How Today’s Unions Help Working People

The Economic Policy Institute has produced a lengthy eye-popping report titled "How today’s unions help working people". It covers a lot of ground:

  • ‘Collective bargaining’ is how working people gain a voice at work and the power to shape their working lives
  • Union workers are diverse, just like America
  • Unions represent workers of all levels of education
  • Union workers hail from a variety of sectors, but the biggest share work in education or health services
  • Unions are most widespread in public administration and transportation industries
  • Unions are thriving in diverse workplaces—including ‘new economy’  workplaces
  • Unions strengthen democracy by giving workers a voice in policy  debates
  • Unions reduce inequality and are essential for low- and middle-wage workers’ ability to obtain a fair share of economic growth
  • Unions raise wages for both union and nonunion workers
  • Unions help raise wages for women and lessen racial wage gaps
  • Unions improve the health and safety practices of  workplaces
  • Unions support strong families with better benefits and due process
  • Unions are good for workers’ retirement security
  • Unions create a path to sharing knowledge and solving problems
  • Workers still want unions but are being thwarted by aggressive campaigns and lobbying that have eroded private-sector union  membership
  • Employers often fight unionizing efforts with aggression and intimidation, using legal and illegal  tactics
  • Corporate lobbyists push laws—misleadingly called ‘right-to-work’ laws—that seek to defund private-sector unions
  • Corporate lobbies and allied lawmakers are dismantling the rights of public-sector union workers
  • Attacks on public-sector collective bargaining are playing out in the courts
  • Conclusion: Unions are essential to a fair economy and a vibrant democracy

But perhaps most striking was this graph

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The best economic policies aimed at improving working and middle class standards, would be those that promote the growth and health of labor unions. Right now, we're going in the wrong direction.

Ohio Teacher Shortage Crisis Deepens as School Year Starts

A 2016 report by the Learning Policy Institute titled "A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S." found

Between 2009 and 2014, the most recent years of data available, teacher education enrollments dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35% reduction. This amounts to a decrease of almost 240,000 professionals on their way to the classroom in the year 2014, as compared to 2009.
— Learning Policy Institute

With an 8% total workforce attrition each year, a shrinking pool of new entrants inevitably leads to shortages. The US Department of Education produces an annual report on shortages each stat faces. Here's what Ohio is dealing with:

  • Arts
  • English/Language Arts
  • Foreign Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • School Psychologist
  • Social Studies
  • Special Education
  • Speech/Language Pathology
  • TESOL

This is similar to last year, only now we have added School Psychologists to the list. As you can see, Ohio has a shortage across the board. The shortages are also impacting schools ability to attract substitute teachers.

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According to a survey of districts by NEA, here's how Ohio is dealing with that problem

Some school districts have reacted to the shortage by restricting teachers' personal and sick leave. Others have opted for full-time substitutes. To avoid paying benefits, several districts use educational aides as substitutes, although it is illegal. The following strategies and solutions have been used in Ohio:

  • Training parents to serve as elementary substitutes for purposes of providing time for professional development for teachers.
  • Providing a day of training to anyone with a B.A. degree who wants to substitute.
  • Hiring a couple of long-term substitutes at the high school level, paying them on base salary, and providing benefits after a number of days. Substitutes are assigned to a different classroom every day.
  • Paying teachers to substitute during their planning time or increasing the pay (all through bargaining).
  • Improving pay and shortening the number of days before a substitute gets to the salary schedule.
  • Having a dollar scale that increases each day the substitute returns to the district.
  • Pulling resource teachers (Title teachers, special education teachers) from their assignments and sending them into the classrooms. Special education students are then not serviced for the day. Locals have fought this in the past by bargaining regular teachers' planning time within the student day--which is during special time--which prevents the district from using the music, physical education, and art teachers.
  • Bargaining with the local to hire permanent substitutes at every level if funding is available, and paying them an hourly rate. They are not part of the bargaining unit.
  • Recruiting local people with degrees and providing training on substituting practices and teaching. 10. Creating a substitute "pool" from which all schools draw substitutes.
  • Asking teachers to volunteer planning periods to cover classes. Offering to raise the hourly pay rate for teachers who substitute during their prep time (also completely voluntary) at rates from $15 to $22 per period.
  • Giving substitutes bonus money ($200-$300) after they have substituted for 30 days.
  • In a county where teaching jobs are hard to get, the district invites new and soon-to-graduate education students to an event where they are given information and an informal interview. Then, the district explains the need for substitutes. Many of these prospective teachers agree to be casual substitutes until a full-time job is available.
  • Initiating a job for a classified person with overtime--a secretary or clerk--who clears all substitute calls.
  • Negotiating contract language that allows teachers to fill in for people at a cost to the district, most are at $15 per class.
  • Introducing progressive attendance bonus provisions.
  • Locals use associate employees to act as full-time substitutes.
  • Asking retired teachers to substitute.

Overall, substitute pay ranges from $40 to $125 daily. Some local variations:

  • $49 lowest, with an increase after 10 days to $52; $75 highest; and the average is $55. Most build in other incentives, e.g., increase after 10-15 days.
  • $60, and after 10 consecutive days, the rate rises to $75.
  • $95 for regular substitutes, and $125 for retirees.

This situation isn't sustainable if we are to have high performing schools in all districts. Rebuilding respect for the profession, and imporoving working conditions and support for current educators would go a long way to being to turn things around.

Amid Scandal and Poor Performances, Support for School Choice Craters

Education Next released their annual survey titled "The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform: Public thinking on School choice, Common Core, higher ed, and more." The results from some of the questions have caused shock waves throughout the school choice community.

For the first time in their annual survey support for charter schools have dropped below 50% - indeed it didn't just drop, it cratered from 51 percent to 39 percent, a 12 percentage point drop in support.

Vouchers, the other tool that the school privatizers like to deploy, also continues to be highly unpopular among the public - Democrats and Republicans alike.

The majority of the general public does however support increasing funding for public schools, by a very wide margin

The only thing more popular than the desire to better fund our schools, is for the educators who work in them!

May 2017 Levy Results

With just under 100 school levies and issues on the ballot, schools had a very good night. The new money requests exceeded 50%, and the over all passage rate was close to 94%.which itself was a good result.

N/R Failed Passed Grand Total Pass Rate
New 23 25 48 52.1%
Renewal 3 46 49 93.9%
Grand Total 26 71 97 73.2%

Here's the full rundown of results

County District N/R Result
Allen Allen East Local Renewal Passed
Allen Delphos City Renewal Passed
Ashtabula Conneaut Area City New Passed
Athens Alexander Local New Failed
Auglaize New Bremen Local New Passed
Belmont Bellaire Local New Passed
Clark Clark-Shawnee Local New Failed
Clark Greenon Local New Passed
Clinton Blanchester Local Renewal Passed
Clinton Wilmington City Renewal Passed
Columbiana Lisbon Exempted Village New Failed
Cuyahoga Brecksville-Broadview Hts. New Passed
Cuyahoga Brooklyn City Renewal Failed
Cuyahoga Chagrin Falls Ex Village New Passed
Cuyahoga Maple Heights City Renewal Passed
Cuyahoga North Royalton City New Passed
Cuyahoga Parma City New Failed
Cuyahoga Rocky River City New Passed
Cuyahoga Shaker Heights City New Passed
Defiance Defiance City Renewal Passed
Erie Margaretta Local Renewal Passed
Erie Perkins Local New Passed
Fairfield Amanda-Clearcreek Local New Failed
Fairfield Liberty Union-Thurston Local New Failed
Fairfield Pickerington Local New Failed
Fayette Miami Trace Local Renewal Passed
Fulton Swanton Local Renewal Passed
Geauga Cardinal Local New Passed
Greene Beavercreek City New Failed
Greene Xenia Community New Failed
Greene Yellow Springs Ex Village Renewal Passed
Guernsey Rolling Hills Local New Failed
Hamilton Northwest Local Renewal Passed
Hamilton Oak Hills Local New Passed
Hamilton Wyoming City New Passed
Hancock Findlay City Renewal Passed
Jefferson Buckeye Local New Failed
Knox Mount Vernon City Renewal Passed
Lake Kirtland Local Renewal Passed
Lake Madison Local New Passed
Lake Riverside Local New Passed
Licking Heath City Renewal Passed
Licking Licking Heights Local New Passed
Licking North Fork Local Renewal Passed
Licking Northridge Local New Failed
Licking Southwest Licking Local New Passed
Lorain Amherst Exempted Village Renewal Passed
Mahoning Poland Local Renewal Passed
Mahoning Poland Local Renewal Passed
Miami Bethel Local Renewal Passed
Miami Bethel Local Renewal Passed
Miami Tipp City Exempted Village Renewal Passed
Montgomery Miami Valley Career Tech Ctr New Failed
Montgomery Northmont City Renewal Passed
Montgomery Oakwood City Renewal Passed
Montgomery Valley View Local New Failed
Muskingum East Muskingum Local New Failed
Portage Aurora City New Passed
Portage Crestwood Local New Failed
Portage Field Local New Failed
Portage Ravenna City New Passed
Portage Waterloo Local New Failed
Preble Preble-Shawnee Local New Failed
Richland Madison Local Renewal Passed
Richland Mansfield City Renewal Passed
Richland Mansfield City Renewal Passed
Richland Ontario Local Renewal Passed
Richland Plymouth-Shiloh Local Renewal Passed
Ross Union Scioto Local New Failed
Sandusky Clyde-Green Springs Ex Village Renewal Passed
Sandusky Fremont City New Passed
Stark Alliance City Renewal Passed
Stark Marlington Local New Failed
Stark Tuslaw Local New Failed
Summit Coventry Local Renewal Failed
Summit Cuyahoga Falls City Renewal Passed
Summit Hudson City Renewal Passed
Summit Norton City Renewal Passed
Summit Twinsburg City New Passed
Trumbull Bristol Local Renewal Passed
Trumbull Hubbard Exempted Village New Passed
Trumbull Mathews Local New Failed
Warren Carlisle Local New Passed
Warren Lebanon City Renewal Passed
Washington Marietta City Renewal Passed
Washington Marietta City Renewal Passed
Washington Warren Local New Passed
Washington Wolf Creek Local Renewal Passed
Wayne Chippewa Local Renewal Failed
Wayne Dalton Local Renewal Passed
Wayne Triway Local Renewal Passed
Wayne Wooster New Passed
Williams Bryan City Renewal Passed
Williams Stryker Local Renewal Passed
Wood Bowling Green City Renewal Passed
Wood Rossford Exempted Village Renewal Passed
Wood Rossford Exempted Village Renewal Passed

School Levies and Issue on the May 2017 Ballot

97 school levies and issues will appear on May 2nd ballots. Approximately 25% are asks for new money, with a further 20% being bond issues, the remainder are renewals.

New N/A Renewal Total
Bond 0 9 0 9
Combo 1 11 0 12
Income Tax 4 0 4 8
Levy 23 0 45 68
Total 28 20 49 97

Here's the complete list of districts with issues or levies on the ballot.

County District Type Description
Allen Allen East Local School District Levy Renewal
Allen Delphos City School District Levy Renewal
Ashtabula Conneaut Area City School District Levy Additional
Athens Alexander Local School District Income Tax Additional
Auglaize New Bremen Local School District Combo N/A
Belmont Bellaire Local School District Levy Additional
Clark Clark-Shawnee Local School District Bond N/A
Clark Greenon Local School District Bond N/A
Clinton Blanchester Local School District Levy Renewal
Clinton Wilmington City School District Income Tax Renewal
Columbiana Lisbon Exempted Village School District Income Tax Additional
Cuyahoga Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District Combo N/A
Cuyahoga North Royalton City School District Combo N/A
Cuyahoga Shaker Heights City School District Combo N/A
Cuyahoga Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District Levy Additional
Cuyahoga Brooklyn City School District Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Maple Heights City School District Levy Renewal
Cuyahoga Parma City School District Levy Additional
Cuyahoga Rocky River City School District Levy Additional
Defiance Defiance City School District Levy Renewal
Erie Margaretta Local School District Levy Renewal
Erie Perkins Local School District Levy Additional
Fairfield Liberty Union-Thurston Local School District Levy Additional
Fairfield Pickerington Local School District Levy Additional
Fairfield Amanda-Clearcreek Local School District Income Tax Additional
Fayette Miami Trace Local School District Levy Renewal
Fulton Swanton Local School District Levy Renewal
Geauga Cardinal Local School District Levy Additional
Greene Xenia Community City School District Bond N/A
Greene Beavercreek City School District Levy Substitute
Greene Yellow Springs Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Guernsey Rolling Hills Local School District Combo N/A
Hamilton Northwest Local School District Levy Renewal
Hamilton Oak Hills Local School District Levy Substitute
Hamilton Wyoming City School District Levy Additional
Hancock Findlay City School District Levy Renewal
Jefferson Buckeye Local School District Levy Additional
Knox Mount Vernon City School District Levy Renewal
Lake Kirtland Local School District Levy Renewal
Lake Madison Local School District Levy Additional
Lake Riverside Local School District Levy Additional
Licking Licking Heights Local School District Bond N/A
Licking Southwest Licking Local School District Bond N/A
Licking Northridge Local School District Combo N/A
Licking Heath City School District Levy Renewal
Licking North Fork Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Lorain Amherst Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Mahoning Poland Local School District Levy Renewal
Mahoning Poland Local School District Levy Renewal
Miami Bethel Local School District Levy Renewal
Miami Bethel Local School District Levy Renewal
Miami Tipp City Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Valley View Local School District Bond N/A
Montgomery Miami Valley Career Technology Vocational School District Combo N/A
Montgomery Northmont City School District Levy Renewal
Montgomery Oakwood City School District Levy Renewal
Muskingum East Muskingum Local School District Combo N/A
Portage Crestwood Local School District Combo N/A
Portage Aurora City School District Levy Additional
Portage Field Local School District Levy Additional
Portage Ravenna City School District Levy Additional
Portage Waterloo Local School District Levy Additional
Preble Preble Shawnee Local School District Combo Additional
Richland Madison Local School District Levy Renewal
Richland Mansfield City School District Levy Renewal
Richland Mansfield City School District Levy Renewal
Richland Ontario Local School District Levy Renewal
Richland Plymouth-Shiloh Local School District Levy Renewal
Ross Union Scioto Local School District Income Tax Additional
Sandusky Fremont City School District Bond N/A
Sandusky Clyde-Green Springs Exempted Village School District Levy Renewal
Stark Marlington Local School District Bond N/A
Stark Alliance City School District Levy Renewal
Stark Tuslaw Local School District Levy Additional
Summit Coventry Local School District Levy Renewal
Summit Cuyahoga Falls City School District Levy Renewal
Summit Hudson City School District Levy Renewal
Summit Norton City School District Levy Renewal
Summit Twinsburg City School District Levy Additional
Trumbull Mathews Local School District Combo N/A
Trumbull Bristol Local School District Levy Renewal
Trumbull Hubbard Exempted Village School District Levy Additional
Warren Carlisle Local School District Bond N/A
Warren Lebanon City School District Levy Renewal
Washington Warren Local School District Combo N/A
Washington Marietta City School District Levy Renewal
Washington Marietta City School District Levy Renewal
Washington Wolf Creek Local School District Levy Renewal
Wayne Dalton Local School District Levy Renewal
Wayne Triway Local School District Levy Renewal
Wayne Wooster City School District Levy Additional
Wayne Chippewa Local School District Income Tax Renewal
Williams Bryan City School District Levy Renewal
Williams Stryker Local School District Levy Renewal
Wood Rossford Exempted Village School District - #1 Levy Renewal
Wood Rossford Exempted Village School District - #2 Levy Renewal
Wood Bowling Green City School District Income Tax Renewal

Ohio Department of Ed Makes U-Turn Under Pressure From Educators

The Ohio Department of Education announced in a press release that they intend to delay their submission of Ohio's ESSA plan until the September deadline. They had originally planned to submit the plan at the earlier April deadline. 

As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now have the flexibility to make choices that best suit their needs. States can submit their ESSA templates to the U.S. Department of Education in either April or September. To allow this work to advance and drive needed change, the Department will delay the ESSA template submission to the U.S. Department of Education to September. This also will allow more time to ensure that feedback received on the draft template can be considered carefully.

This change of heart has come about because of withering pressure from parents and educators. When ODE released their original plan, stakeholders were shocked by the lack of substance included in the plan on reduced testing and an evaluations overhaul that they had given as part of their feedback.

In response to this outrage, the press release went on to say

To address one of the key concerns heard pertaining to reduction in testing, Superintendent DeMaria is convening a Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Assessments to focus on the full range of testing issues — including state-required tests, as well as district-level tests. This work will allow for a more thorough and complete review, and recommendations for adjustments to these assessments – both state and local. More details on this committee will be developed in the coming days and weeks.

The days of not listening to educators and parents and instead pressing forward with failed corporate education reform policies is over.