What Teachers Want


  • An end to the teacher blame game.
  • Administrators who have at least ten years of actual teaching experience.
  • Involved, competent parents.
  • Adequately funded schools.
  • Input regarding curriculum decisions (and the input is actually followed).
  • Flexibility when it comes to methodology.
  • Administrative support in matters of discipline.
  • An end to the “teach to the test mentality”.
  • Acknowledgement that teaching involves so much more than test scores.
  • Acknowledgement that as a teaching professional, teachers might actually know what’s best for the students.

Feel free to add to the list in the comments!

What teachers didn't tell the governor

The Governor's education Czar, Robert Sommers, and his assistant Sarah Dove have finally published their report based upon feedback received via a web form regarding their corporate education reform proposals. The report can be read below.

We don't need to mention how this report lacks any scientific validity, because the reports authors do that for us

This summary is not meant to be a scientific compilation of the information. It is intended, rather, to present the general sentiment of the productive comments received. It is acknowledged that in any particular category, comments were received that would range across the entire spectrum of pros and cons.

It's one of the few honest things said in this highly charged and political document. Despite admitting that the methodology of this study is not sound, almost every single section of this document begins with the phrase "Teachers believe". In many cases what is asserted that teachers believe is not even supported by the actual feedback teachers provided. Earlier in the year, in a 5 part series, we published many of the actual comments teachers provided as input to this process. You can find that series here:

The report concludes with recommendations from a "steering committee". But we're never told who served on that committee, only that

"Robert Sommers, Director of the Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education, and Sarah Dove, Ohio’s Teacher Liaison, assembled a steering committee consisting of a cross-section of teachers representing schools and educators across the state.

When a document presents recommendations, do readers not deserve to know who exactly are making these recommendations, what the process for approving them was, and if there was any dissension?UPDATE: Commitee list is burried at the end of the document in the appendix, with no mention of who each person is, or who they represent.

Furthermore, for a process that had very little stakeholder input at all, this recommendation stood out for its audacity

The Ohio Department of Education must commit to providing increased communications with teachers about new evaluation and compensation models.

Little effort has been expended by the Department of Education in educating teachers on where the state is and where it is headed in the areas of evaluation and compensation. By providing teachers with a “big picture” version of the state’s evaluation framework, the state can lay the groundwork for educated and committed teachers. The Department of Education must reach out and collaborate with key stakeholders to assist with getting the needed communications to teachers and leaders across the state. ODE should develop and implement a strategic communications plan to identify key messages, important milestones and identify who is responsible for sharing information.

We agree, but are left wondering why this wasn't done during the preparation of this document?

At the end of the day however the biggest question we are left with is this, what is the point and purpose of this document from the governor's office? The Department of Education has already released its framework for evaluations. The ESB has worked for 2 years on the details of an evaluation system and local school districts and education associations have been working together on developing systems to meet RttT requirements. This flimsy, unscientific, political document, developed by an unnamed steering committee has added nothing to any of these efforts.

Ohio Evaluation Comp Reform

What teachers are telling the Governor: Day 3

Day 3 in our on going series of publishing comments provided to the Governor on his request for input on teacher evaluation and merit pay.

Subject: Hmm, how should teachers be paid?

Here's why a merit-based system for teachers has it's flaws:
- Improvements in a student's organization, self-esteem, confidence, social skills, behaviors, etc. are hard to measure.
A teacher may take a challenging social group, and improve things listed above, but still struggle with test scores.
Should they really be penalized for not meeting the test "quota" despite improving a child's life skills?
- Merit-systems have proven to lead to corruption & the abandoning of meaningful lessons for test-taking drills.
Turning a public service into a for-profit business is unfair to the already endless struggles faced by students.
- Who evaluates the teacher? ..The principal? How is there any certainty that he/she will objectively evaluate the teacher free of non-teaching-related criteria?
-Competition between teachers who are expected to collaborate for a common good (the student.)
The current process DOES have an evaluation system in place. When teachers perform unsatisfactorily, they can be assigned a "Peer Assistance Review" mentor who observes the struggling/ineffective teacher and provides support & feedback for getting him/her "back on track."

Teachers, like students, each have elements of their personalities & skills that shine above others. If we're adjusting our practices to meet the same performance criteria, how sad that many students will miss out on some of the unique talents that some teachers might be reluctant to share, or that some pioneering teachers might be unwilling to stray from the norm & try new practices.

The fact is, teachers, like a private-sector worker who personally approaches his/her boss about a raise, have already collectively agreed on what they consider a fair wage. Many of the restrictions in SB5 that limit teacher resources & put no limits on class sizes will ultimately make it even more difficult to fulfill whatever criteria is considered. Again, trying to equate successful "bottom-line" business tactics to motivating children with an endless number of variables is definitely NOT in the best interest of the teaching & learning process..

A lot of comments express frustration about fairness and competency of people making education decisions, such as the following

Subject: Idea

Dear Mr. Kasich,
The idea I have about "paying teachers based on performance," is that the system we have in place now works just fine. As a long-term educator with a masters degree and 3 licenses, why shouldn't I make more money than a teacher right out of college with a bachelor's degree? I have put thousands of dollars and years into getting my education and licenses. I should have tenure and job security. I should have a good paycheck and retirement. I should have good benefits now and in my retirement.

What about paying Charter and Private schools based on how they do on the Ohio Achievement Tests? Right, they don't even have to take it, so I think that would be a good place for YOU to start.

Your thoughts on changing our education system are insulting, and just show how little you know about our education system in general. The State of Ohio has the responsibility to educate our children, and our public education system does it the best. Maybe you need to review your responsibilities as a governor and provide more money to our public education system that is doing well; and would do even better if half of our money wasn't dumped into Private and Chartered schools.

Subject: Ideas for New Pay System

Remove ALL politicans from making ANY of the decisions for pay. Policitians have already made a mockery of the teaching profession and have absolutely shown no respect for educators. Obviously the policitians who voted for this nonsense have never taught one minute otherwise they would understand their are way to many variables to even suggest merit.

If this nonsense continues, ONLY educators should make the decision NOT policitans.

Finally for today, there are one or two comments that are supportive of the governor's efforts, even if their suggestions are, shall we say, "different"

Subject: Innovative Teacher Salary Idea

Hi Governor Kasich!

Depending on what amount each school district spends per pupil, allow the students $1000 to interview the teachers, and "hire" the one they want. Teachers may present the students with their educational portfolio - past student's test scores, how the teacher sets up the class, what the teacher's expectations of the student are, etc. The students then put all their money into the pot for that teacher, and if they reach their goals for the year - AYP, test scores, attendance - the teacher get's their students' bonuses. Much like "The Apprentice" with The Donald - the teacher who performs the best gets the best bonus. The students feel ownership of their teacher, and the teacher only gets beyond their base salary for bringing their class to victory. Also, the best teachers can take more than just 24 students - up to 50 students - thereby increasing their chance for a bonus (but also getting more kids in front of the best teachers) The teachers who are not "hired" by the students, have the smallest class sizes, the least chance at bonuses, and eventually are weeded out.

I think you're awesome! Keep up the good work!

Teachers comments hit with bullets

The Governor's teacher liaison has published a draft memo condensing over 1,200 educator comments into an awful lot of cut & paste bullet points. As noted by StateImpact, these bullets have been arbitrarily lumped into 5 categories

  • Big Concern #1: Who would / could / should evaluate a teacher under this new system?
  • Big Concern #2: What would / could / should be used to evaluate a teacher (or administrator) under this new system?
  • Big Concern #3: How would / could / should student growth be measured?
  • Big Concern #4: How would / could / should this new system lead to a teacher’s growth?
  • Big Concern #5: How would / could / should my pay change if we move to performance compensation?

Not included in this document is any mention of collective bargaining, even though a significant number of teachers expressed that local collective bargaining was the best mechanism to formulate evaluations and pay. It's also not possible to determine the weight to apply to any of these bullet points based on either frequency or validity, but as noted, this is a working draft document.

In the mean time we will continue to publish a wide selection of raw comments. The memo can be found below.

Concerns Ideas Memo