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SB5 Rally with Ted Strickland

A great SB5 rally last night, put together by UAPA, with former Governor Ted Strickland as the headline speaker. Also speaking were teacher Maureen Reedy, firefighter Chris Zimmer and Mark Drum from the FOP. Here's some pictures and a video of Gov. Strickland's speech

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Sen. Peggy Lehner (R) responds to JTF

Sen. Peggy Lehner (R) is the first State Senator to respond substantively to our questions. Educators should take the opportunity to contact Sen. Lehner to discuss merit pay, as she appears open to constructive dialogue on that issue.
I will try to answer each of your questions.

1. I support QUALITY in schools whether traditional public, community or private. If schools receive public dollars we have the right to demand that they provide a good education. I therefore support policies that hold schools accountable. I don't mind if new charters open up if I can have some assurances that they will be well run and can demonstrate effectiveness. If they fail to live up to those expectations they should be shut down. I hold traditional public schools to the same standards. Schools consistently in Academic Emergency should be reconstituted or shut down. I refuse to accept that some kids can't learn and therefore we should expect substandard results.

I do not support the charter provisions contained in the House version of the bill and will work aggressively to have them removed. For profit schools with little or no accountability are non starters in my book.

2. We know that the single most important factor in student achievement over which we have any control is the effectiveness of a teacher. ( We can't pick a students family). An ineffective teacher for one year can put a child behind several months...two or three in a row can be devastating. While I believe that 95% of teachers do their job very well unfortunately some of our most challenging students also are most likely to end up with the least effective teachers. This has to end. The seniority system allows inferior teachers to hang around far too long and robs the superintendent the ability to place teachers in the classrooms where they are most needed. It is not easy to evaluate teachers but frankly I wish teachers themselves would roll up their sleeves and help us figure out how to do it right. Several of my children are teachers. I grew up in a schoolhouse literally, as my mother was the headmistress and founder of a private school. I KNOW that you can tell a good teacher from a bad one...we just need to figure out the best way to assure we are using objective measurements. As I look for the best language to insert in the Senate I am seeking out the advice of educators, not my fellow legislators. Any teachers interested in helping with this critical challenge will be welcomed.

3. I am not at all happy about the cuts to education...nor am I happy about the cuts to nursing home, home health care, Help Me Grow, Mental health services, health care or any of the other items in this budget. However I also recognize that an $ 8 Billion budget deficit is monstrous. There simply is NO money. In order to fill this budget deficit through a tax increase we would need a 46% increase in income taxes or a three cent sales tax increase. Does anyone have the stomach for that?

I am desperately looking for some additional revenue and education will certainly be one of my priorities if I find any pots of gold but I am telling you this is REALLY tough.

Hope this helps...don't hesitate to contact me with any additional questions...and like I said I am always open to constructive input from teachers!


Gutting education for a cup of cheap coffee

It has been repeated often by the Governor and Republican legislators that raising income taxes is not a solution to the budget problem Ohio faces, but instead, draconian cuts to education are the way forward. Consequently we face almost $3.1 billion in education cuts over the next 2 years as a result of this policy preference.

But how much of an impact do the 2005 income tax cuts have on take home pay? We thought it would be interesting to look at this question from a teachers perspective.

According to Ohio's Legislative Services Commision (LSC), the average teacher earned $54,656 in 2009, and about $47,500 in 2004, the year before the income tax cuts were phased in.

Ohio average teacher salaries

The Ohio Department of taxation has produced this handy guide to tax rates for each year since 2004. Let's see how much tax a teacher making average salaries in 2004 and 2009 would have paid to the state.

Comparing tax bills for average salaried teachers

Average Teacher in 2004 Average Teacher in 2009
Average Salary $47,500 $54,656
Tax Forumla $1,337.20 + 5.201% of excess over $40,000 $1,112.50 + 4.327% of excess over $40,000
Taxes Paid $1,727.28 $1,746.67

The difference between 2009 and 2004 being $19.39 per year, a nickel a day MORE today.

Republicans would have us believe that for a nickel a day MORE in tax, we have to gut public education, or Ohio would be too uncompetitive to survive. Draw your own conclusions. Perform your own calculations using your own salary and the tax tables to see your "savings".

For those wondering, or thinking it fairer, what tax would be paid on $54,656 if the tax code had not changed

2004 Tax Rates 2009 Tax Rates
Tax Forumla $1,337.20 + 5.201% of excess over $40,000 $1,112.50 + 4.327% of excess over $40,000
Taxes Paid $2099.46 $1,746.67

Which equates to about a buck a day savings ($352.79 per year). A cup of cheap coffee a day.

HB153 Whodunnit

The Excellent Ohio Budget Watch
Rumors have been swirling ever since the budget was passed out of committee about where the amendments that removed a lot of the oversight of charter schools came from. They have been some very clear allegations that these changes were made to appease two specific donors of the Republican party, David Brennan and William Lager, who both operate charter schools in Ohio. Combined they have donated over $4 million to Republican candidates. As we covered yesterday, Innovation Ohio released a report that connected the dots between these two donors and the changes made in the budget. It looks like Innovation Ohio isn't the only one who thinks these changes were made to appease these two charter school owners. In fact one very prominent charter school advocated isn't hiding his opinion on the matter either.
Read the whole piece

This needs investigating. There is growing concern and evidence that pay to play is involved. If you have any information or tips please send them along in complete confidence to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

School 'reforms' are doomed to failure

Another great piece from Thomas M. Stephens
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.

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