Get Updates via Email

Teacher retention is critical to school quality

When Reynoldsburg teachers went on strike, the issue of teacher retention came to the forefront of discussion. It was reported that almost 1 in 5 teachers had left the district. A rate of turnover far exceeding other districts in the area.

An EdWeek article discussing research on the issue of retention:

The panelists also stressed that teacher shortages are not a recruitment issue so much as a retention issue, as Ingersoll has demonstrated in his oft-cited studies on teacher-retention rates. Ingersoll's research finds that 45 percent of turnover occurs in only 25 percent of schools.
[...]
"We have the wrong diagnosis and the wrong prescription ... It's not that we produce too few [teachers,] it's that we lose too many," Ingersoll said.

He emphasized that any solution to school understaffing needs to focus not on making teaching more attractive to potential teachers but on retaining teachers once they enter the workforce. I said that the way to fix the problem "is to improve the quality of teachers and teaching, and the way to do that is to improve the quality of the teaching job."

That starts with administration.

"The key factor that matters," said Ladd, "is school leadership," particularly "transformational leadership" that focuses on more than simply instructional issues.

McWalters agreed, suggesting that leaders create environments where teachers can better collaborate with each and have more power in decision-making processes.
The variables mentioned for creating an environment conducive for retaining top talent seem obvious, but are also clearly lacking in Reynoldsburg. As evidence, even now that a contentious strike is over, the District led by first year Superintendent Tina Thomas Manning continues to disrespect its teaching force and act unilaterally
“Despite good-faith efforts to resolve this issue, the district decided to act unilaterally once again,” Kim Cooper, co-president of the Reynoldsburg Education Association, said in a statement on the union’s Facebook page yesterday.

“The district told us on Friday that they would not be able to make any decisions on a plan to address the missing pay until Monday,” Cooper said. “In good faith, we decided to give them that time to come up with a proposal. Instead, like so many times before, the district decided to act on its own and do whatever it wanted.”
When researchers examined the reasons for teaching staff turnover, the found the following:

The top four reasons were all primary reasons that led to the strike in Reynoldsburg, yet instead of addressing these issues the district instead sought to divide teachers using a merit pay system that has repeatedly been demonstrated to not work, and to further the insult, eliminate health benefits.

This battle with corporate reformers have been going on for a long time now, yet all the evidence continues to point away from their prescribes "solutions". There are now quick fixes to improving educational quality. It requires professional teachers, with manageable class sizes, ample preparation time and collaboration with colleagues, resourced with modern tools and supported by school management that is constantly open to meaningful dialogue. None of this is sexy, it's hard work, sometimes costly - but if you truly are interested in improving educational quality for all students this is where you must first look.

If you address the problems of teacher retention you are directly addressing school quality.

The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss on This Novembers Election

Sent to us by Jeanne Melvin, OEA-Retired Teacher from Hilliard

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
-Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Theodor Seuss Geisel was one of the greatest American writers, cartoonists, and political activists who ever lived. He had this natural ability to present philosophical concepts through children’s literature that provoked thought at many different levels. Whether one works with elementary, middle, or high school students, Dr. Seuss is a favorite resource for helping both kids and grown-ups alike to understand many issues in our world.

Three years ago, educators from all over the state joined with police officers, firefighters, and other public employees to fight against Ohio Senate Bill 5, an unjust law that would have stripped away public workers’ collective bargaining rights. "Collective bargaining" is the mutually beneficial obligation of public employers and their employees to negotiate in good faith on wages, hours, terms, and other conditions of employment, and people were outraged that these rights were being crushed by their elected officials.

Rallies and petition drives against Senate Bill 5 brought unprecedented numbers of teachers out of their living rooms and into the spotlight. Educators made considerable numbers of phone calls and sent many emails to their legislators decrying this unfair attack. Teachers sent letters of concern to the editors of every Ohio newspaper about what was being written into the state budget. All of this teamwork contributed to the issue being put on the ballot, and in November of 2011, voters overwhelming repealed Senate Bill 5.

In the aftermath of SB 5, many teachers remained politically active and began to keep a watchful eye on everything that was happening at the Statehouse- not just legislation that affected the rights of public workers. If Ohio lawmakers could so easily follow an outside agenda that enacted policies detrimental to public servants, then continued vigilance from their constituents was the logical course of action. The rights of all Ohioans were at stake.

That outside agenda came from a corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council, more commonly known as ALEC. Because of gerrymandering, most of Ohio’s legislators belong to ALEC, the secretive organization of lawmakers and corporations that has taken over the Ohio Statehouse. ALEC’s corporate policy-makers create bills, such as Senate Bill 5, for ALEC legislators to sponsor and get passed into laws in states all over the country. ALEC bills erode worker rights, consumer rights, and the rights of citizens injured or killed on the job. ALEC promotes the privatization of public agencies and the outsourcing of jobs, and the corporate-funded group was behind efforts to prevent implementation of healthcare reform, such as Medicaid Expansion in Ohio.[1]

ALEC’s top priority is to promote a private for-profit education model- in 2013 alone, 139 education bills written by ALEC were introduced in state legislatures around the U.S., and 31 of those have already become law. Unfortunately, most of Ohio’s Republican legislators are deeply entrenched in following the ALEC playbook and are quick to promote its anti-public school agenda. Look at all of the educational reform that’s recently been put into place that will diminish Ohio’s public schools through high stakes testing, school grade cards, OTES, private school voucher programs, and virtual learning. These are all ALEC initiatives.[2]

Many educators still care enough to be proactive about Ohio politics, but a number of them don’t pay attention to political initiatives anymore unless they directly affect them. They neglect to sign petitions and attend rallies meant to support people’s rights because of claims that they’re too busy to keep track of current legislative campaigns. Some teachers don’t find it necessary to contact their representatives or write letters to newspapers to express their disapproval of unjust laws. Several of them even vote for the same ALEC legislators that have worked to destroy public education in Ohio, even though a little bit of research would help them to express their displeasure of ALEC by voting out its politicians.[3]

The midterm election is upon us, and with it comes the re-election campaigns of many of those politicians who continue to follow the ALEC agenda, including Gov. John Kasich, an alumnus of ALEC who has been an important part of its initiatives over the years. Capitalizing on economic turmoil throughout our state and country, Kasich has worked diligently to further ALEC’s #1 priority, the privatization of many of Ohio’s public entities, since he took office in 2011. To help enable the expansion of his private school voucher program to move forward, the governor and his legislature first created financial hardship through drastic budget cuts, just as in other ALEC-controlled states. Richard Lee Colvin, director of D.C. think tank Education Sector, said: What’s particularly unfortunate about this wave of voucher programs now is that they come at a time when states are so strapped and they are cutting the basic funding for public education. So, we’re undermining public education by our state budgets and then we’re undermining through these voucher programs.[4]

Ohio teachers should heed the wisdom of Dr. Seuss and renew their commitment to standing up for our system of public education, instead of standing by as spectators. Their most powerful tool to positively impact public education is to make well-informed choices for candidates and issues during this very important election that will conclude on November 4, 2014. Vote for candidates who value our public schools, educators, and students.[5]

Times have changed- we teachers cannot afford to just close our doors and work in a vacuum any longer. Unless people like us care a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

November 2014 School levies and issues

165 school levies and issues will appear on the November 4th ballots across the state. The majority, 94, are renewals, with 58 asking for new or additional monies, the remainder are substitute or replacement levies.

The table below lists all the issues and levies that will appear on ballots. When you vote, we urge all the supporters of Join the Future to consider supporting their local schools.

County Subdivision Name Question Type Description
Allen Elida Local School District Levy Additional
Ashland Hillsdale Local School District Levy Renewal
Ashland Loudonville-Perrysville EVSD Levy Additional
Ashland Mapleton Local School District Income tax Additional
Ashtabula Ashtabula Area City School District Levy Renewal
Ashtabula Conneaut Area City School Distrct Levy Renewal
Ashtabula Grand Valley Local School District Levy Renewal
Ashtabula Grand Valley Local School District Levy Additional
Ashtabula Jefferson Area Local School District Levy Renewal
Ashtabula Pymatuning Valley Local School Dist Levy Renewal
Belmont Bridgeport Exempted Village SD Levy Renewal
Belmont Union Local School District Income tax Additional
Brown Ripley Union Lewis Huntington LSD Levy Additional
Carroll Brown Local School District Levy Renewal
Champaign Urbana City School District Bond N/A
Champaign Graham Local School District Levy Renewal
Champaign Mechanicsburg Ex Vill School Dist Levy Renewal
Champaign Triad Local School District Levy Additional
Clark Greenon Local School District Levy Additional
Clark Greenon Local School District Levy Renewal
Clark Southeastern Local School District Levy Renewal
Clark Tecumseh Local School District Levy Renewal
Clinton Clinton-Massie Local School District Levy Additional
Columbiana East Liverpool City School District Levy Renewal
Columbiana Salem City School District Levy Renewal
Columbiana Southern Local School District Levy Renewal
Coshocton River View Local School District Levy Renewal
Crawford Crestline Exempted Village SD Income tax Additional
Cuyahoga North Olmsted City School District Bond N/A
Cuyahoga Cleveland Municipal School Dist. Combo Additional
Cuyahoga North Royalton City School District Combo Additional
Cuyahoga Bedford City School District Levy Additional
Cuyahoga Berea City School District Levy Additional
Cuyahoga Brecksville-Broadview Hts. City SD Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Cuyahoga Community College Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Garfield Hts City School District Levy Additional
Darke Franklin Monroe Local School Dist Levy Renewal
Darke Ansonia Local School District Income tax Renewal
Darke Arcanum Butler Local School Dist Income tax Renewal
Defiance Northeastern Local School District Levy Renewal
Delaware Buckeye Valley Local School District Bond N/A
Delaware Delaware City School District Levy Renewal
Erie Sandusky City School District Combo Additional
Erie Huron City School District Levy Renewal
Erie Margaretta Local School District Levy Renewal
Fairfield Walnut Twp Local School District Levy Renewal
Fairfield Liberty Union-Thurston LSD Income tax Renewal
Fayette Miami Trace Local School District Combo Additional
Franklin Gahanna-Jefferson City School Dist Levy Additional
Franklin Grandview Heights City School Dist Levy Additional
Franklin New Albany-Plain Local School Dist Levy Additional
Geauga Ledgemont Local School District Levy Additional
Geauga Newbury Local School District Levy Additional
Geauga Berkshire Local School District Income tax Additional
Geauga Ledgemont Local School District Income tax Renewal
Greene Beavercreek City School District Levy Renewal
Hamilton Winton Woods City School District Bond N/A
Hamilton Forest Hills Local School District Combo Additional
Hamilton Cincinnati City School District Levy Renewal
Hamilton Lockland Local School District Levy Additional
Hamilton Mariemont City School District Levy Additional
Hancock Van Buren Local School District Bond N/A
Hancock Liberty-Benton Local School District Combo Additional
Harrison Conotton Valley Union LSD Levy Renewal
Harrison Conotton Valley Union LSD Levy Renewal
Harrison Harrison Hills City School District Levy Renewal
Henry Patrick Henry Local School District Levy Renewal
Highland Bright Local School District Income tax Additional
Huron Monroeville Local School District Combo Additional
Jefferson Edison Local School District Levy Renewal
Jefferson Toronto City School District Levy Renewal
Knox East Knox Local School District Combo Additional
Lake Fairport Harbor EVSD Levy Renewal
Lake Madison Local School District Levy Renewal
Lake Willoughby-Eastlake CSD Levy Renewal
Licking Southwest Licking Local School Dist Levy Substitute
Logan Indian Lake Local School District Levy Renewal
Lorain Keystone Local School District Levy Additional
Lorain Oberlin City School District Levy Additional
Lorain Sheffield-Sheffield Lake CSD Levy Additional
Lucas Maumee City School District Levy Additional
Lucas Oregon City School District Levy Additional
Lucas Springfield Local School District Levy Renewal
Lucas Springfield Local School District Levy Additional
Lucas Toledo City School District Levy Additional
Lucas Washington Local School District Levy Additional
Madison London City School District Income tax Renewal
Mahoning Boardman Local School District Levy Renewal
Mahoning Campbell City School District Levy Renewal
Mahoning Jackson Milton Local School District Levy Renewal
Mahoning South Range Local School District Levy Additional
Mahoning Springfield Local School District Income tax Renewal
Marion Pleasant Local School District Levy Renewal
Marion River Valley Local School District Levy Additional
Marion Tri-Rivers Jt. Vocational School Dist Levy Additional
Mercer Marion Local School District Levy Renewal
Miami Bethel Local School District Levy Renewal
Miami Miami East Local School District Levy Renewal
Miami Milton-Union Ex Village School Dist Levy Renewal
Miami Bethel Local School District Income tax Renewal
Miami Covington Ex Village School District Income tax Renewal
Monroe Switzerland of Ohio Local SD Income tax Additional
Montgomery Brookville Local School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Brookville Local School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Huber Heights City School District Levy Additional
Montgomery Jefferson Twp Local School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Kettering City School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Miamisburg City School District Levy Substitute
Montgomery Northmont City School Disitrict Levy Renewal
Montgomery New Lebanon Local School District Income tax Renewal
Muskingum Franklin Local School District Levy Renewal
Muskingum Zanesville City School District Levy Renewal
Ottawa Genoa Area Local School District Levy Additional
Perry Southern Local School District Levy Additional
Portage Field Local School District Levy Additional
Portage Field Local School District Levy Renewal
Portage Ravenna City School District Levy Additional
Portage Ravenna City School District Levy Additional
Portage Rootstown Local School District Levy Renewal
Portage Streetsboro City School District Levy Renewal
Portage Streetsboro City School District Levy Renewal
Portage Windham Ex Village School District Levy Renewal
Putnam Columbus Grove Local School Dist Income tax Renewal
Putnam Fort Jennings Local School District Income tax Renewal
Richland Lucas Local School District Levy Renewal
Richland Pioneer Jt. Vocational School Dist Levy Replacement
Ross Zane Trace Local School District Income tax Additional
Sandusky Woodmore Local School District Bond N/A
Sandusky Bellevue City School District Levy Renewal
Sandusky Clyde-Green Springs Ex Village SD Levy Renewal
Sandusky Gibsonburg Ex Village School District Levy Renewal
Shelby Jackson Center Local School Dist Combo Additional
Shelby Anna Local School District Levy Renewal
Stark Massillon City School District Bond N/A
Stark Fairless Local School District Levy Additional
Stark Marlington Local School District Levy Renewal
Stark Osnaburg Local School District Levy Additional
Stark Tuslaw Local School District Levy Renewal
Stark Northwest Local School District Income tax Renewal
Summit Coventry Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Cuyahoga Falls City School District Levy Renewal
Summit Mogadore Local School District Levy Additional
Summit Springfield Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Springfield Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Springfield Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Lakeview Local School District Combo Additional
Trumbull Bloomfield-Mespo Local School Dis Levy Renewal
Trumbull Bristol Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Bristol Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Howland Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Lordstown Local School District Levy Additional
Trumbull McDonald Local School District Levy Additional
Trumbull Mathews Local School Distrct Levy Renewal
Trumbull Southington Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Trumbull Career & Tech Center Levy Renewal
Tuscarawas New Philadelphia City School Dist Levy Renewal
Tuscarawas Newcomerstown Ex Village SD Levy Renewal
Warren Warren Co Jt Voca School District Levy Replacement
Washington Frontier Local School District Levy Additional
Wayne Southeast Local School District Levy Renewal
Williams Edon Northwest Local School Dist Levy Renewal
Wood Perrysburg Ex Village School Dist Bond N/A
Wood Lake Local School District Levy Renewal
Wood Rossford Ex Village School District Levy Additional

knowyourcharter.com gets charter boosters bent out of shape

Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Education Association have released a website that gives people, for the very first time, an easy way to comprehensively compare traditional public schools and charter schools: www.knowyourcharter.com.

As the site notes:
The new on-line tool – www.knowyourcharter.com – not only provides access to the state’s most recent Report Card information, but improves transparency by aggregating this and other relevant data at a single, easy-to-use website. Previously, locating this data required visiting multiple sites and extracting the information from numerous and often confusing spreadsheets.

At www.knowyourcharter.com, visitors will be able to compare schools in a particular geographical area across a wide variety of indices, including State Report Card grades, the amount of state money the schools receive, the percentage spent on classroom instruction, and the average number of years of teacher experience.
Check it out.

Predictably, the charter school boosters at the Fordham Foundation immediately had a fit. They erroneously complain that the site "selectively" displays information, even though the entire data set form the Ohio Department of Education is a click away on each charter school displayed!

They complain that the site compares districts to charters - yet fail to acknowledge that Ohio law treats each charter school as a district!

Finally, and perhaps most ironically, they complain about the use of the performance index to highlight just how terrible Ohio's charters truly are. What they don't point out is that their very own leader, Chester E. Finn, Jr., considers this measure to be of the upmost important, in a post titled "Let’s hear it for proficiency". Here's Chester in his own words
All true—but not reason enough to abandon proficiency. Not, at least, so long as it matters greatly in the real world. Do you want the pilot of your plane to be proficient at take-offs and landings or simply to demonstrate improvement in those skills? (Do you want to fly on an airline that uses only “growth measures” when hiring pilots?) How about dining in restaurants that use only growth measures when selecting chefs? Having your chest cut open by thoracic surgeons who showed “gains” on their surgical boards but didn’t actually “pass” them?

Kids can show plenty of “growth” in school—and yes, we should laud schools that accomplish this—but still not be ready for college because they aren’t actually proficient. This is why absolute levels matter, too, and why schools should be judged in part by how many of the students emerging from them have reached true proficiency or, in today’s parlance, are truly college and career ready.
Obviously, this is a case of charter boosters not liking to have their dirty laundry, or should we say, awful performance, aired so publicly. They'll even try to tell us, as Michael Petrilli did on twitter "@MichaelPetrilli: @jointhefutureOH #knowyourhistory Fordham has been fighting for charter accountability for over a decade". For such staunch fighters for quality, they sure haven't had many victories - and it is, at the end of the day, that demonstrates why www.knowyourcharter.com is so important. Charter school boosters like Fordham have had over a decade to produce results, and they have failed. For them to resort to knee-jerk criticism of others trying to fix the situation they have long supported is an embarrassment.

The Transparent Desperation of Corporate Education Reformers to Privatize Education

The Corporate Education Reformers are becoming increasingly desperate in their goal to privatize public education.

Their original concept was to create a system whereby public schools and their teachers could be made to look like spectacular failures, thereby opening the door to charters schools, vouchers, outsourced curriculum, for-profit testing and the diminishment of teacher unions.

This plan called for high stakes testing, on a massive scale as we have detailed on Join the Future for over 3 years now. Their plan hit a snag. No one who actually has a stake in public education, from parents, students, teachers and administrators thought this "plan" was a very good one.

We'll let one of the biggest Corporate reform boosters explain their failure to enact their agenda:
a great many parents — and a huge fraction of teachers — appear to have had enough. They grump, with some justice, that
  • Too much school time is given over to test prep — and the pressure to lift scores leads to cheating and other unsavory practices.
  • Subjects and accomplishments that aren’t tested — art, creativity, leadership, independent thinking, etc. — are getting squeezed if not discarded.
  • Teachers are losing their freedom to practice their craft, to make classes interesting and stimulating, to act like professionals.
  • The curricular homogenizing that generally follows from standardized tests and state (or national) standards represents an undesirable usurpation of school autonomy, teacher freedom, and local control by distant authorities.
  • Judging teachers and schools by pupil test scores is inaccurate and unfair, given the kids’ different starting points and home circumstances, the variation in class sizes and school resources, and the many other services that schools and teachers are now expected to provide their students.
If that all sounds familiar it is because that's what everyone opposed to the profiteers have been saying all along.

The high stakes testing and "accountability" however was never their primary goal, so jettisoning it in order to save their real agenda becomes unfortunate but necessary.

From the same article, comes their new prescription:
1. Individualization.
2. Technology
3. Quality choices.
4. Attaching the money to the child.

More school "choice", more outsourcing of teaching to technology and more money for charters and vouchers. In their desperation, they are revealing their true agenda.

If it was ever about quality and accountability, why would they now argue for even more money to flow to Ohio's failing charter school boondoggle? Why ask for more money for vouchers when the current demand doesn't come close to what's being offered? And if anyone thinks computers are primed to replace teachers in the classroom - go ask students in Reynoldsburg how relevant and rigorous their online education has been these last 3 weeks.

It's time that the people responsible for creating the current mess took a timeout. We don't need another Corporate Education Reform "reboot", we need a whole new conversation.

The Fatal Flaw Of Education Reform

In the most simplistic portrayal of the education policy landscape, one of the “sides” is a group of people who are referred to as “reformers.” Though far from monolithic, these people tend to advocate for test-based accountability, charters/choice, overhauling teacher personnel rules, and other related policies, with a particular focus on high expectations, competition and measurement. They also frequently see themselves as in opposition to teachers’ unions.

Most of the “reformers” I have met and spoken with are not quite so easy to categorize. They are also thoughtful and open to dialogue, even when we disagree. And, at least in my experience, there is far more common ground than one might expect.

Nevertheless, I believe that this “movement” (to whatever degree you can characterize it in those terms) may be doomed to stall out in the long run, not because their ideas are all bad, and certainly not because they lack the political skills and resources to get their policies enacted. Rather, they risk failure for a simple reason: They too often make promises that they cannot keep.

I acknowledge that I am generalizing here, as there are countless exceptions, but one needn’t look very far to notice a tendency in “reformer” circles to sell their policy prescriptions by promising the kind of short- and medium-term results that most education policies, no matter how well-designed and implemented, simply cannot deliver. School quality is important, it can be improved, and even small improvements can make a big difference. But it is critical to maintain a level head regarding the magnitude and speed of impacts. We as a nation must be prepared for the long haul, and there is a thin line between ambitious goals and unrealistic promises.

Sometimes, the inflated expectations are stated explicitly. For example, in 2010, then-Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools Michelle Rhee predicted that her district would be the highest performing in the nation within five years. Several years ago, the U.S. Education Department (USED) announced a plan to “turn around” 1,000 schools every year for five consecutive years, thus giving rise to entities such as the Achievement School District in Tennessee, which promises to “move the bottom 5% of schools to the top 25% within five years.” USED is now reaping what it has sown.

Alas, these are not isolated incidents. The public is peppered with unrealistic promises or plans to “close the achievement gap” within ridiculously short periods of time, slogans such as “college for all,” and talking points, such as the ubiquitous “fire the bottom teachers” illustration, that imply the potential for huge short-term improvements.

And, of course, there was the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which included a provision by which the vast majority of students were required/expected to score above proficiency cutoffs in math and reading within just over a decade, barely enough time for a cohort of students to cycle through the K-12 system. Although this goal is now generally viewed as having been a fantasy, there are still several states banking on near-universal proficiency, and any state that attempts to be more grounded in setting new benchmarks risks criticism.

(Making things worse, the manner in which performance and improvement are measured is usually inappropriate.)

Continue reading at the Shanker Blog

(c) Join the Future