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Outrage over school cuts rises

From emails and phone calls, to angry town halls, legislators have been on the receiving end of a backlash to the reckless budget the Governor has proposed.
Battered by angry crowds at suburban school district meetings in recent days, House Republican lawmakers will offer up changes Thursday limiting the budgetary pain inflicted on schools by Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal.

House Finance Chair Ron Amstutz said many changes to the $120 billion, all-funds budget proposed by Kasich are coming, including tweaks to a controversial blueprint for funding schools over the next two years authored by the Republican governor.

"We are looking to take the edge off of this problem across the spectrum of school districts -- not just for the upper" property wealth districts, said Amstutz, a Wooster Republican shepherding the budget through the GOP-controlled House. "But we are concerned about the districts getting high percentage cuts."

Taxpayers from those districts, many in traditional Republican territory, are also concerned -- and downright angry. Hundreds of them have been giving GOP lawmakers an earful at recent community meetings.
The "solution" being considered by the Republicans from wealthy suburban districts that are seeing large cuts is to shift those cuts to poorer school districts, as Ohio Budget Watch reports
Some Republicans from suburban districts that are receiving deep cuts in school funding are looking to change the funding model. The Plain Dealer is reporting that Representative Nan Baker’s (R-Westlake) proposal to cap cuts in funding at 20% for any one school district is being seriously considered by the House Republican Caucus. House Finance Chair Amstutz called it an “excellent amendment” that is “well conceived”. Which is kind of funny considering Governor Kasich said that no district receives a cut of over 8% in his budget but for some reason House Republicans are having to consider an amendment to cap cuts at 20%. I guess that is nether here nor there, though.

According to sources in the article, by capping the amount of cuts per school district at 20% this creates a hole of $114 million in the state budget. And how exactly to House Republicans fill the gap? Simple, by taking the small increases that low property wealth school districts receive in this budget and giving it to the high property wealth school districts.
It should come as little surprise that the theory of balancing the budget on the backs of schools and teachers was never going to be popular, however the Republican controlled legislature is still resistant to solving the budget problem in a balanced way.
But Rep. Ron Amstutz, a Republican from Wooster, and Rep. Christina Hagan, a Republican from Alliance, did make one thing clear: The House GOP isn’t going to back tax increases as a means of balancing the budget.

One thing is clear, there's very little appetite for this reckless budget. The GOP legislature and Governor now seem at odds with each other, and anger in the communities continues to rise.

New Poll shows high support for SB5 opponents

A new poll recently conducted by Fallon Research & Communications, Inc. shows that labor opponents of SB5 are regarded highly by the electorate.
Unions that represent police officers and firefighters are the most popular in the survey, with an overall favorable rating of 70% and an unfavorable rating of just 22%, while the remaining 8% have mixed opinions or were unsure.
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Among the specific types of unions tested in the survey, results for teachers’ unions provided the most intriguing insights. Overall, 56% of Ohio voters surveyed said they have favorable views of teachers’ unions, which is 8% higher than the favorable rating for general views of unions, and 34% said they have unfavorable opinions, which is 5% lower than the unfavorable rating for general views of unions. The remaining 10% have mixed opinions or were unsure. Teachers’ unions are most popular with 18 to 29 year-olds (71%), African-Americans (92%), union households (79%) and Democrats (74%). Teachers’ unions are least popular with non-union households (43% unfavorable) and Republicans (61%). Impressively, 57% of unaffiliated voters view teachers’ unions favorably, while just 31% view them unfavorably, which indicates high standing and, presumably, credibility with this vital segment of the electorate that is frequently the deciding factor in many local levy campaigns.
The full survey can be read below

Ohio Survey Results

SB5 signature collection continues apace

All day today, people from all over central Ohio formed a steady stream of petitioners at OEA HQ, downtown Columbus. Volunteers from the Columbus Education Association worked shifts manning tables and assisting people signing the petitions.

SB5 petition

Even with incessant April showers people still came to show their support for public education and express their disgust with SB5.

SB5 petition book

Ten down, 230990 more to go!

All around Ohio this weekend, citizens in their thousands lined up to sign the petitions. Here's a news sampling

Nice job to everyone who helped organize these efforts all around the state. There's a lot of work left to do, but we're off to a flying start!

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The Nation: Teachers Are Not The Enemy

It's hard to think of another field in which experience is considered a liability and those who know the least about the nuts and bolts of an enterprise are embraced as experts.

The attack has diverse roots, and comes not only from Republicans. Groups like Democrats for Education Reform have dedicated substantial resources to undermining teachers unions. With Race to the Top, the Obama administration has put its weight behind a reform agenda featuring charter schools, which employ mostly nonunion labor, as its centerpiece. A disturbing bipartisan consensus is emerging that favors a market model for public schools that would abandon America's historic commitment to providing education to all children as a civil right. This model would make opportunities available largely to those motivated and able to leave local schools; treat parents as consumers and children as disposable commodities that can be judged by their test scores; and unravel collective bargaining agreements so that experienced teachers can be replaced with fungible itinerant workers who have little training, less experience and no long-term commitment to the profession.

[readon2 url="http://m.npr.org/news/front/135628478?singlePage=true"]Continue reading...[/readon2]

SB5 Merit Pay - teachers weigh in

Over the weekend, the Plain Dealer published an article that talked about the SB5 provisions for teacher evaluation.
Under Senate Bill 5, teacher performance would be weighed partly by a new set of standards being created by the state board of education that involve observing teachers in the classroom and evaluating their knowledge of the subject they teach and their teaching skills. But the biggest piece, which is far from complete, is developing a test that will gauge student academic growth over a school year or from year to year, said Ohio Department of Education spokesman Patrick Gallaway. Student achievement will be the biggest single metric in a teacher's evaluation, making up 50 percent of the final performance mark for each educator and determining whether he or she gets a raise, nothing, or potentially gets fired.

The new system would not affect current teacher contracts, which would remain in effect until they expire.
This would be a first in the nation statewide effort. Those us us with concerns are justified, based upon current research and trials
In recent years, school districts in Iowa, Texas, Minnesota, New York and elsewhere have experimented with pay-for-performance programs and many have not lasted beyond a few years. Most struggle to find an equitable way of providing raises to all while also handing out merit pay to some, Christie said.

Harvard economist Roland Fryer in March concluded that a $75 million pay-for-performance pilot program in New York City that started in 2007 did not increase student achievement.

A study from Vanderbilt University released last September that followed Nashville teachers eligible for merit pay from 2007 through 2009 also concluded that student academic achievement did not improve.
SB5 doesn't even set aside any money for merit pay, making the entire enterprise even more questionable in its goals. It just doesn't work, as these comments from teachers on Facebook point out
Have they come up with a plan on how merit is determined? Test scores won't work. The only grades that take the tests are 3-8 and 10. How will they determine the merit of teachers in K-2, 9, 11, and 12? Additionally, not all subjects are tested! How will teachers of non-tested subjects be evaluated? Talk about going into battle without a plan!!!!!
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‎.......and special education? That system assumes that 75% of the teachers are substandard. From my experience, the majority rock and the occasional teacher needs to go. We all know what will happen. Better schools will get even better teachers, while the worst schools get teachers who can't hack it anywhere else or are doing it our of charity. The thing is, only some of us see this as a problem..... Others (we know who).. think this is how American should be.
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What is ridiculous is that the way it is set up there will always be a bottom percent EVEN when every school has score increases. So, it is possible that a school could be getting 90% passage in assessment scores and be in the bottom 25% of the passage rate.
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What a crack up - districts will have to pay for merit pay from the money they save by not giving step raises. So - the question that just begs to be asked - When the district is already NOT paying step raises so the it can stay afloat, where in the hell is it going to get money for merit pay?
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the whole idea of merit pay is ridiculous for teachers, police, fire fighters, etc., and no system that is devised will be fair, because there is no easy way to measure "merit" (or even define it) for these particular professions...this will not lead to good things
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I am very worried about the state of special education. My son has the best teacher, she "gets" him. I worry that we won't have inclusive classrooms anymore and only the teachers who are in the botton 25% teaching the kids who need the most.
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My district wants to freeze all steps and base salaries....so according to this, there will be no money for merit pay....does this mean our teachers are going to suddenly become more highly motivated to receive, well, nothing?? What's going to happen?
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This is all so depressing. I never thought I'd see the day when I considered starting all over again. I love teaching, but all this political stuff is crap! No one besides other teachers understands the tremendous job that we undertake. As a Master's graduate in May I'm truly depressed at the teaching job prospects
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I have seen some very good teachers run off simply because someone in power did not like them - and that's with union protection. I can't imagine how it will be if this garbage goes through. Makes me very sad for our profession.
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My first teaching job 30 years ago was in a southern state. The only 2 questions the principal asked me were: "Did I see you went to school in Ohio" and "Can you start immediately?" He then went on to tell me how highly an Ohio education was thought of and that they grabbed Ohio grads whenever they could.
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A must-read for all is Diane Ravich's book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" discussing in detail how testing and school choice are undermining our public schools. She makes a clear and compelling case that applying a business model to schools is inappropriate and ineffective.
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Say goodbye to collaboration with colleagues.
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My district was rated "excellent with distinction". That means that we have amazing teachers in every building, at every level and in every subject. Yet only 25% of us will get raises for which probably 95% of us would otherwise qualify? ...

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