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Support Reynoldsburg Teachers

By now you have probably heard that the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg has become the front line in the fight between two very different visions for the future of education in our state.

On one side, a well-connected Superintendent, hand-picked and groomed by State Superintendent Richard Ross, a deeply divided school board, and the management attorney involved in 8 of the last 12 teacher strikes in Ohio is pushing an anti-public education agenda. On the other side, the 364 educators of the Reynoldsburg Education Association and the strongly supportive Reynoldsburg community are standing up for the future of public education in Ohio.

This was a fight that was picked intentionally and with a purpose. The board’s first proposal, was an appalling list of concessions and corporate reforms; no language on class size, planning time to be spent in meetings rather than teacher self-directed planning time, the end of a traditional salary schedule to be replaced by merit pay without defined criteria for obtaining it, the end of traditional employer health insurance by shifting all employees to the Affordable Care Act. Nothing was offered by the board to address the fact that one in five teachers left the district after the last school year. The list read so much like a corporate reform playbook we’ve brought to light over the past few years on Join the future.

The Reynoldsburg teachers message to the community is clear and simple: We are fighting for the schools Reynoldsburg students deserve, including class size limits and addressing runaway teacher turnover.

The community has responded in a huge way. Six hundred supporters, community members and REA members packed board meetings. Parents swarmed the Superintendents “office hours” causing the Superintendent to escape out the back door of the board office and refuse media questions. Two thousand “We Support Reynoldsburg Teachers” yard signs were distributed and gone in less than 48 hours and now dot lawns across the city. On the night when teachers rejected the board’s “offer” by 97%, more than 50 students and community members waited three and a half hours outside the meeting to chant, greet teachers, and show their support.

Despite all of this pressure, the board remains dug in. September 8th, teachers issued a 10 day strike notice for a work stoppage to begin September 19th. Now Reynoldsburg teachers need our help. Here’s what we can do:

o “Like” the Reynoldsburg Education Association Facebook page:
o “Follow” Reynoldsburg teachers on Twitter: @standstrongrea

Attend the massive Solidarity Rally on Saturday, September 20 at 11:00 a.m. Hueber Park, 1520 Davidson Drive, Reynoldsburg

Reynoldsburg Community Members
o Please put a “We Support Reynoldsburg Teachers” sign in your yard
o Email the BOE members and urge them to settle a fair contract
o Please support businesses that post a “We Support Reynoldsburg Teachers” sign in front of their stores

With your support, Join the Future will continue to fight for great public schools and the people who dedicate themselves to providing a quality education to Ohio's students.

Campbell Browns Laws

We all know, or should know, about Campbell’s Law. That is a social science axiom that says:

“The more any quantitative social indicator (or even some qualitative indicator) is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

The short translation: the more you measure people and tie high-stakes to the measurement, the more likely they are to make the measurement the point of their activity, which distorts the activity. Campbell’s Law explains why teachers teach to the test or even cheat, because so much is riding on achieving high test scores. So teachers forget about everything other than test scores, such as citizenship, character, ethics, and so on.

Arthur Goldstein, who teaches high school ESL in New York City, here explains how Campbell’s Law has been replaced by Campbell Brown’s Law. Campbell Brown is the media figure who is leading a lawsuit to eliminate tenure in New York State.

Here is Campbell Brown’s Law:

“Campbell Brown’s Law says whatever goes wrong in school is the fault of the tenured teachers. If you fail, it’s because the teacher had tenure and therefore failed you. Absolutely everyone is a great parent, so that has nothing to do with how children behave. Campbell Brown’s Law says parents have no influence whatsoever on their children. If parents have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, that will have no effect. If they provide no supervision because they aren’t around, that won’t affect kids either.

“Campbell Brown’s Law says kids themselves are not responsible either. If they don’t study, that isn’t their fault. The teacher should have made them study. If they fail tests because they didn’t study, it’s a crime and the teacher should be fired. Under Campbell Brown’s Law the only obstacle to studying is if the teacher has tenure. This is unacceptable and it is therefore the reason that the parents work 200 hours a week. It’s also the reason the kids didn’t study. The kids figured they didn’t have to study because their teachers had tenure.

“Campbell Brown’s Law is demonstrated in charter schools, where teachers don’t have tenure. All kids excel in charter schools, except for those who don’t. That explains why, in some charter schools, that all the students who graduate are accepted to four-year colleges. It’s neither here nor there if two-thirds of the students who began ended up getting insufficient standardized test scores and getting dumped back into public schools. That’s not the fault of the charter teachers, because they don’t have tenure and are therefore blameless. Campbell Brown’s Law says so.”

More at the link.

People oppose using standardized tests to evaluate teachers

The new PDK/Gallup poll has lots of interesting findings. This one should cause pause among law makers

Table 6. Some states require that teacher evaluations include how well a teacher’s students perform on standardized tests. Do you favor or oppose this requirement?

2014 2013 2012
Favor 38% 41% 52%
Oppose 61% 58% 47%
Here's how the pollster interpreted this finding
— How teachers are evaluated is an important component to teacher quality, so it’s not surprising that Americans have opinions about teacher appraisal. A plan popular among some state and federal policy makers uses student standardized test results as a significant component in evaluating teachers, in some places comprising up to 50% of the evaluation. However, more than 60% of Americans do not support this approach, and their opposition is trending upward.

At the same time, Americans said they believe teacher evaluation should be primarily designed to help teachers improve their ability to teach. If we listen carefully to the opinions of Americans, we need to research better ways to evaluate teachers and principals that are not overly reliant upon how students perform on standardized tests.

The big question is, will law makers listen?

Reynoldsburg has the worst Teacher Student Ratio in Franklin County

When Reynoldsburg teachers issued their 10 day strike notice to the board of education, they did so saying,
As front line educators, we have listened to our students, our parents, and our community. We have heard the calls for class size caps. We have heard the calls for addressing our teacher turnover issue. We have brought these issues to the bargaining table time and time again, and each time Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning and the Board have refused to address these crucial concerns, instead continuing a divisive ideological crusade that now leaves us with no choice but to exercise our right to strike.
We thought we would take a look at the ratio of teachers to students in Reynoldsburg City Schools. What we discovered is shocking. Reynoldsburg has the worst ratio of all school districts in the state. We looked at the 2012-13 enrollment and teacher data from ODE

District Name Enrollment # Full Time teachers Teacher Student Ratio
Grandview Heights City 1055 91 11.6
Upper Arlington City 5625 407 13.8
Bexley City 2143 154 13.9
Worthington City 9125 612 14.9
Whitehall City 2954 195 15.1
Gahanna-Jefferson City 6992 456 15.3
Dublin City 14056 915 15.4
Groveport Madison Local 5587 362 15.4
South-Western City 19563 1256 15.6
New Albany-Plain Local 4481 287 15.6
Westerville City 13902 832 16.7
Columbus City 49509 2957 16.7
Hilliard City 14840 868 17.1
Canal Winchester Local 3518 205 17.2
Hamilton Local 2929 157 18.7
Reynoldsburg City 5974 309 19.3

Where the Franklin county average is 15 students for every teacher, in Reynoldsburg that number exceeds 19!

This is a board and Superintendent that is out of touch and the sooner they realize that and start listening to their teachers the better. The Reynoldsburg community deserves better.

The US tests way more than other successful countries

Via The Center for International Education Benchmarking

Unlike the top-performing countries on the 2012 PISA, the United States stands out for the amount of external testing it requires for all students. As the chart below shows, the United States is the only country among this set to require annual testing in primary and middle schools in reading and mathematics. A more typical pattern among the top-performers is a required gateway exam, or an exam that allows a student to move on to the next phase of education, at the end of primary school, the end of lower secondary school and the end of upper secondary school. This is true of Canada (Ontario), China (Shanghai), Estonia, Poland and Singapore. In some of these cases, the secondary school exams are used to determine placement in the next level of schooling such as in Singapore and Shanghai where the lower school-leaving exam determines placement in upper secondary school. And in Poland, Shanghai and Singapore the upper secondary academic exam functions as an admission exam for university. This differs from the United States where annual tests are used primarily for school and teacher accountability purposes.

As the United States embarks on implementing tests to measure students’ mastery of the Common Core State Standards, it would be wise to keep in mind these very different models of not only test schedules, but format and purpose. The tests in the top-performing countries come at key gateways when students advance from one school to another and have a purpose that is clearly understood by students, parents and teachers.

(c) Join the Future