Teachers stay strong in Strongsville

The teachers strike in Strongsville, Ohio is now entering its 5th week. Since the Strongsville Board of Education made their last offer, the Strongsville Education Association has made 3 counter offers that have been met with silence. The board's resistance to talk has been so extreme that a court had to order them to release public records. With this as a backdrop, we decided to travel up to Strongsville.

When we arrived we were met with the sight of hundreds of determined educators walking the picket line

After talking to them and listening to their side of the strike, it was clear to us that even after being out on strike for over a month, they were determined to secure a fair contract. It was also clear that the Strongsville board of education is being guided by special interests with an agenda and not the interests of the students and the community. This became even more apparent later in the day.

As the teachers marched up an down the sidewalk of the very busy road, they were receiving a tremendous amount of support from passersby,both in cars and on foot (a number of parents were walking the picket lines with the teachers).

Around 1pm, in the wind and cold, teachers and their supporters march to a common area to gather around a gazebo. Sen. Sherrod Brown was scheduled to address them.

At least 1,000 people turned out for a rally on Strongsville’s square attended by members of other unions.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Avon Democrat, called on Frazee to kick-start the stalled negotiations.

“Most importantly, students are not well-served when both sides are not sitting at the bargaining table,“ Brown said.

“Strongsville students deserve a settlement – now. But a settlement can’t be reached if the two parties aren’t talking. That’s why I joined teachers today – who told me how they want to be back in the classroom – and why I will keep in contact with the school board,” Brown said.

After Sen. Brown spoke, SEA President Linscott addressed her members and the crowd. She laid out the clear reasons why the strike has happened and why it continues. But more importantly she offered the board yet another opportunity to resolve the strike fairly.
In 2009 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration should it be needed.
Again, in 2010 SEA and the Strongsville board agreed to binding interest arbitration. In both cases that course of action wasn't needed as agreements were made.
Yesterday, SEA once again offered to end the strike immediately if the board agreed to binding interest arbitration. The proposal can be read in full below.

Strongsville E.A Binding Arbitration offer

Unlike in 2009 and 2010, the Strongsville board rejected this offer before the end of the day, once again demonstrating bad faith and a motive other than ending the month long strike. If their goal is to try and break the SEA, and it appears that that is their goal, they are going to fail. The hundreds of teachers we met, saw and talked ot yesterday were determined and resolved to continue their strike until a fair labor contract is agreed to.

The Federal mediator has called both parties back to the negotiating table today. Pressure on the Board is mounting as conditions inside Strongsville schools is deteriorating

Dozens of parents and students fed up with the Strongsville teachers strike took their pleas for the school board to negotiate and find common ground with the teachers union to City Council’s April 1 meeting.

Six Strongsville High School students recounted concerning conditions inside the school – overfilled classrooms, substitutes who did not know the material they were teaching and were not told where the regular teacher left off and an abundance of movies and study halls peppering the eight-period school day have become the norm, they said.
Pam Mullen, who has three children in the district, says her two youngest children at Muraski Elementary School are on IEPs for speech and reading.

“For over a week they did not receive the help they needed,” Mullen said. “My daughter tried her best to keep up, but it was too much. It led to melt downs and stomach aches.”

Mullen said she received a letter from the district saying no speech therapists had been hired yet, and she could not afford to hire one herself.

“This past month has been frustrating for my family,” she said.

Moser said some of her classmates who are on IEPs were left to fend for themselves at a time that was crucial for not just them, but the school district – Ohio Graduation Tests, which took place March 11-15, during the second week of the strike.

“Strongsville City Schools was thriving before this,” Moser said. “Now there’s no learning, no love and hallways are filled with dread.”

Junior Mathangi Sridharan painted the picture for those students who are in AP classes, high-level courses the district has struggled to fill.

Sridharan said students have been going over the material that will be covered in tests given next month by themselves – she and two other students have even taught some classes.
Other students spoke about the void of honors classes and extracurricular activities, including concerts and plays the students had spent months preparing for, but a common theme came up between parents and students, alike – the strike is on the brink of doing irreparable harm to the community.

The board has now had 4 opportunities offered to it by the striking teachers and has remained silent, refusing to negotiate in good faith. Let's hope they see sense and reason, and find a way to end this strike in a way that is fair to everyone, students, teachers and the community at large.

You can stay up to date on the strongsville strike at the SEA Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Education News for 01-17-2013

State Education News

  • Retiring Columbus schools official fears he’s data-rigging scapegoat (Columbus Dispatch)
  • No Columbus school-district worker is thought to have altered more student records over the past few years than Michael L. Dodds…Read more...

  • Westerville superintendent search down to 6 candidates (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Six candidates have been called back for second interviews in the search for the next superintendent of Westerville schools…Read more...

  • School reformer backs Kasich’s efforts (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A national education leader who has the ears of Gov. John Kasich and other Ohio GOP leaders says the state’s education system has improved, and she hopes this year to help push additional reforms through the General Assembly…Read more...

  • Ohio Police Department Offers To Add Armed Officers At Schools (WBNS)
  • A month after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook elementary, President Obama is making recommendations to increase safety. Some Ohio school districts are taking action of their own…Read more...

Local Education News

  • No plan to arm teachers in North Canton schools (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • The carnage from the Newtown, Conn., shootings has added a new dimension to school safety and security…Read more...

  • Principal moved to district office after failing to report assault (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A Reynoldsburg elementary-school principal who did not immediately report a sexual assault involving two students to district officials or the police has resigned…Read more...

  • Coleman critical of school board (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman scolded the Columbus Board of Education yesterday for being reluctant to cooperate unconditionally…Read more...

  • Three elementary schools getting new security entrances (Findlay Courier)
  • By springtime, at least three of Findlay's elementary schools will have new security entrances, Findlay Superintendent Dean Wittwer said Wednesday…Read more...

  • Arm teachers? Sheriff: response time critical (New Philadelphia Times)
  • Tuscarawas County Sheriff Walt Wilson believes that schools need both a police presence and armed employees to prevent the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years across the country…Read more...

  • Westlake teachers, district reach agreement on 18-month contract (Sun News)
  • School board members voted Wednesday to approve an agreement with the Westlake Teachers Association on an 18-month contract for teachers…Read more...

  • Hilliard Property Taxes Decrease Due To School Refinancing (WBNS)
  • Hilliard City Schools has taken steps to refinance some of its debt which will decrease property taxes in the district. A district spokesperson said school board members voted on two separate resolutions that will reduce the projected bond millage…Read more...

  • Orrville City Schools votes to arm science teacher (WEWS)
  • When it came to a vote for a school board resolution…Read more...

  • Geauga County school leaders discuss consolidating 4 smallest districts (Willoughby News Herald)
  • After a meeting Wednesday night, it's fair to say there are still more questions than answers about the possibility of consolidating Geauga County's four smallest school districts…Read more...


  • Code of conduct (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Public schools have a tough job when it comes to student discipline. As centers of learning, they are required to maintain an environment conducive to learning…Read more...

Many costs to attendance investigation

The farce that has become the investigation into the school attendance erasures gained a price tag yesterday

Ohio’s Auditor said on Monday that his staff has spent 7,000 hours and more than $140,000 on an investigating into whether Columbus City Schools officials manipulated attendance records.

That price tag is certain to climb as it became obvious that the investigation has barely begun

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost was hoping to wrap up his investigation into attendance rigging at schools statewide well before the November elections.

It looks like that won’t happen.

Many Ohioans will be asked to vote on school levies this fall, and schools worry that uncertainty surrounding accusations of falsified attendance data may hurt their chances at the polls. But state Auditor Yost says he may not complete his investigation until the new year.

You'll notice from the articles and TV pieces we have linked to here, words like "rigging" and "scandal" being thrown around, despite any widespread evidence to date that anything like that has happened. This is a problem when one considers the number of school that are a potential target of the Auditors investigation

Ohio officials looking into potential tampering with school attendance numbers are focusing on 100 schools around the state.

The state auditor’s office tells The Dayton Daily News that investigators are concentrating on schools that have raised concerns based on data that shows they had a high number of student withdrawals.

A great many of those schools are going to be found totally innocent of any kinds of untoward data manipulation, and as the Fordham Foundation points out, even the innocent are being harmed.

Less than one month ago...

Releasing Ohio’s school report cards this month simply wouldn’t be fair, the state’s education leaders have decided.

They'll vote on changing that decision today...

Releasing delayed state report cards on school progress won't hamper an investigation into potential tampering with school attendance numbers, Ohio's state auditor told education leaders Monday.

Time the knee-jerk decision making ended, and some calm contemplation began.

Education News for 06-13-2012

Statewide Stories of the Day

  • Strickland appointee resigns from state school board; one left (Dispatch)
  • One of two remaining appointees of the former Democratic governor has resigned from the Ohio Board of Education. Dennis Reardon, former executive director of the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, stepped down about six months before his four-year term on the 19-member board was to expire. “Due to scheduling conflicts with other activities in which I am involved, I must resign from the state Board of Education,” the 69-year-old Pickerington resident wrote in a letter to Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who will appoint a replacement. Read more...

  • Ohio lawmakers approve Mayor Jackson's Cleveland schools plan after weeks of tense negotiations (Plain Dealer)
  • COLUMBUS - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, after weeks of tense negotiations, finally gained the legislative approval he needed on Tuesday to carry out his plan to reform the city’s troubled schools. The mayor’s proposal was debated at length, with several Democrats from outside Cleveland opposing the plan because it allows the city to share local tax dollars with charter schools. But the ongoing dismal performance of Cleveland schools proved too much for the majority of lawmakers to ignore. Read more...

  • Lawmakers approve Cleveland school plan (Dispatch)
  • The Ohio House and Senate today overwhelmingly passed Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s plan for improving ailing school district. Republican and Democratic supporters hailed the legislation as a model of collaboration and local control. “We should help the mayor do what he believes he needs to do,” said Rep. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat and co-sponsor of the legislation. “I am a product of the Cleveland Municipal School District. I believe when I was in school, I got a great education,” she said. “I don’t think those kids that are there now are getting a great education.” Read more...

  • Local school districts face deficits next 5 years (News-Sun)
  • SPRINGFIELD — Most local school districts face grim financial forecasts in the next five years, with several staring down multimillion dollar deficits, according to a Springfield News-Sun analysis of Ohio Department of Education documents. Flat or falling state aid and the expiration of federal stimulus funds meant to close the gap combined with rising costs of doing business has many districts eyeing large deficits in the future, according to the five-year forecasts. Districts are legally required to file the projections every October and May. Read more...

  • Education Bills Top Ohio Statehouse Agenda (ONN)
  • COLUMBUS - The Ohio Legislature is slated to return Tuesday after a Memorial Day break and lawmakers hope to finish work on a handful of bills before recessing for the summer. Education-related bills are at the top of their agenda this week, including a wide-ranging measure being pushed by Gov. John Kasich as part of his midterm budget review. The Legislature also is expected to take up a proposed compromise to a Cleveland school improvement bill that's aimed to help the city's struggling public schools and high-performing charter schools co-exist. Read more...

  • Bill gives Cleveland mayor stronger control over schools (Dispatch)
  • Ohio legislators yesterday overwhelmingly approved Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s plan to improve his ailing school district. Republican and Democratic supporters hailed the legislation as a model of collaboration and local control. Though the Cleveland district was once a national model, today two-thirds of students attend failing schools. It’s also the only district in the state under mayoral control, a decision made by district voters more than a decade ago. Read more...

  • Gov. John Kasich, Ohio House and Senate Republicans reach deal on education policy (Plain Dealer)
  • COLUMBUS - Gov. John Kasich and Republican state lawmakers from both chambers brokered a deal on a third-grade reading guarantee and quickly sent the measure through the House Education Committee Tuesday. The deal tasks the state Board of Education with developing a phased-in standard that third-graders must meet on a state reading test to be promoted to the fourth grade. The standard would start off holding back third-graders who score "limited" in reading next school year. Read more...

  • School-funding advocates seek to inform the public (Vindicator)
  • BOARDMAN - Organizers of a meeting last month regarding public-school funding are planning to establish subcommittees this summer aimed at informing the public. Hundreds of people filled the Boardman Performing Arts Center last month for the forum that included local, state and national speakers about the issue. “We want to form subcommittees out of people who did respond,” said Ron Iarussi, superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. Read more...

Local Issues

  • Columbus district could offer $12 million in grants for charters, private schools (Dispatch)
  • Columbus City Schools could pay up to $12 million in local tax dollars to high-performing charter and private schools under a plan detailed by the district yesterday. Three-year grants could go to charter schools, private schools or even other district schools that score an A or B on their state report cards. The district envisions that grants could range from $380,000 to $2 million a year. The effort would link the high-performing schools with perhaps 17 or so low-performing district schools, Columbus school Superintendent Gene Harris said yesterday. Read more...

  • Austintown parents panel vows to fight busing plan (Vindicator)
  • A committee of concerned parents says its Tuesday news conference is only the opening salvo in a fight against Austintown’s proposal to offer public-transit vouchers to private-school students instead of using district vehicles. “Stick with us and fight this fight. ... We cannot let them win because if they win, who’s next? Canfield? Boardman?” said David Gerchak, a member of the Austintown Parents for the Safe Transportation of Students Committee. He was one of several speakers who addressed a crowd of more than 80 people at St. Christine School. Read more...

  • Orange Schools teacher contract talks at a standstill (Sun News)
  • PEPPER PIKE - Negotiations between the Orange school board and the Orange Teachers’ Association have reached an impasse, according to Superintendent Dr. Nancy Wingenbach. Further action will await assignment of a federal mediator to oversee the process. Negotiations to replace the OTA’s three-year contract began early this year, and the contract expires July 31. So by the time a mediator is assigned, late this month, all those involved will have just a month to make progress. Read more...

  • 15 teaching positions eliminated in Niles (Vindicator)
  • NILES - The city board of education, which last month deadlocked on a proposal to eliminate 15 teaching positions, approved the issue Tuesday by a 3-2 vote. Without the layoffs, the board faced a deficit in excess of $1.3 million and could eventually have been forced into fiscal emergency and a state takeover, according to Superintendent Mark Robinson. The decision will cost 11 teachers, one of them a part-time employee, their jobs. The remaining four positions, which became vacant due to retirements, will not be filled. Read more...


  • Bend rules for dropout recovery (Tribune Chronicle)
  • Among the toughest challenges in education is keeping at-risk youngsters from dropping out of school. That does not mean institutions specializing in the task should not be required to meet some state requirements, however. More than 18,000 Ohio children attend special ''dropout recovery'' charter schools, which are private institutions receiving government funding. Perhaps in recognition of the difficulty of coaching such youngsters through graduation, state officials exempted such schools from some rules governing other institutions, both public and private. Read more...

Education News for 05-03-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Is Senior Year of High School a Waste of Time? (State Impact Ohio)
  • The Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Department of Education have teamed up to wipe out senioritis. Graduation season is upon us, but many high school seniors have been coasting for months. Ohio education officials hope to change that by revamping the senior year of high school and having students take college classes, do apprenticeships or get technical training. “We have to find a way to maximize the 12th– grade year,” said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro on WCPN 90.3’s The Sound of Ideas this morning. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Residents give input on future of Youngstown schools (Vindicator)
  • Conversations with small groups continue to gather opinions about the community’s aspirations for city schools. A town-hall meeting will be scheduled for late next month. Part of the academic-recovery plan for Youngstown schools adopted by the academic distress commission and approved by Stan Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction, calls for a community-engagement process “focused on increasing community expectations and aspirations by all students.” Read More…

  • Intermediate students 'on the move' this week with exams, exercise (Newark Advocate)
  • Granville Intermediate School students are having an unusual week this week. It started with exercise, followed by several days of testing and finishes with more exercise.

    And two worthy causes are attached to the latter event. This past Monday, every student in the building did some Zumba, a combination of dance and aerobic elements with some Latin choreography, martial arts and hip-hop. It was led by Zumba fitness instructor Pamela Conn, of Columbus. Read More…

  • Reynoldsburg schools pay $1.4 million to escape exotic investment (Dispatch)
  • The Reynoldsburg school district paid $1.4 million to terminate an interest-rate swap with a financially troubled European bank this year, the same step the New Albany district has taken to shed the exotic investment. The same investment adviser who placed the New Albany schools in a swap that they paid $6.2 million to terminate last month advised Reynoldsburg on its deal. Both deals were signed in 2007 and appear to have worked identically: Read More…

  • Schools will have a choice on ‘pink slime’ (Springfield News Sun)
  • Starting next school year, districts won’t automatically get beef with the substance critics have called “pink slime.” And if districts get it, they’ll know it, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, because they’ll have to ask for it. Grocery chains like Kroger and fast food giants like McDonald’s have stopped serving beef with the product after a public outcry in March. The substance isn’t harmful, according to food scholars and government regulators. Read More…

  • State may take over Monroe schools’ finances (Hamilton Journal News)
  • The state could soon take over financial control of the Monroe School District. Officials with the Ohio Department of Education confirmed Tuesday that Monroe’s fiscal recovery plan was not accepted and they recommended to the state auditor’s office the district be placed into fiscal emergency, which would be a first for any Butler County school system. Read More…

Education News for 04-03-2012

Statewide Education News

  • High school courses with weighted grades still spark debate (News-Herald)
  • Fast-paced and intelligent discussion centered on the classic novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in Nicole Costigan’s advanced placement English class. Costigan’s class at Kenston High School is one of about 20 at the Geauga County school which offers weighted grades, a system in which higher points are assigned to more challenging courses than those offered in the regular curriculum. For example, a weighted “A” in an advanced placement class might carry five points, whereas a non-weighted “A” in a less difficult class is assigned a standard four points. Read More…

  • Leaders challenge report on cheating SFlb (Vindicator)
  • BOARDMAN - Boardman schools Superintendent Frank Lazzeri became irritated when he read an Atlanta Journal Constitution investigation that listed his school district among those suspected of cheating on standardized tests. “I thought it had to be a mistake,” he said. No one from the newspaper contacted anyone in the district administration, he said. The investigation last month flagged Boardman, Youngstown and Warren schools for possible cheating. Read More…

  • Group tackles autism awareness, education (News-Journal)
  • ONTARIO - Members of a Crestline group launched more than 100 glowing balloons Monday night from the parking lot at the Richland Mall to draw attention to the month of April as Autism Awareness Month. The group gives autistic children a voice through the gift of Apple iPads. The computer devices help the children with communication and language skills, according the Cookies for iPads group. In March the group gave away eight iPads and other gifts, said member Reba Hunt, who has sold many home-baked cookies for the project. Read More…

  • Local Issues
    • Vote expected soon by council on mayor's plan to transform Cleveland schools (WEWS 5 ABC)
    • CLEVELAND - Mayor Frank Jackson’s plan to transform the Cleveland Metropolitan School system is a step closer to having city council support. At Monday’s meeting, council had planned to vote on a resolution supporting the plan, but that has been pushed back. “I’ll vote for it,” said Ward 9 councilman Kevin Conwell, when speaking about the resolution. He said he feels any bill taken to the floor has little chance of passing in Columbus. Read More…

    • PV cuts approved for 5 teachers, 1 secretary in emotional meeting (Chillicothe Gazette)
    • BAINBRIDGE - At the end of an emotional one-hour meeting Monday, the Paint Valley Board of Education suspended the contracts of six employees in a move that's expected to save the district $423,000. The board emerged from executive session and passed, by a 4-1 vote, a resolution suspending the contracts of five teachers and the superintendent's secretary. Board member Judy Williamson cast the dissenting vote but declined to explain why. Read More…

    • Mayor predicts progress in teacher talks (WKYC 3 NBC)
    • CLEVELAND - Tuesday may be a pivotal day in Mayor Frank Jackson's crusade to pass and enact a plan to reform the academics of Cleveland schools, make changes in teacher contracts, and pass a desperately-needed levy. At City Hall, the school reform plan is being called, "a defining moment" for the city. On Tuesday, the mayor, school superintendent and teachers' union leaders will wrestle with the two biggest remaining issues blocking union buy-in into the plan. Read More…

  • Editorial
    • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson isn't blinking on schools (Plain Dealer)
    • For more than two hours last Thursday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon tried to explain their plan to speed the transformation of public education in the city. They answered questions from the curious and the skeptical: teachers, parents, homeowners and a pair of students from John Adams High School who said they were on their 11th biology teacher of the year. Read More…

    • Locally and nationally, graduation rates need a big push (Plain Dealer)
    • A 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020 for every state in the union may seem impossible. The national rate in 2009 was just 75.5 percent. But it can be done. Wisconsin reached that goal in 2010, and Vermont is close, according to the recent report "Building a Grad Nation," which studied U.S. high school graduation rates between 2002 and 2009. Ohio needs just 15,000 more students to graduate in 2020 to join the exclusive 90 percent club, the report's authors say. Read More…