So-called "right to work" Hot Potato

The House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee, chaired by Rep. Schuring (R) held the first reading of HB151 and HJR5 - the anti worker so-called "right to work" legislation. They heard from the bills sponsors, Rep. Roegner (R) and Rep. Maag (R).

The hearing room was packed to capacity by opponents of the bill, indeed so many people were in opposition to this bill that they filled two additional overflow rooms, and left some standing in the hallways listening over a speaker system.

Educators opposing so-called 'right to work'

As expected, Rep. Roegner and Rep. Maag gave misleading and highly selective testimony, that failed to stand up to questions from the committee. Often they had to fall back upon "feelings", "beliefs" and ad nauseam recitation of the word "freedom" like they were auditioning for the role of William Wallace in an off-Broad St. production of Braveheart.

Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren) said Ohio law already allows employees to choose not to belong to unions and instead contribute "fair share" payments. "It seems as though the freedom you are espousing here is already in the body of the law," he said, suggesting the proposal was redundant.

The Democrat's statement drew a roar of applause from the audience, prompting Chairman Schuring to slam the gavel and warn spectators to observe proper decorum or be ejected from the room.

Rep. Roland Winburn (D-Dayton) questioned whether the measure would allow workers who choose not to pay union dues to benefit from the union's representation and called it "a right-to-freeload law more than the workplace freedom law."

Rep. Patterson said he believed allowing individual workers to "cut their own deals" with management effectively undermines the efficacy of collective bargaining and asked the sponsors if they thought the measure would weaken labor unions in the state.

The true facts regarding so-called "right to work" laws and their impact on working people and the economy are clear

right to work stats

The hearing was more notable for what didn't happen, rather than what did. Not a single Republican questioned their colleagues about their proposed bill, despite intense questioning by the Democrats on the committee. It was also apparent that there were few, if any supporters of the bill at the hearing.

The lack of a convincing case for the bill, a lack of support in the Republican caucus, and widespread opposition led the chairman to declare the bill dead in his committee

The chairman of a House panel that heard testimony on controversial right-to-work legislation Tuesday said there would be no further hearings on the matter in his committee.

Chairman Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) said after the hearing that members of the panel had unanimously agreed not to continue deliberations on the proposals.

"I've surveyed the committee and for a wide variety of reasons, the committee has determined that it would not be appropriate to have additional hearings on the legislation," he said in an interview.

"My individual thoughts are that I've been in the legislature now for 20 years and I have not had one union shop - an owner of a company that is a union shop or an executive from a company that is a union shop - has come to me and asked for this type of legislation," the chairman said.

"So I think it's something that does not need to be addressed at this point in time. There are a whole host of other issues regarding our economy and how we can improve the economic climate in this state that we need to address."

The chairman's comments reflect the radioactive nature of the issue currently for majority Republicans who saw an attempt to curb union collective bargaining thrown out by voters last session (SB5, 129th General Assembly).

With that, the Republicans in the Ohio House passed this hot potato to their Tea Party grassroots activists. Signature collection by right wing extremists now being the only route left for this legislation to move forward. With that signature collection deadline fast approaching, and reports that the Tea Party are struggling to collect those signatures, it is unlikely a so-called "right to work" amendment will find its way onto a ballot this year. This Leaves next year (when the governor and most of his legislative pals are up for reelection) as the next possible date, followed shortly afterwards by the lame duck session of 2014.

But for now, it doesn't look like anyone wants to be left holding this anti-worker, deceitful hot potato.

Turmoil swirling around Common Core education standards

Via the Washington Post

As public schools across the country transition to the new Common Core standards, which bring wholesale change to the way math and reading are taught in 45 states and the District, criticism of the approach is emerging from groups as divergent as the tea party and the teachers union.

The standards, written by a group of states and embraced by the Obama administration, set common goals for reading, writing and math skills that students should develop from kindergarten through high school graduation. Although classroom curriculum is left to the states, the standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and encourage thinking deeply about fewer topics.

But as the common core shifts from theory to reality, critics are emerging. State lawmakers are concerned about the cost, which the Fordham Institute estimated could run as high as $12 billion nationally. Progressives fret over new exams, saying that the proliferation of standardized tests is damaging public education. Teachers worry that they haven’t had enough training and lack the resources to competently teach to the new standards. And conservatives say the new standards mean a loss of local control over education and amount to a national curriculum. They’ve begun calling it “Obamacore.”

On Tuesday, the head of the American Federation of Teachers and a strong supporter of the Common Core standards will warn that the new approach is being poorly implemented and requires a “mid-course correction” or the effort will fall apart.

“The Common Core is in trouble,” said Randi Weingarten, the union president who is slated to speak Tuesday in New York about the issue. “There is a serious backlash in lots of different ways, on the right and on the left.”

Weingarten is concerned that states are rushing out tests based on the new standards without preparing teachers and designing new curricula.

“This is a wake-up call for everyone else in the country,” she said, pointing to New York, which just administered new tests based on the Common Core standards. Teachers, parents and students complained that the tests were poorly designed, covered material that had not been taught and frustrated children to the point of tears.

Double down on failure

No Child Left Behind introduced the idea of high stakes education. Few today doubt it's failure.

More Americans think the No Child Left Behind Act, which has governed federal education grants to public schools for a decade, has made education worse rather than better, by 29% to 16%. Thirty-eight percent say NCLB hasn't made much of a difference, while 17% are not familiar enough with the law to rate it.

That rejection is across all demographic groups.

People know failure when they see it. But, rather than re-evaluate the consequences of pushing for ever higher stakes, corporate education reformers have doubled down.

We haven't even begun most efforts, but we've already lost the State Superintendent to scandal, have delayed critical school report cards because of an invesitgation into erasures, have an evaluation system few are going to be able to figure out - let alone implement, a voucher privatization scheme few parents have been interest in, and all in an environment of massive and reackless budget cuts, and appointments of college quarterbacks with no education background to the State Board of Education.

Education News for 05-31-2012

State Education News

  • State Gets Go-Ahead To End Federal Tutoring Program (WBNS)
  • The state auditor was investigating allegations of fraudulent billing in connection with a federal tutoring program, 10TV’s Kristyn Hartman reported on Wednesday. Officials from the Ohio Department of Education said that they wanted to get rid of the federally funded tutoring program designed to help students at underperforming schools. The Supplemental Educational Services program, part of the No Child Left Behind program, is designed to gives students help outside of the classroom. Read More...

  • Educators, Parents Call For Better Funding For Ohio Public Schools (ONN)
  • Parents and educators from Cincinnati protested in front of the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday afternoon. At the center of controversy Wednesday was an education funding formula that many believe puts some districts at a disadvantage. "We have to raise money by selling wrapping paper in order to have enough pencils for our children to take tests, but literally 20 minutes away every child has a laptop," said Ruth Ann Wolfe. Read More...

Local Issues

  • Area educators react to decision on No Child Left Behind change in Ohio (News Herald)
  • Area educators are expressing mixed reaction to this week's announcement that Ohio schools will be freed from several regulations of the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Department of Education approved the state's waiver application Tuesday. Schools in the state will now be given greater flexibility to meet accountability standards, including removal of some reporting requirements, and they will also have more freedom in use of federal funds, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Read More...

  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's bid for local control of charter schools fits national push for accountability (Plain Dealer)
  • Mayor Frank Jackson's bid for more local control of charter schools in Cleveland wasn't a big reach by national standards. Most states require charter schools -- public schools that receive tax money, but are privately run -- to be created through major educational institutions such as local school districts, universities or the state education department. Read More...

  • Utica High School Students To Receive iPads (WBNS )
  • UTICA, Ohio - North Fork Local Schools officials said that they will lease 560 iPads to students in the next four years, 10TV News reported on Wednesday. According to administrators, the tablets would be paid for using money that would have been used to purchase textbooks and paper. Read More...

  • Picture of inspiration goes viral (Dispatch)
  • By the second lap, Matt Woodrum had slowed down. The fifth-grader with cerebral palsy clearly was in pain. 'You’re not stopping, are you?' his gym teacher asked, already knowing the answer. 'No.' Matt pushed on. The determination that the 11-year-old showed in completing the 400-meter race on May 16 inspired not only his classmates and school officials, but also viewers around the world who have seen the viral YouTube video online. Read More...

  • ODE: Monroe taking right path to emerge from fiscal emergency (Middletown Journal News)
  • MONROE — Monroe stakeholders have taken the right approach to reach financial solvency for the school district, a state education official said. Roger Hardin of the Ohio Department of Education, said he’s seen a series of trends when it comes to dealing with fiscal emergencies in school districts. Read More...

Editorial & Opinion

  • New opportunity (Findlay Courier)
  • Now that Ohio has been granted relief from some federal education mandates, lawmakers and educators need to raise the bar in education. The No Child Left Behind Act, which has been in place since 2001, requires states, among other things, to test students in reading and math in order to receive federal dollars. Those states which don't have a 100 percent compliance rate by 2014 would risk losing federal money. Read More...

  • Proficient learners (Beacon Journal)
  • In 2001, education reformers on Capitol Hill and the White House set a high goal for the nation’s public schools: The No Child Left Behind Act would ensure that every child was proficient in math and reading by 2013-14. States would set proficiency targets and measure districts and schools on Adequate Yearly Progress. Progressively stern interventions awaited districts and schools that failed persistently to make the required progress. Read More...

  • Keeping No Child Left Behind waiver is Ohio's next challenge: editorial (Plain Dealer)
  • It's no surprise that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave Ohio and seven other states a waiver Tuesday from some of the most onerous and unattainable mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act. Eleven other states have gotten waivers -- and more, if not all, probably will end up with them, given the impossibility of meeting the mandate that 100 percent of students test proficient in math and reading by 2014. Read More...

  • Get on board (Dispatch)
  • With the federal government’s decision to free Ohio from the unrealistic mandates of the No Child Left Behind law, state lawmakers have even greater obligation to come to terms with Gov. John Kasich’s efforts to move schools toward academic improvement. Read More...

The Crisis in American Education Is a Myth

By Randy Turner, English teacher

One of the most frustrating things teachers have to deal with every day is this myth that our profession is filled with lazy, undermotivated educators who arrive just in time for the first bell and leave immediately at the end of the school day.

We watch as, year after year, politicians devise radical plans that totally revamp our "failed" system. Many times these plans involve taking public money and putting it into private schools, relying more and more on standardized tests, and tearing down the teachers who are the key to the success that public education has always been and hopefully, after the fallout of this well-organized attack, will continue to be.

So across America, including my home state of Missouri, teachers teach to the test, hope and pray that the legislative attacks on our profession can be held off for yet another year, and watch as our livelihood is devalued and our reputations are savaged by elected officials whose pockets are lined with campaign contributions from the billionaires who don't want to pay a cent to help anyone who is not in their tax bracket.

And we do all of this hoping and praying as the headlines are filled with news of a crisis that does not exist.

We live in an era where No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have been allowed to define public schools as failures, when, in fact, they still offer the best chance for children who were not born with silver spoons in their mouths to climb the ladder to success.

For too long we have allowed politicians to ignore dealing with the real problems of poverty and permitted them to use education as a convenient scapegoat for their negligence.

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Santorum spread thin in Ohio

We have previuosly covered some of the (evolving) positions on education of the Republican Presidential candidates, but with the Super Tuesday primary tomorrow in Ohio, we thought we'd take a look at the current state of play. Current polling averages have a very tight race: Mitt Romney at 36.2%, Rick Santorum at 36.1% and Newt Gingrich bringing up the rear with 16.1%.

Of course, even if Rick Santorum does win the popular vote in Ohio tomorrow, things aren't quite so simple.

Rick Santorum still holds a slim lead over Mitt Romney in the latest Ohio polls, but win or lose on Tuesday, the results of the primary are almost certainly going to give way to an ugly fight over delegates that has the potential to last for weeks.

Santorum failed to submit the required paperwork in three of the state’s congressional districts to be eligible to win any delegates and only partial paperwork in six other districts. And it’s in those six where things start to get complicated.

The former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign needed to come up with at least three names in each of the state’s 16 congressional districts for full delegate eligibility, but his failure submit full slates in some places will result in “unbound” delegates, which will be up for grabs after Super Tuesday.

Take the state’s fourth congressional district, for example. There Santorum submitted the name of one delegate, but left two other lines blank. If Santorum were to win the district, the state party would award him one delegate with the other two remaining officially un-allocated.

Rick Santorum faces other problems too. Santorum has some old fashioned ideas about education, and by old fashioned we mean pre-1785. Even Fox news, bastion of far right reporting, began to notice how extreme, and in some cases, hypocritical his positions have become.

Reporting from Bowling Green, Ohio -- Rick Santorum repeatedly fumbled on Sunday morning, with statements from his 2006 Senate campaign contradicting his current views on No Child Left Behind and placing him squarely in agreement with President Obama's call for post-high-school education or training.

On "No Child Left Behind," President Bush's signature education reform law that is now deeply unpopular among GOP voters, Santorum told Fox News' Chris Wallace that he voted for it because he supported increased testing provisions for schools, but did not like the increased spending.

Wallace highlighted a statement on Santorum's 2006 reelection website that noted Santorum's support for the act and called it "the most historic legislative initiative enhancing education opportunities to pass Congress in decades." Wallace also noted that Santorum later said he "took one for the team" in voting for the act, and Santorum denied making such a statement.
Santorum backed down over a statement he made recently that called President Obama a "snob" for saying all Americans should attend college. Wallace noted there was no evidence that the president had made such a statement, and rather had called on all Americans to do something after finishing high school, whether college, vocational training or an apprenticeship, a statement similar to what Santorum has said.

Close in the polls, lacking delegates, and attacked by the Republican party media machine, Rich Santorum is spread very thin in Ohio, and elsewhere.