A minority budget

One thing is clear now the language of the Governor's budget bill (HB59) is available. No matter how you look at it, it is a minority budget.

First and most obviously the bill will be crafted by the Republican dominated legislature, with little input or amendment from the Democrats. This will be despite the fact that voters just a few short months ago voted for Democrats in far larger numbers than Republicans. The Republican gerrymandering of the state legislature will give Republican members a very false sense of voter support.

That false sense of support is already evident in recent polling of the Governor's budget.

Among the poll’s key findings are:

  • 60% of Ohioans say public schools need more state funding to improve
  • 59% say Ohio is doing too little to improve the quality of public education
  • 62% say helping localities fund schools, fire and police is more important to them than reducing the state income tax
  • 62% favor raising Ohio’s severance tax on oil and natural gas to the Texas rate —and using the money to offset state budget cuts to local governments

It's clear then, that a party that received minority voter support only has minority support for its budget plans.

Finally, the reason these facts come into stark relief is because of the underlying policies - policies that enhance the welfare and benefit of a minority of Ohioans over the those of the majority.

On school funding:

  • The budget elevates private school vouchers and failing charter schools over traditional public schools, despite 90% of Ohio's students attending traditional public schools.
  • 382 of 612 school districts see no funding increase from the previous budgets baseline, which cut $1.8 billion - causing basic state aid to fall from $5,723 to a paltry $5,000.
  • Despite the Governor's promise that "the rich will get less and the poor will get more", his funding plan, where it does provide modest increases, does the exact opposite.
  • The Governor goes further, threatening that if reelected his next budget would eliminate $880 million in funding guarantees that some of the poorest school districts currently receive.

These are budget decisions that are not being forced on the Governor or his legislative allies, but are instead choices being made. These choices are being made in order to further support the minority over the majority in the form of massive tax breaks.

His proposed income tax cuts has the following effect

Plainly then, the Governor's budget prioritizes income tax cuts for the wealthy. This income tax reduction will equate to approximately $4.3 billion less in revenue to the state, resulting in less revenue to support key programs like education. Since May 2011, budget cuts to public schools have forced local districts to propose about $1.1 billion in new levies.

the legislature still has a lot of time to listen to the majority of Ohioans who want a more balanced approach to the budget than the minority one being proposed. Such balance would include restoration of funding to schools and communities, not cuts to these vital services that the majority rely upon. These investments will make our state stronger and more prosperous, and have a far greater long term positive impact than many of the minority provisions being proposed.

You can contact the Governor and ask that he take a more balanced approach that benefits everyone, not just the few.
Contact the Governor, here
Find and contact your legislator, here

More crazy teacher evaluation ideas

It seems there's even more crazy ideas about how to evaluate teachers than we originally thought. Now, one school district wants to include chance grocery store encounters to the evaluation matrix. No, we're not joking.

A teacher who has a chance encounter with a parent at a grocery store and chats about school can earn credit toward a financial bonus.

That is the way it is in the Challis School District in Idaho, a state where nearly 30 school systems have adopted teacher evaluation systems that include as one measure how well teachers get parents involved in their child’s education.

In the five-school Challis system, teachers are supposed to make contact with the parents of each of their students at least twice every three months, according to the Associated Press.

A teacher can send a note home to fulfill one of the “contact” requirements, though the other must be face to face. It can, Challis Superintendent Colby Gull was quoted as saying by the AP, be fulfilled by a chat in the supermarket during an unexpected encounter with a parent.

That counts for official contact purposes, he said, “as long as they’re talking about what’s going on in the classroom and the parent is informed about their student.’’

ODE subject matter contact info

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has just released this contact information document by subject matter expertise. We thought it might be useful to share with our readers if you;re trying to find the right perosn for the the right topic. Feel free to download it, or just book mark this page.

ODE Contacts by Topic

What teachers are telling the Governor: Day 2

Day 2 of our odyssey into comments provided to the Governor by educators and other random internet commentors. Day 1 can be found here.

People asking to be on a committee or board to develop an evaluation and merit pay system are by far the most common submissions.

Subject: merit pay
Governor Kasich,
I am a Nationally Board Certified teacher with nearly 20 years of experience. I have a Lead Professional Educator license in Ohio. I have a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. I score the SAT essays for CollegeBoard, the AP English tests for CollegeBoard, and I write content for the ACT English test. I currently work in a high achieving district, but I have also worked in a very challenging school district. I am currently also working for ETS in the MET scoring pilot, which is a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation project for teacher evaluation. My wife is an elementary music teacher, so I also understand the perspective of that age level as well as how those teachers fit into merit pay. I would be happy to discuss my ideas with you; as you can see, I have multiple levels of experience that all will need to factor in to the merit pay issue.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss my ideas on education and merit pay.



I have not been contacted by anyone from the Governor's office. Please have someone contact me to let me know that he is notinterested in my input, if that is the case. If not, please have someone contact me to let me know the name of the contact person who is heading up this process.
Thank you.

The next email also follows a very common theme expressed by large numbers of educators.

Subject: Guidelines for Merit-Based Pay System
Governor Kasich,
I am a teacher and responding to your invitation to email suggesdted guidelines for a merit-based pay system. I have no suggested guidelines to offer because research has not shown that merit pay in education works towards increasing student achievement. I do request that SB5 provisions be removed from HB153.
Thank you,
Subject: have you read this yet?
The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries from the NYT:

Subject:HB 153
Dear Governor Kasich,
I am writing to urge you to oppose including provisions that are the same or similar to those in Senate Bill 5 in the budget bill. HB 153 makes sweeping changes to compensation, evaluation and contractual rights of Ohio's teachers. Similar changes were included in SB 5 which, as you know, is being challenged by referendum.

Passage of provisions like this in the budget bill would serve to undercut the rights of voters to decide the fate of SB 5 in the November election. I ask that you respect the voice of voters and not circumvent the "citizens' veto" by including portions of SB 5 in other legislation. Please act to have these provisions removed from HB 153.

Subject:HB 153
Dear Governor Kasich,
As a parent, community member and educator, I am in total opposition of merit pay for teachers. The current pay structure is objective and gives order to the process of determining salaries for employees. Merit pay, on the other hand, would be a cumbersome and potentially unfair, subjective process. Moreover, merit pay would not ensure that poor teachers would be motivated to improve or find different careers. Your administration has done nothing but hurt education in the state of Ohio through budget cuts and the elimination of collective bargaining. Why not listen to the professionals involved in education to determine what is necessary to support education?

We hope this wasn't sent while driving! Just Kidding...

Subject: Hey!
I am not a teacher but I really believe teachers r under paid. I just drive a school bus. Seen too much happening in the schools.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

We'll bring you more tomorrow.

UPDATED: SB5 Help Wanted

We Are Ohio has so many SB5 petition books coming in, it's proving difficult to keep up. They are asking for help to log signatures so they can keep track.

The campaign can use help anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., seven days a week until June 30th. The process occurs at SEIU 1199 at 1395 Dublin Rd in Columbus.

Please contact Brendan Kelley at to let him know if you can help.

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