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.

Republican lawmakers looking to attack working people again

On this day in 1886

350,000 workers staged a nationwide work stoppage to demand the adoption of a standard eight-hour workday. Forty thousand workers struck in Chicago, Illinois; ten thousand struck in New York; eleven thousand struck in Detroit, Michigan. As many as thirty-two thousand workers struck in Cincinnati, Ohio, although some of these workers had been out on strike for several months before May 1.

The purpose of the May Day Strike was to bring pressure on employers and state governments to create an eight-hour workday. During this period, workers commonly spent twelve or more hours of each day at work. Unions, especially the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada -- the predecessor of the American Federation of Labor, encouraged workers to strike on May 1, 1886, to demonstrate the need for an eight-hour day.

Today, Ohio Republican law makers want to go back to a time that predates 1886, by introducing yet more union busting legislation. State Rep. Ron Maag (R) and State Rep. Kristina Roegner (R) are introducing so called "right to work" bills. These bills (Maag's targets public sector workers, while Roegner's target private sectors workers) come less than 2 years after Ohioans rejected SB5, the previous anti-worker legislation aimed at reducing the ability of workers to negotiate safe and fair working conditions, benefits and pay.

Here's a copy of the letter we obtained announcing the introduction of the bill, and a request for legislators to add their names to it.

The introduction of these bills come suspiciously timed - just a day after Governor Kasich met with the tea party funders, the Koch Brothers - who are big proponents of "right to work" legislation and union busting in general.

Phones and electronic devices were banned from some panels, as Koch strategists detailed next year’s electoral battlegrounds and donors committed contributions to particular states or projects.

At least a half-dozen rising Republican stars were also in attendance. They included Dr. Ben Carson, a Baltimore neurosurgeon who has quickly developed a following among grass-roots conservatives, and several members of the Tea Party wing: Govs. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and John R. Kasich of Ohio, along with Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The Tea Party's efforts to push anti-worker legislation has been on-going in Ohio for more than 2 years. Their efforts to collect signatures to place anti-worker legislation on the ballot, by their own accounts has fallen way short

Mr. Littleton said it would be a “long shot” for the group to gather the roughly 380,000 signatures of registered voters needed by July 3, the deadline to qualify for the November ballot.

The effort is a long shot because it has no popular support. The We Are Ohio signature collection effort to repeal the last anti-worker legislation that the Tea Party supported, collected over 1.3 million signatures in just a few months. The current group of people supporting this anti-worker legislation are even more unsympathetic. For just how ugly and bigoted the Tea Party backers of "right to work" are, see here.

In Opposition to this anti-worker effort.

A number of people have come out quickly against this latest anti-worker effort. Ed FitzGerald, candidate for Governor

“I stood against these attacks on our everyday heroes and Ohio’s middle class when I voted against Governor Kasich’s Senate Bill 5,” he said. “As governor, I promise to stand up for the working families in Ohio, and stand behind the middle class that keeps our economy strong.”

David Pepper, candidate for Ohio Attorney General

"I oppose so-called 'right to work' because it hurts families and working people and destroys our middle class. This is a direct attack on our law enforcement officers who keep our communities safe. For these same reasons, I worked with the thousands of volunteers who fought back against Senate Bill 5, the unfair, unsafe attack on us all that voters rejected in 2011.

"But this is also a time when we should be asking all public officials – where do you stand on so-called 'right to work'. Working families and first responders deserve to know, are you with them or against them?"

Rep. Connie Pillich, rumored candidate for Ohio Treasurer

38 people who died on the job last year were remembered Monday at the Cincinnati region Workers Memorial, sponsored by the UAW and AFL-CIO Labor Council. Today, the Ohio GOP introduces legislation that could increase on-the-job deaths by 36%. The So-Called “Right to Work” bills could eliminate workplace safety measures fought for and obtained by labor unions. Dangerous.

Rep. Chris Redfern, Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party

“Here we go again. Apparently Governor Kasich has forgotten what happened the last time he and his Republican allies launched a broadside against the rights of Ohio workers. Ohio was paralyzed and our hard-earned economic recovery, which began a year before Kasich took office, stalled.

Just as SB 5 was soundly rejected by Ohio voters, we expect this unnecessary sideshow – which will do nothing to create more good-paying jobs – to fail, and we intend to hold Governor Kasich accountable for choosing to focus on distractions over Ohio’s middle class. If Kasich doesn’t want this attack on working families to move, he should say so immediately.”

Join the Future opposes these attacks on working people and we call upon our supporters to send a message to their legislators informing them that this legislation is wrong, unfair and unsafe.

Education News for 11-28-2012

State Education News

  • Black grad rate lags in Ohio (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Ohio is the sixth worst state in the nation at graduating black students from high school on time, a new federal study says…Read more...

  • Ohio’s grad rates show racial disparity (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Ohio has one of the nation’s lowest graduation rates for black students but one of the better rates for white students. The gap between black and white students’ success is so wide — white students’ rate is 26 percentage points higher…Read more...

  • House tweaking schools legislation (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Majority Republicans in the House say legislation to ramp up the school accountability system and create new report cards for schools and districts could be voted on as early as Thursday…Read more...

  • Ohio ties for 8th in U.S. for high school graduation rates (Dayton Daily News)
  • Twenty two states have better high school graduation rates than Ohio under a new, more uniform method of calculation, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education…Read more...

  • Local HS Introduces Unique Texting Program (WJW)
  • A Lake County high school is now using a unique text messaging program which allows students to anonymously send tips about any potential dangers at their school…Read more...

Local Education News

  • New Albany levy passes; district will build a school (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Voters approved a New Albany schools tax that will pay for a new school building, according to final, official results the Board of Elections certified yesterday…Read more...

  • Vanlue, Kenton agree to share school treasurer (Findlay Courier)
  • Vanlue and Kenton school districts have agreed to share a treasurer, school administrators announced this week…Read more...

  • Mansfield school district rethinking budget situation (Mansfield News Journal)
  • A gamble by the Mansfield City Schools Board of Education backfired at the polls this month, and the district will operate with $4 million less next year…Read more...

  • No comments for proposed 'double dip' (Newark Advocate)
  • No one spoke up at a public hearing Tuesday concerning the proposed retirement and rehiring of the superintendent of the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County…Read more...

  • Austintown teens learn work skills (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Hartford Orchard has hosted many families and events throughout the season, but on Tuesday, those visiting the orchard were put to work…Read more...


  • Plenty of big questions facing Ohio's schools (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • When it comes to the state government in Columbus and big issues involving Ohio’s public schools, there are more big unknowns than knowns at the moment…Read more...

  • Ohio ready to reform tests, data (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • At long last, Ohio seems on the brink of simple, common-sense school reforms. One would compare the performance of students to those in other states. Another would eliminate the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo…Read more...

Radical legislation being planned

We have wrote briefly about ALEC, a far right organization dedicated to pushing radical legislation (such as SB5 and HB194) through state legislatures. Their next salvo is being prepped for education, according to leaked documents.

Mark your calendars, people, because ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council is having their spring pow-wow in Charlotte, NC on May 11th, and their agenda is simply brimming with ideas meant to undermine American democracy. The agenda was revealed by Common Cause, who obtained packets ahead of the conference taking place at the Westin Charlotte (in case any of you in Charlotte would like to show up to voice your opposition), and proving that ALEC is a squid-like demon with their tentacles in every aspect of American life, they have covered all their bases.

That does sound bad! But what exactly are they planning? (Here's their leaked agenda (pdf)), and a sample:

Online Course Choice for Students
This bill opens up the world of high-quality online course instruction to students. Each year, students in public school grades 7-12 would have the option to enroll in up to two online courses that award college credit or meet standards for core academic courses. The state would create standards and accountability measures to ensure that they are providing students with a course catalog containing only high-quality online course offerings. Funding for each online course is driven by the free-market in an open and competitive process, rather than simply allocating a portion of student funding unrelated to the actual cost to deliver the course. Finally, after completion of each online course, parents and students provide feedback via the web in an open forum to rate the effectiveness of the course. This feedback, combined with test scores, provides a quality indicator ranking that is available to all.

More privatization of instruction, market driven of course. Worse proposals are still to come, including

District and School Freedom Act
This legislation creates a mechanism for public school districts and schools to request exemption from state education standards and regulations. Under this act, any district or school can create a list of state regulations or standards that, if exempted from, the district or school could operate more efficiently and better serve students.
Model Legislation
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of XXXX:
A. Notwithstanding any other law, a school district, tradition, or charter school may receive exemptions from statutes and rules as prescribed in this section.
B. The school district, traditional, or charter school may identify and submit exemptions to statutes and rules relating to schools, governing boards and school districts to the state board of education for approval. The state board of education shall review and may approve the exemptions submitted, except for those statutes and rules that directly apply to the following:
1. Health and safety.
2. Requirements for the graduation of pupils from high school.
3. Special education.
4. Financial compliance and procurement requirements.
C. The state board of education may adjust the list of exemptions to comply with federal and state law.

A free for all! It's a mighty strange world we live in where groups can opt to of laws they don't like, but that is what ALEC is proposing here.

So if you see or hear of bills being introduced in Ohio similar to these, you know where the idea came from. We'll be keeping an eye out.

The Toxic Trifecta in Current Legislative Models for Teacher Evaluation

A relatively consistent legislative framework for teacher evaluation has evolved across states in the past few years. Many of the legal concerns that arise do so because of inflexible, arbitrary and often ill-conceived yet standard components of this legislative template. There exist three basic features of the standard model, each of which is problematic on its own regard, and those problems become multiplied when used in combination.

First, the standard evaluation model proposed in legislation requires that objective measures of student achievement growth necessarily be considered in a weighting system of parallel components. Student achievement growth measures are assigned, for example, a 40 or 50% weight alongside observation and other evaluation measures. Placing the measures alongside one another in a weighting scheme assumes all measures in the scheme to be of equal validity and reliability but of varied importance (utility) – varied weight. Each measure must be included, and must be assigned the prescribed weight – with no opportunity to question the validity of any measure. [1]Such a system also assumes that the various measures included in the system are each scaled such that they can vary to similar degrees. That is, that the observational evaluations will be scaled to produce similar variation to the student growth measures, and that the variance in both measures is equally valid – not compromised by random error or bias. In fact, however, it remains highly likely that some components of the teacher evaluation model will vary far more than others if by no other reasons than that some measures contain more random noise than others or that some of the variation is attributable to factors beyond the teachers’ control. Regardless of the assigned weights and regardless of the cause of the variation (true or false measure) the measure that varies more will carry more weight in the final classification of the teacher as effective or not. In a system that places differential weight, but assumes equal validity across measures, even if the student achievement growth component is only a minority share of the weight, it may easily become the primary tipping point in most high stakes personnel decisions.

Second, the standard evaluation model proposed in legislation requires that teachers be placed into effectiveness categories by assigning arbitrary numerical cutoffs to the aggregated weighted evaluation components. That is, a teacher in the 25%ile or lower when combining all evaluation components might be assigned a rating of “ineffective,” whereas the teacher at the 26%ile might be labeled effective. Further, the teacher’s placement into these groupings may largely if not entirely hinge on their rating in the student achievement growth component of their evaluation. Teachers on either side of the arbitrary cutoff are undoubtedly statistically no different from one another. In many cases as with the recently released teacher effectiveness estimates on New York City teachers, the error ranges for the teacher percentile ranks have been on the order of 35%ile points (on average, up to 50% with one year of data). Assuming that there is any real difference between the teacher at the 25%ile and 26%ile (as their point estimate) is a huge unwarranted stretch. Placing an arbitrary, rigid, cut-off score into such noisy measures makes distinctions that simply cannot be justified especially when making high stakes employment decisions.

Third, the standard evaluation model proposed in legislation places exact timelines on the conditions for removal of tenure. Typical legislation dictates that teacher tenure either can or must be revoked and the teacher dismissed after 2 consecutive years of being rated ineffective (where tenure can only be achieved after 3 consecutive years of being rate effective).[2]As such, whether a teacher rightly or wrongly falls just below or just above the arbitrary cut-offs that define performance categories may have relatively inflexible consequences.

The Forced Choice between “Bad” Measures and “Wrong” Ones

[readon2 url="http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/toxic-trifecta-bad-measurement-evolving-teacher-evaluation-policies"]Continue reading...[/readon2]

An Unfair Editorial

The Plain Dealer had a terribly slanted and unfair editorial titled "Cleveland school-reform bill needs teachers' input". From the title it sounded as though some were finally calling for collaboration, before a rush to legislation. Alas, that was not the case, as the editorial demonstrated, first with a straw man argument

When the usually reserved Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says he would trade his office for "quality education for our children," all of the other adults involved in the high-stakes discussion on school reform ought to determine what they would give up as well.

So far, judging from the Cleveland Teachers Union's tepid response to the mayor's Cleveland-only school reform package, the answer appears to be little or nothing.

One should hardly be confused by the empty rhetoric of a politician and then compare it to actual sacrifices working people ought to make on the basis on that rhetoric. So straight away we knew this editorial was headed south.

The mayor says that despite hours of meetings with union representatives, he has received no written reply to his wide-ranging draft legislation on school reform.

The draft legislation was only made available less than 24 hours ago as of the writing of this editorial! People have barely had chance to even read and digest it, let alone craft some policy response document in considered terms.

If the Mayor and the Plain Dealer truly wanted teacher input, why didn't they seek it during the crafting of the actual legislation, then they could have rolled it out with a lot more support and a lot less controversy. To now blame teachers, yet again, for his own failing to collaborate with critical stakeholders is very unfair.