Friday, October 07, 2011

A must-see: Debate on SB 5/Issue 2

Below is the link to the recording of the October 6, 2011 SB 5/Issue 2 debate in Lancaster, OH.
Please click on the link below AND this screen will be the large one on the LEFT side of your monitor. Move the little "time button" at the bottom of the screen to the right until the timer shows 1 hour and 30 minutes as there are other discussions before this event starts. You will now be ready to view the debate and....don't forget to turn your sound up...both at the bottom of your monitor AND the little icon on the playback screen. This debate lasts about 30 minutes.

A Fairfield County educator retiree, CORE member and former teacher of Kyle Farmer calls it like it is!

Jim N. Reed to John Curry, October 7, 2011
Subject: Re: Issue 2 debate...a good one!

John, also in today's "E-G" is an opinion letter written by a local man who claims to know Kyle Farmer in his (Farmer's) part-time job as a Republican board member of the Fairfield County Board of Elections. (As a former student of mine, I appreciate Kyle's free-thinker option and give him his due to offer his opinion but he needed to be more transparent and honest about his political motivation and positioning. That's why I was not surprised that he appeared as a poster boy for SB 5. I do know that he has raised the hair on the back of many necks in his neck of the woods. The charge that teachers get paid for how long they have "sat in their chairs" is especially unpalatable.)
Writer Larry Blair: "The fact that he (Farmer) was not identified in the campaign ad as a Republican official is part of the deception being used to promote Issue 2."
It seems that Gov. Kasich and his union-busting supporters have found ONE teacher, ONE firefighter and ONE mayor who supports Issue 2... They do not speak for the vast majority of public servants who recognize this is an attempt to punish political opponents....The ad has backfired because Farmer's comments have insulted not just teachers but everyone who values what they do."
Watching the stream broadcast I was pleased that Dale Butland finally challenged the ignorant pro- SB 5 assertion that educators should be willing to pay their fair share of retirement (10%) and health care (15%) contributions. Butland's research even indicated area educators pay as much as 18% toward their health care plans. I only wish he would have asked why Lancaster Senator Shafer was not on the other mic.
Jim N. Reed
[Note from John....the "letter to the editor" that Jim Reed refers to in his email above will follow this note.]

Letter to the Editor in Lancaster Gazette re: Kyle Farmer

From John Curry, October 7, 2011
To the Editor:
I was surprised to see a TV ad in support of Issue 2 featuring Kyle Farmer. I know that Farmer is chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party and that he holds a part-time job as a Republican board member of the Fairfield County Board of Elections. I did not know he was a teacher.
The fact that he was not identified in the campaign ad as a Republican official is part of the deception being used to promote Issue 2.
It seems that Gov. John Kasich and his union-busting supporters have found one teacher, one firefighter and one mayor who support Issue 2. They do not speak for the vast majority of public servants who recognize this as an attempt to punish political opponents.
This ad has backfired because Farmer's comments have insulted not just teachers but everyone who values what they do. If Issue 2 passes and removes the protections provided by the unions, teaching will simply be a job and no longer a profession that attracts our best and brightest. Please join us in protecting the rights of our public servants by voting "no" on Issue 2.
Larry Blair

RH Jones: Letter to the Akron Beacon Journal

October 7, 2011
Reject GOP agenda shaped by big money
The GOP is neither the Grand Old Party nor a government of the people any longer. Faithful Republicans have been duped by radical politicians who work not for them, but for their corporate business managers, who are evidently filling the radicals’ bank accounts with great amounts of dollars.
Also, as average Americans sell their gold just to live, the foreign and domestic super-rich are filling their pockets with it.
The GOP’s relentless nationwide attack on working people, those out of work, those struggling to find work and those who have given up looking have caused America’s future to look grim.
Our solution, as good citizens, is to get out to vote in large numbers, to throw the radicals out of office and to keep on voting in every election to permanently keep them out of office.
But as a consequence of falling income, and with less buying power due to the inflated dollar, America’s struggling people are having difficulty voting. Even getting to a neighborhood voting location, or finding money for stamps to use on absentee ballots, is difficult. The radical GOP knows this.
This is the reason here in Ohio that they are trying to make voting even harder for some of us. A GOP-back bill would require voters to have a photo ID, even when there are very few reports of voting fraud. Everyone knows that poll workers are hired and trained to identify the individual voter.
The time is coming this Nov. 8 for the people to take back the government from those who would take Americans back to the pre-revolutionary times when foreigners, and a few of their American lackeys, had all the power instead of the people. By voting next Nov. 8 and beyond, we will peacefully return power to where it belongs, with the American people.
Robert H. Jones

Thursday, October 06, 2011

CORE to meet October 20, 2011
Details here

CORE to meet October 20, 2011

From CORE, October 6, 2011
CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) will hold its October meeting on Thursday, October 20th at the STRS building, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus. Parking is free in the STRS parking garage located behind the building. We encourage you to also attend the STRS Retirement Board meeting on the same day which usually begins around 9:00 in the Board Room on the 6th floor but this time varies from month to month. Lately the STRS board meetings have been held most of the day on the following Friday as well as Thursday. For this reason, we suggest you check the STRS website ( to confirm the board meeting schedule.
Please remember that CORE meeting attendees usually leave the STRS board meeting around 11:30 to go to the cafeteria on the 2nd floor to get our lunches. We then take them to the small cafeteria room behind the Sublett Room on the 2nd floor where the CORE meeting begins promptly at 11:45.
An agenda for the meeting will be sent out in advance. If you have additional items to include, please send them to John Curry at curryjo@watchtv,net.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Do you think the Wall St. crooks are beginning to get the idea?

From John Curry, October 5, 2011
[Click image to enlarge.]........................................

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A little more on Kyle Farmer (the educator featured in the Pro SB 5/ Issue 2 misleading ad)'s a small world, isn't it?

From John Curry, October 4, 2011
Remember the educator featured in the 30 second pro-SB 5/Issue 2 misleading ad by the name of Kyle Farmer from Fairfield County Ohio? Kyle is a teacher at the Fairfield (County) Career Center AND Chairman of the Fairfield County GOP. Here, to help you refresh your memory, is that ad:
Interesting ad, isn't it? Well, let's dig a little deeper into the family connections in Fairfield County OH. You see, recently Governor Kasich appointed an Ohio citizen to the Ohio School Board. His name was Joseph L. Farmer....he was from, of all places, Fairfield County, OH. Here is his bio as taken from the Ohio Department of Education:
[Click image to enlarge.]
Joseph L. Farmer is a Performance Leader for Delta Air Lines, Inc. in Columbus. He has worked at the Field Ticket Office, in the ground operation, and the Air Cargo Department in the Columbus Station during the past 43 years.
Farmer served on the Liberty Union-Thurston Local School Board of Education from 1992 to 2011. During his five terms he held the positions of member, vice president and president, and served on the athletic council and the Personnel, Finance, Labor/Management Committees. He also served on school and community groups, such as the Strategic Planning and Wellness Committees.
Drafted into the United States Army in 1969, he served with the 1st Infantry Division, 199th Light Infantry Brigade and the USARV in the Republic of Vietnam from October 1969 to October 1970. During this time he received the National Defense Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and the Air Medal with two clusters. Honorably discharged in 1971, he is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3761 in Baltimore, Ohio.
Farmer was a member of the Ohio School Boards Association in the late 1990s. In 1998 he was named as a member to the All-Region and All-Ohio School Boards.
Farmer and his wife Jane have been married for 42 years and live in Baltimore. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
As an active member of Baltimore Christ United Methodist Church, he currently serves as Chairman of the Administrative Council and leads an Adult Sunday School Class.
Farmer was appointed an At-Large member of the State Board of Education by Governor John Kasich in 2011. His term expires on Dec. 31, 2014.
Joseph L. Farmer, Member At-Large
1755 W. Market Street
Baltimore, OH 43105
Phone: (740) 862-8649
Joseph L. Farmer is the father of Kyle Farmer! Imagine that!! It's a small world, isn't it?

Meeting announcement from STRS

From STRS, October 4, 2011
The State Teachers Retirement Board of Ohio's Executive Appraisal Form Committee will meet at the STRS Ohio Offices, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, on Tuesday, Oct.11, 2011, at 9 a.m.

$$$$, Batch and.....You bet[cha]!

From John Curry, October 4, 2011!
Click image to enlarge.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Awaiting a reply......

From John Curry, October 3, 2011
Superintendents Horner and Harvey,
As a retired educator from Wapakoneta City Schools and as an Auglaize County taxpayer I am encouraging both of you to take a stand against Matt Huffman's voucher bill (HB 136). If you or your boards have taken a stand I would ask that you forward that information to me. If you and your boards have not I am respectfully asking you.....why not? It is my and your taxpayer moneys that will be taken from your schools if this bill becomes a law. Thousands of readers will be eagerly awaiting your answer to this letter or.....your silence. Please have the courage to take a stand like those superintendents have in Marion County (article below).
Thank you,
John Curry
Bill would expand voucher system
Marion Star, October 3, 2011
By Seth Roy
A bill that would allow wider access to vouchers covering private school tuition is closer to becoming law, though many questions still need to be addressed, officials said.
The bill is also facing competition from public school officials who state it takes public dollars away from their districts.
Ohio House Bill 136 was approved by the House's Education Committee last month, Rep. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, said. It would expand the state's private school voucher program to any student in any district whose family makes less than $95,000.
"This is a very significant public policy issue," said Hottinger, a co-signer of the bill. "The decision ... will potentially have a lot of consequences and a lot of ramifications."
The state's EdChoice program - an extension of a Cleveland voucher system - now allows students from low-income families in academically poor districts to apply for a voucher that covers tuition at a private school.
The new bill, which hasn't yet been scheduled for a floor vote in front of the entire House, would create the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Savings Scholarship Program.
It would significantly widen the scope of the voucher program and, district leaders say, could have a detrimental financial impact.
School districts whose students use the vouchers would see $5,783 taken from their state aid per student. The students would then qualify for varying amounts in scholarships based on family income.
Local reaction
District officials say it takes too much money away from public districts - and students can already opt to attend community or online schools at no cost to them.
Superintendents at all of Marion County's five public school districts, while saying they support competition, disagreed with using public dollars to educate students in private schools.
"I support educational choice in Ohio, but I do not feel that local tax dollars should be used to educate students in private schools or private charter schools," River Valley Local Schools Superintendent Tom Shade said. "I do not think state and local tax dollars should be used to subsidize private school tuition, even when public options are available."
Ridgedale Local Schools Superintendent Bob Britton said only a portion of the $5,783 comes from the state. In Ridgedale's case, $3,213 of that would be equal to what the state gives Ridgedale per student. The remaining $2,525 would come from local tax money that would follow the student.
"I do not believe that our local community members would like to see their local tax dollars flowing out of the district to private or charter schools," Britton said.
Pleasant Local Schools Interim Superintendent John Bruno said every dollar a public school district loses when a student enrolls in a for-profit educational institution "causes not only a financial strain on the district's budget, but also places a heavier tax burden on their public."
"Local monies need to stay in the district," Elgin Local Schools Superintendent Bruce Gast said.
Bruno also said such legislation should "level the playing field" by mandating that all schools are subjected to the same rules, regulations and standards as public schools must abide by.
"The bottom line is 'competition,'" Marion City Schools Superintendent James Barney said. "I do not have a problem with competition. The competition should be scoring as well or better as the public school."
Barney said community and private schools also do not have to worry about passing levies, which means they are not on the same playing field.
Locally the current EdChoice program gives students in low-income families attending low-performing schools the chance to go to St. Mary Grade School with EdChoice funds paying the tuition.
St. Mary Principal Bob Rush said the proposed legislation is similar to open enrollment, which enables students in public school districts to enroll in districts other than their home district.
"Parents get a choice," he said.
Rush said private schools may offer better activities or academics than students' home schools and supported the competition.
Students who attend St. Mary through EdChoice take the Ohio Achievement Tests taken by public school children while other students take the standardized TerraNova standardized achievement tests. He said students score above the state averages but added the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, which oversees the area's Catholic schools, does not allow schools to publicize the results.
Changes likely
The bill is still early in its overall process, and could change before it is signed into law - if it ever is. Hottinger said the question that needs to be asked is what is most beneficial for individual students.
"Are there options to be able to meet the needs of students ... without significantly impacting our obligations to the public school system?" he said. "I don't want to strengthen one system at the expense of the other."
Before the bill is brought to a full vote, legislators need to talk with various stake-holders from public and private districts, Hottinger said.
And changes will likely need to be made to the bill before it will be approved.
"Most people believe that there's going to have to be some changes that need to be made before it's ready for a vote," he said. "We really need to make certain that we all understand what's happening."

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Wall St. protests live cam!

Be there!!! Just click on the link below:

Rich DeColibus column in the Plain Dealer: Senate Bill 5 - Return to Camelot

Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 2, 2011
By Richard A. DeColibus
Senate Bill 5 - Return to Camelot
Camelot, in this case, is not the singing, cheerful Broadway play about handsome knights and beautiful ladies living in a mostly imaginary England around 1100 A.D. Real life, back then, was not so swell, especially if you were a peasant or serf. You belonged to the lord (you were his personal property) and lived on his manor, working to produce food and such other goods and services as the lord required. It was called feudalism. Not a bad life if you were the lord; not so much fun if you were the serf. Since the lord did all your thinking for you, your only terms and conditions of employment were to obey the lord at all times.
We have, in SB5, an attempt to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Personally, I never thought feudalism was a particularly attractive life style, but the Republicans who run Ohio seem to have found a new source of entertainment: reducing public employees to serfdom.
[Click images to enlarge; click the first one twice.]
SB5 has some decent clauses but it's mostly just arrogant and bad. To wit:
• Public employers (aka "lords") have no obligation whatsoever to talk to public employee unions (or their members) about their wages, hours, terms and conditions of employment, or sick leave (or any other kind of leave). The lords just decide how things will be, and that's that. How that, in any way, is different from feudalism escapes me. Teachers, firemen, police, serfs, all the same.

• As a former teacher union President (CTU), one of the best things we had in the contract was language limiting class sizes. Not that you couldn't have oversized classes, but the Board had to pay the teacher a penalty if the class got beyond a certain level. Our thinking was they'd do everything possible to avoid giving teachers an extra buck, and we were right. Classes were nicely balanced most of the time. The idea that the teacher-serfs should have any say in class size is now forbidden by SB5. Good for lords, not so good for kids.
• SB5 mandates "performance based evaluations." Great, except who defines performance? SB5 also mandates part of the evaluation must be based on student performance; and, as we all know, all students in Ohio come from identical families, with identical parents, have equal talents and abilities, and live in equally safe and attractive neighborhoods, so this is completely fair and unbiased.
• The law eliminates step raises, which is fine by me since, I guess, it means first year teachers will shoot to the top of the salary schedule because they can't get there by steps. Actually, I don't think that was the lord's thinking at all, but I have no clue what murky logic lurks behind this apparently random event. Whatever it is, I suspect it's not good for the serfs.
• Eliminating pay scales is another pearl of wisdom emanating out of SB5. In the olden days, high school teachers got paid more than elementary teachers (high school teaching was a more important job!), and men teachers were paid more than woman teachers (men had families to support!). We in the union movement were rather proud we eliminated that thinking and, we thought, made it fair and equal for everyone with pay scales that treated everyone equally. Little did we know how good the old system (now perfectly possible as per SB5) was. Shame on us for such muddled thinking that everyone should be treated the same.
• The crown jewel of SB5, however, is the elimination of seniority rights when layoffs must happen. The second-year gym teacher who happens to be a nephew of the principal stays, the twenty five-year veteran math teacher with a wife, three kids, and a problematic mortgage goes. Now I ask you, what could be fairer and better for education than that?
The real motive behind SB5, as I see it, had nothing whatsoever to do with fiscal integrity or intelligent public policy. The impelling goal of SB5 is the destruction of public sector unions who seldom endorse Republicans, since most Republicans never met a management right they didn't like. In simple terms it's a law meant to facilitate the reelection of Republicans in the State of Ohio. Should SB5 remain in effect, the law of unintended consequences will inevitably kick in, and our best, most intelligent and most competent firemen, teachers, police, and other public sector workers will abandon public service in this state. This is 2011 A.D.; people don't do serf anymore.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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