Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ann...where is ORTA's mention of ALEC to your members?

John Curry to Ann Hanning, March 17, 2012
In looking through ORTA's website I find no reference to the American Legislative Exchange Council's efforts to stifle public education while promoting the privatization of education and subverting of educational tax moneys to the private sector.
You are aware of this, aren't you? I'll bet thousands of your members aren't. Remember how hesitant your organization was to speak out against Issue 2....your group waited until about one week before the past November election to finally take a stance and speak out against Issue 2, didn't they? How long will they wait before they take a stance against ALEC? Once again your organization is "a dollar short and [especially] a day late."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

RH Jones: Coalition to keep a retiree COLA cut unpublished?

From RH (Bob) Jones, March 15, 2012
To all:
In the multiple current publications of our Ohio STRS news, concerning whether or not a retired teacher a COLA cut is being considered, the Columbus Dispatch, the STRS monthly meeting report, my ORTA, OEA-R, and SummitCRTA, have not said directly or unambiguously that a reduction of our retiree COLA is, in fact, being one of the considerations. It has simply been just been left out. One can, therefore, conclude that we intentionally being ignored.
Of course COLA cuts have been mentioned, but not the specifics as to which group of teachers are being considered to experience the cuts, or are they all - active, new hires or retirees? My view is that retired teachers need to know. Any cut in our Ohio Revised Code legislated 3% non-compounding simple COLA could be considered unconstitutional; and, therefore, illegal.
Was not there an expression: “Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on us”? They should not try to fool us by holding back COLA information. Full transparency is our right as retired members of these various groups.
To move our state and nation forward is to grow knowledge for our young people. This has been the case in the past; it should be for now, and the future. Teacher respect and high cultural status, a good return on individual career teacher’s investment in their education for their license to teach, and a teacher’s defined benefit pension is all part of a powerful predictor of the wealth for a state and a nation. A whole culture built around education is the only way to prosperity.
Our children are our greatest resource. Just cutting off the tops of our mountains, digging holes in our flat plains states, and fracking our Ohio hills will not bring lasting prosperity to the future. Only education can do that.
RHJones, retired teacher member of the unions mentioned above

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

STRS Board to meet March 21-23, 2012

From STRS, March 14, 2012
The State Teachers Retirement Board and Committee meetings currently scheduled at the STRS Ohio offices, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, are as follows:
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
...10 a.m. Disability Review Panel (Disability Reviews will be conducted in Executive Session)
Thursday, March 22, 2012
...9 a.m. Retirement Board Meeting
Friday, March 23, 2012
...9 a.m. Resumption of the Retirement Board Meeting
The Retirement Board meeting will come to order on Thursday, Mar. 22, 2012, and begin with a Report From the Investment Department followed by a Report From the Member Benefits Department - Health Care, Executive Director's Report, public participation and Long-Term Fiduciary and Financial Contingency Planning. The Retirement Board meeting will resume at 9 a.m. on Friday, Mar. 23, and begin with a Report From the Member Benefits Department - Pension Benefits, a Report From the Human Resource Services Department, Enterprise Risk Management - Legal Department, routine matters, old business, new business and any other matters requiring attention.

Indiana has about 2% of their students in charter schools....guess what % Ohio has in their charter schools?

From John Curry, March 13, 2012

"Indiana has about 22,000 students in charter schools, or about 2 percent of children in public school. That's less than the national average of about 3 percent and much less than neighboring states like Michigan (6 percent) and Ohio (nearly 9 percent). Roughly half of Indiana's charter school students attend schools in Indianapolis."
[Note from John....Mr. White Hat, Mr. Kasich, Mr. Huffman and ALEC ought to be proud, eh?]
All-boys school to open as Indianapolis' charters plot growth
Written by Scott Elliott

A second Tindley charter school -- the city's first all-boys school -- will open this fall, a harbinger of a coming expansion of charter schools in Indianapolis.

EdPower, the non-profit group that runs the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School, named a principal and unveiled drawings for Tindley Prep, a middle school for up to 400 boys on a 21-acre campus at 42nd Street and Sherman Drive. The property formerly was owned St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church.

The school is but one of several applications coming from EdPower and the leading edge of a that will see a the city's charter schools grow by nearly 20 percent next year.

The group has applications in to Mayor Greg Ballard's office for two more middle schools -- another for boys and one for girls in 2013. The organization's CEO, Marcus Robinson, said three more applications will follow, all for single-gender schools. EdPower's long-term goal, he said, is 14 charter schools operating under its banner by 2023. That count does not include Arlington High School, which EdPower will operate next year following state takeover from Indianapolis Public Schools.

The proliferation small, high quality charters serving a niche population can only be good for Indianapolis, Robinson said. But quality will really count.

"The question now," Robinson, said, "is do we set a bar of accountability that says, 'this is the level we expect in this city, whether you are a charter school or a traditional school?' "

EdPower's ambitions aren't the only force driving a push for more charters.

The mayor currently sponsors 22 charter schools enrolling about 9,400 students, while Ball State sponsors four Indianapolis schools.

But Ballard's office also has approved a second Christel House charter school aimed at dropouts and a new state charter school board, created by the Indiana legislature last year, has signed off on four more charters for the city next school year. Ball State University -- Indiana's other major charter sponsor -- will sponsor Indianapolis' Fall Creek Academy, which was dropped by the mayor.

Factoring in the loss of Fountain Square Academy, which will close at the end of the school year that's a net gain of five new charters.

Meanwhile, the Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based school reform organization, is working in partnership with Ballard's office on a charter school incubator aimed at attracting high quality charter school operators to the city.

In June, the incubator will offer three $1 million grants to groups that want to start new schools. The Mind Trust is considering 35 applications, including 31 from out of state. Ballard has estimated the effort could seed 20 new charter schools serving 6,000 more students.

"Competition is good in schools," Ballard said. "It works."

IPS school board president Mary Busch declined comment on the mayor's charter push when reached Tuesday.

Indiana has about 22,000 students in charter schools, or about 2 percent of children in public school. That's less than the national average of about 3 percent and much less than neighboring states like Michigan (6 percent) and Ohio (nearly 9 percent). Roughly half of Indiana's charter school students attend schools in Indianapolis.

IPS in 2011 was ranked 11th in the U.S. by the Alliance for Public Charter Schools with 22 percent of public school students who attend charters. That ranking has been growing slowly. The prior year, the district was 13th at 19 percent. But a gain of about 10 percentage points -- the kind of jump that is possible with such a direct push from the mayor and others -- could quickly vault IPS into the top five.

That growth, however, will require vigilant oversight, said Beth Bray, who heads Ballard's charter school office. Sponsors need close coordination to ensure the charter schools the approve don't flounder. So far, she thinks that's working well.

"We don't want it to become the wild west of charter schools," she said. "It's our responsibility for overseeing schools and holding them accountable."

If they can do that, Ballard said, groundbreaking opportunities for kids -- like a boys school -- can be matched to students who will thrive in them.

"Charter schools fill a void in a terrific way," he said. "Growth in charters schools is really a result of those who are passionate about educating."

As much as Beatrice Beverly thinks Tindley Accelerated School was a good fit for her son, seventh grade Tiler, she thinks the new boys school will be a perfect match. He will transfer there next year.

"With our child, we recognize he needs structure without all the extracurriculars -- girls -- in his face," she said. "This will mean more focus. It will be amazing."

Tindley math teacher Patrick Jones, named principal of the new school, said a single gender school can give teachers the freedom to inspire boys without embarrassing them.

"Suppose I have a boy who wants to work but he is lethargic," he said. "I can go up to him and say, 'man up!' and tell him an inspirational quote. It's a tough love situation. But if a girl is sitting nearby. He might be embarrassed. He might respond differently."

Robinson said Tindley's test data shows boys consistently score about 9 points behind girls. The single gender schools aim to erase that deficit.

"We think this age is where boys need the most social development and care," he said.

Beverly agrees. An IPS product who started her Genesis Solutions, an IT company, said she had always expected to send Tiler to a private school, which in her mind would assure high quality instruction. But then her nephew was in the first graduating class at Tindley. She decided to check it out.

"Not only do they teach kids, they care about kids," she said. "And they hold them accountable."

Call Star reporter Scott Elliott at (317) 444-6494.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Join the enemy (ALEC), rub elbows with the enemy........

From John Curry, March 11, 2012
....and then EXPOSE THE ENEMY.....just like this Wisconsin legislator did re. ALEC's legislation re. special taxpayer subsidies and helping kids with special needs! My hat is off to you, Rep. Mark Pocan!
Just last week, Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan (D) decided to take action as well. He joined ALEC to gain access to the bill templates, and then took to the floor to expose the origins of AB110, a bill that would damage the public education system by giving special taxpayer subsidies to private schools for special needs children.
“This is part of dismantling public education in Wisconsin, and Florida, and Ohio, and every single state it’s introduced in,” Pocan explained. “This bill doesn’t come from this body, this bill is an identical bill that’s been introduced brought by special interests by ALEC and introduced state by state by state.”
Note from is Rep. Pocan talking about Special Education "scholarships." Click on this link:
ALEC’s secret jig is up. The American people don’t want their laws to be written by corporations, and they’ve made their voices heard. Now, our elected representatives – that is, the ones who are actually representing us, not wealthy special interests – are taking a stand too. ALEC’s pro- corporate agenda can only advance if kept secret. Kudos to those elected officials with the courage to shine the spotlight on this undemocratic organization.

Retiree Carol Janes writes to ORSC (Ohio Retirement Study Council) chair, Senator Keith Faber, re: pension legislation

From: Carol Janes
To: (Senator Keith Faber)
Subject: RE: Reply from Senator Keith Faber
Date: March 9, 2012
Dear Senator Faber,
Thank you so much for your reply to my letter.
Since that time I have become more informed on some poor choices made by STRS. As you know this 35 yr 88% incentive is pure craziness and has cost us a fortune. I have read letters from people learning that there are teachers now who are retiring on a FAS of 90,000...when I retired in 2002 from a rural district this was unheard of.
I know and completely understand that changes have to be made and cuts have to be made. I know that retiree's as well as active teacher's have to make sacrifices.
I would ask you for one thing. All of my life I made less than teachers in affluent areas and I am going to bet I worked harder. It is one of those things that is just not fair. And it continues on into when your committee comes up with its recommendations I am going to ask that you try to protect those of us on pensions $40,000 and under...we are struggling with health care premiums and many increased costs...our COLA is based on what we made when we it never really keeps up with inflation.
I expect to make a sacrifice...but I worked very hard for 30 yrs...was it foolish of me to stay in a rural district? Didn't those children have a right to a good education? Do I have to qualify economically for poverty to get relief from the government? That is not my wish. But I am getting close.
Carol Janes
Middlefield, OH
Subject: Reply from Senator Keith Faber
Date: March 8, 2012
From: (Senator Keith Faber)
Dear Carol,
Thank you for writing me concerning the State of Ohio pension system and the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). I am always happy answer questions about issues or concerns folks back home may have.
Ohio’s public employees deserve the assurance that the pension they invested in during their careers will always be available to them when they retire. As sponsor of Senate Bill 3 I am working diligently to find the best solutions to these solvency issues and to safeguard a pension for every public employee that has made considerable investments toward their future.
Because pension reform is a multi-faceted subject that requires careful deliberation, the bi-partisan Ohio Retirement Study Council
(ORSC) hired an outside actuarial review firm in order evaluate the current plans purposed by the pension systems that would reform the current defined benefit structure. It is my hope that these reforms will be sufficient enough to sustain solvency for all members. However, any reformed pension system must have three key elements:
* The system must be actuarially sound.
* The benefit structure must conform to the public and taxpayers’ expectations.
* We should try to keep the promises made to those receiving benefits under the systems as well as maintaining a sense of fairness for those who have made plans based upon their pension expectations.
As you may be aware, despite prior assumptions that this proposed fix would address the plans shortcomings, the STRS board just recently announced that many of its baseline assumptions were no longer viable, leading to larger deficits. This is exactly why we asked for an independent review of their assumptions and proposed solutions. I have enclosed the STRS eUpdate newsletter on this matter for your review.
While the details and the intricacies of pension reform may be complex the bottom line is that we must ensure that the system delivers on the promises that we have made to Ohioans. I fully intent on protecting the health of all of Ohio’s retirement funds for retirees like you today and tomorrow. I thank you for your letter on public pensions in Ohio and if you should have any other issues or concerns, please let me know.
Keith Faber
Ohio Senate
12th District
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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