their actuarial impact analyzed in conjunction with the other plan components.
During the May ORSC meeting, STRS Ohio also presented its proposed operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2012. There were no recommendations for changes from the council members.
One final note regarding the ORSC: The last vacancy on the nine-member panel has been filled by the governor, who named former state Rep. Seth Morgan to the council.

>From March through June each year, STRS Ohio staff discusses proposed premiums and any health care plan changes for the upcoming calendar year with the Retirement Board. In April, the board agreed to phase-in reductions over the next four years to the premium subsidy received by benefit recipients enrolled in the health care plans. The reduction in subsidy will increase premiums more than the usual increase for medical trend. During the May meeting, the board reviewed preliminary premiums for all plans for 2012; however, the board will not be asked to approve final premiums until the June board meeting. This allows staff to review the claims experience and trends for the first three months of 2011 before making final recommendations.
In calendar year 2012, STRS Ohio health care program participants who are eligible for Medicare Part B only will be able to enroll in the Aetna Medicare Plan (PPO) or the Medical Mutual Basic Plan (or one of the regional health care plans, if applicable). About 7,800 Medicare Part B only enrollees will benefit from the lower monthly premiums provided by the Aetna Medicare Plan (PPO). Previously, these individuals had to choose between the Medical Mutual Plus Plan, Medical Mutual Basic Plan or a regional plan.
The Aetna Medicare Plan (PPO) offers a number of enhanced benefits for its enrollees, including: a $1,500 maximum in out-of-pocket costs that includes the $500 deductible and all medical copayments and coinsurance; low office copayments of $15; ability to see virtually any physician/provider who accepts Medicare; and gym memberships at participating fitness centers. Additional information will be provided later this year through the STRS Ohio Web site, newsletters and health care open-enrollment materials.

More than 60 individuals have participated in the Retirement Countdown 2011 webcasts that began on May 11. The Member Education staff is offering these weekly to help members who have already met with a benefits counselor and have current retirement estimates, but need help completing the necessary paperwork for retirement this summer. These webcasts will be offered every Wednesday through June 29 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Registration can be taken up to 4 p.m. on the day of the session. Registration information is posted on the STRS Ohio Web site under the "Counseling & Seminars" tab at:

STRS Ohio's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010, has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. This is the 21st consecutive year that STRS Ohio has received this award, which is given by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

Clifton Gunderson has been selected to audit STRS Ohio financial statements for fiscal years 2011-2015. Clifton Gunderson was selected from four firms interested in performing the external audit work; the firm's pension experience played a key role in its selection. The first-year, fixed-fee bid of $101,500 is 12% less than the 2010 fee.

The Retirement Board approved 137 active members and 101 inactive members for service retirement benefits.

The May Board News can also be viewed as a PDF by clicking the following link:

Can You Read This? Thank a Teacher

By Sally Kohn
May 19, 2011

In graduation season, I always remember the first time I saw one of my grade school teachers at the grocery store. Until then, I had assumed all teachers lived in castles alongside unicorns and other magical beings.

After all, teachers were not mere mortals. They were the saints who looked after my intellectual and emotional well being day after day while my mom and dad, already exhausted by parenting, toiled away at work. They were the mentors who introduced me to world history, poetry and the wonders of fractions. They were heroes.

Of course, teachers weren’t exactly treated like heroes. It turned out, the public school teacher I saw in the grocery story wasn’t shopping there, he was working there -- a second job to make ends meet. Teachers were then, as now, saddled with enormous responsibility but atrociously low pay. But at least they could be assured decent benefits and pensions -- not a cozy existence but reasonably comfortable. That plus the reward of public gratitude for selflessly schooling a generation of future entrepreneurs, artists and scientists.

But now they get little pay, their benefits and pensions are being slashed and they’re being widely attacked as the problem with our education system today, rather than the solution.

Geez, America, way to show gratitude.

Those of us who received a quality public school education thanks to talented and invested teachers should be smart enough to figure out what’s really going on.

If big business wants to hoard even larger shares of our national wealth, it has to get government out of the way -- the one institution in America that prevents corporate abuse while using tax dollars to try and level the economic playing field for small businesses and working families.

So, long before even I was in grade school, big business began an all-out assault on government -- to kill social service programs that help working families but increasing government subsidies that unfairly help big business. Americans weren’t always skeptical of the value of government. Big business worked scrupulously to try and teach us that warped lesson.

Whether it was welfare benefits or highways or affordable housing, corporate media and lobbyists have effectively chipped away at public trust in government. Despite decades of clear government success at building the middle class through the GI bill, public works spending and quality public education, the very fact that you -- yes, you -- are probably reading this and scoffing at the idea that government plays a constructive role in your life is evidence not of reality but of the success of corporate anti-government messaging.

I can’t help but think that our teachers, who worked so hard to instill critical thinking skills, must be very disappointed in all of us.

Consider Michelle Rhee. The former head of Washington, D.C.’s public school system has been going around the country blaming teachers -- and particularly teacher’s unions -- for our education woes. Yet education problems are the same in states with unions as states without.

But Rhee is blaming teacher’s unions to disguise her real agenda -- privatizing our nation’s public education system so that big business can make a dime off your children. (It’s no accident that Rhee is linked to the vehemently anti-public education Betsy Prince DeVos, whose brother Erik Prince founded Blackwater.)

The goal, frankly, isn’t to improve public education but to destroy it. For instance, in Ohio Rhee is pushing a charter school “reform” package that is actually a corrupt giveaway to private school operators (who just happen to be big conservative donors). Under the guise of opening public schools up to competition, Rhee and Republicans in Ohio are actually limiting the number of charter schools in the state and granting almost exclusive control over charter schools to a small group of handpicked corporations. Meanwhile, pending legislation would exempt these corporations from the accountability, transparency and oversight requirements that apply to public schools.

To be sure, teachers unions aren’t perfect --- their often stubborn defense of blatantly incompetent teachers only makes it easier for people like Rhee to point the finger their way. But at the end of the day, teachers unions are made up of teachers -- women and men who have invested their entire careers not in getting rich but in making the world a better place by educating the future generation of leaders. Are we really going to blame them for our education problems and pretend that for-profit education companies are somehow the well-intentioned solution?

Teachers want to improve our nation’s public education system. Big business and people like Michelle Rhee want to destroy public education and government as a whole and reap greater profits for themselves. Yet somehow we’re celebrating people like Rhee as the heroes of education reform? I know I was taught better than that.

Sally Kohn is a community organizer who writes frequently for Fox News Opinion. She is the Founder and Chief Education Officer of the Movement Vision Lab.

Toledo Mayor shows us why we don’t need SB5

Joseph On May 18, 2011
Like the rest of the state, country and world, Toledo faced a budget crisis last year. To help save money, Mayor Mike Bell and the city council worked with the unions representing city workers to temporarily override existing, collectively-bargained union contracts.
One group, the Toledo Police command officers, was forced to accept SB5-like changes to their health and pension benefits. The union fought against the changes and took their case to the State Employment Relations Board, which ruled in favor of the city.
Under the “exigent circumstances” imposed by the city, command officers were required “to pay their 10 percent share of the pension contribution and make an increased payment towards health insurance costs.”
Mayor Bell announced today that revenues are up 7% this year – effectively saying the previous budget crisis is over – and he will recommend to the Council that they end the “exigent circumstances” and restore the officers to their original, collectively-bargained contract.
Despite the fact that Toledo Mayor Mike Bell is the only big-city mayor in Ohio to endorse Senate Bill 5, it seems like he has provided us two perfect examples of why SB5 is not required.
1. Bell was able to get concessions from the unions to help save the city money in the middle of a financial crisis without the extreme, anti-union measures proposed in SB5. While I disagree with Bell’s choice to force these changes on the police union, he did prove the point that he already has “the tools” in his tool box to help handle potential budget crises.

2. By reversing the changes – and admitting revenues are rising – Bell is adding to the growing pile of evidence that state and local budgets are not as bad off as SB5-supporters want you to believe providing further proof the budget problems are just an excuse to push through union-busting legislation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Springfield super speaks out.....

Springfield schools discuss funding outlook
WDTN TV (Dayton), May 18, 2011
[Note: Be sure to view the video in this article (click link above) to hear what this superintendent has to say. He doesn't mince words.]
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) - The Springfield School district hopes to avoid the kind of budget crisis that cost Dayton City Schools 294 jobs.
The superintendent held a meeting Wednesday morning to discuss public school education versus charter schools.
An Ohio House Bill would tilt that playing field.
"My biggest concern is we're going to see the mentality of the state shift from concern for pupils what they're learning, but to making money profits," said David Estrop, Superintendent.
The bill would basically provide more students with money to pay their way into a private or charter school.
Districts like Dayton and Springfield miss out on thousands of dollars in funding when those students leave for charter schools.
Estrop thinks not as many would go if those other schools had to meet the same mandates as public schools.
The superintendent says the district is in solid shape thanks to teachers taking a 0 percent wage increase in their latest contract and the passage of a renewal levy earlier this month.

Columbus teacher re: Improving schools

'The real problems began when well-intentioned but misguided judges mandated city-wide busing and many students were sent to new schools in strange neighborhoods, where neither they nor their parents felt at home, and new students came into South with no feeling of belonging, no stake in the neighborhood or the school.'

'In other words - schools do not exist in a vacuum - the problems in our schools are a reflection of the problems in their communities and Stephens was right when he said "These problems can't be solved by schools alone." Yet, many people don't seem to understand that, and our "reform" efforts have involved stupidities like tinkering with the school schedule, requiring more training for teachers, and ever more testing - which a teacher friend of mine once said was kind of like trying to make a kid grow faster by measuring him more often.'
Columbus Dispatch, May 18, 2011
Improving schools
I was a teacher at South High School for 23 years. In many ways it the best time of my life, and It has been a source of great sorrow to watch the steadily worsening situation there, to the point that Superintendent Gene Harris is considering contracting some outside group to administer the school. I believe several factors have contributed to this sad state of affairs, and columnist Thomas M. Stephens identified the most important on in his column in last Sunday's paper.
When I started at South in 1969, it was already what we used to call an "inner-city" school, but it was diverse - about 60% white, 40% black, families from across the economic spectrum, including some from the lovely old homes in German Village. Some students struggled with poverty and difficult home situations, but most had parents who supported them, believed that education was the key to a better life, and drugs were rare. It was a true community school - many students walked or biked, and parents could easily get to the school to check on things; we used to have neighbors come to our football games who didn't even have kids in school. We had many wonderful, dedicated, enthusiastic teachers and hard-working administrators who commanded respect. It was a great place to be.
The real problems began when well-intentioned but misguided judges mandated city-wide busing and many students were sent to new schools in strange neighborhoods, where neither they nor their parents felt at home, and new students came into South with no feeling of belonging, no stake in the neighborhood or the school. Over the years we got an increasing number of Southeast Asian students fleeing the Vietnam war, some from wealthy families who could afford to send them out, some who were "boat people" with only the clothes on their backs. Later, we also started to get Hispanics and Somalis. Many of them were poor and had little education in their own countries, and they struggled to fit into a new country with food, customs and a language that they didn't understand.
So, discipline problems became more frequent and teaching and learning became more difficult and many of the parents who had the resources began to move out of the neighborhood or send their children to private schools. As the school became more populated by minorities, it became less diverse economically, and as Stephens pointed out, socioeconomic status correlates more highly to success in school than any other factor - not because rich kids are smarter than poor kids, but because they are more likely to have parents who are educated themselves and know how to prepare and support their children through the educational process. Then too, the economy itself became more difficult - a good number of our parents used to work at places like Timken Roller Bearing, or Columbus Coated Fabrics - places that don't exist any more. The school became poorer academically because the whole neighborhood became poorer, literally.
At the same time, our popular culture changed - we have ample evidence that drugs destroy families, and drugs became more common in our schools because they became more common in our society in general. Movies and TV shows have become far more sexually explicit and vulgar language is the norm. This has made life harder for both parents and teachers, (even in the wealthier suburban schools.) It's hard for school authorities to maintain a learning atmosphere when students are dressed like streetwalkers and hoodlums, and hard to convince kids it's not ok to use words that they hear in the songs they listen to and the TV programs they watch. And it's hard for school authorities to see the point of suspending students for bad language when parents speak the same way - or when they've had three fights that day or a report of a gun in the building. Students can't learn without order in the classroom, and discipline in some Columbus schools has become virtually non-existent - it can't exist without support from parents, the court system, and even the state legislature. Stephens said "Schools do need to be more responsive to students by providing programs and instruction that fit their needs, not predetermined by state laws." Well, yes! We cannot turn South in Worthington Kilbourne just by applying state standards.
In other words - schools do not exist in a vacuum - the problems in our schools are a reflection of the problems in their communities and Stephens was right when he said "These problems can't be solved by schools alone." Yet, many people don't seem to understand that, and our "reform" efforts have involved stupidities like tinkering with the school schedule, requiring more training for teachers, and ever more testing - which a teacher friend of mine once said was kind of like trying to make a kid grow faster by measuring him more often. Stephens' column was the first suggestion I've seen in print that we need to spend some of the money we're currently spending on schools to establish family support systems, and teach parents how to help their children succeed in school. The new, expensive renovation at South is lovely, and ought to make the students feel more like the community cares about them, but of course it has not made a difference in academic achievement. We need to change our course if we're serious about improving failing schools.
Brenda Petruzzella, Columbus

Aha! Somebody finally talks sense about school reform...but it's not a legislator!

Thomas M. Stephens: School 'reforms' are doomed to failure
Thomas M. Stephens
Columbus Dispatch, May 14, 2011

The Columbus school board and Superintendent Gene Harris are willing to gamble with other people's children, as they sacrifice their schools on the altar of "school reform."
They plan to contract with an outside group to administer South High School. And to field-test a new state law that allows parents to take over failing schools.
A contractor has yet to be found for South High. But some arrangements have been announced: Its principal and teachers will remain. An $8 million federal grant is needed for this new adventure and for work in three other schools.
No other Ohio district has found it necessary to outsource the management of its schools. Or to be a guinea pig for Gov. John Kasich's dicey plan for parents to take over failing schools. These are acts of desperation, like tossing gobs of spaghetti at walls to see what sticks.
South High does need help; last year it met state standards in only three of 12 indicators and had a dismal graduation rate, slightly over 40 percent.
Harris framed her willingness to be the first district to experiment with the "parent-trigger" law as an act of leadership to help develop a sound process.
The governor and legislators' micromanagement reveals (once more) their cluelessness about how to improve public schools; after mandating this bad joke, they assigned its operation to the State Board of Education.
This would be fine and dandy, if it were based on any reasonable chance of success. Instead, it's a Hail Mary, a desperate move by self- appointed "reformers" who have helped bring urban schools to their knees and who now call for more charter schools as replacements. Soon both teachers and their students' parents will be labeled failures.
There are no secrets as to why many urban schools need help, or how to improve them. For the most part, achievement tests are measures of the socioeconomic status of students and their families. The urban poor face inequalities, often at conception, and too many persist into adulthood. Sure, good public schools can help, but the metrics now being used give a false picture of their efforts.
Yes, there are incompetent teachers, but proportionally no greater than any other profession. Their peers and principals know who they are; we don't need to spend millions of dollars to find them.
Even with the best teachers, student achievement in poor urban schools will be problematic, as long as the measures of success ignore the individual learning needs of students and the instructional support needed by their teachers and families.
These problems can't be solved by schools alone. The remedies must include their families and communities. That's why the plan for parents to take over schools is doomed to fail.
Schools do need to be more responsive to students by providing programs and instruction that fit their needs, not predetermined by state laws. There is good evidence to suggest that active parent involvement can help students and their families. But such efforts present real costs and challenges for both schools and families.
A better use of the $8 million would be to invest in parent-support systems in school attendance areas. This will involve careful planning and much patience and time. The hard work of community-based education requires enlightened state and local leadership as well as family-support programs that serve schools.
If our elected state and federal officials really want to improve public schools, they should start addressing these inequalities, instead of wasting time and resources on more charter schools and other silly notions.
Thomas M. Stephens is professor emeritus in the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State University and is executive director emeritus of the School Study Council of Ohio.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Randy, most Buckeye public school educators know exactly how you feel!

From John Curry, May 15, 2011
English teacher
Public School Teachers: Are We an Endangered Species?
May 13, 2011
The scariest moment in my daily routine comes each day shortly after 5 a.m., when I stride, razor in hand, toward the bathroom mirror and take a close look at the rapidly aging face before me.

After my daily scream and a therapeutic chug-a-lugging of Pepto-Bismol, I take another look at that face. And though it's not much to look at, I see the face of a classroom teacher ready to spend another day teaching writing skills to eighth-graders in the Joplin, Mo. public school district.

I see the face of someone who has spent the last dozen years making sure the children and the taxpayers always get their money's worth.

I hope I am looking at the face of someone who can serve as a positive role model for children who sometimes have no one to look up to once they leave school for the day.

One thing I do not see is a lazy, incompetent pervert, stealing taxpayer dollars and operating a private playground to prey on children. That is the brand Missouri's Republican-controlled legislature continues to put on us in its unprecedented attack on public education in general and public school teachers in particular.

In a recent HuffPost blog, I wrote about a bill, sponsored by Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, and Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, R-Washington (a former public school teacher) that would eliminate teacher tenure, prevent school boards from using years of experience or advanced degrees when considering a teacher's salary and divide each school into four tiers when it comes to a pay schedule -- with the ones in the top 25 percent receiving 60 percent more than those in the second tier, and so on down the line. The pay, of course, would be primarily based on standardized test scores.

Thankfully, it appears this bill will not be passed, but there is still one day left for the 2011 Missouri State Legislature and this bill; and another that would eliminate tenure, but not implement the pay plan, may still pass.

Another bill, also sponsored by Sen. Cunningham, passed the House today and is on its way to Gov. Jay Nixon for his signature. In this bill, the senator, who is expected to announce a bid for Congress next week, made it appear as if Missouri public schools are a cesspool of pervert teachers being passed around from one district to another, molesting hundreds of children.

The bill adds stringent requirements for school districts looking to hire teachers (unnecessary requirements since Missouri has had a strong protection system in place for nearly two decades) and requires more training so teachers can spot those who are preying on students. Most irritating of all to me and other teachers who have worked to teach students the responsible use of social networking, teachers will no longer be allowed to communicate with students or former students through Facebook or other social networking sites.

This bill, I might add, was passed with the backing of the Missouri National Education Association, which was only concerned that teachers charged with crimes involving students be afforded due process.

It is time to deliver a message to the Jane Cunninghams, Michelle Rhees, Chris Christies and Scott Walkers who have made a parlor game of smearing hard-working classroom teachers.

We have spent far too much time allowing these opportunistic vultures to trash our reputations. It is time that those who support public education stop rolling over and allowing these bullies to kick sand in our faces.

When the biggest problems facing education today are elements outside of the classroom, why are our elected officials spending so much time slapping around the people who often provide the only hope of educational salvation to the children whom we supposedly do not want to see left behind?

Why are people who claim they are representing the best interests of our children doing so much to damage those who provide the foundation for this country (and who often are paying out of their own pockets for the supplies of these children who are supposedly the only concern of our legislators)?

Where is the champion who is going to stand up for teachers before American public schools go the way of the Edsel?

Until elected officials begin showing courage and resisting the siren song of the billionaires who want to privatize education and rip the heart and soul out of this one constant in the American fabric, the people who have worked long hours for low pay in this most noble profession are going to continue to pay the price.

Until then, I will continue my morning ritual, and after I greet that image in the mirror with a primal scream, I will take a second look.

Mine may not be the face of a movie star, but when I look in the mirror I still see someone who takes pride in being a classroom teacher, and takes solace in the realization that my fellow teachers and I, unlike those who have sold their souls to the twin demons of reform and accountability, are making a positive difference in the lives of children.

Note from John:

And even sadder is the fact that some of your very own peers at your very own public school will go right out and once again vote for these very same legislators who are attempting to take away everything you have worked for.
Many public school educators in Ohio have done the same thing...they went to the ballot box and cut off their noses to spite of their faces. For them, it wasn't Representatives Cunningham and Dieckhaus but rather Representative Batchelder, Senator Niehaus, Governor Kasich and his minions. These educators are now paying the price! Worse yet, some won't even admit that they made a mistake!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Professor Evans, you hit the nail right on the head!

"We should be very clear that the causes of the current public sector crisis does not lie with the employees. It is widely believed that public sector workers are better paid than private sector workers. This is not true. When we compare employees with similar levels of responsibilities in the public and private sectors there is little difference between in terms of overall compensation."
Evans: Collective bargaining isn't the problem
By Martin G. Evans/Guest columnist
May 15, 2011
Last month, Wisconsin passed a bill forbidding Public Sector Unions from bargaining over pensions and health benefits. Implementation of that law has been stalled by the courts. Last week, Ohio passed a law that forbade Public Sector Unions from bargaining over pensions and health benefits. No doubt, a similar legal challenge will be made.

Even in progressive Massachusetts, a Republican State Representative, Daniel Winslow, recently introduced a similar bill. A milder version, introduced by Speaker Robert DeLeo, has passed the House. The trouble is that these bills show a serious disconnect from the reality of bargaining. The difficulty is that an employee's compensation is made up of cash pay AND the benefits received. Pay is the money that goes into the bank or the pocketbook. Benefits represent compensation diverted to other purposes. Benefits vary a great deal across employers, including public agencies, but include such things as pension, health-care, sick day provisions, flexible hours, transportation, and, more rarely, child care provisions (as at MoJo, described by Jen Abelson in the Globe a few weeks ago).

The link between pay and benefits is most clear with the case of the pension. Pensions are funds that the employer and employee divert from the pocketbook and place in trust for payments that come on stream when the individual retires. The money is the employee's, the employer is merely the trustee. David Clay Johnston has written tellingly about the failure of most commentators to notice that employees pay 100 percent of the costs of their pensions. A pension is simply deferred pay. Individuals and Unions bargain with employers on the total size of the compensation package and then agree on what proportion of that compensation is to be paid out immediately, what proportion is to be set aside for a pension, what proportion is to be used to by health insurance, what proportion is to be allocated to pay for flexible hours, for daycare, and even for transportation to and from work; these last four benefits merely represent a diversion of cash payments into these alternative forms of compensation.

The employee pays the whole shot based on the compensation agreed to in the collective bargaining process. It is probably the case that employees who enjoy good benefits did so by accepting lower cash wage payments in previous negotiations.

This complete interdependence between cash pay and benefits makes it the height of absurdity for legislators to allow collective bargaining on one aspect of compensation but to forbid collective bargaining on other aspects. Such an artificial division will make it very difficult for managers to present a sensible compensation proposal to its employees.

We should be very clear that the causes of the current public sector crisis does not lie with the employees. It is widely believed that public sector workers are better paid than private sector workers. This is not true. When we compare employees with similar levels of responsibilities in the public and private sectors there is little difference between in terms of overall compensation.

The reason that citizens are balking at the compensation enjoyed by public sector employees is that their wages have been stagnant over the past 25 years (except for the top 1 percent of wage earners); while corporations have failed to compensate employees in line with productivity increases, they have also fed them a story about the excesses of the public sector.

These attacks on public sector workers are appealing to the rest of us who have lost our good pensions and health benefits, but they miss the target of restoring fiscal balance. The real money lies with the rich. The only way to get the states, cities, and towns out of the mess they are in is by the Federal government providing additional stimulus funding. This should be roughly equivalent to 20 percent of their 2007 budgets.

This would enable states to pull through until unemployment drops to more normal levels. To pay for this, the Federal government should institute a tax on financial transactions (a good idea from Dean Baker and others). That is where the money is, that is where a tiny tax on each transaction will result in a flow of funds to the treasury without crimping normal economic activity on main street.

It is only right that Wall Street should help out at this time.

(Martin Evans is a professor emeritus at the Rotman School of Management and Centre for Industrial Relations, University of Toronto.)

Read more:

A Paul Ryan haircut...balanced....(fair and balanced?)

Click image (twice) to enlarge.
Thanks to JC..............................................................................
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company