Top 3 Today

Your top 3 stories today.

  1. Business Breaking With Kasich Over Union Busting Bill
    "Small businesses understand SB5 will lead to the elimination of lots of jobs in local communities," Dennis Willard told TPM. "When that happens, because public sector jobs like all jobs drive the economy, these merchants are really concerned they're going to lose business."

    For now, Williams said there's no organized effort to raise money from the firms to support the SB5 repeal operations. But he said that the fact that so many companies are publicly standing in what amounts to opposition to the state Chamber suggests that SB5 supporters in the business community may have a problem.
  3. Pickerington Teacher Layoffs Finalized
    The board voted not to renew the contracts of 70 newer, probationary teachers, those with one to three years of experience. Board members also approved laying off about 50 more experienced teachers.
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“I Couldn’t Believe It Happened to Me”

Most teachers are likely to go through their entire career without being unfairly targeted for dismissal by administrators. But that shouldn’t be left to chance.

For example, what if this happened to you?

You’re a high school teacher. You work out with your students a rubric for grading a small-group project. One group, unfortunately, really blows this project off. According to the rubric, they deserve a D, which you deliver. Parents complain to the principal. He tells you to raise the grade. You say, no, and you point out that the students took part in designing the rubric that guided you in giving them the D.

Do you lose your job?

That can depend on whether you have a strong and enforceable due-process system for dismissal, generally called “tenure” but often misinterpreted as a guaranteed job.

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What's on your ballot?

With the May 3rd primary election soon upon us, 148 school related issues will be decided by voters. The following comprise those issues:

The links take you to the local issues summaries as provided by the Ohio Secretary of State.

According to our friends at Support Ohio Schools
The school items are down from 178 in 2010 and 160 in 2009

The reduction is likely because districts are waiting to see how the final budget, due July 1, will affect funding and properly gauge the amount they should seek from voters.

"The significant decline in the number of levies being placed on the ballot due to uncertainty with the state budget is also a part of a multi-year trend toward fewer districts asking voters for additional funding," Support Ohio Schools Executive Director Jerry Rampelt said in a release.

"Unfortunately, we expect this trend to reverse quickly and significantly once schools realize the catastrophic funding realities that state budget cuts will bring."

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Voucher Poll

A recent poll, noted in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review shows that most Pennsylvanians oppose vouchers
Nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvanians oppose creating a voucher system that would use tax dollars to pay private-school tuition, according to a public opinion poll released yesterday.
In the March poll of 807 adults, 61 percent said they were opposed to the voucher idea, while 37 percent said they supported it. The margin of error was 3.4 percent.
Citizens continue to understand the benefits of a great public education and the means whereby vouchers undermine it, for the benefit of the few.

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Teach for America not education's cure-all

An Op-ed by Thomas M. Stephens, reprinted with his kind permission. First appeared in the Columbus Dispatch.

Imagine that Gov. John Kasich and Ohio legislators take on a real problem: the difficulty Medicare patients have in finding physicians who will treat them. To fix it, they pass and Kasich signs the Ohio Medicare Fair Practice Act, after pro forma hearings and over the objections of the medical schools and professional associations. This new law allows college graduates to obtain a special license to practice medicine following completion of a five-week course. These bright young people, full of energy and idealism, will practice only a few years before migrating to less-onerous and more-lucrative careers.

Think this is far-fetched? Well, the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate, with the help of 10 Democrats, passed a bill requiring the Ohio Department of Education to issue a resident-educator license based solely on a bachelor's degree and five weeks of training. This license will be available to a very select few: those recruited by the much-hyped Teach for America program, another ill-conceived hope for saving inner-city public-school students.

Teach for America, founded in 1989, has a noble mission. It tries to address the educational inequalities of children in low-income schools by recruiting high-achieving college students, who aren't prepared professionally as classroom teachers. But after only five weeks of summer training, they qualify. They must agree to teach for a minimum of two years in urban schools, sort of like Peace Corps' volunteers in Third World countries. But in this case, Ohio is considered the destitute land.

But all is not well with this approach. Kevin R. Kelly, dean of the School Of Education and Allied Professions at the University of Dayton, reviewed the research that purports to support the superiority of TFA teachers. And in February, he testified before the Ohio House Education Committee.

Kelly told the committee that TFA teachers are as challenged during their first two years in the classroom as are regularly prepared teachers and that the wunderkinds' students overall had worse test results than did those of the professionally certified teachers. After two years, TFA teachers' students lagged in reading achievement but did better on math. But most significantly, he found that by their third year, 80 percent of TFA teachers left their schools.

Classroom teaching is not for amateurs; it's not an easy adjustment even for pros and certainly not for those who aren't well prepared professionally. Altruistic motivation is good but it isn't enough, as those TFA teachers who fled their classrooms can testify, because the reality of managing groups of challenged students can be overpowering.

Our children deserve and need professionally prepared teachers who are committed for the long haul, who view teaching as a career and who are willing to meet all standards of their profession.

For those who see Teach For America as an economic bargain, Kelly cautions that it isn't -about 33 percent of their costs are paid with federal, state and local funds and the rest by tax-subsidized foundations.

Teach for America, like other "solutions" before it, will run its course, leaving our elected officials with the same problems they sought to solve. This won't change until lawmakers, governors - all of us - view public schools not as factories that are expected to produce students who test well and meet artificially contrived standards, but as places where future citizens are taught well despite the limitations of their life circumstances. And that requires teachers who are both professionally prepared and committed.

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.

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